SAVING PENNY by ARIEL MARIE BOOK REVIEW @the_ArielMarie @EJBookPromos

Saving Penny

Imperial Knights #1

By Ariel Marie

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Release Date: August 21, 2018

Cover Designer: Melody Simmons with Bookcoverscre8tive Book Cover Designs

 

 

Billionaire CEO of the Imperial Knights security empire, Drake Ransley spends his days in full control of every element of his life. By night, he’s a man plagued by a mysterious dream about a brown coin. As time passes, the frequency of the dream increases and the penny morphs into a beautiful woman that Drake can’t stop thinking about.

Penny Berkey has just discovered that she has won the largest payout in lottery history, but it might not be enough to keep her away from danger. The promise of a major payout awaits. Danger lurks in the shadows. A stalker looms at every turn. Unable to elicit help from the police, she turns to the best security team money can buy – the Imperial Knights.

Drake knows the moment he lays eyes on her that she’s the woman from his dreams. His wolf instantly recognizes her as his mate. With danger lurking at every corner for her, he’s all the more determined to keep her safe by any means necessary.

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Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Saving Penny by Ariel Marie for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Many thanks to Enticing Journey Book Promotions for the advance copy.

I am usually a very loyal, one author shifter reader, but Saving Penny by Ariel Marie was worth taking a chance on! I enjoyed reading it very much!

Drake has dreamt of a penny for years with no understanding of the dream’s meaning! He has secured his financial future, as well as that of his brothers, with the Imperial Knights security empire. Then the dream morphs into a woman, but with no defining features.

Penny is the top sales person at her company, a fact that isn’t appreciated by all the men whom she has bested! Penny is blessed by a huge windfall that allows her to resign her position. But she garners a stalker in the last weeks of work. Enter Drake and the Imperial Knights!

Who wouldn’t want an Alpha Shifter, who has sensed Penny as his mate, to take on the head of your security team? The steaminess does ensue, and it is explicit, so this is not for the faint of heart!

Saving Penny by Ariel Marie is a fabulous book, written with a twisty plot, a swoon-worthy wolf shifter, a strong woman to stand with him, and characters that make it entertaining to read! It is short, so I was able to read it in a single sitting, even though I had to elbow my hubby out of my way several times before I was able to get to the end! Ariel Marie, you’ve made a new fan and I’m excited to read the next installment in the series!

I highly recommend Saving Penny by Ariel Marie and give it five steaming hot cups of coffee!

©June 21, 2018

 

 

Ariel Marie is an author who loves the paranormal, action and hot steamy romance. She combines all three in each and every one of her stories. For as long as she can remember, she has loved vampires, shifters and every creature you can think of. This even rolls over into her favorite movies! She love a good action packed thriller! Throw a touch of the supernatural world in it and she’s hooked!

She grew up in Cleveland, Ohio where she currently resides with her husband and three beautiful children.

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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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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.

 

Website * Facebook * Newsletter

Amazon Author Page * Goodreads

 

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
Tianna Holley, Author – Spotlight

July 11th
Pause for Tales – Review
The Becca Files – Review
Why Not? Because I Said So! – Review
A Writer’s Life – Spotlight
Hearts & Scribbles – Spotlight
Katie’s Clean Book Collection – Spotlight
Min Reads and Reviews – Spotlight

July 12th
Simple Wyrdings – Review
Reviews by Room With Books – Review
Paulette’s Papers – Spotlight
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

 

Blog Tour Giveaway

$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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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

Add to Goodreads
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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/

BOOK REVIEW – A LITTLE REBELLION NOW AND THEN: A Tale of Two Eras by Scott Skipper @SSkipperAuthor

A LITTLE REBELLION NOW AND THEN: A Tale of Two Eras

By Scott Skipper

**I rate books with cups of coffee in place of the regular stars**

I love reading a book that captures my attention from the very beginning and never lets me go! A LITTLE REBELLION NOW AND THEN by Scott Skipper is just that type of book!

Author Scott Skipper gives us a look at the lives of his characters at a date presumed to be present day by this reviewer, or is it some date in the future? He also flashes back to their lives in the 1970s.

The flashbacks into the characters’ lives allowed me to develop a feeling of intimacy with them straight away! I felt like I had spent more than a little bit of time with them during the 70s even though there is no way that could have happened. After all, I was just a child during the 70s!

The writing is very crisp and flows beautifully! The characters are incredibly interesting and also very mysterious, which kept me totally engaged in the book!

This is the first book I’ve read by Scott Skipper, but I will be rearranging my TBR piles so that I have several more of his novels very close to the top!

I can honestly give A LITTLE REBELLION NOW AND THEN: A Tale of Two Eras by Scott Skipper a steaming hot five cups of Room With Books coffee, and I definitely recommend you run out and get your copy today!

©September 23, 2017

 

When a leftwing activist from the Nixon era morphs into a conservative writer of political incorrectness, can she ever escape the evil eye of the establishment? Political winds may shift but some things never change. If you pull on the dragon’s tail, you’d best be ready to take some heat. Kate is no stranger to a jail cell, but she thought she got past that four decades ago. Then again, in a world run amuck with knife brandishing jihadists spilling from their sharia zones, maybe a jail cell is the safest place to be.

Is it true that the more things change, the more they stay the same? For Kate it seems that way, but perhaps there is a new and more ominous threat, jihad. Her computer is hacked, there are mysterious voices on her phone, her condo is bugged, why would someone spy on a sweet old lady from Ohio who writes snarky novels about the government? Kate fought to get the bureaucratic monkey off her back at both ends of her life. She just can’t get on the good side of the establishment. In fact, she has a gift for drawing harassment upon herself. Her feud with the Feds spanned four decades from the sixties to the days of TSA, NSA and Homeland Security. Her persecution soars to precipitous heights. What is a grandmother to do when somebody is after her head? Well, WTF…

 

Scott Skipper is a California fiction writer with a broad range of interests, including history, genealogy, travel, science and current events. His wry outlook on life infects his novels with biting sarcasm. Political correctness is taboo. His work includes historical fiction, alternative history, novelized biography, science fiction and political satire. He is a voracious reader and habitual and highly opinionated reviewer.

Find out more about Scott Skipper at:
ScottSkipper.com
@SSkipperAuthor
Scott@ca.rr.com
Facebook/Scott Skipper
ScottSkipper.blogspot.com

 

My book review was featured on #RRBC RAVE WAVES Blog Talk Radio, “#RATERS NOT HATERS“, on Saturday, September 23, 2017.

 

Loreena’s Gift Book Review @colleen_m_story @iReadBookTours

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A BLIND GIRL’S TERRIFYING “GIFT” ALLOWS HER TO REGAIN HER EYESIGHT–BUT ONLY AS SHE FERRIES THE RECENTLY DECEASED INTO THE AFTERLIFE.

Loreena Picket thinks she knows herself. A blind young woman who lives with her uncle, a reverend at a small-town church, she’s a dutiful niece and talented pianist for the congregation.

But they’re both hiding a terrible secret. Loreena can kill people with the touch of her hand.

While her uncle sees her as an angel of mercy, helping usher the terminally ill members of his flock into the afterlife, Loreena has her doubts.

Torn between doing her uncle’s bidding and the allure of the fleeting moments when her eyesight returns on the journey to the other side, Loreena cooperates with her uncle until her troubled older brother returns to town. When she reveals her power by saving him from a local drug dealer, she is drawn into a sinister and dangerous world that will test the true nature of her talent and force her to consider how far she is willing to go to survive.

An exciting debut that crosses fantasy and literary fiction, Loreena’s Gift is a thought-provoking meditation on life and death and what ultimately lies beyond this world.

* Loreena’s Gift was recently named 1st place fiction in the 2016 Idaho Author Awards *

Buy the Book:

~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Book Depository ~

~ Chapters Indigo ~

 

Book Trailer:

Review

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the author in exchange for an honest review.

It was my pleasure to read Loreena’s Gift by Colleen M. Story.

This is a very different type of story. Loreena’s “gift” is the ability to kill with the touch of her hands. My first thought was that no one would be able to control such a gift, and then we learn that Lorenna is blind. How would a blind woman be able to avoid touching people as part of her daily life.

I was surprised by the progression of events in Loreena’s Gift. From helping terminally ill parishioners to killing to save her brother’s life was a huge jump for me to make. It isn’t a plot that was had much of a surprise to me once her darling brother came back into Loreena’s life.

The descriptive writing was, however, some of the best I’ve had the opportunity to read. Ms. Story managed to put me in Loreena’s shoes with her words and phrases. It was very easy to close my eyes and imagine myself walking Loreena’s walk at times.

I am pleased to offer Loreena’s Gift by Colleen M. Story four steaming hot cups of Reviews by Room With Books coffee.

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©November 28, 2016

Patricia, Reviews by Room With Books

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Guest Post

Why Coffee Goes Well with Novels

By Colleen M. Story

When my father was in his sixties, his doctor suggested that he stop drinking coffee. He was experiencing some stomach upset, and the doctor thought all that coffee was bad for him.

For a long time, other doctors felt the same way—that coffee was something that most Americans enjoyed drinking, but that wasn’t especially good for us.

More recent studies, however, have turned that thinking around. Now we know that there are a number of things about coffee that are beneficial for our health.

Yes, coffee is acidic, and if you have a sensitive stomach, it probably is a good idea to back off. Barring that, however, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a cup or two. In fact, there are several reasons why you should indulge—and why coffee makes the perfect beverage to accompany your reading time.

Is It the Caffeine?

Studies have found that coffee can provide a number of health benefits, because of the good-for-you antioxidants in the beans, but also because of the caffeine.

We used to think that it was only the antioxidants that were helpful, but recent studies have found that in some cases, the caffeine is what creates the positive effects.

Coffee has been found to have a protective effect against Parkinson’s Disease (PD), for example, and researchers credit the caffeine for that. In animal studies, caffeine actually counteracted the symptoms of PD, and enhanced the effects of traditional treatments.

There have been a number of human studies, too. In 2000, researchers analyzed data from over 8,000 men and found that a higher coffee and caffeine intake was associated with a significantly lower risk of Parkinson’s.

The caffeine in coffee is also thought to help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A 2010 analysis concluded that most studies support coffee’s ability to help prevent cognitive decline and dementia. (Tea seems to help, too.)

A later 2011 animal study also showed that a component in coffee works with caffeine to increase a growth factor to protect against the development of Alzheimer’s.

What About the Antioxidants?

Would you be surprised to learn that coffee is the world’s number-one preferred source of antioxidants?

That’s what researchers found in 2005. “Americans get more of their antioxidants from coffee than any other dietary source,” says study leader Joe Vinson, Ph.D. “Nothing else comes close.”

Antioxidants are healthy nutrients that protect us from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other health problems. Of course we also find them in other things like tea, fruits, vegetables, and nuts, but according to this study, as a nation, we consume more coffee than any of these things.

The antioxidants in our favorite beverage have been found to help protect against a number of our most common modern diseases. These include:

  1. Heart Disease: In a 2014 analysis of 36 studies, researchers found that coffee consumption was associated with a small reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease. It took only about 1.5 cups a day to earn the protection. Other studies have suggested it may also help to reduce risk of stroke.
  2. Cancer: Antioxidants, in general, are cancer fighters. Those in coffee have been found to potentially reduce risk of various types of cancer, including uterine and liver cancer. Earlier this year, a panel of experts convened by the World Health Organization concluded that regularly drinking coffee could protect against at least two types of cancer.
  3. Type 2 Diabetes: If type 2 diabetes runs in your family, you may want to drink another cup of coffee. In 2014, a study led by researchers from the Harvard School of Public health concluded that people who increased the amount of coffee they drank each day by more than one cup over a period of 4 years had an 11 percent lower risk for type 2 diabetes than those who made no changes. In addition, those who decreased consumption of coffee by more than a cup a day increased their risk by 17 percent. Other studies have shown similar results, with coffee consumption linked to decreased risk of type 2 diabetes.
  4. Dementia: Rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s are increasing. As mentioned above, drinking coffee may help, both because of the caffeine and the antioxidants. In 2010, researchers reported that most studies support coffee’s protective effects against cognitive decline. In one study, drinking 3-5 cups a day at midlife was associated with a 65 percent decrease of Alzheimer’s and dementia late in life. Researchers concluded that it could be because of the caffeine, or other factors like the antioxidants.

Feel Free to Enjoy a Hot Cup with Your Novel

In addition to all this good news, coffee may even help you life longer. That was the conclusion researchers made in one 2012 study. They looked at data that included about 400,000 adults between the ages of 50 and 71, and found that coffee consumption (caffeinated or decaffeinated) was associated with a lower risk of death overall.

So if you’re a reader who enjoys a nice hot cup of coffee with your novel, don’t feel guilty for a second. You’re doing something that’s good for you! Of course, if you experience stomach irritation, or if you find the caffeine keeps you awake at night, adjust your intake. But don’t feel you have to give it up.

In today’s world, coffee is one of the good guys.

Sources

G. Webster Ross, et al., “Association of Coffee and Caffeine Intake with the Risk of Parkinson Disease,” JAMA, May 24/31, 2000; 283(20): 2674-2679, http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=192731.

American Academy of Neurology, “Coffee may help some Parkinson’s disease movement symptoms, research suggests,” ScienceDaily, August 1, 2012, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120801165353.htm.

Eskelinen MH and Kivipelto, M., “Caffeine as a protective factor in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” J Alzheimers Dis., 2010; 20(Suppl1):S167-74, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20182054.

Chuanhai Cao, et al. “Caffeine Synergizes with Another Coffee Component to Increase Plasma GCSF: Linkage to Cognitive Benefits in Alzheimer’s Mice,” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 25(2), June 28, 2011, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21422521.

“Coffee is number one source of antioxidants,” American Chemical Society, [Press Release], August 28, 2005, https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-08/acs-cin081905.php.

Ding M. et al (2014) Long-term coffee consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and a dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Circ, 129(6):643-59.

Anahad O’Conner, “Coffee May Protect Against Cancer, WHO Concludes,” New York Times, June 15, 2016, http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/06/15/coffee-may-protect-against-cancer-w-h-o-concludes/?_r=0.

“Increasing daily coffee consumption may decrease type 2 diabetes risk,” Harvard School of Public Health, [Press Release], April 24, 2014, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/increasing-daily-coffee-intake-may-reduce-type-2-diabetes-risk/.

Eskelinen MH, Kivipelto M., “Caffeine as protective factor in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” J Alzheimer’s Dis., 2010; 20 Supl 1:S167-74, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20182054.

Neal D. Freedman, et al., “Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality,” New England Journal of Medicine, May 17, 2012, 366:1891-1904, http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1112010.

 

About the Author

colleen-m-storyColleen M. Story writes imaginative fiction and is also a freelance writer, instructor, and motivational speaker specializing in creativity, productivity, and personal wellness. Her latest novel, “Loreena’s Gift,” was released with Dzanc Books April 12 2016. Her fantasy novel, “Rise of the Sidenah,” is a North American Book Awards winner, and New Apple Book Awards Official Selection (Young Adult). She is the founder of Writing and Wellness (writingandwellness.com) a motivational site for writers and other creatives.

Connect with the author:  

Website ~ Twitter  

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Killer Pursuit Book Review @jeffgunhus

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KILLER PURSUIT

by Jeff Gunhus

 

Publisher: Seven Guns Press

Pages: 352

Genre: Thriller

 

About the Book

killer-pursuit

When a high-society call girl is murdered in her Georgetown home, investigators find two cameras hidden in the walls of her bedroom. One has its memory erased, presumably by the murderer. The second is connected to the Internet through an encrypted connection…and no-one knows who’s on the other end.

Special Agent Allison McNeil is asked by beleaguered FBI Director Clarence Mason to run an off-the-record investigation of the murder because of the murder’s similarity to a case she worked a year earlier. Allison knows the most direct path to apprehending the killer is to find the videos, but the rumors that the victim’s client list may have included Mason’s political enemies has her worried about the director’s motives. As she starts her investigation, she quickly discovers that she’s not the only one pursuing the videos. In fact, the most aggressive person racing against her might be the murderer himself.

Purchase Link

Amazon

Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

 

BOOK REVIEW

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Killer Pursuit by Jeff Gunhus in exchange for an honest review.

This is the right time of the year to curl up under a warm blanket and read a really intense thriller and Killer Pursuit by Jeff Gunhus is the perfect accompaniment to a cool, crisp fall night and a comfy reading chair!

Killer Pursuit is filled with twists and turns and seems to have stories inside the story. The plot is filled with surprises and it is very dark at times as it revolves around serial killers and blood-thirsty politics. When the two come together, the outcome is explosive!

Special Agent Allison McNeil is one impressive FBI agent. Mr. Gunhus has written his main protagonist with a great deal of mental fortitude and ability. Her ability to follow a serial killer through the evidence left to his demise is nothing short of amazing.

I am pleased to offer Killer Pursuit by Jeff Gunhus five steaming hot cups of Reviews by Room With Books coffee.

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©October 24, 2016

Patricia, Reviews by Room With Books

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Book Excerpt

Allison McNeil tensed when she spotted the first shadow dart through the mist and take cover behind a tree. In the early-morning light it took her a while to pick out all six members of the Hostage Rescue Team approaching the cabin, but within a minute she could clearly see the tactical team converging on their target.

 The small building stood on a rise, up from the swampy, flood-prone land around it. Wood-slated walls tilted precariously inward, twisting the windows into deformed rectangles. Moss and dead leaves covered the roof. The place smelled and looked like decay, well on its way to inevitable reclamation by the weeds and vines choking the cabin to a miserable death.

And, if Allison was right, the place deserved what it got. Hell, if she was right, she had half a mind to take a match to the place after everything was done.

She hunkered down behind a fallen tree, her head barely clearing the top to see the building and the team closing in. A trickle of sweat started at the base of her neck and went the length of her spine. She adjusted the Kevlar vest, under her light windbreaker emblazoned with large yellow letters. FBI. It felt ridiculous to wear the windbreaker when it was in the ’80s before daybreak with the Louisiana humidity hovering at about a thousand percent, but if it meant that the hotheads with assault rifles could more easily identify her as a friendly, then she was happy to have it.

Garret Morrison shifted his weight next to her, stretching out a leg and rubbing his knee. She gave him a sideways look.

“You all right?” she whispered.

He scowled at her. They both knew she didn’t give a damn about him. The comment was intended as a dig at the fifty-three-year-old Garret who prided himself on being in better shape than the agents beneath him. Even though he ran the Behavioral Analysis Unit, home of the FBI’s fabled profilers who spent more time in the heads of the criminals they chased than in the field, he required an aggressive physical program for his people. Everything about Morrison is a throwback to the old male-dominated Bureau. A slicked-back head of hair with just the right amount of grey to lend him gravitas without making him look old, a square jaw out of a mountaineering magazine, cold steel-blue eyes that seemed to look through people instead of at them. Unless they were trained on an attractive female, in which case his eyes gave their full attention to the area below the chin and above the waistline.

“Worry about yourself,” Garret grumbled. He turned to Doug Browning, a junior agent who followed Garret around like a little puppy. “Jesus, Doug. Not so close.”

Allison turned back to the cabin and raised her binoculars, not bothering to hide the smile on her lips. Garret was a legend in the Bureau for his work hunting America’s worst criminals, but Allison’s own legend had grown since her work on the Arnie Milhouse case a year earlier. While that case had given her credibility, she knew she was just as likely to be referred to as the woman who’d broken Garret Morrison’s nose when he’d made one too many unwanted advances while she was a trainee. And, while she wanted to be known for her work, she didn’t mind that piece of fame following her around.

“Alpha team in position,” said a voice through the small speaker in her ear. She noticed Garret put a finger to the side of his head and nod. He looked over at her.

“You better be right about this,” he whispered.

Allison shook her head. For all his brilliance—and, regardless of how she felt personally about him, she recognized that he was brilliant—Garret’s transparency could border on the inane. What he was really saying was that if the lunatic Allison’s research had tracked to this location wasn’t holed up in this backwoods cabin, if the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team had been activated and deployed for no reason, then the blame would drop on her like a bag of bricks. If Sam Kraw was in there, Allison knew it would be Garret standing in front of the cameras taking credit for the HRT mission and the capture of America’s most wanted fugitive.

She pushed the thought away. As long as they caught the bastard and ended his multi-year killing spree in the Southeast, she didn’t give a damn who got the credit.

Allison moved her binoculars. The tactical team was in place around the cabin, peering through scopes with infrared capabilities. If there was someone hiding in the shadows of a window or doorway, they wouldn’t be hiding for long.

On some signal unseen by Allison, the men began a steady, crouched advance to the building. She realized she was holding her breath so she blew out her air slowly between pinched lips.

“Relax, McNeil,” Garret muttered. “You’re making me nervous.”

The two members of the tactical squad approaching from the front reached the deck that wrapped around the front of the building. As they strode across it, the old wood floorboards groaned. The men froze. The seconds stretched out. Allison became suddenly aware of the hum of insects in the air around her. The dampness of her own skin. The sound of a bird calling in the distance. All of her senses were wired tight. An entire year of her life was wrapped up in the next few seconds. And if she’d got it wrong, Garret would have the ammo he’d been looking for to get her out of his unit once and for all. But she wasn’t worried about herself. What really bothered her was the chance that she had it right, that this was Kraw’s hideout, but that somehow they’d spooked him and he’d already slipped away. If that had happened, he’d be hundreds of miles away by tomorrow, scouting for his next victim as he traveled.

Movement in the cabin. Just a flutter. Like a bird trapped in a cage. Only her intuition told her it was more than a bird. It had been an arm. A human arm. Sam Kraw.

Based on the lack of movement from the tactical team, she realized no one else had seen it.

“I’ve got movement,” she whispered into her mic. “Window to the right of the front door. An arm.”

“I didn’t see anything,” Garret whispered.

Allison ignored him. The men around the cabin responded immediately, reorienting to the front door. Guns pointed at the window.

One of the men produced a miniram, a high impact, brute force breaching tool. Coordinating with his partner, he crouched next to the door while the other man readied a flash-bang grenade.

There was a pause, as if someone had pressed a button on a TV remote. Everyone was in place. The air seemed to still as if the world knew something was about to happen. Allison had her binoculars trained on the window where she’d seen the movement. If Kraw was inside, then the nightmare was almost over. She’d know in a few seconds whether that was the case or not.

But in that second, she saw the movement again.

Only this time, she knew something was wrong.

It was a man’s arm, she saw it clearly this time. But it was too stiff. The color was off. And, attached at the shoulder, she saw a coil of wire.

A mannequin arm on a spring.

Meant to make them think someone was inside.

It was a trap.

 

About the Author

jeff-gunhusJeff Gunhus is the USA TODAY bestselling author of thriller and horror novels for adults and the middle grade/YA series, The Templar Chronicles. The first book, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his reluctant reader eleven-year-old son excited about reading. It worked and a new series was born. His books for adults have reached the Top 30 on Amazon, have been recognized as Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Finalists and reached the USA TODAY bestseller list.

After his experience with his son, he is passionate about helping parents reach young reluctant readers and is active in child literacy issues. As a father of five, he leads an active life in Maryland with his wife Nicole by trying to constantly keep up with their kids. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of the City Dock Café in Annapolis working on his next novel or on JeffGunhus.com.

His latest book is the thriller, Killer Pursuit.

For More Information

 

 

GIVEAWAY

Jeff Gunhus is giving away a grand prize of $25 Amazon Gift Card plus one autographed copy of his book and 4 runners up will receive an autographed copy his book as well!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Five winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive either the grand prize of a $25 Amazon Gift Card plus one autographed copy of his book or one of 4 autographed copies of his book
  • This giveaway ends midnight October 28.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on October 29.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

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