Blitz | No Ordinary Hate by Melanie Summers

No Ordinary Hate
Melanie Summers & Whitney Dineen
(A Gamble on Love Mom Com, #1)
Publication date: May 5th 2022
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Contemporary, Romance

Life in Hollywood is easy to hate…

According to Hollywood insiders, Harper and Brett Kennedy have the perfect family life—an image that has been carefully cultivated by an army of PR experts at Galaxy Studios. The truth is, their relationship has been on the rocks since Brett cheated when Harper was pregnant with their youngest child. Four years later, he’s still cheating, but this time with the nanny.

When the tabloids find out, a media frenzy ensues, all but making Harper and her kids prisoners in their Pacific Palisades mansion. Needing time out of the spotlight to regroup, Harper rents a cabin in the last place the press or anyone else would ever think to look for her—Gamble, Alaska.

There, she finds peace, solitude, and Digger McKenzie. Will the gruff lodge owner, who goes out of his way to make Harper feel like she doesn’t belong, realize he’s about to miss out on his one chance at happiness? Will Harper’s kids adjust to small-town life and heal from the chaos of their parents’ separation? Will Harper learn how to shoot a bear?

Find out in the deliciously funny and dishy first installment of the Love is a Gamble Mom-Com Series.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

Dear Readers,

When I was just a wee lad of twelve, I, too, became embroiled in a love triangle. Me, Stacy Ferndweller, and Landon Post. I loved the sweaters Stacy wore—which at the time I mistook for lust. And Landon filled out a pair of red polyester gym shorts like nobody’s business. What was a boy to do?

I eventually decided to ask Stacy if I could borrow a sweater—baby pink with delicate chartreuse hearts all over it. I wore it to Landon’s soccer game and cheered him on like a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader. He was less than impressed.

After the game, Landon searched me out to delicately disclose his rampant heterosexuality. He broke my heart, but alas, not my nose, so I was grateful. I decided to set him up with Stacy.

It’s for this reason that I’m so attuned to the “two humans in love with the same man scenario.” But unlike Landon, Brett Kennedy is no hero. He’s a cheater and defiler of nannies. He’s a wild card run amok in the landmine of love.

I’m not sure there’s a gesture big enough for Harper to consider taking him back. Tip: A boombox on top of your car isn’t going to cut it, dude.

I’m skipping my workout today in favor of a good, old-fashioned mud bath. My aura needs a righteous cleanse.

Dish,

Ferris Biltmore

Harper

I hurt everywhere—my head, my eyes, my belly button. Reaching under the covers I discover that I went to bed in my jeans and the button is digging into me. Popping it open, I roll over and release a world-class groan.

“Ah, you’re up.” It’s Digger’s voice but there’s no way he’s here in my cabin. “I just put on some coffee.” How is he here in my cabin?

Memories start to filter into my consciousness and the heat of embarrassment washes over me. The question at hand is, how much of what I’m remembering really happened and how much did I dream? I say the only thing that comes to mind. “Hi.”

“Good morning to you.” He walks fully into the room before sitting on the bed next to me. “How do you feel?”

“I’m … um … not great.” Lordy, this is one gorgeous man.

“You and Moira really tied one on last night.”

Okay, so the memory about him picking me up and bringing me home is real. Now to figure out what happened after that. “So, did you … uh … that is to say … sleep here?” He smiles slightly while nodding his head. “In my room?”

“Yup.” Son of a … did he sleep in my bed? I can’t bring myself to ask. He watches me closely before pointing across the room. “Over there in the chair.”

Thank God. “Why exactly?” I’m having a devil of a time meeting his gaze.

“I was getting ready for bed when Moira called, and by the time I carried you here, I was wiped out.”

“I’m so sorry,” I mumble. “I’m not much of a drinker.” I chance a glance at him from under my lashes.

The look on his face is so intense it’s practically melting me from the inside out. “Clearly.” He stands up and walks out of the room while saying, “I’m putting your coffee in a thermos. You can drink it on your way up to the lodge.”

“No, thank you,” I call after him. “I think I’ll go back to sleep for a while.”

He walks back in, shaking his head. “You’ll feel like crap all day if you do that. What you need is some fresh air, followed by a giant breakfast to soak up all the wine.” He reaches his hand out to me.

I don’t want to take it, but I do. As he pulls, I moan. “I never get drunk.”

“Sometimes needs must. I’m guessing Brett was the last person you expected to see up here yesterday.”

Author Bio:

Whitney loves to laugh, play with her kids, bake, and eat french fries — not always in that order.

Whitney is a multi-award-winning author of romcoms, non-fiction humor, and middle reader fiction. Basically, she writes whatever the voices in her head tell her to.

She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband, Jimmy, where they raise children, chickens, and organic vegetables.

Gold Medal winner at the International Readers’ Favorite Awards, 2017.

Silver medal winner at the International Readers’ Favorite Awards, 2015, 2016.

Finalist RONE Awards, 2016.

Finalist at the IRFA 2016, 2017.

Finalist at the Book Excellence Awards, 2017

Finalist Top Shelf Indie Book Awards, 2017

Author links
Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Melanie Summers also writes steamy romance as MJ Summers.

Melanie made a name for herself with her debut novel, Break in Two, a contemporary romance that cracked the Top 10 Paid on Amazon in both the UK and Canada, and the top 50 Paid in the USA. Her highly acclaimed Full Hearts Series was picked up by both Piatkus Entice (a division of Hachette UK) and HarperCollins Canada. Her first three books have been translated into Czech and Slovak by EuroMedia. Since 2013, she has written and published three novellas, and eight novels (of which seven have been published). She has sold over a quarter of a million books around the globe.

In her previous life (i.e. before having children), Melanie got her Bachelor of Science from the University of Alberta, then went on to work in the soul-sucking customer service industry for a large cellular network provider that shall remain nameless (unless you write her personally – then she’ll dish). On her days off, she took courses and studied to become a Chartered Mediator. That designation landed her a job at the R.C.M.P. as the Alternative Dispute Resolution Coordinator for ‘K’ Division. Having had enough of mediating arguments between gun-toting police officers, she decided it was much safer to have children so she could continue her study of conflict in a weapon-free environment (and one which doesn’t require makeup and/or nylons).

Melanie resides in Edmonton with her husband, three young children, and their adorable but neurotic one-eyed dog. When she’s not writing novels, Melanie loves reading (obviously), snuggling up on the couch with her family for movie night (which would not be complete without lots of popcorn and milkshakes), and long walks in the woods near her house. She also spends a lot more time thinking about doing yoga than actually doing yoga, which is why most of her photos are taken ‘from above’. She also loves shutting down restaurants with her girlfriends. Well, not literally shutting them down, like calling the health inspector or something–more like just staying until they turn the lights off.

She is represented by Suzanne Brandreth of The Cooke Agency International.

Author links
Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram


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Blitz | First and Forever by Eve Dangerfield

First and Forever
Eve Dangerfield
(Rebirth, #3)
Publication date: May 4th 2022
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Contemporary, Romance

They’ll fake it ‘til they make it and then some…

Football player Sloan ‘Willow’ Williams has been looking for The One for years. He’s checked all the right places—and some of the wrong ones—and found sh*t all. But the moment he sees Eden Jade Cartwright, he knows she’s the girl for him.

Unfortunately, her entourage won’t let him anywhere near her…

Eden doesn’t want anything, aside from an international music career. She does, however, enjoy being worshipped, which the giant redhead seems inclined to do. But with a world tour beckoning, now isn’t the time for a boyfriend…

Willow has the perfect solution; a short, fake relationship that will boost Eden’s clout and scratch both their itches. Only he’s hoping the beautiful blonde will keep him around. And Eden’s praying she’ll be able to let him go…

First and Forever is a standalone romance by the critically acclaimed author Eve Dangerfield.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

The thought reverberated around Willow’s head alongside the trance beat. Her trance beat. Eden Jade—better known by her DJ name, Bunny Descent, stood behind the decks on stage, one hand raised. The lights turned her white-blonde hair to pink and her ripped wedding dress was spattered neon by the leaking glow-sticks her fans were waving.

Her perfect face was screwed in concentration as she fiddled with something on the decks. The music transitioned from a hard, pulsing beat to something Willow recognised—‘Self Care’ by Mac Miller. The crowd cheered, more people rushing toward the stage, hands raised. It was three in the morning and the tiny dance floor was thrumming.

Willow had expected the crowd to thin as the night wore on, but the opposite happened. Bunny Descent was the seventh DJ of the night, and the audience was more hyped for her than anyone else. Watching the crowd dance, he felt a surge of pride. From what he’d read in interviews, Eden was scared of not breaking through, worried her sound was too erratic for main stages. But there was no way the woman in front of him wasn’t making it big. She oozed glamour and with each and every song, he grew more amazed she wasn’t famous.

“She is a goddess,” a guy slurred in his ear. “I, like, actually fuckin’ love her.”

Willow turned and saw the guy was talking to his equally fucked up mate, but that didn’t change the fact he was vocalising his own thoughts about Eden.

I’m different, he told himself.

Why?

I just am.

That had always been the only reason he needed. People called him overconfident, but that implied he tried to be confident. He didn’t. He was just lucky. He got what he wanted.

As the music surged higher, Willow danced along with the crowd, working his weight from foot to foot. A few girls smiled, looking for someone to kiss—or maybe because they recognised him, but he only had eyes for Eden. On stage she leant forward, touching the hands of the people dancing in front of her. The second she made contact, the crowd screamed fit to burst the roof. Willow knew exactly how they felt.

He’d been scoping her Instagram for ages, but there was nothing like seeing her in real life. With her long blonde hair and big eyes, she looked like Sailor Moon—his first and most powerful crush. He watched as Eden put her hands behind her head and shook, her tits bouncing in her wedding dress. Attraction burred through him like an electric current. He’d never been so into anyone. Even Sailor Moon. What could that be but true love? As he watched her dance, he made himself a promise—come hell or high water, he’d talk to her tonight.

A hard elbow bashed his side.

“Oi,” Derek shouted over the music. “What are we still doing here? Everyone’s out of their minds.”

Willow danced away from his friend. “I dunno. I’m not tired.”

“You’re never fucking tired. Where’s the patient?”

Willow glanced around. Patrick Normal, better known as Psycho, was swaying softly beside the bar, apparently having forgotten he wanted a beer. “Psycho’s… having a time.”

Derek followed his gaze. “Fuck me, he’s maggoted.”

“Yeah, he’ll be up for hours. Better we’re still out with him, hey?”

“This is all your fault. If Mara was in town, I wouldn’t be here.”

“Yeah, yeah. You’ve made it clear you’ll be dogging the boys from now on, Hardo.”

The track Eden was playing bled into a remix of that Rasputin, love machine song. The dancers packed around the stage, jumping so hard the floor shook. Eden swished her white-blonde hair over her shoulder and his cock throbbed. He could see her doing that while she rode him—looking down her nose as he worked to make her come.

His side burst with pain. He rubbed it, glaring at Derek. “What’s your problem?”

“You. You’re making gorilla noises.”

“You could hear that?”

“Of course, I…” A look of barely concealed terror dawned on Derek’s face. A look Willow knew all too well. He backed away in case Derek decided to put him in a headlock. “What have I done now?”

Derek pointed at the stage. “Please tell me we’re not here because you want to fuck that DJ?”

Willow gave him a winning smile. “Do you want a drink?”

“I wanna know if you dragged me all the way to the city to watch you fail to pick up a DJ.”


Author Bio:

Eve Dangerfield has loved romance novels ever since she first swiped her grandmother’s paperbacks. Now she writes her own stories about complicated women and gorgeous-but-slightly-tortured men. Her work has been described as ‘genre-defying,’ ‘insanely hot’ and ‘the defibrillator contemporary romance needs right now’…and not just by herself or those who might need bone marrow…OTHER PEOPLE! She lives in Melbourne with her boy and a bunch of semi-dead plants. She can generally be found making a mess.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram


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Review | Gudetama: Adulting for the Lazy by Wook-Jin Clark

Gudetama: Adulting is inspired by the worldwide hit Sanrio character and animated series star!

Inspired by the worldwide hit Sanrio character and animated series star!

How do I get a job while still having enough time to party? I’m supposed to pay rent every month?! How am I supposed to live without my mom doing my laundry?

Adulting is tough. Thankfully, Gudetama is here to guide you on your path to growth!

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I enjoyed this installment in the Gudetama series, but at this point it is starting to seem like the same thing over and over when you’ve read the previous issues. It is another round of Gudetama answering questions and giving advice, which sometimes results in surprising conclusions by those listening. There is a good amount of humor and some of the different characters tie into each other. If you enjoy Gudetama, then you will enjoy this one for sure.

Happy reading!

Blitz | The Omen of Crows Nest by Cathrina Constantine

The Omen of Crows Nest
Cathrina Constantine
Publication date: May 4th 2022
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

No blood. No body. No murder.

That’s what the police found after Penelope spun her bizarre tale. In a hysterical state, she said her father was butchered and eaten by a mob of birds ~ in her bedroom.

They claim she’s crazy.
That she suffers from delusions.
Penelope is dead set on proving them wrong.

After being institutionalized for eight months, Penelope is out and more determined than ever to find answers to her so-called hallucinations. With her father’s untimely disappearance, she’s convinced her family is hiding something sinister.

THE OMEN OF CROWS NEST is the latest masterpiece by the award-winning author Cathrina Constantine, and is sure to leave fans of fantasy gasping!

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

The electrodes in my brain were like a loop recorder, continuously dredging up the past. And problematic for the psychiatrist at Green Fields Sanitarium, who was in the process of rewiring me.

Bear with me as I digress: I witnessed the gruesome death of my father by a mob of birds. I know what you’re picturing: A scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s horror movie The Birds. Not exactly like the movie, it happened in my bedroom. An aberration that my brain conjured, so they say.

Gramma had reinforced Dad’s untimely disappearance to the police. After the thunderstorm he’d raced to catch a late flight. An overseas business trip. Lacking evidence of any misdeeds, no mutilations as I’d described, the police had nothing to go on besides a batshit crazy kid. I experienced a daymare, a delusion, and it hadn’t been the first time, so said Gramma.

Afterward, Mom spent a week in bed, purporting she had a bug. She couldn’t keep anything down and stopped eating. I noticed her yellowy sick skin and hair matted as if a brush hadn’t made contact in weeks.

Thirteen days passed at a snail’s pace since that night. I was in the library’s alcove, my daily vigil, half-expecting Dad to come strolling up the cobbled walkway. My fretfulness heightening because I’d spilled my guts to my best friend, Hillary, telling her everything. If she repeated it to anyone, the repercussions would come back to bite me.

Author Bio:

I am blessed with a loving family and forever friends. My world revolves around them.

I grew up in the small village of Lancaster, NY, where I married my sweetheart. I’m devoted to raising 5 cherished children, and now my grandchildren.

I love to immerse myself in great books of every kind of genre, which helps me to write purely for entertainment, and hopefully to inspire readers. When not stationed at my computer you can find me in the woods taking long walks with my dog.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Bookbub


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Cover Reveal | Midnight and Bex by Heather Van Fleet

Midnight and Bex
Heather Van Fleet
Publication date: October 18th 2022
Genres: Suspense, Young Adult

Trauma and intrigue bring an unlikely couple together in a sleepy Illinois suburb…

Bex Mahoney knows all too well what it’s like to be a loner. As a girl who’d much rather get lost in books and Netflix than makeup and school dances, it’s taken her all of six months to adjust to a new high school and the friends who come with it. But as much as she wants to find some peace following the death of her father, she can’t seem to grasp hold of it like she should. That is until she’s partnered up with a boy in chem who seems to carry more weight on his shoulders than Bex ever has.

Midnight Turner is lost in a dark world that Bex can’t even come close to touching. It’s because of his mysterious persona, though, that her intrigue with him grows stronger by the day. But when a flashback into Midnight’s past has him yanking Bex under chem tables and crying in Latin against her neck, Bex makes it her new life goal to figure him out.

When Bex’s closest friend tells her to steer clear of Midnight, an already insatiable curiosity in Bex grows deeper. But with this curiosity blooms new love. The kind that neither of them ever saw coming. Torn between a past he can’t change and a future she desires, both Midnight and Bex must learn to live in the present where the demons from Midnight’s prior life return to either haunt them…or worse.

Add to Goodreads / Pre-order


Author Bio:

Heather Van Fleet is a stay-at-home-mom turned book boyfriend connoisseur. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, a mom to three girls, and in her spare time you can find her with her head buried in her Kindle, guzzling down copious amounts of coffee.

Heather graduated from Black Hawk College in 2003 and currently writes Adult contemporary romance. She is published through Sourcebooks Casablanca with her Reckless Hearts series and Bookouture with her Red Dragon series.

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Review | Star Stories: Constellation Tales from Around the World by Anita Ganeri

Share the wonder of the stars with this delightful storybook collection featuring constellation myths from around the world.

For thousands of years people have looked up to the night sky and told stories about the stars. These epic tales tell of vengeful gods and goddesses, of monsters and heroes. Others try to make sense of the natural world, or unravel the mysterious forces of the universe. This stunning book brings together 23 of these legends from all over the world: from Ancient Greece to North America, Egypt, China, India, and the South Pacific. Written by award-winning author Anita Ganeri and with beautifully detailed artwork by illustrator Andy Wilx, this is a magical book to be treasured for generations to come.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I really love books like this one, which explore different folklore and stories from different cultures. This book specifically touched on some of the stories different cultures have for the constellations. They were grouped by region/culture, but since some constellations are repeated it might have been better to format them by constellation and showcase the either varying stories, or how some stories are similar. Still, I really loved the way the stories were written, which would be perfect to read out loud, and the art was beautiful.

Happy reading!

Blitz | Master of Death by M.H.B.

Master of Death
M.H.B.
(Kisses of Sorrow, #2)
Publication date: April 28th 2022
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

One night.
Two futures.
Almost three years of repair.
Four beating hearts healing from pain.
Five lives forever tied.

Falling for my boss, Damon Dreygon, was never part of the plan.

I was meant to seek from him what my boyfriend, Harvey Stark, refused to give me–someone to kiss me, someone to touch me, and maybe even someone to heal my wounds.


Instead in Damon, I found a mentor. I found a dark prince minus the charming part. Most importantly, in Damon, I found my voice coupled with my own strength.

This was never supposed to hurt Harvey.
Damon and I were never meant to be together.

With each choice, an entirely different future greets me, yet a few things remain the same: we’ve all known pain, we’re all in need of healing, and we’ve all hurt each other in very different ways.

All I wanted was for this melancholy to disappear so that I could find peace.

But peace is hard to reach when you’re too busy chasing secrets.

Secrets I wish would’ve stayed buried.
Secrets that meddle with my dreams.
Secrets I’ll be taking to the grave . . .

Goodreads / Amazon


Author Bio:

M . H . B . graduated law from a Canadian University. She loves spending time with her partner and her German Shepherd Dog. She has a passion for animals and enjoys the simple things in life: books, music, chocolate, sunny days, and overall wellness. When she is not writing, her mind is in another world, with a book in hand.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Instagram


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Blog Tour | If You Change Your Mind by Robby Weber | Excerpt

In this hilarious and heartfelt debut novel for fans of Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli, an aspiring screenwriter learns sometimes love has its own script.

In this hilarious and heartfelt debut novel, an aspiring screenwriter learns sometimes love has its own script.

Harry wants nothing more than to write Hollywood screenplays. He knows the first step toward achieving that goal is winning a screenwriting competition that will seal his admission into the college of his dreams, so he’s determined to spend his summer free of distractions—also known as boys—and finish his script. After last year, Harry is certain love only exists in the movies anyway.

But then the cause of his first heartbreak, Grant, returns with a secret that could change everything—not to mention, there’s a new boy in town, Logan, who is so charming and sweet, he’s making Harry question everything he knows about romance. As he tries to keep his emotions in check and stick to his perfect plan for the future, Harry’s about to learn that life doesn’t always follow a script.

Buy Links | Bookshop.org | Indie Bound | Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Books A Million | Amazon | Kindle Kobo

1

WHEN HARRY MET LOGAN

Hot guys are the best part of summer. Pastel ice cream scoops, lemonade-like sunshine, and sea salt–strung hair are staples, but there’s something about guys with sandy calves and strong, tanned arms wearing low-hanging swimsuits.

Honestly, I love everything about summer. The warmth, the way my mom stocks the freezer with the variety pack of popsicles—cherry for Milly, grape for Lottie, and orange for me. There’s new music and the feeling of going into a cold movie theater on a hot day. And, yeah, the guys. Everywhere you look, there’s a hot guy. It’s like that Oprah meme—you get a hot guy, you get a hot guy, everybody gets a hot guy!

I can absolutely appreciate all of the six-packs and dimples, but only as long as I keep my eye on the prize and stay focused. My mom always says fortune favors the determined… Or something like that.

And I am determined. I have two weeks and six days to finish and submit my screenplay before the Reel Sunshine competition deadline, which is totally doable.

My whole future depends on it. No pressure.

Damn, there really are attractive men everywhere—lying out at the pool or, past the iron gate and sandy walkway, stretching across the volleyball court down on the beach. It’s like in summer, hot guys get even hotter. It’s the sweat and the bronzed abs.

I don’t do the whole dating thing anymore, so this summer really is the equivalent of scrolling through the Calvin Klein Instagram or something—purely about the visual.

Getting close to a boy leads only to heartbreak, disappointment, and—most importantly—distraction from one’s goals. See, most people spend their high school years searching for their great romance. One like in the movies. But I’ve already had mine, and TSwift’s “Death by a Thousand Cuts” was my top song on Spotify last year, so I’m good.

Maybe once I’ve secured my spot at USC. Actually, maybe once I’ve gotten an internship at a studio. By then I won’t even remember Grant Kennedy or what heartbreak feels like and I’ll be able to spend a little bit more time focused on romance.

Well, realistically, I should probably wait until I sell my first script and—

My youngest sister, Lottie, laughs maniacally, and I am snapped to the real world. I watch in horror as she grabs a fistful of Milly’s hair and yanks her down into the shallow end of the pool.

“Lottie,” I say. “Come on, that was totally unnecessary!”

Lottie, though she be but five, is fierce. And now she has hair that barely falls under her chin because she decided to give herself an impromptu trim with her crafting scissors just before her last day of school. Nana had to give her an emergency haircut. She narrows her eyes at me and then shrugs.

My mother is careening down the path from the club’s new restaurant, a tote bag slung over her shoulder with a large silver tumbler in one hand and her phone in the other. I haven’t been yet, but the photos I’ve seen are really cool.

Mom met some local beauty influencers there at the launch event and they’ve been promoting her products. Really, her company doesn’t need much more press since Jen Aniston likes her stuff, but she says it can’t hurt to keep reaching the younger crowd.

“Harold,” Mom says, out of breath.

She always calls me Harold. Even though Lottie and Milly get nicknames and everyone I know calls me Harry, apparently I’ll always be Harold to her. Because of this, Milly and Lottie call me Harold, too.

“I thought you guys went to the kid’s pool. I was worried for a second you’d disappeared.”

Moms are always worried. I’m convinced it’s a personality trait that’s earned as soon as they change their first diaper.

Sitting in the chaise next to my table, Mom is wearing a white cover-up and big black sunglasses. Under a giant straw hat, her hair is probably tied up into a knot—it’s dyed much lighter than Milly’s dark brown waves and certainly differs from the more chestnut hair Lottie and I have. Mom lowers her glasses to eye the girls, and then her phone sounds an alert.

“They’re at war,” I say, gesturing my Spider-Man pen toward my flailing siblings. This pen—a gift Lottie selected for me from her class treasure chest—reminds me of another reason to love summer: the new superhero movies. It isn’t all about hot guys. Even if most of the heroes are hot. That’s a happy coincidence.

“They’ll work it out,” Mom says, engrossed in whatever email she just got. She quickly responds as two more alerts come through. She doesn’t even kick off her flip-flops. She just sits up straight and reads, reads, reads and types, types, types.

For my sisters and me, the Citrus Harbor Beach Club is all palm trees and virgin daiquiris and nighttime Disney movies projected on the screen at the kid’s pool. For Mom, it’s a blurred background behind her phone—second to the masses of work emails and texts she gets when she tries to relax by the pool with us before she inevitably goes home because she needs her computer.

The club is fun, but there’s not much variety or excitement apart from the screaming kids like Lottie, or the guys who could resemble a shirtless Tom Holland if you squint really hard. It’s the epitome of our small town’s slow pace and fixed reality. When I’m home from college for nostalgia-filled summers, it’ll probably be a nice, calm escape from the hustle and bustle of my new Hollywood life.

“I said I want to play ‘DANCING QUEEN,’” Lottie shrieks.

“You little gremlin, you scratched me! Do you ever cut your nails?”

Ignoring Milly and Lottie, I look around for Hailey. Behind our table and chairs, up a winding path of rust-colored tile and past the children’s pool, cantina, and toddler play area, the two-story clubhouse is like a bright white seaside castle, complete with a courtyard and a big red fountain. It’s almost historic looking—Spanish, which is common in Florida, but especially here since we’re not far from where Ponce de León first arrived. That’s everyone’s go-to fun fact. Like, awkward silence? Ponce de León.

Lottie growls: “If you don’t play it, I’m gonna scream that you peed in the pool!”

“I would never do that!”

“They don’t know that.”

Hailey says she’s getting snacks and drinks, but there’s a fifty-fifty chance she’s at the spot with the perfectly placed palm trees, taking First Day of Summer selfies for her Instagram story.

“Would you tell me how to Instagram?” Mom says to me, as if she’s reading my mind.

“How to what on Instagram?” I blink.

“How to Instagram.” Mom sighs.

Lottie cackles again: “Is that a floating turd? Is it yours, Milly?”

“You get one song.” Milly groans in defeat.

Hailey sits down next to me and hands me a glass, cold to the touch and nearly overflowing with an Arnold Palmer. She sets down a basket of fries and chicken tenders with a little cup of ranch.

As my best friend and fellow admirer of GQ magazine covers, Hailey Birch appreciates hot guys as much as I do, which is why it’s almost a shame she wants to tie herself down with one guy—Justin Andrews. We’re only seventeen, after all. But Justin’s handsome, motivated, and completely sweet to her. Plus, he always gets me a coffee when he drives us to school. Things could be worse.

It all started when Hailey’s Mimi left the Philippines and moved in with them last summer. She was looking for an excuse to miss Sunday Mass—her parents pretended they hadn’t missed in years—so she signed up for a summer-long weekend surf camp, which lead to many extra one-on-one surf lessons with Justin.

The rest is history. And Hailey still can’t surf.

It’s just hard to understand how Hailey is such an effortless beauty—she’s wearing a red one-piece, her deep brown skin glowing in the sun and her lush windswept curls falling onto her shoulders—and now her entire life revolves around one guy. But that’s her choice and not all guys are Grant Kennedy, so I have to just root for her and Justin.

“Tell me you figured out the big hook for your movie.” Hailey nods toward my notebook, dunking a tender, and Mom looks up from her phone to us. Convinced she might meet a Hemsworth at Hollywood and Vine, Hailey wants my movie to be a total blockbuster for completely selfless reasons.

I think marrying a Hemsworth might be the only thing that could distract Hailey from winning Cutest Couple with Justin for the senior superlatives. It’s all I’ve heard about since we got back from winter break and realized we’ll be seniors this August.

“Justin might have some ideas, he—”

“It’ll come to me,” I say quickly, not ready to make this conversation about Justin. I do hope it’ll come to me.

“It definitely will,” Mom says. “Although it might not hurt to at least consider—”

“Mom, I’m going to win the competition,” I say.

Here’s the thing.

I sort of screwed up. Really, Grant made me screw up more than I was already screwing up, but I’m trying to listen to Mom’s advice and take responsibility for my actions.

My grades are mostly good—not perfect—and USC is not easy to get into. I always sort of knew I wasn’t getting in purely on grades. But then after Grant, it was like my brain just couldn’t do school. Or anything really. It was just looping my heartbreak, over and over, with no time for any other programming.

It was only really bad until December, but by then the damage was done. I had C averages in three of my AP classes and my GPA was seriously affected. Plus I’d absolutely bombed the fall SAT, despite months of studying. It was like it all flew out the window.

Young love is a bitch.

Now this contest is literally my only chance at USC, my dream school. The school I’ve wanted to go to for as long as I’ve wanted to work in movies, which is basically since I could start writing scripts and making Milly and the neighbors act them out. I’ve never even imagined myself anywhere else. Nowhere else will get me where I want to be.

There are severable notable (i.e., Oscar-winning) USC alumni on the board overseeing the competition, and if I can win a mentorship, I’m guaranteed a letter of rec that will stand out.

USC is the best of the best. It’s in the heart of the film industry and even has its own Hollywood Walk of Fame star. Plus, USC has the First Look Festival for students’ work, which has an industry jury.

Kevin Feige, aka the president of Marvel Studios—who produced the highest grossing film of all time before the Avatar re-release I don’t speak of—applied to USC’s School of Cinematic Arts six times before he got accepted. Six!

Let that sink in.

“I want you to win,” Mom says. “You’ve just been struggling with the screenplay for a while now. It’s healthy to have options. That’s all.”

“Who has the time for options?”

“I simply meant USC isn’t the only school. What happens if, for any reason, you—”

“I’m going to USC,” I say, desperate not to have this conversation with Mom again.

She’s always been supportive, but ever since this terrible Grant-induced writing block struck, she’s been pushing for backup—more “viable” options. Safer bets, thanks to my guidance counselor calling USC a reach school.

The phrase reach school actually makes me want to throw up. Like USC is something I’m reaching toward, not something I have. She says I have to stand out from all the killer GPAs and SAT scores with my creative materials.

To name a few, there’s an autobiographical character sketch, my essay about my most challenging moment, and my writing sample. Then there are the letters of recommendation. That’s where the Reel Sunshine competition comes into play.

I think in my mom’s mind, I’m being impractical. A dreamer who screwed up and lost his shot. But I can still make it happen.

“I just need the hook to be perfect,” I say. “Once I have it, I’m gonna really work my ass off, and it’ll all come together.”

My mom points to Lottie. “Your sister can hear you.”

Robby Weber is a Florida-based writer who loves sunshine, summer, and strong-willed characters. He can normally be found as close to the ocean as possible with his dog, Arthur, and a novel from Reese’s Book Club.

SOCIAL LINKS | Author Website: http://www.robbyweber.com/ |
Twitter: @robbyreads | IG: @robbyreads

Happy reading!

Review | Aggretsuko: Down the Rabbithole

Aggretsuko stars in this fairy tale tinged story about work, life, and the need for balance!

When Retsuko attempts to go on vacation with Gori and Washimi, she’s pulled into a terrible world where she’s forced to work for her freedom. Featuring all of the fan favorite characters from the office in twisted versions of themselves, Aggretsuko must navigate the twists and turns of a world gone mad!

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I’ve really enjoyed reading other volumes of the Aggretsuko and this one was no different. All of the familiar characters were involved in Aggretsuko’s trip through wonderland as she struggled with the complexities of work/life balance. The art style is consistent with the other issues/volumes and well saturated with bright colors. This was a quick and humorous read, perfect for any fan of Aggretsuko.

Happy reading!

Blitz | In the Shadow of a Wish by Maci Aurora

In the Shadow of a Wish
Maci Aurora
Publication date: April 26th 2022
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance

In the Kingdom of Kaloma, women are forced to marry by the age of 26. It’s the law.

In the remote village of Sevens, at the northernmost point of the kingdom, there lives an impoverished family with four daughters and a son. Without the means to make love matches, the daughters are trapped by their circumstances.

When one daughter discovers a golden key deep in the Whitling Woods, it may have the power to change everything…

Auri Fareview, practical and realistic, does what she can to serve her family. When she finds a golden key that could be the answer she needs to save her sisters from the unjust Kaloma Marriage Laws, she discovers the treasure might be more than she bargained for. Enchanted, it doesn’t just come with a price attached, it’s also home to an imprisoned god, who wreaks havoc on her body, her heart, and her soul. And those aren’t practical matters. He has the power to break her.

Nixus Uraiahs has lost track of how long he’s been imprisoned by the spell on the key. There have been six key-keepers, all of whom have failed to break the spell to free him, and Nix knows he’s the reason why they haven’t. So, he will hold this 7th key-keeper accountable to the bargain of the spell: three wishes and a price for each. There’s no hope in her freeing him, however. Nix knows she’ll be like all the key-keepers who came before her. Except Auri approaches her wishes differently than any of the others, and Nix begins to see her as more than just a key-keeper. She intrigues him, proving her strength, surprising him, and enchanting him. Though he’s entrapped by the enchantment placed on the key, Nix realizes his heart is at risk of being captured by the seventh key-keeper. That is a risk he can’t afford to take knowing his villainy is just a single wish away.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

“The Spelled Ribbon”

“You love your family?”

“Fervently.” She started walking again.

He knew he shouldn’t but asked anyway, “Would you tell me about them?” He followed her, a few steps behind.

“What would you like to know?”

Everything, he thought, but didn’t give it the substance of his voice. “Your parents?”

“Scarlett and Tomas Fareview.”

“They must be amazing.”

“Why would you say that.”

Flustered, Nix turned to smell a flower. “Well…” He stretched the sound, trying to find a reason that didn’t start with because you’re amazing, which would sound like a lie, and ended up saying, “You are unique.”

She grinned. “Unique. I like it. Yes. They are amazing. They met, fell in love, and settled in Sevens. That’s the village where we live.”

“You smile when you talk about them.”

“Well, they are… my life,” she said and continued walking. “I have three older sisters. Jessamine is the oldest, then Tarley and Brinna.” She looked over her shoulder at him and smiled. It was a different kind of smile, unguarded. He could see it was because she was talking about her family. “Then me. And I have one brother, Mattias. He’s the youngest.”

“And how old is Mattias as the youngest?”

“Eighteen.”

He considered the state of her skirt and boots when he’d met her. “And you all live together in Sevens?”

She nodded.

“How old is your oldest sister?”

“Jessamine? Twenty-seven.”

“And no one has left?” Nix thought this strange.

She shook her head and continued walking. “It isn’t because we are opposed to the idea, but with respect to marriage, none of us want anything less than what our parents have. Our parents adore one another. The other factor is that living in Sevens—and my parents’ refusal to leave it—has made it difficult to meet anyone and to make a living to find the means to leave.” She stopped under an archway where peach roses grew over to the other side, reaching out to touch one.

Nixus noticed a red ribbon tied around her wrist. It would have seemed an insignificant trifle, except it was wrapped with a swirl of golden magic. “What is this?” He reached out and touched the ribbon with a finger. The magic kissed his skin with a warm caress. Positive magic as opposed to the alternative, which heightened Nix’s curiosity.

Auri looked surprised by his touch, her eyes jumping from where he’d touched her to his face. That blush he liked worked its own magic against her skin, and she grabbed ahold of her wrist. “This? A gift from my mother. Just a ribbon. She gave each of us one.” She paused, then added, “We don’t have a lot of extra, not with seven of us. It’s just a ribbon–”

“It appears to be more than that–”

She tilted her head, and her brows bunched. “What do you mean?”

Nix could tell she didn’t know it was spelled, and just by looking at it, he couldn’t tell what it was for. As far as he knew, Auri’s mother had taken it to a local witch who’d cast a protection spell for each of her children. He didn’t remark on the magic and instead said, “It’s obviously very important to you. That makes it a very special ribbon.”

She smiled, looking away, and twisted the ribbon around her wrist. “Yes. You’re right.” She started back down the path.

Author Bio:

Maci Aurora has been writing stories since she was a child. When she was eleven, she fell in love with reading Sunfire Historical Romances about girls who made a difference in their lives and still fell in love. In high school, a friend introduced her to Lavyrle Spencer and Judith McNaught, and from there, her writing journey was cemented in telling stories about love. Having already published many novels (all of which are threaded with romance as upper YA and New Adult titles) under the pen name, CL Walters, Maci Aurora wanted to write stories that offered the same attention to story and characters but with additional steam.

Maci writes in Hawaiʻi where she lives with her husband, their children, and their fur-babies.

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