SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW by PATTY BLOUNT BOOK REVIEW @PattyBlount

Someone I Used to Know

by Patty Blount

Release Date: August 7, 2018

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

 

 

“Blount has written a heartrending but much-needed view on this subject. This book provides a nuanced look at the toxicity of rape culture and the long-lasting and harming aftermath of sexual assault.”— School Library Journal

 

 

From the award-winning author of Some Boys comes an unflinching examination of rape culture that delves into a family torn apart by sexual assault.

It’s been two years since the night that changed Ashley’s life. Two years since she was raped by her brother’s teammate. And a year since she sat in a court and watched as he was given a slap on the wrist sentence. But the years have done nothing to stop the pain.

It’s been two years of hell for Derek. His family is totally messed up and he and his sister are barely speaking. He knows he handled it all wrong. Now at college, he has to come to terms with what happened, and the rape culture that he was inadvertently a part of that destroyed his sister’s life.

When it all comes to head at Thanksgiving, Derek and Ashley have to decide if their relationship is able to be saved. And if their family can ever be whole again.

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Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW by PATTY BLOUNT for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Many thanks to SOURCEBOOKS FIRE and NETGALLEY for the advance copy.

Ms. Blount tackles the brutal subject of rape by a student athlete head on in this riveting novel which steers us through Ashley’s life leading up to her heart-wrenching rape, and the aftermath of her attack.

Ms. Blount illustrates how a rape rips through a family, a school, and a community in SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW. The effects are felt far beyond the moments of the actual rape and reach deep in to the hearts and souls of Ashely’s family and friends and are felt keenly for several years following the attack.

Ms. Blount shows a very realistic view of the mental anguish a rape victim lives with, often for many years following the actual rape, and how justice from the victim’s view, rarely is just.

I very much enjoy Ms. Blount’s style of writing and her character development was exceptional! This is the first novel of Ms. Blount’s I’ve read, but it won’t be my last!

I wish this book could become required reading for all junior and high school teachers and school staff, as well as incoming freshman boys and girls! I believe it would be a true eye opener for all of them!

I highly recommend SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW by PATTY BLOUNT and give it five steaming hot cups of coffee!

©JUNE 6, 2018

 

 

Powered by way too much chocolate, award-winning author Patty Blount loves to write and has written everything from technical manuals to poetry. A 2015 CLMP Firecracker Award winner as well as Rita finalist, Patty writes issue-driven novels for teens and is currently working on a romantic thriller. Her editor claims she writes her best work when she’s mad, so if you happen to upset Patty and don’t have any chocolate on hand to throw at her, prepare to be a subject of an upcoming novel. Patty lives on Long Island with her family in a house that sadly doesn’t have anywhere near enough bookshelves…or chocolate.

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2 Copies of Someone I Used to Know

Runs August 7th -31st

(US & Canada only)

 

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1

Ashley

Your Honor, thank you for letting me address this court. The first thing I want to say is that I couldn’t wait to start high school. I liked the defendant. I really liked him. And I thought he liked me back. But now I know he never saw me as a person. I was nothing more than an opportunity for him. So now I can’t wait until I’m done with high school.

—Ashley E. Lawrence, victim impact statement

Now

Bellford, Ohio

The mirror is my enemy.

So is the closet.

There’s literally nothing to wear. Clothes litter my room. Several pairs of jeans are balled up on my bed because they hug my butt too tightly. T-shirts lie in piles on the floor because they’re too clingy. Shorts and skirts? No. They reveal too much leg. I throw them over my shoulder. Dr. Joyce, my therapist, claims it’s normal to have trouble getting dressed after what happened.

I always tell her I don’t care what’s normal after what happened; I just want normal—without qualifiers. I want to open my closet, pull on any old outfit, and not obsess about people thinking I’m asking for it.

“Ashley?”

I glance up and find Mom in my doorway, looking me over. I’m wearing a robe even though it’s about ninety degrees outside.

“You okay?”

“Fine,” I lie and dive back into my closet, mopping sweat from the back of my neck. We’d agreed that I’d go to school on my own today. It’s time.

“Ashley, look at me.”

I pull my head out of my closet and meet her eyes.

“Honey, I know you’re upset. We all are, but I promise you, it’s going to be okay.”

At those words, I clench my jaw and shoot up a hand. Then I just turn away because, honestly, I don’t know which part pisses me off more…the colossal understatement implied by a wimpy word like upset or the addition of the pronoun we, suggesting everybody else in this family knows exactly how I feel when they don’t have the slightest clue.

She sighs but nods and then steps over to the closet, rehanging the discarded clothes I dumped on my bed. “We haven’t looked west yet. California is truly beautiful. You know I’ve never been there?”

I roll my eyes. We haven’t looked anywhere. All we’ve done is talk about it, so I say the same thing I always say when this comes up. “Mom, I don’t want to move away.”

“But it could be a fresh new start for all of us, Ashley. No one would even have to know you were—”

“Mom.” I cut her off, forcefully this time. “I really have to get dressed.”

Her blue eyes, the eyes both of my brothers inherited, fill with the look that’s become way too common over the last two years. It’s disappointment. Is it directed at me or what happened to me? I don’t know anymore, and I don’t think it even matters. All I know is it’s so acute, I can’t bear to see it and have to look away. Once again, I return my attention to the closet to find something to wear.

“Okay. Have a great first day. Call if…if you need me.” She turns and heads downstairs.

I don’t answer because great days are yet another myth I’ve discovered in a long series of them, starting with the concept of justice. I roll my eyes. California. Like it would be no problem to just shut down Dad’s auto repair shop and move a family of five across the country where there are no grandparents, no aunts, no uncles or cousins.

As the front door closes and the engine starts in the driveway, my phone buzzes. It hardly ever does that anymore. I glance at the display, annoyed when some stupid tiny seed of hope blooms because there’s a text message from Derek.

Derek: Good luck today.

Rage ignites inside me like a match held to dry leaves. Cursing, I kick over my hamper, swipe every last book and paper off my desk, and come perilously close to hurling my cell phone at the wall. Good luck. Could he be this clueless?

As this is my brother, yes. He could be and often is this clueless…and worse.

Ashley: Yeah. Sure. Luck. That’ll help.

The phone buzzes again.

Derek: I’m sorry. I swear I am.

Sorry? I almost laugh. Derek doesn’t do apologies.

“Derek, tell Ashley you’re sorry,” Mom would order him after he’d made me cry for some thing or another.

And he’d say, “Sorry, Ash.” Mom would walk away or turn her back, and he’d stick out his tongue or roll his eyes and smile that Derek smile, and I’d know. I’d know he wasn’t really sorry. He was only saying it to make Mom happy. Apologies happen when you own up to having been wrong, and Derek has never been wrong in his life.

I stare at the words I’d have given anything to hear my brother say two years ago, but they’re too little, too late, and knowing Derek as I do, false.

I toss the phone to my bed and go back to pawing through every drawer in my dresser and every hanger in my closet for something to wear and finally spy something. It’s this old maxi dress Mom bought for me years ago. The tags are still on it. I grab it and hold it up. It probably doesn’t fit. I think I was twelve or thirteen when she bought it.

There’s a little pang in my chest. Twelve or thirteen.

Before everything changed.

I swallow hard, trying to hold on to the pain because if it gets loose—

Deep breath. Hold it in. Okay. Dress. Right.

I hold the dress up to my body, considering it. Yeah, it might work. I slip it on, smooth it out. It’s actually a bit big. And ugly. Shades of dull beige and brown in a paisley print that hangs all the way to my ankles. I grab a sweater to hide my shoulders revealed by this outfit and smooth down a cowlick in my hair, which has finally reached shoulder length again.

Above the shelf on my wall, there’s a mirror Mom bought so I could get ready for the new school year. I’d smashed the old mirror in another fit of rage not long after I’d hacked off my long hair. Yeah, this outfit does work. It hides pretty much everything.

I grab my phone and try to visualize the day ahead. Tara, my best friend, will meet me at school. She always has my back. The rest of the school is a different story.

Derek’s words rattle around inside my head like some kind of curse. Good luck, Ash Tray. You’ll need it.

Deep breaths. Breathe in, hold for one…two…three…four, breathe out. In, hold, out. In, hold, out. I hate doing these breathing exercises because I feel like a total loser. I mean, who has to concentrate on breathing?

Traumatized people like me, that’s who.

Two years. It’s been two years. I’m fine. I’m absolutely fine. I roll my eyes because that’s another thing I must do. Tell myself complete and total lies. It’s supposed to help me believe them, turning them into what my therapist claims are self-fulfilling prophecies. I get it. The power of positive thinking and all that crap. But the truth is, I’m still waiting to feel fulfilled, yet I keep doing the same stupid breathing exercise, and I keep repeating the same stupid lies until finally my heart stops trying to beat out of my chest.

This is it—the first day of school. Junior year. I can do this. I can. I will do this.

I do something else…something my therapist never told me about. I visualize. I imagine building a dam…a little beaver dam of logs and twigs and dried mud to keep all of the triggers and memories and rage and…pain from leaking out into my life. I spend some time shoring up my dam, and with one last deep breath, I head downstairs, pretending the dread that’s still climbing up my rib cage is anticipation for the first day of my junior year.

I see two coffee cups in the sink and dishes from my parents’ breakfast. It’s normal and typical, and it gives me something to hang on to while I wrestle all that dread back behind the dam.

I glance at the clock to make sure I have time and discover it’s after 8:00 a.m.

No, that can’t be right. I woke up extra early.

My shoulders sag while I stare at the clock blinking on the microwave over the stove and then pull the phone from my pocket. It shows the same time. How? How is this possible? They’re wrong. They’re both wrong. They have to be. I run to the family room, but the cable box is blinking the same time.

I’ve not only missed the bus, but I’ve missed the start of first period.

I shoulder my bag and start walking.

I thought I was past this. I thought the days when I’d lost huge chunks of time doing nothing except breathing were behind me.

***

School is terminally irritating.

I missed first period entirely, and by the time the old bat in the front office gives me my pass, I’ve missed half of second, too.

“Ashley. Hey,” Tara whispers when I finally take my seat in lit class, her face split in a huge smile. “What took you so long?” And then she looks at my outfit. “What are you wearing?”

I shake my head. “Don’t even.”

She puts up both hands in apology—or maybe surrender—and turns back to her notebook. Mrs. Kaplan is reading us the class rules and information about homework, exams, and class participation. I know this drill so I zone out. I take a look around the class, see who’s here, who’s not, and spot Sebastian Valenti over by the window at the same second he jerks his eyes away from me.

They’re really amazing eyes. Hazel. I used to think hazel was a color but found out it actually means eyes that change colors. Sebastian’s eyes look green sometimes, and other times, they look brown, and I’ve even seen them look practically yellow. Sebastian’s a good guy. The best. He saved me when my stupid brother didn’t. Wouldn’t. He keeps asking how I’m doing, and I keep saying fine. And that’s about as deep as our conversations ever get, so I just don’t bother anymore. I haven’t talked to him all summer. But he’s still a really good guy.

“May I have your attention please?”

The PA system cracks into life, and Mrs. Kaplan takes a seat at her desk while the principal welcomes us back to the new school year and tells us about some after-school clubs. And then, right after an announcement about several new teachers, Principal McCloskey ruins what’s left of my life.

“We’d like to welcome our new calculus teacher, Mr. Davidson, to Bellford High. In addition to teaching calculus, Mr. Davidson has agreed to help us start a new and improved football program. Tryouts for this year’s Bengals team will be held after school.”

A cheer goes up around the classroom.

I sit in my seat, frozen. I’m fine. I’m absolutely fine. I lie to myself, but my brain knows better, and I can feel that old pressure spinning inside my chest.

A hand squeezes mine, and I jolt like I’ve been struck by lightning. I look up into the concerned eyes of Tara. That’s when I discover everybody in the entire class has swiveled around to see how I’m taking this news. Most people look concerned, like Tara. But others are triumphant, like Andre, sitting at the front of the classroom, and Bruce, over by the windows next to Sebastian. I can’t stand it, can’t deal with it. Suddenly, I’m on my feet, running for the door. “Ashley! Ashley, come back here!” Mrs. Kaplan shouts after me.

I dart across the hall into the girls’ bathroom and lock myself into a stall. I’m fine I’m fine I’m fine I’m fine.

I repeat the words over and over so fast, they morph into percussion that syncs to the pounding of my heart. It’s bad enough seeing everybody stare at me. Everybody blames me for canceling football.

Derek blames me.

My brother blames me for what happened two years ago. I can never forget that…or forgive it.

It doesn’t matter how many lies I tell myself or how deep I bury those memories, how strong the dam is. Those memories—the pain they cause—they keep finding ways to break out, and I’m just not strong enough to hold them back.

I don’t think I ever will be.

Two Years Ago

Bellford, Ohio

It’s raining, but I don’t care. I love the way the air smells when it rains. Earthy. Clean and fresh and—so alive. I’m totally psyched to start high school and don’t care if there’s a hurricane. Armed with my bright pink umbrella, I’m ready to head to the bus stop, but Mom says Derek could have the car if he drives both of us to school. I squeal and clap. I love riding shotgun with Derek…when he lets me, that is.

Derek’s been treating me like crap for ages. We’re only a year and a half apart, so we shared a stroller, took baths together, went to gymnastics and soccer together. We were on different teams, though. That always bugged me. I wanted to play on his team. We’re a unit, a combo special, a team. Justin, our brother, is a lot older. He has his own separate life. But Derek and I are best friends. Nobody knows it but me, but Derek wants to make video games when we grow up. He has a ton of cool ideas, too.

At least, he used to. He never talks about that kind of stuff with me anymore. Now he’s all about football and girls and driving and avoids me as much as he can. I annoy him. I don’t see how that’s even possible. I try to do all the things he always liked doing with me like movie nights and epic game battles. Now he just rolls his eyes and says I should get a life.

But this is my first day of high school. So that means we can hang out again. I’m older and not so annoying. Derek doesn’t argue with Mom about driving me to school, so I kind of assume that means he’s finally outgrown his problems with me. Mom said he would…eventually. I also kind of assume that driving us to school also means driving us home. He has other ideas.

“Take the bus home. I’m hanging with my friends later.”

“Oh,” I say, smile fading. “Yeah. Sure.”

My first day of high school is awesome in every possible way. I have lunch with Donna Jennings, a girl I know from middle school, who got her hair cut in this really cool undershaved style and got a boyfriend over the summer. She showed everybody the gold heart necklace he’d given her, and my heart sighed. It had stopped raining by the afternoon, so I take my time heading to the parking lot to ride home with Derek, but the space where he’d parked Mom’s car is empty.

Darn. I was supposed to take the bus home. I totally forgot.

“You look lost.” A boy with messy hair and blue eyes says. He is seriously cute and standing with three other boys against a blue car.

“Must be a freshman,” another says.

“Just looking for my brother.”

“Who is he?”

“Um. Derek Lawrence.”

They exchange glances and laugh. “Oh, you’re Ash Tray. Sorry, you just missed him.”

“Cut it out,” the cute one says. “I’m Vic. Victor Patton.” He smiles at me. Dimples. Wow.

“Hey, that’s what Derek calls her.” The boy laughs.

Oh my God. Derek told them that? My face bursts into flames, and I turn away.

“Leave her alone.” Vic straightens up and walks toward me. He’s tall, taller than Derek. “Derek left. He might be back. Why don’t you call him?”

Yeah. Good idea. I pull out my phone and hit his name. It rings, but he never picks up. Next, I try texting him. Meanwhile, the boys pile into the blue car and take off, splashing water all over me.

I brush muddy splotches from my clothes, choking back tears, and call Mom’s cell phone, but it goes straight to voicemail. I try calling Dad too. Same thing.

What am I supposed to do? I head back to the main entrance, sink down on one of the steps, and drop my chin into my hands. I sit there, quietly crying, until the steel doors burst open and a bunch of laughing girls jog past me. Quickly, I fluff my waist-long hair in front of my face to hide the tears. All but one of the five girls wear warm-up suits bearing the word Fusion in bright red letters down one leg.

One crouches down to get a look at me. “Hey. You okay?”

I nod vigorously. “Yeah. Fine.”

“You’re crying. Can I help?” She takes a step closer, and I scrub at my face with the back of my hand, like that has even a remote chance at erasing my complete embarrassment.

“Not unless you have a magic potion that works on stupid brothers,” I blurt. Oh my God! I slap a hand over my mouth. I need to die. Right now. Where’s a lightning bolt when you need one?

“Oh, a stupid brother. I have one of those.” She smiles. She’s so pretty. Long, dark, and lean, she looks like one of the models in my Teen Vogue magazines.

I’m suddenly interested in hearing her story. “Older or younger?”

“Younger. Takes annoying to whole new levels, like it’s some kind of vow he took. Do you know he actually put my retainer in the toilet? My mother nearly burst a blood vessel after that.” She giggles. “Oh! I’m Candace Ladd.”

“Hey.” This time, my smile is bigger. “Ashley. Ashley Lawrence.”

“You must be a freshman.”

I wince, face burning all over again. “Does it show?”

She laughs, revealing perfectly straight, bright white teeth that somehow remained impervious to her little brother ruining her retainer. “Nah. I’ve just never seen you before, and I know pretty much everybody. I’m a junior.” She studies me, her head angled to one side. “Lawrence, huh?” And then her dark eyes open wide. “Oh my God. Is that stupid brother you mentioned Derek Lawrence?”

“You know him?”

She nods. “Yeah, we’re in the same homeroom. Oh, wow. Brittany is gonna hate hearing he’s a jerk. She’s really into him.” Candace points to the field on the other side of the small parking lot. The pretty blond with the great smile is doing ballet pliés.

I stare and swallow hard. Brittany is everything I’m not. Beautiful. Skinny. She even looks like Derek with perfect blond hair and blue eyes. They could be Ken and Barbie. I have dark hair and dark eyes. “Maybe he’ll be nicer to her.”

“Come on.” Candace Ladd grabs my hand, tugging me off the step where I’d been sitting, crying. “You know what’s great for getting over the stupid stuff brothers do?”

I have no idea, but I follow her anyway, making my way across the lot to the field that’s empty except for these girls.

“Dancing.”

I plant my feet in the grass at that. I love dancing. I’d taken dance classes for years when I was little. But I stopped about two years ago and now have a roll of fat bulging from the top of my jeans. I’d stick out like one of those old Sesame Street games—one of these things is so not like the others.

“Everybody, this is Ashley Lawrence. She’s Derek’s sister.”

The really pretty blond snaps her head up at that. Her smooth hair is pulled back in a ponytail, and her blue eyes are so blue, I wonder if she wears contacts. “I’m Brittany,” she says with a smile. “And this is Tara, Marlena, and Deanne.”

“Hi,” I manage to squeak out while the girls each smile and greet me.

Oh God, they’re all so beautiful. Next to them, I feel like a freak.

I am a freak.

“Ashley’s gonna dance with us today. She’s got some brother crap to work out of her system,” Candace explains to her friends, and Tara’s face instantly breaks into an expression of total understanding.

“Oh, honey. I got two of them. Is Derek what caused all this?” She waves a hand with pink-striped fingernails at my new back-to-school outfit, currently splattered in mud thanks to the boys in the blue car.

“Um, indirectly,” I admit.

“Jerk.”

“What an asshole!”

One by one, they all give their opinion of Derek while adjusting hairstyles, retying shoes, and stretching leg muscles. I’m entranced.

“You a freshman?” Marlena asks, and my face heats up again.

I nod, expecting her to make a disgusted face, but she just says, “I’m a sophomore. Candace and Brittany are juniors. And Tara’s a freshman, like you.”

I perk up at this news. Finally, somebody my own age.

Brittany pulls a small wireless speaker from her backpack, turns it on, and sets it on a bench at the edge of the athletic field. “It’s nice having the field to ourselves for once.”

“Hey, let’s teach her the routine,” Deanne suggests. “Then she can try out for Ms. Pasmore.”

Wait, what? Try out?

Holy crap, I can’t. But the rest of the girls agree. Candace crosses her arms and studies me. “Can you do basic moves like pirouettes and leaps?”

I shake my head. “I haven’t done those in a long time.”

“But you know how?” Candace prods. I can only shrug. “Oh, come on. Just try.” She urges me with a smile.

“Come on, Ashley. It would be great if we both make it on to the team,” Tara adds.

Tara’s words shoot straight into my heart and sort of plant roots. Suddenly, I want this. I want to dance and be on the team and have friends who understand all of my Derek problems.

“It’s okay, Ashley. You can do this,” Tara says, and that spot inside my heart warms up again.

I swallow hard, rub my damp palms down my legs, and get into fourth position…or is it fifth? I perform a slow, shaky pirouette. The girls applaud, and my face feels hot.

“That’s seriously not bad for someone who hasn’t danced in a couple of years.” Candace lifts her palm for a high five that I happily give her.

Derek would freak out if I do this.

So I should totally do it.

“That’s really great, Ashley. Okay, now strut!” She calls out, and the girls line up with me, everybody moving left, pumping their arms. I follow along, astounded by my efforts. “Other way. That’s good, Ashley! Now make it bigger.”

We strut back and march in place, and then Brittany takes over, leading us in a series of big, bold movements—kicks, leaps, shoulder shimmies, and pirouettes. They were right. This is fun. We dance for over an hour. The girls teach me their entire routine, and I do it all and have no time to be mad about Derek.

When we finally stop, Brittany angles her head, studying me.

“You know, you should cut some of that. It’s way too long for you.” She waves a hand over my hair.

My hair reaches my waist. “I, um, don’t look good with short hair. I mean, no offense,” I quickly say to Tara, whose jaw-length bob looks totally awesome.

“No, not that short,” Brittany says. “Maybe about here.” She indicates the middle of my back with her hand. “Take some of it off. I think it’ll have more volume.”

“Yeah,” Candace agrees. “When you do those snap turns, you won’t whip us in the face.”

Deanne hands me some forms. “Here. After you try out, you’ll need to order these.”

I stare down the sheet of papers, see the various items, each bearing the team name, Fusion.

“What do you say, Ashley? Are you in?” Candace grins, those bright white teeth gleaming at me.

I scan the group of them, all of them perfect and pretty and good at dancing. “Aren’t you worried I’ll make you look bad? I don’t…look like you all.”

“Oh, honey,” Tara says, putting an arm around me. “All you need is some practice to build up your confidence.” She looks around the group for verification.

“Hell, yeah. In freshman year, I had braces on my teeth, a terrible haircut, and I was six inches shorter than I am now. I could barely talk to anyone,” Brittany admits. “But you have something I didn’t have in freshman year.”

I did? “What’s that?”

“Boobs.” The other girls crack up as my face bursts into flames. “The boys won’t see anything else. Trust me.”

Brittany and Candace hop into a car and are gone after a honk and a wave. Deanne and Marlena stand with me until a minivan pulls up, and then it’s just me and Tara. We start walking toward the school’s main exit.

“So how are you getting home?” I ask her, and she shrugs.

“Walk. I live pretty much next door.” She points down the road.

“Handy.”

“Well, see you tomorrow. It was nice meeting you.”

“You too,” I call back.

I start walking toward town, where my dad’s garage is, wishing I had a bottle of water with me. My legs are like noodles after all that dancing, and a two-mile walk does not appeal to me. Like a wish granted, a horn honks, and a shiny black Chevy slows down beside me.

“Hey, Derek’s sister! Need a ride?”

Oh. Em. Gee.

It’s him. The boy with the cute smile and the dimples.

My voice gets stuck in my throat, so I only nod.

“What’s your name? Your real name, I mean,” he asks through the open passenger side window, smiling and making my wobbly legs even weaker. He isn’t going to call me Ash Tray? Swoon.

“Um. Ashley.” My voice is all squeaky.

“I’m Vic.”

“Yeah, I remember.” Vic. What a cool name. The coolest name in the world. I want to name a baby Vic.

He laughs. “Good. So where are you heading?”

“Oh, um. To my dad’s garage. Over on Blaine.”

“Right, right. I know where it is. Hop in,” he invites with a jerk of his head. “I’ll give you a lift.”

It never occurs to me to say no. He has such a great smile. His hair is somewhere between blond and brown and so messy I itch to touch it and smooth it. He’s really tall but lean. And his eyes are so blue, they look like pools you never want to get out of. But it’s that smile, the one with the dimple at the corner, that makes me forget my name.

“So, Ashley. You’re what? A freshman?”

Is there a sign hanging over my head or something? Wincing, I nod. “It must show.”

“Just a little.” He looks over and winks. “I’m a senior.”

A senior is driving me home. Ohmygodohmygodohmygod.

“Did you join a club or something?”

I nod, and suddenly remember I am probably in urgent need of a shower or a can of deodorant or a wet wipe, and I try to shrivel up against the passenger door and hope he doesn’t get close enough to sniff me. “Yeah. The dance team.”

“Fusion? That’s awesome! The dance team performs at all the Bengals games. I’ll probably see you at practice. Our coach had a meeting today, otherwise we’d have been on the field.” He slows down for a traffic light.

Can he hear my heart pounding?

“How do you like Bellford High?”

“I like the girls on the dance team. And I like my science teacher.”

“Who did you get?”

“Mr. Wilder.”

“Oh, yeah, he’s great. I had him. He likes to give pop quizzes every week, so be ready.”

“Oh. Yeah. I will.”

“Nothing terrible. Just read ahead and you’ll be fine.”

Read ahead. I can do totally do that.

Vic puts on his turn signal and waits for a left turn. “So your brother’s kind of a jerk to you, huh?”

My heart sinks, and I slide a little lower in my seat.

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll say something to him tomorrow.”

Suddenly, I’m grinning like a maniac. There’s probably a circle of cartoon birds and butterflies flying around the heart that just floated out of my body. Vic laughs and shakes his head as he pulls to the curb.

“We’re here. It was nice to meet you, Ashley Lawrence.” Vic hands me my bag as I pretty much fall out of the car on legs I can no longer feel. “See you tomorrow.”

“Yeah. Tomorrow.”

He honks and waves as he pulls away. I’m halfway in love.

“Ashley? Who was that?” Dad asks. He just stepped out of one of the garage bay doors.

“Hmm?”

“Ashley!”

I turn and see Mom in the entrance to Dad’s garage. “Mom! Can we get my hair cut? Please? I’m gonna try out for the dance team, and my hair is too long, and it’s in the way, and I met a senior named Vic, and I need to buy these if I make the team.” I finally pause for air, and Mom takes the Fusion gear order form I have clutched in my hand.

“A haircut. And a uniform. Well, okay. But a senior? No. I don’t know about that.”

“I’m with you on that,” Dad says, grabbing Mom in a hug and tickling her until she squeal

THE HOPE OF AZURE SPRINGS by RACHEL FORDHAM BOOK REVIEW

 

 

The Hope of Azure Springs

by Rachel Fordham

 

 

Seven years ago, orphaned and alone, Em finally arrived at a new home in Iowa after riding the orphan train. But secrets from her past haunt her, and her new life in the Western wilderness is a rough one. When her guardian is shot and killed, Em, now nineteen, finally has the chance to search for her long-lost sister, but she won’t be able to do it alone.

For Azure Springs Sheriff Caleb Reynolds, securing justice for the waifish and injured Em is just part of his job. He’s determined to solve every case put before him in order to impress his parents and make a name for himself. Caleb expects to succeed. What he doesn’t expect is the hold this strange young woman will have on his heart.

Debut author Rachel Fordham invites historical romance readers to the charming town of Azure Springs, Iowa, where the people care deeply for one another and, sometimes, even fall in love.

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Barker Publishing

 

Praise for The Hope of Azure Springs

“With unusual charm and warmth, Rachel Fordham opens the door to Azure Springs, a place as memorable as the people who inhabit it—namely the unique Em, a hero of a sheriff, and an assortment of heart-tugging, endearing townsfolk. A memorable story of faith, family, and happy endings!” ~Laura Frantz, author of The Lacemaker

“The Hope of Azure Springs is full of love and laughter, hope and happy endings. This delightful book about the resilience of the human spirit and the power of love will keep you turning pages until the very end. After you read Rachel Fordham’s satisfying story, you’ll want to give the world a hug.” ~Jennifer Beckstrand, author of A Courtship on Huckleberry Hill

“A tender story about loss, life, and the beauty that lies within each of us.” ~Stacy Henrie, USA Today bestselling author and RITA award finalist

“Authentic. Strong. Memorable. The Hope of Azure Springs and its refreshingly realistic heroine will remain in readers’ hearts long after they’ve reached the stirring conclusion. With eloquently drawn scenes that will tug at a reader’s heart and a beautifully redemptive love story, Rachel Fordham’s debut offers a tender look at the meaning of beauty and self-worth.” ~Joanna Politano, author of Lady Jayne Disappears

“As The Hope of Azure Springs unfolds, readers will find a well thought out and intricately put together love story about an uncommon heroine. Fans of Melissa Jagears and Jane Kirkpatrick will enjoy Rachel Fordham’s books now and for years to come.” ~Dawn Crandall, author of the award-winning series The Everstone Chronicles

 

 

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of THE HOPE OF AZURE SPRINGS by Rachel Fordham for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Many thanks to I Am A Reader for arranging for the Advanced Reader Copy.

Once in a while I have the opportunity to read a book that I find to be an absolute treasure. I found that in THE HOPE OF AZURE SPRINGS by Rachel Fordham. The fact that this is Mrs. Fordham’s debut novel makes this one even more special!

Mrs. Fordham takes one of my favorite genres, Christian Fiction, mixes in some wonderful historical fiction, a bit of mystery, and of course, gives the main characters a fairy-tale-like happily-ever-after!

The townsfolk of Azure Springs are a wonderful mixture of any very small town to be imagined, right down to the wonderful widow woman running the local boarding house! Mrs. Fordham knows how to give each of her characters life, and color, and emotion and they all came to life inside my head as I was reading! Each one of them jumped off the page and came to life for me as I read!

Although I was able to see early on the direction the book was going to end, it was a wonderful journey to take along with Caleb and Em. Mrs. Fordham wrote THE HOPE OF AZURE SPRINGS with many life lessons for those looking to learn a thing or two along the way. She also filled it’s pages with warm Christian values and I enjoyed watching Em learn to accept the love and respect of those around her!

I am a true fan of Rachel Fordham and I highly recommend THE HOPE OF AZURE SPRINGS! I give it five steaming hot cups of Room With Books Coffee and I hope you’ll pick up your copy today!

©June 9, 2018

 

Rachel Fordham has long been fascinated by all things historical or in the words of her children “old stuff”. Often the historical trivia she discovers is woven into her children’s bedtime tales. Despite her love for good stories she didn’t attempt writing a novel until her husband challenged her to do so (and now she’s so glad he did). Since that time she’s often been found typing or researching while her youngest child naps or frantically writing plot twists while she waits in the school pick-up line. In addition to her passion for storytelling, she enjoys reading, being outdoors and seeing new places. Rachel lives with her husband and children on an island in Washington state.

 

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Blog Tour Schedule

July 9th
I Am A Reader – Spotlight
My Life. One Story at a Time. – Review
Cover Lover Book Review – Review
BookHounds – Spotlight
Susan Heim on Writing – Spotlight
Diana’s Book Reviews – Spotlight

July 10th
Locks, Hooks and Books – Review
Literary Reflections Book Blog – Review
Literary Time Out – Review
Julie Coulter Bellon – Review
T’s Stuff – Spotlight
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July 11th
Pause for Tales – Review
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Why Not? Because I Said So! – Review
A Writer’s Life – Spotlight
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Katie’s Clean Book Collection – Spotlight
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July 12th
Simple Wyrdings – Review
Reviews by Room With Books – Review
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Here We Go Again Ready – Spotlight
FLY HIGH! – Spotlight

July 13th
Mythical Books – Spotlight
Bound 2 Escape – Spotlight
Stacking My Book Shelves! – Spotlight
Cassandra M’s Place – Spotlight
Bookish Reviews by Denise Blogs – Spotlight

 

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$25 Amazon Gift Code or $25 in Paypal Cash

Ends 7/24/18

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or PayPal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

 

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RAINY DAY FRIENDS by JILL SHALVIS BOOK REVIEW @JillShalvis

Rainy Day Friends

A Wildstone Novel

By: Jill Shalvis

Harper Collins – June 19, 2018

Following the USA Today bestselling author of Lost and Found Sisters comes Jill Shalvis’ moving story of heart, loss, betrayal, and friendship

Six months after Lanie Jacobs’ husband’s death, it’s hard to imagine anything could deepen her sense of pain and loss. But then Lanie discovers she isn’t the only one grieving his sudden passing. A serial adulterer, he left behind several other women who, like Lanie, each believe she was his legally wedded wife.

Rocked by the infidelity, Lanie is left to grapple with searing questions. How could she be so wrong about a man she thought she knew better than anyone? Will she ever be able to trust another person?  Can she even trust herself?

Desperate to make a fresh start, Lanie impulsively takes a job at the family-run Capriotti Winery. At first, she feels like an outsider among the boisterous Capriottis. With no real family of her own, she’s bewildered by how quickly they all take her under their wing and make her feel like she belongs. Especially Mark Capriotti, a gruffly handsome Air Force veteran turned deputy sheriff who manages to wind his way into Lanie’s cold, broken heart—along with the rest of the clan.

Everything is finally going well for her, but the arrival of River Brown changes all that. The fresh-faced twenty-one-year old seems as sweet as they come…until her dark secrets come to light—secrets that could destroy the new life Lanie’s only just begun to build.

Goodreads Link ~ Goodreads Series Link

 

Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ iBooks

Other ~ Paperback

Series Buy Link

Disclaimer: I received a copy of RAINY DAY FRIENDS by Jill Shalvis for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

It was truly my pleasure to read RAINY DAY FRIENDS for review, but I would have picked this book up to read just because it is a really good book!

Jill Shalvis’ writing takes me on an emotional roller coaster, laughing one minute and tearing up the next! The characters are strong, stubborn, loving and sometimes just plain unlikeable! The one thing that the Capriottis always are is family! And family doesn’t mean blood!

There isn’t just one plot rolling out in RAINY DAY FRIENDS, there are several that intertwine throughout! I had no problem following along with what was happening, even though this is part of a series of books, and I haven’t read any of the previous Wildstone novels.

I give RAINY DAY FRIENDS by Jill Shalvis five steaming hot cups of Reviews by Room With Books coffee! I recommend you grab a copy of RAINY DAY FRIENDS by Jill Shalvis and a cozy place you can read it uninterrupted! I know you’ll love it as much as I did!

©June 19, 2018

 

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Shalvis writes warm, funny, sexy contemporary romances and women’s fiction. An Amazon, BN & iBooks bestseller, she’s also a two-time RITA winner and has more than 10 million copies of her books sold worldwide.

 

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS

 

Read the first Chapter at http://jillshalvis.com/books/rainy-day-friends/

 

 

 Win a print ARC of RAINY DAY FRIENDS

 

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BOUNCE BACK by DR BRIDGETTE JENKINS BOOK REVIEW

Write Now Literary is pleased to be coordinating a Blog Tour for Bounce Back: Tips for Overcoming Adversity, Life Challenges and Setbacks by Dr. Bridgette Jenkins. The tour will run June 4-29, 2018.

 

Publication Date: May 19, 2018

Genre: Inspirational Non-Fiction

 

 

Bounce Back will encourage you to be intentional about facing adversity and challenges while staying positive about your situation. With practicality, wisdom and experience, Dr. Bridgette Jenkins shares strategies and tips that can be used to help you Bounce Back from any negative life situation. After reading this book, and applying the practical Bounce Back tips, you will be able to withstand, recover from and overcome any challenge you might face in life.

Amazon eBook

Amazon Paperback

Barnes & Noble

 

 Disclaimer: I received a copy of BOUNCE BACK by Dr. Bridgette Jenkins, DNP, MSN, RN for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Many thanks to Write Now Literary Book Tours and Divine Purpose Publishing for the advanced digital copy.

BOUNCE BACK by Dr. Bridgette Jenkins is a book filled with practical, biblical advice on how to overcome many of the adversities that may be experienced in life!

Dr. Jenkins has a very practical style and addresses her own life challenges helped me feel comfortable from the beginning of the book. Knowing that she has experience, not just book knowledge, gives me a great deal of ease in looking at the advice Dr. Jenkins was offering. Her obvious knowledge of the Bible made the combination of advice and scripture especially beneficial for me!

In addition, Dr. Jenkins added a declaration at the end of the chapter that captures the essence of all that has been written. These declarations are useful pieces that can be used to heal the heart, mind, and body whenever the evil one begins to whisper in your mind and you forget the healing words Dr. Jenkins offers!

I am definitely recommending BOUNCE BACK by Dr. Bridgette Jenkins as a useful book for those facing life challenges!

BOUNCE BACK by Dr. Bridgette Jenkins, DNP, MSN, RN receives five cups of Reviews by Room With Books coffee!

©June 17, 2018

 

Dr. Bridgette Jenkins is a doctorly prepared registered nurse who specializes in education and community health. She has a heart for nursing students and those struggling to reach their education and career goals. She serves as mentor and coach to nurses and nursing students as they matriculate through the nursing profession.

She is the owner of Health Education Institute where she teaches lifesaving courses to healthcare providers and the public. She also offers a variety of courses to healthcare providers to help them stay current on updates and changes within the healthcare arena. Dr. Bridgette also speaks at churches and community events on various health issues that are prevalent among vulnerable populations.

She is the CEO/President of the Houston Chapter of Black Nurses Rock, a nonprofit organization committed to changing the lives of the citizens in the Houston area and surrounding communities through service and education.

Bridgette resides in Houston Texas where she’s actively involved in her church and community. She is a mother to three adult children and a miniature schnauzer named Dallas. She is also MiMi to two adorable grandsons.

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LIFE LIVED NOT LOST by CYNTHIA STATON BOOK REVIEW

 

Victoria Taylor Staton’s life was a… Life Lived Not Lost ~ a journey of hope.

Cynthia Staton’s life was in turmoil, then Christ saved her. Life was perfect. She and her beloved daughter, Victoria shared the same belief in God. But seven short months after Cynthia was saved, her daughter lost her battle with Cystic Fibrosis, and God called her home.

Cynthia struggled with not only missing her daughter, but losing her bible teacher. Victoria taught the Word of God to Cynthia in a way that showcased God’s perfect love for His children. That profound understanding carried Cynthia through the devastation, knowing she’d see her daughter again one day, in Heaven, and that Victoria’s time on Earth was a….
Life Lived Not Lost ~ A journey of hope.


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My review of Life Lived Not Lost is coming soon!

 

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DOG HEALTH CARE by RACHELE BAKER, DVM BOOK REVIEW @RacheleBakerDVM

 

 

The must-have book for dog owners written by an experienced veterinarian and dog lover.

You may be able to help your dog avoid developing medical problems like skin infections, ear infections, and more, by following the simple preventative care recommendations that Dr. Baker discusses in this book.  Preventative care is much less expensive than paying for veterinarian exams, diagnostics, and treatments for your dog when your dog develops medical problems.

Dr. Baker answers some of the most asked questions from dog owners. Is it normal for dogs to have bad breath? What vaccines does your dog really need? Does it really matter what food you feed your dog? In this book, Dr. Rachele Baker shares the knowledge that she has acquired during more than sixteen years as a practicing veterinarian. Even people who have had dogs for years will be sure to learn something new in this book!

Dr. Baker received her B.S. from the University of California Davis in 1997 and her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2001. Dr. Baker wrote this book to provide dog lovers with the information they need to keep their dogs healthy in a simple, brief, yet comprehensive, manner.

 Praise for this book

“Loved it from start to finish. Informative, creative, and intelligent.” – Denise, Goodreads.

“Clear, comprehensive, and easy-to-read. Refreshingly well-written and covers everything one might need to know as a dog owner.” – Bella, Amazon.

~ Universal Amazon Link ~ Barnes & Noble ~

~ iTunes ~ Kobo ~

 

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Dog Health Care: 7 Simple Ways to Keep Your Dog Healthy by Rachele Baker, DVM for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Many thanks to Loving the Book for arranging for the advanced copy.

It was my pleasure to read Dog Health Care: 7 Simple Ways to Keep Your Dog Healthy by Rachele Baker, DVM!

I found the information to be very easy to understand and well organized. It is the very essentials that must be learned by any dog owner, hopefully BEFORE they find their furever puppy!

With all the information on the market (i.e, television) about dog food, I found the chapter on nutrition to be the most beneficial information! I am, however, a very strong opponent to feeding dogs people food of any type, not just those that are known to be harmful.

Another very important chapter is the one on vaccinations. There is a lot of debate these days on the need for booster shots of vaccines given to dogs as puppies. I am so glad that Dr. Baker made clear that the booster shots are absolutely necessary to keep your dog(s) protected!

I strongly encourage all dog owners to pick up a copy of Dog Health Care: 7 Simple Ways to Keep Your Dog Healthy by Rachele Baker, DVM. Whether your furever friend is young or old, Dr. Baker has excellent advice to assist you in the care of your dog!

I give Dog Health Care: 7 Simple Ways to Keep Your Dog Healthy by Rachele Baker, DVM five juicy dog bones, umm, I mean Reviews by Room With Books cups of coffee!

©June 4, 2018

 

Excerpt

Chapter 1: The Best Nutrition For Dogs and Puppies

The six basic nutrient categories

A good quality diet for your dog will contain all the essential nutrients in the proper proportions. The six basic nutrient categories are water, carbohydrates, protein (essential amino acids), fat (essential fatty acids), minerals, and vitamins.

Water

You may be surprised to learn that water is considered the most important nutrient. Water is vital to life. Water is one of the largest constituents of an animal’s body and can vary from forty percent to more than eighty percent of the total.

Water provides shape to the body. It acts as a solvent in which substances are dissolved and then transported through the body. Water is necessary for the digestion of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Water in bodily fluids helps lubricate the joints and eyes and keeps the airways moist.

Water helps regulate body temperature as it is evaporated from the skin or from the respiratory tract during breathing. That is why you will see your dog pant when he or she gets hot. Panting helps to cool your dog down. Panting is the primary way that dogs get rid of excess body heat. When your dog pants, water and heat are evaporated from your dog’s lungs, tongue, and mouth.

It is very important, therefore, to make sure that your dog always has fresh, clean water. You should clean your dog’s water bowl with dish soap every day to remove bacteria and debris before refilling it with clean water. I do not recommend leaving your dog’s water bowl outside in a place where other animals in the area can drink from it due to the potential for contamination with bacteria and diseases from other animals.

 

Dr. Rachele Baker is a veterinarian, an author, an award-winning blogger at Rachele Baker, Veterinarian and Author, and, of course, a pet lover. She lives in the beautiful state of California. Rachele likes to try new restaurants, go to local festivals, hike the many beautiful trails around her home, and explore California wine regions.

Rachele has been working as a veterinarian in California caring for dogs and cats for seventeen years. She received her B.S. from the University of California Davis in 1997 and her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2001.

Rachele has written and published a number of interesting and helpful articles about pet health and resources for pet lovers on her website. Check it out!

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IF I WANT YOU by RACHEL BRIMBLE @rararesources @RachelBrimble

If I Want You

By Rachel Brimble

When local journalist, Tori Peterson, fails to prevent a child abduction outside her niece’s school, her horror and guilt sparks a vow to do whatever it takes to get little Abby Brady home to her parents.

While Tori battles the vile memories of her own kidnapping as a child, she accepts the help of widowed father, Mark Bolton. As he and Tori join forces with the local police, their attraction and intimacy grows…along with their fears for Abby.

Links are uncovered between Abby’s disappearance and Tori’s kidnapping, and Tori is forced to accept the monster who held her captive is back. But this time, Tori is all grown up, and there is no way she will let him hurt another little girl.

Amazon UK ~ Amazon US

Barnes & Noble ~ Google Play

 

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary digital copy of If I Want You by Rachel Brimble for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

If I Want You by Rachel Brimble is a novel that revolves around child abductions, people learning to grow through pain – past and present, and a romance that has definite sizzle! The child abductions are painful to read about, but the growth that Tori, and Mark, show throughout this book make the whole ordeal a bit easier to deal with by the end of the book!

I must admit I was totally baffled as to who the abductor would turn out to be! Ms. Brimble kept me guessing, much as Tori did, throughout the novel!

The pace was a bit slow for my liking, but I found that I wasn’t willing to walk away from If I Want You. Ms. Brimble’s writing style is very easy to read. I found the characters to be well thought out, and researched thoroughly! I was able to spot several editing issues, but they didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the book.

Pick up your copy of If I Want You by Rachel Brimble and I’m certain you’ll find yourself enjoying this romantic suspense novel!

Reviews by Room With Books gives If I Want You by Rachel Brimble four steaming hot cups of Room With Books coffee!

I always consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to read and review a book. Many thanks to Rachel Brimble and Rachel’s Random Resources for this opportunity!

©April 24, 2018

Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. After having several novels published by small US presses, she secured agent representation in 2011. Since 2013, she has had seven books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and an eighth coming in Jan 2018. She also has four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical Press as well as writing several single titles for the Wild Rose Press.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.

Website ~ Blog

Twitter ~ Facebook

Facebook Street Team – Rachel’s Readers

Amazon Author Page ~ Goodreads

 

Win a PDF of any book from Rachel Brimble’s Back List (Open Internationally)

Rachel Brimble has a rather varied and extensive backlist, and one lucky winner can win a PDF of a book of their choice from it. Full back list can be viewed HERE!

*Terms and Conditions – Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days, then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, except for the winner’s information. This will be shared with the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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THE DANDELION by MICHELLE LEIGHTON BOOK REVIEW

THE DANDELION

By Michelle Leighton

Some see an ending, others see a beginning

At thirty-five, Abigail Simmons has mastered only one thing—running. When tragedy strikes, she runs. This time her urge to flee brings Abi back to her hometown, where she hopes she can find the peace she’s always searched for. That hope is dashed when Abi’s ex, Sam Forrester, bumps his way back into her life.

Sam has flourished in ways Abi hasn’t. From the outside, he has it all—a successful medical practice, a beautiful daughter, and a charming wife.

Who is dying.

Sara Forrester is dying and her final wish is for Sam to find love again so she can meet the woman who will finish raising her daughter and grow old with her husband. Abi seems like the perfect fit, but what Sara doesn’t know is that Abi has a secret, a secret no one could guess.

And it’s a deal breaker.

Kindle ~ iBooks
Nook ~ Kobo

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WHAT READERS ARE SAYING

“A true must read”

“A breathtaking story”

“I just could NOT. STOP. READING.”

“The Dandelion is simply…BEAUTIFUL!!!”

“It was worth every single minute.”

“Read it. Just…read it.”

FROM MICHELLE LEIGHTON
WILL YOU TRUST ME?

I am so, so excited to tell you that THE DANDELION is live! I loved everything about this story, from the way it began as a dream to the way I cried a few times as I wrote it. This book has some of the most real and raw and wounded characters I’ve ever fallen in love with, but I think that’s why I love them so much. And I truly believe you will, too, but I want to implore you to TRUST ME. Trust me that, although there are obstacles and struggles that cut to the heart of every woman, this book is one of love and hope and friendship and selflessness of epic proportions. Trust me to bring you closure and happiness, the kind we all have to work for, but the kind that’s made all the more special because we have to work for it.

Give this book a try. Give this love a try. Give this HOPE a try:) I sincerely hope you adore the story as much as I do!

 

 

Many thanks to Michelle Leighton and Sullivan and Partners, LLC for the advance digital copy. Opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

To say that this book was extraordinary seems to trivialize the feelings that I had while reading THE DANDELION by MICHELLE LEIGHTON!

I picked THE DANDELION up one morning and I couldn’t put it down until I had come to the end. I carried my phone with me all day just in case I might have a minute to read a little bit more while I was running errands.

The story is very heartrending, and I had many moments of tears and a vast emotional investment in the entire story! I’m not a big believer in second chances, but Sara, Sam, and Abi proved me wrong!

Even knowing Abi had ulterior motives for returning to Molly’s Knob, life intervenes and changes her direction for the better!

Ms. Leighton’s writing is spectacular in THE DANDELION, possibly the best she has ever delivered!

Pick up your copy of THE DANDELION by MICHELLE LEIGHTON today and I’m certain you’ll find yourself falling in love with all the characters that make this story an award-winning novel!

Reviews by Room With Books gives THE DANDELION by MICHELLE LEIGHTON five steaming hot cups of Room With Books coffee!

©April 8, 2018

 

About M. Leighton

New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, M. Leighton, is a rarely ever comfortable speaking about herself in the third person, but here goes. Michelle is a former nurse who has always harbored a passion for the written word, a weakness for alpha males, and a profound love of all things romantic. Never in her wildest dreams did this Yankee-turned-Southerner imagine her life as it is today. She has the best job in the world, a husband who treats her like a princess, and a dog that’s so smart she may one day write a novel, too. You can often find Michelle hidden away in her cave, crafting a new story, or out in the sunshine enjoying some quiet time with her man. Movies, wine, and good food are frequently thrown into the mix, and exercise on days that start with Q. She loves laughter, chocolate, the color red, and you can find out more about her at www.mleightonbooks.com.

ABOUT MICHELLE LEIGHTON

With sales nearing the two million mark, New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and internationally bestselling author M. Leighton is now turning her pen toward another side of relationships with her work as Michelle Leighton. From her upcoming emotionally charged story, The Dandelion, to her domestic noir entitled Strings, Michelle’s stories are sure to bring all the depth you’ve come to expect from M. Leighton with a new edge that will have you quickly turning page after page.
Find me online at https://www.facebook.com/MichelleLeightonAuthor/

SUCH DARK THINGS by COURTNEY EVAN TATE BOOK REVIEW

SUCH DARK THINGS

By Courtney Evan Tate (Courtney Cole)

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Publisher: Mira (Harper Collins)

Release Date: March 20, 2018

I thought I knew him. He thought he knew me. We were both wrong…

Dr. Corinne Cabot is living the American dream. She’s a successful ER physician in Chicago who’s married to a handsome husband. Together they live in a charming house in the suburbs. But appearances can be deceiving—and what no one can see is Corinne’s dark past. Troubling gaps in her memory mean she recalls little about a haunting event in her life years ago that changed everything.

She remembers only being in the house the night two people were found murdered. Her father was there, too. Now her father is in prison; she hasn’t been in contact in years. Repressing that terrifying memory has caused Corinne moments of paranoia and panic. Sometimes she thinks she sees things that aren’t there, hears words that haven’t been spoken. Or have they? She fears she may be losing her mind, unable to determine what’s real and what’s not.

So when she senses her husband’s growing distance, she thinks she’s imagining things. She writes her suspicions off to fatigue, overwork, anything to explain what she can’t accept—that her life really isn’t what it seems.

Goodreads

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Kobo

Prologue-

My skin is sticky with blood.

My waistband is wet with it, and I can taste it on my lips. It’s splattered on my face, and it tastes like metal that has been rotting in the sun and rain for a hundred years. The night makes me shiver, the cool breeze rustling my hair, and for a split second, I’m back there in that house, standing in that blood. My bare toes feel the warmth of the liquid turn cool as the minutes tick past.

Goose bumps raise on my neck, and a knot that I can’t swallow is lodged in my throat. My feet are frozen frozen frozen on the ground, and I can’t move.

Their eyes are open and lifeless, although they stare at me.

They see me.

Yet they see nothing.

I can’t breathe.

My lips are ice, just like theirs.

My heart is pounding and racing and stuttering, and I can’t breathe I can’t breathe I can’t breathe.

“Corinne. You’re safe here. Corinne.

And just like that, I’m not there.

I’m here.

“There was blood all over me.” My words are stilted and fragile, like glass.

I stare at my hand, and even though it’s clean now, I see it as it was seventeen years ago, covered in the blood of two souls…souls that were living and that aren’t anymore. It’s hard to wrap my mind around. First they were breathing, and then they weren’t. It happened in a split second. I inhale shakily.

“Think about that moment,” the doctor instructs. “Who can you see?”

I think on that. “Melanie is next to me on the floor. Her head is bleeding into a pool. There is so much blood that it looks black.” I close my eyes, because it had been the first time I’d seen blood like that, and it terrified me. “Joe is on the bed. His blood is splattered all over the wall. Both of them have their eyes open.”

Staring at me.

The emotions welling up in me are like a wave, swelling, swelling, swelling…until I can’t handle it anymore. The horror and the guilt and the pain are just too much.

“I can’t do this,” I blurt out. “I’m done for the day.”

Dr. Phillips looks at me, and he’s calm and detached.

“Corinne, why are you here?”

I pause. What a stupid question. “You know why I’m here.”

I hate it when they treat me with such condescension.

“Humor me,” he tells me. “Why are you here?”

I grit my teeth and look away.

He waits.

“You’re saying that I tried to hurt myself. But I wouldn’t do that.”

I look at him now, and he’s so f*cking emotionless. I look down at my left wrist, at the bandage covering up the stiches.

“I wouldn’t,” I insist again. “I’m a f*cking physician. I wouldn’t have cut my wrist horizontally. If I really wanted to hurt myself, I would’ve known to cut vertically along the vein.”

I finger the gauze. Beneath it, the cut throbs, evidence of something I don’t remember doing.

“I’m not crazy,” I add. And I don’t know if I’m trying to convince Dr. Phillips, or myself.

“You’re not crazy.” He nods. “But you’ve experienced a mental break. You’re here because you need to deal with the causal underlying issue so that it won’t happen again. Right?”

He’s a fucking asshole.

I stare at the wall. At the whiteness, at the sterility.

“You need some plants in here,” I tell him, avoiding the question. “Greenery puts patients at ease. All this blankness…it’s maddening.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” he says wryly. “Corinne…”

I interrupt. “Dr. Cabot,” I tell him. “I’ve earned it.”

“Dr. Cabot,” he corrects himself. “You’re right. You’ve earned it. You worked a long time to finish medical school and your residency. You’re a top ER physician. You have a life envied by everyone around you. You’ve got to take care of yourself, so you can protect this life you’ve built.”

I close my eyes. Behind my eyelids, it’s dark and safe. It’s black and warm.

“Protect it from what?” I whisper.

“You tell me,” he answers. “You’ve got something inside of you that is triggered now, something that creates panic and a fight-or-flight response. We know what your father did so long ago. What we don’t know is why…or what damage it has caused in you, damage that seems to be affecting you now.”

“I don’t know either,” I say helplessly, my eyes opening to the white walls again. “I can’t remember. I never could. You know that.”

“I know.” Dr. Phillips nods again, and he tries to be so fucking comforting. “You have a history of dissociative behavior. You blocked out what your father did so long ago, and it stands to reason that your brain has developed that as a defense mechanism. It’s doing it again now. If we don’t get to the bottom of why your memories are being triggered now, after all of these years…you’ll never have peace. Do we agree on that?”

Reluctantly, I nod.

“So we have to start at the beginning. You have to stay here and focus.”

Anger flares in me, red and hot, and I stare him down. He doesn’t blink and neither do I.

“Focus?” I ask him, and my words are sharp and I wish they would cut him. “You think it’s as simple as sitting down and focusing? How dare you sit there and tell me what to do, when you have no idea what it’s like?”

I stand up to leave, but the psychiatrist’s next sentence holds me in my place, freezing me.

“Corinne, you promised Jude you’d try.”

Jude.

My beautiful, understanding Jude.

I swallow hard. I did promise. And I have to follow through, even though the pain it causes me is immeasurable. I owe it to him. I’ll do it for him. Not for this psychiatrist, but for Jude.

My body folds back into the seat, and I finger the medical bracelet circling my right wrist. Corinne Elizabeth Cabot, Female. It’s me, condensed into one stark sentence, yet I’m a stranger to myself right now. That’s why I’m here. I don’t know myself or my thoughts. My memories are foreign, blocked, nightmarish, out of control.

“Fine.” There’s nothing else I can say.

Dr. Phillips is quietly triumphant. “Let’s begin again. Take a deep breath and close your eyes.”

I do, drawing the cool air in a rush over my teeth, expanding my lungs and holding it, before I let it slowly exhale. I do it again, then again.

“Think back to that night, Dr. Cabot. Stand in that room. Tell me where your father is.”

I envision it, I see it in my mind like it was yesterday. My father in his bloody steel-toed boots. “He’s on the porch, waiting for the police to come.”

“He left you alone in the house with two dead bodies?”

“Yes.”

“He didn’t try to run?”

“No.”

“Okay. What did you do then?” my doctor asks me calmly, unfazed by the ugliness of my story.

“I was stunned. I think I was in shock. My hand was bleeding.”

Dr. Phillips looks at my hand, because I’m stroking the scar now, an unconscious nervous tic that I often do when I’m anxious. “What happened to your hand?”

“I don’t remember.”

“Is there a lot that you don’t remember from that night?”

“Yes. You know that.”

“Yes, I do,” he acknowledges. “So you’re standing in the middle of a bloody crime scene because your father left you alone. What did you do then, Corinne?”

“I looked out the window,” I tell him. “I was frozen. I couldn’t move. My feet felt like concrete and I was afraid if I moved, my heart would explode. So I took deep breaths. I watched the trick-or-treaters walking by. I looked at the blood on my shoe. I looked at the jack-o’-lanterns that were lit on porches, and the ghosts hanging in the trees. There was a full moon. There was light on my shoulders.”

“Anything else?”

“I stared at the street sign on the corner. All Hallows Lane.”

“That’s ironic,” the doctor points out needlessly.

“Yes.”

“How long did you stand there?” His question is quiet.

“Until they came and took me away.”

Many thanks to Courtney Evan Tate and Netgalley for the Advance Digital copy of Such Dark Things. Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.

Jude and Corinne seemingly have it all. But something sinister is brewing beneath the surface of their picture-perfect life. Corinne carries the baggage of something horrific from her eighteenth year that has haunted her ever since. But she doesn’t remember the details of what happened.

Coming to terms with the past and building a strong future isn’t in the cards for Jude and Corinne with the interference they face from outside forces.

Such Dark Things by Courtney Evan Tate is an exceptionally intense read. This is a book that, once I started reading, my entire world faded far into the background and I couldn’t put it down!

Ms. Tate has a flair for the dramatic and knows how to write a psychological thriller! There was no easing into the plot, it soared off the first page and never descended! I was hard-pressed to catch my breath between each page!

Tackling the subject of PTSD and Dissociative Disorder, which are often found in people who have experienced a life-altering trauma, is a vast undertaking. Ms. Tatee handled it expertly.

 

I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Such Dark Things by Courtney Evan Tate to find out IF their life is really what it seems!

Reviews by Room With Books gives Such Dark Things by Courtney Evan Tate five steaming hot cups of Room With Books coffee!

©March 18, 2018

 

Courtney Cole

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author

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PRE-MEDITATED MURDER by TRACY WEBER BOOK REVIEW @TracyWeberTypes

 

 

 

If Kate Doesn’t Act Fast, the Only “I Do” in Michael’s Future Will Be at His Trial

 

 

Yoga instructor Kate Davidson is ready to marry her boyfriend Michael, so she’s disappointed when a special dinner doesn’t end with a proposal. But disappointment turns to dismay and outrage as she learns the real problem: Michael is already married and his estranged wife is blackmailing him.

When his wife’s body is found―by Kate and her dog, no less―Michael is strangely unable to remember where he was the night she died. Since Michael has no alibi, Kate steps up to uncover what happened. What she walks into is a tangled web of deceit, obsession, and immigration fraud . . . with Michael trapped in the middle.

 

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Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series featuring yoga teacher Kate Davidson and her feisty German shepherd, Bella.

Her first book, Murder Strikes a Pose won the Maxwell Award for Fiction and was 2015 Agatha Award nominee for Best First Novel. The third book in her series, Karma’s a Killer, will released January 2016 by Midnight Ink.

Tracy and her husband live in Seattle with their challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha. When she’s not writing, Tracy spends her time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house.

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Many thanks to Tracy Weber & Loving the Book for the Advanced Digital Copy of Pre-Meditated Murder (A Downward Dog Mystery). Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.

This is the fifth book in the Downward Dog Mystery Series. I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading the four preceding books, but I had no problem following Pre-Meditated Murder without the background information they would have provided!

Pre-Meditated Murder by Tracy Weber is filled with plenty of action, mystery, murder, mayhem, and fun! This wonderfully written cozy mystery has something for just about everyone!

It looks like a bright future is in the cards for Kate and Michael! Kate’s best friend, Rene, has seen Michael exiting a jewelry store! A special birthday dinner for Kate and a … necklace? More than disappointed, Kate is heartbroken and angry! This leads to Michael’s confession of a whopping secret! Michael’s married and his wife, Gabrielle, wants $50,000 to give him a divorce! It all goes downhill from there!

Ms. Weber writes a marvelously plotted cozy mystery with strong characters and a wonderful plot! But best of all, she mixes in an anxiety ridden German Shepherd named Bella! At times Bella absolutely steals the entire show! Granted there are also twin babies of three months, a polydactyl kitten, and two terribly trained puppies, but you have to love Bella!

I couldn’t have enjoyed Pre-Meditated Murder more unless I had read all of the Downward Dog Mystery Series.

I highly recommend you run out and buy it, and the four previous books if you haven’t read them already! I give Pre-Meditated Murder (A Downward Dog Mystery) by Tracy Weber five steaming hot cups of Reviews by Room With Books coffee!

©March 7, 2018

Patricia, Reviews by Room With Books

 

 

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