Blog Tour: Music From Another World by Robin Talley

It’s summer 1977 and
closeted lesbian Tammy Larson can’t be herself anywhere. Not at her
strict Christian high school, not at her conservative Orange County
church and certainly not at home, where her ultrareligious aunt
relentlessly organizes antigay political campaigns. Tammy’s only outlet
is writing secret letters in her diary to gay civil rights activist
Harvey Milk…until she’s matched with a real-life pen pal who changes
everything.

Sharon Hawkins bonds with Tammy over punk music and
carefully shared secrets, and soon their letters become the one place
she can be honest. The rest of her life in San Francisco is full of
lies. The kind she tells for others—like helping her gay brother hide
the truth from their mom—and the kind she tells herself. But as antigay
fervor in America reaches a frightening new pitch, Sharon and Tammy must
rely on their long-distance friendship to discover their deeply
personal truths, what they’ll stand for…and who they’ll rise against.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44786181-music-from-another-world

 
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review. No payments made between me and the publisher.

Music From Another World is another interesting read from Robin Talley. I don’t know who was Harvey Milk before I read the book, I had to Google search him and boom… things become clearer from my end. I had no idea he got a big name during this time and I think, I’m gonna thank him now for fighting what he knows was right. These days if he’s still around I could say he’s gonna be happy for the results. 
Being a Catholic and having a strong belief, reading the book somehow made me question things before people get the idea of “open mindedness”. While reading, I was like does this really happen before? but deep inside I knew these things happen until now that’s why some people are so afraid to “out”. Some treat them like a curse or worse. I’m not sure where and how did they get that idea. But, in my personal opinion, straight or gay, you’re still human. You might be different from others but so what? People should value the humanity more. I think now is not the time to discriminate gays or bi. Acceptance is the answer to these issues. It may not be written in the holy book or any book before that gay exists because that term doesn’t even exist before, right? 
I think the book taught me a lot of things, I really had a great time reading it. It was intense on some parts, there were lots of what ifs in my head like; what if their parents found out? what if someone tells their secret to others? – I feel afraid for them, I feel afraid for people who’s in a close minded family or environment, who knows what will happen to them? I like this phrase from the book and I one-hundred percent  (100%) support it. 
“You are who you are, and you don’t care if other people don’t like it.”
One more thought before ending my review, maybe people experiment on lots of things because they don’t feel accepted on who they really are. Some change because they feel neglected. Maybe, that’s what we need to understand from here. I hope, as the days go by, people will accept more what kind of society we are in nowadays. To be honest, I’m happy that there’s pride celebrations, but some countries doesn’t accept that yet. I hope one day, they all do. 
“I want to be proud of who I am, the way you are, but how? How do you make yourself feel something when everyone around you believes the exact opposite?”
My Rating

I live in Washington, D.C.,
with my wife, our baby daughter, an antisocial cat and a goofy hound
dog. Whenever the baby’s sleeping, I’m probably busy writing young adult
fiction about queer characters, reading books, and having in-depth
conversations with friends and family about things like whether
Jasmine’s character motivation was sufficiently established in Aladdin.

My website is at http://www.robintalley.com, and I’m on Twitter and Tumblr.

Bookworm Life while in Quarantine

Hello bookworms!
Welcome to another random thoughts post. I believe, we’re all experiencing the enhanced community quarantine due to Covid-19. No schools, employees are on work from home mode, no one should get out of their homes unless getting your necessities (e.g. groceries, medicines, etc.) but all of the malls are closed. Is it just me or anyone here thinks it’s also a relief for the environment? and for our tiring social life? I have this introvert side soooo I am so much affected and relieved, thanks to social distancing (kidding). 
On a serious note, I am worried for most people specially the affected ones. I’m having this anxiety every time I go out of the house until I return. I keep on telling myself that I can’t be sick since I am prone to asthma and allergies. I think, this virus is not just affecting our lungs or physical aspects of life but also mentally. I hope and pray that people like me, specially those mentally challenged people are okay. This will all be temporary. You guys will be fine. Just stay at home and always practice the proper hygiene and every thing will be alright. I may not be in a proper position or an expert to tell all these things but, at least just a reminder for some, I could help. 
So, for this blog entry, I’ll share my routines as well on how to fight my own anxiety. Some might not be applicable to others but at least you’ll have some ideas. 
  1. READ BOOKS – since I started working at home, all I’m thinking was, finally I could get some time with reading. I have a lot of pending books to read and my TBR is very long so maybe this is the time to read them one by one. I also made a list specifically for this quarantine days. 
  2. CLEAN YOUR BOOKSHELVES – during this time, I am putting this task as one of my priority because I really can’t remember when was the last time I had my shelf cleaned up. Aside from that, it’s a sad thought but I need to let go some of my books so I have to sort them out.  
  3. WATCH ON NETLIX – do you have some movies or tv series that’s been added to you list for a long time? I guess now is the time to start watching those. I did the same thing and during my free time that’s the only thing I do. 
  4. DO YOUR JOURNAL – have ever think of making a journal? to some it’s called diary and yes I still do that. There are plenty of guides or ideas in the internet (e.g. Pinterest & Instagram). If you’re artsy, there’s a pretty type of journal that could be your guide. 
  5. DO YOUR HOUSE CHORES – this, I think is really important. I guess it’s time for some of us to throw those old clothes, old items from our home. Aside from that, it’s time to sanitize things around the house and make time to rearrange things based from your perspective. 

So far, aside from work, I’m doing #1 and #3 and over the weekend I could finally focus on the other things. I still have work stuff to do and that’s an 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM kind of work, I just do breaks if I feel tired or something.

Anyways, may you have a good health always and please, take care. If you’re sick, make sure to get it checked right away. Don’t wait for it to get worse, okay?

Book Review: Me Myself & Him by Chris Tebbetts

When Chris Schweitzer
takes a hit of whippets and passes out face first on the cement, his
nose isn’t the only thing that changes forever. Instead of staying home
with his friends for the last summer after high school, he’s shipped off
to live with his famous physicist but royal jerk of a father to prove
he can “play by the rules” before Dad will pay for college.

Or . . . not.

In
an alternate time line, Chris’s parents remain blissfully ignorant
about the accident, and life at home goes back to normal–until it
doesn’t. A new spark between his two best (straight) friends quickly
turns Chris into a (gay) third wheel, and even worse, the truth about
the whippets incident starts to unravel. As his summer explodes into a
million messy pieces, Chris wonders how else things might have gone. Is
it possible to be jealous of another version of yourself in an alternate
reality that doesn’t even exist?

With musings on fate, religion, parallel universes, and the best way to eat a cinnamon roll, Me Myself & Him examines how what we consider to be true is really just one part of the much (much) bigger picture.

 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29752011-me-myself-him

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review. No payments made between me and the publisher.

I’ve seen this book from Facebook and Twitter so, when I got the chance to request this on NetGalley, I really didn’t think twice and try to get a copy and, it’s an honor to have my request granted. I was really curious about this book since from the start, as far as I remember, I haven’t read a book with an alternate universe yet (and if I do, it’s not a lot since I can’t remember LOL). Anyway, this book was a good read. It made me realize some things personally especially when I’m thinking about life and what’s the worse thing that could happen…right? 
I like the characters, especially Chris. I feel like you really traveled to his world and how he thinks. It’s sort of confusing at some points but everything is good. I somehow can relate to his life about his dad though. I knew how hard things are and how to pretend everything is okay but it’s not, and one day, it will just feel like everything is alright and things are working well. I think, there’s no such thing as permanent when it comes to this. Good things happen, yeah?
“A problem is a problem, and when it’s not addressed, it gets worse. Sometimes, that’s not about the substances, but about the way our choices impact our relationships with other people. Everyone’s here for their own reasons.”

I really enjoyed reading this book, a parallel universe where you have other possibilities yet, both endings could turn out good or it could be the opposite but whatever is the outcome, I think, it all points back to the decisions we made.

Anyways, I am looking forward for more books from Chris Tebbetts. I really had a great time with this one and the book cover is interesting. I loved it. Once again, thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity.

“I don’t need every little thing to be predictable,” she went on. “I know God has a plan for me, and that’s very comforting.”
My Ratings

Blog Tour: Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

A fresh, irresistible rom-com from debut author Emma Lord about the chances we take, the paths life

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.

can lead us on, and how love can be found in the opposite place you expected.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45045129-tweet-cute

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review. No payments made between me and the publisher.

This review has been a week late since I was having an issue with my blog plus I got tons of work last week so I didn’t get the chance to go online and draft my review. Anyhow, I still want to thank the publisher for accepting me to be part of this blog tour. The moment I saw the book, I knew I’d like it instantly and it would be a good first book to read for this year 2020. And yes, I wasn’t wrong at all. The first few chapters got me hooked already. The flow of the story was too cute to ignore, I couldn’t stop reading. I love the Twitter war, the Weazel app and of course the friendship made outside of those two. It’s funny how two people meet in unexpected ways. Aside from the story, I love the book cover, it is really catchy. 
I will never dislike young adult books especially books with a story like this. It’s been a habit of me to read this kind of genre, it lessens the stress around me. I love the characters a lot. Pepper is some kind of a rich kid who’s dealing with her own family issues and Jack, is the same thing. These two are already inseparable since they officially met during the swim team meet (At some point, I’d like to thank Jack’s brother Ethan, for making him do some of his work. LOL) Their charisma is something you’ll enjoy watching, it’s like watching a love team bloom. Jack is such a smart kid yet shy, imagine having self thought on coding and building amazing apps? It’s a real talent. Pepper is such a great baker though, I honestly imagine all her and her sister’s (Paige) dessert invention, I wonder what’s the taste of a Monster Cake. The way they described it, it was really delicious! ALSO, they’re fighting for Grilled Cheeseburgers… OMG every time I read that, I am craving for burgers instantly!

I do recommend this book to other readers. I’m sure they would instantly love this. I can’t wait to have a physical copy of the book. I must search the local bookstores around, seriously can’t wait!!! I am really honored to be part of this. I do enjoy doing book reviews like this, it’s fun and worth it.

“It’s weird, how you have no idea how far you’ve come until suddenly you can’t find the way back.”

Emma Lord is a digital media editor and writer living in New York City, where she spends whatever time she isn’t writing either running or belting show tunes in community theater. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a major in psychology and a minor in how to tilt your computer screen so nobody will notice you updating your fan fiction from the back row. She was raised on glitter, grilled cheese, and a whole lot of love. Her sun sign is Hufflepuff, but she is a Gryffindor rising. TWEET CUTE is her debut novel. You can find her geeking out online at @dilemmalord on Twitter. 

 

Book Feature: The Dragon’s Rising (Ancient’s Armor, #1) by Nathan Ayersman

Falkier Inalumin has
spent the past six years imprisoned by the king whom he had served under
as a scribe. He hadn’t attempted to escape even when the opportunity
arose until one night when a stranger comes to break him out of prison
at knifepoint.

After his escape, he is granted the power of the
Dragon Sword, a weapon imbued with the power of one of the Ancients who
created the world. He is also tasked with assembling a suit of armor
imbued by the rest of the Ancients so that he may kill Rakar Gorxand, a
man who had been granted a set of armor by the Ancients which was
corrupted by the evil he was chosen to eliminate.

On this first
leg of Falkier’s journey, he becomes a mercenary, learns a sword style
which allows him to fight without sight, and faces off against a man
with the power to weave the fabric of the universe.

 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47808236-the-dragon-s-rising
— BUY LINKS —
— EXCERPT —

The men woke early the next morning. Swagin had drunken himself stupider the night before, so Falkier and Jofalk had needed to haul the Dhorn into a room above the tavern. They doubted that he would notice they had paid their bill from his pocket with an additional small fee for themselves. The burly man’s face showed the wearying effects of the previous night as he and Jofalk saddled their mounts in the light of early dawn. Falkier would have offered to help out except that he had no idea how to prepare an Aoun for travel, and the tavern owner’s young son was helping Jofalk with his bay.

Watching the men get ready to leave, Falkier pondered over all that had happened in the last two days. He’d been rescued from prison by a mysterious man, became an accomplice to the deaths of six men, been saved from being captured or freezing to death in the woods twice, joined a band of mercenaries, and received a sword from his dreams. The sword was slung over his shoulder, a weight that was becoming more familiar than when he had woken with it the previous morning. He was still unsure how it had gotten there. If his dream was to be trusted, it was a sword given to him by the Ancients, but for what purpose? And why had they picked him? Though his imprisonment had been unjust, he was still an escaped prisoner and far from the most moral person in the world to deserve such an honor.

The cloth wrapped around his hand was stained with blood. The X-shaped wound had started to scab over, but he kept the cloth on it in case it opened again. He had been perturbed when he discovered that it had been ultimately unnecessary and would mean nothing if he was rejected by The Archer, but Swagin had been adamant that Falkier would be accepted since he needed to repay a debt. Jofalk had asserted that, as Archer’s protégé, he could convince their leader to accept a new member. The Archer could be very welcoming to people when he wanted to be, and Jofalk knew how to hit his soft spot. Falkier held onto that idea as he mounted Olorn with Swagin.

The Bronze Bulls mercenary guild was located in an abandoned stronghold a day’s ride northeast, so they hoped to get there by nightfall to allow The Archer to evaluate him. According to Jofalk, Archer had started the Bronze Bulls not long after Falkier had been imprisoned following a botched assassination attempt. After narrowly escaping with his life, Archer’s reputation as the perfect assassin was marred and nobody would hire him. He had been training Jofalk for years and decided to expand his horizons by bringing together a group of young non-nobles who had shown the potential to be great warriors. Swagin had been the first recruit and had been initially paired with Jofalk to help him acclimate to the mercenary life. Upon seeing how well they complemented each other, they were permanently made a team, and The Archer modeled his following choices after them. Since then, the Bulls had slowly grown to a point where it could compete with other mercenary guilds.

The Bulls competitive edge stemmed from their ability to be customized to the task at hand. Whereas most mercenaries were simply strong-arming fighters, every member of the Bulls had a skill that they specialized in, like spying or robbery. Jofalk’s specialty was assassination at range while Swagin’s skill was unarmed combat. As a unit, they could handle most combat situations, which is why they were given their escort mission. The two were also sent on missions where the employer seemed unlikely to pay, as both made more than adequate debt collectors. 

Swagin had revealed, while deep into his drink the previous night, the real reason they had not escorted their employer back was that he’d failed to pay, so Swagin beat him bloody, took the gauntlets, and left him in the woods. Falkier had been taken aback by that revelation but didn’t find it unexpected considering their line of work. Their sharing of this information had actually made him more comfortable trusting them.

As they reached the crest of the hill out of the valley, Swagin turned his head to Falkier. “Prepar’ fur a hasslin’. We got sum king’s boys comin’ dis way.” Three men were riding towards them. Falkier could pick out black tunics bearing a silver crescent moon, the royal sigil of Grent Corine. Surely they were looking for the escaped prisoner. He pulled his shirt up to cover his nose and shrank down behind Swagin. Maybe they wouldn’t notice him and they wouldn’t bother stopping the mercenaries. If only he could be that lucky. The rider in front, a thin man with a groomed dark brown mustache, raised his hand to halt them. 

“Good morning, men.” The man’s comrades, one with hair black as coal and the other a shaved head, fanned out to his sides, further blocking the road. Falkier could see each had a sword hanging from his hip. 

“Marnin’.” Swagin nodded his head to the man. “We dun’ want any troubil. Jus’ travla’s minin’ ar businuss.”

“A man escaped from the prison west of here a few days ago. We are searching for him so that he may be captured and brought to justice.” Falkier could feel the men’s eyes staring at him. They know. They’ve got to know it’s me.

“Dun know anathin’ ‘bout anathin’. Jus’ headin’ home afta’ visitin’ a friend o’ ars in Tise Dews.”

“There is a reward for anyone who has any information about the man or his whereabouts,” the blackhaired man added. “Three bronze spades for information, six iron marks for turning him in.”

“Six iron marks?” Jofalk cocked his eyebrow. “The price an escaped prisoner is usually only a few spades. What did this man do to deserve such a reward?” Falkier was hoping that this reward wouldn’t sway the mercenaries to turn him in. His heart in his throat, he tried to shrink himself even farther, trying to avoid the rider’s attention.

“The man’s crime was sedition, but during his escape, he killed six guards,” the mustached rider answered. “This is a dangerous man we’re dealing with.”

“Pris’ner showed up yer guards? Boy, does that make m’feel like m’taxes er spent well.” 

“Your taxes?” The mustached man’s voice carried restrained anger. “Neither of you sound like you’re Corinian. If I had to guess, I’d say Dhorn and Sadetian.”

“Thas right. Ah was born in th’ mowntuns o’ Dhor Isten, but me ‘n Jofalk work ‘ere in Grent Corine.” Swagin reached into a pocket in his vest. “’Ere’s m’ papers t’prove it.” He handed a folded piece of paper to the man. Jofalk did the same.

The riders paused to look at them, nodded, and handed it back. Falkier couldn’t help but think that it would have taken far longer for them to have read foreign workman’s permits. Though the five countries of the continent held an alliance, you had to get the permission of a foreign government to work outside of your native country. Falkier had crossed paths with those documents as a scribe for Lord Siphem, and he knew they were very wordy. Either the riders did not care that Jofalk and Swagin had permits, or they were unable to read. 

“Now, as ah said, we know nuthin’ ‘bout nuthin. If we see yer boy, wull b’ sher t’let ya’ know.” Swagin kicked Olorn to continue on, but the riders continued to block the way.  “Hold on a second. What’s the deal with your friend here?” The mustached man gestured towards Falkier. Falkier raised his head to look at them. If they hadn’t arrested him yet, they probably didn’t have a description of him. “Why have you been so quiet?”

“I figured that Swagin and Jofalk were more than capable of giving you men all the information you required. As you can likely tell from my accent, I am Corinian, and so I don’t have any work or travel papers to display.” Falkier managed to keep his voice confident and calm, despite the pounding of his heart. 

The mustached rider nodded. “You are right. As a Corinian, you don’t need to show us foreign work or travel forms.” The two men at his side drew their swords in unison. “However, as of three years ago, Corinians are required to carry identification with them at all times to be presented immediately to any law official. You wouldn’t know that, though, since you’ve been in prison until yesterday.” He gestured to his men. “Seize him!”

Falkier found himself rolling off the back of Olorn as Swagin leaped from his seat, bellowing, “No king’s boys er gun’ take m’ blood brotha’ Falkeer while Ah’m livin’!” He threw himself at the shaved man, completely ignorant of the piece of iron the man brandished. Falkier got to his feet in time to watch as Swagin knocked the sword away with his forearm and slammed his other fist into the man’s face. Olorn’s heads hissed as they snapped at the black haired man with long, razor-sharp fangs. Jofalk directed his horse away from the commotion, nocking an arrow to his bow. The mustached man dismounted and drew his sword, ducking an arrow in the process. He dived away from the rampaging Dhorn and Aoun, locking his eye on his prey, Falkier.

Falkier pulled the sword from its scabbard, the weight foreign to his hand. If it really was a sword meant for him as the dream said, shouldn’t it be more comfortable to hold? The knuckle-bow on the thumb side of the hilt seemed out of place and close to unnecessary. Why make them bladed to begin with? The only time a bladed knuckle-bow would make sense is if you were hitting someone with it, and isn’t the point of a sword to keep a little more distance from your opponent?

Falkier would have other times to question how functional his Ancient-given weapon was for him, as
the mustached man swung his sword at Falkier’s feet, causing him to step back out of the way, barely blocking the follow-up swing. He swung at the man, who easily parried and struck at Falkier’s leg. Clearly, he’d been trained in swordsmanship.

Falkier winced as the blade sliced across his thigh, blood soaking the leg of his trousers. He struck back, stabbing at the man’s stomach. The mustached man moved the blade out of the way with a flick of the wrist and smacked Falkier’s wrist with the flat of his blade. Falkier’s grip faltered for a second, but he recovered enough to pull his sword back in front of him. All the while, the mustached man watched him, smirking. Was he playing with Falkier? The man blocked Falkier’s next couple swings with ease, retaliating with a few nicks on Falkier’s arms and legs. This is pointless. He could kill me without breaking a sweat. He must need to take me in alive, so he’s just letting me wear myself out.

Falkier looked at the longsword in his hands, a supposed gift from heaven he was destined to wield. He was no great warrior, how could he ever do anything with this piece of metal. He couldn’t even find a comfortable way to hold it. 

Touch the black gem in the pommel and say ‘Vatinp, yqab’, a voice growled in his head. It was the voice from the woods before he blacked out.

Falkier obeyed, putting the fingers of his right hand on the pommel. Despite the freezing air around it, the gem felt slightly warm. “Vah-tinp, ee-cob?” Falkier said, the words feeling odd in his mouth. Whatever was supposed to happen, didn’t.

No! ‘Vatinp yqab!’ Say it with more confidence!

Falkier took a breath and focused. “Vatinp, yqab!”

Warmth flooded through Falkier’s body, and his wounds stopped bleeding. He watched in amazement as the sword transformed in his hand. The leather of the hilt took on a scaled appearance. The blade broadened into that of a falchion, the end becoming rounder and the top edge becoming blunted. The thumbside knuckle-bow disappeared, while a hook grew downward from the hilt over the blunt edge. The hook bore a jagged edge that gave it an appearance resembling the jaw of some sort of carnivorous beast when paired with a matching adornment that extended along the bladed edge. Falkier’s eyes and mouth felt strange, almost like they were also going through some sort of transformation.

The mustached man’s eyes widened in terror. “Are you some sort of demon?” His stance quickly became more aggressive as he began striking at Falkier. 

The newly-transformed sword felt easier to handle, and Falkier was able to protect himself, catching the man’s blade across the blunt edge. After a few more swings, Falkier managed to hook the man’s blade. He twisted his wrist and wrenched the sword out of the man’s hands. The sword clattered to the ground, and Falkier rushed him, punching the knuckle-bow that still remained on the bladed side of his sword into the man’s throat. The man wheezed as he collapsed to the ground. Falkier put the point of his sword to the
man’s throat.

“So this is how you managed to kill six men on your own,” the man croaked. “Demon magic.”

“I was not alo-“

The man spat at Falkier. “Kill me, you worthless cheat. I would rather die than listen to you try to corrupt my ears with your lies.”

Falkier drew the sword back to deliver the final blow and stopped. He’d never killed anyone before. Swagin and Jofalk had already finished the other two men off and were rummaging through their possessions. He looked into the man’s eyes, defiant and prepared for what was to come. The sword descended, opening the man’s throat. Watching the man’s body collapse in a pool of blood, Falkier ran his tongue across his teeth and was surprised to find all of them sharp and pointed. He raised his sword and looked at himself in the blade’s reflection. His eyes were the color of polished brass with slits for pupils. Smiling confirmed that his teeth had all grown to sharp points. I really do look like a demon.

Not a demon, the voice growled, a dragon. Touch the black gem again before your comrades can see. 

Falkier obeyed, and the warmth rushed out of his muscles. The sword remained a falchion, but the leather hilt lost its scaliness and the hook lost its jagged edge. Falkier looked at his reflection on the blade again and was relieved to see that his eyes and teeth had returned to normal as well. What is going on? What happened? Who are you? There came no response.

“Gud wark, Falkeer.” As Swagin approached, Falkier could see that his hands were bloodied and his handwraps hung tattered from his wrists. “Strip ‘em o’ his valubuls quickly so w’can git goin’ ‘gain. Gotta be quick if’n we wan’ t’be home by night.”

Falkier sheathed the sword and kneeled down to the man, careful to avoid the blood pooling around the body. Falkier dutifully searched the man’s pockets and found a purse full of tarnished bronze coins bearing the image of a shovel. Spades were the second least valuable coin after the copper penny, so the purse wasn’t an amazing find. Falkier also stripped the man of his swordbelt and a chainmail byrnie he’d worn under his tunic. Falkier strapped on the swordbelt, replacing the man’s scabbard with his own, and put the byrnie on underneath his two layers of borrowed clothing, leaving the prison shirt underneath. He stood to see Swagin sitting on Olorn rewrapping his hands and Jofalk putting an arrow back into his quiver.

As Falkier remounted Olorn, he saw the bodies of the other two men. Falkier’s opponent lucked out getting away with just an opened throat. The man with the shaved head’s face was broken and bloodied, while the other man had his throat ripped out and a hole through the side of his head where an arrow had been ripped out. These three men had only been doing their duty, trying to seize a prisoner, and they paid with their lives.

“Why didn’t you two give me over to them?” Falkier asked his companions. “Surely, you figured out that I was the person they were looking for. You could have made some money from it.”

“We knew you were a prisoner from the moment we met you,” Jofalk replied. “It wasn’t our job to hunt you down, and you clearly needed help.”

“Yah, you was ah pitiful thin’, you was,” Swagin added. “An’ now tha’ yer one o’ us, der ain’t no price we’d take fer ya’.”

“Then all I can do is thank you.” All the worrying that Falkier’d done had been for nothing. They’d known all along that he was a wanted man, so he’d had nothing to worry about by trusting them. It would have been nice if they had given him a sign they were on to him sooner, though, but that’s the past now. He touched the cut on his hand they’d given him. “Maybe I’ll stay with the Bulls even after I manage to save your lives.”

The three men turned their backs to the bloody scene and continued riding down the road. The sun had not yet reached its peak, but they still had a way to go. Falkier couldn’t help but think to himself that his future laid ahead somewhere down that road. He looked at the Dhorn and the Sadetian he rode with. If they were any indication of what his future as a mercenary was going to be like, the future was bright as the sun in the sky above them.

Upcoming Book: Mars Colony Agatha: Nikki Red by Jack Chaucer

Release Date: November 01, 2019

BLURB:

Nicole Janicek already
has stared down a high school shooter, a cult of criminal
ex-Scientologists and six months of frigid darkness at South Pole
Station in her young life, but now she risks it all attempting to ride a
rocket to Mars in 2022. After the Red One mission quickly aborts in the
skies over the North Sea, Nikki gets a surprise phone call from Elon
Musk, CEO of SpaceX. What follows is a euphoric, historic, tragic and
heroic mission to establish Mars Colony A, dubbed by some in the media
as “Mars Colony Agatha” when misfortune strikes. While doubters predict
the perilous mission will morph into “And Then There Were None” by
Agatha Christie, Nikki and her crew are determined to write their own
story. Through it all, Nikki is surprised to learn how strong her
connection to those she loved on Earth remains despite the chasm of time
and space.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46779287-mars-colony-agatha?from_search=true
— EXCERPT —
CHAPTER 4
THE LINK

September 11, 2022 — Launch-Minus-11 Day
Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Cruising stealthily in a black Musk-designed Tesla sedan from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base toward nearby Kennedy Space Center, Nikki stared out the tinted window at the Atlantic Ocean and recalled her last disastrous visit to Florida in August 2019.

It began with her defying The Bridge leadership’s orders in Fort Lauderdale and nearly ended when she was struck by flying debris as Hurricane Felicia raged in Miami Beach.

But she lived.

And now she was back, and free, and here by her own choice.

She was ready to leave Earth on her own terms; saddened by her parents’ objections, but determined to blast her life so far past the ordinary.

Thirty-eight Raptor engines, quietly waiting on iconic Launch Pad 39A, would propel her beyond her imagination and into a cold, beautiful and deadly reality.

Dozens of Space Shuttle liftoffs had cleared that same pad; two missions had ended in explosions, deaths and parental heartbreaks.

But Nikki truly believed she would survive to see Mars up close.

Her extensive training in Antarctica had steeled her spirit for this all-in mission to deep space, and now Musk’s unexpected lifeline after the Red One splashdown only convinced her further that she was destined to actually land there in 2023 at age 26. Wow.

KSC headquarters rose about 10 stories in the foreground with massive American and NASA flags draped down one side. The boxy building was surrounded by sprawling parking lots dotted with palm trees, but Nikki’s eyes initially were drawn to the sleek, futuristic SpaceX sign on an adjacent rectangular building. The left leg of the X in the logo shot up diagonally and arced away, like the trail of rocket smoke.

Beyond all of that, at the edge of the ocean, the stainless steel Super Heavy Starship gleamed as it aimed toward the bright blue sky. From Nikki’s vantage point more than a mile away, it looked like a child’s toy, and in a way it was. Musk had been experimenting with rockets of all sizes since his aloof engineer father literally left Elon to his own devices during a rough South African childhood split from his mother and siblings. In reality, the full SHS stack stood 387 feet, 82 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty.

This was beyond freedom.

Where this rocket would take her, there would be nothing but red dirt, ice and murderously thin air. No government. No police. No trees or animals. No streets, with or without names. Just a brand new, very old and very empty world, apathetic to the arrival of six human beings, one of whom remained an 11th-hour, L-minus-11 stranger to the other five.

Nikki scrolled through their names on her phone one more time:

1. Commander Xander Vermilyea. Really? Internal rhyme? Nikki still dabbled in poetry, but that name in the email Elon’s assistant sent her sounded more like a Muskian prank.

2. Pilot Jo Guigere. Not Joe. Not Josephine. But female, Nikki presumed. Awesome.

3. Engineer Ulysses Parker. She wondered if his middle name started with an S. like the old Civil War general and president who now graces $50 bills.

4. Dr. Susan Wilkes. Nikki tried to suppress her brain’s urge to stick with the 1800s theme, add “Booth” to her name and charge her as an accomplice in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

5. Specialist Edward Etergino. “E Squared” immediately came to her mind as a possible nickname.

And what would they think of Specialist Nicole Janicek, the late and unexpected wildcard crew member with the red streaks in her hair?

If I can find a way to get along with the person who shot me for six months at South Pole Station, I’ll find a way to get along with these people, Nikki vowed.

But first, she was scheduled to meet face to face with the visionary who designed the car she was riding in and the spaceship that would drive her to Mars.

***

Jane Rushmore, blonde and personable, ushered Nikki into an eighth-floor suite where Elon Musk, hipster-techno-casual in a black short-sleeved shirt and jeans, quickly looked up from his phone and grinned. The SHS pierced the blue horizon in the massive window behind him.

Still star struck, Nikki hesitated for half a beat before crossing the surprisingly drab, outdated carpet to shake his hand in the large, rectangular room.

“Welcome, Nikki. How was your flight?” he asked, guiding her toward a pair of recliners. “Come relax. Can I get you anything?”

“Good, no, I’m fine,” she replied as they both sat down across from one another.

“Most people I know try to avoid flying on September 11th out of, you know, extremely warranted superstition, but we’re L-minus-11, so …”

“It was no problem,” Nikki said, struggling to form more than simple sentences in this surreal moment.

“How old were you in 2001?” he asked, still grinning.

“Four,” she said, finally allowing herself to exhale.

He nodded as if he already knew that. “Back then I was one year away from launching SpaceX in a California office about the size of this room and look how far we’ve come. I’m still renting space … this time from NASA.”

“But now you’ve got a rocket on that launch pad right there ready to take six people to Mars,” Nikki pointed out while gesturing toward the window.

“Can you believe you’re one of them?”

“No … this all seems like a dream.”

“I’m glad you said dream and not a nightmare.”

“Oh, I’m scared,” she admitted.

“So am I. Perfectly normal. This is gonna be big … truly the start of something monumental in human history. Deep space travel and establishing a human base on Mars.”

“What do you see as my role in this mission … other than trying not to die?” Nikki asked, smiling as she realized she just echoed Thomas’ parting words to her.

Elon fed off her smile and practically bounced in his chair as he talked, with his hands in constant motion.

“I really see you as the link, the communications link between Starship and Earth on the burn to Mars, and then between Colony A and Earth from Sol 1 on,” Musk said, referring in space jargon to the crew’s first day on the Red Planet. “You’re considerably younger, more charismatic and less of a technical person than the rest of the crew, so I really see you as the person to help tell the story of this mission, human to human.”

“Wow,” Nikki beamed.

“It’s an important role … getting on camera, wearing GoPros, shooting videos and sending video emails — v-mails — to interact with especially young people and children in classrooms on Earth,” he continued. “Think of yourself as the first travel guide on Mars, encouraging the next generation to want to help set up a city there some day. Because this mission will be far more effective and inspiring if we maintain that human connection with Earth every mile and every step of the way.”

“What can I say? I’m humbled and amazed to do that,” Nikki said.

“Fantastic. Now when I say interact, as you know, there’s about a 20-minute delay in communications between Mars and Earth, so the videos will be more like a one-way video letter, if you will, and then you’ll receive the reply from Earth.”

“Of course.”

“The less glamorous role for you would be to get extremely involved in keeping the common areas and cabins clean aboard ship and in the Martian hab environment …”

“Housekeeping?” Nikki asked with a smirk.

“Your word, not mine,” he replied with a laugh. “But essential either way.”

She nodded, biting her tongue and smiling. “Anything else?”

“Oh, there’ll be many other tasks, I’m sure, but one very real thing to keep in mind is you are the most expendable crew member. I know. I’m shamelessly blunt. But that’s a fact.”

Nikki picked up her jaw, tilted her head and understood.

“I know. I totally get that.”

“It just means that when there are dangerous situations or choices or truck runs to be made, you should be the first to raise your hand.”

Nikki’s eyes met Elon’s and didn’t blink.

“I will do that.”

“Good. Even if any of the other five tries to be the hero and insist, you remind them what I’ve told you here today. This mission is all about sacrifice. It has no chance of succeeding without it.”

“I’m so ready,” Nikki told herself and the leader of SpaceX. “You have no idea how awful it felt to come crashing down and lose that opportunity.”

“On the contrary, I know exactly how it feels. I’ve seen my share of exploding rockets. And that’s why I reached out to you … someone who would appreciate this second chance like no one else.”

Nikki took a deep breath and grinned. “I do appreciate it and I thank you for tracking me down. I’m truly blown away by all of this.”

“You’re welcome,” Elon said, standing up and offering her a hug. “And officially, welcome to the mission.”

Nikki accepted his embrace and smiled.

“Thank you. What’s next?” she asked.

“Dinner with your commander and crew. You better enjoy real Earth food while you can get it. And after that, I have a little surprise movie for all of you. It should be an inspirational and bonding experience.”

Book Review: Heartache and Hope by Jay McLean

BLURB:

Ava Diaz needs saving.
She just doesn’t know it yet.
Just like she doesn’t know a thing about the boy she sits next to on the first day of senior year.
He thinks she’s a brat.
She thinks he’s entitled.
Maybe first impressions don’t always last…
Because Connor Ledger’s about to save her.
He just doesn’t know why.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45457966-heartache-and-hope

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review. No payments made between me and the publisher.

It’s been a while since I read a Jay McLean book. Her works are one of my automatic pick. I loved the way she writes and I love how her works excites me. When I heard about Heartache and Hope, I automatically tried my luck to be one of the reviewers. I’m so happy when I received an email regarding this book! I honestly stopped the other books I’m reading and started with this right away. The first few chapters got me hooked already! This book was really hard to let go, I just keep reading and reading and my curiosity just got bigger and bigger. What will happen next? that’s the only question in my head.
I love the characters as well, Connor Ledger and Ava Diaz, both have dark pasts and both are carrying weights on their memories but, both of them also wants to save each other using their own way. Connor is a high-school varsity player who lives with his dad. Their only goal is to reach the “end-game”, for Connor’s future. He’s a sweet, cool guy who focuses on whatever his dad tells him to do. Ava, people thinks pitiful of her with all the things that happened to her mom. She’s an amazing lady who try her best to live each day even if every day is a big battle. Ava’s a loving person, sweet and a strong willed woman. Connor and Ava love team is beautiful and inspirational. On their young age they become each other’s support system which some people doesn’t even know how to give. Despite the studies, basketball and Ava’s situation they still are managing to be the person they wanted to be even if it’s a borrowed time. But, things shifted so fast between them. Their relationship becomes something that’s uncontrollable, with all the pressure and the promised goals, will they survive? that’s usually my question and that’s the readers must find out. 
Heartache and Hope is beautiful, buoyant and beguiling. I could say this is one of the best books I’ve read in the past six months. I’m looking forward to Heartache Duet book two (2), more Connor and Ava romance. One more thing, I love the book cover! I do love basketball and knowing Connor is into it, I was like, “I’ll definitely read that!” I love everything about this book one!!! If possible I’ll give it 10/5 rating! 
“Love should make people stay. Love should make you want to keep the people who hold that love near.” 

” … sometimes, love isn’t enough.”
My Ratings

Jay McLean is an international
best-selling author and full-time reader, writer of New Adult and Young
Adult romance, and skilled procrastinator. When she’s not doing any of
those things, she can be found running after her three little boys,
investing way too much time on True Crime Documentaries and
binge-watching reality TV.
She writes what she loves to read, which are books that can make her laugh, make her hurt and make her feel.

Jay lives in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, in her dream home where music is loud and laughter is louder.


Source: Goodreads




Cover Reveal: The Heartache Duet by Jay McLean



DUET COVER REVEAL
The Heartache Duet
Cover Reveal Date: May 31, 2019



RELEASE DATES:
Heartache and Hope (Book 1): June 28, 2019
First and Forever (Book 2): July 12, 2019





DUET SYNOPSIS:
Ava Diaz needs saving.
She just doesn’t know it yet.
Just like she doesn’t know a thing about the boy
she sits next to on the first day of senior year.
He thinks she’s a brat.
She thinks he’s entitled.
Maybe first impressions don’t always last…
Because Connor Ledger’s about to save her.
He just doesn’t know why.



Add the Duet to your TBR: bit.ly/GRJMacHH
$100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway → http://bit.ly/2Qx3OZq



AUTHOR BIO
Jay McLean is an international best-selling author and full-time reader, writer of New Adult and Young Adult romance, and skilled procrastinator. When she’s not doing any of those things, she can be found running after her three little boys, investing way too much time on True Crime Documentaries and binge-watching reality TV.

She writes what she loves to read, which are books that can make her laugh, make her hurt and make her feel.

Jay lives in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, in her dream home where music is loud and laughter is louder.

For publishing rights (Foreign & Domestic) Film or television, please contact her agent Erica Spellman-Silverman, at Trident Media Group.

AUTHOR LINKS
Facebook | Fan Group | Web | Twitter | Instagram |

Blog Tour: Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small

BLURB:

Best friends Marine Duval and Kate Sanders have trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School since childhood, where they’ve formed an inseparable bond forged by respective family tragedies and a fierce love for dance. When the body of a student is found in the dorms just before the start of their final year, Marine and Kate begin to ask themselves what they would do to win the ultimate prize: to be the one girl selected to join the Opera’s prestigious corps de ballet. Would they die? Cheat? Seduce the most talented boy in the school, dubbed the Demigod, hoping his magic would make them shine, too? Neither girl is sure.

But then Kate gets closer to the Demigod, even as Marine has begun to capture his heart. And as selection day draws near, the competition—for the prize, for the Demigod—becomes fiercer, and Marine and Kate realize they have everything to lose, including each other.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42288387-bright-burning-stars

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review. No payments made between me and the publisher.

I saw this book on NetGalley, I got curious right away. I honestly don’t know much about ballet because to me it sounds so girly. I never tried enrolling to one of the ballet schools either. I just know that this type of dance is beautiful I always imagine watching one live though, maybe I will try one day.  Also, in our family, only my youngest sister tried having ballet classes when she was in grade school and I go with her practice sometimes. Watching those little kids dance are the cutest thing ever.That’s my little memory about ballet but to me this book is interesting enough to catch my attention. The blurb actually got me, I was curious on what will happen to Marine and Kate. Friendships and sacrifices, I wonder what would win?

Ballet, friendship and ambition, in my opinion, these three are the main focus of this. Bright Burning Stars is a good book, fun to read and of course there are some parts that you will annoy you like any other books made, but that’s what makes it exciting right? There’s no such thing as a perfect character. The book shows us what would happen once the ambition takes over and clouded our heads. Things you do for something you badly wanted to achieve? it could be insane plans. I liked the main characters; Marine, she’s kind, innocent and amazing. She sacrificed some parts of her because she wanted to honor Oli, her twin. She’s the best friend of Kate and they both liked the same person, Cyrille the Demigod. Her other best friend is Luc who looks after her every single time. Kate, she’s kind but ambitious. She’s from USA and will do anything to fit in, to be number one. She’s a different kind of trouble. Marine & Kate had a pact, that no matter what happens they will stay together, but with every thing that happened in the ballet school, every challenges, things are getting shadowy. The real question is that, will they still regain friendship or will it be destroyed? That’s what the readers needs to find out. To me, the book is sort of challenging because there are some terms that I had to Google because, like I mentioned earlier, I am not really familiar with ballet.

Anyhow, Bright Burning Stars is a good young-adult book. This is the first book of A.K Small and I suggest this to people who likes dancing, music, ballet etc. I enjoyed and learned a lot of terms from this book though. I can also imagine their movements like I’m watching them live. 

Lastly, I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher and of course A.K Small for this amazing book. I am looking forward for more A.K Small books. 

My Ratings

A.K. Small was born in Paris. At five years old, she began studying classical dance with the legendary Max Bozzoni, then later with Daniel Franck and Monique Arabian at the famous Académie Chaptal. At thirteen, she moved to the United States where she danced with the Pacific Northwest Ballet for one summer in Seattle and with the Richmond Ballet Student Company for several years. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary and has an MFA in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts. When she’s not writing, she spends time with her husband, her puppy, and her three daughters, and practices yoga. Bright Burning Stars is her first novel.

 aksmallwords.com | Twitter: @aksmallwords |
Instagram: @aksmallwords

Twitter: @camelle_r | Instagram: @homeofabooklover