Sunday, August 2, 2020

Review: Hickville Redemption by: Mary Karlik

Title: Hickville Redemption
Author: Mary Karlik
Publisher: GPK Publications
Series: Hickville High #3
Format: Kindle e-book (256 p.)
Source: Personal Purchase

Description:

A 30 year old mystery…
A 15 year old sleuth.

Freshman Mackenzie Quinn wants nothing to do with the mysterious death of Cassidy Jones. But when her crush, Braden McGuire, declares he’s determined to uncover the truth, she is drawn into the cold case. The problem is her dad is the number one suspect. Things look pretty hopeless until her best friend, Travis Barns, loans her the secret diary of Cassidy Jones. His only stipulation is that she not share it with anybody else. But when her jealous boyfriend finds and exposes the diary, secrets come to life that could ruin MacKenzie’s whole family.
Can she find a way to clear her father’s name and atone for her own mistakes before it’s too late

My Thoughts: 

This book follows the youngest Quinn girl Mackenzie who is being pushed by the guy she's dating about what happened to the young Cassidy Jones who died more than 30 years ago.  Only a few people know what really happened and they aren't talking including MacKenzie's father.  Did he have something to do with it?

Travis Barns wants nothing more than to be the man in Mackenzie's life but he decides not to tell her how he feels instead he gives her Cassidy's diary in the hopes that Mackenzie will learn about the girl behind the mystery.  Will it explain what happened to Cassidy?

Of course Mackenzie's boyfriend Braden McGuire is determined to make his mark on the media world by breaking the case wide open regardless of who it hurts.  Having no sense of privacy or slander he goes full steam to push the issue of who killed Cassidy.  Mackenzie doesn't want this she just wants to learn more about her.

This book was fabulous a mystery inside a teen romance it pulled you in wanting to know what happened to Cassidy and how Mackenzie will fair in the new town, especially with romance on the horizon!

I love taking a step back and going to Hickville High to see what everyone is up to!  We get to check in with other characters as well as walk in Mackenzie's world to see what she is up to.  It was totally worth it.  The story telling is superb.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Review: Hickville Crossroads by: Mary Karlik

Title: Hickville Crossroads
Author: Mary Karlik
Publisher; GPK Publications
Series: Hickville High #4
Format: e-book ARC (191 p.)
Source: Xpresso Tours

Description:


Frasier Anderson is one of the hottest teenage actors in the UK, but he’s virtually unknown in the US. Now he’s landed the leading role in a big-budget Hollywood film that could make him an international star. 


So how do you prepare a Scot for a role as a Texas high school student? Give him a fake name, a fake accent, and embed him in a Texas high school. He only has to follow three rules:


No drama. No girls. And no telling who he really is.


Jenna Wiley is smart, funny, and has a few no-drama, no-dating rules of her own. Her friendship with new kid Ethan Smith is perfect and might even lead to something more. Except for a few things that don’t add up. Like his mom being afraid to have company. Or their house, which is more staged than lived in. Or his sister, whom nobody talks about.


It all comes to a boil when Frasier’s biggest secrets hit the tabloids and the paparazzi swarm Hillside with Jenna in their sights.


Can Frasier convince Jenna that shy, goofy Ethan Smith is closer to real than the image the tabloids have created?


And can she ever forgive him for breaking the most important rule of all? Because for Jenna, when it comes to love and science, the truth is all that matters.

My Thoughts: 

This book brings us back Hickville High where Frasier a hot young actor in England has come to Hillside Texas with an ulterior motive researching a part for an upcoming movie.  What he didn't count on was Jenna Wiley.   

This book is a fun read where we go back to Hillside and are treated to another young adult story with issues just about anyone could deal with.  It was also nice to see references to past characters in the book as well as watch Ethan/Frasier manuever around Hickville while keeping a secret about why he's really there.

Going back to Hillside is like visiting old friends and seeing what they are up to now and how they are dealing with things and how they will over come what is being thrown at them!  I thoroughly enjoy each time I get to go back and read about them time and again!

Monday, July 27, 2020

Review: How The Deer Moon Hungers by: Susan Wingate




HOW THE DEER MOON HUNGERS
Susan Wingate
YA/Coming of Age/Mainstream Fiction

For those who enjoy reading books like Where the Crawdads Sing and My Sister’s Keeper
MACKENZIE FRASER witnesses a drunk driver mow down her seven-year-old sister and her mother blames her. Then she ends up in juvie on a trumped-up drug charge. Now she’s in the fight of her life…on the inside! And she’s losing.

HOW THE DEER MOON HUNGERS is a coming of age story about loss, grief, and the power of love.

ORDER YOUR COPY

Amazon → https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08676VMT3





PART ONE

the beginning
“a flower knows, when its butterfly will return, and if the moon walks out, the sky will
understand; but now it hurts, to watch you
leave so soon, when I don't know, if you will ever come back.” ―Sanober Khan
1

The Day Before

I, one Miss MacKenzie Becca Fraser, was never one for saying fuck much. But as with life, things change.
The year before, Dad removed Tessa’s training wheels. The bike had grown up, was halfway between a tricycle and a teenager’s bike. Her eyes glowed when the trainers came off. Her smile? Buoyant. My bike was what Tessa called a big girl bike—a beach cruiser in Tiffany box blue. Mine didn’t have ribbons shooting out of the handles. Can you imagine me going to school with ribbons out of the handles? My peeps would never let me live it down.
The evening before what people called the worst thing that’s happened on the island since Becca Winthrop went and flopped over dead of heart failure at the liquor store, we set off on a night ride—Tessa and me. We left Mom at home stirring up dust with her favorite electric broom. Tuesday was a lazy fall night, one with the sun and moon in competition for the evening sky; with the sun being selfish for time, trying to hang on to day even though it knew it should just stop shining, give up, and go away. We’d stuck playing cards in the spokes of our tires to add to clicking crickets, tree frogs chirping, a not-so-distant fox hacking out a cough to alert its scattered pack of food found—a doomed rabbit or kitty kibbles left out on someone’s porch. Up the hill, deep in the woods, an owl’s Psalm echoed back from its mate as if they were holding invisible hands across the horizon, not wanting to let go. Their song played while we rode.
We’d split the deck of cards, each one clipping twenty-six onto our tire spokes to deter animals from darting out into the lane ahead. Because that was all we needed—to crash into a raccoon crossing the street. Not much good for the coon either. But the road was deserted, and I kept Tessa in front, keeping my eye out for her.
Tessa rode her bike fast like she was angling to lasso the moon, which sat high at the end of the road over Old Man Johnson’s cattle farm. The big, yellow ball lolled around atop a silhouette of gossamer evergreens framing a large swatch of grazing land.
Wind fluttered that silky sable ponytail of hers as we came off the downhill side of False Bay Drive where the road at the end of summer stripes a path of thirsty grass along the strait, where cows graze in a pasture trimmed by a stand of golden poplars, crooked and bending toward the north sky away from steady winds coming off the water. Most people think that on our island in the Pacific Northwest, we live in slickers and galoshes year-round. But that’s the secret we have. Seattle gives our island a bad reputation, makes us soggy when we’re not. We live in what meteorologists call a banana belt or a rain shadow, so our island lacks the lush, drippy rainforests often found in other parts of the Pacific Northwest.
Each downstroke of my pedals matched rhythm with the plastic ribbons whipping off Tessa’s handlebars, whizzing like a thousand bees around her hands. When she skidded to a halt in front of me, I yanked left, my wheels slipping as I swerved to miss her, no doubt balding a spot on the tire’s rubber.
“What’s wrong with you?” I demanded, anger flashing hot in my cheeks and pooling into my chest.
Tessa didn’t seem to hear me. She was gaping up at the sky with that moon gaping back at her.
“What?” I repeated, but this time we were both fixed on the dang moon.
“Do you see it, Mac? The deer?” Tess was in the habit of starting, finishing, and rereading Thurber’s The White Deer for, like, the millionth time—a read way above her grade. In fact, she often fell asleep with the stupid book open-faced on her chest. Then the next morning she’d stick a crow feather in the book to mark her place and set it on her nightstand, ready for her evening read.
“There’s no deer in the moon, dork, but there might be a man if you look hard enough. You need to read real stuff. You’re getting weird.”
“See its horns?”
“Antlers.” I told her. “A hungry moon like that likes to eat seven-year-olds for dinner.” “Nuh-uh,” Tessa answered.
I rolled my bike backward, parallel to hers, close enough to sneak my hand around the back of her head and yank her ponytail.
 “Don’t,” Tessa yelped.
I enjoyed hearing her whiny kid voice. Mom called it plaintive. But Mom liked to make things sound more sophisticated. Her beaten-up chest of drawers was a chiffonier. The mossy stone patio, a pergola. Mom wanted more out of life, and I suspected she harbored a few regrets. “Our island didn’t hold a candle to New York City,” she’d complained one night. “Not even to Seattle. At least Seattle has an international flair,” she’d said.
Mom could have been a model if she’d pursued it, but she’d fallen in love, had kids. The what-happenedto-my-life syndrome seemed to have snagged her in a net she couldn’t get out of. She often talked about things she would do after Tess and I were out of school, when the house and her life were her own again. A longing filling her words, just enough for me to sense an underpinning of resentment. Her gaze would shift to the window, outside, away and away, but not for long; and she would chuckle. Then, she’d sit upright and say, “Oh, we wish on stars and mushroom caps for moon dust and fairies.” I don’t know where she got that phrase, but Mom always trotted it out when she got wistful. Maybe it came from Gramma Kiki. Who knows? It really doesn’t matter, but the oddity of a phrase like that will stick with you.
And although our island boasted an international school—Spring Street School—our town was mostly country, with nothing international about it. We didn’t even have a stoplight. Just stop signs and, of late, one abused turnabout.
When I glanced sideways at Tessa, she was straddling her bike as she stared up at the moon. I noted a certain otherness in her expression, as if we weren’t alone, as if the ghost of that deer she’d spotted in the moon had plopped onto her shoulders and was weighing her down. Her eyes seemed dark with worry and as deep as a pair of bottomless wells, shimmering with unshed tears. I think about that worry sometimes. It haunts me still.
“Come on,” I said. “We’d better get home. Mom’s already in a snit.”
“I wonder what the deer eats, Mac. Do you think it’s hungry?”
“One thing it doesn’t eat, Tess, is cheese!” I said, laughing, but Tessa didn’t get it. She didn’t know then, or ever, about the man in the moon or about the cheese the moon was allegedly made of.
I used to like the word allegedly. I’d learned it as a vocabulary word at the start of my junior year, and I got it right on a pop quiz in homeroom spelling. The teacher even had me write my sentence on the board: Gemma allegedly hid the pencil from me, but there was no evidence to prove that for sure. The sentences I would write with this word now could not be more different: I was allegedly taking care of Tessa when we went to the park the day after looking at the deer moon. And I was allegedly not watching when the car hit her.  Allegedly became an important word for me after Tessa died. It’s weird to recall how much I liked the word in my junior year but hated it afterward when I heard the cop use it.
Allegedly,” he’d said, “the younger one was in the older sister’s care.” And then, as though no one understood, “The older one was supposed to be watching the younger one.” He said one as if we were buttons on a conveyor belt at some stupid button factory. The jerk.
After Tess died, I started counting the days of the moon as it sketched out a path in the sky from crescent to half to gibbous to crescent again. I called it moon spying, and every month when the moon was ripe, I used to rush outside to search that big ol’ cheese wheel. Maybe I’d spy Tessa riding on the back of the deer ghost, but mostly I just hoped she might see me searching the moon for a glimpse of her.









My Review: 

MacKenzie Fraser is living her life in a small town where she witnesses her sister's death and gets the blame for it. From there her life gets worse when she finds herself in Juvie and has to learn to survive. This was an incredible journey the author takes you on as you read how MacKenzie survives and adapts. Definitely a page turner that keeps you entertained until the very end! Can't wait to see what is next for this author!



Susan Wingate is a #1 Amazon bestselling award-winning author of over fifteen novels. Susan writes across fiction and nonfiction genres and often sets her stories in the Pacific Northwest where she is the president of a local authors association. She writes full-time and lives in Washington State with her husband, Bob.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

Website: www.susanwingate.com
Blog:    www.susanwingate.com/blog
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/susanwingate
Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorsusanwingate





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Friday, July 17, 2020

Review: Paris is Always A Good Idea by: Jenn McKinlay

Title: Paris is Always A Good Idea
Author: Jenn McKinlay
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 352
Format: e-book ARC
Source: NetGalley

Description:


It's been seven years since Chelsea Martin embarked on her yearlong post-college European adventure. Since then, she's lost her mother to cancer and watched her sister marry twice, while Chelsea's thrown herself into work, becoming one of the most talented fundraisers for the American Cancer Coalition, and with the exception of one annoyingly competent coworker, Jason Knightley, her status as most talented fundraiser is unquestioned. 

 When her introverted mathematician father announces he's getting remarried, Chelsea is forced to acknowledge that her life stopped after her mother died, and that the last time she can remember being happy, in love, or enjoying her life was on her gap year. Inspired to retrace her steps--to find Colin in Ireland, Jean Claude in France, and Marcelino in Italy--Chelsea hopes that one of these three men who stole her heart so many years ago, can help her find it again. 

 From the start of her journey nothing goes as planned, but as Chelsea reconnects with her old self, she also finds love in the very last place she expected.

My Thoughts: 

Chelsea goes to meet her father and find out he's getting married and is totally unprepared for it.  She finds herself loosing herself in her work and not finding love.  Her sister challenges Chelsea to find what she had when she was abroad prior to her mother's death.  See what she is missing in life.

This book has so much going on as we go on Chelsea's journey with her.  We get to see Ireland and see how her relationship with Colin faired and so on to Paris and Italy with a different boy each time. Chelsea also finds her talking more with a co-worker she didn't get along with Jason Knightley.  She learns why he does the work eh does.  

I loved this adventure and it definitely is a promising adventure for the summer.  Since most of us are stuck on a staycation this was a great adventure to go on in the comfort of your own house!  This book will pull you in and captivate you until the last page is turned!  I hope Ms. McKinlay does a book like this again.  Everything she touches seems to be incredible!

Friday, July 10, 2020

Book Spotlight: The Summoned Ones by: Darryl A. Woods





THE SUMMONED ONES: BOOK 1 OF FLIGHT TO BERICEA SERIES
Darryl A. Woods
Adult Epic Fantasy

Can a group of college-aged friends from a small Kentucky town actually be the Summoned Ones of prophecy, called to a strange world filled with magic and devastated by war? Can they save the lives of the desperate inhabitants and help them defeat a wicked tyrant? Their epic journey will push them to the limits of their endurance. This unlikely group will discover truths about themselves and experience another world beyond their imagination.

During their journey, they will explore this new world, discover new talents and previously hidden abilities, develop friendships with people they couldn’t have dreamed possible, and will be forced to take actions they would have never considered in any less dire circumstances.

ORDER YOUR COPY

Amazon → https://amzn.to/2JOJ4K7

Barnes & Noble → https://bit.ly/2RlMkAK

Kobo → https://bit.ly/3aTEYMX
Fishpond → https://bit.ly/3e9IDs2




Prologue

 “Rally to the general! Rally to the general!” shouted the tall, lanky soldier as he fought his way toward Darnon.
Kail thought to himself that if they survived this battle, General Darnon would likely discipline him for issuing commands. What he did not know is that Darnon greatly admired his skill with a sword, and regarded Kail as the best he had seen in his long military career.
Over the last nine years of war, the two had engaged in an odd sort of dance. Darnon was keenly aware of the respect his troops had for Kail. A respect not only for his individual prowess in battle, but for his uncanny understanding of the battlefield. As he was now demonstrating, Kail instinctively knew where he and the others were most needed at critical junctures in a battle.
In the beginning, when Kail first joined his army’s ranks and began to positively affect the outcomes of battles, General Darnon decided to reward his new soldier with a promotion. But each time he prepared to issue Kail a field commission, the rogue would do something that forced the general’s hand and demanded reprimand. Darnon came to realize that these altercations were no accident. Over time, he learned what Kail already knew: that he could serve best as a rank-and-file soldier in the thick of battle. So, the two played out their game. Darnon would dole out light punishment and Kail would act indignant, then reluctantly accept his penalty.
“Fight your way to the general!” Kail bellowed again and again over the din of battle.
His general was indeed in trouble, as was the army’s position in the overall battle. Only minutes earlier, Darnon’s command post had been overrun. The enemy was countering in near-perfect fashion the battleplan drawn up that very morning. The general now found himself surrounded on three sides. His skillful use of his massive two-handed sword was the only thing keeping him from being overwhelmed. Three of his officers fought frantically to protect his back, but two were so slowed by wounds, they could barely defend themselves, let alone their commanding officer.
“The general, the general,” Kail continued to scream, as enemy after enemy fell to the savagery of his blades.
Kail fought as he often did, with a medium-length sword in one hand and a long dagger in the other. His blades were literally a blur, the speed and uncanny accuracy of their wielding unmatched. A wedge of soldiers followed in the wake of Kail’s lethal blades. Many of the men owed their lives to the fighter as he mercilessly dispatched the enemies that came toward them. Those not killed outright by Kail were quickly dealt with by the throng of soldiers growing behind him.
“To the general, to the general!” Kail heard his entreaty taken up by soldiers across the battlefield.
The shouts took on a cadence that seemed to cause Kail to intensify his frantic fight to reach the general he respected and admired. Darnon had been so intent on his own fight for survival, it was only now that Kail’s shouts began to register. Allowing himself a quick glance, Darnon made eye contact with his tall soldier. That brief exchange gave both the exhausted warriors the boost they needed to close the gap.
Kail finally reached the ring of enemy soldiers surrounding Darnon. As the skillful swordsman attacked them from behind, each foe quickly fell in turn. The last two made the mistake of wheeling to face their new threat, only to be cleaved nearly in two by the wide arc of the general’s long sword.
The shouts imploring the men to rally to their general continued unabated even though Darnon was temporarily out of harm’s way, surrounded now by dozens of his men. The shouts persisted in no small part because of Kail. Darnon couldn’t comprehend why his usually astute tactician continued to encourage the troops to rally to their general. The only affect apparent to Darnon was that his troops were collapsing into the center of the battlefield, now completely surrounded by the enemy with little hope of escape.
“To the general, to the general!” continued the shouts from Kail and the mass of troops surrounding Darnon. Such conduct exasperated their leader, and he began to second-guess the man he had once trusted implicitly. In this moment of despair, when Darnon thought the lives of the troops he commanded and his own forfeit, he heard the sudden thunder of hooves and the clash of steel. The Jerimassian cavalry exploded into the enemy with such force, the sounds of new battle drowned out the localized fighting. Darnon’s army began cheering as they realized help had arrived, seemingly from nowhere.
The enemy, so sure of complete victory only moments before, now found themselves caught in a vice. Darnon’s surging troops pressed them from the inside out, and they were completely surrounded by the formidable Jerimassian cavalry. The skillful horsemen darted in and out of the enemy’s ranks, inflicting heavy casualties then disappearing before any defense could be marshaled.
As they had done in several prior battles, the enemy troops now turned their aggression on their leaders. Darnon’s troops aided these common soldiers as they attacked their superiors. Darnon and his men knew that the bulk of the enemy fighting force was made up of men coerced into fighting to keep their families alive.
For the last nine years, their foes had served under an evil entity named Zybaro. He overran villages and captured their inhabitants, forcing anyone capable of serving into his army and enslaving the rest. The new soldiers were forced to fight or witness the murders of their loved ones. Enforcing his brutal siege with the aid of powerful, mutated magicians called nollax, Zybaro swept across Malabrim, amassing an immense army. Malabrim was the country General Darnon and Commander Namir now fought, hoping to free as many souls as they could and disrupt Zybaro’s methodical march to total domination.
When the conflict was at last over, the remaining enemy troops dropped their weapons and placed their hands, fingers interlocked, on their heads. Over the years, Darnon and his men had seen this scene play out many times. Without waiting for orders, the soldiers began corralling their now-placid enemy towards an empty area of the field. They would next begin the long process of removing their enemy’s armor and searching for hidden weapons.
Kail set out to help the troops with their task, but made it a point to pass close by the general en route. He spoke softly so that only Darnon could hear.
“I’m sorry for the confusion back there. I saw Commander Namir’s scouts on the ridge. I thought it best to get everyone away from the perimeter.”
Darnon couldn’t help but return the soldier’s unrepentant grin.
The general heard a commotion and turned to see Namir reining in his horse a short distance away. The commander dismounted in the fluid motion of one who has spent a lifetime in the saddle. Leading his well-disciplined steed forward, the reins slack between them, Namir approached
 Without offering a formal greeting, the commander got right to the point. “My scouts reported they saw you having a hard time.” Not waiting for a reply, Namir pressed on, genuinely concerned.
 “Darnon, you know I was ordered north. We stumbled across a mine being worked by the most wretched souls. We couldn’t allow their agony to continue. If we hadn’t taken the time to liberate them, we would have been well over a league from here.”
Darnon face reflected his regret but not shame. He inclined his head, indicating acceptance of just how dire the situation would have been without his friend’s aid.
“The state of those miners was the worst I’ve seen yet. Children as young as four or five years, piled like cordwood, dead of malnutrition and exhaustion. The condition of the ones left alive was so deplorable it made the dead seem like the lucky ones.” Namir paused as he struggled to deliver his dark narrative.
When he continued, contempt edged his voice. “When the guards saw the overwhelming odds and realized they had no hope, they turned on their captives. If not for some of the stronger miners defending themselves, the slaughter would have been far worse.”
Darnon’s pained look and glistening eyes were reflected in Namir’s countenance.
“Between the captured soldiers and those you rescued, at least we saved a few,” Darnon all but whispered.
Namir gestured to the surrounding battlefield. “I agree my friend, but at an ever-increasing price. How long can we keep this up?”
“What alternative do we have? We can’t just leave these people to their own fate. Besides, how long will it be before those miners are replaced by our own families?” Darnon demanded.
“I know how you feel about the prophecies, Darnon, but if the clerics of Hinloose really have found the means to bring the Summoned Ones to our aid, don’t you think we should at least try?” Namir asked, expecting the same skeptical response he had heard so many times before.
Darnon replied in a matter-of-fact tone, “The air has grown cold. This will be the last of this year’s campaigns. Let’s get these people healthy enough for travel and back to Bericea. Once there, we can make plans for the summoning as we await the spring.”













Darryl Woods is a storyteller who hones his craft entertaining coworkers. He also enjoys regaling family and friends with stories of his upbringing in rural Ohio, of the motorized contraptions his father fabricated, and of the timber cutting and sawmill work he did with his father-in-law. With an appetite for reading fantasy, it was inevitable he would choose to write about an epic journey in a world dominated by magic and sword fighting.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

Website Address: http://darrylawoods.com/
Newsletter: http://darrylawoods.com/newsletter/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DarrylAWoods
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Darryl-A-Woods-Storyteller-and-Author-104898847706876/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomdarrylawoods
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/darrylawoods/




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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Excerpt: No One Saw by: Beverly Long


One


With a week’s worth of mail in one hand, A.L. McKittridge unlocked his apartment door with the other. Then he dragged his carry-on suitcase inside, almost tripping over Felix, who had uncharacteristically left his spot by the window where the late afternoon sun poured in. He tossed the collection of envelopes and free weekly newspapers onto his kitchen table and bent down to scratch his cat. “You must have missed me,” he said. “Wasn’t Rena nice to you?”

His partner had sent a text every day. Always a picture. Felix eating. Felix taking a dump. Felix giving himself a bath. No messages. Just visual confirmation that all was well while he was off in sunny California, taking a vacation for the first time in four years.

I can take care of your damn cat, she’d insisted. And while he hadn’t wanted to bother her because she’d have plenty to do picking up the slack at work, she was the only one he felt he could ask. His ex-wife Jacqui would have said no. His just turned seventeen-year-old daughter, Traci, would have been willing but he hadn’t liked the idea of her coming round to an empty apartment on her own.

Baywood, Wisconsin—population fifty thousand and change—was generally pretty safe but he didn’t believe in taking chances. Not with Traci’s safety. She’d been back in school for just a week. Her senior year. How the hell was that even possible? College was less than a year away.

No wonder his knees ached. He was getting old.

Or maybe it was flying coach for four hours. But the trip had been worth it. Tess had wanted to see the ocean. Wanted to face her nemesis, she’d claimed. And she’d been a champ. Had stood on the beach where less than a year earlier, she’d almost died after a shark had ripped off a sizable portion of her left arm. Had lifted her pretty face to the wind and stared out into the vast Pacific.

She hadn’t surfed. Said she wasn’t ready for that yet. But he was pretty confident that she’d gotten the closure that she’d been looking for. She’d slept almost the entire flight home, her head resting on A.L.’s shoulder. On the hour-plus drive from Madison to Baywood, she’d been awake but quiet. When he’d dropped her off at her house, she hadn’t asked him in.

He wasn’t offended. He’d have said no anyway. After a week together, they could probably both benefit from a little space. Their relationship was just months old and while the sex was great and the conversation even better, neither of them wanted to screw it up by jumping in too fast or too deep.

Now he had groceries to buy and laundry to do. It was back to work tomorrow. He grabbed the handle of his suitcase and was halfway down the hall when his cell rang. He looked at the number. Rena. Probably wanted to make sure he was home and Felix-watch was over. “McKittridge,” he answered.

“Where are you?”

“Home.”

“Oh, thank God.”

He let go of his suitcase handle. Something was wrong. “What’s up?” he asked.

“We’ve got a missing kid. Five-year-old female. Lakeside Learning Center.”

Missing kid. Fuck. He glanced at his watch. Just after 6:00. That meant they had less than two hours of daylight left. “I’ll be there in ten minutes.”



The Lakeside Learning Center on Oak Avenue had a fancier name than building. It was a two-story building with brown clapboard siding on the first floor and tan vinyl siding on the second. There wasn’t a lake in sight.

The backyard was fenced with something a bit nicer than chain link but not much. Inside the fence was standard playground equipment: several small plastic playhouses, a sandbox on legs and a swing set. The building was located at the end of the block in a mixed-use zone. Across from the front door and on the left were single-person homes. To the right, directly across Wacker Avenue, was a sandwich shop, and kitty-corner was a psychic who could only see the future on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

A.L. took all this in as he beached his SUV in a no parking zone. Stepped over the yellow tape and made a quick stop to sign in with the cop who was at the door.

everybody who entered and exited the crime scene.

Once he was inside, his first impression was that the inside was much better than the outside. The interior had been gutted, erasing all signs that this had once been the downstairs of a 1960s two-story home. There was a large open space to his right. On the far wall hung a big-screen television and on the wall directly opposite the front door were rows of shelves, four high, stacked with books, games and small toys.

It was painted in a cheery yellow and white and the floor was a light gray tile. There was plenty of natural light coming through the front windows. The hallway he was standing in ran the entire length of the building and ended in a back door.

There was a small office area to his left. The door was open and there was a desk with a couple guest chairs. The space looked no bigger than ten feet by ten feet and was currently empty.

He sent Rena a text. Here.

A door at the far end of the hallway opened and Rena and a woman, middle-aged and white, dressed in khaki pants and a dark green button-down shirt, appeared. Rena waved at him and led the woman in his direction. “This is my partner, Detective McKittridge,” she said to the woman. She looked at A.L. “Alice Quest. Owner and director of Lakeside Learning Center.”

A.L. extended a hand to the woman. She shook it without saying anything.

“If you can excuse us,” Rena said to the woman. “I’d like to take a minute and bring Detective McKittridge up to speed.”

Alice nodded and stepped into the office. She pulled the door shut but not all the way. Rena motioned for A.L. to follow her. She crossed the big room and stopped under the television.

“What do we have?” he asked.

“Emma Whitman is a five-year-old female who has attended Lakeside Learning Center for the last two years. Her grandmother, Elaine Broadstreet, drops her off on Mondays and Wednesdays between 7:15 and 7:30.”

Today was Wednesday. “Did that happen today?”

“I have this secondhand, via her son-in-law who spoke to her minutes before I got here. It did.”

The hair on the back of A.L.’s neck stood up. When Traci had been little, she’d gone to day care. Not at Lakeside Learning Center. Her place had been bigger. “How many kids are here?” he asked.

“Forty. No one younger than three. No one older than five. They have two rooms, twenty kids to a room. Threes and early fours in one room. Older fours and fives in the other. Two staff members in each room. So four teachers. And a cook who works a few hours midday. And then there’s Alice. She fills in when a staff member needs a break or if someone is ill.”

Small operation. That didn’t mean bad. “Where are the other staff?”

“Majority of the kids get picked up by 5:30. According to Alice, she covers the center by herself from 5:30 to 6:00 most days to save on payroll costs. Emma Whitman is generally one of the last ones to be picked up. Everybody else was gone tonight and she’d already locked the outside door around 5:45 when the father pulled up and pounded on the door. At first, she assumed that somebody else had already picked up Emma. But once Troy called his wife and the grandmother, the only other people allowed to pick her up, she called Kara Wiese, one of Emma’s teachers, who said that Emma hadn’t been there all day. That was the first time Alice had thought about the fact that the parents had not reported an absence. She’d been covering for an ill staff member in the classroom that Emma is not assigned to.”

Perfect fucking storm.



NO ONE SAW

Author: Beverly Long

ISBN: 9780778309659

Publication Date: June 30, 2020

Publisher: MIRA Books


Buy Links: 

Harlequin 

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s


Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @BevLongBooks

Instagram: #BeverlyLong

Facebook: @BeverlyLong.Romance

Goodreads


Author Bio: 

Beverly Long’s writing career has spanned more than two decades and twenty novels, including TEN DAYS GONE, the first book of her A.L. McKittridge series. She writes romantic suspense with sexy heroes and smart heroines. She can often be found with her laptop in a coffee shop with a cafe au lait and anything made with dark chocolate by her side. 

Book Summary:

Detective team A.L. McKittridge and Rena Morgan are back on their beat after solving the brutal Baywood serial killings, but crime doesn’t rest for long in their small Wisconsin town. In book two of Beverly Long’s electrifying A.L. McKittridge series, NO ONE SAW (MIRA Mass Market Paperback; June 30, 2020; $7.99), a child seemingly vanishes from a day care into thin air and A.L. and Rena must race to bring her home before time runs out.

Baywood police department detective A.L. McKittridge is no stranger to tough cases, but when five-year-old Emma Whitman disappears from her day care, there isn’t a single shred of evidence to go on. There are no witnesses, no trace of where she might have gone. There’s only one thing A.L. and his partner, Rena Morgan, are sure of—somebody is lying.


With the clock ticking, A.L. and Rena discover their instincts are correct: all is not as it seems. The Whitmans are a family with many secrets, and A.L. and Rena must untangle a growing web of lies if they’re going to find the thread that leads them to Emma… before it’s too late.



Excerpted from No One Saw by Beverly Long, Copyright © 2020 by Beverly Long. 

Published by MIRA Books



Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Review: Brewed Awakening by: Cleo Coyle

Title: Brewed Awakening
Author: Cleo Coyle
Publisher: Berkley
Series: Coffeehouse Mystery #18
Format: Hardcover (368 p.)
Source: NetGalley/Library

Description:


From Cleo Coyle, the New York Times bestselling author of Shot in the Dark and Dead Cold Brew, comes a delicious new entry in the "fun and gripping" (Huffington Post) Coffeehouse Mysteries.

When coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi awakens on a bench in Washington Square Park, she has no idea she's been missing for days, or that her friends and family have been frantic with worry. Now that she's back, everyone is overjoyed, including a handsome NYPD detective who claims to be her fiance. But to Mike Quinn's crushing distress, Clare doesn't remember him, or much of anything about the last fifteen years of her life.

Clare's missing memory is tied to a crime she witnessed. An acquaintance of Clare's elegant employer--and fellow member of an exclusive Gotham circle known as "The Ladies Who Brunch"--invited Clare to her posh hotel to sample gourmet wedding cakes. After their indulgent tasting, they headed to the parking garage, where a camera captured a masked figure with a gun confronting the hotel heiress with Clare looking on. Did the kidnapper take Clare, too? The camera went dark, just like Clare's memory. Soon authorities grow suspicious. Is Clare really a victim? Or merely acting like one? Evidence is mounting that she set the woman up.

To clear her name, Clare must find a way to reclaim her memories and rescue the heiress before this high-stakes crime ends in tragedy. Otherwise, instead of walking down the aisle, Clare may find herself perp-walking to prison as an accomplice to kidnapping and murder.

My Thoughts:

This book finds our beloved Clare Cosi who has no idea why she is in New York to her she should be in NJ.  She knows only one place to go which is the Village Blend what she doesn't realize is she's been missing for days and no one. knows what happened except Clare.  Add to the mystery a crime was committed infront of her and she has no idea what it is or where she was before showing up in the park.

This book was such a delightful adventure watching Clare try to piece her life together, and watching her ex-husband try to come to terms with the fact they weren't going to get back together even in her diminished state.

I can't wait to see what is next at the Village Blend it's such a great thrill to read this series it's like visiting old friends every time you open a book seeing what Tucker, Dante, Madam, Matt, Clare and everyone else is up to!