Friday YA: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

When one of the most dangerous grimoire’s in Austermeer seeks to escape the Great Library, foundling apprentice, Elisabeth, finds herself blocking it’s path. She must keep it from reaching the village where it could wreak havoc and kill many. Despite her humanity, Elisabeth manages the impossible, yet what should have been a victory turns her into a suspect and she’s sent off in the hands of sorcerer Nathanial Thorn and his demon servant, Silas. They soon discover that that’s not the only grimoire to be set free and they must find out who is behind these treacherous acts, or die trying.

I loved Enchantment of Ravens, Margaret Rogerson’s previous novel. It was as gorgeous on the inside as it was on the outside. I did like Sorcery of Thorns but it felt like it was trying to hard to be as good as the first. Elisabeth was a fun character. She was smart, energetic, and fearless. Growing up as a foundling of a Great Library she has a love for books and specifically the grimoire’s rustling voices. Hearing those voices is as supernatural as Elisabeth gets, she’s more smart than magical. She is wary of Nathanial at first because of all of the horror stories she was told as a child about all of the sorcerer families, but as she enlists his help to find who is releasing the grimoire’s there’s an undeniable attraction. I’m not really sure why because he seems pretty arrogant, but growing up an orphan in a library she doesn’t have a lot to compare him to and is dazzled.

I like their interaction with each other and as Nathanial’s back story is introduced it helps him become a little more sympathetic, but for me the more interesting relationship is Nathanial with his demon servant Silas. Nathanial’s parents die when he’s just entering his teen’s and it’s Silas who essentially raises him. A demon is not supposed to have feelings for a human and that relationship has more depth and emotion than the one between Nathanial and Elisabeth.

Sorcery of Thorns is a fun action adventure novel with just a hint of romance. A complete fantasy, it was easy to get lost in the characters and see where the story was leading. I enjoyed myself reading this novel, but didn’t quite enjoy it as much as Enchantment of Ravens. Sorry, I couldn’t help but compare the two! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click this link to purchase!* Sorcery of Thorns

Copyright 2019 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase the book through the above link, I receive a small stipend.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Happy Monday everyone! I ran across this post on Book Date and liked the idea of sharing what I’m currently reading, and hopefully hearing about what you’ve picked up off your shelf. So here goes!

JUST FINISHED

First Sentence Read: “Just as Emma Castle’s plane landed in Scotland, she pulled out her phone and viewed the incriminating evidence once again.”

This was a cute, lighthearted women’s fiction novel, but I found myself wanting to slap all of these characters silly. Do people really dither about, messing with each other’s lives like this? Super frustrating! Yet… I did read the whole thing. LOL

JUST STARTED

First Sentence Read: “It was late winter in Northern Rus’, the air sullen with wet that was neither rain nor snow.”

I have heard so many great things about this book, but I’m having trouble getting into it! I may need to skip it and pick up a different book. I’ll try one more chapter…

Now that you know my struggles and frustrations with the books I’m reading, what book are you reading this fine Monday?

Deb

Friday YA: The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

Weather catastrophes are destroying the Earth and many countries are now underwater from severe storms and typhoons. Leaders band together to finance a voyage to Europa and eventually colonize it. After the failure and death of the astronauts from the previous mission, it’s been determined that a younger group may have a better chance at survival. 24 teenagers from around the globe are drafted to compete at the International Space Training Camp for a place on the team of six people that will be sent to Europa. From the moment I picked this novel up I was enthralled by the action and intrigued by the mystery and had a hard time putting it down!

Naomi is Iranian-American and a science genius. Before Earth’s self destruction she had dreams of going to NASA but now doesn’t want to leave her family behind. If she gets chosen as one of the final six, she’ll never see any of them again. Leo’s family and home were lost to a typhoon and this competition gives him a reason to be alive. His championship swimming skills were the reason he was chosen to be in the top 24 and he’s eager for the challenge in front of him. When strange things start happening he helps Naomi investigate the truth behind their mission.

This was such a fun novel! I loved that Naomi an Iranian-American was so smart and seemed to be the only one who was questioning what they were training for.. there were so many question marks. She had strength, but with a sick younger brother at home also had a reason to not want to go on this mission. Leo’s background may have been more sad, but I liked Naomi’s inner struggle. What’s right? Saving multiple people or only her own family?

Leo’s back story was certainly more sad. His entire family lost to a typhoon and he is left alone with the memories of their faces underwater. This mission gives him life and a reason to live, then meeting Naomi gives him a possible future. Their romance was the frosting on the cake for me. I liked the two of them together so much.

If you like science fiction that are quick to read then you need to put this one on your list. The second novel doesn’t come out until next year which was a big disappointment for me, but I will definitely be picking it up to see how their journey continues on and if all of their fears are realized. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Opinions from around the Blogosphere

“his book entertained me liked I hoped it would. This is an easy sci-fi book perfect for summer or when you need something easy to pick up. While parts were solid enough, I do think parts really suffered from the terrible, one dimensional adults and the story needed to be longer to bring more to Naomi and the actual space training. But I will say that the mystery was interesting, great male lead in Leo and a solid ending that I am interested in reading the sequel.” Metal Fantasm Reads

“Overall this was an okay book. I definitely had some issues with it but it didn’t take so much away from me enjoying it. I liked it enough that I am interested in reading the second book but I’m not sure how soon I will be reading it once its published.” AfictionReality

Click this link to purchase!* The Final Six

Copyright 2019 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? (10/14/19)

Happy Monday everyone! I ran across this post on Book Date and liked the idea of sharing what I’m currently reading, and hopefully hearing about what you’ve picked up off your shelf. So here goes!

JUST FINISHED

First Sentence Read: “The legalized torture of socializing lined right up with premeditated murder when you added the requirement of fancy shoes.”

JUST STARTED

First Sentence Read: “Journal of Richard Fox , June 27 1937, Budapest, Kingdom of Hungary”

Connections in Death was a departure from Eve Dallas’ normal investigation this time, delving into gang culture. I rather liked it! Lady Rogue starts quick and never stops. I have a feeling I am going to really like this one! At least I hope so!

What are you reading this fine Monday?

Friday YA: The Library of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey

Books have always brought Darcy Wells comfort. When Darcy’s mom’s compulsive shopping escalates Darcy imagines herself as one of her favorite heroines and only her best friend Marisol has helped her through all of her tough times. When Asher Fleet limps into the bookstore she’s working in, for the first time she wants to live and feel, but opening herself up to Asher will make her face the things she’s been hiding from her whole life.

This book made me feel so many different emotions. I was surprised by the fact that Darcy lived at home with a mother who was a hoarder. Her descriptions of what her home smelled like, cardboard and plastic, the goat tunnel her mom left as passageways for them to walk through… it was horrifyingly real. Darcy’s bedroom was the only space left untouched and her breath of relief when she entered her own room made you realize how much of a haven that room was both mentally and physically but her reality wasn’t confined to only that room.

Asher Fleet had a dream of going to Annapolis and flying until his car accident one evening left him a shattered leg, migraine’s and dizzy spells. When he starts hanging out in the bookstore where Darcy works they befriend each other and she see’s beyond his moodiness and she starts to imagine her life with him in it. Their romance was a very slow burn and I was swept into the sweetness of his courting her by mimicking one of the actions of a character from a favorite book. All book lovers will wish for their own acorn. You’ll understand after reading, I promise!

The Library of Lost Things won me over completely. It was original, had GREAT book quotes to start every chapter, and characters who were gritty, real, and had real life problems they needed to overcome. The romance may have been a slow burn but it was filled with emotion that went beyond the years of the characters falling in love. Truly, this one’s a gem. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

I received a free copy of the book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-library-of-lost-things.jpg

Click this link to purchase!* The Library of Lost Things

Copyright 2019 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate

It’s Monday! What are you reading? (10/7/19)

Happy Monday everyone! I ran across this post on Book Date and liked the idea of sharing what I’m currently reading, and hopefully hearing about what you’ve picked up off your shelf. So here goes!

JUST FINISHED

First Sentence Read: “Wanted: Airship Doctor. Physician welcome, surgeon preferred.”

Ahh Percy, how I do love thee. Well, especially after having read this book! I love Gail Carriger’s quirky historical steampunk series and this was a great wrap up novel to The Custard Protocol.

JUST STARTED

First Sentence Read: “I’ve read enough stories to know how they worked.”

OK, Ok, I know I said I was starting this book last week, and I did! I just read another book before I started this one, so I’m still reading it. Enjoyable so far! Although, I admit that first sentence isn’t very grabby.

What are you reading this fine Monday? Comment below!

Deb

Friday YA: Maybe This Time by Kasie West

Working for the local florist, Sophie knows she’ll be at all of the large events her small town will throw in the coming year. Her best friend’s family owns the local catering company and usually she and her BFF work them side by side. This year, their catering company has hired a celebrity chef to help them with a makeover. When Sophie meets that celebrity’s son Andrew she takes an instant dislike to him and isn’t looking forward to working with him over the next year. A year is a long time to carry that hate, will her feelings change?

Kasie West is one of my favorite YA contemporary authors. I know exactly what I’m going to get, how long it will take me to read it, and am almost guaranteed I’m going to like it. Maybe This Time didn’t veer from that winning format. Sophie was a small town girl with big town ambitions. Having grown up in a small town myself, I know the feelings of wanting to get out, and Kasie West capture’s those feelings very well. Sophie’s frustrations with trying to achieve her goals, her dissatisfaction with her family life, her bickering with her best friend, all felt so real. I really liked how meeting Andrew changed her. He had the experience of living in different places, including NYC, but maybe the things she was trying to get away from are the things she’d miss.

I liked Andrew a lot. A guy who has to move around from town to town with his celebrity dad, doesn’t get a lot of chances to make friends. I felt bad for him when Sophie shot him down from day one and anticipated that day when she’d give him a shot. Despite his GQ airs, he wanted the experiences and family that living in a small town gives you. He and Sophie actually were the perfect pair and I loved the moment when they figured that out themselves.

Maybe This Time got the formula right. A simple premise that we can all apply to our own lives. We don’t have to look too far to find happiness. It may be right in front of us the whole time.

❤️❤️❤️❤️

Opinions from around the Blogosphere

“Overall, this was a cute contemporary that I really enjoyed. I flew through this book and although it’s not my favorite Kasie West, I would still definitely recommend this one if you’re looking for something short and sweet.” Page Procrastinators

Maybe This Time is a cute summer read that takes place over the course of nine different events. I loved both the main characters as well as the side characters, and the theme of family adds more meaning to the book. I would definitely recommend this one, or any of Kasie West’s books, to those looking for the perfect contemporary.” The Candid Cover

Click this link to purchase!* Maybe This Time

Copyright 2019 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? (9/30/19)

Happy Monday everyone! I ran across this post on Book Date and liked the idea of sharing what I’m currently reading, and hopefully hearing about what you’ve picked up off your shelf. So here goes!

JUST FINISHED

This novel was touted as being the next Hating Game which I think did it a disservice. The Hating Game was innovative and new. With that in mind I couldn’t help but compare the two and I’ll admit I was disappointed. Even though it uses my favorite trope, enemies to lovers, there was just so much that I didn’t care for. I’ll save those comments for my review.

JUST STARTED

With the word library in the title my hopes are high. I’ve heard great things and I’m expecting a little heartache and hope out of this novel.

Now that you know what’s on my radar and in my hands this week, please feel free to share what you are reading this fine Monday!

Thanks.

Deb

Blog Tour! Excerpt- Six Goodbyes We Never Said by Candace Ganger

I’m excited to be included in this tour of Six Goodbyes We Never Said by Candace Granger. After reading the synopsis, I was intrigued, and I bet I won’t be the only one!

Synopsis:

This is no love story; in fact, it’s not even really a “like” story. In Candace Ganger’s sophomore novel, SIX GOODBYES WE NEVER SAID (Wednesday Books; September 24, 2019), two teens meet after tragically losing their parents and learn about love, loss, and letting go. Deftly tackling issues of mental health and grief, Ganger’s #OwnVoices novel brings vibrant characters to life as they figure out how to say goodbye to the people they love the most.


Naima Rodriguez doesn’t want your patronizing sympathy as she grieves her father, her hero—a fallen Marine. She’ll hate you forever if you ask her to open up and remember him “as he was,” though that’s all her loving family wants her to do in order to manage her complex OCD and GAD. She’d rather everyone back the-eff off while she separates her Lucky Charms marshmallows into six, always six, Ziploc bags, while she avoids friends and people and living the life her father so desperately wanted for her.


Dew respectfully requests a little more time to process the sudden loss of his parents. It’s causing an avalanche of secret anxieties, so he counts on his trusty voice recorder to convey the things he can’t otherwise say aloud. He could really use a friend to navigate a life swimming with pain and loss and all the lovely moments in between. And then he meets Naima and everything’s changed—just not in the way he, or she, expects. Full of tender, funny, and downright heartbreaking moments, Ganger’s second novel will have you cheering and crying all on the same page.

Don’t miss out on this YA powerhouse standalone!

EXCERPT:

Dad cell

May3at7:33PM

Transcription Beta

“Guess who’s getting ready to come home and take you to Ivy Springs? That’s right, Ima. It’s happening. It’s finally happening. Don’t tell Nell. I want to surprise her.”

  0:00 0:10

Speaker Call Back Delete

Email Draft (Unsent)

To

Subject

I’m holding my breath

Until you’re standing in front of me Because we’ve danced this song

So many times before

Promise.

And I no longer trust You’ll do what you

Just in case,

I’ll count the hexagons.

NAIMA

Nell is a dingy yoga mat; the sweaty barrier between total chill­ status and my shit reality (aka, my annoying stepmom and ru­ iner of all moments) (trust me on this).

“JJ and Kam aren’t going to believe how much you’ve grown since the funeral,” she says on our long­ass 794­mile drive from Albany, Georgia, to Ivy Springs, Indiana. She taptaptapsher long, pointed fingernails against the steering wheel to the beat of what­ ever imaginary song she’s playing in her head. Probably some­ thing disco or hair band. The radio is silent, always silent, when we ride together, but the second she speaks with that high­pitched nasally voice I loathe, I regret this necessity. I concentrate harder on the objects we pass so I can properly pinch my toes between them.

Tap my nose. Tap my nose. Tap my nose.

Tap my nose. Tap my nose.

Tap my nose.

Click my tongue. Click my tongue. Click my tongue.

Click my tongue. Click my tongue.

Click my tongue.

Flick my thumbnail. Flick my thumbnail.

Flick my thumbnail.

Flick my thumbnail. Flick my thumbnail.

Flick my thumbnail.

Flick.

Flick.

FLICK.

I continue with my sequence the length of the drive. Nell hates it, but I hate when she wears fingerless gloves in the summer, so we’re even. Without my boring­ass stepbrother, Christian, to be my talk block—the dull cushion of conversation between Nell and me—(he left two days ago on a death star/plane to see his dad in NYC), the “spacious” SUV feels like I’ve been placed at a dinner table in a vast canyon and right across from me is literally the onlywoman I don’t want to meet for dinner. Like, why can’t I eat with the Queen of England or Oprah? I’m bound by my father’s love for Nell, or whatever, but now he’s gone, and I’m climbing the hell out of the canyon before she wants to talk about how big my naturally tousled hair is (a perfect mess), period cycles (semi­regular, FYI), sexually transmitted diseases (don’t have a single one, thanks), or worse—my feelings (happily bur­ied!). Ugh. GTFO.

The failing engine’s hum, where the metal scrapes and churns with a whir, competes with Nell’s increased tapping. I’ve missed too many objects, my toes rapidly pinching and releasing, to make up for what’s been lost. But it’s too late. My mind shifts automatically to a neon sign flashing warning! There’s always a consequence to messing up the sequence. Always.

Counting is to time what the final voicemail Dad left is to the sound of my heart cracking open; a message I can’t listen to. It’ll become entombed in history, in me. My finger lingers over my phone and quickly retreats, knowing there’s nothing he could’ve said to make this pain less. Nothing can make him less gone.

I look out the window to where my dreary­ eyed reflection stares blankly back at me; Nell glides over the double yellow lines into oncoming traffic, violently overcorrecting just before we would have been hit by a semi. The sound of his horn echoes through the high­ topped Tennessee mountains. Three thousand two hundred eighty­ seven people die in car accidents every day. I Googled it. After I Googled it, I looked at pictures. And after I looked at pictures I went through the sequence. Car accident. Fatalities. My legs smashed up to my chest. Nell crushed into the hood.

“Sorry,” she says; her voice rattles. “Make sure Ray’s okay back there.”

I turn to investigate the vase­ shaped metal urn surrounded by layers of sloppily folded sheets (Nell did that) and one per­fectly situated hexagon quilt (that’s all me). The sun’s gleam hits U.S. Marine Corp just so, and I’m reminded again that he’s gone.

Gone.

It’s fine,” I say, refusing to call that pile of ashes “Dad,” or “he.” The urn arrived several days ago in a twenty­ four­ hour pri­ority package. Nell saying, “No reason to waste time getting him home,” and I was like, “What’s that?” and she was all “Your dad, silly,” and I was like, “Huh?” and she asked me if I wanted a banana­ kale protein shake after she “got him situated.” A big hell no. I immediately dove into a Ziploc ration of Lucky Charms marshmallows to dull the pain of conversing with someone so exhausting.

After he was transported in ice from Afghanistan to Dover, after they sorted and processed his things, after he was cre­ mated, after the police and state troopers closed down the streets to honor him as we drove him through, after we had the memorial service, after we were handed the folded flag with a bullet shell casing tucked inside, after they spoke of his medals, and after Christian and I sat in disbelief beneath a weep­ ing willow tree for three hours, Nell finally decided the ashes should go to his hometown in Indiana, after all. I didn’t think she’d cave, but after one talk with my grandma, JJ, she did. If anyone could turn a donkey into a unicorn, it’s JJ (or so she says). And so, it was decided—Dad, I mean It, was going home a unicorn.

“Let’s stop for some grub,” Nell says, wide­eyed. “Hungry?” “Grub,” rhymes with “nub,” which she is. “No.”

“Let’s at least stretch our legs. Still a few hours to go.” “Fine. But no travel yoga this time.”

She pulls off to a rest area a few miles ahead, exiting the car. I crack a window and wait while she hikes a leg to the top of the trunk, bending forward with an “oh, that’s tight.” After, she says, “Going to the potty. BRB.”

I flash a thumbs­up and slink deep into the warmth of my seat, hiding from the stare of perverts and families. My foot kicks my bag on the floor mat, knocking my prescription bottle to its side. Dr. Rose, my therapist in Ft. Hood, said sometimes starting over is the only way to stop looking back. But what about when the past is all you have left of someone?

My gaze pushes forward to the vending machines. Dad and I stopped at this very place on our way to Indiana without basic Nell. He’d grab a cold can of Coke and toss me a bag of trail mix to sort into piles. If I close my eyes, it almost feels like he’s here—not a pile of ashes buckled tight into the backseat. We’d play a game of Would You Rather to see who could come up with the worst/most messed­ up scenarios (I usually won).

Would you rather wear Nell’s unwashed yoga pants every day for a month? Or call an urn full of ashes “Dad”? Sometimes, he’d pre­sort the trail mix, leaving me the best parts (the candy­ coated chocolate). I am one ­of­ a ­kind Magic, Dad would say. But he was, too. A unicorn, I think. Definitely not a donkey. The more I think on it, maybe JJ could turn Nell into a unicorn, too, but no magic is that strong.

Dad cell

June1at 9:04 AM

Transcription Beta

  “Open the door.”

0:00
0:03
Speaker Call Back Delete

Sent Email

No Subject

Naima<naimatheriveter@gmail.com>   Jun 1, 9:07 AM to Dad

If I open it,

Will you really be there Or just a memory

From the last time?

Nevermind.

The ghost

I see you,

Outside my window.

     DEW GD BRICKMAN

DURATION:  10:49

In today’s forecast, sunshine early morning will give way to late day thunder storms. I love the smell of rain. It’s the aroma of being alive.

August Moon and the Paper Hearts—the band my parents opened for—advise we speak kindly to strangers through song. I’d like to think that’s what my parents would’ve said, too. I can still see my mother’s chestnut eyes soft as she hums. From the tired bones in her feet after long shifts at the glass­making factory (after the band split apart), to the graying curls that sprang into action when the beat hit her ears, she’s frozen in time; a whim­sical ballerina, twirling inside a glass globe to a tune only she and I can hear.

“Let the music move your soul,” she’d tell me. “Let it carry you into the clouds, my darling.”

She’d grab my hand, hers papered by the rough gloves she was required to wear during her shifts, guiding me by the glitter­ing moon dust, while Dad watched on from the old twill rocker, threads carved around his boxy frame. Our feet stepped along invisible squares against the floor, round and round, until the world vanished beneath us. We floated.

“You got that boy spoiled, Momma,” Dad would tell her. “Don’t you know it,” she’d reply, pulling me closer.

That was when the universe built itself around the three of us; vibrant wildflowers, dipped in my mother’s favorite verb: “love.” I wish I could remember the smell of her better. I wish I could remember what Dad would say. When I lose my breath in the thick of human oceans and panic, I wish harder.

My second set of parents, Stella and Thomas, are kind to me. Stella’s eyes remind me of my mother’s—two infinity pools, giving the illusion of boundless compassion—while Thomas’s laugh is an eerily mirrored version of my father’s. Sometimes, when Thomas finds himself amused, I catch myself thinking Dad is here. I can almost see him holding his bass guitar, doubled over from a joke he’d heard.

My sister, Faith, hasn’t settled into this family yet, even after a year of fostering. She cries, punches her bed pillow—sometimes Stella; sometimes Thomas. Her wailing is incessant, scratchy, and raw. Sometimes I sit outside her door and silently cry with her. When you’re taken from your birth parents, it doesn’t matter how wonderful your new, adoptive, or temporary, foster parents are. They can be every warm hug you’ve needed, but if you’re holding tight to the feeling of being home, you may find com­ fort in the cold, dark night instead. I did at first. After all the months with us, Faith is realizing the Brickmans are her home now, but she’s still fighting to stay warm on her own, hoping her parents would somehow return.

“You can never know someone’s pain or happiness until you’ve stepped inside their shoes,” my mother would say.

“What if their shoes don’t fit?” I’d ask. “If our lives are too different?”

“Find a connection; something similar enough that all the dif­ferences bounce off the table completely, like Ping­ Pong balls. If we look past things that divide us, humanity will find a way to shine through.”

No one should step inside my shoes unless they’re prepared to understand the kind of grief that’s whole­ body and constant. It’s quiet but deep. The same way Earth orbits the sun every hour of every day of every year, I miss my parents, and Faith misses hers.

Stella and Thomas try. They’ve searched our shoe collection. They’ve tried them on. And, just as Cinderella found her magic fit, they’ve managed to find a pair that fits in some way. Of the hundreds of thousands of kids in foster care, they placed an inquiry about me, they went through the classes and orienta­tion for me, they did the home study for me—they adopted me. Same for Faith, however different our circumstances.

It makes no matter that Stella and Thomas couldn’t conceive naturally. The foster and adoption process stole chunks of time they’ll never retrieve, for a “special needs” boy—due to my age, “minority group,” and “emotional trauma”—long past diapers and bottles and baby powder–scented snuggles. It was financially and emotionally draining for all of us involved, with no guaran­tee I would welcome them or they could love me the way my parents did. I didn’t embrace them at first. I quite liked my previ­ous foster family but they felt me only temporary. The Brick­ mans embraced me without hesitation, with a permanent kind of promise. It’s the same kindness my parents would endorse. They gave me a home, a family, and a place I belong. And so, to every stranger along my path, I will be kind, too. Even—especially—the ones who’d prefer I didn’t.

“Those are the souls who need compassion most,” Mom would say. “The ones broken by the world, angry and afraid of trust­ ing. You must remind them that they are not alone. Nothing can be lost in trying. Remember that always, my darling.”

As I hear Faith shouting into her comforter again, I wonder how many have failed to try on her shoes through the near dozen foster homes she’s been in.

I hear you,Faith. I am you.

I think all this before my pre­planned path to Baked & Caffeinated—the coffee and bakeshop at which I’ve been em­ ployed a mere six days—with August Moon streaming through

my earbuds. Today is my first scheduled shift, and if you could feel my heart beat, you’d assume it was about to burst (it very well may). Though Ivy Springs maintains a compact three­ mile radius, it’s my first time walking alone. For most, it’s a relaxing walk. But, as my father would often tell me, I am not most people. The mere thought of the journey had me curled in a ball on my twin mattress for at least an hour. Beneath the covers, I gave my best, most inspiring pep talk about how, despite those voices tell­ ing me I can’t do it, I can and I will and I’ll be glorious.

Mom would always lift the blankets off the bed and sit next to me. “This, too, shall pass, my darling.”

“And if it doesn’t?” I’d say with quivering lips.

“It will. You are my corpse flower,” Mom told me. “The larg­est, rarest flower in the whole world. Blooming takes many ar­duous seasons, but it is worth the wait.”

The longer she’s gone, the more I understand the layers she peeled off of me. With each one, my shine radiated a little more. Mom and Dad never saw my fears in black and white; people aren’t made so simply. We’re straddling a blur of gray.

The downtown café is fairly new to this small blip of town. Serving variations of roasted coffee beans, espresso concoctions, and freshly baked confectionaries you can smell for miles, Baked & Caffeinated is one of the few places people my age come. With school out for summer, the position of highly regarded cashier is a way to blend in slightly more than I stand out. When the manager, Liam “Big Foot” Thompson—college student and “organic medicinal specialist” (whatever that means)—barely glanced at the application I spent two long hours filling in, I’m not sure what prompted him to hire me on the spot, but there it was: an opportunity to slide into a new pair of shoes.

“Hard work reveals who people really are,” Dad would tell me. “When the going gets tough, some hide and others rise.”

I will rise, Dad.

One glance at the clock and I see no matter how I rush, the seconds tick by faster than I can keep up. I’m dressed in freshly ironed slacks, an ebony polo buttoned two­ thirds of the way up (I was told this is appropriate), snazzy checkered suspenders, and the taupe fedora—feather and all—I can not live without.

“I’m off,” I tell Stella.

She sits at the kitchen table, a list of recipe ingredients in hand, peering over the bridge of her reading glasses. She pulls a ceramic coffee mug to her lips and sips her coffee with a slurp. It dribbles to the paper. “Ah, damn it!”

I step back, my hands gripping my suspenders as if they’re bungee cords.

“Sorry,” she says, standing. She squares her shoulders with mine and drives her stare through me. “I hope you have the best time.” She pulls me near—an attempt at a hug that’s strangled by her awkward, coffee­ saturated positioning. “If you feel over­ whelmed, take a deep breath, excuse yourself to the bathroom if necessary, and you can always, always call me. K?”

I hesitate, fear squirming between us.

She tips my chin up so my eyes fall straight into hers. Her eyes swallow me up in a bubble of safety, little lines spiderwebbing out from the corner creases that cling to my distress, fishing fear out of me, casting it somewhere else entirely. It’s a trick Mom used to do, too.

“You’re going to do great,” she reassures. “Promise.”

I nod, finally, and she releases me from her grip to deal with the coffee puddle. I watch her for a whole minute before she urges me out the door. I’m supposed to work on my time management. I lose time when my brain is knotted with worry. But how do you untangle something you can’t even see?

Along my walk down the potholed sidewalk, my eyes care­ fully plot each step to not catch on a divot. The last time, I nearly broke my arm, the exact spot ridiculing me as I pounce over it with the light ­footed pirouette of a cat. I’m so proud of this move, distracted by my obvious victory against that mean concrete hole, I run straight into someone.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” I stammer.

“Dude,” a boy says with a heavy grunt. “Watch it.”

I’m hesitant to make eye contact, but I do—Stella and Thomas have encouraged it—alarm bells blaring. The boy’s eyes are nar­row, brows furrowed. I replay last night’s news headline in my mind—teen shoots former classmate at graduation partyand fold as far down as my small frame will allow.

He rips his earbuds out, his face softening only slightly. I try to walk by, he blocks me. I move to the other side. He stands in my way here, too.

“Excuse me,” I say.

“You should watch where you’re going. It’s a small town with shitty sidewalks.”

“Yes,” I stutter. “I will, thank you for the advice.”

He presses his earbuds back into place and allows me to pass with the wave of his hand.

“Have a wonderful day,” I tell him. My voice shakes, my feet moving faster than before.

Mom would say, “Chin up, eyes forward, not back,” so I re­ peat this to myself, pretending she’s here to ricochet these inter­actions into outer space. I’m still learning how to be my own hero. My deepest darkest fear is, maybe I never will.

I stand outside the bakeshop and stare up at the illustrated cof­fee mug on the sign. My reluctance holds me in the center of this busier than normal sidewalk. I remind myself I’m okay. The crowds won’t harm me. I can breathe through it and the day will go on. It can and it will, because it has to. As the sweat accumu­lates beneath my hat, I think of Mom telling me “now or never,” and open the door. The bell attached to the door rings as I breeze through.

“You’re so late,” Mr. Thompson says after I wind through the line of customers bunched near the counter. “I thought we said ten.”

A quick glance at the time—ten seventeen—and my chin sinks into my chest. “Apologies. We did agree on that time.” Dad used to say, “The only good excuse is none at all,” so I swallow the ones rising into my throat and try to ignore the gnawing feel­ing in my gut that makes me want to lock myself inside the bath­ room to escape all the noise and people and smells and sounds. My sensory dashboard is on overload. I imagine a little robot in a white coat frantically working to calm each circuit board before it fries. Poor fellow. His work is thankless and sometimes a com­plete and utter failure. I do my best to help by inhaling another deep breath, exhaling through my mouth as Mr. Thompson guides me to the space behind the counter where I’m to stand. I fumble in the small space, as another employee, a girl in a long flowy dress covered by an apron, welcomes me with a wide grin.

“Hey, newb,” she says. “I’m Violet.”

“Nice to meet you. I’m Dew.” I keep a generous distance to not make her uncomfortable, but she moves in close enough to notice how well I’ve brushed my teeth (well enough, I hope).

“You have a really great aura. It’s blue­centric with electric swirls of pink. Very neon, man.”

I respect her need for close proximity and we stand almost nose to nose. “Interesting. What does that mean?”

Her eyes widen as if she’s swallowing every centimeter of mine. “You’re highly sensitive, intuitive, and have strong mor­als. Like, you’re honest to a fault and can’t seem to deviate from it, even if it’d serve you better to keep your mouth shut. I know, because I’m a total Purple. I can read your palms if you want.”

I slip them into my pockets. “Perhaps later, after I’ve grown accustomed to the process and routines here.”

She smiles and allows me the space to breathe again as Mr. Thompson waves me to a short stack of papers I’m to fill out. “When you’re finished with these, I’ll have Violet show you how to brew espresso shots for lattes.”

I nod. “Sir—”

He stops me with a snicker. “Please—my dad is sir because he’s a dinosaur. I’m Big Foot.”

My eyes confusedly scan the perimeter of this man who is neither big nor seems to have larger than average feet. Perhaps that’s the irony. I decide I like it. “Mr. Foot,” I begin; he stops me again to remind me it’s BigFoot, “I don’t have a driver’s license yet, only a permit. My birthday is in a few weeks, though I’m not interested in driving a motor vehicle at this time. I also have some allergies that may restrict my duties outside of handling the register. I forgot to mention it when I applied.”

He lays a hand on my shoulder. “I read the notes on the ap­plication. I have a little bro with some pretty gnarly allergies. We specialize in nut ­free, dairy ­free shit. It’s my duty to represent the underrepresented, you know?”

I nod, relieved.

“If you’re not comfortable with any part, I’ll make sure the others know to step in. Wear gloves. Wash your hands. Take your meds,” he pauses, looks me over, “you got meds, right?”

I nod again.

“I got you, bro. Let me know if you have a flare­ up from any­thing, ’cause I’ve got EpiPens and all that jazz.”

My posture relaxes a bit.

“It’ll be all right. Come get me after V trains you on the espresso shots.”

I nod again, folding my hands in front of me.

Local boy freezes in the middle of summer—tonight at 10.

“So, listen,” Violet says, drawing me closer. “My best friend, Birdie, went through major crappage this past year, and I’ve learned how to be a better friend because of it. Apparently she didn’t feel like she could trust me with her most important secrets, so I totally reevaluated my life choices and decided, with a cleanse, to start anew.”

“Good for you.” I stop to wonder why she’s telling me, a per­fect stranger, this.

“Point is, I know we just met, but as this new, improved me, I’m good at reading people. And it looks like you could use a little encouragement.”

She pulls a notebook from the cubby beneath the register, the words on the front flap, Book of Silver Linings, catching the gleam of the fluorescent lights. I watch her fingers flip and fumble to a specific page. “Confidence grows when we step out of our com­ fort zone and do something different.” Her mouth hangs open, half smiling, as if she’s waiting for my reaction.

“That helps. Thank you.”

“No problem. I think you’ll be okay, Dew—what’s your last name?”

“Brickman now, was Diaz.”

“I think you’ll be okay Dew­ Was­ Diaz­ Brickman.” With a wink, she packs the notebook away. “So you’re gonna be a soph­omore or . . . ?”

“Correct, you?”

“Only here for the summer, then off to pre­college; a year of exploratory  learning.”

“Where are you headed?”

“Caramel School of Massage and Healing Arts, about forty minutes from here so I can go home when I want. Do you know what you’re doing after high school?”

The question strikes me as abrupt. I’ve thought about the future, but not in the context of who I’ll be in it. “Undecided.” “I was, too. Don’t stress too much. It’s only the rest of your life.” She laughs, but it’s glaringly obvious it’s not a joke.

I turn to the stack of papers, still unsure of which boxes to check, which address to write, what emergency contacts to state. My initial reaction is my old Indianapolis address, Plum Street, and my parents’ cell numbers, which I’ve memorized. I have to stop myself and carefully think what is true today—a Pearl Street address in Ivy Springs, and numbers that belong to Stella and Thomas. It’s a habit I wish I didn’t have to break.

As I neatly write my answers, I look up to see a man reminis­cent of my father, dressed in desert­ camouflaged pants and a tan fitted T­ shirt. He orders a large coffee, black, no sugar. I have a penchant for details. They’re the difference between knowing someone in 2­D or 4­D. Violet pumps the fresh java from a ca­rafe while the man slides inside a booth near the entrance. The large window lets the sun seep in, coating him in a sunshine glaze; almost angelic. Perhaps it’s my dad inside my bones, mov­ ing my feet—he never passed a service member without thanking them for their service—but I find myself standing at the foot of this man’s table.

“Thank you for your service,” I say dutifully.

“Thank you,” he says with a warm smile. “I appreciate that.”

“Well, I appreciate you appreciating me, so I suppose we’re at an impasse of gratitude.” I grin, my hands tucked behind my back to fidget with reckless abandon.

He chuckles as his phone rings. “I’m sorry, but I have to take this.”

“Have a great rest of your day,” I say. “And thank you again.”

“No, thank you—” He stops himself with a palm over the phone speaker. “We could go on forever.”

Violet brings a steaming cup to the table. “This cup signifies my gratitude. Plus, you have a really great aura.”

“Thank you,” he tells her before his attention returns to his call.

The crowd has thinned out and I slink back behind the counter without incident. Violet joins me moments later. I study the way the man holds himself, strong and steady. I wonder who he’s leav­ing, or coming home to. I wonder where he’s been and where he calls home. I don’t mean to eavesdrop. But his dutiful brawn, his voice, his presence, they almost resound in our small space.

“Sir,” he says, shuffling in his seat. “I hadn’t intended to—yes, sir. I understand.”

A sudden, hard silence falls like a gavel, cutting his booth into before­ and­after: the pleasantries before the call, and his tight­ened jaw after. He holds the phone steady in the air, parallel to his ear, before clutching it inside his fist. All the color fades from his face. I want to look away, I should look away. But one mo­ment he’s a floating warrior, levitating through fields of all he protects; the next he’s human, weighted by a sharp blow of some­ one’s brandished words, and I can’t.

“I know that look,” Violet whispers. “Heartbreak.”

She says it like she knows the term well. I refrain from spill­ ing how deeply I understand its etymology, my focus still at­tached to this man—a mere stranger I feel strangely connected to—if only because my story has had a few chapters that didn’t end so well.

He dials a new number. His face contorts into different ex­pressions, shaking the tightness loose to find some kind of smile. “Smiling tricks the mind and body into thinking you aren’t

in pain,” Stella taught me. As he forces his lips to upturn, mine do the same.

He clears his throat. “I just wanted to say . . . I . . . I love you. I wish I could stop time, you know? Of course you know. It’s always about the time, isn’t it, baby? We need to talk later. . . . Let me know when you and JJ are back from the farmer’s mar­ ket. I love you. . . . So much . . . Talk soon.”

Violet sighs. “Man. I feel for him. And whoever that message is for.”

I quietly decide I’ll do my best to unearth his buried treasures in the event there is an answer among them—one I’ve been searching for since everything in my own life changed.

“We all have things buried so deep, it would take a dedicated search team to pull them to the surface,” my counselor told me once. She said it after my parents died, when I first learned of the Brickmans’ interest in fostering me. It was a time when I only felt the pieces of me that went missing. This man is missing some­ thing, too.

As the clock moves forward, I feel that pull of time passing. Like oars dropped in the ocean, I scramble to grab ahold. But, losing time doesn’t change what’s happened.

In tonight’s top headlines, new Ivy Springs resident and soon-to-be high school sophomore Andrew Brickman finds something he hadn’t intended during his first shift at Baked & Caffeinated: the crushing realization his parents aren’t coming back.

About the Author:
Candace Ganger is the author of Six Goodbyes We Never Said and The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash as well as a contributing writer for HelloGiggles and obsessive marathoner. Aside from having past lives as a singer, nanotechnology website editor, and world’s worst vacuum sales rep, she’s also ghostwritten hundreds of projects for companies, best-selling fiction and award-winning nonfiction authors alike. She lives in Ohio with her family.

Twitter: @candylandgang + @WednesdayBooks


Link to retailers: MacMillan

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: My 5 Most Anticipated Oct’19 Releases

Now, I know my taste in books may not match your own, but hopefully I’m going to remind you of a couple of releases you may have forgotten was approaching. Or maybe one of these books will just sound good and you’ll add it to your TBR. In either case, these are 5 books that I’m looking forward to reading… some day. LOL

#5 MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK RELEASE

Release Date: October 8th

Genre: YA Contemporary

I love it when something happens in your life to make you take a look at how you are living it and make you want to change things. And she works in a bookstore. How could I resist this one?

Synopsis:

From the moment she first learned to read, literary genius Darcy Wells has spent most of her time living in the worlds of her books. There, she can avoid the crushing reality of her mother’s hoarding and pretend her life is simply ordinary. But when a new property manager becomes more active in the upkeep of their apartment complex, the only home Darcy has ever known outside of her books suddenly hangs in the balance.

While Darcy is struggling to survive beneath the weight of her mother’s compulsive shopping, Asher Fleet, a former teen pilot with an unexpectedly shattered future, walks into the bookstore where she works…and straight into her heart. For the first time in her life, Darcy can’t seem to find the right words. Fairy tales are one thing, but real love makes her want to hide inside her carefully constructed ink-and-paper bomb shelter.

Still, after spending her whole life keeping people out, something about Asher makes Darcy want to open up. But securing her own happily-ever-after will mean she’ll need to stop hiding and start living her own truth—even if it’s messy.

Click this link to purchase! The Library of Lost Things

#4 MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK RELEASE

Release Date: October 8th

Genre: Contemporary Romance

I can’t resist my favorite enemies to lovers trope! This one looks totally cute. Oh, and did I ever mention my first job out of school was working for a Tool Company? LOL.

Synopsis:

Emmie Echavarre is a professional faker. She has to be to survive as one of the few female employees at Nuts & Bolts, a power tool company staffed predominantly by gruff, burly men. From nine to five, Monday through Friday, she’s tough as nails–the complete opposite of her easy-going real self.

One thing she doesn’t have to fake? Her disdain for coworker Tate Rasmussen. Tate has been hostile to her since the day they met. Emmie’s friendly greetings and repeated attempts to get to know him failed to garner anything more than scowls and terse one-word answers. Too bad she can’t stop staring at his Thor-like biceps…

When Emmie and Tate are forced to work together on a charity construction project, things get…heated. Emmie’s beginning to see that beneath Tate’s chiseled exterior lies a soft heart, but it will take more than a few kind words to erase the past and convince her that what they have is real.

Click this link to purchases! Faker

#3 MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK RELEASE!

Release Date: October 22

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Yes, well, after reading Unhoneymooner’s I’m a Christina Lauren fan. This tale of love and redemption sounds like a must read!

Synopsis:

Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak.

During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.

Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.

Click this link to purchase! Twice in a Blue Moon

#2 MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK RELEASE!

Release Date: October, 1

Genre: YA Historical

Well, I can tell you one thing. I’m not listening to the audiobook while driving. I couldn’t see from all of the tears I shed for Salt to the Sea! This one looks to be just as fabulous, and possibly as heartbreaking. Can’t wait!

Synopsis:

Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into the country under the welcoming guise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of a Texas oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother’s birth through the lens of his camera. Photography–and fate–introduce him to Ana, whose family’s interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War–as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel’s photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.


Master storyteller Ruta Sepetys once again shines light into one of history’s darkest corners in this epic, heart-wrenching novel about identity, unforgettable love, repercussions of war, and the hidden violence of silence–inspired by the true post-war struggles of Spain.Includes vintage media interstitials, oral history commentary, photos, and more.

Click this link to purchase! The Fountains of Silence

MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK RELEASE FOR OCTOBER ’19!

Release Date: October 8th

Genre: New Adult, Fantasy, Horror

It looks dark. It looks mysterious. Dark and mysterious. Mysterious and dark. Oh, and magical. That’s all I’ve got, but I’m still going to read it.

Synopsis:

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug-dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. In fact, by age twenty, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most prestigious universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. Their eight windowless “tombs” are the well-known haunts of the rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street’s biggest players. But their occult activities are more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive. They tamper with forbidden magic. They raise the dead. And, sometimes, they prey on the living.

Click this link to purchase! Ninth House

Now you know what my Top 5 are for next month. I’m sure yours differs, right? What books are you interested in reading that release in October?

Let me know in the comments!

Deb