Book Review: Clap When You Land

Guys! I read a beautiful book and I think that you should too! This one was called Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo.

Synopsis: Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

This was my first experience with a book written in verse and I thought that it was done beautifully. I was a little nervous going into it because I though it was going to be like poetry but the story flowed so naturally and it didn’t even feel like it was broken up in the sentence structure that it was.

There was a deep exploration of family bonds and how love and forgiveness can be the key when dealing with grief.

I liked the dual perspective and how we got to see both sister’s side to the story and how each of them dealt with their father’s death in their own way. I also really enjoyed the fact that there was some LGBTQ+ rep in the book.

I would be excited to try out more of Elizabeth Acevedo’s books as I have heard they are similar in style to this one!

Book Rating: 4.5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: I was gifted this book for my birthday and read it because I wanted to. I was in no way compensated for this review.



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These are all the worst and most disappointing books I have read in 2020! Let me know if you agree with any of these or what your worst or most disappointing reads were of the past year in the comments below! Check out the video below:

Book Spotlight: The Bird That Sang In Color

Congratulations to author Grace Mattioli on the release of her novel The Bird that Sang in Color!

Today I have an excerpt for you to read and a chance to win a copy of the book!

BirdColour 1The Bird that Sang in Color

Publication Date: January 17, 2021 (Today 🎉)

Genre: Literary Fiction

Part family drama and part self-actualization story, this is about Donna Greco, who in her teens, subscribes to a conventional view of success in life and pushes her freewheeling, artistic brother, Vincent to do the same. However, he remains single, childless, and subsists in cramped apartments. She harbors guilt for her supposed failure to ensure his happiness until she discovers a book of sketches he made of his life, which allows her to see his internal joy and prompts her own journey of living authentically.

Thought-provoking, humorous, and filled with unforgettable characters, this book invites readers to ponder what pictures they will have of themselves by the end of their lives.

“Beautifully rendered, hugely moving, brilliant,” Lidia Yucknavitch.

“a refreshing family portrait about interpersonal evolution…presented with affection, humor, and insight…an inspiring slice of life blend of philosophy, psychology, and transformation that draws readers into a warm story and examines the wellsprings of creative force and future legacies…evocative, uplifting,” Midwest Book Review.

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Excerpt

the golden garden bird of peace were the words painted on the wall in Vincent’s room. I thought Dad would have painted over them because he couldn’t stand all that “hippie crap.” Beside the words hung a bunch of paintings he made. He painted trees, mountains, rivers, flowers, and people with real-life expressions that made them more than just pictures. They were alive, and they told stories.

Some of his paintings were abstract, my favorite being one that looked like a kaleidoscope with no beginning and no end and colors that bounced off the canvas like a beautiful neon sign sparkling against a black sky. I could stare at it all day. I went between staring at it and the album cover before me—Let It Be by the Beatles. Vincent sat by the record player, dressed in his usual Levi’s, T-shirt, and Converse high-tops, bent towards the revolving album, listening intently, his head of black curly hair moving back and forth, his right foot tapping the hardwood floor, keeping rhythm to the Fab Four.

Finally, he turned his head away from the stereo and said to me, “I can’t believe this is it.” His face was serious and gloomy, and I didn’t know what he was talking about, but I pretended that I did because I’d never let my cool down around Vincent. It was because of him that I knew so much about rock and roll, which made me pretty sure that I was the coolest eighth-grade girl in the whole town and possibly in the whole state of New Jersey.

“I know,” I said seriously.

“I mean, I just never thought the Beatles would break up.” He shook his head with disappointment. 

“So, this is their last album, then?”

“Well, yeah,” he said, like I should have known better.

“Hey, check this out, Donna.” With the speed of a light switch flicking on, he turned into an entirely different person, no longer sad and gloomy but light and happy. He showed me a drawing he made of an old lady sitting on a chair with half of her body missing, and it looked as if the missing half was on the other side of an invisible door. She wore a mysterious smile as if she knew some extraordinary truth.

“Where’s the other half of her body?” I said.

“I don’t know,” he said, grinning. “You tell me.”

“Wow.” I sat there, trying to wrap my head around this while listening to the song playing. Just as I was about to figure something out about the picture, and just as I was really getting into the song, he took the needle off, turned the album over, and put the needle on the first song on the other side, a tendency he had that bothered the hell out of our brother, Carmen.

He scratched his head and looked up, his eyes penetrating the ceiling, deep in thought. He resembled Mom with his olive skin, Roman nose, and black curls, and was the only one of us who got her curly hair. The rest of us had straight hair. Mine was super long—to the bottom of my back—and I wore it parted in the middle and was certain that I was wearing it that way long before it was the style.

Vincent was also taller than the rest of us at over six feet. Dad said he took after his own dad in stature. I never knew Grandpa Tucci because he died before I was born, but I was told he was called Lanky because he was tall and skinny. I was pretty thin myself and had a bottomless pit. People would say that all my eating would catch up with me one day, but that never stopped me from eating ice cream every day after school. Breyers butter almond was my favorite.

Vincent listened to the music with pure attention, like there was nothing else in the world as George sang I, me, mine, I, me, mine, I, me, mine. He was probably trying to figure out what the song was about or how he could play it on his guitar. His acoustic guitar sat in the corner of his room. He had the smallest room in the house, but it seemed like the biggest because it was its own self-contained universe. I felt like I could be on the other side of the world without ever leaving his room.

His paintings and drawings covered the walls. A bunch of leather-bound cases of albums colored red and black and bone sat on the floor between a stereo and a wooden desk with piles of books and sketchbooks on top. Comic books, pens, and paintbrushes were scattered on the floor like seashells on the sand.

I shared a room with my younger sister, Nancy, and she insisted on having the room be as pink as possible. She was the youngest, so she always got her way. On top of making our room a sickening pink paradise, she had a doll collection with faces that really creeped me out, and she started pushing over my beloved books on our shelves to make room for her dolls. A doll named Lucinda with blond hair and a blue satin dress was shoved up against two of my favorites—Animal Farm and To Kill a Mockingbird.

“Check this out, Donna,” Vincent said, emerging from his music-listening trance. He took a skinny metal whistle out of a plastic case. “Got it at the music store in town.”

“Neat. Some kind of flute?” I said.

“A pennywhistle.” He had a big smile that stretched from one side of his face to the other. “Or sometimes called a tin whistle.”

“I wish I could play an instrument,” I said. “Just one.” I was the only one in our family that didn’t play an instrument. Mom wanted me to learn ballet instead because she said I had a dancer’s body. I liked it all right and stayed with it until my teacher put me on toe, and the wooden shoes imprisoned my feet and made them ache hours after class ended.

“Have it.”

“Really?!”

“Sure.” He started fishing in one of his desk drawers for something.

“Thanks Vincent.” No response. He just kept on with his searching. I looked at the tin instrument wondering how I’d learn to play it, when he poked his head up and gave me an instructional songbook for it. I went through it seeing musical notation for simple songs like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” It was all new territory for me, but I knew I could learn it and thought I could go anywhere from there. I saw myself playing with Vincent as he strummed the guitar, playing on the street for money, playing in a small orchestra of other penny whistlers. Just then, Mom called out from the kitchen.

“Dinner’s ready!” I didn’t care that my fantasy was interrupted because I was starving.  Vincent was always up for eating and was the biggest eater I knew. He seemed especially hungry because he was walking to the kitchen really fast. Even when he walked fast, he looked cool. He walked with a bounce in his step, his head bobbing back and forth like he was keeping beat to a song that only he could hear. I tried to walk like him once, but I ended up looking like some kind of uncoordinated monkey. I walked like Dad who moved fast and forward-leaning, like he was continually running late for something.  

The kitchen smelled of garlic and fish. It was Friday, and Mom always cooked fish on Fridays. A big flat bowl with hand-painted flowers was filled with spaghetti, calamari and gravy, which was what we called tomato sauce in our house. My older sister, Gloria was setting the large wooden table that sat in the center of the kitchen. She wore her hair tucked neatly behind her ears and a black-and-tan argyle vest that fit snug on her shapely body. Her face had the usual serious, troubled look on it like something was wrong. Anthony—the oldest in the family—was away at college, and Nancy was at a sleepover, so the table was set for only six.

Mom was at the sink, getting a salad together. Above the sink was a long window that looked out onto our backyard, its ledge covered with little ladybug statues, which Mom loved because they meant good luck. She wore a red-and-white apron over a straight skirt and boots and took long, swift strides around the kitchen. Watching her get dinner together was like watching a performance. She’d put on her apron instead of a costume. The music played: the chopping of vegetables, the clanging of metal spoons against pots and the sweet sound of pouring. She’d dance around, gathering ingredients, sautéing, stirring, occasionally turning towards us—the audience—to say something or laugh with us so that we’d feel a part of the show. She presented her perfect meals like works of art, displaying them on the table, and we’d applaud by eating—grabbing, twirling, chewing—until we couldn’t fit anymore in.

 Dad was opening up one of his bottles of homemade wine. I had a sip once, and it went down my throat like an angry snake. He leaned on the table like he needed it to support him with his eyes half-shut and his black-and-gray hair falling forward in his face. In his tiredness, he didn’t speak, but even when he was quiet, he was loud, and whenever he walked into a room, everybody knew it, even if he didn’t say a word. 

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About the Author

gracemattioli_IMG_8711_revwtmk

Grace Mattioli is the author of two novels–Olive Branches Don’t Grow On Trees and Discovery of an Eagle, and a book of short stories, The Brightness Index. Her forthcoming novel, The Bird that Sang in Color, will be released January 17, 2021.

Her fiction is filled with unforgettable characters, artful prose, humor, and insight about what it takes to be truly happy.  She strongly believes that if people were happier, the world would be a better place.

She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and her cats. She worked as a librarian for over twenty years and has had various other job titles, including jewelry designer, food cart owner, shopkeeper, book seller, substitute teacher, art school model, natural grocery store clerk, short order cook, food server, street vendor, barista, and a giant Twinkie!

She has been writing creatively since she was a child and has participated in various writing workshops and classes. Her favorite book is Alice in Wonderland. Her favorite author is Flannery O’Connor. Her favorite line of literature comes from James Joyce’s novella, The Dead:  “Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.”

Grace MattioliFacebookTwitter | Instagram

To win a copy of The Bird that Sang in Color in your format of choice, click the link below!

Note: The giveaway will run from today until January 20th!

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I did the Wonder Book Tag! I was tagged by Enchanted Reader to do this book tag all about the songs from Shawn Mendes’ new album Wonder. Let me know what you think in the comments below! Check out the video below:

Book Review: Elephant

Another book review brought to you by yours truly! This time, I read and reviewed Elephant by Natalie Rodriguez.

Synopsis: Summer of 2006. Four childhood best friends. A family secret.

After a strange encounter leaves him hospitalized, a timid teenage boy named Matt “Matty” Smith comes home to a continuous series of events met with anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

Under the guardianship of his grandma, Lucia, Matt lives with unspoken questions about his deceased grandpa and father, and his missing mother. The elephant in the room. As Matt develops over the summer, the secrets only grow more profound and complex. Will the answers ever come? While searching for answers, Matt and his three childhood best friends encounter the meanings of love, forgiveness, and fate.

I honestly did not really enjoy this book. I thought that the story/plot was all over the place and very hard to follow. We are so focused on this one character the whole time and even then, you don’t really get to know them because the book doesn’t really flow well.

Half the time, you don’t know what is real and what isn’t. There is some big secret that everyone is trying to uncover and there is never really a resolution for anything that happens in the book. It was set up to have a sequel but I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

I feel like this could be a really good psychological thriller movie but I have the feeling that this is not the genre the book is going for.

I just think that this was a book that I couldn’t really get into. I think others might like it but it was just not for me.

Book Rating: 2/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me in ebook format to read and give an honest review.



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These are all the worst and most disappointing books I have read in 2020! Let me know if you agree with any of these or what your worst or most disappointing reads were of the past year in the comments below! Check out the video below:

Book Spotlight: The Cronian Incident

To celebrate the upcoming release of the final installment of The Formist series, we’re going back to where it all started in The Cronian Incident

Read on for details, excerpt, and a chance to win a signed copy of the book!

The Cronian Incident FINAL 150dpiThe Cronian Incident ( The Formist #1)

Publication Date: September 2017

Genre: Science Fiction

Jeremiah Ward was just another convict, a disgraced investigator who once worked the Martian beat, now serving his sentence in a mining colony on Mercury. When a member of a powerful faction goes missing on Titan, Ward is given an opportunity he cannot pass up. In exchange for investigating the disappearance of this figure, he gets a clean slate and a second chance.

But, the deeper Ward digs the more secrets he finds. Instead of investigating a missing person’s case he becomes embroiled in a centuries-old conspiracy and Ward comes to realize his one shot at redemption may cost him his life.

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Excerpt

Prologue

They stood two by two. In standard squad formation, moving onto their target area.

In front, Bern and Valeri stood, there arms held squarely at their sides. Durand could see that their hands were twitching. Valeri was attempting to hide it by crossing her arms and tapping out the rhythm of some unheard melody against her bicep. Bern however couldn’t decide what to do with his hands, and kept wiping them against his trouser legs.

Durand and Chayond were fortunate that way. In their hands, the equipment bags hung. Though relatively light, they were just burdensome enough to require both hands to carry them. They did not have to worry about idle hands or telltale signs of nervousness as they waited for the elevator to finish descending.

“Remember, no talking,” said Valeri, reminding them as the elevator came to a stop. The doors slid open to admit them to the station’s main hub. Bern nodded forward, and the four stepped out onto the platform.

Evening was now upon them, with several bright lights shining down from the station’s vaulted ceiling. Through the station’s dome, a thick grey haze was just visible. The faint traces of light reflected off of Saturn’s disc turned what would have been the black night into a deep, murky twilight.

The four of them were quickly swallowed up by the din of chatter, footsteps, and the sounds of a computerized voice making announcements in Anglish, Franz, Deutsch, Chin and Swahili.

The station was filled with hundreds of locals milling about, moving from one transit lane to another. Few paid them any attention as they walked through the crowds. Why should they? To onlookers, the group’s blue and orange coveralls designated them as maintenance staff. To all recording devices and sensors in the area, their ID tags also designed them as such.

Still, Chayond felt a tinge of panic every time the bag he carried rattled. None of their party would fare too well if they were stopped for inspection. Chayond felt himself looking at the few Gendarmes mixed in with the commuters out of the corner of his eye. If Bern saw him, she would certainly backhand him across the face. Of course, she would wait until they were no longer in public before doing so.

It seemed to take a terribly long time to cross the main floor. At the far end, they began to descend a flight of stairs, and Chayond felt a little better. The bag was rattling louder, luckily it was being drowned out by the whooshing noise of hypertrains coming and going inside their tubes. The dull, monotone computerized voice continued to announce the arrival and departure of trains, though it was becoming more difficult to hear. The noise was like a cushion that began to cloak their every move.

Valerni motioned to their left as they reached the bottom of the stairs. Commuter traffic continued to pour around them, which made maintaining their tight formation somewhat difficult. Still, they held in their two-by-two stance, moving towards the left track – and to the small door that led to the maintenance tunnel. No one followed them there. All the commuter traffic was drawn to the tubes and left what appeared to be a maintenance crew alone.

As soon as they were through the hatch, the noise stopped. The busy station was now sealed behind the pressure door. The only sounds now the gentle hissing of the tunnel’s pressure controls.  of course, Valeri’s commanding voice. Checking her chrono, she made a quick consult of their timetable.

“We’re on schedule,” she said. “Let’s keep it that way. Move out.”

The four collapsed into a single line, moving down the tight tunnel as quickly as they could. Durand threw the strap of his bag over his shoulder and Chayond did the same. Their steps became fast and heavy, their work boots striking hard against the metal grates that lined the floor. Heavy pipes and ducts controlling the settlements flow of fresh water and air whizzed by their heads. The high pressure and heat combined to make the going very uncomfortable.

Yet still, they moved. Rigid discipline and a clear purpose driving them onward. Until they reached their destination and set up, they could not relax.

When they finally came to the hatch that would admit them onto the platform that they wanted, they had all broken a good sweat. Only Valeri appeared to not be out of breath.

“Alright, pay attention because we don’t have time to dither.” Reaching into the pocket of her coveralls, she retrieved a small handheld. She held the transparent device up. Displayed on it was a single-frame. A man’s face.

“This is David Lee,” Valeri said. “He’s the Formist the Chandrasekhar’s sent on ahead to do their dirty work. Our intel says he’ll be travelling alone by the time he gets to the line. So that’s when we take him down.”

She tapped the screen. Lee’s image was replaced by a video feed of him standing with a woman. They stood close to each other, a degree of intimacy clearly implied by their body language.

“This is our contact. She is the one who provided us with Lee’s itinerary. According to her, Lee will be here at the time indicated, and he will be alone. However, if we find that they are together, then something’s gone wrong and we’ll need to take them both down. There can’t be any suspicion on her.”

“Who is she?” Durand asked.

Valeri shrugged. “Didn’t ask.  neither should you. All you need to know is, she’s not our target. If it comes down to it, we take them both down.  we leave her behind for the authorities to collect. Any other stupid questions?”

Durand was sufficiently shamed and shut up. Bern though had some thoughts on that score and offered them freely.

“Probably some just whore from the Yellow Light District. Point is, she’s a fucking patriot and gave us this information. So she’ll understand, I’m sure.”

All heads in the group nodded. A rumble shook the tube, indicating that a hypertrain was going by. It was nothing more than a passing tremor. No sound made it through the sealed pressure doors.

“That’ll be the 2115 to Cassini now,” she said, smiling. “Our Dr. Lee will be making the next one. Better suit up.”

Durand dropped his equipment bag on the ground, kneeling down to open it. Chayond did the same, placing his bag on the floor and separating the tabs on the seal. As Durand began removing their change of clothes, the others began to disrobe. The suits Durand passed out looked like something reptilian, scaly surfaces the same color as mercury. They were thin, no heavier than a stack of thermal blankets, with hoods at the top and small terminals on the left arms.

Valeri and Bern quickly became half-naked, their sweating frames glistening from the tube’s lighting. Quickly, they pulled the silver skins over their coveralls and began doing up all the clasps, sealing the suits around themselves and firing up the cells that powered them.

Durand tossed a suit aside for himself before handing one over to Chayond, who hesitated. His head was swimming from all the heat, the run had left him drained and full of endorphins. Still, he was aware enough to feel damn apprehensive. Accepting the suit seemed like a terrible step, one from which there was no turning back.

Durand noticed his hesitation. “Hey, you good?” he asked. Chayond glanced quickly in Valeri direction. She looked up from her suit to shoot him a look of disapproval and he quickly averted his eyes.

“Yeah, I’m good,” he replied, taking the suit in hand and unzipping his coveralls. Somehow, one look from Vslero was enough to silence any doubts, or enough to scare him into compliance.

A moment later, all four members of the team were suited up in their new vestments. Everything from their necks down was now covered in specialized material. Valeri pulled the last piece into place, pulling the hood up and covering her hair.

“Remember,” she admonished. “Make sure your sticks are charged just right. Too much, and his implants might rupture.  that’s the last thing we want.”

All heads nodded again. Chayond interpreted the mention of the sticks as an order to distribute them. Reaching down into the bag, he began pulling them out, one by one. Four slender truncheons, a small console on one side, contained a power indicator, an electrical port, and a few controls. He handed the first to Valeri, passed out the second and third, kept the fourth for himself.

Each team member inspected the sticks to ensure that they were set at exactly the right power level before sliding them neatly into the waistband of their outfits. Each stick connected with the suit’s internal power supply.

“Alright, let’s power them up,” ordered Valeri. “Let’s see if these things were worth the price.”

“Doubt that,” Bern said sarcastically. “ they still better work.”

As one, Bern, Durand and Chayond pulled the hoods up over their heads and engaged the suit’s power supply. Three low-frequency squeals sounded out in the tube, and where three men with silver skins stood, suddenly there were just three faces. The rest of their heads, like their bodies, were now cloaked in advanced stealth fields.

Valeri smiled. “Not bad.” She pulled her mask into place over her mouth and eyes and put her finger to the terminal on her arm. It took less than a second before she completely disappeared from view.

“How do I look?” she asked, her voice filtered and modulated by the mask.

“Like nothing at all,” replied Durand.

“Good.” She suddenly reappeared, removing the mask and hood. “Then be ready. If the target escapes, we may not get another chance. So make this one count.”

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Matthew Williams Headshot

Growing up in the 80s and 90s Matthew Williams was born in to science fiction. He enjoyed many of the infamous SF franchises of the time and read many of sci-fi’s most influential works. As an adult, Matt marvelled at those SF novels which stood the test of time, while making valuable observations of the human condition, and he decided to create his own novels.

As a professional writer for Universe Today, Matt is well-versed in many nerdy topics ranging from: spaceflight to terraforming, Earth sciences to physics, and the future of human space exploration. He has interviewed many of today’s top scientific minds and NASA personnel, and been a featured speaker at astronomy societies. His articles have appeared in such publications as Business Insider, Science Alert, Phys.org, HeroXPionicGizmodoFuturism and IO9.

Matthew S. Williams | Facebook | Twitter

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These are all the worst and most disappointing books I have read in 2020! Let me know if you agree with any of these or what your worst or most disappointing reads were of the past year in the comments below! Check out the video below:

Book Review: Someone’s Story

I actually came upon this book when the author was referred to me by another booktuber, Connor Stompanato, which was so cool! This one was called Someone’s Story by B.A Bellec.

Synopsis: In his debut endearing coming-of-age book, B.A. Bellec writes about a group of weirdos that find and save each other from the dark depths of their minds. Someone’s Story is literally Someone’s story, as in a first-person narrative of a teenager that calls himself Someone. As he struggles to find a new footing in a new space, we encounter the many ups and downs of modern teenage life, the difficulties that adjusting to adult feelings bring, and a few tear-jerking surprises along the way.

This book was told in a way that you were trying to discover the main character’s back story while learning about his current story. The main character was called “Someone” and that was something I have not encountered in a book before. The plot was interesting enough because I wanted to know how this teenager was going to try and fit in after moving to a new town.

The book deals with some hard subjects such as mental illness and I think it was portrayed very well. There were definitely some twists that I wasn’t expecting so that added to the experience for me. The author also told me there is a soundtrack that goes with this book which is really cool.

If you want an easy to read coming of age story about a kid trying to fit in while dealing with some devils of his own, then I think you would enjoy this book.

Book Rating: 3.5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me in ebook format by the author to read and give an honest review.



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Here are the books I am most excited about that are coming out in 2021!! Let me know in the comments down below what your most anticipated books are! Check out the video below:

Book Spotlight: The Toolbox

This week we’re celebrating the Fall release of Yvette Whittington’s debut novel, The Tool Box. Read on for details!

Cover Yvette Book Cover2cshortThe Tool Box

Publication Date: September 27th, 2020

Genre: Womens’ Fiction

Publisher: Rope Swing Press

A letter from her father… Inside her father’s old weathered barn, Eve and her siblings find an old tarnished tool box that sits waiting for them as their father languishes in the hospital. To most, the items in the box would be considered insignificant junk, but to Eve they held priceless insight into not only the man her father was, but also the woman she was about to become. From a very delicate relationship with her mom as a teenager, to being forced to live with her father in a town she never felt at home in, Eve learned to grow and live. When adversity hits through both tragedy and disappointment Eve soon finds the strength to push to survive. With the help of the items in the toolbox, Eve is beset with uncovering the treasures it holds…ones that propel her on a journey of self-discovery and revelations.

Available on Amazon!

About the Author

rope-swing-reads-yvette-whittington-profile1a_orig

Yvette lives in a small, quiet town nestled in Southwest Louisiana with her husband, Lee.  They have both worked for the same company for almost twenty years. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family, working on handmade crafts, and of course writing. Her mother also loves to writes and she attributes her love for it to her.

Diagnosed with Bi-polar one disorder in late 2010, Yvette started her journey of self-discovery and wellness, learning that medicine would only take her only so far and that she had to do the rest. She now considers herself to be living her dream, writing. This, The Toolbox, is her first novel, but not her last. She is excited to share her world with you.

Rope Swing Publishing

TheToolbox

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I had a great reading month in November and here are all the books I read! Let me know in the comments if you have read these books and what you thought of them! And thanks to Markus for picking out a stellar TBR for me. Check out the video below:

Book Review: The Rose Society

I just started reading The Midnight Star for the Reindeer Readathon and then realized that I never wrote a review for The Rose Society so here we go!

Synopsis: Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she flees Kenettra with her sister to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her.

But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good when her very existence depends on darkness?

I thought this book was so flipping good! The build up of anticipation from the beginning to the end was incredible and the book’s plot was well thought out.

Of course I was super excited to dive back into this series with my favorite morally grey character, Adelina. She really makes the book interesting because you never know what she is going to do or how she will react to certain situations.

The introduction of new powers was intriguing and the formation/bond of new allies and enemies kept me invested. It was really cool to see that sometimes in order to master control, you need to lose control.

This world is built to reflect a renaissance style era (or at least that is how I picture it) and the setting is done so well that it is very vivid in my mind. I’m happy to be moving on to the final book in the trilogy to see how it all concludes and I am ready for some more intense political intrigue and battles of grand magnitude!

Book Rating: 5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: I read this book because I wanted to and was in no way compensated for my review.




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I had a great reading month in November and here are all the books I read! Let me know in the comments if you have read these books and what you thought of them! And thanks to Markus for picking out a stellar TBR for me. Check out the video below:

Book Spotlight: Portrait of a Man

We’re celebrating the release of Vicky Adin’s latest historical fiction, Portrait of a Man! Read on for an exclusive excerpt and a chance to win a print copy of the book!

518bD0tN5FLPortrait of a Man

Publication Date: October 23rd, 2020

Genre: Historical Fiction

Will the secrets of the past destroy an artist’s legacy?

Matteo Borgoni is a desperate man. He must succeed if he is to free his beloved wife, held captive by her father in Melbourne. His picture framing skills establish him with the artists of Dunedin in 1863, but he has many doubts, and many more obstacles to overcome.

Fifty years on, Luciano, a rakish Italian portrait artist on the run from his past, turns up at the Invercargill branch of Borgoni Picture Framers seeking refuge. As the ravages of World War One escalate, fear is constant, but compassion brings unexpected consequences. A terrifying pandemic is the last thing they need.

Over a century later, a man recognises a portrait in an Auckland gallery, and demands it back. Amid another global pandemic, a marriage on the brink of failure, and a life and death struggle, the portrait exposes generations of family secrets and deceptions with life-changing results.

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Excerpt

January 1863

The Arrival

Matteo Borgoni walked off the ship like a man reprieved. He closed his eyes and inhaled the early morning air, detecting the usual animal dung and the grease and tar of a busy harbour, but also something fresher, more life- giving. Seagulls squawked overhead, searching for tiny fish among the seaweed rippling against the wharf piles for their breakfast. “This,” he sighed with a lighter heart than he’d had in a long time, “this is where life begins again.”

At first glance, Port Chalmers was more makeshift and primitive than he’d expected after Melbourne. Wooden buildings stood haphazardly along the main street and scattered over the hillside. The port hummed with activity, which pleased him. A busy port was good for business, but he hoped the city of Dunedin – some eight miles south-west – would be more prosperous. He heaved his bag onto his shoulder and, dodging horses, carts, trolleys and people laden with goods and baggage, he followed the steady stream moving along the wharf to where the authorities were waiting.

He’d seen the likes of many of his fellow passengers before. Poor miners and prospectors coming from the gold rushes of Victoria hoping for better luck. Most would move on again, empty-handed and defeated. A few had families, dragging them from one rough-and- ready tent town to another in the hope of striking the big one. He’d met a handful of Italians among them. Crazy people, in his opinion.

A voice from behind announced the presence of a toffee-nosed Englishman.

“This way, my dears, follow me.” He pushed his way forward as he escorted his wife and daughters to wherever they were going. “Make way, I say. Make way for the ladies. Coming through.”

Eventually, the queue moved along, and Matteo’s turn came.

“Name!” barked the official, who ticked him off the passenger list and waved him on.

At thirty-five, Matteo had seen a lot of living. He was barely twenty-one when he left his home near Lake Garda in Northern Italy – a tiny hamlet surrounded by snow-capped mountains in the Dolomites, where life was measured from one festival to another filling the square with customs and chatter. On the odd occasion, he’d returned when money allowed. When he didn’t have the funds, he wrote to his sister, Gabriella, who understood him; understood why he needed to leave the traditions and shackles of the small village behind and find a new life; why he had no freedom in their tiny three-storey brick home living the peasant lifestyle. His dreams were too ambitious to be confined.

As he walked towards the village, the sun pleasantly warm on his back, he let his dreams fly free again.

“Hey, Matteo,” a fellow Italian called in heavily accented English. “You come?”

“Si, I come.”

Over the years living in Melbourne, Matteo had learnt to speak English. Now it was his everyday language, even with other Italians. There were too many regional differences to speak his mother tongue to passing strangers.

The younger man clapped him on the back and together they made their way along the dirt road. Trees covered the hillside, and the lush, green countryside appealed to Matteo.

He’d arranged for his packing crates to be transferred directly to Dunedin, but the new paddle steamer, designed for the shallow waters of Otago Harbour, wouldn’t be leaving for a while yet – and he needed a drink.

“Let’s go.”

With a beer in hand, they sat in a crowded barroom of the Royal Hotel, taking in their new surroundings.

“So, tell me, what brings you here?” asked Stefano, his accent far stronger than Matteo’s.

“A new adventure.” Matteo shrugged away thoughts of his past failures.

“Gold. You look for gold. I go look.” The young man’s eyes gleamed at the thought of making his fortune, as many others had yearned to do in the goldfields of Australia and New Zealand.

“No, I’m a businessman; a craftsman. I set up shop here.”

Matteo had soon learnt that life was a case of ‘each man for himself’ when the madness of gold took hold. He’d seen too many fools work themselves to death for a few ounces of the shiny metal hidden in veins in the rock, and had far bigger plans than living the filthy, harsh life of a miner.

“What, no gold? Then why you leave if you have business?”

“Leave where? Home, or Melbourne?” He didn’t want to talk about why he’d left Melbourne. No one here needed to know.

Stefano pulled a face. “I think I know why you left home. My papa say things not the same since Risorgimento. Si? Unification. Phht! He asks how can the north be like the south when our food and our words are different? People fight to keep what is theirs of right; they don’t want change. They don’t need one nation. They want to be Trentino men like you, or Tuscan like me. Friends, but not the same.”

“Si, infatti,” Matteo agreed, wondering how much Stefano had experienced first-hand, given his youth, and how much was his father’s opinion. Nothing was as simple as he made it out to be. “I left during the ’48 revolution – it was that, or fight, and I did not want to fight. Detesto politica. Generation after generation, many revolutions. One side say this; the other that. I don’t want to know.” But if what his cousin Alessandro had written was true, there was much infighting and disagreement still going on. “But it is better to be one people – Italian people – than be ruled by foreigners, si?” He sipped his beer and curled his lip at the bitter taste.

The men continued to chat about the strife still going on at home as the states fought to become a kingdom, or not – depending on which reports came from where – resolving nothing, and agreeing life was better away from it all.

 “Which way you go to Dunedin?” asked Stefano. “By paddle steamer, why?”
“I’m told there’s a new road now, over the hills.” “So I heard, but by all accounts it’s no more than

a bridle path and not suitable for wagons. And I need to transport some goods – belongings I brought from Melbourne. Do you have a horse?”

Stefano shook his head. “No. I use all my money on the ship here and on a licence and tools for mining. I walk.”

“There are many seagoing craft between here and Dunedin; perhaps you could work your way …” Matteo paused before he came to a decision. “But come with me. I could do with some company on our first night. I buy a ticket.”

“Truly? You let me travel with you?”

Matteo nodded, glad to have someone to talk to for a while until he got settled.

They ordered some food and more beer while they waited for the ship’s whistle to alert them to its departure. Within the hour, they were boarding The Golden Age.

“A good omen for me, si?” laughed Stefano on seeing the name.

“Maybe it is,” agreed Matteo as they made their way up the gangplank.

“Welcome aboard this magnificent vessel during her first week of operation in this wonderful harbour,” said the captain. “It is my pleasure to transport you to Dunedin, and I personally guarantee your safety.”

Matteo leant against the rail admiring the new paintwork and studying the intricate construction of the paddle wheels and saloon facilities.

“I hope he’s right,” he said to Stefano in a soft voice. “From what I hear, all is not well. They left one of their owners behind. He was supposed to captain it on its maiden voyage over here. And then they struck a big storm and the ship was damaged.” Matteo wondered how unusual a rough crossing was, given his own less- than-comfortable passage. “They left the cook behind, too. Locked up, they say, for stealing the engineer’s watch. Not a good start.”

“How you know all this?”

Matteo lifted his shoulder. “I ask questions.” He looked around to make sure no one could overhear him. “I heard another story. About a Signor Alexander Leys, the engineer, who disappeared overboard a few days ago. I wonder how the captain can say everyone is safe when he lose someone.”

“Incredible!” said Stefano, agog at Matteo’s words.

“Not so much. Pays to be careful, that’s all,” said Matteo in warning. “But I’ve got better things to worry about. First task, find good vino – if such a thing is possible. I cannot survive on that beer.”

Available on Amazon!

About the Author

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Award winning historical fiction author, Vicky Adin is a genealogist in love with history and words.

After decades of research Vicky has combined her skills to write poignant novels that weave family and history together in a way that makes the past come alive.

Fascinated by the 19th Century women who undertook hazardous journeys to find a better life, Vicky draws her characters from real life stories – characters such as Brigid The Girl from County Clare and Gwenna The Welsh Confectioner, or Megan who discovers much about herself when she traces her family tree in The Cornish Knot.

Her 2019 release, The Costumier’s Gift, is the dual-timeline sequel to the family sagas of Brigid The Girl from County Clare and Gwenna The Welsh Confectioner.

In 2020, Vicky released Portrait of a Man, the soul-searching and heart-warming conclusion to The Cornish Knot.

Vicky Adin holds a MA(Hons) in English and Education. When not writing you will find her reading – she is an avid reader of historical novels, family sagas and contemporary women’s stories; travelling – especially caravanning, and cruising with her husband and biggest fan; and spending time with her family.

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Book Spotlight: Anger is an Acid

Welcome to the final book tour for The Patience of a Deadman trilogy, by Michael Clark. Anger is Acid is the bone-chilling conclusion, and today I have an excerpt for you and a giveaway to enter!

Anger is Acid

Anger is Acid (The Patience of a Dead Man #3)

Publication Date: May 4, 2020

Genre: Horror/ Ghost Story

Mildred has control… Tim and Holly, realizing they are helpless, are grateful when a stranger knocks on their door – but can he help? Andrew Vaughn, a haunted man, is on-scene, hoping to lend a hand – against his will. Meanwhile, the “ghost story” is becoming national news and attracting attention that Tim can’t afford.

Holly can’t stay in the house any more and draws a line. Confidence is low, and pressure builds. Meanwhile, Mildred listens to almost everything they say. Is there any way around her anger? Or will they die in vain, as they desperately search for Tim’s daughters?

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Excerpt

With the doors locked, Tim and Holly exchanged concerns.

“Yes, I know it was her. I’m sure she has the girls too. You don’t have to tell me, Holly. I’m scared shitless. They could be…” He couldn’t bring himself to finish the sentence.

“Well, we can’t think that way yet. She left Sheila’s body behind. She would have left theirs too. I think they’re alive.” Holly had other fears, but she didn’t finish her thoughts out loud.

“How the hell did she know where they live? Amesbury is seventy miles from here!” Holly felt a chill climb her back as he finished his sentence.

“She seems to come and go from this house as she pleases, Tim. She knows this place as well as if not better than we do. I’ve told you a hundred times–I hate staying here!Please, let’s go to my place. Even if she knows where I live, I’ll feel a little better. At least I don’t think she’s ever been there, but this place…she could be anywhere. I don’t even want to think about it.”

“I can’t leave, Holly. As backward as it may sound, I need to see her. I’m afraid I’ll never see her again! Imagine that? And don’t forget that Thomas Pike had no problem finding your place when he dropped off the Simmons scrapbook. Remember?” Holly nodded, unhappy that Tim had a point.

“Oh, you’ll see her again, Tim. You can bet on that. At least once anyway. It won’t be a sneak attack either. She wants you to know she’s coming and probably wants you to die long and slow. She wants revenge. That’s what revenants do, remember? We just never thought that she’d go for the girls. And that–changes everything.” Holly’s sigh was heavy with dread as she stared blankly at the wall, defeated. There was an unintentional moment of silence.

“How the hell does she get in here?” Tim finally wondered aloud, rousing them both from their separate thoughts. “Does she have a fucking key or something? Secret entrance? The roof?”

“The turret. It’s got to be the turret.” Holly suddenly seemed extra awake and even afraid. She subconsciously looked up at the ceiling where the turret would be. The stairway to it was only two rooms away. They both rose to investigate, flicking the dining room light on along the way. Tim listened outside the door for a moment, then fetched his baseball bat from the kitchen before opening it. 

They climbed the stairs slowly. Holly was relieved to find the turret was empty, but it left Tim with a lack of answers and a growing level of frustration. Mildred had decided to let them worry and wonder about the girls for at least an evening–the very first evening of their captivity. Was it by design, meant to heighten the anguish? Or was she busy looking for a place to hole them up?

The girls were trapped with the dead woman and most likely terrified. Tim wished he could trade places with them–they were too young for such terror. Tim rested the bat against the wall and tried the windows. There were eight of them ringing the octagonal room, and much to Tim’s surprise, one of them was unlocked.

“What the hell! I locked these– I’m sure I locked them.”

“Yes, but you don’t check them every night, Tim. All she had to do is get in here once during the day to get up here and unlock it. And look, your papers are all sitting right there.” Holly motioned to Tim’s box in the corner. “That’s how she knew where Sheila lived. Now we know–and it creeps me out—I can’t tell you how much.” Tim saw where the conversation was headed and changed the subject.

“I need to boobytrap this place. Get her right here in this room, and then set a trap, like a bear trap or…”

“You don’t think she’ll see a bear trap in the middle of the floor? That’s just going to piss her off, Tim. And you’re liable to hurt yourself with the damn thing. Same with knives or fire or whatever else you’re thinking.” Holly’s stress did all the talking.

“I wasn’t thinking about knives or fire, come on, give me a little bit of credit.” Tim lied about the knives. “I was thinking something along the lines of a warning system. Something to make her fall down the stairs. A bag of marbles—I don’t fucking know…” Holly giggled, then the giggle turned into laughter. Tim saw that she genuinely thought it was funny and was not making fun of him, so he joined in for a moment–yet the gravity of their problem hung in the room like a cloud of poison dust.

“How about a simple tripwire with a little bell on it?” Holly offered. “One at the bottom of the turret stairs, one in front of the sliding glass door in the breakfast area and one at the bottom of the bedroom stairs? We set it up every night. In the morning, unhook it, so we’re not tripping over it ourselves.” Tim looked up at her.

“That’s an idea. Better than we have now. And like you said—‘we’re gonna see her again.’ We have to. Oh God, I hope and pray she’s greedy and wants to see me again. But–” Tim got quiet and put his balled fist under his nose. Holly saw he was getting emotional.

“Honey, we’re doing all we can, let’s just–”   

“But if she’s already done—if this is her revenge—and she’s never coming back, then she’s really good at it.” Tim’s last three words were nearly inaudible as he choked up, worried sick about his daughters. Holly hugged him, trying to hold back tears of her own.

Available on Amazon!

The Patience of a Dead Man KINDLE Book One CoverThe Patience of a Dead Man

He just spent everything on a house in disrepair, but he didn’t know someone was waiting inside.

Tim Russell just put his last dollar on a handyman’s dream; a quaint but dilapidated farmhouse in New Hampshire. Newly single after a messy divorce, his plan is to live in the house as he restores it for resale. To his horror, as soon as the papers are signed and his work starts, ghosts begin to appear. A bone-white little boy. A woman covered in flies. Tim can’t afford to leave and lose it all, so he turns to his real estate agent Holly Burns to help him decide whether he has any shot at solving his haunted problem. Can they solve the mystery before he loses his investment…or maybe his life?

Featured Image -- 7665Dead Woman Scorned (The Patience of a Dead Man #2)

She’s back, and they’ll regret what they’ve done.

Mildred Wells had a miserable life that carried over to a lonesome death. In the end, they betrayed her – played her the fool. She was the last to know, but there’s still time to catch up. She’ll formulate her painful plan as they live their lives in blissful ignorance.

With no more family, only vengeance drives her; in fact, it’s all she has. She would have rather rested in peace, but for Mildred, dying isn’t so easy.

About the Author

MikeClark-55-small

Michael Clark was raised in New Hampshire and lived in the house The Patience of a Dead Man is based. The bats really circled the rafters of the barn all day long, and there really was a grove hidden in the forest. He now lives in Massachusetts with his wife Josi and his dog Bubba.

The Patience of a Dead ManDead Woman Scorned Anger is an Acid are his first three novels.

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Man for International entries.

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Book Spotlight: Passengers

Congratulations to author Elizabeth Collums on the release of her epic family drama, Passengers! Read on for an excerpt and more book details!

Passengers cover thoughts6short

Passengers

Publication Date: November 12, 2020

Genre: Historical Fiction

A mysterious letter arrives from America to the village of Highland Way, where Annie, the oldest daughter in the Ewing Family was left to care for her mother and younger sister after her father left to find work in Dublin. Soon, Annie, Lily, and Katy find themselves on a harrowing journey.

The hand-written note not only will expose deep secrets, it will also challenge the strength and fortitude of the Ewing women, leading each member into their own soul searching voyage.

Follow this extraordinary passage that begins in Ireland and leads each woman to uncover their own courage and truths in this new world.

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Excerpt

As Annie was trying her best to capture and absorb all these extraordinary surroundings so she could accurately relay every detail to her daddy one day her ears picked up the sound of humming. Annie had never heard her mama sing much less hum but she knew it was a woman’s voice. Her visual recording would have to wait as she slowly pulled her arm out from underneath Lily’s head, got to her feet and followed the sound out of the big room they had spent the night in and down the long hallway. The woman’s voice was now on the other side of last door on the end. All her muscles tightened as her feet froze to the floor. She had dreams like this before. When she needed to run, when she was being chased and couldn’t see who was chasing her, but she still knew she needed to move. Her breathes became shallow and she could feel her heart pounding like her senses were telling her there was danger on the other side. “Oh God, please help me, I’m so tired, I’m scared, and this can’t be my fault. Lily and I need somebody. We need our mama”….then suddenly some invisible strength, not of her own making, lifted her hand as she pushed the hinged door open. There in the middle of this huge stark white kitchen was her mama swirling around. Katy had a long white apron tied to her waist with the bottom lifted like it was a ball gown and she was making her own music while dancing to a waltz. Annie saw her mama’s burn scarred face like she had never seen it before. She was smiling and having a whispered conversation with her imaginary dance partner. She had the most peaceful and contented expression that Annie had ever seen before. Annie was certain that this was somehow a miracle in the making. God had finally heard her prayers and her mama had been transformed.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

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Ann C. Purvis, chose to publish her first novel under her birth name, Elizabeth Collums; this is her true roots and where she has drawn from many of the experiences she wrote about. She lives in Denham Springs, Louisiana and enjoys DIY projects. She has two daughters, a step daughter, son-in-law, two amazing granddaughters, and her dog Daisy.

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NEW BOOK OUT – ACORNS & ROOTS

An indestructible object full of strong magic, tempting the darkest of souls. Rare rainbow roots that are sold for a high price in the city, offering a young man a way to pay rent as he faces eviction. The secret to taking down a corrupt king and avoiding disenchantment, if a young Pixie succeeds in reaching her destination.

It is believed that all of these things can be found in the Valley, accessed through an Enchanted Forest that is struggling to survive against a dark magic- harnessing monarchy. A rebellion is stirring, and when Forest Pixie Fillii falls from a tree, landing directly on top of unemployed Amer (who doesn’t believe in things like Enchanted Forests), their journeys and worlds literally collide.

With vastly different yet strangely similar backgrounds and experiences, Fillii and Amer must both decide whether they can afford to trust each other, and what is worth fighting for.

Joined by magical creatures such as Elves and a Caribou army, Fillii and Amer find themselves in the midst of an epic battle of survival, old magic, and secrets carved in stone.

About the Author

Megs Calleja is a Canadian writer and actor, whose professional screenwriting has aired with TELUS and The CW. A member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada, Megs is inspired by magical wardrobes, shooting stars, marmalade on toast, and dancing in the rain. This is her first novel.

Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.ca/Acorns-Roots-Megs-Calleja/dp/1525561170/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=acorns+%26+roots&qid=1605223167&sr=8-1



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I did the Unpopular Opinions Book Tag to keep on theme with my Anti TBR tag earlier in the week. I promise I will talk about books I like again next week. Comment below what unpopular opinions you have about books! Check out the video below: