Publication date: May 4th 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Tatum Everley is a freshman at Western Michigan University. Due to an emotionally and psychologically abusive past relationship, Tate struggles from Complex-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She has been working on controlling her symptoms and flashbacks, but when she meets Axel Burne at a fraternity party, who is notorious for sleeping around and getting into fights, she tries her best to dodge the bullet. Axel starts to become intrigued by Tate, but she’s better off choosing Lucas— the sweet guy who has been trying to take her out since orientation. But even though Lucas is the better option, Axel keeps reappearing. Tate continues to try to stay away from him, but it starts becoming harder to, and as she gets closer to him, things start to get way out of hand. If Tate wants her happy ending and her sanity intact, then she has to push through the hardships and maintain control over her disorder.
Claire stopped moving for a second, her eyes hovering past me. She looked alarmed.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“That guy over there. He’s been staring at you for the past fifteen minutes.”
I furrowed my brows, confused as to why any guy would be staring at me when there were dozens of other girls here to be looking at. I whipped around, making eye contact with the mysterious boy and immediately regretting it. He stood tall. His wide frame took up a good amount of the wall that he was leaning against. His brown curls were the perfect amount of clean, yet messy and even from across the room, I could see his defined jawline. He grinned while watching me curiously.
I turned back towards Claire. She could tell I was uncomfortable. “Who is that?” I screamed over the music. My red lipstick formed a straight line as I pressed my lips together. Claire shrugged her shoulders, clearly just as confused as I was. Gianna stepped into the conversation.
“Axel Burne!” she yelled, barely loud enough to hear over the deafening music. After hearing the name come out of Gianna’s mouth, Claire knew exactly who he was. A look of worry came over her and she grabbed my wrist, pulling me in close enough to hear her every word.
“I’ve heard about him. He’s bad news, Tatum. Everyone says he’s a piece of crap. Don’t even look at him twice,” Claire said. I nodded. Of course, he was a piece of crap. Most guys were. And by simply looking at him once, I could tell. He looked like the typical college d-bag.
I kept my back to where I last saw Axel standing. I’ll admit that he was hot as hell, but I knew that the last thing I needed was to become involved with him in any way possible. The three of us continued to dance and after another ten or so minutes, curiosity got the best of me. I quickly looked to see if Axel was still there. An empty spot was all that was left of where he once stood and I was both disappointed and relieved at the sight.
When I turned back around, a tall, wide frame stood in front of me. I could see Axel’s muscles bulging out the sleeves of his white t-shirt. Tattoos were scattered across both of his arms. Damn.
He leaned in so that his mouth was directly next to my ear.
“Dance with me.”
Trinity Lemm is from a small town in Illinois. After graduating from high school in 2019, she began attending Western Michigan University to study both business and dance, with plans of maintaining a writing career on the side. When she is not writing, she enjoys dancing, spending time with friends and family, and watching scary movies.
The Worlds That Separated Us
Publication date: May 1st 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
University graduate Rosie is from Earth. At least she’s never had cause to question that before now. After a car accident and an oddly familiar stranger turn her world upside down, she is forced to question everything she thought she once knew. Thrust into a world of betrayal, loss, and love. Rosie faces an impossible choice between the two worlds she’s grown to love, or risk losing everything she’s ever cared about. All while an impending war is on the horizon.
Megan Jayne is a debut author with her first YA Fantasy novel ‘The Worlds That Separated Us,’ due for release in Spring 2021. She was born in Northern Ireland and still resides there in a small picturesque village with her husband, two young children, and beagle Holly.
When Megan isn’t writing you can usually find her; playing with her two children, in the kitchen baking delicious cakes, deep into a novel, or settling down to a good movie with her husband.
With my brother’s death came the crown and all the trappings that accompany it. Now, my father—the most dangerous man in Magaelor—seeks to control my future.
But fate has other plans.
Thrown into mer-filled waters, I’m dragged into the rival kingdom of Berovia. Surrounded by those who murdered my brother and wished my entire family dead, I must find my way back to my kingdom. There, a marriage between myself and the dark fae prince could bring peace to a century’s old division between the fae and sorcerers.
But dark revelations and deadly lies threaten to destroy my destiny. I must make the choice between my duty, family, and heart before it’s too late.
Will I allow myself to become the exalted Queen of everything? Or be reduced to a cautionary tale as the shattered princess of nothing?
The Fate of Crowns is a young adult fantasy, perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Laura Sebastian, Holly Black and Kendare Blake.
Magic, intrigue, betrayal, and a princess determined to protect her people,
In a time of fae and magic-wielding humans, when prejudices run deep, there’s one girl who could save them all. The princess first has to learn to see the world with her own eyes and stop believing the lies she’s been told her entire life. Her family isn’t as perfect as she believes, and those closest to her will cause her the most pain. Even when she finds herself in enemy lands, Winter can’t accept that things aren’t what they seem. So eager to please and protect her family, she’s blinded to the truths she faces every day. Will she ever be able to accept her entire life has been a lie?
The book was beautifully written, full of mystery and fantasy, friendship, and so much more. With strong characters, the tried and true plot of corrupt kingdoms, and enough action and drama to keep you turning the pages, The Fate of Crowns has proven to be a memorable tale. But be warned, it does end with a cliffhanger. I’ll be eagerly anticipating the next installment in this series.
The Fate of Crowns is a must-read!
*Disclaimer: The review above is only my opinion. I received a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The Winter Heals
(Honey Cove, #2)
Publication date: January 12th 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
It was almost impossible to heal when everyone was out to get you.
Shelby Rowe was stuck between two worlds—the one she wanted and the one everyone else wanted for her. As the daughter of a prominent family in Honey Cove, Shelby’s life was out of her control. Her friends, interests, and even her love life was controlled by others.
When a new girl moves to town, Shelby’s life was turned upside down as she gets a glimpse of what life could be like—no obligations, no pressure. As the Christmas break begins, Shelby is left stuck between what is expected and what she feels is right. Split in half, Shelby has to make decisions to correct her life and heal her spirit.
Will she allow others to control who she is? Or will she finally go out on her own?
Luke watched me as I eyed Priscilla and Tabitha from across the room. “Don’t panic, Shelby. You’re by far the most beautiful one in this ballroom tonight.”
“Thanks, Luke, but I’m not worried about what anyone else looks like.”
He nodded and smiled, but it didn’t quite make it to his eyes.
I probably wouldn’t have believed me either. I wasn’t fully lying, just wasn’t the entire truth. Priscilla had a chance to outdo me; it was just her insecurities that came back for her. If she had more confidence, people wouldn’t hate her as much for the nasty things she always inflicted on others. Although, I supposed someone else could say similar things to me. I certainly hadn’t always been the nicest one around. I had done plenty of cruel things, things I still was ashamed of, but I tried to change. That had to account for something, right?
Priscilla and Tabitha spotted me and strutted my way.
Luke tightened his grip around my arm and into his chest. Did he think I needed protecting?
Tabitha leaned forward to air-kiss my cheek. “Shelby, darling. You look fabulous.”
I reciprocated the gesture. “As do you. This color is stunning on you.”
She smiled and swished her dress against her ankles.
Priscilla’s eyebrow arched as she came closer for a hug. “Beautiful accessories, Shelby. It all really makes your eyes pop.”
I strained to smile, knowing anything they uttered about my appearance was merely a nod to social etiquette. It wasn’t genuine, at least not in the way I longed for a true compliment.
“Your mother outdid herself this year, Shelby,” Tabitha said.
“I’ll let her know you think so.”
Luke cleared his throat and nudged my side with his elbow.
“Sorry, ladies, how rude of me. You know Luke, obviously, but he’s my date.”
Luke grinned from ear to ear. “Ladies, you both look radiant this evening.”
They both curtsied.
“Well, we would love to stay and chat all night, but we must socialize with the guests. I’ll see you two later.”
I pulled Luke to stand at the second Christmas tree halfway between both exits.
Luke’s eyebrow rose. “Why did we walk away from them? We should be mingling with everyone.”
I snorted. “Please, Luke. I will mingle with the people who matter. Those two don’t matter. They will just gossip about anything they hear anyway, not worth our time.”
“Then who should we talk to, in your opinion? I think they matter to everyone else. If you aren’t flaunting me to your friends, what will people say?”
“They will have plenty to say, and we can discuss things with them when we are stuck at a table for dinner.”
“I suppose.” Luke moved his arm around me and hovered his right hand on the small of my back.
I bit the corner of my lip to avoid from shivering—or worse, cringing at his touch. It wasn’t awful, but it was more than I wish I had to endure.
“You know, you never told me if I looked dashing or not,” Luke said with a devilish grin.
I smiled. “You and I both know you do, especially with all of your matchy-matchy to my dress color.”
Luke feigned shock. “Is that a compliment from Shelby Rowe. Oh man. Alert Santa we’ll have a blizzard.”
I rolled my eyes. “Dramatic much?”
“Not at all. I only seem to get snarkiness from you.”
I shrugged. “Not always.”
“I apologize. You’re correct. I get snarky Shelby unless we’re pretending to be together. In which case, I get hushed-tone snarky Shelby.”
I giggled. “Is that so? How does one emanate snark in a hushed-tone kind of way?”
“I think you know how.”
I smiled and looked into his hazel eyes. Okay, so he could be charming when he wanted to.
“There it is.”
“A genuine smile.”
My father, with my mother in tow, strutted toward us. “Shelby and Luke, how splendid. You both look exquisite,” my father said. “Are you ready to meet a few people, Shelby?”
I followed my parents as Luke accompanied me. I straightened my frame and plastered a smile on my face. It was showtime.
An older couple stood to the side of the ballroom.
My father shook the older man’s hand and clapped his back. “Mr. Wyatt, this is my daughter Shelby and her date, Luke Warrington. Shelby, Mr. Wyatt is the head of sales at Rowe Industries.”
I curtsied as Luke shook the man’s hand.
“It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Wyatt,” I said.
“Hello again, sir,” Luke added.
My mother looked between us all but stayed silent. Her voice echoed in my head, “A true Rowe woman is seen but not heard. She makes her presence known but never overshadows the man she is with.”
Marie McGrath lives in a small rural town in Maryland. She hopes to inspire others with her stories. Her favorite genres to read are YA Romance and Contemporary Fiction. She loves the color turquoise, tigers, and listening to music.
Author: A. Aduma
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: 01/11/2021
Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex
Genre: Contemporary YA, LGBTQIA+, contemporary, YA, gay, bisexual, Kenyan expats living in the States, East African culture, Swahili, teen pining and angst, unrequited feelings, family drama, drug use
After a bad breakup, Rasheed is determined to spend his last year of high school focused on his course work and to finish it with as little drama as possible. But when disaster strikes and his grandma ends up in the hospital, the threads holding his life together start to slowly unravel. Now, Rasheed has to deal with the return of his absent mother and sharing a home with her despite their strained relationship.
With old hurts surfacing and family dynamics shifting, Rasheed finds comfort and humor from his best friends, the Herman twins he’s tutoring, and his crush, Adam Herman, who’s not as unavailable as Rasheed had once thought. With more time spent together, Rasheed finds his feelings for Adam may never have gone away. And the feelings may not be as one-sided. Except, Rasheed has to confront old mistakes and come to terms with his own issues first, and a relationship may just complicate everything.
A. Aduma © 2020
All Rights Reserved
“Please tell me it’s mahamri,” I said enthusiastically when I saw Granma kneading dough that would hopefully be rolled, cut into little squares, dipped into deep frying oil, and covered in whipped cream to create a slice of heaven. Paired with hot chai, it opened the door to another dimension.
Granma pounded the dough, one-two, and flipped it over. “It is.”
“Should I start on the tea?”
“You should start by taking the trash out.” She straightened, wiped the thin film of sweat from her forehead, and pointed to the overflowing trashcan. I could have emptied it last night, but I had an assignment due and each second counted; the four minutes it would have taken had seemed like a lifetime.
“Okay.” I stepped farther into the kitchen and pinched some of the dough. Granma smacked my hand with her flour-covered one. I should have seen it coming; it was a dance we’d been doing since I was five—I’d pinch the dough, she’d slap my hand, and warn me about worms making my stomach swell.
Sure enough she said, “Tumbo lako litafura.”
I refrained from rolling my eyes. The way she used to tell it, when I was a kid my stomach would get as large as a balloon before it burst, spraying worms everywhere.
I tossed the dough in my mouth, grabbed a pot, filled it with water, and put it to boil for tea. One thing Granma and I liked was tea—tea in the morning, tea in the afternoon, tea before bed—and coming to America hadn’t changed that. As soon as she was done with the mahamri, she’d set herself up on her favorite floral armchair in front of the TV with her cup of steaming hot tea and catch up on some daytime soaps. Sometimes I joined her—TV dramas had some really cute guys.
“They finally gave up the dog,” Granma announced.
“Mrs. Kyle and that dog. The pepo chafu will not be terrorizing us again.”
Mrs. Kyle lived on the other side of the street, one house down from us. Her bulldog, Teddy—a name that maybe shouldn’t be handed out so easily to slobbering dogs—had the bad habit of chasing and attacking people, and she refused to put it on a leash. Granma did not like her. The whole neighborhood didn’t like her.
“Paul was right,” she continued, “Soon as someone threw in the word ‘sue,’ she became more accommodating.”
There’d been a lot of that lately—Paul this and Paul that. It would have slipped my mind if I hadn’t noticed her FaceTiming him two weeks before, and then a day ago. Paul only lived a fifteen-minute drive away, so why not text? Anyway, what was so important that she needed to video call?
“I’m guessing some are for Paul?”
She pulled a drawer open and retrieved a rolling pin. “Why are you saying it like that?”
“How am I saying it?”
“Like you mean to say something else.”
“It’s nothing— Okay, you and Paul are…friendly,” I teased.
“I don’t have many friends; another one never hurts.”
“True, but I don’t know many people who go around fixing other people’s houses out of the kindness of their heart.”
Granma fixed her eyes on the dough and started to roll it. “It’s called kindness. Looks like you’ve forgotten the meaning of the word.”
“I remember,” I said quickly before it turned into a speech about undugu. Yes, yes, love thy neighbor, unless it was Mrs. Kyle, of course. Lines had to be drawn somewhere.
I added a cinnamon stick and some ginger into the pot and turned to head back to my room. Granma pointed to the trashcan. “Usitume nikwambie mara ya pili.”
Right, the trash. I sighed.
Her eyes bored into me as I bent to pick it up, which usually made me more self-aware. Like, had I brushed my teeth or cleaned my room? “I don’t know where your mind is nowadays.”
I paused. “Just tired.” Second week of school, Granma!
I was still trying to shake off summer vibes and find my back-to-school rhythm. It wasn’t going great. On top of the mound of piling homework and the early waking hours that turned me into a zombie—sometimes even with growling, and on really bad days, I could bite someone’s head off—I was trying to dodge Scott, my ex-boyfriend. Whenever he weaved his way into my thoughts, my chest would burn with shame, and my body would turn into a bundle of nerves. That chai and mahamri better come quick. I needed a pick-me-up.
“You put your shirt on backward on Tuesday and didn’t notice.”
“My mind was elsewhere.”
Her eyes narrowed. “And you’re not on drugs?”
I refrained from sighing. “No, I am not on drugs.”
“What is it, then?”
“Not enough sleep.”
“Why? What do you have to stress about?”
I slumped. Things were off, and I couldn’t shake the oddness. Before I could get that out, Granma shuddered, exhaled loudly, and reached for the counter, clutching it tightly.
I moved toward her. “You okay?” But she waved me off.
Her mouth opened, closed, opened again, but nothing came out. I frowned in confusion. Finally, after a few seconds, she said, “Trash.”
“And check for your keys.”
“Ha ha.” Again, I was tired that day.
I shifted my eyes to her hands, still gripping the counter and repeated, “You okay?”
“I…haven’t pounded dough in forever.”
Her words were labored and breathy. She had been pounding away like an MFA fighter. Maybe that was it. Now I knew what I’d get her for Christmas—a stand mixer. Maybe that would encourage her to make mahamri more often and not break a sweat while doing it. I could do it, but I’d never gotten them right—soft and sweet but with a tinge of lemon and overwhelming taste of coconut. Mine usually came out too hard.
I lifted the bag and headed outside.
“And water my herbs for me.”
I huffed. I ought to have known going to the kitchen when Granma was there meant a one hundred percent chance I’d come out with a chore.
“Am I hearing you grumble?”
“Good because that would be disrespectful to your elders.”
I held back the eye roll and made my way to the garbage bins. I dumped the trash and went to water her plants.
Granma had raised-bed planters for her herbs that Paul had made for her. The day he did it, Granma had prioritized keeping him company to watching her TV dramas even though she was religious about not missing episodes. Then there was that time Natalie had been over for their book club—they were the only two in the club, and they read one book a year, spent five minutes talking about how they didn’t get a chance to read it, and gossiped the rest of the time—and I overhead Granma describe Paul as a fine, fine man. Sure, there had been some wine involved, but still.
I winced when the scent of mint made me think of Scott. He loved mint-flavored ice cream and chewing mint-flavored bubblegum. I’d made it another week successfully avoiding him—thank you crowded hallways and different schedules. It was exhausting. I was constantly in flight mode. There had to be another way.
Apologize, a voice echoed in my mind. Apologize? As in, like, say sorry and stuff? Hmm.
Not that I hadn’t thought of it before, but how did people do that? The idea sounded foreign. Save for when I stepped on someone’s foot or bumped into them by accident; that was easy because they were accidents. Honest mistakes. What I had done had not been an honest mistake. So how did someone apologize for dumbness?
It was easier to stay clear of him, avoid any more drama, and focus on school.
If I ignored it maybe it would have no option but to magically—
“Eedy!” I paused, spooked by how she sounded—like a rusted engine trying and failing to come to life. As I put the watering can down, there was the sound of a body hitting the floor with a soft thud.
My heart leaped into my throat, and my stomach twisted with dread.
I rushed back to the house and found Granma lying on the floor—flat on her stomach and still as a rock. The world tilted and blurred together.
“Granma?” I said in a shaky whisper. I fell to my knees and with weak arms managed to turn her over. My breath caught at the sight of her. Her dark eyes were wide open, unfocused, and unblinking. A chill snaked down my back. I leaned down and felt her warm breath on my face. Oh, thank fuck.
I grabbed her hand and recoiled at its limpness. “Granma, are you okay?” Of course, she wasn’t okay.
“Tafadhali amka!” Please get up. I tried to pull her up and failed. Granma wasn’t small, and despite my size, I couldn’t get her to move. My pulse started to race and a heavy weight pressed down on my chest; breathing became difficult. I gasped for breath.
No. No. It would be alright.
“Musa?” she whispered roughly.
The hope I’d been holding on to sank somewhere to my toes. “No, Rasheed. Eedy.”
Musa was my babu’s name—my grandfather—a man we’d silently agreed to never speak of, ever. To Granma, saying his name was equal to calling on the devil, which wasn’t that far off from the truth.
I needed to call for help. She lay on the floor, immobile, her empty stare on me. I did not want to leave her. My eyes blurred. I stood on shaky feet and rushed to get my phone still buried under books from last night’s homework rush. My palms were sweaty enough it took a few swipes before I hit dial on the emergency contact. The person on the other end promised the ambulance would be coming soon.
I returned to crouch next to Granma and took her hand. She slurred something unintelligible that I failed to understand. “They’re coming.” I squeezed her hand.
She grumbled. It sounded like a mangled animal. I blinked to keep the tears from falling, but that only made them fall harder.
“Itsfine,” she slurred. Her hand twitched in mine.
It didn’t seem fine.
Last time she had ended up in hospital, it hadn’t been fine. Three weeks after I turned eight, and the world had turned upside down. I fought off the gnawing helplessness and tried to cling to positive thoughts. It would be alright.
Granma would be alright.
She didn’t really have a choice. She had her dramas waiting for her, Christmas was a few months away—Granma loved Christmas, all those sales and store decorations hyped her up—and I was going to graduate from high school.
Meet the Author
Aduma is an economics major at the University of Nairobi in Kenya, and the type of person who feels incomplete without a book in hand. When not reading or writing, Aduma can be found lost in spreadsheets and graphs with music for company. Follow A. on Twitter.
Publication date: December 15th 2020
Genres: Young Adult Fiction
Poignant and uplifting, Cemetery Songs is a compelling YA about a girl, a ghost, and the graveyard that sends them both on a journey of self-acceptance.
When Polly Stone’s birthmother dies, she feels lost and adrift. How do you mourn someone you never knew? Even the dead, whose final thoughts Polly can hear, offer no advice.
Instead Polly fails her classes, alienates her friends, gets fired from her summer job, and accidentally sets fire to the high school. At a loss, Polly’s parents ground her and insist she volunteer at the local archives.
The dusty boxes are boring, but Polly is intrigued by her assignment: mapping an abandoned Black settlement on the edge of town. At the very least, it gives her time to examine her confused feelings for Billy Meyer, a former classmate who is also blackmailing her.
Amid weedy tombstones, Polly and Billy encounter the charming ghost of Harrison Card, who died in 1924. Sensing there’s more to the story than Harrison can recall, the unlikely trio investigates the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death.
The discoveries are unnerving, especially since the ugly racist history reflects some of Polly’s own experiences as a biracial teenager. Past and present collide when Polly’s attempts to help Harrison go tragically wrong. As Polly grapples with the consequences of her actions, she must decide if she is brave enough to heed the wisdom of the dead.
“You about ready?” I ask as I sit in the grass at the corner of the gravestone.
“Sure,” Billy says, sitting back on his heels. He swings the flashlight to illuminate his handiwork. A series of objects is arranged around the perimeter of the grave. Nearest me is a chipped coffee mug with the Monroe city logo on it. Next to that there’s a single golf glove and a pile of tees. A worn dog leash curls in the corner, nestled against a plastic water dish.
“He’s the guy who died at his desk, isn’t he?” I ask. “Like two weeks ago or something.” My mom mentioned it over dinner the other night, the city employee who’d been physically fit but plagued with anger management issues. Apparently he died in the middle of a conversation.
“Yeah, that’s him. You know him?”
“No, but I’m about to.”
I wrap my hands around the mug, drawing in a few deep, clean breaths and turning my attention to Arnold Weber, sliding into his mind, or whatever’s left of it.
He died during an argument, I learn. What the hell, Scott? was his final thought. I hold the mug tighter and images start to appear in my mind. I see the inside of an office paneled in wood and carpeted in gray. There’s an industrial desk dominating the small space, buttressed by several filing cabinets. A clock ticks on the desk and I see that it’s golf-themed and inscribed with the word “Pinehurst.”
A wave of memories rushes through me as I amplify Arnold’s mind further. I see a woman’s blonde hair shot gray at the temples, her eyes tired and distant. I see the same woman in a photograph, younger, her eyes wary but hopeful beneath the veil of her wedding dress. I see a
parade of children and I see Arnold and the woman standing near this very spot on a cold, October day, watching as a tiny coffin is laid into the ground.
There are more memories. Christmas morning, Halloween night. Endless meetings and workshops where the phrases “organic synergy” and “workflow analysis” rattle around sterile conference tables. There’s a cruise in the Bahamas where everyone got sick and another to Alaska where they saw whales. As I release the mug, there’s one last image of Arnold as a college student, skipping over the art class that tugs at his pen and reluctantly signing up for an accounting class instead.
I can feel myself return to the surface, can hear Arnold’s voice yelling at Scott in my mind. Before I break through into consciousness, I hear the words “Jessam Crossing” and a voice says, “She can’t use what she can’t find.” Then I’m back in my own body, crouching over a mound of earth.
Billy is studying me.
“How long was I gone?” I ask.
“About thirty minutes. You okay?”
“What did you learn?” he asks.
“Lots.” I shake my head. “Lots of images and memories. I’m not sure where to start.”
“I can ask you the security questions when I find them,” Billy says, his voice low.
“Might be easier,” I interrupt. I clamber to my feet and we start walking back to the truck. I’m concentrating so hard on trying to recall other snippets of the conversation that I step into a badger hole and stumble to my knees.
“I gotcha,” Billy says. His hands slide from behind me to cup my elbows and leverage me to my feet. When I’m standing again, I’ve got my back to him. We’re not touching, other than his hands at my elbows, but I can sense him, his entire body towering over me, sheltering me. It’s electric. I swallow and feel my breath speed up. He moves a hair closer to me, his chest against my back, his legs brushing mine. He’s so much taller than me but I feel tall and strong standing here like this. His head dips and I can feel his breath on my neck.
“Polly—” he says, just as a bat swoops overhead, breaking the spell. I jump and take a few steps toward the truck.
“I should get home,” I say. I put my hand over my throat to conceal the rapid flutter of my heart, even though I know he can’t see it in the dark anyway.
“Let’s go,” he says at last, his voice gravelly. We go back to the truck and don’t talk the rest of the way.
Although Julie K. Gilbert’s masterpiece, The Adventures of Kitty Bob: Alien Warlord Cat, has sadly been out of print since Julie last stapled it together in the fourth grade, she continues to write. Her short fiction, which has appeared in numerous publications, explores topics ranging from airport security lines to adoption to antique wreaths made of hair. Julie makes her home in southern Minnesota with her husband and two children.
Little Hood and Her Wolf
(The Big Bad Wolf Trilogy, #2)
Publication date: December 8th 2020
Genres: Coming of Age, Fairy Tales, Young Adult
Kylie knew Logan Grimm came with a price. She just had no idea that the price was being told what to do by the most dangerous residents of Blackwoods.
She should run and survive, but Logan’s sweet words and even sweeter kisses keep her where she is.
Right where the Big Bad Wolf lies in wait.
Kylie blinked a few times and stared ahead. Janie was sitting across from her and Logan, and Ryder was pouring Dr Pepper into her glass. He opened a few prescription bottles, and Janie held her hand out without saying anything, waiting for him to pour a pill from each bottle. When she swallowed the last pill, she gagged a little before receiving a kiss to her forehead.
God, she really is crazy.
Logan squeezed Kylie’s leg under the table because she was staring with her mouth open.
“Have you never seen someone take medication before?” Ryder asked, his harsh tone biting at her skin.
“Babe,” said Janie the same time Logan called out, “Ryder.”
Kylie swallowed and looked at Janie, who only smiled at her. It wasn’t the smile she’d given her yesterday though. It was forced.
“She needs to stop staring at you like you’re a fucking science experiment,” Ryder said, his voice louder as Janie cooed to him.
“She’s just curious,” Janie said, but even then, she didn’t sound the same. She sounded like a small child. Ryder didn’t seem to like that.
“Curious my ass.” He glared at Kylie.
“Enough.” Logan kept his eyes trained on Ryder.
“I’m sorry,” Kylie whispered, her heart racing under Ryder’s stare. He might not be the killer, but he was willing to be.
Janie put her hand over Ryder’s as she replied, “I take medicine to help with my PTSD and other stuff. Ryder helps me remember to take them because I don’t like to. Swallowing pills bothers me now.” Janie finally smiled, but it was all for Ryder.
“It’s none of her business.” Ryder’s voice was so loud it hurt to listen to him speak.
Gawain spoke up, putting authority into his order. “Boys, you both need to relax, or we’re sending Kylie home and taking Janie away till this mess blows over.”
“It’s fine,” said Janie when Ryder let out an angry noise at the threat being issued. Janie kissed Ryder’s cheek and whispered in his ear until he turned to peck her lips. He started eating. “He just doesn’t like people staring,” Janie said when Kylie still couldn’t look away, “or judging me.”
“I wasn’t judging,” Kylie said quickly, her voice a hushed whisper while she covered Logan’s shaking hand.
“Yeah.” Janie smiled, but it was clear she didn’t believe her. “Everything’s fine, right, babe?”
Ryder grunted and stuffed more food in his mouth.
Janie returned her focus to Kylie, her eyes flashing with fire. “Sleep well?”
Kylie tensed. “I slept fine, thanks.”
Those vibrant hazel eyes stayed on her for a moment longer before shifting to Logan. He was still glaring at Ryder, which might’ve been why Janie’s tone darkened. “Logan, put yourself in his shoes. You wouldn’t like someone staring at Kylie over any of her personal issues either. You know why it bothers him, and you know why he’s really mad.”
Logan fumed as he glared between the couple but said nothing.
Janie’s eyes narrowed. “And don’t forget you’ve reacted worse when something was said to her. This is the same.”
“It’s not the same,” Logan said between clenched teeth. “She didn’t say shit about you!”
Ryder slammed his hand down on the table and stood, glaring at Logan. “No, you just opened your fucking mouth and spilled every one of her secrets.”
Logan stood up, his eyes dangerous. Kylie grabbed his hand as Janie wrapped her arms around Ryder to keep him from lunging over the table.
“I had no choice,” Logan yelled back.
“Bullshit.” Ryder carefully peeled Janie off him and nudged her over to Gawain before stepping around the table. “We made one rule, Grimm. And that was to keep our mouths shut. I warned you not to say anything. Everyone warned you.”
“Stop.” Janie tried to break free from Gawain, but she was held tightly against her brother as Logan and Ryder stood toe to toe. “Babe, please let me handle this.”
Ryder ignored her and smirked at Logan. “You’ve been good on your word this whole time—but Blondie sucks your dick, and suddenly you’re confessing like a church girl who touched herself for the first time.”
Logan swung before the gasp finished leaving her lips. He hit Ryder right in the jaw, and it was total chaos from there.
-Little Hood and Her Wolf, The Big Bad Wolf Trilogy #2
Janie Marie is a native Texan and resides in her hometown north of Austin, Texas, where she devotes her time to family, pets, and her writing.
Much of her life experiences–good and a lot of bad–are where she has chosen to draw inspiration from to create her characters and stories. It’s important to her to create the kind of characters she needs or needed at one point in time because she wanted to create something only the saddest souls would recognize as brave and strong.
Be ready for raw, emotional tales, as Janie never holds back. With her darkest thoughts she found light is still possible, that the sad girl can sometimes glow the brightest. Because she is beauty surrounded by darkness.
Link by Link: An Anthology of Haunted Holidays
Publication date: December 2nd 2020
Genres: Holiday, Paranormal, Supernatural, Young Adult
“‘I wear the chain I forged in life,’ replied the Ghost. ‘I made it link by link…’”-Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Link by Link is a collection of 9 stories of ghosts, spirits, and creatures unnamed, all come to teach lessons we won’t soon forget. From sweet Christmas tales to terrifying holiday hauntings, these stories take a dive into the past in the hopes of creating a better—or at least different—future.
Damned When I Didn’t
Published by: The Wild Rose Press
Publication date: November 18th 2020
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Death isn’t the end for eighteen-year-old Avery Williams, and her final resting place isn’t beyond the Golden Gates. No, the Queen of the Damned has plans for her and, unbeknownst to Avery, fought hard to gain possession of her soul.
As Hell’s newest succubus, Avery is expected to siphon life from the living. It only takes a long, meaningful kiss, but for a virgin like Avery, kissing guys she barely knows isn’t something she’s comfortable doing. Avery focuses on the upside of her fate—she’ll be returning home, or so she thinks. When the Queen of the Damned cuts her off from her old life, Avery is determined to find a way back to her family and friends, even if it means facing Hell’s fury if she’s caught.
I kicked my sneakers off near the kitchen stools and dropped my purse on the floor.
“What’s your problem?” Cole asked. He stood a few feet from me, eyes narrowed.
“Nothing.” I breathed in deep, trying to calm myself. The stench of cheap perfume invaded my nostrils. I covered my nose with my hand. “You reek of imitation lavender and…and…onions.”
Cole tossed his keys onto the counter. Obvious confusion flittered over his features only to be replaced with the realization that I was referring to the scents of the waitress.
“You’re one to talk!” he spit back. “You stink of Sport Goofy.”
“Sport Goofy, I mean Marcus, barely touched me.” Cole gave off such a strong odor, I was sure the waitress had put her hands all over him.
Cole stepped closer, placing his hands on the counter on either side of me, caging me in.
“And I barely touched her,” he growled. “When a human’s life force flows from them to us, our souls grow brighter and—”
“We smell like them,” I said, finishing his sentence. He’d told me that once.
“And because our senses become sharper, we know when our kind renews.” The blue in his irises was more pronounced than I’d remembered. I bit my lip to keep from asking him if that was because of my heightened vision or because he’d renewed, as he called it. “Now, do you want to tell me what’s really bothering you?”
I felt my face warm, and I had to fight to keep my gaze from traveling to his lips. Did I want to admit that I was irrationally jealous that he’d kissed another girl? Nope. So, instead, I said, “Her smell makes me want to puke.”
“Eau de Jock is doing the same to me.”
“You’re the one who called Sport Goofy,” I reminded him.
He smiled, clearly happy that I’d called Marcus by the nickname.
“You’re the one who pissed off the Queen of the Damned,” he countered.
I twitched a shoulder. “I still can’t stand how you smell right now.”
“Fine!” He grabbed me just under my butt and lifted me over his shoulder. I screamed. He held my legs, keeping me from falling.
“What are you doing?” I grabbed his waist from my upside down position.
“You think I smell?”
“Reek. And you said I do, too! Now put me down!”
“Let’s fix that.”
He marched to the bathroom with me slung over his shoulder. The next thing I knew we were standing in the tub. He continued to hold me like a sack of rice.
He slid me down his chest so I stood in front of him with his arms keeping me from moving.
He reached behind me.
I glanced up at the showerhead, then to the knob next to me. “You wouldn’t!”
“Want to bet?”
My Review: 5 stars !
Demons, Nephilim, and so much more… If you’re looking for your next paranormal read, you can’t go wrong with Damned When I Didn’t!
They say not to judge a book by its cover, but I rather like the cover for Damned When I Didn’t. In fact, it’s a large part of what made me want to read this particular title. I saw it and needed to know more. But when it comes to people, what you see isn’t always what you get. It’s a lesson Avery has to learn, especially when it comes to her mentor, Cole. It never occurred to Avery that just as she didn’t earn her way to hell, and her new position as a succubus, that perhaps the super hot Cole didn’t earn his place there either.
I loved seeing the push and pull between Avery and Cole. Both drawn to one another, yet not willing to accept their attraction. Not only does their budding romance draw the reader in, but the banter between them, and the mix of other awesome characters, makes Damnmed When I Didn’t a page-turning read you won’t want to put down. A half-demon, a Nephilim, and another incubus are just some of the charming characters you’ll find in this intriguing, must-read book. I truly hope we’ll get to see more of them in the future.
Damned If I Didn’t is the perfect mix of romance, drama, and friendship. You won’t be disappointed!
**Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read an ARC of Damned If I Didn’t. The review above is my honest opinion.
Cherie Colyer is the author of Challenging Destiny and the Embrace series. When she’s not getting the fictional people in her life into trouble, she can be found solving network issues at work, spending time with family and friends, reading, or exploring the great outdoors.
Cherie lives in Illinois with her family.
To learn more about Cherie and her novels visit http://www.CherieColyer.com