Blog Tour: The Kids are Gonna Ask by Gretchen Anthony

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Thank you to Harlequin Trade Publishing for working with me on this post. I’m so excited to be sharing an excerpt for The Kids are Gonna Ask by Gretchen Anthony. This book comes out July 28 and it sounds so good!

9781488051005

THE KIDS ARE GONNA ASK

By Gretchen Anthony

On Sale: July 28, 2020 

Park Row Books

CONTEMPORARY FICTION/Mothers &Children/Family/FictionSatire/Humorous American Literarure

978-0778308744; 077830874X

$17.99 USD

416 pages

About the Book

A whip-smart, entertaining novel about twin siblings who become a national phenomenon after launching a podcast to find the biological father they never knew.

The death of Thomas and Savannah McClair’s mother turns their world upside down. Raised to be fiercely curious by their grandmother Maggie, the twins become determined to learn the identity of their biological father. And when their mission goes viral, an eccentric producer offers them a dream platform: a fully sponsored podcast called The Kids Are Gonna Ask. To discover the truth, Thomas and Savannah begin interviewing people from their mother’s past and are shocked when the podcast ignites in popularity. As the attention mounts, they get caught in a national debate they never asked for—but nothing compares to the mayhem that ensues when they find him.

Cleverly constructed, emotionally perceptive and sharply funny, The Kids Are Gonna Ask is a rollicking coming-of-age story and a moving exploration of all the ways we can go from lost to found.

Gretchen Anthony headshot, photo cred M. Brian Hartz

About the author

GRETCHEN ANTHONY is the author of Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners, which was a Midwestern Connections Pick and a best books pick by Amazon, BookBub, PopSugar, and the New York Post. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, Medium, and The Write Life, among others. She lives in Minneapolis with her family.

Social Links:

Author website:  https://www.gretchenanthony.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45297823-the-kids-are-gonna-ask

Twitter: https://twitter.com/granthony

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gretchenanthony.writer/

Excerpt

Excerpted from The Kids Are Gonna Ask by Gretchen Anthony © 2020 by Gretchen Anthony, used with permission by Park Row Books.

JULY

The house had become an aquarium—one side tank, the other, fingerprint-smeared glass—with Thomas McClair on the inside looking out. There had been a dozen protests outside their home in less than a week, all for the McClairs to—what, enjoy? Critique? Reject? There was no making sense of it. 

Tonight, Thomas pulled his desk chair up to the window and kicked his feet onto the sill. He’d been too anxious to eat dinner, but his mind apparently hadn’t notified his stomach, which now growled and cramped. He was seventeen. He could swallow a whole pizza and wash it down with a half-gallon of milk, then go back for more, especially being an athlete. But that was before. 

Before the podcast, before the secrets, before the wave of national attention. Now he was just a screwup with a group of strangers swarming the parkway across the street from his house because he’d practically invited them to come. 

He deserved to feel awful. 

The McClairs had been locked in the house for a week, leaving Thomas short of both entertainment and sanity. He had no choice but to watch the show unfolding outside. Stuck in his beige bedroom, with the Foo Fighters at Wembley poster and the Pinewood Derby blue ribbons, overlooking the front lawn and the driveway and the hand-me-down Volvo neither he nor Savannah had driven since last week. There they stood—a crowd of milling strangers, all vying for the McClairs’ attention. All these people with their causes. Some who came to help or ogle. More who came to hate. 

Thomas brought his face almost to the glass and tried to figure out the newly assembling crowd. Earlier that day, out of all the attention seekers, one guy in particular had stood out. He wore black jeans, black boots, a black beanie—a massive amount of clothing for the kind of day where you could see the summer heat curling up from the pavement—and a black T-shirt that screamed WHO’S PAYING YOU? in pink neon. He also held a leash attached to a life-size German shepherd plushy toy. 

Some of the demonstrators had gone home for the night, only to be replaced by a candlelight vigil. And a capella singing. There were only about a dozen people in the group, all women, except for two tall guys in the back lending their baritones to a standard rotation of hymns. “Amazing Grace” first, followed by “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” Now they were into a song Thomas didn’t know, but the longer he listened, he figured hundred-to-one odds that the lyrics consisted of no more than three words, repeated over and over. They hit the last note and raised their candles high above their heads. By daaaaaaaaaaaayyyy. 

“No more,” he begged into the glass. “I can’t take any more.” 

A week. Of this. 

Of protests, rallies and news crews with their vans and satellites and microphones. 

Of his sister, Savannah, locked in her room, refusing to speak to him. 

Of his grandmother Maggie in hers, sick with worry. 

Of finding—then losing—his biodad, the missing piece of his mother’s story. And his own. 

Thomas was left to deal with it all. Because he’d started it. And because he was a finisher. And most of all, because it wasn’t over yet.

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Kids-Are-Gonna-Ask-Novel/dp/077830874X

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-kids-are-gonna-ask-gretchen-anthony/1131329819

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780778308744

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Kids-Gonna-Ask/Gretchen-Anthony/9780778308744?id=7941582454467&_ga=2.251093830.1162369720.1594158248-529522754.1594158248#

AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-kids-are-gonna-ask/id1460789878

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Gretchen_Anthony_The_Kids_Are_Gonna_Ask?id=siOYDwAAQBAJ

~Cassie

Romanceopoly Mid Year Check In

When I decided to participate in Romanceopoly this year I decided that I would start the year with the Sun Pack. This is my first year participating and they (the lovely women who created and run Romanceoploy) decided to make things more interesting this year by adding in two packs of challenge cards. There are numerous ways you can play this game and I decided that I would use one pack for the first part of the year and the other pack for the latter part. Today, I am here to wrap up all the rolls I had for the year and how many I have completed versus how many I still have left to read. I also never shared my July rolls where I am using the Moon pack for the first time so I will share those today as well.

If you want to find out more about Romanceopoly, the rules, grab a printable copy of the board and cards, get book recommendations for the prompts, then click here to go to the official website. Also, if this sounds fun to you then it is definitely not too late to join!

Sun Pack Wrap Up

January

Winter Challenge (Read a book where it has: white, blue, and/or silver cover; has snow on the cover; has a winter word in the title; is a winter holiday read) – No Exit by Taylor Adams (Read)

Fated Folly (read PNR where the h/H is a part of a pack/coven/band/paranormal group- Dark Lover by J.R. Ward (Read)

Passion Place (Read an erotic BDSM romance)- Enthralled by Giana Darling (Read)

The Bar (Read a book set where you live or have lived-it can be city/town/state/country… be as specific as you like!)- The Bride Test by Helen Hoang **This is set in my hometown** (Read)

February

Farmer’s Market (Read a romance where the h/H is a farmer/rancher/cowboy)- Arrogant Devil by R.S. Grey (Read)

They Gym (Do some weight lifting… read the longest book on your TBR)- IT by Stephen King (Read)

Library (free choice)- Revelations of a Secret Princess by Annie West (Read)

March

Burger Joint (Read a book on our book boyfriend list)- The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (Unread)

Killer Crescent (read a thriller where the main character is a detective or PI)- The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup (Unread)

Solider Street (Read a romantic suspense where the h/H is in the military) Dead Girl Running by Christina Dodd (Read)

April

Journey’s End (Read a fantasy where the main character is a magic user)- A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Read)

Coffee Shop (read a book recommended to you by a friend or on any of our recommendation lists)- The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler **This book is recommend a lot by Abby from crimebythebook blog and Instagram** (Read)

Killer Crescent- His & Hers by Alice Feeny (Unread)

Spring (Read a book where it; has a green or yellow cover; has flowers on the cover; has the word “spring” in the title; where the hero or heroine is a gardener or farmer)- The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren (Read)

May

Passion Place- Dark Notes by Pam Godwin (Unread)

The Vault (Read a PNR where the author is new to you in this genre)- Wolfsong by TJ Klune (Unread) 

Journey’s End-Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend (Read)

June

The Office (Read a non contemporary romance where the couple meet at their place of work)- The Governess Game by Tessa Dare (Read)

BFF’s House (Read a friends to lovers romance)- #Junkie by Cambria Hebert (Unread)

Fang Alley (Read a PNR with a magic user or paranormal creature [not vampire or shifter] h/H)- The Darkest Night by Gena Showalter (Unread)

Total Read:  13

Total Unread: 7

July Picks (Moon Pack)

Action Ave (Read an urban fantasy with a kick ass heroine on the cover) 

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Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for magic…

One moment magic dominates, and cars stall and guns fail. The next, technology takes over and the defensive spells no longer protect your house from monsters. Here skyscrapers topple under onslaught of magic; werebears and werehyenas prowl through the ruined streets; and the Masters of the Dead, necromancers driven by their thirst of knowledge and wealth, pilot blood-crazed vampires with their minds.

In this world lives Kate Daniels. Kate likes her sword a little too much and has a hard time controlling her mouth. The magic in her blood makes her a target, and she spent most of her life hiding in plain sight. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, she must choose to do nothing and remain safe or to pursue his preternatural killer. Hiding is easy, but the right choice is rarely easy…

Campus Corner (Read a new adult where the h/H is a jock)

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She’s about to make a deal with the college bad boy…

Hannah Wells has finally found someone who turns her on. But while she might be confident in every other area of her life, she’s carting around a full set of baggage when it comes to sex and seduction. If she wants to get her crush’s attention, she’ll have to step out of her comfort zone and make him take notice… even if it means tutoring the annoying, childish, cocky captain of the hockey team in exchange for a pretend date.

…and it’s going to be oh so good.

All Garrett Graham has ever wanted is to play professional hockey after graduation, but his plummeting GPA is threatening everything he’s worked so hard for. If helping a sarcastic brunette make another guy jealous will help him secure his position on the team, he’s all for it. But when one unexpected kiss leads to the wildest sex of both their lives, it doesn’t take long for Garrett to realize that pretend isn’t going to cut it. Now he just has to convince Hannah that the man she wants looks a lot like him.

Past Eaves (Read an historical fiction novel)

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They are a dangerous duke, a fierce lord, and an infamous earl—dark, bold, brave men who know exactly what they want. And there is only one woman who can bring them to their knees…

He is first and foremost—at everything. A man who’s made his own way in the world through ruthless cunning and sheer force of will. A strong and imposing Scot who can turn on the charm but does not suffer fools. His title: Lord Chief Justice of the High Court. His name: Cassius Gerard Ramsay. His mission: To investigate the goings-on at London’s most notorious gaming hell, owned and operated by one of the most intriguing and desirable women he’s ever met.

IN THIS GAME OF LOVE, THE RULES DO NOT APPLY

Cecelia Teague was an orphan facing a rather dire future—until a secret benefactor from her mother’s scandalous past swept into her life. Sent to prestigious boarding school and later to university, Cecelia believed high society was at her fingertips…Then, from out of nowhere, she became the inheritor of a gambling establishment. Now Cecelia must live two lives: one as a proper lady who finds herself undeniably drawn to Lord Ramsay and the other as a savvy gaming hell owner trying to save her business from the very same man. He has no idea she is both women…and Cecelia would like to keep it that way. But what happens when consuming passion and escalating danger threaten to reveal the truth?

Summer (Read a book where it; has a brightly colored or multicolored cover; has the beach, sand, or the sun on the cover; is a summer holiday read; has a summery word in the cover [sun, summer, heat, beach])

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A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

~Cassie

Cover Reveal: Bespoken by Dr. Rebecca Sharp

Bespoken Banner

I recently read, and loved, Rebecca Sharp’s last release, Last Name, so I’m so excited to be sharing the cover of Bespoken with you today. I think this cover is so gorgeous and I’m so excited to get my hands on the book. Thank you to Wildfire Marketing for providing all info and graphics for this post.

Bespoken_Ebook Cover

Bespoken by Dr. Rebecca Sharp is coming September 10th! Don’t miss a captivating and emotional romance where sparks fly from opposite sides of the track and ignite a love that can’t be denied…. #Pre-order today!

BOOK BLURB

𝘑𝘶𝘭𝘦𝘴 𝘝𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘭𝘴𝘦𝘯 𝘯𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘢𝘯𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 – 𝘦𝘹𝘤𝘦𝘱𝘵 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘺 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥𝘯’𝘵 𝘣𝘶𝘺.

As the heiress to the Rock Beach Resort, her glamorous world was perfectly tailored to further her parent’s empire.

𝗙𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗱𝗲𝘀𝗶𝗴𝗻𝗲𝗿 𝗰𝗹𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗽𝗿𝗶𝘃𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝘀𝗰𝗵𝗼𝗼𝗹𝘀, 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆 𝗽𝗶𝗲𝗰𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗹𝗶𝗳𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗲𝘁𝗲𝗹𝘆 𝗯𝗲𝘀𝗽𝗼𝗸𝗲𝗻.

After her grandfather’s death, one fateful night forces Jules to see her palace for what it really is—a pretty prison. Risking her family’s wrath, she’s decided to forge a new path—one that leads straight to the man she can’t stop thinking about… the same chivalrous carpenter who knows more about that night than he’ll admit; Mick Madison.

A Texan transplant with a giant heart, Mick knows he should keep his distance. After all, dusty jeans and scuffed work-boots might as well scream ‘commoner’ rather than carpenter. Yet Mick can’t convince himself to stay away… 𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘱 𝘧𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘢 𝘸𝘰𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘴𝘰 𝘧𝘢𝘳 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘨𝘶𝘦.

But when Jules’ prestigious family is linked to crimes happening in Carmel Cove, the road to her future splits, and she’ll have to decide between a life she was groomed to live and a life she was made to love.

A𝘯𝘥 𝘤𝘩𝘰𝘰𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦 𝘮𝘦𝘢𝘯𝘴 𝘴𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘭𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘔𝘪𝘤𝘬 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳.

**Bespoken is the second book in the Carmel Cove series and can be read as a 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗲𝘁𝗲 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗻𝗱𝗮𝗹𝗼𝗻𝗲.

Add to your Goodreads TBR: https://bit.ly/Bespoken_GR

PRE-ORDER LINKS

💙Amazon: mybook.to/ReadBespoken

💙Apple Books / Nook / Kobo: https://books2read.com/ReadBespoken

Teaser
GIVEAWAY

To celebrate the release of Bespoken, Rebecca Sharp is giving away a $15 Amazon gift card! Head to her Facebook page to enter: https://www.facebook.com/drrebeccasharp/

Rebecca-Sharp Logo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Rebecca Sharp, while using a pen name, is actually a doctor living in Pennsylvania with her husband – the love of her life.

She enjoys working in her practice with her father as well as letting her creativity run free as an author. Growing up she’s always loved a good love story and finally decided to give writing one of her own a go.

After graduating with her doctoral degree, she now enjoys spending that thing called free time traveling with her husband, cooking, and knitting.

AUTHOR LINKS

Facebook: www.facebook.com/drrebeccasharp

Reader Group: http://bit.ly/BecomeASexySharpie 

Instagram: www.instagram.com/drrebeccasharp

Twitter: www.twitter.com/drrebeccasharp 

Mailing List: http://bit.ly/StaySharpSignUp

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/drrebeccasharp 

Amazon: https://goo.gl/bxuLPd 

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rebecca-sharp 

~Cassie

 

 

Cover Reveal: The Enemy by Kelsey Clayton

Last month I read and loved the third book in the Haven Grace series and I’m excited to be sharing the cover of the next book in the series, The Enemy. Thank you to Wildfire Marketing for providing me all graphics and info for this post.

The Enemy

The cover for The Enemy by Kelsey Clayton is here! The Enemy is a stepbrother romance story—forbidden and irresistible—is revenge really so sweet? This is Lennon Bradwell’s story! #ComingAugust13th

Photographer: Michelle Lancaster

Model: Lochie Carey

The Enemy Apothecary

ABOUT THE BOOK

Kensington Bradwell doesn’t get told no often.

Not when he built an empire from the ground up.

Not when he became the most powerful man in North Haven.

And definitely not when he met my mother.

A picture-perfect relationship,

a happy family,

and twenty years of marriage—

all thrown away for a man with no morals.

Tearing him down won’t be easy,

but I won’t stop until his empire is in flames.

For my sister. For my father. For me.

I need to find a way to break him.

Lucky for me, the answer just fell into my lap.

Daddy’s little princess may be innocent in all of this,

but Lennon’s about to get caught in the crossfire of revenge.

 

Preorder The Enemy today!

Amazon Universal: http://mybook.to/TheEnemy

GR: https://bit.ly/TheEnemy-GR

 

Catch up with the series!

Book 1 – The Sinner

Amazon Universal: http://mybook.to/TheSinner

GR: http://bit.ly/TheSinner-GR

Book 2 – The Saint

Amazon Universal:  http://mybook.to/TheSaintHGP

GR: http://bit.ly/TheSaintHGP

Book 3 – The Rebel

Amazon Universal: http://mybook.to/TheRebel

GR: https://bit.ly/TheRebelGR

GIVEAWAY: 

The author is having a massive giveaway on her Facebook page – 10 signed paperback copies open international to be sent after release day. Stop by her page to enter: https://www.facebook.com/KelsClayton

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelsey Clayton is a 29-year-old mother of two from a small town in lower Delaware. Born and raised in New Jersey, she discovered her love for writing when she used it as a coping mechanism to get through hard times. Since then, she has been passionately writing novels that make people fall in love with the characters and the storylines. She writes from a mix of personal experiences and imagination. As an avid beach lover, her dream is to write an entire book with her feet in the sand.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/KelsClayton

https://twitter.com/Kels_Clayton

https://www.instagram.com/kels_clayton/

amazon.com/author/kelseyclayton

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/kelsey-clayton

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18650306.Kelsey_Clayton

www.kelseyclayton.com

www.kelseyclayton.com/newsletter

~Cassie

2020 Reading and Blog Goals Update

Way back in January I made a list of book related and blogging goals that I wanted to work on this year. Today I’m going to check in and see how I have been doing with them.

Reading Goals

  1. Read 120 books. I can’t believe I am writing this but I finished my 120th book last week! I never imagined that I would have read so many books HALF WAY through the year. I have never in my life read more than 141 books in a year which I’m going to obviously blow past this year. As excited as I am, I also know that the biggest reason why is because of my health issues and the fact that I am limited on how active I am. Books are also just a great comfort for the dumpster fire that is 2020.
  2. Read more big books. This has been a big fail. I have only read three and two of them weren’t even ones I started this year. This is for sure something I need to be better out this latter half of the year.
  3. Read a variety of genres. This is also another one that I need to make more of an effort with. My top two genres are romance and mystery/thrillers. The first half of the year romance made up 50.5% of my reading!!! Mysteries/thrillers made up 17.1%. Which means only 32.4% of my reading is anything other than my top genres. I hope when it comes time to wrap up my year I have moved this number closer to the 50% line.
  4. Read more plays and poetry. I have read one play and one book of poetry. I do have a couple more books of poetry that I am planning on reading soon. I was recently watching CarolynMarieReads on Youtube and she read a Shakespeare play while listening to it and that seems like something I would enjoy doing.
  5. Read one classic a month. Finally, another goal I’m actually doing good on! Over the past six months I have read 8 classics.
  6. Stick to my TBR’s. Right below this list I will have a break down of how many books I read from each month’s TBR.
  7. Read at least one Kindle Unlimited book a month. I kind of forgot about this one so I haven’t been doing this the past few months. I think I’ve only read five which is just awful. I’m so annoyed at myself!!
  8. Read more Kindle books. I was obviously not anticipating how much I would come to rely on my Kindle. There are many days where reading physical books is uncomfortable or at times painful, so my Kindle has been a great resource. 67.9% of my reading this year has been on my Kindle.

TBR Breakdown

January: 6 books picked. 5 read.

February: 7 books picked. 6 read.

March: 7 books picked. 5 read.

April: 7 books picked. 1 read. 1 DNF.

May: 10 books picked. 5 read.

June: 12 books picked. 7 read. 1 currently reading

Blog Goals

  1. Update my blog consistently. I have been doing a good job of this. I started my blog in 2017 but I didn’t devote consist time to it until 2019. This year I have been updating my blog at least a few days a week and I’m happy that I have kept it a priority.
  2. Review every book that I read. I feel like I do this around 80% of the time. There is room for improvement but I am also happy that the number is so high.
  3. Tweak my website. I was working on this the first few months of the year but it is something that I have stopped completely even thinking about it. I know for sure one thing that I would like to do before the year is over is to add a picture of me so I’m just not a gray circle when I comment on people’s blogs.

~Cassie

 

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

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Publication Date: June 30, 2020

Publisher: Dutton Books

Pages: 384

Genre: Thriller

Rating: 5/5

Maggie’s father has just passed away and when she goes to his lawyer’s office she is surprised to learn that her father, Ewan, not only still owns Baneberry Hall but that he has left it to her. Maggie and her family only lived there for 20 days but it has followed them around ever since because her father wrote a best selling book about the paranormal horror they went through there. Maggie realizes that this is her chance to get to the bottom of why her parents lied about Baneberry at the same time she renovates it to sell. Maggie quickly realizes that all she thought about her parents and her dad’s book might not be true.

Riley Sager outdid himself with this book. He has been my favorite thriller author since his debut, Final Girls, and every year he just gets better and better. This book is phenomenal. Sager takes the familiar haunted house story and makes it somehow completely unique and fascinating. The formatting of this story is masterful. Each chapter of Maggie’s story is followed by a chapter of her father’s book, A House of Horrors. This is such a great choice because it amps up the suspense of both storylines more and more as the book progresses. The suspense is also aided by the fact that we know Maggie only stayed in the house when she was younger for 20 days and Baneberry Hall has a history of horrific events occurring on July 15. Knowing both of these things early on was a genius move on Sager’s part because the more into the story I got the more I wanted to keep reading because I knew it was just going to keep getting better.

The only critique I have of this book is that Maggie’s lack of knowledge about the house felt like a plot device at times. She mentions that she has looked it up before but yet she seems so clueless about things. There was a couple of times where I was like girl, have you never heard of Google or Reddit? But that is only a minor complaint and didn’t affect me giving this book the five stars that it deserves. The ending alone was perfection and had me on the edge of my seat more than once. This whole book was incredibly well paced and well crafted. This is the epitome of what a thriller should be and if you were to only read one, then this is the one I would recommend.

~Cassie

Mid Year Freakout Tag

We are half way through this year and almost half way through this month so I thought today would be perfect to finally do the Mid Year Freakout tag. I searched this tag on WordPress so I could find the questions (although there is a little bit of variety it seems like) and the first one I came across is from Rose @ Novels and Teacups.

Best book you have read so far in 2020

I have read so many good books this year but these are the ones that immediately jumped into my head when I read this question.

Best sequel you have read so far in 2020

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Morrigan Crow is such a fun series and I love the adventure and journey that these books take the reader on. I think I liked this book more than the first and I’m eagerly anticipating the third book.

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

Both of these books are on my most anticipated of the year list and I own both of them so there really isn’t much of a reason that I haven’t prioritized them yet.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

I loved these author’s debut books and I have such high hopes for their sophomore effort.

Biggest Disappointment

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Locked room mysteries are hands down my favorite trope and I thought this was going to be an easy five star read for me. However, this book focuses more on drama from the characters backgrounds and the actual murder on the island is instead relegated to one of the smallest subplots of the story.

Biggest Surprise

I went into Sawkill Girls expecting a YA magical realism story like Summer of Salt. And while it does have a lot of the same themes as Summer of Salt it is also a horror novel which shocked me. I saw on Twitter that Claire LeGrand is having some serious health issues and my thoughts and prayers are going out to her and I hope she fully recovers from whatever she is going through.

I just raved about Beach Read yesterday but I went into this thinking it was going to be a cute romance and it is so much more than that. This book is so emotional and I connected to so much of it and it is now on my list of favorite books of all time.

I read the first book in the Hades Hangmen series on January 1 while I was at the hospital dealing with my own health issues and was looking for something to help pass the time. I proceeded to read all 9 (or 10?) novels and novellas in this series within the first couple weeks of the year. Hades Hangmen is a dark MC (motorcycle club) romance involving a cult and white supremacy group which just sounds not appealing at all. But the romances in this series are so intense, beautiful and emotional. Tillie Cole really understands people and she takes her characters to the darkest places but she also shows them a way out. I love this series so much but you definitely need to be careful going into them because there are a lot of trigger warnings.

Favorite new author (debut or new to you)

Ok, I’m not going to rave about Emily Henry anymore since you all know that I’m obsessed with her writing but she deserves to be mentioned here.

I read Jayci Lee for the first time back in February with her debut with Harlequin Desire and her second book comes out today. Lee writes compelling characters that have a complex family dynamic and her romances have been so swoon worthy. She also has her second Harlequin Desire novel coming out in September. Oh and if I haven’t sold you on her yet Lee just announced that A Sweet Mess (the one that is out today) has been optioned and Daniel Day Kim is going to produce and star in it! Look out for me review of A Sweet Mess coming soon.

Newest Fictional Crush

Cover The Rebel

Asher is the first one that I thought of. I feel like since I read a lot of romance that I find a lot of the heroes to be swoon worthy but Asher stands out to me because he was a player for my favorite team, the San Francisco 49ers. Which is shallow but also none of these people are real so I’m going with it!

Newest Favorite Character

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Stevie is such a great character and I know that teenage me would have looked up to her. I have been dragging my feet on finishing this series but that it something that I would like to do this year.

Book that made you cry

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I have never had such a visceral reaction to a book before. Not only did I have tears running down my face by the end of this story but I also felt sick to my stomach. I was so filled with rage at certain moments and what makes it worse is that this book feels like it could be real.

Book that made you happy

The Bride Test is set in my hometown which gives it an obvious edge over other books. I haven’t been back there in six months so this book gives me all the warm feelings. I loved the characters, the romance, the setting and there were some humorous moments.

It is impossible to read the Tea Dragon series and not smile. The artwork alone is stunning and evokes feelings of happiness. Then you read the series and it is filled with so many great lessons about life and love.

Most beautiful book you have read this year (or received)

The classics that I have received from my Coffee and a Classic subscription boxes are absolutely beautiful. These pictures do them no justice. Not only do they look good but they all feel good too. Holding them is such a treat and I am so happy that I own them.

What books do you need to read by the end of the year

I’ve already done a couple of posts this month about books that I still need to read this year. But I also would really love to read the three of these as soon as possible.

2020 Five Star Predictions Update

#ClassicsCommunity Mid Year Update + Book Subscription

~Cassie

 

 

48 hr BookoplAthon Wrap Up

I think Becca’s BookoplAthon is my most successful readathon ever. I didn’t manage to complete all the prompts but the three books that I did read covered most of them. But what really put this readathon above all others, is that they were all five stars and one of them is going to be near the top of my best of the year list. In fact, it might be one of my favorite books of all time. First, I’m going to list all 16 of the prompts and then we will get into the wrap up and what prompts fit for each book. My goal was to complete all the 2020 board rolls which I did, which I’m glad I decided on since I didn’t read anything that works for the 2019 board rolls!

Roll #1

2019 board: paranormal or magical realism

2020 board: chance card (Randomly choose a book)

Roll #2

2019 board: culturally diverse

2020 board: Viewer recommends (my book was recommended by the hosts of Romanceoploy…. it’s like monopoly inception!)

Roll #3

2019 board: mystery/thriller

2020 board: a book you have been gifted (I used an ARC)

Roll #4

2019 board: YA Fantasy

2020 board: contemporary or romance

Wrap Up

Chance card/ Romance

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This is just as amazing as everyone says it is. I was not expecting such an emotionally impacting story. I knew that it was going to be a cute romance but it went so much further than that. January and Gus might have my favorite literary romance of all time. I was so invested in the characters and their relationship, which is really a testament to what an incredible writer Emily Henry is. Beyond just being a romance, this story is also one about grief and shows what living with grief is really like. Honestly, there is just so much goodness wrapped up in this one book and I found myself relating to so much of it. This book also has the bonus of mentioning port wine stains. Of course, I wish that it had been more prevalent in January’s story, but I always appreciate when books talk about vascular birthmarks because it helps to normalize them. There is also a cult aspect of this book that I found interesting. This book is incredibly emotional, filled with humor, lots of insight into what it is like to be a writer, and when I finished all I could think of was how absolutely perfect it is.

“That’s the key to marriage. You have to keep falling in love with every new version of each other, and it’s the best feeling in the whole world.”

“I always liked that thought, the way two people really did grow into one. Or at least two overlapping parts, trees with tangled roots.”

“I’ve never met someone who is so perfectly my favorite person. When I think about being with you every day, no part of me feels claustrophobic.”

Viewer recommends/ romance

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The setup for this story is ridiculous. In fact, a lot of this story is ridiculous and I loved every minute of it. Alex and Chase had such a fun relationship. It was very much a back and forth, sweet and salty type of romance which made me swoon when they were being sweet. I also appreciated that since this book was set in 1817 Tessa Dare used the setting to talk about gender roles. The theme of toxic gender roles can also be seen in Rosamund and Daisy, the two young girls Alex is hired to teach. They brought a lot to the story and I love that so much of this book centered on them. This is very much a girl power series wrapped up in a captivating historical romance and I can’t wait to read the rest of the books.

“She’d help them become women who couldn’t be ignored.”

a book you have been gifted/ romance

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Publication Date: September 1, 2020

I’m so sad that this is the final book in the tea dragon series. These graphic novels have the most stunning artwork. It is whimsical, gorgeous, and showcases an incredible use of color. The story in this one does a great job of connecting the first two stories together. Overall, the story is filled with beautiful lessons about life and also grief. Interspersed throughout the story are sweet moments of romance that are so heartwarming. It is amazing all that O’Neill was able to pack into this graphic novel.

“It’s amazing what cages the mind can build for itself!”

“It sounds strange, but I feel homesick for the person I used to be…”

~Cassie

2020 Five Star Predictions Update

One of my goals for this year was to read 20 of my backlist books that I thought I was going to absolutely love this year. Today, I’m going to share how many I’ve actually read and what I thought about the ones that I did read. Obviously, by this point in the year I should have read 10 but

unfortunately, I have only read 7. I would love to be able to finish this year having accomplished reading all these books so I’m really going to try to prioritize the other 13 books these next six months.

First, let’s talk about the books that I did read. Out of the 7 that I read I ended up only giving 2 books five stars. Which doesn’t bode well for the remaining books on the list and I’m seriously starting to doubt how well I even know myself! I will be sharing my rating for each book and one sentence that sums up my feelings about the book.

36039837Rating: 4.5/5

This was a pretty predictable thriller filled with unlikeable characters but I really enjoyed the journey the author’s took me on.

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Rating: 5/5

Having seen the movies, this was so much more twisted and darker than I thought it would be and Stephen King’s mind is as magnificent as it is terrifying.

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Rating: 3/5

I did not connect to the characters and the pacing was off but the story as a whole wasn’t terrible.

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Rating: DNF @ pg 133

The longer I read this book the more and more I started despising it and when I looked up the ending I was happy I didn’t invest anymore time with it. I will link my Goodreads review here if you want to see my spoiler review of what exactly rubbed me so wrong.

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Rating: 4/5

I adore Elizabeth Acevedo and while I do think this story is so important and much needed I think it suffered from pacing issues and I think the romance took away from the story instead of adding to it.

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Rating: 4/5

This was super action packed and suspenseful but I saw every twist coming and I was expecting more based on the hype this book has.

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Rating: 5/5

This is fantastic and one of the best thrillers I have ever read.

Now onto the remaining 13 books that I have yet to read. I’m going to leave the link to my original post here so you can read the synopsis of each book if you want. I sincerely hope that the majority of these books are five stars since I have such high hopes for all of them!

~Cassie

 

Blog Tour: Mayhem by Estelle Laure

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*Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an ARC and all info in this post in exchange for my honest review.

MAYHEM by Estelle Laure; On-sale: July 14th, 2020

It’s 1987 and unfortunately it’s not all Madonna and cherry lip balm. Mayhem Brayburn has always known there was something off about her and her mother, Roxy. Maybe it has to do with Roxy’s constant physical pain, or maybe with Mayhem’s own irresistible pull to water. Either way, she knows they aren’t like everyone else. 

But when May’s stepfather finally goes too far, Roxy and Mayhem flee to Santa Maria, California, the coastal beach town that holds the answers to all of Mayhem’s questions about who her mother is, her estranged family, and the mysteries of her own self. There she meets the kids who live with her aunt, and it opens the door to the magic that runs through the female lineage in her family, the very magic Mayhem is next in line to inherit and which will change her life for good. 

But when she gets wrapped up in the search for the man who has been kidnapping girls from the beach, her life takes another dangerous turn and she is forced to face the price of vigilante justice and to ask herself whether revenge is worth the cost. 

From the acclaimed author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back, Estelle Laure offers a riveting and complex story with magical elements about a family of women contending with what appears to be an irreversible destiny, taking control and saying when enough is enough.

Review

This is a powerful feminist novel that is very similar to Summer of Salt and Sawkill Girls. I love Laure’s writing and the imagery it invokes is stunning. Make no mistake though, this book is violent and at times difficult to read. Estelle Laure actually wrote a letter to the reader, to not only give some trigger warnings but also to explain her reasoning behind them. That letter can be found in the book and she has kindly given the participants of the blog tour a copy and you will find it below her author bio. I would also like to piggyback off that letter and say that there is drug use in this story so please also be aware of that.

This book is marketed as The Lost Boys meets The Craft and I definitely agree with that. I happened to grow up very close the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (where The Lost Boys and I’m assuming this book, used as inspiration) and this whole book brought that place back to life for me. That background coupled with Laure’s magnetic writing made this whole story so vivid for me. I was captivated by The Craft angle, but I don’t want talk anymore about it, because I think it is best for the readers to find that out for themselves.

The characters were all damaged by pasts that they didn’t choose and I really felt for all of them. I think the way the book starts out helps to solidify the connection between our main character and reader because it is a heartbreaking life that Mayhem is living. Neve gave me very strong Nancy Down vibes (The Craft) and Kidd reminded me a little of Eleven from Stranger Things. I could go down the list and tell you who every character was in my head but the point is, that they were all distinct and fleshed out characters.

I know that so many people will enjoy this book for the strong writing, the setting, the themes and the magical aspect. There were so many amazing quotes that I wrote down from this book and I will be sharing just a few down below. I will also be seeking out other books from Estelle Laure to read in the future. She has a book about Disney villains coming out next year that I think could be really interesting, (my kids have me hooked on The Descendant movies!) as well as a short backlist. If you are wanting to try a bit of this book out for yourself then keep scrolling after the author’s letter and read the excerpt from Chapter 3.

“Well behaved women seldom make history.” -The author mentions that this is a famous quote but I think it is especially poignant in the current social climate we live in.

“When I dare to be powerful…it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” Audre Lorde *This is the quote that starts the book off

“The way you carry your manliness like it’s a permission slip from God to act like you rule everything and everyone in you path, like you can do whatever you want.”

AP Estelle Laure_Credit Zoe Zimmerman

Short author bio:
Estelle Laure, the author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back believes in love, magic, and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theatre Arts and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and she lives in Taos, New Mexico, with her family. Her work is translated widely around the world.

Author’s social handles

Twitter: @starlaure

Instagram: @estellelaurebooks

Author Letter

Dear Reader,

Like Mayhem, I experienced a period of time when my life was extremely unstable. I can still remember what it was like to be shaken so hard I thought my head would come off, to watch the room vibrate, to feel unsafe in my own home, to never know what was coming around the next corner. I wanted to run. I always wanted to run.

I ran to friends, but also movies and books, and although girls were more passively portrayed in movies like The Lost Boys back then, that feeling of teenagers prowling the night, taking out bad people, being unbeatable . . . that got me through it.

I guess that’s what I tried to do here. I wanted girls who feel powerless to be able to imagine themselves invincible. And yes, I used a rape as the seed for that fierce lineage, not without thought. For me, there is nothing worse, and I like to think great power can rise up as a result of a devastating trespass.

Please know I took none of this lightly. Writing this now, my heart is beating hard and my throat is dry. This is the first time I not only really looked at my own past, the pain of loss, the pain of the loss of trust that comes when someone puts hands on you without permission, the pain of people dying, the shock of suicide, and put all of it to paper in a way that made me feel victorious, strong, and warrior-like. It is also terrifying. I know I’m not the only one who had a scary childhood, and

I know I’m not the only one who clings to stories as salve to smooth over burnt skin. I am so sick of girls and women being hurt. This was my way of taking my own vengeance and trying to access forgiveness.

Thank you for reading and for those of you who can relate, I see you and you are not alone.

Estelle Laure

Excerpt

three

Santa Maria

“Trouble,” Roxy says. She arches a brow at the kids by the van through the bug-spattered windshield, the ghost of a half-smile rippling across her face.

“You would know,” I shoot. “So would you,” she snaps.

Maybe we’re a little on edge. We’ve been in the car so long the pattern on the vinyl seats is tattooed on the back of my thighs.

The kids my mother is talking about, the ones sitting on the white picket fence, look like they slithered up the hill out of the ocean, covered in seaweed, like the carnival music we heard coming from the boardwalk as we were driving into town plays in the air around them at all times. Two crows are on the posts beside them like they’re standing guard, and they caw at each other loudly as we come to a stop. I love every- thing about this place immediately and I think, ridiculously, that I am no longer alone.

The older girl, white but tan, curvaceous, and lean, has her arms around the boy and is lovely with her smudged eye makeup and her ripped clothes. The younger one pops some- thing made of bright colors into her mouth and watches us come up the drive. She is in a military-style jacket with a ton of buttons, her frizzy blond hair reaching in all directions, freckles slapped across her cheeks. And the boy? Thin, brown,

hungry-looking. Not hungry in his stomach. Hungry with his eyes. He has a green bandana tied across his forehead and holes in the knees of his jeans. There’s an A in a circle drawn in marker across the front of his T-shirt.

Anarchy.

“Look!” Roxy points to the gas gauge. It’s just above the E. “You owe me five bucks, Cookie. I told you to trust we would make it, and see what happened? You should listen to your mama every once in a while.”

“Yeah, well, can I borrow the five bucks to pay you for the bet? I’m fresh out of cash at the moment.”

“Very funny.”

Roxy cranes out the window and wipes the sweat off her upper lip, careful not to smudge her red lipstick. She’s been having real bad aches the last two days, even aside from her bruises, and her appetite’s been worse than ever. The only thing she ever wants is sugar. After having been in the car for so long, you’d think we’d be falling all over each other to get out, but we’re still sitting in the car. In here we’re still us.

She sighs for the thousandth time and clutches at her belly. “I don’t know about this, May.”

California can’t be that different from West Texas.

I watch TV. I know how to say gag me with a spoon and

grody to the max.

I fling open the door.

Roxy gathers her cigarettes and lighter, and drops them in- side her purse with a snap.

“Goddammit, Elle,” she mutters to herself, eyes flickering toward the kids again. Roxy looks at me over the rims of her sunglasses before shoving them back on her nose. “Mayhem, I’m counting on you to keep your head together here. Those kids are not the usual—”

“I know! You told me they’re foster kids.”

“No, not that,” she says, but doesn’t clarify. “Okay, I guess.”

“I mean it. No more of that wild-child business.”

“I will keep my head together!” I’m so tired of her saying this. I never had any friends, never a boyfriend—all I have is what Grandmother calls my nasty mouth and the hair Lyle always said was ugly and whorish. And once or twice I might’ve got drunk on the roof, but it’s not like I ever did anything. Besides, no kid my age has ever liked me even once. I’m not the wild child in the family.

“Well, all right then.” Roxy messes with her hair in the rear- view mirror, then sprays herself with a cloud of Chanel No. 5 and runs her fingers over her gold necklace. It’s of a bird, not unlike the ones making a fuss by the house. She’s had it as long as I can remember, and over time it’s been worn smooth by her worrying fingers. It’s like she uses it to calm herself when she’s upset about something, and she’s been upset the whole way here, practically. Usually, she’d be good and buzzed by this time of day, but since she’s had to drive some, she’s only nipped from the tiny bottle of wine in her purse a few times and only taken a couple pills since we left Taylor. The with- drawal has turned her into a bit of a she-demon.

I try to look through her eyes, to see what she sees. Roxy hasn’t been back here since I was three years old, and in that time, her mother has died, her father has died, and like she said when she got the card with the picture enclosed that her twin sister, Elle, sent last Christmas, Everybody got old. After that, she spent a lot of time staring in the mirror, pinching at her neck skin. When I was younger, she passed long nights telling me about Santa Maria and the Brayburn Farm, about how it was good and evil in equal measure, about how it had desires that had to be satisfied.

Brayburns, she would say. In my town, we were the legends.

These were the mumbled stories of my childhood, and they made everything about this place loom large. Now that we’re here, I realize I expected the house to have a gaping maw filled with spitty, frothy teeth, as much as I figured there would be fairies flitting around with wands granting wishes. I don’t want to take her vision away from her, but this place looks pretty normal to me, if run-down compared to our new house in Taylor, where there’s no dust anywhere, ever, and Lyle prac- tically keeps the cans of soup in alphabetical order. Maybe what’s not so normal is that this place was built by Brayburns, and here Brayburns matter. I know because the whole road is named after us and because flowers and ribbons and baskets of fruit sat at the entrance, gifts from the people in town, Roxy said. They leave offerings. She said it like it’s normal to be treated like some kind of low-rent goddess.

Other than the van and the kids, there are trees here, rose- bushes, an old black Mercedes, and some bikes leaning against the porch that’s attached to the house. It’s splashed with fresh white paint that doesn’t quite cover up its wrinkles and scars. It’s three stories, so it cuts the sunset when I look up, and plants drape down to touch the dirt.

The front door swings open and a woman in bare feet races past the rosebushes toward us. It is those feet and the reckless way they pound against the earth that tells me this is my aunt Elle before her face does. My stomach gallops and there are bumps all over my arms, and I am more awake than I’ve been since.

I thought Roxy might do a lot of things when she saw her twin sister. Like she might get super quiet or chain-smoke, or maybe even get biting like she can when she’s feeling wrong about something. The last thing I would have ever imagined was them running toward each other and colliding in the driveway, Roxy wrapping her legs around Elle’s waist, and them twirling like that.

This seems like something I shouldn’t be seeing, some- thing wounded and private that fills up my throat. I flip my- self around in my seat and start picking through the things we brought and chide myself yet again for the miserable packing job I did. Since I was basically out of my mind trying to get out of the house, I took a whole package of toothbrushes, an armful of books, my River Phoenix poster, plus I emptied out my underwear drawer, but totally forgot to pack any shoes, so all I have are some flip-flops I bought at the truck stop outside of Las Cruces after that man came to the window, slurring, You got nice legs. Tap, tap tap. You got such nice legs.

My flip-flops are covered in Cheeto dust from a bag that got upended. I slip them on anyway, watching Roxy take her sunglasses off and prop them on her head.

“Son of a bitch!” my aunt says, her voice tinny as she catches sight of Roxy’s eye. “Oh my God, that’s really bad, Rox. You made it sound like nothing. That’s not nothing.”

“Ellie,” Roxy says, trying to put laughter in her voice. “I’m here now. We’re here now.”

There’s a pause.

“You look the same,” Elle says. “Except the hair. You went full Marilyn Monroe.”

“What about you?” Roxy says, fussing at her platinum waves with her palm. “You go full granola warrior? When’s the last time you ate a burger?”

“You know I don’t do that. It’s no good for us. Definitely no good for the poor cows.”

“It’s fine for me.” Roxy lifts Elle’s arm and puckers her nose. “What’s going on with your armpits? May not eat meat but you got animals under there, looks like.”

“Shaving is subjugation.”

“Shaving is a mercy for all mankind.”

They erupt into laughter and hug each other again.

“Well, where is she, my little baby niece?” Elle swings the car door open. “Oh, Mayhem.” She scoops me out with two strong arms. Right then I realize just how truly tired I am. She seems to know, squeezes extra hard for a second before letting me go. She smells like the sandalwood soap Roxy buys sometimes. “My baby girl,” Elle says, “you have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to see you. How much I’ve missed you.”

Roxy circles her ear with a finger where Elle can’t see her.

Crazy, she mouths. I almost giggle.

Link to a buy-this-book page:
https://wednesdaybooks.com/galaxies-and-kingdom/mayhem/

~Cassie