Monday, 29 August 2016

Afterlife by Sandy Goldsworthy


Afterlife
Sandy Goldsworthy
(The Afterworld Saga #2)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: August 29th 2016
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
AFTERLIFE is the highly anticipated sequel to AFTERMATH by Sandy Goldsworthy. This exciting Young Adult mystery romance is a must-read.
Everything seems perfect for Emma Bennett—she has a new set of friends she adores and a boyfriend she is crazy about. But when Emma sees a picture of her hunky boyfriend kissing another girl, she begins to question if his love for her is real. As she searches for the truth, will Emma be exposed to the dangers of another world?
Ben Parker enjoys the role of high school student and boyfriend to the love of his existence. Juggling his social life with his job in the Afterworld’s Bureau of Investigation is supposed to be easy for the decorated undercover agent. But when some kid captures a photo of him in a precarious position, he’s faced with lying to his girlfriend or erasing her memory. Instead, Ben makes the worst decision of his career. Now, forced to face the consequences, he loses the only thing that matters to him—Emma.
When seemingly insurmountable obstacles separate the lovers, will the two soul mates be able find their way back to each other?
Grab book 1- Aftermath – for FREE:
22524302
EXCERPT:
Kaleidoscope
“Do you remember Emma?” Lucas asked.
“As a matter of fact, I do. It’s a pleasure to see you again.” Abe held my hand. I remembered meeting him at Ray’s auto body shop, although I could have sworn he looked different. Shorter hair, maybe?
“Nice to see you,” I answered, returning his welcoming smile.
“Lucas, did you ever meet my brother, Henrik?” Abe asked.
“Call me Henry,” he said. He shook hands with Lucas first, then reached for my hand and kissed it gently. “Very lovely to meet you, Miss Emma.” He had a hint of an accent. Even though they both looked like they were mid-twenties, Henry acted much older.
I blushed. That kind of attention might be common wherever he came from, but not here in Westport.
“You’re adorable. I didn’t mean to embarrass you, darlin’.”
Drew returned with a tray full of shots before I had time to answer Henry. After introductions, Lucas gave a toast and everyone drank back the whiskey. I didn’t want one, but I drank it anyway. Actually, I choked on it. I didn’t think any of the guys noticed until Henry put his hand on the small of my back and asked if I was okay.
“Yes. Thank you.”
When I looked up at him, I realized he had a beautiful set of ice-gray eyes. The colors were piercing. Shades of white intermixed with hints of silver and turquoise. The longer I stared, the more the hues changed. Blues faded and whites darkened. Chills ran up my arms, but I couldn’t look away. I strained to keep my eyes open despite how heavy my eyelids felt.
A tingling swept over me until I was completely relaxed.
Like a kaleidoscope, Henry’s eye colors swirled. His pupils dilated.
I closed my eyes and saw a young woman with long, brown hair running through tall grass on a sunny afternoon. I felt the warmth on my skin, tilting my head back to catch the rays. I was tired.
Was I floating?
“Emma, can I get you something to drink?” Abe asked. His hand was on my arm. Stunned, I stared up at him. Did I just fall asleep?
I shook my head quickly. “I’m okay,” I mumbled. My eyes were dry and sore, and the strange sensation, the warm, comforting feeling I had, was gone.
Did I just imagine that?
FallenSnowTeaser


Author Bio:
Sandy Goldsworthy was raised in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, blocks from the rocky shores of Lake Michigan. As a child, she fantasized about becoming an author. She jotted story lines in spiral notebooks and drew images of characters that never came to life. Her passion for putting pen to paper began when her high school English teacher inspired her to be more descriptive in her work. Ever since, Sandy dabbled in creative writing, searching for that perfect shade of red and that character you want to get to know.
A graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Sandy is the YA author of the paranormal romance series, The Afterworld Saga. She spends her days managing corporate client programs, and her nights and weekends drafting new plot lines in spiral notebooks. She resides in southeastern Wisconsin with her husband, two children, and an energetic puppy. Learn more at www.sandygoldsworthy.com.

XBTBanner1

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Thumped (Bumped #2) by Megan McCafferty

Thumped (Bumped, #2)
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Megan McCafferty’s Bumped series of books are must-read teen dystopian fiction, along with Ally Condie’s Matched series and Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy.

Thumped, the sequel to Bumped, manages to be satiric, scary, and romantic at the same time. It continues the story of separated-at-birth twins, Melody and Harmony, girls as engaging as McCafferty’s Jessica Darling. These sisters are the most popular teen girls on the planet. To their fans, they seem to be living ideal lives. Harmony is married to Ram and living in Goodside, the religious community that once meant everything to her. Melody has the genetically flawless Jondoe as her coupling partner, which means money and status—and a bright future.

But both girls are hiding secrets. And they are each pining for the only guys they can’t have…. The biggest risk of all could be to finally tell the truth.

Thumped by Megan McCafferty

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars



Thumped (Bumped, #2)This was an interesting sequel, and it was good to find out what happened to Melody and Harmony in the end.

The characters in this were maybe a little more mature than they were in the first book, but they still made some questionable decisions, especially Melody’s decision to (highlight to view spoiler - fake a pregnancy. )

The storyline in this was about Harmony’s pregnancy, and Jondoe trying to get back in contact with her after she ran away back to her husband. I did enjoy finding out what happened to the girls though, and I liked this book more than the first one.

The ending to this was pretty good, and I liked the way that Melody stood up for her beliefs about teenage pregnancy.



7 out of 10

Friday, 26 August 2016

Bumped (Bumped #1) by Megan McCafferty

Bumped (Bumped, #1)
Blurb (from Goodreads):
When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

From New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty comes a strikingly original look at friendship, love, and sisterhood—in a future that is eerily believable.


Bumped by Megan McCafferty

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Bumped (Bumped, #1)This was a YA dystopian story about a world where people went sterile around the age of 20.

The characters in this were okay, although Harmony didn’t behave quite the way I expected her to considering that she wanted her sister to find God, yet then did something that went against what she herself believed.

The storyline in this had some good ideas, but the way the book was written was a little odd. There were also quite a few made-up words, and some odd things like condoms being illegal. The basic story was entertaining though, and I did enjoy it.

The ending to this was okay, and I will be reading the sequel to find out what happens next.



6.5 out of 10

Thursday, 25 August 2016

The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender

The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall
Blurb (from Goodreads):
In this asylum, your mind plays tricks on you all the time…

Delia’s new house isn’t just a house. Long ago, it was the Piven Institute for the Care and Correction of Troubled Females—an insane asylum nicknamed “Hysteria Hall.” However, many of the inmates were not insane, just defiant and strong willed. Kind of like Delia herself.

But the house still wants to keep “troubled” girls locked away. So, in the most horrifying way, Delia gets trapped.

And that’s when she learns that the house is also haunted.

Ghost girls wander the halls in their old-fashioned nightgowns. A handsome ghost boy named Theo roams the grounds. Delia finds that all the spirits are unsettled and full of dark secrets. The house, as well, harbors shocking truths within its walls—truths that only Delia can uncover, and that may set her free.

But she’ll need to act quickly, before the house’s power overtakes everything she loves.

From master of suspense Katie Alender comes a riveting tale of twisted memories and betrayals, and the meaning of madness.


The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


The Dead Girls of Hysteria HallThis wasn’t a bad story, but I did feel quite bored whilst reading it.

I felt quite sorry for Delia, what happened to her wasn’t very fair, and having to then try to save the lives of the rest of her family was a tall order too.

The storyline in this was about Delia inheriting an old mansion which had once housed ‘hysterical’ females, and also inheriting the ghosts that haunted the place. I did find the pace in this quite slow though, and I felt bored during the majority of the book.

The ending to this was okay, and it ended fairly happily really.



6 out of 10.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Dream Junkies by Anne-Marie Yerks


Dream Junkies
Anne-Marie Yerks
Publication date: August 8th 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Actresses in a Chicago comedy troupe, Daphne Corbett and Kristin Brewer share a stage as Jean and Jeanette, a pair of dim-witted legal secretaries upstaging the show’s headliners. When their performance attracts an ambitious entertainment agent from Manhattan, the girls move to New York with hopes of stardom and success. But the search for apartments and showbiz jobs takes them in different directions.
The shared journey leads them to understand that dreams are worth only as much as the struggle to achieve them and that the hardest part to play is yourself.
EXCERPT:
The Last Night
The Saturday before she left for New York, Daphne Corbett wrote her ex-boyfriend’s address on a Post-it note and boarded the Pink Line train to West Pilsen. From the CTA station, she walked down 18th Street to find the house where Alec was living with his new band, Saturn Box.
It was a sunny morning in late July and most of the shops hadn’t yet opened. At a corner liquor store, a group of men and a big dog were gathered around a cement stoop. A taxi cab pulled up and the driver tried to wave her over, but she shook her head and kept on going.
“Hey Miss,” one of the men called, blowing smoke from one side of his mouth, “can I ask you a question?”
Daphne ignored him and held her purse a little closer. This was the kind of neighborhood Alec liked because the big houses could be rented for cheap. Everyone could have a bedroom with plenty of the house left over for practice space and a common living area. Alex wasn’t onto mind the shabby people on the streets or the long trek downtown. He’d told her that he wasn’t home much anyway because his band was taking off.
She referred to the Post-it to locate the side street and turned. The house was halfway down the block, easy to find because of the spray-painted Saturn symbol on the side. Alec’s green Volvo station wagon was parked at the curb, loaded up with speakers and amps. Daphne remembered all the work they’d gone through finding the equipment at consignment shops and thrift stores. They’d had fun doing that.
A girl answered the door, a very thin girl with dishwater blonde hair and pierced eyebrows, wearing a greyish t-shirt. It had to be Lorene, the back-up singer. Alec had mentioned something about her the last time they’d talked.
“Is Alec here?” The girl assessed Daphne’s flowered skirt and white sandals with watery blue eyes.
“I think so.” Lorene stood aside and motioned toward the staircase. In one of the upstairs rooms, Daphne found Alec and his guitar in an upstairs room, stretched out on a ratty orange couch, writing in the composition book spread in his lap. It was the same composition book he’d used for song lyrics ever since she’d met him. His handwriting was so small it would take him a month to fill a page, so small that he probably could use that one notebook the rest of his life. Alec’s soul was in that book, she knew. It was in there even more than in his music.
“What brings you out here?” He sat up to make space on the couch, and she sat down. The curtains hanging in the window behind them were a pair that Daphne had brought when they used to live together in Wicker Park. In those days, they had struggled to survive on their tiny paychecks and a good yard sale find was gold.
She took a breath. “I’m moving to New York. On Monday.” Alec lit a cigarette and took a drag, eyes focused across the room at some equipment arranged in a semi-circle: a sheet music stand, a sax, and a keyboard. He smoothed his bangs. “What for?” Daphne told him about the agent who’d come to the comedy club and the audition for the sitcom. She gave all the details, the things that had happened over the past six months, more than what was necessary because she knew he would listen, that he still cared in a way that other people didn’t.
“So, you think this agent is for real?”
This was what everyone wanted to know. Her mother had asked the same question. Are you sure this is the real thing, Daphne? I mean, it’s a big deal to pack up your whole life and move away . . .
“Pavia is definitely for real.” “Did you sign a contract?” “Sort of,” she told him. “Just for representation. Kristin has a role on the show, but I don’t.
Not yet. I’m going to do some modeling until they call me in.” “What’s this sitcom called?” Alec took another puff and then crushed the cigarette into the ashtray. “Streethearts. It’s about Chicago even though it’s filmed in New York. The idea is that the people who work in the little shops on the street get to know each other and fall in love and have affairs and misunderstandings. Typical kind of thing.” She didn’t tell him how much she had wanted to be on the show and how disappointed she was with the second-string position. But he probably knew.
“What about your sculpture? I thought you were going to set up a workshop someday.”
When she first began college, she had pictured herself alone in an art studio, digging her hands in the clay and wood-firing her work in an open field. But even after five years of classes and a senior show, she’d yet to sell a single piece. The fact there were galleries everywhere— even little ones that would take a chance on someone new—was another reason she was going to New York. She couldn’t take all the sculptures with her—there wasn’t enough space—but she had a nice set of slides that her new step-father and her mother had financed as a graduation gift.
“I’m not giving up on the idea, but I don’t know where it can go. The art world is so artificial. The money goes to the wrong place.” She was fighting the tired trend, the urban refuge type thing done a million times over that everyone couldn’t seem to get enough of: Virgin Mary statuettes glued onto banged up car doors, iron fencing worked into sex positions, bottles filled with plastic fruit floating in tea.
“You think acting isn’t artificial?” he asked. “Just take a look at the posters downtown, Daph. It’s the most artificial world there is. It will suck everything pure out of you and spit it back out in plastic.”
“Rock and roll is artificial, too,” she pointed out. “Those guitars you smash onstage are from the Salvation Army.”
“Come on, get real. You don’t even have a job in New York. Sorry to tell you this, but dreams aren’t edible. And they don’t pay bills. At least you have a job here, something a lot of people would like to do. And it makes people laugh. Why give it up for nothing?”
She didn’t tell that she had already given it up. She and Kristin had quit Side Stitches the week before. Downstairs, a dog began to bark. Then another dog. Then another.
“Lorene has three mutts,” Alec said. He stood up and tucked the cigarette pack into the pocket of his flannel shirt. “She feeds them on the top of the kitchen table. Supposedly it’s demoralizing for them to eat from bowls on the floor. If I don’t get down there, she’ll give them my leftover meatloaf.”
They walked downstairs and stopped at the doorway. The sun was dancing over the tops of the cars in the streets. The flowers in the beds were pale and tired, burning into August.
“Send me a postcard,” he said. “From Manhattan?” she asked. “I don’t know. From anywhere. Surprise me. I’ll send you one too.” When they said goodbye at the front door, she caught a look in his eye, one that had never been directed at her before. Envy. But that was normal, she thought, walking north to the bus stop. Most people would be a little envious of someone whose career is about to take off. She tossed the Post-it note into the trash at the Metra stop. As the train pulled away, she could somehow still see the note through the grate—a bright little square of neon orange that seemed to be saying Stop.
At home on Sunday, Daphne listed the things left to do. Most of the furniture would stay where it was. The new tenant, an incoming grad student at DePaul, had bought the couch, chairs, and dining set for a few hundred bucks. Her mattress would go to the curb. The floors needed a good sweep and the baseboards should be washed. The refrigerator was frightening. And she should find the smoke detector and hang it up in the hallway again. She’d removed it months ago because it kept going off when she dried her hair.
Everything was packed into boxes except for her sculptures. In the morning, she would cover them with plastic and use the blankets in the rental van as cushioning. For now they lined the wall in front of a window, their angled shadows stretched across the wood floor. This would be their final hours in the light for quite a while, Daphne thought, running a hand over her favorite—a piece she called “Panda.” It was her simplest work— a tall smooth cylinder with a fist print in the middle—and most recent (she had brought it home the week before). The only exhibition it’d get would be in the living room unless she could find a way to include it in the things she took to New York. She wondered if Kristin would be a picky roommate, or if she would be too busy to care.
The mail had brought a birthday card from her mother with a check tucked inside.
Sorry I can’t be with you! The honeymoon is wonderful! Be careful. Love, Mom.
The envelope was postmarked and stamped from Jamaica with her mother’s new name in the upper left-hand corner: Elizabeth Peepers. She’d just married a man named Al Peepers on a cruise ship.
Daphne folded the check into her wallet. After tonight, when she unloaded the kilns for the last time, she would be unemployed. Money would be tight for a while, she knew. Apartments in New York were beyond expensive. The first time she’d skimmed the classifieds in The Village Voice she thought it would be impossible to pay such prices. Pavia was the one who suggested that she and Kristin share for a while. That way all expenses were cut in half. Daphne was all for the idea, but she sensed that Kristin wasn’t completely sold. Then again, she hadn’t said “no” to it either.
Daphne called Kristen to make sure everything was set. “I’m not even close to ready,” Kristin said. “Are you?” “I’m packed, but I’ve got to get rid of some dirt and grime if I want my rent deposit back.”
Daphne considered the filth on the baseboards as Kristin went on.
“How much room will we have? I don’t think I can fit all my stuff into a car. Should we rent a van or something?”
“I thought you were getting us a van.” “I thought you were getting it.”
It was typical Kristin to forget something important like this, to assume that it would all fall into place without any effort on her part. Probably everything in her life had gone that way, Daphne thought. She had been spoiled by good looks, the perfect complexion, and long blonde waves—angelic features that contrasted with her on-the-brink sexuality. Everywhere she went people looked at her. Her boyfriends were the gullible, earnest types who fell into an obsessive love that drove them to seek her out twenty-four seven. Sometimes they appeared backstage after the show, eyes overloaded with longing and a kind of resignation beneath the yearning. They all knew that Kristin Brewer would cast them out with time, that they were mice in the claws of a cat who would play until the plaything became boring, then hunt for a new one. Maybe they didn’t, but they should have.
Daphne found a number for U-Haul.
Yes, Kristin could drive men crazy. She was much better at collecting suitors than she was at being an actress. Daphne was the one who had carried their show technically. Her minor at DePaul had been theatre arts and she considered herself professionally trained.
When she had auditioned for Side Stitches, a comedy troupe that performed in a popular downtown club, she’d beat out dozens of other girls for a spot. Kristin, who had come out of nowhere, was given the other role. Together, they created a blonde and brunette duo called Jane and Janette, the silly secretaries whose incompetence with calendar software was the chagrin of their stuffy executive bosses. It was one of the troupe’s most successful ongoing skits and it got their faces featured on color posters and TV ads even if it didn’t make much money. This was how Pavia found them.
In the beginning, Pavia seemed like a sweet lady who demanded respect in the same way a schoolteacher might. She was tiny, only a little over five feet, with tight spiral curls that made her look like a Raggedy Anne. Daphne would have described her as “cute” on first impression, but then she began to take note of the points and angles in the woman’s face, the way she clenched her teeth when she was even slightly impatient, the way her dark eyes would whip and judge and assign anything in sight to a proper caste.
But she could be warm and friendly, too.
“I think you girls have more talent than you realize,” she’d said to Daphne and Kristin that first night. And it was only a few days later that she’d given them both representation contracts and sent them to an audition for a network television pilot called Streethearts. The leading female role, a florist named Erica, was up for grabs.
“Now, both of you have a shot at this,” Pavia had said, leading them into the studio the day of the audition, her heels clicking on the tile. “The producers haven’t decided on a blonde or a brunette,” she paused and turned to them, her hand on the doorknob, “but they definitely want an emerging actress from Chicago. Make the most of that Midwestern drawl, the long O’s and A’s . . . don’t be ashamed of who you are.”
Daphne was a native of the Chicago area but had trained her accent away during drama school at DePaul. Kristin, who was from some small town in Wisconsin and had never taken acting lessons, had retained a farm girl nasal twang. When Daphne sat under the lights with the script and began reading the lines labeled ERICA, she was overly aware of the long O and A sounds and her accent sounded artificial. The casting people watched politely. They asked her a few questions and then told her she could leave. Pavia called later with the news that Kristin had won the role. “But it’s not all bad,” she’d said to Daphne. “The producers actually liked you. They don’t think you’re right for Erica, but they might have a role if the show takes off the way they hope it will. Just come with us to New York. We’ll find something for you.”
Daphne had wanted to kick herself. How could she have flubbed the audition? Why had Pavia screwed her up by mentioning accents right before she went in? Or was it Kristin’s big boobs? That’s what they cared about, of course. And being blonde.
“Think about it,” Pavia said. “You won’t be able to do the comedy show with Kristin gone anyway.”
“They could find a replacement, ” Daphne said flatly. “It wouldn’t be the same.” Pavia was right. There was a certain magic that made people laugh and it didn’t grow on trees. Besides, what if a replacement actress upstaged her or tried to take over? “OK,” she said. “I’ll go.” Then began the flurry of to-do lists, packing, job-quitting, and the good-bye party for Side Stitches. The plan was that Pavia would drive them to Manhattan and they could stay in her neighbor’s sublet for exactly one week until they found their own place. Kristin signed up for the Actor’s Guild, and Daphne was ordered to put together a modeling portfolio. She didn’t have any pictures, though, so Pavia hired a photographer. Daphne had spent an afternoon and evening with him doing things like meditating on a park bench, standing on a train track, and leaning against a graffiti-splattered wall. A set of shots arrived in the mail the next week. Daphne thought they looked good, but Pavia said only that they were “passable.”
In the kitchen, Daphne took on her last task in Chicago, cleaning the refrigerator. For this chore she played her Les Miserables soundtrack and sang along, imagining the glory of Broadway lights. Soon she’d be in New York living alongside some of the most famous, rich, and talented people in the world. The future stretched out a long and lavish pathway brimming with unnamed experience.
If only there wasn’t this nagging feeling, this sense that all wasn’t as she wanted it to be.
She glimpsed at her reflection in the window as she rinsed a mound of moldy chicken salad from a bowl. Maybe she wasn’t a glittery blonde, but she was tall and slender with shiny chestnut hair and a pretty face. She had a brilliant smile, a college degree, and a great sense of humor. And she was dedicated to her dream in a way Kristin could never even begin to understand. Dragging the trash out to the alley, she took a mental snapshot of the back porch of the apartment where she lived, the noble oak that shaded the porch, the busy road out front. Back inside, she lowered herself onto the couch that was no longer hers and closed her eyes. She assured herself that, with time, the nagging feeling would go away.
Her cat Mario snuggled into the crook of her knee, and that was how they both fell asleep their last night in Chicago.


Author Bio:
Anne-Marie Yerks is a fiction writer, essayist and journalist from the Metropolitan Detroit area. Her essays have appeared in the online editions of "Good Housekeeping," "marie claire," "Country Living" and "Redbook." She has work forthcoming in "Modern Memoir" (Fiction Attic Press) and in "Recipes With A Story" (Blue Lobster Books). Her novel, Dream Junkies, will be published in 2016 by New Rivers Press. Find her on Twitter @amy1620.

XBTBanner1

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

vN (The Machine Dynasty #1) by Madeline Ashby

vN (The Machine Dynasty, #1)
Blurb (from Goodreads0:
Amy Peterson is a von Neumann machine, a self-replicating humanoid robot.

For the past five years, she has been grown slowly as part of a mixed organic/synthetic family. She knows very little about her android mother’s past, so when her grandmother arrives and attacks her mother, little Amy wastes no time: she eats her alive.

Now she carries her malfunctioning granny as a partition on her memory drive, and she’s learning impossible things about her clade’s history – like the fact that the failsafe that stops all robots from harming humans has failed… Which means that everyone wants a piece of her, some to use her as a weapon, others to destroy her.


vN by Madeline Ashby

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


vN (The Machine Dynasty, #1)This was a YA sci-fi story about robots.

Amy was quite a meek girl until her mother was attacked, and the sudden eating of her grandmother was a bit odd, as was how quickly Amy went from acting like a 5-year-old to acting like an adult.

The storyline in this was about Amy eating her grandmother, and ending up in jail, only to be rescued by another robot called Javier. Amy and Javier then went on the run together, but I didn’t find that all that interesting really, and the book dragged for me.

The ending to this was a bit odd, and I don’t think I’ll be reading the sequel.



6 out of 10

Monday, 22 August 2016

The Lost Eyes of the Serpent by Jeremy Phillips


The Lost Eyes of the Serpent
Jeremy Phillips
(The Rose Delacroix Files, #1)
Published by: Limitless Publishing
Publication date: August 8th 2016
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult
It may sound crazy, but Jonathan Delacroix is certain his sister Rose really is Sherlock Holmes…
Girls are not detectives. But in the summer of 1893, in the small western town of Hope Springs, Rose Delacroix is bound and determined to prove them all wrong. When the famous Emerald Serpent Jewels are stolen from the Delacroix family hotel and the blame lands solely on her older brother Bill, Rose recruits Jonathan as her Watson-like counterpart to solve the case.
Proving your brother innocent is difficult when the evidence keeps stacking up against him…
Before Rose and Jonathan can properly start their investigation, another robbery is committed. The rusty revolver purported to have once belonged to Wild Bill Hickok has been stolen from the general store and found hidden amongst her brother’s belongings. With Bill in jail, and the owner of the Serpent Jewels planning to sue the Delacroix hotel, Rose knows she has to find a lead, and soon.
A witness comes forward claiming they saw Bill steal the jewels, but Rose isn’t about to be bullied into ignoring the facts…
Rose and Jonathan must put their sleuthing skills to the test or witness their family fall to ruin due to…
…the lost eye of the serpent.
Bonus Scene (short story):
Rose Delacroix Versus the Box
By Jeremy Phillips
Rose Delacroix sat on a stump in the bare and dusty yard behind the Delacroix Hotel, staring at a metal box sitting on another stump, a few feet away from her. She regarded the box with an ever-increasing intensity, not sure how to proceed. Time was very short, and she wished that she had more of it available to her right now.
“Whatever am I going to do with you?” Rose said to the box.
The box didn’t look like much. It was the size of a shoebox, but constructed of solid steel, with tight, straight corners. Its only visible feature was a place for a key to fit, in the front of the box. Really, it seemed simple enough. But looks, as Rose knew very well, are often deceptive.
In her hand, Rose held a couple of metal clips from out of her hair, clips which she had straightened out to use for this particular purpose. Except, it hadn’t worked yet. Rose approached the box again, the box which had at first glance appeared to be so simple, and yet had thwarted all of her prior attempts at entry.
Rose shook the box, which was deceptively heavy in addition to being deceptively difficult to break. Something solid thunked around inside of it. Whatever it was, Rose meant to have it out of that box, and soon.
Drawing a deep, calming breath, Rose tried once more to pick the lock on this thing. The books she’s been reading, the Sherlock Holmes mysteries in addition to other lesser Detective tales, always make this seem so simple, don’t they?
Using one of the hair pins that she had straightened out, Rose carefully massaged the top of the lock, to where she believed the pins that she needed to trick ought to be. She could feel the pins moving, so that was good. With a second hair pin, she applied a constant pressure on the bottom of the lock in the hopes of popping it open, when the pins were all equally deceived into believing that the proper key had been applied into the keyhole.
After another long effort, she stopped again. What time was it getting to be, now?
Really, she needed to pop this lock open. She needed, rather desperately, to know what was inside of this thing. All of her logic told Rose that whatever was inside of this deceptively secure box, was of vital importance to her investigation. Even as she sat there in this yard, monkeying around with this locked box, her brother Jon was confronting the box’s owner. Jon needed her, and he needed her now, not whenever it was that she managed to finally get this thing open.
Perhaps the problem was too obvious. This box, which she had confiscated, perhaps inappropriately, from its hiding place in a guest room of the Delacroix Hotel, belonged to a man who liked to think of himself as the world’s greatest “cracksman.” This was a term that Rose had only recently learned, but which referred to the man’s impressive ability to break into locked safes. Given the great trouble that this person had managed to cause to Rose and her family in the last few days, he had a point concerning his abilities, after all.
Rose took a moment, and tried to think about the problem logically. She had in her possession the small personal safe of a man who considered himself to be the greatest safe-breaker in the world. It only stood to reason, that the security on the safe of such a person would defy any normal attempts at lock picking.
Really, attempting to pick the thing was ridiculous, given the fact that she was an amateur at this sort of thing in the first place. Rose was self-taught, having only popped a few locks around town during her free time when no one was looking, to see if she could do it. To Rose’s way of thinking, skills such as lock picking were just the sorts of things that a self-styled Detective simply ought to know, after all.
Not that everyone was likely to understand this. She put this into the same category of small-minded thinking as seemed to possess most people that she met, the same type of small-minded thinking which implied that, given her status as a female, she was simply incapable of actual logic thought. Or much else, either. This was in the category of things that she simply refused to agree to wholesale, in other words.
Turning the safe around and looking into the keyhole with the aid of the heavy summer sunlight, Rose suddenly understood the problem more fully. The lock itself seemed to run deeper than most locks did, and what’s more, there appeared to be pins on the right interior side of the lock too. Those extra pins were placed at a different angle than were normally seen, in all of the others locks that Rose had encountered around the town of Hope Springs. This was actually a rather extraordinary lock, which would take a rather extraordinary key. It was a lock the likes of which Rose had never encountered before.
Given enough time, Rose was fairly sure that she could have broken the lock anyway. It would require another hair pin, and perhaps another hand too, to apply pressure to the lock with the tension wire while she worked at the pins from two different angles at once. But, time was something that she simply didn’t have much of. This was going to require a different approach.
Rose placed the box back on the tree stump, then went into a large work shed, which was attached to the barn in the family’s back yard. She returned a minute later with the heaviest wood chopping axe that she could find, and took a mighty swing at the top of the metallic box.
The first blow did nothing but mildly dent the box, causing it to bounce a foot or so up into the air with the force of her assault. A second and third blow did little more. But on her fourth attempt, after getting a reckless running start at the metal box from the other side of the yard, Rose managed to lodge the blade of the axe into the top of the steel box. Rose’s arms were feeling sore already, from the exertions of trying to break this thing.
It was almost comical. The axe was now lodged directly into the lid of the steel box. Feeling her anxiety increase, Rose wondered what time it was now getting to be. She wondered how things were going for Jon, who was even now confronting the burglar…a man who, the night before, had proven that he was not above pulling a gun on her brother. He might not be above murder, even.
With great effort, Rose was able to pry the axe blade back out of the top of the box. This left a large cut along the middle of the lid of the thing, but she could still not get to the contents of the box, or even really see what those contents were, rolling around inside of that damned box.
Rose set the box up on its edge. This time, it would have to work. She stepped back again, hefting the axe up over her head. She stepped back farther, and farther yet. An absurd feeling came over Rose, as though she were a baseball player up at bat, facing the third strike in the last inning of a tight game.
Well, and wasn’t that pretty much what this was, after all? How much time did Jon really have, facing off with that criminal? This was her last inning, and what all was on the line? Only the freedom and future of her other brother, Bill, who had been framed for two robberies and one attempted murder that he didn’t commit. Oh, and the possibility of the entire Delacroix family losing their ownership of the Delacroix Hotel to another criminal, and being kicked out into the streets of Hope Springs in the summer of 1893; there was that minor detail, too. Only those things. And Jon.
Steadying herself, Rose took a deep breath. In her mind’s eye, she imagined the cut that she would have to inflict to make this thing happen. She’s read someplace about the power of the mind, the power to make things happen by carefully visualizing them, first. This was something she believed in wholeheartedly.
The blow would have to be perfect. It would have to land squarely on the edge of the lid, to exactly where the hinge must be. Only that. Or else, perhaps she could go over to the Blacksmith’s shop and see if he couldn’t pop the thing open for her somehow. But there would be a lot of questions asked, then. And a lot of precious time wasted. She thought again of Jon, headed over to the Bromwell Hotel, across the street.
With a cry, Rose ran wholeheartedly up towards the box, to where it sat there on the tree stump. She brought the axe down with all her might, producing a bone-jarring ringing in her hands clear up to the shoulder, an ear-cracking SMACK when the unstoppable force of her axe came down on the immovable object of the steel box’s lid…and then the miracle happened.
The blow was perfect, more perfect than seemed fair. The hinge of the box gave way, and the contents of the box flew everywhere, scattering around to land everyplace on the dusty ground.
Rose quickly rushed around the yard, ignoring the ringing pain in her arms, picking up the box’s former contents and placing them back in the now-broken box.
There was a little leather pouch full of lock picks, proper ones, made of some fine thin steel that Rose had never seen before. These she would keep, if things turned out as she hoped they might. There was also a collection of paper money and coins. And there, sitting separate and apart from the rest of the stuff, was a round object about the size of an apple.
Quickly picking the object up, Rose examined it closely.
After a few moments a large smile came across her face, as she realized what the object in her hand was…and what it meant, for her and her all-consuming Investigation. This was becoming like a Sherlock Holmes story after all, Rose thought, which filled her with excitement and a powerful sense of adventure, although she might not have admitted this to anyone, perhaps not even to her twin brother John.
Holding on to the object and rushing out to Main Street, Rose found herself running as quickly as she could to go help her brother. Yes, this might help fix things. It might help fix things very well.


Author Bio:
Jeremy Phillips has been interested in Buddhist philosophy for more than twenty years, and attends services at a Shin Buddhist temple in Spokane, Washington. When he isn't writing or keeping busy being a father and husband, he works as a Respiratory Therapist at several different hospitals. He lives in Spokane with his wife, children, dogs, and bonsai trees.



XBTBanner1

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Conversion by Katherine Howe

Conversion
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane comes a chilling mystery—Prep meets The Crucible.
 
It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.

First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.

Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .

Inspired by true events—from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school—Conversion casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, what’s really happening to the girls at St. Joan’s?


Conversion by Katherine Howe

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Conversion “How on earth could they think feeding a urine cake to a dog would be a solution?”


This was a YA mystery story, about a group of girls at a private school who fall ill with a mystery illness.

Colleen was an okay character, and I appreciated how hard she worked to be valedictorian, and how much effort she put into her school work, even if it meant she was a little slow on the uptake when it came to her friends.

The storyline in this was about a group of girls at Colleen’s private school, who all fell ill with strange symptoms, and nobody could work out why. We also got some chapters which were set during the Salem witch trials, and had Colleen trying to puzzle out the connection between what happened then and what was happening at her school currently. These Salem chapters were a bit weird though, and it took a long time for the correlation between the past and present really came to light.

The ending to this was okay, but there was still a bit of a question over exactly what had happened.



6 out of 10

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Up in the Treehouse by K.K. Allen


Up in the Treehouse
K.K. Allen
Publication date: July 19th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

I wanted to tell him all my secrets, but he became one of them instead.
Chloe Rivers never thought she would keep secrets from her best friend. Then again, she never imagined she would fall in love with him either. When she finally reveals her feelings, rejection shatters her, rendering her vulnerable and sending her straight into the destructive arms of the wrong guy.
Gavin Rhodes never saw the betrayal coming. It crushes him. Chloe has always been his forbidden fantasy–sweet, tempting, and beautiful. But when the opportunity finally presents itself, he makes the biggest mistake of all and denies her.
Now it’s too late . . .
Four years after a devastating tragedy, Chloe and Gavin’s world’s collide and they find their lives entangling once again. Haunted by the past, they are forced to come to terms with all that has transpired to find the peace they deserve. Except they can’t seem to get near each other without combatting an intense emotional connection that brings them right back to where it all started . . . their childhood treehouse.
Chloe still holds her secrets close, but this time she isn’t the only one with something to hide. Can their deep-rooted connection survive the destruction of innocence?
* * Some sexy time and light swearing * *
Instagram_Chloe4
EXCERPT:
My entire body ached the moment I tried to move, so I stopped trying. I groaned and peeled an eye open, trying to understand why this morning felt so different from all the others.
When I saw the matching sets of green eyeballs peering over the ladder, one glaring and one questioning, I wanted to scream, but the air in my throat went the other direction. I gasped and propelled myself backward into the furthest corner of the alcove.
“Do you think she’s homeless?” asked Eyeballs Number One.
Eyeballs Number Two shook his head as he scanned my body. “Maybe she ran away from home.”
“Yeah, or maybe she’s a troll that lives in the woods. Are we supposed to feed her?”
“I didn’t bring any food. Did you?”
One of the boys threw his eyes around the room, as if afraid to look away from me for long. “No. We should tell dad we need a fridge.”
“And how will we keep it cold, moron?”
“Hey! I’m not a moron!”
While the boys fought, I managed to creep forward until I gripped the edge of the bed with every intention to slip down undetected.
But Eyeballs Number One saw me and placed an arm out across the other boy’s body. “Shh. She’s moving.”
My grogginess cleared, replaced by a rush of adrenaline as I stared back at the twin boys—the boys whose treehouse I’d snuck into the night before. At this realization, I straightened with a jolt. “I-I have to get home.” Panic seized my chest knowing my parents would be frantic looking for me.
Eyeballs Number Two nudged the other. “She has a home, bro.”
I bit my lip to hide my smile, happy they no longer considered me a possible troll. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to—” I didn’t know why I was about to lie, so I stopped myself. I totally meant to fall asleep there. I just didn’t mean to get caught.
“Wait!” one of them called as I headed for the ladder. I turned to see the curious one staring back at me with a sincere expression. “Are you okay?”
All I could do was nod. How could I tell two boys I didn’t know the reason for invading their sanctuary—that I had been watching them for weeks, envious of their home in the woods? Instead of saying another word, I found the ladder and moved down it, missing the last few steps in my haste. The moment I hit the ground, I accepted the impact with a grimace and took off at a sprint through the woods and toward my bedroom window. I climbed inside just as I heard my mom calling me for breakfast.
Instagram_Chloe6


Author Bio:
Hi all! I'm K.K. Allen, Contemporary Fantasy & New Adult Romance author of the Summer Solstice series (Enchanted, the Equinox, and the Descendants), as well as the short story, Soaring. Look for my upcoming New Adult Romance, Up in the Treehouse, OUT NOW!!
I currently live in Florida with my ridiculously handsome son, Jagger. I've always had a passion for reading and writing, so sharing my work with you all is beyond exciting. Thank you all for checking out my page. I hope you'll give my books a shot, and definitely look out for more from me. This train ain't stoppin'. ;)


XBTBanner1

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

The Truth About Alice
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party.

But did you know Alice was sexting Brandon when he crashed his car?

It's true. Ask ANYBODY.


Rumor has it that Alice Franklin is a slut. It's written all over the bathroom stall at Healy High for everyone to see. And after star quarterback Brandon Fitzsimmons dies in a car accident, the rumors start to spiral out of control.

In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students—the girl who has the infamous party, the car accident survivor, the former best friend, and the boy next door—tell all they know.

But exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there's only one person to ask: Alice herself.




The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


The Truth About AliceThis was a YA contemporary story about bullying.

Alice was a character that I felt sorry for, but it was a bit hard to connect with her as we saw everything from other people’s point of view rather than from Alice. I thought that her sort-of best friend was a bit of a hypocrite though, and the other kids weren’t much better.

The storyline in this was about a rumour that Alice had slept with two guys on the same night, and about how one of those guys had ended up dead. The rumour seemed to spiral out of control though until Alice was essentially an outcast at her school, and the bullies didn’t really seem to care about the effect they were having on her.

The ending to this was okay, and we did eventually get to hear from Alice, it was maybe a little too late for me though, and the bullying didn’t really stop either.
6 out of 10