Hi! I hope your Monday is going well, it’s windy and snowy here in Western, NY today! No complaints from me though, love working from home so I can stay snug inside. I’m excited to bring you my review on this cute and different story, Playing Cupid by S.C. Alban. A big thank you to Parliament House and NetGalley for providing me an early copy in exchange for an honest review.
For the past five years, seventeen-year-old Megan Cooper has built a wall around her heart with little room to experience true feelings. Her mother’s passing has left her family fractured, driving a wedge between her and her father that has only gotten deeper with time. The only solution: graduate high school early and get out of Dodge.
With one final standing between her and the rest of her life, Megan is paired with a Home Economics partner who seems destined to dump all the work on her. Constantly bailing at the last minute, with more excuses than she can keep track of, Jay Michaels seems determined to ruin her plan.
That is, until she hits Cupid with her car. With his shooting arm is significantly injured, Megan has no choice but to take his place. As she races to find Cupid’s final three love matches in order to meet his quota by the start of the new year, she comes face to face with the very emotions she’s been pushing away for so long.
Caught between what her head is saying and what her heart longs for, Megan must face old wounds, find forgiveness, and track down the perfect match for the one boy with all the excuses.
A clever, witty story about navigating the many channels of love. Full of real life situations that can be easy to relate to, a dreaded home-ec class (I remember mine), and cute slow burn romance between the MC and the cutest guy in school. The characters were surprising, and I felt the depth of their emotions. The heavy was very well balanced with the humor of Megan and Amadeus, our starring cupid. This was a fun, easy read that was exactly what I needed between my usual fantasy laden reading. Another Parliament House book that makes my list of highly enjoyed reads! I especially enjoyed how this book touches on loss, and coping with family who have a mental health diagnosis and how others view you.
You can grab your own copy of Playing Cupid by S.C. Alban on Feb 23rd, when it releases to stores and online! I hope you take a chance, and fall in love with this quirky, adorable story.
Hello friends, hope your Tuesday is going well! I am in shock at how quickly this day is going, but no complaints here. I have to make a stop to the Library to return some books after work, but wanted to get this post done before I forget. I am trying to be better about reading and reviewing my NetGalley ARCs within an acceptable timeframe (and reading through my back list). I was super excited to receive the email from NetGalley letting me know I got approved for The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren, they are one of my all time fav authors. I literally did a happy dance!
Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents—who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno—Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father’s never been around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.
But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers:This Jess understands.
At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98% compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly’s founder, Dr. River Peña. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Peña. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess—who is barely making ends meet—is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond” pairing that could make GeneticAlly a mint in stock prices, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist—and the science behind a soulmate—than she thought.
My Review –
In traditional Christina Lauren style, I was laughing within the first couple pages. The best friend, Fizzy, had me in stitches and the quick whips between Jess and River were hilarious. Great plot line, plenty of humor and cutesy moments but with all of the steaminess that Christina Lauren does so well. These girls can seriously write the best feel good romance stories! I really liked that this was one of the more serious stories that I’ve read by Christina Lauren, and is probably my 2nd favorite of their books so far. I devoured this book in less than a day, almost like it was super-glued to my hand. I really enjoyed the character development in this book, it was so well written and extremely realistic. Definitely recommend to anyone who wants a cute, light and fun read!
Thanks for checking out my review, and if you’ve read this one or any other of Christina Lauren’s books let me know your thoughts in the comments! Stay tuned for a few more blog tours and reviews coming up over the next week or so.
Happy Friday and welcome to my stop on the tour for A Sea of Pearls & Leaves by Rosalyn Briar. I could not be more excited to share this book with you. It’s definitely one of my favorites of 2021 so far, and I dare say this was a refreshing read for an Adult dark fantasy romance novel. It gave me vibes similar to The Cerulean by Amy Ewing (which is one of my all time fav YA fantasy duologies). As always, don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour, as each stop has something different to share.
A Sea of Pearls & Leaves by Rosalyn Briar
Series: Standalone Published: December 1, 2020 Genre: Dark Fantasy, Romance Age Group: Adult Pages: 275 (Print Length) CW: This novel contains violence, sexual situations, and adult language.
Princess Ingrid of Norella Isle does not want to get married. So, her priestess girlfriend, Lilura, devises a wicked plot to deter suitors with a nearly impossible marriage contract: should Ingrid die first, her husband must be buried at sea beside her.
The plan backfires when all seven suitors agree, and the king announces a competition for Ingrid’s hand. Ingrid must keep her head above water as she deals with the suitors, a jealous girlfriend, and the news of two murdered priestesses.
As the suitors are eliminated, one man stands out: the quirky and anxious Prince Soren who charms both Ingrid and Lilura. When Lilura goes missing, Ingrid and Soren must piece together who has murdered the priestesses and why before it’s too late.
Rosalyn Briar is a former teacher who is married to her high school sweetheart. Together, they have built a beautiful life and have two fearless daughters. Rosalyn is obsessed with gothic fairy tales, scary movies, sun dresses, traveling, and reading books. She is the published author of The Crown of Bones and A Sea of Pearls & Leaves, both of which are fairy tale retellings. Rosalyn is also the host of #NovelBuilding, a daily Twitter question with monthly themes for fellow writers to connect. When Rosalyn isn’t writing or reading, you can find her playing dress up with her two princesses or exploring the woods for wildflowers.
A Sea of Pearls and Leaves is a beautiful, action packed retelling with magical sea elements, merciful gods and mythical creatures. I really loved the usage of the myth of the doppelgänger, it’s such a fascinating myth and felt like it fit well in the story. The representation of the love between Ingrid and Lili, and how they handled the fact that Ingrid has to marry in order to become Queen some day, was full of soul, lust and truly deep. Their relationship definitely made the competition for Ingrid’s hand a sticky situation. In all the characters were very well written, and were purposeful to the plot. I enjoyed the use of religion and beliefs, and how diverse it was among the people of Norella Isle and surrounding countries. This was a one sitting read for me, and one that I definitely will revisit for a reread when I find myself stuck in a slump or just missing Ingrid, Lili and Soren.
Hello, and Happy Friday book fam! I hope you’ve all had a fantastic week so far, and are excited for the weekend. I’m grateful to be bringing you my stop on the blog tour event for Ten Years of Darkness by Kristen M. Chambers & Viktor Strangewayes, the prequel to their Vaal’Bara Historical Society series. Thank you so much to Storytellers on Tour for inviting me to join this tour, and Kristen M. Chambers for sending me a physcial copy of this book. Make sure to check out my Instagram @booksnbites13 Today for my post there.
I had a lot of fun reading Ten Years of Darkness, and it was my first book of the Vaal’Bara Historical Society series so it was a fun peek into the quirky characters and crazy story that extends through multiple universes. Make sure to take a few minutes and go to the other stops on the tour, as we’ll each have something different to share. 🙂
Ten Years of Darkness by Kristen M. Chambers and Viktor H. Strangewayes Series: Vaal’bara Historical Society (#0) Published: October 27, 2020 Genre: Dark Fantasy, Magical Realism, Contemporary Fantasy, Science Fiction Fantasy Age Group: New Adult, Adult Pages: 417 (Print Length)
Kristen Chambers was just an average girl.
Kristen tossed her pencil down. “Great, now they’ll think this is another angsty teenage vampire novel.” She rose and left the room, returning shortly thereafter with a blackened, crooked quill pen. Silently she cradled it in her hands for a moment before sitting down. In truth, she hated to use it. Its nib was distorted, and it left splotches of oily black on whatever it touched. But her hesitation went beyond the physical, bringing forth a sense of regret and guilt. Yet she knew the quill remained a part of her, even after its power had long been expended.
Pressing the instrument to the page, she started again.
Laurence, by his own admission, was a failure. An aspiring magician by trade, he had spent his days attempting to recreate something he knew in his heart must exist, but for some reason did not. His life was miserable, and he knew he would never amount to anything. In that regard, Kristen and Laurence had something in common, even though they had never met – or so they thought. Together, they both stood on the face of a coin, forever tumbling through time, unable to gain their bearings, always ignorant of what existed on the other side.
However, after the appearance of a dangerous stranger, their lives began to change, and many things that once seemed impossible, quite suddenly became all too real. Before long, powerful artifacts were being hunted down, demons had clashed with plague-bearing bats, and the remnants of races long since buried had crawled up to the surface. Their lives had taken a turn in a direction neither could have predicted, and one they were certainly not prepared for.
With potential horrors looming on the horizon, and access to Magical resources having been intentionally obstructed, many questions still remain: Have they chosen to support the right factions? Are their goals worth more than those they are fighting against? And worst of all, have they gone through this entire process before?
From the group who founded the Vaal’bara Historical Society, Ten Years of Darkness takes place in an unsettling time before many events transpired, yet is simultaneously affected by their outcome. It follows characters both new and familiar, bringing as yet untold details to light while also exploring others from a unique perspective. Those seeking to learn the true mission of the Society may very well choose to start here, while other heroes who have already traveled the timeways at their side will find many clues to further their journey as they look toward the future.
Kristen Chambers was born in Omaha, NE in 1990, and lived a fairly ordinary life as far as she was concerned. An avid reader from a young age, she dreamed of diving into the pages of her favorite books and escaping into a world of adventure far more exciting than her own boring existence. Little did she know, such a fate had already been decided for her…
Her life guided by an unusual series of events, she eventually found herself thrust into the adventure she had always wished for, though she quickly realized it was nothing like she had imagined as a child. The veil was lifted, and she soon discovered a world of Magic, demons and dark forces beyond her comprehension. She was led to Chicago in 2011, where she would eventually meet, among others, Viktor Strangewayes. Though she didn’t know it at the time, he would become her greatest ally in the years to come.
In the year 2020, with Viktor at her side, she helped to found the Vaal’bara Historical Society, an organization dedicated to unearthing the long-forgotten truth of humanity’s Magical past. By telling her own story, and experiencing countless others through the use of the Temploscope, she hopes to guide humanity toward a better future, and prevent the terrible fate that awaits them.
I really enjoyed the SFF mix, with multiple realities and time travel. I found the chain of events to be a little confusing, but I’m sure that if I had read the other books it would have made more sense. The characters were entertaining, but I especially loved Kristen, Carmen and Aurie!! Aurie had me cracking up with her love of cheeseburgers, which made me have to get one. This was a very entertaining novel, prequel to the rest of the Vaal’Bara Historical Society novels. I definitely look forward to reading the rest of the series, I’m entirely invested now! The causes of large spread illness among humans was a brilliant creation, and the ending had me in absolute belly laughs! Clever!!! (No spoilers here!) I highly recommend to anyone who’s read Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, or Duckett & Dyer: Dicks for Hire by G.M. Nair as they all share the multiple universe theory.
Well, Thanks for stopping by!! I hope you have a fabulous Friday and weekend, and check this book series out if you are a fan of scifi-fantasy. Before you go, take a minute to enter the giveaway for a free copy of the book!
Hello, I’m back!! You’re getting a two-fer Today, you lucky ducks. I’m super excited to be a party of the cover reveal party for Chaos and Destiny : Fae Rising #2 by Miranda Lyn. I had the pleasure of meeting Miranda on Instagram through my engagement group, and have quickly come to consider her a bookish friend. Miranda is the sweetest, and is so fun to talk to as I read her books. So a bigggg THANK YOU to Miranda for inviting me to be a part of this process and read the books before they are released. I am so loving in sharing your journey with you, and can’t wait for book 3!!
Today we are celebrating the Cover Reveal for Chaos and Destiny, which is the sequel to Blood and Honor : Fae Rising #1 by Miranda Lyn. Y’all, this cover is GORGEOUS!! I mean, every cover of this serious is stunning so far. This book is now available for pre-order on Barnes and Noble OR Amazon, in e-book, paperback and Hardcover.
If you haven’t read, or heard of this series then I highly recommend picking up the first book, Blood and Honor. Here’s the blurb!
In the land of fae, you’re either the hunter or the hunted.
Ara, a high fae in the Court of Marsh, was trained since birth to kill. When it comes down to it, can she sever the tendrils of her morality and do it? After being taken prisoner by the sea queen, she manages an escape riddled with questions, only to arrive home to absolute heartbreak. Discovering everything she knew to be a lie, she sets out on a dangerous journey to learn the truth of her upbringing. But when the hunters begin to come for her, she realizes she isn’t the only one that will need her lethal skills.
Meanwhile, Temir, a lesser fae in the vicious Court of Wind, hates no one more than himself. Gifted with the magic of healing and therefore protected from the prejudices befallen the rest of the lesser fae, he is smothered beneath the firm hand of the northern king. But when he makes a discovery that could change the world, he must decide, produce the serum and convince the one he is falling in love with to run away with him and his beloved mentor or let fear suppress him into defeat.
One high fae. One lesser fae. One goal. Find a way to fight back.
For fans of adventure, battle toughened fae, budding romance, and glory-destined heroines comes the first novel in the Fae Rising trilogy. If you enjoy authors like Holly Black and Sarah J Maas, you won’t want to miss the beginning of this thrilling adventure.
Thank you so much for stopping by for the Cover Reveal!! I hope this is a book series that interests you, I promise you won’t be disappointed!! If you’re on Instagram please stop by my page @booksnbites13 and Miranda’s page @authormirandalyn Tomorrow and give some love! 🙂
Hello, hello again friends! Congrats on making it to Thursday aka Friday Eve. Today I am bringing you my stop on the book tour for Rise of One by Dixon Reuel. Thank you so much to everyone at StoryTellers on Tour, and to Dixon Reuell, for providing me with a free eBook copy of Rise of One, and allowing me to be part of this amazing tour! I am so excited to share info and my review for this book with y’all, and don’t hesitate to go check out the other tour stops, as each of us will have some amazing content to share! Dates: January 31st–February 6th Schedule Link: https://www.storytellersontour.online/2020/12/30/tour-schedule-rise-of-one-by-dixon-reuel/
Rise of One by Dixon Reuel Series: Blood Brute (#1) Published: December 15, 2020 Genre: Paranormal Post-Apocalyptic/Occult Fantasy Age Group: Adult Pages: 353 (Print Length)
Irish award-winning poet, Eve Power writes as Dixon Reuel and is the author of the Post-Apocalyptic Paranormal series, Blood Brute.
Dixon lives in Dublin, Ireland and holds a First in History & Early Irish Studies and another First in Creative Writing. She is a lifelong nerd and devoted hobbyist of cosplay, video games, and other surely worthwhile pursuits.Dixon cannot stand monkeys or phone calls, and to receive a phone call from King Kong would definitely be her greatest fear.
Ready to Meet Your Next Favorite Dark Fantasy, Horror Series? Then Keep Reading!
“We have to be very careful, as those who age so slowly, not to fight upon past battlefields. In that, and maybe only in that, are we superior. To hold a grudge for a human lifespan, that is one thing. To hold a grudge throughout the whole of our lives, that would be an unlivable, untenable existence. So, we do not fight on past battlefields. We air our grievances as plainly as possible. We found, after centuries, we could live no other way.”
— Salter, The Chronicler
As zombies roamed, the earth went quiet. It is as if every critter knew that the only way to stay safe was to lay silent.
Rise and his coven were running out of fresh blood to feed on. With only one human – albeit pampered beyond belief – at their disposal, there wasn’t enough food to go around. He must find other human survivors if they want to avoid succumbing to the blackness of oblivion.
When the human survivors he rescued were infiltrated by Warwolves, an ancient order of vampire hunters, Rise soon realizes the danger he brought upon his kind. With the full intent to survive, Rise must purge all threats to his vampire race.
The world, although decimated, is ripe for rule. If he wished to set history on a new path, he must triumph — starting with the rise of one individual.
Will Rise triumph?
Will he fall victim to the brain-dead that abound?
Or will the Warwolves succeed in finally ridding the earth of his kind?
Find out for yourself in “Rise of One”.
“Rise of One” is the first installment of the Blood Brute Series by Irish award-winning and best-selling writer Dixon Reuel.
In this gripping page-turner, readers will:
– Come alive as every twist and turn take you on a brand new path towards a damned world filled with famished vampires and ruthless zombies
– Yearn for more as Rise and his coven fight for the survival of their kind — whatever it takes
– And so much more!
Wow, sounds amazing right? I don’t know about you, but I am a huge sucker for horror and dark fantasy stories about paranormal beings such as vampires or zombies. Never would I have imagined such an amazing story that includes both beings!! This book grabbed me hook, line, and sinker.
Here’s my review!!
My Review –
What an utterly fantastic paranormal Post-Apocalyptic story, containing both Vampires and Zombies as the main species. From the very first chapter I was dazzled by Dixon Reuel’s beautiful writing, and intriguing carefully crafted characters. I simply could not put this book down!!
As we begin, we find out that the human race is dwindling. Rise and his coven of vampires are safe in their compound, or so they thought. We follow Rise as he ventures outside of their compound in search of survivors we discover more about the current state of the world and who the leading factions are. With the threat of an ancient enemy growing ever closer, the WarWolves, Rise makes decisions for his coven that bring us an exciting and edge of your seat story.
Will Rise guarantee the safety and survival of his coven, or will the zombies and WarWolves take over and destroy their existence? Guess you’ll have to read Rise of One and find out for yourself!
Thanks for checking out my stop on the tour. I hope this book sounds as exciting to you as it did to me, I promise it won’t disappoint you! It’s one of my first five star reads of 2021. Before you go, please take a minute and enter the giveaway for a chance to win 1 of 5 ebook copies of Rise of One!!
Hey there everyone!!! Gosh, it’s been way too long since I’ve posted anything other than a blog tour post. I have been seriously slacking, which I feel was the theme for 2020. I’m trying to post more in 2021 and share what I’m reading, so here we go!!
Shout out and big Thank You to NetGalley and HarperCollins UK for approving me for an eARC of Mr. Right Across the Street by Kathryn Freeman. This was every bit a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ book for me! The strength of Mia, our main character, was so relatable and amazing. I felt her struggles and desires every bit as if they were my own, as I also am a single young women of similar age just wanting to be independent and enjoy life by myself. Mia quickly realizes after only a short amount of time in her new apartment, that a very attractive man across the street works out shirtless at 10am every morning! Woohooo!! Show time!!! As you can imagine, the story takes off from there.
This was such a heartwarming, cutesy but not over the top, romantic comedy. I loved the themes of someone’s past overshadowing first impressions, and shaping how someone perceives themselves. I also really enjoyed the presence of what a true relationship means, staying and working through the tough times. “I can’t promise I won’t get pissed, but I can promise I won’t turn and run.” I laughed, I gushed, I plotted against the women who made me angry, and most importantly I LOVED this book. Definitely recommend for fans of Christina Lauren.
Thanks for stopping by to check out my review! You can get your copy of Mr. RightAcross The Street today, if you read it let me know your thoughts.
Happy Sunday friends, it’s the end of January and I just can’t believe we are one month into 2021 already! I’m super excited to end January with a review of this fantastic ARC of Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York by Elon Green. I cannot truly express how excited I was when this book showed up in my mail! Firstly, I absolutely LOVE surprise book mail (especially when it comes from Celadon), and secondly one of my 2021 reading resolutions was to read more Non-Fiction and True Crime. So it was actually quite convenient when Last Call arrived. I was immediately drawn in by the cover and back cover blurb, as the Last Call Killer was a serial killer I was not familiar with.
As described by Celadon, “Last Call brings to light the little-known history of the Last Call Killer and the gay men he preyed upon in New York City throughout the ’80s and ’90s. This thorough investigation is beautifully told as a heartfelt elegy toward the men and their lives. You’ll find Last Call is both a gripping true crime book and a human interest story about the men whose deaths were buried by the system that failed them during a time of skyhigh murder rates and the AIDS epidemic.”
My Review –
This was a very interesting blend of the history of the treatment and prejudice of the gay community in NYC throughout the years and how it played into the murders committed by the Last Call Killer and the investigation that took years before Richard Rogers was finally sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. It was a little slow at first, as Elon built the stage for the reader to understand why the first murder weren’t taken so seriously. As the pieces of the puzzle came together I just couldn’t stop reading! I loved the addition of the forensic science, very intriguing! Between the history of prejudice and the AIDS epidemic, the victims lives and the investigation details, I felt that Elon Green did beautifully with his elegy to the lives of the men targeted by the Last Call Killer. This was a very well executed narrative on the tragedy committed by the hands of the Last Call killer and how after years he was finally brought to justice.
I hope you enjoyed my review of Last Call:A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York by Elon Green, and if this interests your reading palate you will be able to get it in stores or online in March 2021!
Stay tuned for my upcoming reviews in February. I’ll be trying to keep with the theme of romance, in some way or another, in honor of February and Valentine’s Day. I’m really not one to celebrate this holiday, but with everything that’s been going in the past year I felt that we needed more love in our lives. Y’all know I love to read, so I’m sharing that with you. 🙂
Hello again, my friends! Coming back at ya for blog tour #2 of 2021. Man these have been some great reads, and some that I am really looking forward to devouring one blustery weekend here in Western, NY. I started reading Wrong Alibi last night while I lay in bed with insomnia. Man, what a start! Grabbed me right from the first chapter, so here’s to hoping it stays that way. In the mean time, let’s dive in to what Wrong Alibi by Christina Dodd is all about!
WRONG ALIBI Author: Christina Dodd ISBN: 9781335080820 Publication Date: December 29, 2020 Publisher: HQN Books
New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd writes “edge-of-the-seat suspense” (Iris Johansen) with “brilliantly etched characters, polished writing, and unexpected flashes of sharp humor that are pure Dodd” (ALA Booklist). Her fifty-eight books have been called “scary, sexy, and smartly written” by Booklist and, much to her mother’s delight, Dodd was once a clue in the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle. Enter Christina’s worlds and join her mailing list at www.christinadodd.com.
Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd delivers an all-new thriller, featuring a bold and brash female protagonist.
WRONG JOB Eighteen-year-old Evelyn Jones lands a job in small-town Alaska, working for a man in his isolated mountain home. But her bright hopes for the future are shattered when Donald White disappears, leaving her to face charges of theft, embezzlement—and a brutal double murder. Her protestations of innocence count for nothing. Convicted, she faces life in prison…until fate sends her on the run.
WRONG NAME Evie’s escape leaves her scarred and in hiding, isolated from her family, working under an alias at a wilderness camp. Bent on justice, intent on recovering her life, she searches for the killer who slaughters without remorse.
WRONG ALIBI At last, the day comes. Donald White has returned. Evie emerges from hiding; the fugitive becomes the hunter. But in her mind, she hears the whisper of other forces at work. Now Evelyn must untangle the threads of evidence before she’s once again found with blood on her hands: the blood of her own fam
Man, sounds captivating and like a wild ride right? Also, let’s give that cover a mention!! I get the shivers just looking at it, even though it’s 27 degrees here in NY right now. So now that I’ve hopefully piqued your interest, I’ll share a snippet of the book with you. Buckle up and keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times! LOL.
Midnight Sun Fishing Camp
Eight years ago
Five and a half hours a day when the sun rose above the horizon. Storm clouds so thick, daylight never penetrated, and night reigned eternal. Thirty below zero Fahrenheit.
The hurricane-force wind wrapped frigid temperatures around the lodge, driving through the log cabin construction and the steel roof, ignoring the insulation, creeping inch by inch into the Great Room where twenty-year-old Petie huddled on a love seat, dressed in a former guest’s flannel pajamas and bundled in a Pendleton Northern Lights wool blanket. A wind like this pushed snow through the roof vents, and she knew as soon as the storm stopped, she’d be up in the attic shoveling it out.
Or not. Maybe first the ceiling would fall in on top of her. Who would know? Who would care?
The storm of the century, online news called it, before the internet disappeared in a blast that blew out the cable like a candle.
For a second long, dark winter, she was the only living being tending the Midnight Sun cabins and the lodge, making sure the dark, relentless Alaska winter didn’t do too much damage and in the spring the camp could open to enthusiastic fishermen, corporate team builders and rugged individualists.
Alone for eight months of the year. No Christmas. No New Year’s. No Valentine’s Day. No any day, nothing interesting, just dark dark dark isolation and fear that she would die out here.
With the internet gone, she waited for the next inevitable event.
The lights went out.
On each of the four walls, a small, battery-charged nightlight came on to battle feebly against the darkness. Outside, the storm roared. Inside, cold swallowed the heat with greedy appetite.
Petie sat and stared into a dark so black it hurt her eyes. And remembered…
There, against the far back wall of the basement, in the darkest corner, white plastic covered…something. Slowly, Petie approached, driven by a terrible fear. She stopped about three feet away, leaned forward and reached out, far out, to grasp the corner of the plastic, pull it back, and see—
With a gasp, Petie leaped to her feet.
No. Just no. She couldn’t—wouldn’t—replay those memories again.
She tossed the blanket onto the floor and groped for the flashlights on the table beside her: the big metal one with a hefty weight and the smaller plastic headlamp she could strap to her forehead. She clicked on the big one and shone it around the lodge, reassuring herself no one and nothing was here. No ghosts, no zombies, no cruel people making ruthless judgments about the gullible young woman she had been.
Armed with both lights, she moved purposefully out of the Great Room, through the massive kitchen and toward the utility room.
The door between the kitchen and the utility room was insulated, the first barrier between the lodge and the bitter, rattling winds. She opened that door, took a breath of the even chillier air, stepped into the utility room and shut herself in. There she donned socks, boots, ski pants, an insulated shirt, a cold-weather blanket cut with arm holes, a knit hat and an ancient, full-length, seal-skin, Aleut-made coat with a hood. She checked the outside temperature.
Colder now—forty below and with the wind howling, the wind chill would be sixty below, seventy below…who knew? Who cared? Exposed skin froze in extreme cold and add the wind chill… She wrapped a scarf around her face and the back of her neck. Then unwrapped it to secure the headlamp low on her forehead. Then wrapped herself up again, trying to cover as much skin as she could before she faced the punishing weather.
She pointed her big flashlight at the generator checklist posted on the wall and read:
Hawley’s reasons why the generator will fail to start. The generator is new and well-tested, so the problem is:
LOOSE BATTERY CABLE Solution: Tighten.
CORRODED BATTERY CONNECTION Solution: Use metal terminal battery brush to clean connections and reattach.
DEAD BATTERY Solution: Change battery in the autumn to avoid ever having to change it in the middle of a major fucking winter storm.
If she wasn’t standing there alone in the dark in the bitter cold, she would have grinned. The owner of the fishing camp, Hawley Foggo, taught his employees Hawley’s Rules. He had them for every occurrence of the fishing camp, and that last sounded exactly like him.
The generator used a car battery, and as instructed, in the autumn she had changed it. This was her second year dealing with the battery, and she felt secure about her work.
So probably this failure was a loose connection or corrosion. Either way, she could fix it and save the lodge from turning into a solid ice cube that wouldn’t thaw until spring. That was, after all, her job. She shivered. So much better than her last job, the one that led to her conviction for a gruesome double murder.
“Okay, Petie, let’s grab that metal battery cleaner thingy and get the job done.” Which sounded pretty easy, when she talked to herself about it, but when she pulled on the insulated ski gloves, they limited her dexterity.
Out of the corner of her eye, a light blinked out. She looked back into the lodge’s Great Room. The nightlights were failing, and soon she really would be alone in the absolute darkness, facing the memories of that long-ago day in the basement. Good incentive to hurry.
She grabbed the wire battery connection cleaner thingy and moved to the outer door. There she paused and pictured the outdoor layout.
A loosely built lean-to protected the generator from the worst of the weather while allowing the exhaust to escape. That meant she wasn’t stepping out into the full force of the storm; she would be as protected as the generator itself. Which was apparently not well enough since the damned thing wasn’t working.
She gathered her fortitude and eased the outer door open.
The wind caught it, yanked it wide and dragged her outside and down the steps. She hung on to the door handle, flailed around on the frozen ground, and when she regained her footing, she used all her strength to shove the door closed again.
Then she was alone, outside, in a killer storm, in the massive, bleak wilderness that was Alaska.
Well folks, that’s all I have for you tonight! Stay tuned for my full review, I’ll have that up sometime early next week after I finish the book. I hope this is something that you’ll want to read, and if you do end up picking it up please leave me a comment to tell me your thoughts! I love to know when someone reads a book I’ve recommended or mentioned. Stay tuned, I have a few ARCs from Celadon and some Indie Tours with Storytellers On Tour coming up. All sorts of awesome books spanning multiple genres coming at ya! In the meantime, stay healthy and stay safe.
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 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.
THE SECRET STEALER
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!!