#BookTag | NEW YEAR BOOK TAG

It’s been a fair old while since I got involved with a book tag 😦 I’m aiming to do many more in 2018! What better way to start than with a NEW YEAR BOOK TAG which I blatantly stole from Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek and I’m not even sorry about it!

HOW MANY BOOKS ARE YOU PLANNING TO READ IN 2018?

After a rather good 2017 in regards to reading (finished on 75 books) I have set my target for 2018 of 60 books. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get more read as my TBR is a little out of control at the moment – but with it being January 12th already and I’m four books down….let’s see how I go!

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NAME FIVE BOOKS YOU DIDN’T GET TO READ IN 2017 THAT YOU WANT TO MAKE A PRIORITY IN 2018.

  1. A LITTLE LIFE by Hanya Yanagihara
  2. FINAL GIRLS by Riley Sager
  3. DEFENDER by G.X Todd
  4. THE GOOD DAUGHTER by Karin Slaughter
  5. RAGDOLL by Daniel Cole

NAME A GENRE YOU WANT TO READ MORE OF.

Horror! I’ve got a nice little stack of Dean Koontz, Stephen King and Grady Hendrix to be read – I just need to get through them!

Just so we are clear on this as well…..I can READ horror, but I can’t WATCH horror!

WHAT’S A BOOK YOU’VE HAD FOREVER THAT YOU STILL NEED TO READ?

Thankfully I don’t have too many unread books on my shelf now that are over two years old! I made a conscious effort in 2017 to try and clear my ‘old’ TBR as soon as I could – but there is one book that still winks at me as I walk past…

JURASSIC PARK by Michael Crichton

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I picked up this STUNNING hardback edition of JURASSIC PARK and THE LOST WORLD on a visit to New York back in 2016. I could not walk out of Barnes & Noble without this book. I NEEDED it both in my life and on my shelf. A shelf where it has waited for me to pick it up and dive in. I’ve only ever watched the movies – so I am more than keen to read these!

ONE WORD YOU’RE HOPING 2018 WILL BE?

Oooh…I could go all philosophical or witty…or just plain basic! There’s many things I am hoping 2018 will be for me, but to sum it up in one word… ENJOYABLE.

I want to actually ENJOY blogging. I’m guilty of falling victim to bloggers anxiety; why don’t I have ALL the followers? How do I make my Instagram pictures look better? How many shares and tweets do I get? It can drive a person crazy! At one point I was starting to lose track of why I even started blogging in the first place. Not good.

So for 2018, I want to read what I want, when I want, review how I want, take pictures how I want and be grateful for every like/share/tweet – no matter how many and just ENJOY reading. ENJOY blogging and ENJOY the social aspect.

Following from Drew – I won’t be tagging any specific bloggers to take part in this tag. However, if you do take part – be sure to take us in so we can see your post! 🙂

Happy Reading!

-S.

 

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#RisqueReads | #ChapterReveal | UNDEFEATED by Stuart Reardon @stureardon & Jane Harvery-Berrick @jharveyberrick (January 23rd 2018, Indie Published @ArdentPRose)

 

UNDEFEATED by Stuart Reardon & Jane Harvey-Berrick
23rd January 2018, Stuart Reardon Publishing

A powerful contemporary romance set in the fast-moving world of international rugby.

When your world crashes down
When they all say you’re out
When your body is broken
I will rise.
I will return.
And I will be undefeated.

Nick Renshaw is the golden boy of British rugby. When a serious injury threatens his career, he starts to spiral downwards, a broken man.

Feeling abandoned and betrayed by those closest to him, he fights to restart his life. Maybe there’s someone out there who can help him. Maybe he can find his way back toward the light. Maybe … not.

Dr. Anna Scott might be the one person who can help Nick, but she has her own secrets. And when Nick’s past comes back to haunt them both, the enigmatic doctor is more vulnerable than she seems.

Broken and betrayed, the struggle to survive seems intolerable. Who will give in, and who will rise, undefeated?

 

 ** EXCLUSIVE CHAPTER REVEAL **

Prologue

It’s a beautiful game.

It’s a hard game.

And even on a good day your body is battered and bruised. It’s a brutal game with blood, mud and dirt.

See this scar on my cheek? Rugby.

See this scar running through my eyebrow? Rugby.

I have a lot of scars.

I have 13 scars on each arm from keyhole surgery, knee surgery, scars on my forehead and the back of my head, scars on my knuckles, broken fingers. I’ve had both eyelids stitched, surgery on both shoulders, suffered a broken nose twice and spiral fractures in my hands, I’ve broken my fingers so many times, I don’t event count those. I’ve had cartilage cleaned out of my left knee, two medial ligament grade two tears on each knee, three lots of surgery for Achilles tendon injuries, and once I put my bottom teeth through my top lip. Getting stitches in your mouth isn’t much fun. They tug when you eat or speak.

There’s nothing nice about rugby. Maybe that’s why I bloody love it.

Chicks dig scars? Yeah, I’ve heard that, too.

In my experience, they’re not so keen on being around while you’re healing. Being the loser who’s benched, not so sexy. Being the guy who’s career went down the toilet … I’m looking a lot less appealing now.

Trusting a woman when you’re at your lowest—dumbest, stupidest thing ever.

Beat me, break me, butcher my heart.

I’m coming for you. And this time…

I’m going to win.


ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

STUART REARDON

Stuart is a retired England International Rugby League player who’s career spanned 16 years as a professional playing for several top League clubs. He has had several major injuries that nearly ended his career just as in Undefeated, the amazing collaboration with Jane.

Currently he is a Personal trainer living in Cheshire, and has an online fitness program: Fear Nothing Fitness.

Web  Twitter  Facebook   Instagram  YouTube  Tumblr


JANE HARVEY-BERRICK

 I enjoy watching surfers at my local beach, and weaving stories of romance in the modern world, with all its trials and tribulations.

It’s been the best fun working with Stu on this story. And yes, he did think about joining the Marines once.

Web Facebook  Twitter  Amazon Page Goodreads Instagram

 

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#LettersFromTheHeart | #BookReview | MAYBE SOMEDAY (Maybe #1) by Colleen Hoover @colleenhoover (18th March 2014, Atria Books @AtriaBooks)

MAYBE SOMEDAY (Maybe #1) by Colleen Hoover
Published; March 18th 2014, Atria Books

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Sydney is living in an idyllic bubble—she’s a dedicated student with a steady job on the side. She lives with her best friend, has a great boyfriend, and the music coming from the balcony opposite hers is fast becoming the soundtrack to her life. But when Sydney finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her, the bubble bursts.

The mysterious and attractive man behind the music, Ridge, gives Sydney hope that she can move on and they begin to write songs together. But moving on is harder than she expects, Sydney can only hope….

Maybe someday…

Colleen Hoover draws you in to this passionate tale of music, love and betrayal…

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** WARNING – CONTAINS SPOILERS **
Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover was gifted to me for Christmas by my fellow P Turner *L* and after hearing rave reviews by all the P Turner ladies, I decided that this book would be one, of a couple, to be read on a read-a-thon. Although I didn’t finish the book in 24 hours, I spent my New Year’s weekend engrossed in Ridge and Sydney’s story.
And what a story this is. Here is a couple that are unlike other couples from a romance novel, Ridge is a beautiful man, his character so well structured you cannot help but fall in love with him. The relationship between him and our heartbroken heroine Sydney is not your typical relationship but even more beautiful for being so. Sydney is lost, or at least I felt as if the character is, until she finds Ridge. The same can be said for our hero, whose heart splits in two when the friendship between himself and Sydney becomes something more.
Sydney is beautiful and kind, aware throughout that she is walking a thin line with Ridge, learning to communicate with him through sign language and music. As much as she tries to fight her heart, it is safe to say the heart always wins. Hoover has created two amazing characters that draw you into their relationship. We want things to work out between them, we feel every emotion with them, shed tears when they cry and feel happy when they get what their heart desire. This is one of my favourite literary couples.
Hoover is a fabulous writer, one who I feel puts her heart and soul into these characters, you know with every chapter just how much she loves the story and it makes the reader fall in love too. This is a more romantic tale than I’m accustomed to, no over the top scenes here but when we are granted an intimate and steamy scene it is well worth the wait. The sensuality and intimacy of the scene between our characters is divine. I fell in love with Ridge and Sydney even more. Romantic and handled with the utmost care.
A fantastic addition to my bookshelves and one novel I know will be revisited again and again. Thank you *L* for the introduction. I am officially in love with this story and these characters.
My aim for the New Year is to work through reading all the amazing books that have been gifted to me by my fellow P Turners, because I’ve come to trust these ladies whole heartedly, they never steer you wrong.

You can buy MAYBE SOMEDAY from the following booksellers (and many more!);

Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US) | Book Depository | Waterstones

*M*

#BlogTour| #BookReview | THE MISSING GIRL by Jenny Quintana @jennyquintana95 (January 11th 2018, Mantle Books @MantleBooks @ed_pr)

Welcome to my stop on this Blog Tour for THE MISSING GIRL – the chilling debut novel from Jenny Quintana

I would like to say that I am blown away to be invited onto this blog tour! Particular thanks to Annabelle at Ed PR, Mantle Books and of course Jenny Quintana who gifted me an early copy of THE MISSING GIRL I am forever grateful and promise that the review below is 100% honest and of my own views.

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To kick off, we have the “blurb” for the book;

When Anna Flores’ adored older sister goes missing as a teenager, Anna copes by disappearing too, just as soon as she can: running as far away from her family as possible, and eventually building a life for herself abroad.

Thirty years later, the death of her mother finally forces Anna to return home. Tasked with sorting through her mother’s possessions, she begins to confront not just her mother’s death, but also the huge hole Gabriella’s disappearance left in her life – and finds herself asking a question she’s not allowed herself to ask for years: what really happened to her sister?

So, want to know what I thought?

Having come straight from the highs of THE CHILD by Fiona Barton, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to jump straight back into a mystery surrounding a ‘missing’ person – but within the first few chapters, this feeling disappeared and I started to get into Anna & Gabriella’s story.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed THE MISSING GIRL. The mix of past and present story telling gives the reader the full picture and understanding as to why Anna has the relationship with her family as she does. We are taken to the 1908’s when Anna is a child and view her interactions with her sister and parents. Most readers will be able to relate with the family dynamic and will empathise with Anna.

This is one of those books where there are many twists and turns, and as you think you have figured out what happened….we are thrown off course and sent in another direction. One of things I love about reading is thinking I have the story all figured out – it’s then like Jenny laughed at me and told me not to be so silly! As if it was going to be that easy!

Based on THIE MISSING GIRL, I for one am looking forward to reading more of Jenny’s work in the future!

About JENNY QUINTANA;

Jenny Quintana, author.

Jenny Quintana grew up in Essex and Berkshire, before studying English Literature in London. She has taught in London, Seville and Athens and has also written books for teaching English as a foreign language. She is a graduate of the Curtis Brown Creative writing course. She now lives with her family in Berkshire. The Missing Girl is her first novel.

You can buy THE MISSING GIRL from the Mantle Books at mantle.panmacmillan.com and at all good book retailers!

-S.

Be sure to check out the other blogs participating in this Blog Tour. See below for further details and be sure to follow all of the action across Twitter!

The Missing Girl Blog Tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#RisqueReads | #CoverReveal | HERO (A Standalone #MorganBrothers Novel) by Lauren Rowe @laurenrowebooks (March 12th 2018, SoCoRo Publishing)

HERO (A Standalone Morgan Brothers Novel) by Lauren Rowe
Publication Date: 12th March 2018, SoCoRo Publishing

The next STANDALONE contemporary romance in the MORGAN BROTHERS SERIES from USA Today Bestselling Author Lauren Rowe. The story of firefighter Colby Morgan that proves heroes come in many forms . . .

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The first time I laid eyes on Lydia Decker, I couldn’t speak. Or breathe. Or string two
coherent thoughts together.

And I don’t mean any of that figuratively.

I’m not talking about a guy being floored by the sight of a gorgeous woman—although, of
course, Lydia is gorgeous beyond words.

No, when I first laid eyes on Lydia Decker—my physical therapist—I was lying flat on my
back in the ICU, high as a kite on painkillers, breathing on a ventilator, my bones as broken and splintered as my spirit.

When I first laid eyes on Lydia Decker, she was a ray of light in the dark. Hope for the
hopeless. A salve for my singed and battered soul.

She said she’d been assigned to fix me. That she was there to bring me back to life. She said helping me was her calling.

And then she touched me. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. She healed me.
And I fell in love.

But what I didn’t know . . . what I couldn’t possibly know . . . was that Lydia Decker needed fixing far more than I ever did.

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Now let’s look at that cover in all it’s glory….

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#RisqueReads | #BookReview | HOLLYWOOD SCANDAL by Louise Bay @louisesbay (August 18th 2017, Indie Published)

HOLLYWOOD SCANDAL by Louise Bay
Published; August 18th 2017, Independantly Published

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He’s a Hollywood A lister. She’s literally the girl next door.

As one of Hollywood’s A-listers, I have the movie industry in the palm of my hand. But if I’m going to stay at the top, my playboy image needs an overhaul. No more tabloid headlines. No more parties. And absolutely no more one-night stands.

Filming for my latest blockbuster takes place on the coast of Maine, and I’m determined to stay out of trouble. But trouble finds me when I run into Lana Kelly.

She doesn’t recognize me, she’s never heard of Matt Easton, and my million-dollar smile doesn’t work on her.

Ego shredded, I know I should keep my distance, but when I realize she’s my neighbor, I know I’m toast. There’s no way I can resist temptation when it’s 10 yards away.

She has a mouth designed for pleasure and legs that will wrap perfectly around my waist.

She’s movie-star beautiful, and her body is made to be mine.

Getting Lana Kelly into my bed is harder than I’m used to. She’s not interested in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, but I’m determined to convince her the best place in the world is on the red carpet, holding my hand.

I could have any woman in the world, but all I want is the girl next door.

A sexy, stand-alone romance.

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On my continuing mission to explore strange new worlds authors in preparation for RARE18 London in February, I picked up HOLLYWOOD SCANDAL by Louise Bay. The blurb grabbed my attention and instantly made me think of the trailer I had seen for the new Passionflix movie; Hollywood Dirt, where a movie star is filiming in a small town and just happens to fall for the local girl.

Wowsers! What I was not prepared for is just how up front and open each of the characters are with their sexuality and how they communicate with each other. We are pulled into Matt and Lana’s relationship so tight that there’s no room to wiggle free. Every emotion they feel, we feel it with them.

This book does have that element of drama thrown in as we discover more about Lana’s past and how she is living back in her home town. Thankfully Louise doesn’t write Lana as a young woman who is shy, meek and wouldn’t say ‘boo!’ to a ghost. Lana is independant, she’s comfortable, but with that air of sadness which gives her both the relatable and likable quality.

Overall, this book is sweet, hot, steamy, intense and breathtaking. It’s too easy to feel yourself being drawn into the fantasy of the celebrity world.

AUTHOR LINKS; Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

You can buy HOLLYWOOD SCANDAL from the following booksellers (and many more!);

Amazon (UK) | Amazon

-S.

#BlogTour| #BookReview | DIVINE POISON by A.B. Morgan @AliMorgan2304 (January 4th 2018, Bloodhound Books @Bloodhoundbook)

Welcome to my stop on this Blog Tour for the paperback edition release of DIVINE POISON by A.B. Morgan.

I would like to say that I am blown away to be invited onto this blog tour! Particular thanks to Sarah Hardy, Bloodhound Books and of course the A.B. Morgan who gifted me an early copy of DIVINE POISON. I am forever grateful and promise that the review below is 100% honest and of my own views.

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To kick off, we have the “blurb” for the book;

Are you looking for a stunning new crime mystery full of suspense? Then you’ll love AB Morgan’s unmissable Divine Poison.

For a community psychiatric nurse, Monica Morris has an unhealthy interest in poison, and when, on impulse, she buys an antique Ship’s Doctor’s Cabinet with a set of leather-bound journals she becomes fascinated by the content.

A few days later, she discovers the body of her patient, Jan Collins, and although police assume suicide by overdose, Monica is not convinced.

When more unexplained deaths involving poisoning occur, Monica realises they are linked and so does DS Adams who is investigating. But how are they connected? And why?

When it becomes obvious that she’s unwittingly stepped into a trap set for someone else, Monica’s career, her own sanity and her life are placed at risk. But where can she turn to for help?

AB Morgan is the author of the acclaimed psychological thriller A Justifiable Madness. Divine Poison will appeal to fans of authors like LJ Ross, Joy Ellis, Faith Martin and Ed James

So, you want to know what I think?

The first thing that stood out for me with DIVINE POISON is a killing method I haven’t read much of…and that is poisoning. I’m sure there are plenty of crime novels out there that use poisoning as a method of killing/murder, but this is only the second book I have read which features this (the first being THE MAN WHO DIED)

DIVINE POISON does touch on some pretty senstive topics – especially in regards to the Catholic church which can make some uncomfortable reading. However this does contribute largely to the story and hasn’t been added for the sake of trying to shock the readers. It does the opposite.

What gave me the jeebies the most with this book is putting myself into the victims shoes. Poisoning can be a quiet crime in the regard that you never really know that it is happening. A poison can easily be dropped into food, a drink or even through water. This to me is what gave DIVINE POISON that edge.

If you are looking for a book with more twists and turns than a helter skelter than DIVINE POISON is definitely the book for you! Just when you think you have got it all sussed as to who is involved – Morgan is able to steer the reader in a completely different direction. This is evident in the ending where it is finally revealed who has been responsible for the deathe! DIVINE POISON is thrilling to read and a book to keep you on your toes!

About A.B. Morgan;

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Alison Morgan started writing a couple of years ago to address that niggling question: could she write a book? The answer was a simple yes. She’s had to retire from the NHS a little earlier than planned, but has discovered a new passion. Writing. Her debut novel, A Justifiable Madness, was published by Bloodhound Books in September 2017 attracting great reviews for its refreshing premise and dark humour. With two further novels being published at the beginning of 2018, it seems Alison has a promising future as an author. Divine Poison is the second novel to feature Monica Morris, a mental health nurse, as the main protagonist in this crime mystery, but there are no plans for a series. Alison’s third suspense novel, The Camera Lies, steps away from the field of nursing and into the world of real crime documentary films.

Alison lives with her husband Andy and their dog Sadie, in a small village north of Bedford. She’s not the type to let life get in the way of adventure and so, always up for the next challenge, she decided to have a proper midlife crisis and learn to ride a motorbike. In August she passed, first time. Her husband was impressed until she swung her leg over his prized Triumph and roared off with a big grin on her face. ‘Research for the next book,’ she cried. The fourth book is under construction and does indeed feature motorbikes.

 

You can buy DIVINE POISON from the following booksellers (but obvs you can get it at other awesome booksellers too!);

Amazon (UK) | Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones

-S.

Be sure to check out the other blogs participating in this Blog Tour. See below for further details and be sure to follow all of the action across Twitter!

BLOG TOUR (2)

 

 

#IncidentReport | #BookReview | SOMETIMES I LIE by Alice Feeney @alicewriterland (March 23rd 2017, HQ @HQstories)

SOMETIMES I LIE by Alice Feeney
March 23rd 2017, HQ

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My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move. She can’t speak. She can’t open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they have no idea. Amber doesn’t remember what happened, but she has a suspicion her husband had something to do with it.

Alternating between her paralyzed present, the week before her accident, and a series of childhood diaries from twenty years ago, this brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something really a lie if you believe it’s the truth?

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I won a copy of SOMETIMES I LIE right before the book was released with every intention of reading it as soon as I got my hands on it! However other books, life and other blogging commitements stood in my way and I’m sorry to say this book stayed on my shelf for a long time.

It was only in the past couple of weeks when I noticed Abby at Crime By The Book reading SOMETIMES I LIE in anticipation of the US release and something in me was triggered and I went straight to my shelf, pulled the book off and started to read. My word! This book was worth the wait and then some.

To kick off, the concept is one I have not read before. Amber Reynolds is in a coma, however is still able to hear all conversations carrying on around her. This already made me feel anxious and made me try and put myself in Ambers position about how I would feel knowing that I cannot communication with people right next to me. Pretty frigging scared, confused and claustrophobic.

Although I felt sympathy to Amber’s situation – the pessimist in me could sense that her narrative was entirely truthful. I completely devoured the ‘unreliable narrator’ theme, which worked PERFECTLY within this novel – which I haven’t experienced since HE SAID/SHE SAID (by Erin Kelly). I found myself doubting every memory Amber had and wondered for a while whether an ulterior agenda was at play.

The only thing painful about this book is that we now have to wait another YEAR for the follow up novel; SOMETIMES I KILL. The struggle is most definitely real!

You can buy SOMETIMES I LIE from the following booksellers;

Amazon (UK) | Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones

-S.

#ContemporaryReads | #BookReview | MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY by Fredrik Backman @Backmanland ‏@henningkoch (16th June 2015, Aria Books @AtriaBooks)

MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY by Fredrik Backman
Published; June 16th 2015, Atria Books

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From the author of the internationally bestselling A Man Called Ove, a novel about a young girl whose grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters, sending her on a journey that brings to life the world of her grandmother’s fairy tales.

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy, standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus-crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s letters lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones, but also to the truth about fairytales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

Wow! An easy 5 stars from me. This was an amazing book that somehow managed to smash my heart into a thousand pieces whilst at the same time filling my heart with joy.
I love how it is written from the point of view of a 7 year old girl who feels different. Her granny has developed a world of fairytales that Elsa can lose herself in to help her cope with what the world throws at her.
We see how Elsa is alot more knowledgeable than most 7 year olds which is annoying for her family and friends who don’t seem to know how to deal with it.
When Elsa’s granny dies we see how Elsa struggles with her grief but her granny already had a plan to help her through the barrage of feelings she has. As Elsa sets out on the journey her grandmother has set for her we begin to see maybe the fairytale world is not so make believe after all….
I lost myself in the fairytales and I loved being on this journey with Elsa as she discovers not everybody is who they seem at the start. As we are introduced to lots of different characters who all ultimately become entangled I feel there is definitely room for some to develop stories of their own.
Ultimately this is a book based on bullying and grief but is written in such a way there is nothing depressing about it. It leaves you feeling happy.
It shows that no matter how hard you feel life may be there is always someone out there that cares.
To sum up this book…it’s a fairytale based on fairytales.

 

You can buy MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY from the following booksellers (and many more!);

Amazon (UK) | Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones

*L*

 

 

 

#RisqueReads | #ChapterReveal | CRUISE (Savage Disciples #6) by Drew Elyse @DrewElyseAuthor (January 11th 2018, Indie Published @ArdentPRose)

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Once a Disciple, forever a Disciple.


After giving up eighteen months of his life for his club,
the Disciples’ president is finally tasting freedom again.
Stone knows there’s only one thing that might ever be as sweet,
but she’s too young, too perfect, too untouchable for a man like him.

A Disciple will fight like a savage to protect what matters.

Evie’s life is pretty much blowing up in her face
until Stone finds her broken down on the side of the road.
Now if only she could get him to stop being the martyr
and give them a shot at what she knows they both want.

It’s high time this biker got the chance to let go and just cruise.
Prologue

 

Stone

I shoveled in a forkful of eggs thinking I was becoming a masochist.
It was high past time for me to stop dragging my ass to that diner five days a week. Christ, after that first time stopping in to grab a bite, I should have gotten on my bike and not come back.

Instead, I developed some sick fucking need to torture myself incessantly.
Across the dated countertop I sat at—the same damn place my ass was parked every time I came in—she was singing. She did that a lot. It was always quiet, just barely audible from my spot, and eaten up by the room before it could get to any of the tables.
Today, it was “Delta Dawn.”

I knew the song, though I wondered how the fuck she did. It had to be about as old as me. My mom listened to it when I was growing up, but it wasn’t a new one even then. Forty-odd years later, it was surprising a girl in her twenties would know it, let alone be singing it quietly while she worked.

In her twenties, I repeated the thought to myself the way I did every time I had it.
Even as I did, I couldn’t tear my eyes off of her. Not that that was anything unusual. How the hell she hadn’t cottoned on, I didn’t know. Then again, Geneviev was a woman the likes of which were rare these days.

Evie had told me a lot in the months I’d been planting my ass on the stool in front of her four times. The only reason I skipped three days every week was because she didn’t work them. The food she set down in front of me each time was fine, but it wasn’t what kept me coming back. It was her. She was sweet as sugar and for some reason seemed to take to me. This meant I got a lot of her sweet directed my way when I took up residence at that counter. She’d talk about what she had going on, how she was studying to be a nurse, her roommate, crazy shit that happened there at the diner. She’d talk about whatever came to her, and I’d soak up every damn word.

What she hadn’t said—and I hadn’t asked because I was smart enough to know that it was dangerous ground for my own self-control—was how the fuck she came to be the woman she was. That being, a woman who was cute, gracious, caring, funny, but more importantly, sheltered.

I knew it the first time she’d taken the gamble on talking to me, and she’d asked about my cut. It wasn’t like I never got questions about the Savage Disciples MC patch on my back. Hell, it wasn’t even like I didn’t get those from a whole lot of folks who knew nothing about the life. It was the blatant curiosity that shone in her eyes—a look I’d seen more than a few times since—that verged on wonder. Like a bunch of bikers were the stuff of fairy tales or some shit.

“Top you off, Mr. President?” the object of my obsession asked on a light, ringing laugh.
Yeah, she’d started calling me “Mr. President” when I’d explained that part of the cut to her.

Christ, she was dangerous.

I gave her a lift of my chin, which got me a smile I forced myself not to fully take in as she topped off more coffee into my mug.

“Thanks, babe.”
The words earned me another smile, this one softer.
That right there might be the biggest indicator she was sheltered.

She’d told me once, amid her talking about the nursing program she was doing, and how she wished she’d been able to start right out of high school and already be working in the job she’d wanted since she was young, that she’d just recently turned twenty-five. I wouldn’t deny that there were twenty-five-year-olds out there that’d smile at me and do a fuck of a lot more. I wasn’t in my twenties—or my thirties—anymore, but I could still get a lot of women of a lot of different ages in my bed. Patch chasers or party girls, that “President” stitched onto the front of my cut could get me a taste of a variety of flavors.
Evie wasn’t one of those.

A girl like Evie, with the air of innocence that hung around her, had no business smiling at the gruff, former marine, old-enough-to-be-her-father president of the local motorcycle club.

And that asshole had no business coming around, drinking in all the sweet that was her, and dreaming about what it would be like to get a taste.

“Time to make the rounds,” she announced, moving her lithe body around the counter to go check on the two occupied tables in the joint.

I had to curl my hand into a fist so tight my knuckles protested to keep from turning where I sat to watch her move. It was a battle I fought every time I was there. If I had to put a number on it, I’d say I was at about a forty percent success rate. The other sixty percent of the time, I’d end up engraining her courteous smiles, the flair of her waist, the way her hips moved with her steps into my head. Like I didn’t already have a million images of her stored away up there, making certain the torture I came here and subjected myself to didn’t stop when I walked out the door.

By the time Evie finished her rounds, including delivering bills to both tables, I was finished eating. I’d even gotten out the cash to cover my meal—since I ate there so often I already knew what the damage would be. I told myself again and again that I should get my ass up and just call out a goodbye as I left.

Sticking with the theme, I didn’t listen to my own good advice.

Which was why I was still sitting at that damn bar when she was back behind it, standing right across from me with a smile on her face that had turned tight. I didn’t get it, not as I watched her grab the rag she used to wipe down the tables, not as she set about cleaning the unmarred stretch of counter in front of her.

“So…um…any plans this weekend?” There was a faint, nervous tremor to the words.
“Nothing much,” I answered, keeping my voice level.

Her anxiety set me on edge. It wasn’t like her. She wiped the same spot repeatedly as she turned over whatever she was about to say.

“I was wondering—you know, if you’re not busy and all—if you’d want to…I don’t know…get dinner,” she stumbled out. “Or something.”

Fuck.
Fuck me.

Here I’d been thinking all this time that I needed to let go of this attachment. Never, not even once in the craziest shit my brain thought up when I didn’t check myself, did I think that the tables would turn.

She had no business, not a fucking lick, asking me out.

And now it fell on me to correct that problem, even when I wanted nothing more than to take her up on her offer.

Fuck.

The time had come. No more avoiding this shit. No more convincing myself it was fine.
This was the end.

“Kills me to do this, you gotta know that, but I’m gonna have to say no.”

It sounded like a line, a bullshit way to ease the rejection. I wanted to rip the words back, choke on them if I had to when I watched her face fall as they sank in. She thought I wasn’t interested. She honestly fucking thought I’d been coming in all this time for…what? The food? The atmosphere?

No, I’d been there day after day because she was the most magnificent thing I’d ever laid my eyes on and that didn’t even scratch the surface of all there was to her.

Turning down her sweet invitation burned through me in a way I knew the singed wasteland left behind would never be the same. But I couldn’t give her that. She’d push if I did, and I was too fucking weak to keep resisting.

“Oh,” she finally breathed in response. “That…that’s okay.”

It wasn’t. Not for her, with the disappointment she tried—and failed—to mask still showing in her eyes. Not for me, with the way it was actually physically painful to hold in all the words I wanted to give her to ease that damage I’d done.

It wasn’t okay in the fucking slightest, but it was the right thing to do.

“I’m not the man you should be offering that to,” I found myself saying. I should have just kept my mouth shut, taken the blow that was seeing her dejection, and gotten the fuck out. “Shit’s me to say it, but it’s the truth.”

The downturn of her lips, something I’d never seen before that moment, told me she didn’t believe a word of it even as she said, “Okay.”

As I sat there, watching her avoid looking at me, watching her chin tip down to her slender neck like she was trying to hide beneath her honey-colored hair, I fought the urge to say more. I wanted to talk until I was blue in the face if needed to make her understand, but doing so would be admitting too much.

Instead, I finally forced myself to do what I should have done months ago. I stood, slid the money closer to her for the bill, and I lied.

“I’ll see you soon, Evie.”

They were the same words I gave her every time I walked out the door, but it was the first time I said them with no intention of making them true.

Four months later, as the bars to the cell I’d be calling home for the next year and a half closed for the first time, that lie was the only thing in my head.

Drew Elyse spends her days trying to convince the world that she is, in fact, a Disney Princess, and her nights writing tear-jerking and smutty romance novels. Her debut novel, Dissonance, released in August of 2014.

When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found over-analyzing every line of a book, binge watching a series on Netflix, doing strange vocal warm ups before singing a variety of music styles, or screaming at the TV during a Chicago Blackhawks game.

A graduate of Loyola University Chicago with a BA in English, she still lives in Chicago, IL where she was born and raised with her boyfriend and her prima donna pet rabbit, Lola.

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