Blitz | Witch & Wolf: The Complete Series by RJ Blain

Witch & Wolf: The Complete Series
R.J. Blain
Publication date: December 18th 2018
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy

Life is never easy for those with the strength to change the world.

These are their stories.

Inquisitor

When Allison is asked to play Cinderella-turned-Fianceé at a Halloween ball, the last thing she expected was to be accused of murder. She has to find the killer or she’ll be put to death for the crimes she didn’t commit. To make matters worse, the victims are all werewolves.

On the short list of potential victims, Allison has to act fast, or the killer will have one more body to add to his little black book of corpses.

Winter Wolf

When Nicole dabbled in the occult, she lost it all: Her voice, her family, and her name. Now on the run from the Inquisition, she must prove to herself—and the world—that not all wizards are too dangerous to let live.

Blood Diamond

The world is full of corpses, and Jackson knows them by name. When a group strives to destroy the Inquisition, his powers may be all standing between the supernaturals and extinction.

Silver Bullet

Finished with being a victim, Vicky will do everything in her power to put an end to Basin once and for all, even if it means she must make the ultimate sacrifice and bite a silver bullet for the sake of her family, her friends, and the rest of the supernatural world.

This collection also contains Tales of the Winter Wolf Vol. Six.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

From Inquisitor:

Autumn had come, and I was powerless to stop it—this time. A yellowed leaf clung to its branch, mocking me with its splash of color. The rest of Central Park clung to the hope of summer. I stood on my toes and snatched at it, but a chilly wind ripped it from my reach.

The leaf landed on the path several steps away. When I reached it, I crushed it beneath my boot.

“Wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, Allison?”

I twisted my heel while wrinkling my nose. With light brown hair and creamy skin prone to burning rather than tanning, Mark would never be my tall, dark, and handsome, though he was good looking and aggressive with his money. With my sort of luck, he’d never account for anything more than an occasional lunch buddy who needed my help with his finances. Then again, maybe it was better for both of us that way.

Some girls had all the luck. Me? I had more money than I knew what to do with, most of it acquired from Mark in management fees like I was some sort of modern-day vampire. Too bad money couldn’t buy me a life.

“Who said I went to bed last night?” Hopefully, he wouldn’t think too long or hard on my delayed quip.

“What’s got your tail in a bunch?”

I shoved my hands in the back pockets of my jeans and swallowed my relieved sigh. No tail. Good. Last thing I needed was to sprout a tail on Halloween at noon. “N-nothing. You’re always ‘blah, blah, blah, something’s wrong.’ Nothing’s going on.”

Mark arched his brow at me. “So what did that poor little leaf do to you?”

“It failed its calculus test twice.”

Author Bio:

RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.

In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until satisfied

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram


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Blog Tour | The Friendship List by Susan Mallery | Review

Already a worldwide success in mass market and trade paperback formats, Susan Mallery’s newest hardcover is an emotional, witty, and heartfelt story about two best friends who are determined to help one another shake things up and live life to the fullest…only to discover that possibilities are everywhere–especially in the most unexpected of places.

Ellen and Unity have been best friends basically since birth, but they couldn’t be more different. Unity married her childhood sweetheart just after high school and became an Army wife, moving from base to base…until her husband’s shocking death in the line of duty leaves her a widow. Grief-stricken, it’s time for Unity to come back home to Ellen—the only person she can trust to help her rebuild her life. But Ellen has troubles of her own. Boys never seemed to notice Ellen…until one got her pregnant in high school and disappeared. Her son is now 17 and she’s wondering what to do with herself now that he’s heading off to college and he’s literally her entire world.

But now that Ellen and Unity are reunited, they’re done with their stale lives. It’s time to shake things up and start living again, knowing that they’ll always have one another to lean on. So they create a list of challenges they have to accomplish–everything from getting a tattoo to skydiving to staying out all night. And whoever completes the most challenges is the winner. But with new adventures and love just around the corner, there’s no such thing as losing…

BUY LINKS | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |Books-a-Million |Indie Bound | Kindle | Nook | Google Play | Apple Books | Kobo | Walmart | Target | Bookshop.org

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was super excited to pick up another of Susan Mallery’s books as I enjoyed the last one I read from her and wanted to experience more of her writing. Once again I was immediately sucked into the story of Ellen and Unity, as well as the other characters whose perspectives come in. I will say that I sometimes had a hard time connecting with Unity’s personality and story, but Ellen’s story always had me invested.

I did not expect as much romance as there was after reading the synopsis, but I ended up loving it. I really enjoyed as the stories progressed and Ellen and Unity grew and transformed in a way. The pace of the writing is fast and the story keeps moving at a pretty good clip. I got a little frustrated at moments with some things, such as Unity’s refusal to admit she’s in a rut, but overall I really enjoyed the story and loved the characters.

SUSAN MALLERY is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—family, friendship and romance. Library Journal says, “Mallery is the master of blending emotionally believable characters in realistic situations,” and readers seem to agree—forty million copies of her books have been sold worldwide. Her warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live.

Susan grew up in California and now lives in Seattle with her husband. She’s passionate about animal welfare, especially that of the two Ragdoll cats and adorable poodle who think of her as Mom.

SOCIAL LINKS | Twitter: @susanmallery | Facebook: @susanmallery | Instagram: @susanmallery |
Author website: https://www.susanmallery.com/

The Friendship List is out now, so make sure to pick it up if it sounds good to you – happy reading!

Blitz | The Other Side of the Looking Glass by Kathleen Harryman

The Other Side of the Looking Glass
Kathleen Harryman
Publication date: June 29th 2020
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

She wakes up to a life she doesn’t recognize…
And to a husband she can’t imagine loving.

Kate find herself in a hospital with no memory of who she is or anything about her life. Everything is blank.

An attractive, well dressed and obviously wealthy man stands there claiming to be her husband. Yet, as she first looks into his cold eyes, she wonders how she could have loved and married the man.

As Kate is taken home to her luxury mansion. she realizes her ordeal is just beginning. Life with the controlling Liam, her husband, is more than she bargained for.

Then, her memory starts to come back and the truth emerges…

“A well written, thought-out, intriguing and beguiling story by the author, as told by the characters involved.” ~ Goodreads Review ~

“The Other Side of The Looking Glass by Kathleen Harryman was intense, intriguing, well paced and an absolute pleasure to read.” ~ Goodreads review

Read this romantic suspense thriller from the author of Hidden Danger and When Darkness Falls, The Other Side of the Looking Glass is a tale of subterfuge, mystery, mistaken identity and true love.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

Chapter One

KATE

He clinical smell of detergent penetrates my senses and my eyes flutter open. I find myself staring at a white-tiled commercial ceiling, questioning if I am awake or asleep – though it does seem like a rather strange dream to have. I blink. The ceiling remains. My senses give my brain a nudge and it fires up but provides no answers. Brows wrinkling in confusion, I begin trying to determine what is going on.

One thing I am certain of, is that my body is sore and stiff. Muscles aching, I remain as I am, twisting my head to the right. The sun glares through a wide, steel window. From the sun’s height in the sky, I estimate it has been there some time.

A feeling of guilt settles over me. It appears sleeping in isn’t something I indulge in.

To my right, between the bed and window, is a small white cupboard and a plastic-coated armchair. Sunflowers sit in a vase on the bedside cupboard. I like sunflowers. Though at this moment, I fail to recall why.

An irritating beep-beep sound comes from my left, and I swing my eyes in that direction, lifting my head slightly. Wires litter my body and a pink cellular hospital blanket covers me. The beeping begins to make sense, along with the plastic-coated chair and wires. I am in a hospital.

A sigh escapes my lips as I resist the urge to panic. Instead, I acknowledge my dislike of hospitals. Then again, name a patient or visitor who likes them. There is that clinical smell that lingers long after you have left, and they are full of sick people. At present, I am reluctant to place myself in the ‘sick people’ category, even if my brain is screaming at me, telling me I wouldn’t be here if I was fit and well.

Tentatively, I sniff the air. This hospital does smell nicer than the ones I have stayed in and visited before. At present, I am unable to remember ever spending time in or visiting a hospital, though I’m sure I have done so.

My eyes widen and adrenalin is released into my bloodstream. Hands shaking, my breathing quickens. Panic grips me. Why can’t I remember anything? My eyes fly round the room, unseeing. What has happened to me?

If I am in a hospital, I am safe and cared for. Quantifying this fact allows reason to be heard. Though my heart still hammers, its beat is more regular than it was. My memories are in there, somewhere, I just need to find them. It’s probably the drugs they have given me, clouding and confusing my brain.

Closing my eyes, I demand that my brain starts its cognitive processing. My demand falls into a black hole of nothingness. Not giving up, I decide to think about the sunflowers, as they’d triggered a feeling of happiness. Unfortunately, this simple request is met with vacuity, and a hollow feeling takes up residence in the pit of my stomach. The only mental input I receive is that sunflowers are bright, cheery plants.

My eyes fly open and I face the frightening fact that my life is a blank.


Author Bio:

Kathleen Harryman is a storyteller and poet living in the historically rich city of York, North Yorkshire, England, with her husband, children and pet dog and cat.

Kathleen first published a suspense thriller in 2015, The Other Side of the Looking Glass. Since then, she has developed a unique writing style which readers have enjoyed and is now a multi-published author of suspense, psychological thrillers, poetry and historical romance.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram


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Review | Clap When You Land

In a novel-in-verse that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

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. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If her first two books hadn’t already landed Elizabeth Acevedo on my auto-buy list, this one would have done it. I will say that I prefer her books in verse as I love her specific style, but I will also pick up anything she writes in prose as well. It’s not just her writing, but so many other things such as the impact she crafts with her words, the soul she gives her characters and more. I spent a lot of this book crying and sometimes I didn’t even understand fully what was making me cry, but it was heartbreaking. Being someone who has gone through the death of a father, I always appreciate (but also hurt) when authors are able to capture different aspects of grief and the different things people may experience/how no one’s grief is the same – and Acevedo perfectly captured that in this book. There are definite trigger warnings for death of a parent, sexual assault and grief in this book and I think it’s important to know that if those subjects are triggering for you, be aware.

It’s a hard read emotionally, but so worth it and I love that she drew inspiration from the real life crash of flight AA587 – while also shedding light upon it. Too often important events that impact hundreds, if not thousands, of lives get pushed aside or buried because something deemed bigger or more important happens. This should be on everyone’s lists, but make sure you have tissues handy.

Happy reading!

Review | Almost American Girl by Robin Ha

A powerful and timely teen graphic novel memoir—perfect for fans of American Born Chinese and Hey, Kiddo—about a Korean-born, non-English-speaking girl who is abruptly transplanted from Seoul to Huntsville, Alabama, and struggles with extreme culture shock and isolation, until she discovers her passion for comic arts.

For as long as she can remember, it’s been Robin and her mom against the world. Growing up in the 1990s as the only child of a single mother in Seoul, Korea, wasn’t always easy, but it has bonded them fiercely together.

So when a vacation to visit friends in Huntsville, Alabama, unexpectedly becomes a permanent relocation—following her mother’s announcement that she’s getting married—Robin is devastated. Overnight, her life changes. She is dropped into a new school where she doesn’t understand the language and struggles to keep up. She is completely cut off from her friends at home and has no access to her beloved comics. At home, she doesn’t fit in with her new stepfamily. And worst of all, she is furious with the one person she is closest to—her mother.

Then one day Robin’s mother enrolls her in a local comic drawing class, which opens the window to a future Robin could never have imagined.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

As soon as I read the synopsis for this graphic memoir I had to pick it up. I’m always interested in anything related to Korean culture and individuals so I definitely wanted to read about the author’s experiences and perspective.

Taken as a whole this is a very complex story where the author examines her relationships with her mother and others, her internal feelings and thoughts and cultural differences – plus having to deal with being a teenager at the time that her life went through major upheaval. Even if you haven’t dealt with many of the things she dealt with, you can probably sympathize with being a teenager who’s unsure of themselves and unsure how to fit in.

The way Ha addresses a lot of the cultural differences and issues was also great to see, she perfectly showed snippets of some of the different perspectives in Korean culture vs. American, and some of the racism she experienced just because of what she looked like and spoke like.

I really enjoyed her storytelling in this work and her art style with the changing color palettes that denoted time and emotion. It was just a beautiful story to experience in my opinion and I will definitely be looking up her other works.

Happy reading!

Kindle Deals | 8/7

I found some great kindle deals today and just hand to share them with you all. Make sure to double check the prices where you are since they may have changed!

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho ($1.99)Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to men. He’s drawn to her anyway. 

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous and reignite a generations-old feud . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.

Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman ($2.99)For twelve-year-old Emily, the best thing about moving to San Francisco is that it’s the home city of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, book publisher and creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger (a game where books are hidden in cities all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles). Upon her arrival, however, Emily learns that Griswold has been attacked and is now in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold himself, and might contain the only copy of his mysterious new game.

Racing against time, Emily and James rush from clue to clue, desperate to figure out the secret at the heart of Griswold’s new game―before those who attacked Griswold come after them too.

The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason ($0.99)Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you’re the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood. And when two society girls go missing, there’s no one more qualified to investigate. Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not just one but three mysterious gentlemen, and solve murder with only one clue: a strange Egyptian scarab. The stakes are high. If Stoker and Holmes don’t unravel why the belles of London society are in such danger, they’ll become the next victims.

Gilded by Christina Farley ($0.99)Sixteen-year-old Jae Hwa Lee is a Korean-American girl with a black belt, a deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows, and a chip on her shoulder the size of Korea itself. When her widowed dad uproots her to Seoul from her home in L.A., Jae thinks her biggest challenges will be fitting into a new school and dealing with her dismissive Korean grandfather. Then she discovers that a Korean demi-god, Haemosu, has been stealing the soul of the oldest daughter of each generation in her family for centuries. And she’s next.

But that’s not Jae’s only problem.

There’s also Marc. Irresistible and charming, Marc threatens to break the barriers around Jae’s heart. As the two grow closer, Jae must decide if she can trust him. But Marc has a secret of his own—one that could help Jae overturn the curse on her family for good. It turns out that Jae’s been wrong about a lot of things: her grandfather is her greatest ally, even the tough girl can fall in love, and Korea might just be the home she’s always been looking for.

Happy reading!

Blog Tour | The Hero of Hope Springs by Maisey Yates | Review

For as long as brooding cowboy Ryder Daniels has known Sammy Marshall, she has been his sunshine. Her free spirit and bright smile saved him after the devastating loss of his parents and gave him the strength to care for his orphaned family. Only Ryder knows how vulnerable Sammy is, so he’s kept his attraction for his best friend under wraps for years. But what Sammy’s asking for now might be a step too far…

Something has been missing from Sammy’s life, and she thinks she knows what it is. Deciding she wants a baby is easy; realizing she wants her best friend to be the father is…complicated. Especially when a new heat between them sparks to life! When Sammy discovers she’s pregnant, Ryder makes it clear he wants it all. But having suffered the fallout of her parents’ disastrous relationship, Sammy is wary of letting Ryder too close. This cowboy will have to prove he’s proposing out of more than just honor…

BUY LINKS | Harlequin | Amazon | Apple Books | Barnes & Noble |
Books-A-Million | Google Play | IndieBound | Kobo

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was my first Maisey Yates book but when I heard that she was an Oregon author I definitely wanted to check out her work, and the plot of this one sounded like something I would really enjoy. Though this is the 10th book in this series, I had no trouble jumping into the story and learning about the characters. I loved learning about Ryder and Sammy and their own personal scars. This really is a story about being shaped from one’s past as well as growing from it. There were definitely some parts that were hard to go through since Sammy especially had some hang ups and emotional scars that held her back and made her react in less than wonderful ways. That being said I did really enjoy the journey these characters took on the way through their love story to get to their happiness at the end.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Maisey Yates lives in rural Oregon with her three children and her husband, whose chiseled jaw and arresting features continue to make her swoon. She feels the epic trek she takes several times a day from her office to her coffee maker is a true example of her pioneer spirit. Maisey divides her writing time between dark, passionate category romances set just about everywhere on earth and light sexy contemporary romances set practically in her back yard. She believes that she clearly has the best job in the world.

SOCIAL LINKS | Website |  Facebook | Instagram

Happy reading!

Blog Tour | Lobizona by Romina Garber | Excerpt

Some people ARE illegal.

Lobizonas do NOT exist.

Both of these statements are false.

Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.

Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past—a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.

Buy Link | Macmillan

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing an excerpt from Lobizona with you. I’ll also have a review coming soon, so make sure to check that out as well!

I awaken with a jolt.

It takes me a moment to register that I’ve been out for three days. I can tell by the well-rested feeling in my bones—I don’t sleep this well any other time of the month.

The first thing I’m aware of as I sit up  is an urgent need  to use the bathroom. My muscles are heavy from lack of use, and it takes some concentration to keep my steps light so I won’t wake Ma or Perla. I leave the lights off to avoid meeting my gaze in the mirror, and after tossing out my heavy-duty period pad and replacing it with a tampon, I tiptoe back to Ma’s and my room.

I’m always disoriented after lunaritis, so I feel separate from my waking life as I survey my teetering stacks of journals and used books, Ma’s yoga mat and collection of weights, and the posters on the wall of the planets and constellations I hope to visit one day.

After a moment, my shoulders slump in disappointment.

This month has officially peaked.

I yank the bleach-stained blue sheets off the mattress and slide out the pillows from their cases, balling up the bedding to wash later. My body feels like a crumpled piece of paper that needs to be stretched, so I plant my feet together in the tiny area between the bed and the door, and I raise my hands and arch my back, lengthening my spine disc by disc. The pull on my tendons releases stored tension, and I exhale in relief.

Something tugs at my consciousness, an unresolved riddle that must have timed out when I surfaced . . . but the harder I focus, the quicker I forget. Swinging my head forward, I reach down to touch my toes and stretch my spine the other way—

My ears pop so hard, I gasp.

I stumble back to the mattress, and I cradle my head in my hands as a rush of noise invades my mind. The buzzing of a fly in the window blinds, the gunning of a car engine on the street below, the groaning of our building’s prehistoric eleva- tor. Each sound is so crisp, it’s like a filter was just peeled back from my hearing.

My pulse picks up as I slide my hands away from my temples to trace the outlines of my ears. I think the top parts feel a little . . . pointier.

I ignore the tingling in my eardrums as I cut through the living room to the kitchen, and I fill a stained green bowl with cold water. Ma’s asleep on the turquoise couch because we don’t share our bed this time of the month. She says I thrash around too much in my drugged dreams.

I carefully shut the apartment door behind me as I step out into the building’s hallway, and I crack open our neighbor’s window to slide the bowl through. A black cat leaps over to lap up the drink.

“Hola, Mimitos,” I say, stroking his velvety head. Since we’re both confined to this building, I hear him meowing any time his owner, Fanny, forgets to feed him. I think she’s going senile.

“I’ll take you up with me later, after lunch. And I’ll bring you some turkey,” I add, shutting the window again quickly. I usually let him come with me, but I prefer to spend the morn- ings after lunaritis alone. Even if I’m no longer dreaming, I’m not awake either.

My heart is still beating unusually fast as I clamber up six flights of stairs. But I savor the burn of my sedentary muscles, and when at last I reach the highest point, I swing open the door to the rooftop.

It’s not quite morning yet, and the sky looks like blue- tinged steel. Surrounding me are balconies festooned with colorful clotheslines, broken-down properties with boarded- up windows, fuzzy-leaved palm trees reaching up from the pitted streets . . . and in the distance, the ground and sky blur where the Atlantic swallows the horizon.

El Retiro is a rundown apartment complex with all elderly residents—mostly Cuban, Colombian, Venezuelan, Nicara- guan, and Argentine immigrants. There’s just one slow, loud elevator in the building, and since I’m the youngest person here, I never use it in case someone else needs it.

I came up here hoping for a breath of fresh air, but since it’s summertime, there’s no caress of a breeze to greet me. Just the suffocating embrace of Miami’s humidity.

Smothering me.

I close my eyes and take in deep gulps of musty oxygen, trying to push the dread down to where it can’t touch me. The way Perla taught me to do whenever I get anxious.

My metamorphosis started this year. I first felt something

was different four full moons ago, when I no longer needed to squint to study the ground from up here. I simply opened my eyes to perfect vision.

The following month, my hair thickened so much that I had to buy bigger clips to pin it back. Next menstrual cycle came the growth spurt that left my jeans three inches too short, and last lunaritis I awoke with such a heightened sense of smell that I could sniff out what Ma and Perla had for dinner all three nights I was out.

It’s bad enough to feel the outside world pressing in on me, but now even my insides are spinning out of my control.

As Perla’s breathing exercises relax my thoughts, I begin  to feel the stirrings of my dreamworld calling me back. I slide onto the rooftop’s ledge and lie back along the warm cement, my body as stagnant as the stale air. A dragon-shaped cloud comes apart like cotton, and I let my gaze drift with Miami’s hypnotic sky, trying to call up the dream’s details before they fade . . .

What Ma and Perla don’t know about the Septis is they don’t simply sedate me for sixty hours—they transport me.

Every lunaritis, I visit the same nameless land of magic and mist and monsters. There’s the golden grass that ticks off time by turning silver as the day ages; the black-leafed trees that can cry up storms, their dewdrop tears rolling down their bark to form rivers; the colorful waterfalls that warn onlookers of oncoming danger; the hope-sucking Sombras that dwell in darkness and attach like parasitic shadows . . .

And the Citadel.

It’s a place I instinctively know I’m not allowed to go, yet I’m always trying to get to. Whenever I think I’m going to make it inside, I wake up with a start.

Picturing the black stone wall, I see the thorny ivy that

twines across its surface like a nest of guardian snakes, slith- ering and bunching up wherever it senses a threat.

The sharper the image, the sleepier I feel, like I’m slowly sliding back into my dream, until I reach my hand out tenta- tively. If I could just move faster than the ivy, I could finally grip the opal doorknob before the thorns—

Howling breaks my reverie.

I blink, and the dream disappears as I spring to sitting and scour the battered buildings. For a moment, I’m sure I heard a wolf.

My spine locks at the sight of a far more dangerous threat: A cop car is careening in the distance, its lights flashing and siren wailing. Even though the black-and-white is still too far away to see me, I leap down from the ledge and take cover behind it, the old mantra running through my mind.

Don’t come here, don’t come here, don’t come here.

A familiar claustrophobia claws at my skin, an affliction forged of rage and shame and powerlessness that’s been my companion as long as I’ve been in this country. Ma tells me I should let her worry about this stuff and only concern myself with studying, so when our papers come through, I can take my GED and one day make it to NASA—but it’s impossible not to worry when I’m constantly having to hide.

My muscles don’t uncoil until the siren’s howling fades and the police are gone, but the morning’s spell of stillness has broken. A door slams, and I instinctively turn toward the pink building across the street that’s tattooed with territorial graf- fiti. Where the alternate version of me lives.

I call her Other Manu.

The first thing I ever noticed about her was her Argentine fútbol jersey: #10 Lionel Messi. Then I saw her face and real- ized we look a lot alike. I was reading Borges at the time, and

it ocurred to me that she and I could be the same person in overlapping parallel universes.

But it’s an older man and not Other Manu who lopes down the street. She wouldn’t be up this early on a Sunday anyway. I arch my back again, and thankfully this time, the only pop I hear is in my joints.

The sun’s golden glare is strong enough that I almost wish I had my sunglasses. But this rooftop is sacred to me because it’s the only place where Ma doesn’t make me wear them, since no one else comes up here.

I’m reaching for the stairwell door when I hear it.

Faint footsteps are growing louder, like someone’s racing up. My heart shoots into my throat, and I leap around the corner right as the door swings open.

The person who steps out is too light on their feet to be someone who lives here. No El Retiro resident could make it up the stairs that fast. I flatten myself against the wall.

“Creo que encontré algo, pero por ahora no quiero decir nada.”

Whenever Ma is upset with me, I have a habit of translat- ing her words into English without processing them. I asked Perla about it to see if it’s a common bilingual thing, and she said it’s probably my way of keeping Ma’s anger at a distance; if I can deconstruct her words into language—something de- tached that can be studied and dissected—I can strip them of their charge.

As my anxiety kicks in, my mind goes into automatic trans- lation mode: I think I found something, but I don’t want to say anything yet.

The woman or girl (it’s hard to tell her age) has a deep, throaty voice that’s sultry and soulful, yet her singsongy accent is unquestionably Argentine. Or Uruguayan. They sound similar.

My cheek is pressed to the wall as I make myself as flat as possible, in case she crosses my line of vision.

“Si tengo razón, me harán la capitana más joven en la his- toria de los Cazadores.”

If I’m right, they’ll make me the youngest captain in the history of the . . . Cazadores? That means hunters.

In my eight years living here, I’ve never seen another per- son on this rooftop. Curious, I edge closer, but I don’t dare peek around the corner. I want to see this stranger’s face, but not badly enough to let her see mine.

“¿El encuentro es ahora? Che, Nacho, ¿vos no me podrías cubrir?”

Is the meeting right now? Couldn’t you cover for me, Nacho?

The che and vos sound like Argentinespeak. What if it’s Other Manu?

The exciting possibility brings me a half step closer, and now my nose is inches from rounding the corner. Maybe I can sneak a peek without her noticing.

“Okay,” I hear her say, and her voice sounds like she’s just a few paces away.

I suck in a quick inhale, and before I can overthink it, I pop my head out—

And see the door swinging shut.

I scramble over and tug it open, desperate to spot even a hint of her hair, any clue at all to confirm it was Other Manu— but she’s already gone.

All that remains is a wisp of red smoke that vanishes with the swiftness of a morning cloud.

ROMINA GARBER (pen name Romina Russell) is a New York Times and international bestselling author. Originally from Argentina, she landed her first writing gig as a teen—a weekly column for the Miami Herald that was later nationally syndicated—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Her books include Lobizona. When she’s not working on a novel, Romina can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.

Author Links | Twitter | Instagram

Happy reading!

Cover Reveal | A Fast Woman by Laralyn Doran

Today I am delighted to share the cover of Laralyn Doran’s debut novel and the first novel in the Driven Women Series. This steamy contemporary features a feisty female NASCAR driver and sexy former Indy driver. This “enemies to lovers” romance will have your motor revving.

A Fast Woman

CJ Lomax

People called me a fast woman—not because I slept around—because I broke men’s hearts on the racetrack when I beat them. While climbing up stock car’s highest level of racing, I learned three truths: Adrenaline was my drug of choice, wearing a pair of heels was a form of torture, and I didn’t have time for distractions—especially from men.

I had one goal—a Cup Series contract—and it was within my reach.

Until Grady McBane cut me off—sending me, and my dreams, into a tailspin.

His damn smile, his charm, his talent… his touch. Damn hormones overrode my focus.

Grady McBane

The moment the beautiful, spitfire CJ Lomax tripped into my arms, it felt right.

Then Karma stepped in and laughed—Redeeming my reputation meant ruining her dream.

Even though I needed the contract to salvage my career, I found myself chasing her instead of racing her.

Her focus, her sass, her grit…her passion. I wanted it—I want her.

How could we cross the finish line without wrecking each other’s hearts?

Strap in…. it’s one hell of a ride. 

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About the Author

Laralyn Doran is a multi-award winning writer of fun, contemporary romance and dark, urban fantasy romance. Her latest manuscript, “A Fast Woman” is an “enemies-to-lovers” racing romance, set to release in the fall of 2020 and will be the first in the “Driven Women” series. In 2019, “A Fast Woman” was awarded The Writer Award, given by the Land of Enchantment Romance Authors (LERA). Laralyn is a proud special needs mom, and an autism and dyslexia awareness advocate. 
She lives in Maryland and is a member of Romance Writers of America, Central Pennsylvania Romance Writers, Washington Romance Writers, and other affiliate chapters, where she met some amazing and supportive authors who have had the patience of saints and given her more than one kick in the backside.

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Two Year Blogiversary!

I was debating what I wanted to post today, and going back and forth a bit – but then WordPress notified me that today is actually my Two year blogiversary!

When I first created this blog two years ago, I was trying to get the courage to actually do this thing. I had a lot of self doubt regarding if anyone would read or value my content and that almost made me stop before I even began. What kept me going was wanting to be a part of this community, wanting to share my thoughts and make new friends who I knew I had something in common with.

The first year didn’t see much in the way of posting, I was still very unsure if I could do it and if anything I said would be valuable. Last October I decided I would participate in Book Blogtober and post every single day of the month – and I haven’t stopped posting since. I’ve made it my goal to post at least once every single day and I’m so glad I did.

So here’s where you come in – what would you like to see on the blog going forward? Do you want more reviews, more tags, more writing content? Let me know!

Thank you all for coming on this ride with me. Here’s to two years and hopefully many more!