Rose Petals by Sara McCoy

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  • Published: April 27, 2019 by ShootingStar Publishing
  • Genre: Poetry
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 98
  • Rating: 3 stars

This transparent collection of poetry explores themes of grief and loss, the beauty of nature, self compassion, and the power of returning to your true self. With sensitivity and compassion, the author dares to express the heart’s deepest desire for relationship and love.

McCoy’s literary piece is broken into three categories: the loss, the longing, and the return. In each of these categories, there are numerous corresponding poems. As I was reading, I found myself connected to quite a few of the author’s poems and thought I’d share bits of each with you.

my grandma doesn’t remember my name

her memory unravels a little each year

like a faded tapestry

slowly fraying and coming undone at the seams

a poem titled “memories.”

This poem resonated with me because I have personally lost two grandparents who battled with Alzheimer’s disease.

autumn is a gentle friend

taking you by the hand to mend

your sorrows with a peaceful walk

through golden leaves with beauty dressed

and shows your heart the way to the rest

a poem titled “seasons.”

Autumn is my favorite season and reading the author’s portrayal for this particular season connected with me. It’s the time of change and can be difficult to do, but with change comes amazing opportunities.

when blended and swirled together

we create an entirely new shade

light and dark, strong and subtle

we are one, and yet entirely separate

a poem titled “two colors, one palette.”

It is always suggested to find a partner who shares your same interests as to avoid potential conflicts, but I have never been that type of girl. I’m a strong believer in opposites attract and this poem sums up how those relationships can work out for the better.

McCoy’s poetic piece is a quick read that readers everywhere will want to check out. If you end up loving this particular title, then you may want to look into other writings of hers from her website.

*I was given a free copy of this book via the author in exchange for an honest review.

Daughters of the Steppes by Brooks Carver

  • Published by Prairie Sky Press
  • Genre: Nonfiction
  • Edition: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • Rating: 3 stars

This book conveys the stories of some of the most talented, brave, and resourceful women of their generation, the only female air force to appear in combat. It is told through the journal of a young innocent girl from the Russian Steppes. They battled the deadly German Luftwaffe in the skies over Russia, so join them on their missions by night above the dangerous killing fields of that era. Many of them sacrificed their lives while becoming the highest decorated regiment in the Soviet Union.
They were legends in the making. The many young women who lost their lives during those years left behind a legacy that far outlived them. Even though the Russian officials hid their exploits for many years, the glasnost era of the 1980’s brought their story into the shining light of history. Even in death, the Night Witches skill and bravery immortalized their contribution to victory on the Eastern Front.

I must confess that prior to reading this book, I was unaware of women performing military duties. I had always learned in school history courses of the women being the ones overseeing the home-fronts while their male counterparts were away in combat, so I was surprised to discover there was a navigation school during those days for women! Carver does a magnificent job at exposing this unheard part of women’s history; the author is able to achieve this status by combining retellings from a female navigator’s diary and war photos.

During the introduction, the author addresses the fact that the story is being shared via the diary of a young woman named Mariya, whose diary was discovered by Diederich Brandt who went on to translate it from Russian to English. Brandt’s son falls into possession of this prized treasure after the death of his father and relays its contents to Carver’s readers.

Readers will get to know Mariya as they follow her piloting journey; they will learn about the staggering amount of night missions the regimen participates in, the blossoming friendships among the ladies of the team, and the leading women in this line of work. Along these stories are photos from World War II and helps puts into perspective the events being described.

This is a nonfiction read like no other and those who enjoy this genre will want to pick up this book!

The author runs his own publishing house, which you can find the address for below:

Prairie Sky Press

118 Poplar Street

Canton, IL, 61520

*I was given a free copy of this book via the author in exchange for an honest review.

Shortcake by Lucy Watson

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  • Published: September 19, 2019 by Lucy Watson Books
  • Genre: Romantic Comedy
  • Edition: Paperback
  • Pages: 390
  • Rating: 4 stars

Things Emelia Anderson would rather do than share a house with Benjamin Crawford:

1) Get strapped to a chair in a restaurant full of loud-chewers.

2) Parachute into the Australian Outback armed with only a blowdart.

3) Live her best life as an ice road trucker in the Alaskan Tundra.

Benjamin Crawford thinks Emelia conned his dying grandmother into leaving her half of an estate worth millions, so let’s just say he’s not her biggest fan either. Not even close.

Now they have to live together for the next thirty days while renovating the family home. Or the estate will transfer to the one person Ben hates more than Emelia, and she’ll have to move back to the one place she wants to forget more than Ben.

Did I mention Ben look likes man-candy and smells like testosterone? Not that Emelia notices. She spends a lot of time not noticing things about Ben.

Romantic comedies would have to be the category that I least read, let alone review. However, after a fellow bookstagrammer named Angela pushed for the ladies in her book club to read this title I decided I would take the plunge and see if it was worthy of all the hype.

The plot kicks off with Emelia’s patient, Rose, passing away and bringing about the unpleasant welcome of her grandson, Ben. After the funeral, Emelia and Ben are brought together to discuss the terms of his grandmother’s will; as it turns out, she had decided to split her estate between the two! However, this choice comes with its own conditions: they must live in the home together for an entire month AND renovate the house and have it deemed worthy. If the duo fails to achieve both of these, the estate will no longer be theirs.

Will the pair be able to put aside their differences and succeed at maintaining their control of Rose’s estate, or will they fail and lose everything? Readers will want to know what the answer to that question turns out to be and will not want to miss out on the beautiful way the author concludes their story!

*I was given a free copy of this book via the author in exchange for an honest review.

Final Girls by Riley Sager

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  • Published: July 11, 2017 by Dutton
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 352
  • Rating: 5 stars

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls: Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.
 
Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.
 
That is until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit; and Sam, the second Final Girl, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

This is the second novel that I have read by Sager, the first being Lock Every Door. I found myself to be in the minority for that title, but decided to give him another chance and this time around, he did not disappoint! Sager manages to throw all the elements into this thriller: a sole survivor of a massacre, an unexpected visitor, and jaw-dropping reveals!

Quincy and a group of her friends take a vacation to Pine Cottage, a location that is out in the wilderness with spotty cell signal. The group finds themselves throwing a party and inviting a guy named Joe Hannen; a guy that they have only recently been introduced to and who strikes Quincy as odd. Her reasons for being suspicious prove wise when Hannen decides to go on a killing spree later that night and murder all her friends, leaving her wounded but still alive.

Flash forward to ten years later, Quincy refuses to try recalling any memories about that night’s events as she does not want to be associated with the title “Final Girl.” She just wants to live her life outside of the public eye and has succeeded in doing so, but that changes when the first “Final Girl” Lisa is discovered dead from a suspected suicide and Quincy is paid an unexpected visit from the second one, Samantha shortly after. Samantha quickly wears out her welcome, but Quincy finds herself in a position where she is being blackmailed and Samantha is the one calling shots.

Quincy sets out on a mission to uncover some type of dirt in a bid to use against Samantha and remove her from life once and for all, but she ends up uncovering way more than information on her visitor. This thriller had me convinced that I knew the killer’s identity and I felt I was right until the end when things took a turn and left my mind blown!

I highly recommend this thriller for those who enjoyed AHS: 1984, as this read definitely gave me those vibes.

And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

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  • Published: November 1, 2016 by Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Edition: Audiobook
  • Time length: 1 hour and 9 minutes
  • Rating: 4 stars

Grandpa and Noah are sitting on a bench in a square that keeps getting smaller every day. The square is strange but also familiar, full of the odds and ends that have made up their lives: Grandpa’s work desk, the stuffed dragon that Grandpa once gave to Noah, the sweet-smelling hyacinths that Grandma loved to grow in her garden.

As they wait together on the bench, they tell jokes and discuss their shared love of mathematics. Grandpa recalls what it was like to fall in love with his wife, what it was like to lose her. She’s as real to him now as the first day he met her, but he dreads the day when he won’t remember her.

Sometimes Grandpa sits on the bench next to Ted, Noah’s father – Ted who never liked math, prefers writing and playing guitar, and has waited his entire life for his father to have time for him, to accept him. But in their love of Noah, they have found a common bond.

Grandpa, Grandma, Ted, and Noah all meet here, in this peculiar space that is growing dimmer and more confusing all the time. And here is where they will learn to say good-bye, the scent of hyacinths in the air, nothing to fear.

Ted, Noah’s father, and his father did not have a close relationship as he was growing up, but he is thankful for the opposite when it comes to the bond between his father and his son, Noah. Backman quickly sweeps readers into the folds of this familial tie and will have them engaged until the very end.

This was my first book by this author and it definitely will not be the last! Do not let the time length of this one fool you; this story packs a lot of heart! The author captures the deterioration involving Alzheimer’s perfectly, which is a disease that hits close to home for me as I have lost two grandparents that battled with this infliction. I highly recommend giving this one a read!

Five Wakes and a Wedding by Karen Ross

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Nina is your average 30-year-old with a steady job, a nice home – and dead bodies in her basement. As an undertaker, she often prefers the company of the dead to the living – they’re obliging, good listeners and take secrets to the grave.

Nina is on a one-woman mission to persuade her peers that passing on is just another part of life. But the residents of Primrose Hill are adamant that a funeral parlour is the last thing they need… and they will stop at nothing to close down her dearly beloved shop.

When Nina’s ‘big break’ funeral turns out to be a prank, it seems like it’s the final nail in the coffin for her new business. That is, until a (tall, dark and) mysterious investor shows up out of the blue, and she decides to take a leap of faith.

Because, after all, it’s her funeral…

Photo of author

As a former journalist, broadcaster and advertising copywriter, Karen Ross has followed a fairly traditional path into writing fiction. Five

Wakes and a Wedding is her fourth book, and like its predecessors, the novel has two common threads: the setting is London’s Primrose Hill – Karen’s own neighbourhood – and one of the characters is a dog . . . this time he’s called Chopper and he’s almost the same size as a Shetland Pony Karen has been self-employed for many years, and continues to work as a marketing consultant, in the absence of an offer to manage Tottenham Hotspur. By way of credentials, her other ‘job’ is trading profitably on the world’s first football stockmarket, a platform called Football Index, where you buy and sell players with real money.

⭐⭐⭐

Until participating in this tour, I had not heard of this author nor read any of her works. I must also admit that I originally decided to partake in this tour because I was intrigued by the book’s title.

The main character, Nina, has recently found herself terminated from her job at a popular funeral home after making a decision that went against her boss’s wishes. Instead of wallowing in her own self-pity, she makes the decision to open her own funeral home; however, this move comes with its own set of problems. The neighborhood in which her business resides is known for lots of thing from spas to high-end restaurants, but businesses involving the dead it is not.

The chairman of the town’s association committee immediately marks her as an enemy and sets out to exterminate her services from the area. She begins to bring other civilians into her plots to ensure that Nina’s business does not succeed while Nina is just struggling to find a way to feel like she belongs.

Will Nina be able to stand her ground and win, or will she accept defeat? You will have to read to find out! I found myself enjoying this book and recommend it best for those who enjoy women’s fiction, reads that are light and comical, and for those wanting to branch out into different authors.

I’d like to thank Rachel Gilbey for organizing this tour and allowing me to participate.

Oddball in 3G by Marc Berlin

Trigger Warnings: This novel discusses the following topics that may be difficult for some readers: mental health, physical abuse, profanity, violence.

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  • Published: September 19, 2019 by Black Rose Writing
  • Genre: Psychological Thriller
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 207
  • Rating: 3 stars

Robert Krieger’s life is quickly falling apart.

He’s been fired from his job, split with his sexy girlfriend, and has a controlling overbearing mother he feels obligated to call at least once a week. As a result, he’s developed a distressing anxiety disorder.

Robert lends money to an acquaintance across the hall in his building, a small-time drug dealer named Skids. When Skids is later assaulted by enforcers working for an inner-city drug gang, the Dragons, he hands Robert a package to hold for him until he either asks for it back, or dies.

Lonely but determined to find a new girlfriend, while jogging one morning Robert meets the beautiful and willowy Lindsay Marriott, whom he awkwardly begins to romance. Not long afterward, he finds himself in a bloody one-man war with the Dragons, who believe Robert possesses money Skids owes them.

Robert is soon juggling an increasing array of anxiety-heightening issues, which together conspire to wreak havoc on his fragile sanity.

I have read quite a few psychological thrillers where the author establishes some unreliable narrators, but Mr. Berlin’s character of Robert takes the cake! The author begins the story by introducing a quote from Norman Bates, which should have alerted me of the events that would soon unfold.

As the synopsis indicates, the main character struggles with his mental health; I, personally, struggle with anxiety and found Robert to be someone I quickly resonated with. Readers will constantly see him battling with his mental thoughts and trying to overcome them through weekly therapy sessions and daily medications.

As one might expect from someone who is anxious in nature, Robert is socially awkward and finds it hard to establish long-term relationships with other individuals. Readers will notice these complications when introduced to Skids, his next-door neighbor of several months who frequently borrows money from him despite having no other contact, and Lindsay, a woman he runs into by accident and quickly develops feelings for.

Until the halfway mark, this book is a very slow-burn which is not normally something I enjoy; I honestly felt like I would be rating this one as a solid two-stars, but events took a turn and was non-stop action until the end! As I do not give away spoilers in my reviews, it makes it hard to express why this book is worth the read but I urge you to give a chance because you won’t be disappointed.

*I’d like to thank the author for reaching out to me and gifting me a free copy in exchange for a honest review.

The War Beneath by S.R. Hughes

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  • Published: October 1, 2019 by Permuted Press
  • Genres: Paranormal, Suspense, Thriller
  • Edition: Hardcover
  • Pages: 320
  • Rating: 3.5 stars

“There is a war going on behind things, beneath them.”

Paul had been a forensic psychologist. But after his daughter’s funeral, he hit the rock bottom of a spiraling addiction. When the spirits of the dead started rasping their wishes in his ears, he fled New York for withering Oceanrest—a flat-broke city barnacled to Maine’s coast. There, he’s spent the last five years scraping by, trying to shake off the burdens of his past, pretending to be a man without context, without history, without the secret ability to speak with the dead. But soon, all of that will be taken away from him.

Deirdre’s spent the past fourteen years as a resident of Squatter City—the most distal and dilapidated of Oceanrest’s gangrenous appendages. Growing and harvesting a hydroponic farm of mystic flora and esoteric plantlife, she’s built a business as a drug dealer and apothecary. After years of relative peace, Deirdre’s life finally seems tenable. But when one of her regular clients double-crosses her, what little serenity she’s discovered quickly unravels.

Deirdre and Paul soon find themselves under attack from criminals and cultists, on the run from Quebecois mobsters, Aryan Nationalists, and a group of young men who seem dedicated to a cause of brutality and destruction on an apocalyptic scale.

S. R. Hughes inhabits the glittering darknesses between dreams but writes from Queens, NY. He’s been published in Sanitarium, the Wild Hunt eZine, and has had stories featured on several podcasts.

I must confess that I have not read many books that fall into the paranormal category, but have been slowly adding some titles from this genre into my reading and have discovered that I love it! This was my first time reading a title by this author, but after enjoying this one I will definitely be adding more of his work to my TBR.

Hughes finds a way to combine all sorts of elements into his plot without it confusing the readers or adding unnecessary substance. I started this book yesterday and found myself wrapping it up early this morning! I am a sucker for novels that are nonstop action and constantly throwing blows at you until the very end.

I highly suggest this one to readers who enjoy paranormal reads, who enjoy paranormal shows like Supernatural and Ghost Whisperer, and readers who enjoy fast-paced thrillers. I urge others to grab a copy of this book because I assure you that you will not regret it!

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Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Books-A-Million

*I would like to take a moment to thank Trish Collins from TLC Book Tours for reaching out to me about participating in this tour.

Red Hail by Jamie Killen

Trigger Warnings: This novel contains the following content that may be sensitive to certain readers: abortion, slight violence.

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  • Published: January 21, 2020 by Red Adept Publishing, LLC
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 206
  • Rating: 3 stars

Professor Colin Ayres has spent years researching the strange story of Galina, Arizona, a sleepy border town ripped apart by violence and paranoia after the outbreak of a mysterious illness in 1960. Colin is certain the Galina Incident was simply a case of mass hysteria. But when his partner, Alonzo, starts exhibiting strange symptoms, Colin is shocked to realize they are the same as those that emerged in Galina decades ago.

As Alonzo’s condition worsens, Colin scrambles to piece together what really happened during that terrible summer in the past. He uncovers a story of murder, corruption, and fanaticism. The deeper he digs, the more he becomes convinced that what happened in Galina wasn’t mass hysteria after all.

When others start to develop the same eerie symptoms, Colin must confront the possibility that someone—or something—is driving the plague. Guided by rumors of a person who found a way to stop the plague in the sixties, Colin races to find answers before the disease destroys Alonzo and everyone else it touches.

Red Hail is a novel that is broken down into two timelines with two different set of main characters. In 1960, the readers are introduced to Anza, a sixteen year old girl; Dove, a former ward nurse; and Father Santiago, a priest. After a hail storm paints their town red, strange things begin to happen to almost all the citizens in their small town of Galina; with officials chalking it up to mass hysteria, these three set out on a mission to uncover the real reason behind the incidents.

Flash forward to present time in 2020, readers are introduced to Colin, a man who has done an extensive amount of research on Galina’s illnesses and until recently believed in the mass hysteria theory; Alonzo, his significant other who has family ties to Galina; and Sonia, a young mother who is experiencing the same symptoms as Alonzo. Together the three of them pursue leads to finally solve the decades long case and not only save themselves, but others in the future.

This novel is a quick read that will have you hooked until the very end; the author does a wonderful job at writing something scientific, but with enough dark mystery that it will be a hit for any reader that does not normally read from this genre. I will definitely be reading more of Killen’s work!

* I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Lost Girl by Holly Kammier

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  • Published: January 5, 2020 by Acorn Publishing
  • Genres: Romance, Suspense, Young Adult
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 292
  • Rating: 3 stars

AN APPALLING ACT OF VIOLENCE AND AN UNSOLVED DOUBLE MURDER.

SMALL-TOWN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, SHELBY DAY, IS DETERMINED TO HUNT A KILLER. 

As her search draws closer to uncovering the twisted truth, she begins receiving ominous warnings to stay quiet and drop the story. The young journalist is in danger. Her cameraman and best friend, a person with his own secret past, says he wants to protect her. But Shelby is headstrong and dodging anything that could lead to love. She can’t allow anyone to distract her as she fights for the two women who deserve justice. 

She never expects along the way she’ll have to stop and save herself.

Ticktock… If Shelby doesn’t solve the crime soon, she’ll become the killer’s next victim. 

This is my first book by this author and it will certainly not be my last! I sat down with this book and only planned to get a few chapters knocked out, but ended up binge-reading it in one sitting! This book has a little bit of everything: an unsolved double murder, a budding romance, and unexpected reveals!

When this book opens, readers are quickly introduced to the main character: Shelby Day. The protagonist’s career is in reporting and she is currently tasked with interviewing individuals close to the two murdered victims whose killer still hasn’t been caught.

Day’s character is very career driven and feels like she does not have time for a committed relationship while opting for casual flings instead. However, things get complicated when she starts acknowledging her deeper feelings for a longtime male friend.

The mixture of suspense and feelings of love continue to build as this novel goes on, which leads to one killer ending. You see what I did there?

I hope those who read this enjoy my review and are encouraged to pick this one up! I’d also like to take a moment and thank Giselle from Xpresso Book Tours for allowing me a spot on this tour.