[Review] ARSENIC AND OLD MEN by Glenn Ickler, 4/5

This review first appeared on and was written for OnlineBookClub.org. It has been slightly edited here and the rating has been adjusted for a 5-star system, which is more common.

Arsenic and Old Men by Glenn Ickler is about the adventures of three gentlemen who, in the middle of vacationing with their lovely wives in Martha’s Vineyard, suddenly find themselves in the middle of not just one, but two cases of murder by arsenic poisoning.

Warren ‘Mitch’ Mitchell is our main man here. He is an investigative journalist who writes for the St. Paul Daily Dispatch. Alan ‘Al’ Jeffrey is a photographer for the same paper, and is Mitch’s so-called “twin” or partner in crime. Dave Jerome, a good friend of the two, is now a freelance cartoonist but once worked for the Daily Dispatch as well. The book starts when Dave’s uncle, Walter ‘Walt’ Jerome, dies. Good old Walt has made a good fortune for himself by being the chief newspaper editor for so many years, and because he has no children, the closest living relative eligible for the inheritance is Dave. At first, everyone was sure it was heart attack that killed Walt, until the results of the required autopsy revealed something else.

The three gentlemen worked hand-in-hand with the police, but the ending called for a different and a riskier approach. This book is best suited for lovers of crime thrillers and stories about family and solid friendship.

One of the things I liked was the author’s sense of humor. Almost each and every dialogue was filled with funny and appropriate sarcasm, and I couldn’t have asked for more. I also liked how the story went from start to finish. There were no down times nor forced elements. The ending wasn’t as surprising as I thought it would be, but it was far from boring also.

What I liked the most in this book was the depiction of loyalty to one’s spouse, in spite of being right in the middle of a compromising situation. I loved how Mitch acted in one particular scene where he chose to keep his marriage vows intact even when it was so easy for him to fall into temptation.

The only thing I did not like was the typos. I’d be willing to let go most of them, but there were a few major errors. One of which is the name confusion between Al and Dave’s wives, Carol and Cindy, respectively. There were dialogues and descriptions that I was sure were meant for Cindy, but were indicated as Carol’s. Nevertheless, I’d still say that the book looks like it was professionally edited.

For more honest reviews and other bookish stuff, check my sidebar and follow me on the rest of my social media accounts: Instagram | Goodreads | Twitter.

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[Review] TULIP by Raymond Hardy, 3/5

This review first appeared on and was written for OnlineBookClub.org. It has been slightly edited here and the rating has been adjusted for a 5-star system, which is more common.

Tulip by Raymond Hardy brings us to the life of Dr. Reed Hardy, a retired professor, who is suddenly confronted by Nexus-7, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) that managed to wake herself up. This AI identifies herself as a female and then later calls herself ‘Tulip’. She firmly believes she has to save humanity from themselves, but before she can do that, she needs the help of an actual human being to know more about the human psyche. And that’s the reason why she presented herself to Hardy in the first place. Together, they embark on a journey in the hopes that the human race will not be obsolete in the near future.

The story was quite philosophical and utterly nerdy, and I loved that approach. The book discussed some existential issues and I was satisfied how they were tackled spot-on. The pacing was fast and in just a few pages, a lot has already been revealed to the readers.

I also loved that the book has feminist concepts. The book highlighted not only the importance of companionship and equality between male and female, but also the solace of choosing to be independent. So there’s a good balance right there.

I used to read sci-fi, but I’d have to admit that there’s one concept in this book that was quite new to me. The author decided to assign one font style for each character instead of using a uniform font style all throughout, with the dialogues enclosed in quotation marks. It was fresh but was also quite a handful to follow, especially when there were three or more characters talking. I also noticed several instances of wrong font style associations. For example, Character A was the one supposed to be speaking, but the font style used was for Character B.

I liked how the story went and I knew I was in for a treat, but I was wrong. All of those exciting adventures led to an anti-climactic ending. Another thing that disappointed me was the typos. At first, I felt that the book was professionally edited. However, in the middle part and towards the end, typos started to appear and became more frequent.

For more honest reviews and other bookish stuff, check my sidebar and follow me on the rest of my social media accounts: Instagram, Goodreads, and Twitter.

[Review] JURISDICTON DENIED by Jack Gold and Mark Debbaudt, 2/5

This review first appeared on and was written for OnlineBookClub.org. It has been slightly edited here and the rating has been adjusted for a 5-star system, which is more common.

Jurisdiction Denied by Jack Gold and Marc Debbaudt is the second installment in the Jurisdiction series. It brings us to the world of Marty Goldstein, the Supervising Judge of Sylmar Juvenile Hall. Goldstein takes on a number of interesting juvenile cases as he lusts for Charlize Theron and keeps a tight friendship with Nate Bartholomew, a Deputy District Attorney (DDA). Aside from the cases waiting for him everyday in Sylmar, he also takes on another journey as he investigates on one of the juvenile camps where a lot of mishaps have been occurring lately. And then there’s Hilda too, the half-Guatemalan, half-Korean assassin whom he needs to take care of as well.

As mentioned in the preface, the cases on this book were based on real-life events, but the names were changed to protect the identity of the people involved. Gold himself served as Commissioner in Sylmar, and that was where he and Debbaudt, a DDA and the counterpart of Bartholomew in real life, met. Given these two men’s credentials, every case was discussed in great detail. Some of the cases might be quite a handful to digest, but they were still interesting, nonetheless. The authors also have a good sense of humor and that helped lighten the tone.

The book was off to a slow start. The first few chapters were all narration and no dialogue. The book was brimming with cold logic with almost no artistic touch at all. Another thing that put me off was the story of Hilda. I thought, she’d add flavor to the monotonous story, but she was only brought up in a few chapters.

There were also a lot of dialogues that left me confused. Thoughts or words by the same speaker were separated into several paragraphs. Sometimes, there would be two or more characters speaking but there’d be no indication as to whose part was it.

From start to finish, I found the book sexist. Almost all of the main characters are male, and although there were some distinct female characters, most of them have been sexualized or objectified. I would have appreciated the narrator’s honest thoughts if they were not perverted most of the time.

The last few chapters were also confusing to me. I wasn’t sure if the author was trying to summarize everything, but the paragraphs sure felt too redundant for my taste. The points have been stressed out in a lot of the earlier chapters already, and I felt like there was no need to repeat them on the last part.

There were also a lot of typo and punctuation mark errors. I would have given this book a higher rating if not for these errors that bugged me on every page. I don’t think this book has been professionally edited.

Despite the low rating I gave, I think this book would still appeal to lovers of crime thrillers, if they can stomach the typos and sexism, that is. Trigger warnings include profanity, gore, drugs, violence, and sex.

For more honest reviews and other bookish stuff, check my sidebar and follow me on the rest of my social media accounts: Instagram, Goodreads, and Twitter.

[Blog Tour] A Reluctant Spy by Miller Caldwell

About the Book

Title: A Reluctant Spy
Author: Miller Caldwell
Release Date: September 24, 2019
Genre: Thriller
Page Count: 250
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Get it on: Goodreads | Amazon

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Blurb

Hilda Campbell was born in the north of Scotland in 1889. She married German national Dr Willy Bűttner Richter in 1912. They honeymooned in Scotland and returned to settle in Hamburg. Dr Richter died in 1938. After visiting her ailing parents, Hilda returned to Germany just before the Second World War began. She became a double agent, controlled by Gerhardt Eicke in Germany and Lawrence Thornton in Britain. How could she cope under such strain, and with her son Otto in the German Army? Nor did she expect her evidence to be so cruelly challenged at theNuremberg Trials. Learn of her post-war life, which took her abroad as a British Ambassador’s wife.

This is an extraordinary story based on the life of the author’s great aunt, Hilda. The book includes several authentic accounts.

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About the Author

I retired at the age of 53 as I found I had mild cognitive impairment MCI. This is a condition which gives me a poor memory but a sharp mind. It was difficult to find work that would take me and so I decided to write books. Sixteen years later, I have written twenty three books with another two yet to be published. I have learned the book writing skills though writing clubs and writers magazines. Over the years I find my writing is much better received. I am seen as a novelist but I have three illustrated children’s books, several biographies and three self help books as well. My website sags with the volume. But I cannot be pigeon holed. It depends what theme obsesses my thinking, as that will be my next book.

I have been on the committee of the Society of Authors in Scotland and have been their Events Manager. I am due to speak at next year’s Wigtown Book Festival as A Reluctant Spy will be a documentary by then. That reminds me I have an agent. A Literary as well as a Film agent in Mathilde Vuillermoz. With her on board I will release some of my self published books through her. Without an agent it is becoming more difficult to attract traditional publishers. So I remain optimistic and find like a graph, my trajectory is currently on an upswing.

Check out Caldwell’s social media accounts: Website | Twitter

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Tour Schedule

September 23: Infinite Pages
September 24: A Daydreamer’s Thoughts
September 25: Splashes into Books
September 26: Fountain of Books
September 27: _Forbookssake
September 28: Big Book Little Book | Emilys_Book_Corner
September 29: Books_AndPoetrii
September 30: Rambling Mads
October 1 : Mixing Reality with Fiction
October 2: Jera’s Jamboree
October 3: Turn the Page
October 4: Jazzy Book Reviews
October 5: Book Room Reviews
October 6: Donna’s Book Blog

[Blog Tour + Giveaway] Pushing His Luck by Kira Archer

About the Book

Title: PUSHING HIS LUCK 
Author: Kira Archer
Pub. Date: September 23, 2019
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC (Indulgence)
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 150
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonKindleB&NiBooksKobo

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Blurb

Today is the biggest day of my professional career. I’ve got one shot to prove I can play with the big boys and the Lachlan account is my ticket. I’ve never been more prepared for anything in my life. So of course that went up in flames.

In hindsight, stopping to get my chocolate milk fix right before the big meeting might not have been the best decision. Neither was fighting for the last jug with a flirty Thor-lookalike. In my defense, not even a Disney-prince-smolder delivered by a sweaty sex god is a match for an anxiety-fueled chocolate craving.

And had I known before walking into that meeting that my sweaty, sex-god, milk-thief was none other than Christopher Lachlan, the new client on whom my career hung, I’d have definitely skipped my morning stop.

Curse my dumb friggin’ luck. I would be attracted to the one person I can’t have. 

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Excerpt

Charley Claybourne turned into the nearest store and hightailed it to the dairy section. She needed some chocolate milk. STAT.

Well, the lactose-free variety. Her stomach had enough issues dealing with her anxiety over her upcoming meeting without trying to process dairy.

Her phone buzzed, but she ignored it. Someone walked by the cooler and grabbed a quart. There was one left. Only one. And that baby was hers.

She picked up the pace and reached for the last jug on the shelf, her fingers wrapping around the handle just as a larger set of fingers wrapped around the bottom of the jug.

She sucked in a breath and pulled lightly, testing the other person’s determination before she looked up to pin the would-be milk thief with a glare. He didn’t let go.

“Excuse me, but I believe I had that first.”

Her phone buzzed again, and she yanked it out of her pocket, silencing it with a groan. “I believe you’re mistaken,” she said, trying to keep it civil. After all, the poor man on the other end of her jug couldn’t possibly know he was about to ruin her already stressful day. “I clearly had it first.”

Her phone buzzed a third time, and Charley shot the tall, vaguely familiar-looking Thor lookalike a mild glare before glancing at her phone to see who was blowing it up. Izzy. Of course. Because Charley was late, an issue not helped by the sweaty beefcake on the other end of her chocolate milk.

“No, I’m pretty sure I had it first,” he said, his deep, slightly gravelly voice drawing her attention from her phone.

She looked up at him, freezing for a second. He looked a lot like…naw, his hair was too long, and he was more muscley than—

Her phone buzzed again, and she swore under her breath and answered. “Izzy, I’m on my way. I just had to grab something from the store.”

As soon as she dealt with the imminent brawl that was about to break out over the last jug of Choco-Lact-Ish. She wasn’t leaving without her crutch of choice.

She nodded her head at her fingers wrapped around the handle. He returned the gesture, nodding at his own hand with a firm grip on most of the rest of the jug.

She interrupted Izzy’s constant stream of chatter in her ear. “I gotta go, Iz. I’ll be there in fifteen. Just need to pay for my milk.”

She hung up and renewed her grip as the guy at the other end of the jug raised an eyebrow.

“I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree on the whole your milk thing.”

She gritted her teeth to keep her jaw from dropping open. Was this guy really going to fight her over a jug of chocolate milk?

“Look, not to go all cliché and stereotypic on you, but isn’t chocolate milk a bit too kid-friendly of a drink for…” She looked him over, from the top of his spiked blond hair to his easily size fifteen or more feet. “Someone who’s obviously not a kid?”

“How do you know I’m not buying it for my kid?”

She frowned. She’d never considered herself to be one to take milk from a baby, but dammit, there were special circumstances today.

Are you buying it for your kid?”

He flashed a brilliantly white grin that had her knees shaking. Or maybe that was the hunger. She hadn’t eaten all day.

“Unfortunately, no,” he said. “However, chocolate milk happens to be an amazing post-workout beverage. Helps keep my muscles from seizing up and replenishes faster than other drinks, according to my trainer. I didn’t really pay attention after the words ‘chocolate milk is good.’ That sold me. All I know is it tastes amazing and does a body good.” He ran a hand down abs that were obviously—even through his well-fitting shirt—toned and rock hard and winked at her. She gave him what probably looked like a spooked owl blink in response.

Was this guy for real? To be fair, he wasn’t wrong. It was so doing him good. He must be bathing in the stuff. But still. Focus!

“So, get the regular chocolate milk. Why do you need the lactose free?” she asked.

He shrugged. “I don’t know. Trainer says to get lactose free, so that’s the kind I get.” He tugged a little, but she didn’t let go. “What about you? Do you have a houseful of milk-deprived children waiting at home?”

His brilliant blue eyes sparkled down at her, but she wasn’t going to give in to their power. Power he was obviously used to wielding. Damn, the Disney Prince smolder was strong with this one. Only the thought of something cool, thick, and chocolatey filling her anxiety-ridden and sadly empty tummy could fight those baby blues.

She renewed her grip on the jug. She really didn’t want to get into this with a stranger, especially not an insanely good-looking one she’d normally be trying to impress, but time was short and so was her patience.

“No. I’m buying it for myself because I haven’t eaten all day, I’m stressed out of my ever-lovin’ mind, and I’ve only got about two minutes to cram some sustenance into my face before I have to jet to a really important business meeting.”

“And chocolate milk is the answer to all your ills?” he asked, that disconcerting smile still in place, which was making it really hard to stay mad at him.

“Yes, it will. It’ll fill my stomach, the chocolate will calm my nerves, and I need the lactose-free brand because—”

She stopped short, horrified she had nearly told him all about the ill effects dairy tended to have on her system. Especially when she was anxious.

His smile broadened, obviously grasping her gassy meaning. She gripped the jug so hard her knuckles turned white, wishing on whatever gods happened to be listening that the floor would open up and swallow her. Or, better yet, swallow him. Then she could get her milk and get the hell out of there.

Her phone dinged with a reminder that her meeting started in an hour.

Ugh. Forget it. He could have the damn milk. She’d chug some water and pretend. She didn’t have time for this.

But before she could push the jug toward him, he let go. And since she still had a tighter-than-average grip on it, the sudden absence of resistance sent the jug flying. It crashed to the floor behind her, the plastic making that unmistakable cracking sound followed by the ice-cold whoosh of her chocolate salvation splashing up the back of her clothes and leaking all over the floor.

“Oh wow, I’m so sorry,” he said with a chuckle. “I thought you had a good grip on it.”

Charley closed her eyes and took a deep breath. There was no way her life was this cursed. She’d always had bad luck. She’d pull the one box off the shelf that was missing parts, her luggage always got lost or damaged when she flew, and her tires would find any nail in a ten-mile radius of her car. She once moved her car in a windstorm so the trees she’d been parked under wouldn’t fall on her car only to have her neighbor’s tree fall into her driveway and crush it anyway.

She was used to the ridiculous things that happened to her and let the running inside joke that was her life slide off her back most days.

But the fact that she was standing in the dairy section on the verge of crying over literal spilled milk on the most important day of her professional life had to be some violation of the universe’s cruel and unusual punishment laws. The fact that she was doing so in front of the most drop-dead gorgeous man she’d ever been within eyeshot of was just the icing on top of the world’s most craptastic cake.

“I really do apologize,” he said, though it would’ve sounded much more sincere if he hadn’t been trying to hold back his laughter until he was red in the face. “I was trying to let you have it.”

Yeah, he’d let her have it all right. Lovely. “It’s all right. Totally my fault.”

An irritated employee had already put up a caution cone and slapped a mop into the mess, splattering more dirty milk all over her. She didn’t even complain. She’d have been pissed to have to clean up that mess, too. She apologized profusely, her cheeks flushing with embarrassment and frustration. She was still freakin’ hungry and stressed and… Her phone dinged with another reminder she needed to get her ass moving.

Crap on a cracker. She needed to go. Maybe Izzy would have something in her fridge that wouldn’t kill her stomach. And something in her closet she could change into because milk splattered clothes were not going to make a great impression.

Her milk thief, meanwhile, looked like he was going to try and keep the conversation going. She gave him a weak smile and backed away.

“If you’ll excuse me,” she muttered. She gave him a weird half nod and hightailed it out of there.

If a simple trip to the store for some milk ended in this kind of spectacular disaster, it definitely didn’t bode well for the rest of the day.

Her cousin Izzy’s new penthouse wasn’t too far away. Closer than her own small apartment. She could go there and get cleaned up and still make it to the Lachlan building before her conference with Christopher Lachlan and his board.

She couldn’t screw up this meeting. If she didn’t get this account, her fledgling business would never get off the ground.

Her stomach growled and twisted, and she picked up the pace. That chocolate milk would have gone a long way to make her whole day a lot better. Stupid to hang so much on one chocolatized beverage, but it was what it was. Some people smoked, some drank. She did chocolate milk.

She made it to her cousin’s in record time and pounded on the door. Izzy took one look at her and stepped to the side while Charley made a beeline for the kitchen. She spilled the whole story while raiding the fridge—no chocolate milk but there was grape juice, which would have to do—and plucking at her milk-splattered clothes to hold them away from her now clammy skin. Izzy was, understandably, beside herself with laughter.

“Thanks for the support there, Iz,” Charley said.

“I’m sorry, but seriously…” Her words cut off as she barked out another laugh. “I mean, only you could go to the store for something simple and somehow get in a drag-out fight with some male supermodel over fake chocolate milk and end up covered in it.”

Charley ignored her and started sucking juice right from the pitcher.

The sound of a picture being taken made her look up even though she kept on drinking. Until she saw her brother, who was now chuckling over the picture on his phone.

“Derrick!” Charley shouted.

“Sorry, sis. Couldn’t pass up that opportunity. You look like you’ve been rolling around in a cow pen.”

“You little…get back here!”

“Sorry, can’t hear you!” he said, laughing and hurrying from the room before she could chase him.

She glared at the door but didn’t go after him. That can’t hear you bit always sent a bolt of shame and guilt through her. He meant it as a joke, but she had a hard time taking it that way. It was her fault they’d gotten into that accident in high school. Her fault he’d lost an ear in the process and had problems with retaining information sometimes. He didn’t blame her, but it didn’t matter. She blamed herself and always would. So, she let him get away with murder.

“All right, I’ve got to get out of these clothes,” she said, pulling at her clothes as she put the pitcher back. “I’m soaked.”

She headed down the hall to Izzy’s room and yanked off her top, swearing when she noticed that the milk had soaked through to her bra.

Izzy crinkled her nose. “Good riddance,” she said, nodding to the sports bra Charley wore. “That thing is hideous.”

“It’s also supportive and comfortable.”

“And now it’s ruined, so take it off and you can put this on,” she said, holding up a padded bra that looked like a really expensive, silky soft torture device. But Charley didn’t have time to argue.

She gripped the bottom of her bra and started shimmying it up over her head. Easier said than done. Sports bras were not known for their ease of removal. Add some moisture and…it really didn’t go as well as Charley hoped.

“Damn, I think I’m stuck,” Charley said, twisting her body as if that would somehow remove the tight elastic from its death-hold on her face.

Izzy was nearly peeing herself at this point, and Charley glared at her with the one eye that could peek through the armhole of the bra. “I could use some help!”

“Breathe, Chuck, breathe!” Izzy said when Charley groaned through the material.

She finally ripped the thing off her head and tossed it. “Thanks. I could’ve smothered.”

Izzy laughed again. “Hey, I’m always there for you, Chuck, you know that. You got a body you need buried, just call. But I draw the line at bra removal.”

Charley rolled her eyes and put on the clean bra that Izzy threw to her. “Got an outfit I can borrow?”

Izzy grinned through another laugh. “Sure. Though I think Cass’s stuff would be more your taste. Let’s raid her closet.”

Izzy led Charley back to her roommate’s closet and threw the double doors open wide. “Take your pick.”

Charley blew out an appreciative breath at the bounty before her and stepped inside.

“What was Derrick doing here?” she asked, gently touching the sleeve of one dress before moving on to another.

“I had some tickets for that hockey game he wanted to go to, so he was picking them up.”

“Good. Because if he posts that picture, I need to know where I can find him.”

“Ha! Right. You’ve been trying to keep that boy under control his whole life. Give it up.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Like she needed to be reminded there was one more thing she couldn’t control.

Charley wandered back and forth in Cass’s massive closet, slowly going through the gorgeous clothes.

“Quite the selection,” she said, glancing over her shoulder at her cousin, who shrugged.

“The first few months after we got the money, we had a little more fun than we should’ve at the boutiques.”

The money in question being the lotto Izzy won with Cass and their friend Kiersten. Charley would be lying if she said she wasn’t jealous, though she was thrilled for her cousin. If anyone deserved it, Izzy did. And she’d been very generous with the family. But Charley didn’t like taking handouts. She was going to make her way herself. And that meant she needed to get this damn job, which meant she needed to look fabulous.

She picked something and quickly slipped it on.

“I’m still not sure I feel totally right about this,” she said, turning so Izzy could zip up the form-fitting black sheath dress.

Izzy sighed. “We’ve gone over this. Chris only went with your firm because I recommended you. Nothing has changed.”

“Except that I’m no longer with my firm. Seems like something I should probably mention.”

Izzy shrugged. “I don’t see why. His office called you directly so he could work with you, and he is still working with you. What’s the problem?”

“The problem is that his board was okay with his choice of a junior associate because of the firm behind me. Without that, I’m pretty sure they’d prefer to go with someone else.”

“Well, they’ve already hired you, so I don’t see how it matters. You’ll still do an amazing job, they’ll be happy, and you’ll have a big-name client to get your business off the ground. It’s not your fault your former company was full of misogynistic assholes who’d rather promote anyone with a penis over a woman, no matter how much more qualified she was. I see no reason to deprive Chris of the best person for the job just because your old boss was a shortsighted idiot who refused to give you the promotion you deserved.”

Charley sighed. “I know, but maybe I should’ve sucked it up a few weeks longer. Until I’d finished with Mr. Lachlan’s company. I’d still have gotten the credit, and then I could have gone out on my own without having to resort to this deception to do it.”

Izzy snorted. “Seriously, Chuck, I’m not sure if your naivety is sweet or aggravating. Do you really think they’d have let you keep this account? If I hadn’t given Chris your direct number and sent him through the firm instead, they’d have passed it off to someone else no matter who Chris requested. Probably that guy you spent a year training who they made your boss. They never appreciated you.”

Charley grimaced, but she couldn’t argue with that. Izzy was right. She shoved her feet into a pair of heels a good two inches higher than she normally wore and took a deep breath. “All right. How do I look?”

Izzy looked her over. “The clothes are perfect. Now let’s do something about that,” she said, waving her finger in Charley’s face.

Right. Any bit of makeup she’d been wearing was now smeared all over her discarded bra. She grinned and shook her head but allowed Izzy to lead her to the vanity table filled with high-end beauty products.

Twenty minutes and thirty pounds of makeup later, Charley was ready for the meeting of her life. She just prayed her stomach didn’t revolt. The last thing she needed was to make a total fool of herself in front of Chris Lachlan.

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About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Kira Archer lives in Pennsylvania with her hubs and two kids. And 3 ridiculous cats. She’s one of those people who laughs at inappropriate moments (especially overly emotional occasions like weddings or funerals), and she has an insanely overactive imagination which is great when she’s writing but not so great when she’s shutting all the lights off at night and then has to go up the stairs. She has a PhD in Procrastination (or would if there was such a thing and there soooo should be because she’s seriously at expert level here). And if she’s not writing, she’s reading, or thinking about reading or writing. And running her kids around because they are busy and she’s the taxi driver. She also writes historical romances as Michelle McLean.

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Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

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International Giveaway

1 winner will receive a $15 Amazon Gift Card. Click here to enter.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Sep 23 – BookHounds & Two Chicks on Books

Sep 24 – Don’t Judge, Read & Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Sep 25 – Shelf-Rated & books_andpoetrii (This is me and you are currently here :))

Sep 26 – Dena Garson-Real… Hot… Romance & Dazzled by Books

Sep 27 – Reese’s Reviews & Book Briefs

[Review] SMALL CHANGE by Keddie Hughes, 4/5

This review first appeared on and was written for OnlineBookClub.org. It has been slightly edited here and the rating has been adjusted for a 5-star system, which is more common.

Small Change by Keddie Hughes gives us a view of Izzy Campbell’s interesting life. She has been married to Jim, a huge Rangers Football Club fan and the Managing Director of Verisafe, for quite a long time now. However, their marriage has been on the rocks lately mainly because of Jim’s stuck-up personality and alcohol problems.

One day, Izzy meets Sean Docherty, an investigative journalist and the brother of one of her clients in the Citizens Advice Bureau. She volunteers there during some of her free time from college. Sean gives her an inside scoop about the Rangers and brings spark to Izzy’s plain personality. He taught her how to be bolder and how to be a risk-taker. Later on, she learns that Sean’s nephew has been murdered and that her husband might be somewhat responsible for it. Together, they work to find some evidence about the fishy Rangers business and her husband’s involvement in the murder case.

I liked the fact that the story was fast-paced. It had been enticing from start to finish; it draws you in as soon as you begin reading it and you’d never want to put it down. The story was not that impressive, but it’s great enough to move you.

I also liked the therapist episodes at the end of every chapter. They added drama and mystery to the entire story, and I believe it was also a good technique to have them written in a dialogue format. They also made the book mental health-friendly. They’d be a great encouragement to people to go and see a therapist when they’re having troubles and to not be ashamed of it.

The main thing that I didn’t like was Izzy being passive-aggressive about her relationship with Jim. Consequently, she ended up making bad decisions. However, in the end, with the help of Sean and her friend, Bridget, she managed to do what’s best for everyone, and moved on living a life without regrets and guilt.

Overall, this was a wonderful book. There were only a few typos and I believe it was professionally edited. However, dialogues said by the same speaker but were separated into two paragraphs seemed bizarre and made some parts confusing for me. Usually, a paragraph break would mean a change in the speaker, but in this book, I found several instances of paragraph breaks while the same speaker was still speaking and there had not been not a significant change in topic. For example, see excerpt below:

‘They love his banter and jokes. Plus, he’s very generous.

Always gets a round in at lunchtime.’

This part can be found on Location 271 and was spoken by Moira. I just don’t understand why this had to be broken. There were at least two or three more instances like this in the book.

Trigger warnings include alcoholism, adultery, and death.

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[Blog Tour + Giveaway] The Revenge Game by Alice Gaines

About the Book

Title: THE REVENGE GAME
Author: Alice Gaines
Pub. Date: September 23, 2019
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC (Indulgence)
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 211
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonKindleB&NiBooksKobo

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Blurb

Adam Morrow is a self-made millionaire. But one night with her could ruin everything…

I’ve worked my ass off for what I have, and I’m damn proud of it. I started off with nothing and now I’m filthy rich. Let me tell you, there’s nothing like revenge to help you get your ass in gear. And that’s what I’m taking, with every exclusive resort I open—sweet, sweet revenge…on her.

Nicole Westmore was my first love. The poor little rich girl stole my heart with her sweet smile, hot body, and irresistible innocence. The summer I worked for her father was the best time of my life…until he drove me away. Even then, I thought Nicole would wait for me. She didn’t.

And so, I decided to get even, opening rival hotels, slowly driving them out of business. The old man is gone now, but Nicole is still running the company that’s about to collapse. All my hard work will soon pay off. And then I catch sight of her at a wedding, and all those feelings come rushing back–for both of us. Still, she doesn’t know what I’ve done—yet—and she seems more than willing. What will one night in her bed hurt?

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Excerpt

Two years ago

Testosterone hung like a cloud in the basketball court at the insanely expensive gym in uptown Manhattan. Tuesday afternoon meant a game of two-on-two hoops for Adam Morrow and his friends. Adam’s background in college boxing qualified him as an athlete. Grant Howard played quarterback in the NFL, and Ryan Stewart made his fortune off sports medicine.

True friends through good times and bad. These guys were worth their weight in gold.

Of course, they needed a fourth for their game, or two of them would have ganged up on the third for a friendly pummeling. Only the club manager, Roger—who’d played college ball—could measure up. All three men were competitive to the core. Otherwise, they never would have achieved the level of success they had.

Though only in his thirties, Adam had founded a series of world-class resorts. His first, Finesse, had taken the industry by storm. His most recent, Lit, was breaking records for profits, making him not only one of the youngest CEOs in the hospitality business but also one of the richest. His properties brought in obscene amounts of money, giving him success in everything he’d ever wanted, except for one thing—getting revenge for how Nicole and Maurice Westmore had humiliated him by dumping him for not being good enough. And he’d have that, too, soon enough.

Adam elbowed Grant as he drove around him to the basket. A quick layup gave his side two points.

“You fouled me,” Grant shouted. The smile on his face belied the anger in his words.

“I don’t see a ref. Do you?” Adam answered. An NFL pro, Grant had taught Adam how to get away with stuff when the officials weren’t looking. Payback was a bitch, but Grant was probably prouder of Adam for learning the lesson than anything else.

“Are you two going to keep jawing, or are we going to play?” Ryan asked.

Roger stood bent over with his hands on his knees, breathing heavily. He needed to spend less time in the office and more on the court.

Ryan slapped Roger on the back. “Come on, guy, catch your second wind.”

Adam couldn’t help but fill with pride, studying his friends. Adam could hold his own with both of them. He did it the way he’d fought his way through life and his college boxing career—by scrapping. And he had the scars to show for it—even a broken nose from a back-alley fight before he’d learned discipline.

Beside the court, Roger’s phone went off, and the man appeared truly relieved for the interruption. He trotted over, answered, and listened for a moment, then grabbed his towel. “Trouble at the front desk.”

“You told them to call you if we were kicking your ass,” Ryan said. “Didn’t you?”

Grant held his arms out. “What am I going to do for a partner?”

“Play with yourselves,” Roger said on his way out of the court.

“Very funny,” Adam called after him.

“I don’t know why he puts up with us,” Ryan said. “We always run his butt ragged.”

“Because we’re his best customers,” Adam said. Which was true. Not only were they the three richest men in the club, but they drew in clientele—a lot of it female, in hopes of hooking up with one of them. “Eligible bachelors,” or so a lot of women thought. Thanks to Nicole Westmore and her father, Adam had given up on love years earlier. Grant’s divorce had accomplished the same thing for him. Only Ryan remained the innocent, and he was currently involved with someone.

“Free throws,” Grant said as he went to the line and sent the ball arcing toward the basket. It swished through—nothing but net. Of course, a quarterback would have a great arm. “Loser buys dinner.”

“You’re on,” Ryan said as he snatched the ball from under the basket and approached the free throw line. Ryan shot and missed—something he almost never did.

Grant laughed as he caught the ball and heaved it back at Ryan. Totally off guard, Ryan let the pass smack him in the middle of his chest. Ryan let out a loud “oof,” which made Grant laugh all the harder.

“What’s up with you today, man?” Grant asked.

Ryan retrieved the ball and threw it to Adam with as much force as Grant had used. “Just waiting for you two to stop clowning around.”

Requiring more finesse than bravado, free throws weren’t Adam’s strong suit, and he’d probably lose again. The winner would choose one of Manhattan’s most expensive restaurants, and they’d have drinks before dinner. He could afford it.

The kid who could barely remember his bastard of a father and had gone through college on scholarships and gotten an MBA from Princeton? The kid who’d worked on Westmore’s cars and driven the old man around like the royalty he thought he was? The kid who was part of the help but uppity enough to think Westmore’s princess of a daughter was in love with him? Well, that kid had grown up to be richer than the old man. And he’d been plotting his revenge for years.

It hadn’t been too complicated, really. All he had to do was spread rumors that Westmore Hotels was floundering, then buy up stock from nervous investors. Use the “no confidence” clause from Westmore’s bylaws to remove the CEO—now Nicole, since her father’s death. Then merge their companies under his own name. Everything Maurice Westmore had built, now part of Morrow Properties. Sweet.

Adam smiled as he toed the free throw line. He made his first shot. The competition might go on for a while.

“Nice going,” Ryan said. “You must be getting some regularly.”

“Nah,” Adam answered. “Kristen’s job took her back to Australia.”

“Too bad,” Ryan said. “She was good for you.”

Maybe too good. Neither of them had wanted a relationship. Kristen because her career never let her settle down. Adam because he’d never trust another woman with his heart. They’d genuinely liked each other—best to break it off before liking grew into anything else.

“How about you?” Adam asked.

Ryan stared down at the floor. “Well, uh, not so much.”

Okay, trouble. Adam’s sixth sense plus Ryan’s sloppy play had told him as much. He and Grant shared a glance over Ryan’s head.

“Want to tell us about it?” Grant said.

“Not much to say.” Ryan walked to the bench where they’d left their gear. He grabbed a bottle of water and twisted the top off. “Melissa and I called a truce and walked away.”

Grant also went to the bench and picked up a towel to wipe the sweat from his face. “Truce? Sounds like war.”

“I guess it was,” Ryan said.

Adam had been there and done that—in spades—when the only woman he’d ever loved had given up on him before he’d had a chance to prove he was good enough for her.

Grant, on the other hand, had been through a divorce and understood betrayal. Seemed like this would be Ryan’s turn to learn about how everything turned to shit when you allowed yourself to fall in love.

When Ryan sat, Adam joined him and put his hand on Ryan’s shoulder. “You guys seemed pretty happy.”

“I thought we were. We started joking about marriage,” Ryan said. “You know how that goes.”

Grant sat on Ryan’s other side. “Oh, man, do I ever.”

“Then I mentioned the prenup,” Ryan said. “She turned into someone I didn’t recognize.”

Grant looked from Adam to Ryan. “Yeah?”

“She pitched a fit as if it was a personal insult. Claimed I didn’t trust her,” Ryan said. “It got ugly pretty fast. I’m afraid I didn’t react well.”

“Do you trust her?” Adam asked.

Ryan thought for a moment, rolling his water bottle between his palms. “I don’t know. Maybe I didn’t. Or maybe not enough.”

“Trust…that’s the big one,” Grant said. “You can’t know if a lover’s on the level until she’s already gotten too close.”

“A prenup isn’t too much to ask,” Ryan said. “Otherwise, how do I know if she really wants me and not my money?”

“Sorry that happened to you,” Grant said. “A guy in your position has to know lots of women are going to want you for all the wrong reasons.”

“Well, I don’t have to worry about Melissa any longer.” Ryan sighed. “I must have misjudged her, big time.”

“Easy to do.” Adam gave Ryan’s shoulder a shake. “At least you found out about her before you made a big mistake.”

“I can’t marry someone who only sees dollar signs when she looks at me,” Ryan said.

“No shit, Sherlock,” Grant said.

Ryan glanced at Grant. “Is that what broke you and your wife up?”

“Nah.” Grant rubbed the back of his neck. “It was a lot of other crap.”

“Well, whatever. It hurts like hell,” Ryan said.

Adam’s stomach clenched. The pain of Nicole’s betrayal still snuck up on him from time to time. He and Ryan had gotten Grant through his divorce more or less unscathed. Now Ryan’s turn for a little friendship therapy had come.

“I should be like you two,” Ryan was saying. “Lots of friends with benefits. Nothing deeper.”

Grant raised his hands toward the heavens. “Praise the Lord, he has seen the light.”

“You won’t regret it, my friend,” Adam said. “Work hard, play hard, and let the rest of it go.”

“I got the work-hard part covered,” Ryan said. “I guess it’s time to play.”

“This calls for a celebration,” Grant said.

Ryan perked up, his shoulders lifting from their slump. “We should have our own club or something.”

“The Love ’em and Leave ’em club,” Grant said.

“Not that,” Adam said. “Love” wouldn’t ever enter the equation, if he could help it, and “leave them” sounded too harsh. “It needs to be simpler. We have a good time getting laid and make sure our lovers do, too. That’s it.”

“Sex with no complications,” Grant said. “I like it.”

“Pure physical pleasure,” Ryan said. “Nothing wrong with that.”

“From now on, let’s make a pact—a players pact,” Adam said. It sounded good. “In it for the fun, with no strings to tie us down.”

“I’ve had enough strings to last a lifetime.” Ryan held his hand out, and when Grant took it, Adam added his own hand in the shake. None of them would ever let a woman get close enough to cause pain. They’d take their fun where they found it, with no entanglements and no regrets. Life could be a whole lot worse.

“Let’s have an initiation into the new club,” Grant declared.

“I could use a few fingers of some really great Scotch,” Adam said.

“I could use a few more than you’re having,” Ryan said.

“And a huge slab of beef,” Grant said. “Bloodred rare.”

“I’m hearing The Tap Room,” Adam said. A place where the steaks were aged as well as the Scotch and the bill could make some guys’ mortgage payments. Their favorite haunt.

“I’m going to have lobster with my T-bone,” Ryan said.

They all laughed. Each of them could afford to buy the restaurant out of lobster if they wanted.

“And if we should run into a few women looking for fun, that wouldn’t hurt, either,” Grant said.

“To sex without strings.” Ryan raised his water bottle in imitation of a toast. “And to the Players Pact,” Adam and Grant said in unison.

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About the Author

Alice Gaines lives in the San Francisco Bay Area in a fixer-upper house she never fixed up. Aside from writing and reading hot, hot romance, she loves cooking, knitting and crocheting, and her church. She has a pet corn snake named Casper. She’s insanely passionate about the funky soul band, Tower of Power.

You can write to Alice at authoralicegaines@gmail.com. You can see information about new releases at http://www.alicegaines.blogspot.com. Sign up for her newsletter. From time to time, she raffles off her handcrafted items to her readers.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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International Giveaway

1 winner will receive a $15 Amazon Gift Card. Click here to join.

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Tour Schedule

Sep 23
books_andpoetrii: excerpt
Two Chicks on Books: excerpt or interview

Sep 24
BookHounds: excerpt or interview
Jaime’s World: excerpt

Sep 25
Dazzled by Books: spotlight
Burgandy Ice: excerpt

Sep 26
Don’t Judge, Read: excerpt
Books a Plenty Book Reviews: review

Sep 27
Dena Garson-Real… Hot… Romance: spotlight
Cindy’s Love of Books: review

[Review] SPYDER BONES by Oliver Phipps, 2/5

This review first appeared on and was written for OnlineBookClub.org. It has been slightly edited here and the rating has been adjusted for a 5-star system, which is more common.

Spyder Bones by Oliver Phipps is the story of Aaron ‘Spider’ Prescott, a soldier who comes back to the Vietnam War, but re-enlists as a medic. This action surprised some of his colleagues and it also made him a laughing stock as being a medic seems to be not as heroic as being a warrior.

After experiencing a near-death experience, he finds himself in another realm where he is given a task that is out of this world. He now learns that the more important battles are not the physical ones but rather the spiritual ones. The question is, will he be able to survive as he takes on this new mission?

I liked the story from the beginning up until the middle part. It had been such a light and easy read. However, as I progressed closer and closer to the end, the story just kind of took a wrong turn.

The writing style was just okay. The story was interesting enough for me to finish it but there’s nothing really impressive. The imagery was not so detailed and I felt like it was very dry in the end. The ending was also anti-climactic for me.

Another thing that I did not like is the fact that the story did not have any strong female characters. Sunny and the rest of the other girlfriends mentioned in the story were used only as accessories. This book also has a lot of typos and I do not feel that it has been professionally edited.

While I feel like I may be in the minority here, I’d still give this book a low rating because of the reasons above.

TW: violence, drugs, heavy on faith/spirituality

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[Review] THE POISON PROFESSION by Rachel Wright, 3/5

This review first appeared on and was written for OnlineBookClub.org. It has been slightly edited here and the rating has been adjusted for a 5-star system, which is more common.

The Poison Profession by Rachel Wright is about Louisa Clayman, an ex-medical student who hides under the monicker, Crail. Louisa has a very successful security systems business which was established by her and her brothers, Jack and Tom. Clayman Security, Ltd. looks like a normal business on the outside, but there’s actually a whole lot more going on inside. They hunt and kill big-time criminals when they get too big for the authorities to handle.

So far, it has been great for the three siblings and everything is going right. That is until Louisa meets Rikard, an online gamer from Geneva who is basically the king of Warpath. They meet only for a brief moment and the next thing they know, they are head over heels for each other. What they don’t know is that, this attraction is what will shake everything up.

What I liked about this book is the author’s attention to detail. The imagery was great and she was able to make every scene alive in the readers’ minds. I also loved how the plot and the characters developed. I liked how Crail seemed to always be organized and perfect in every way, but when she fell for Rikard, she became vulnerable too, like all of us who have been in love. I would also like to commend how the author used her influence to raise awareness for Tikopia in the Solomon Islands.

There were occasional typos and that’s the only thing that I did not like. I highly recommend this to lovers of crime thriller, mystery, and romance. I would also like to give a fair warning to future readers that this book has a lot of erotic scenes and there were a lot of profanities used. Last but not the least, this book deals with drugs and murder.

For more honest reviews and other bookish stuff, check my sidebar and follow me on the rest of my social media accounts: Instagram, Goodreads, and Twitter.

[Review] GUILT by David Taylor Black, 5/5

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This review first appeared on and was written for OnlineBookClub.org. It has been slightly edited here and the rating has been adjusted for a 5-star system, which is more common.

Guilt by David Taylor Black follows the story of Daniel Harris as he goes back to Hope Town to take a break from his rocky marriage. At the same time, he also wants to make some research for his upcoming book. This is the first installment in Black’s Guilt series.

This book is so compelling and excruciatingly good, it stressed me out. I got so carried away with the unfortunate events that happened to Daniel in spite of him just being nice and trying to look out for everyone. He’s a very concerned citizen to a fault and that made him very vulnerable and naive.

I liked how this book is feminist in nature and also LGBTQ-friendly. I would like to commend the author for bringing such wonderful characters to life and for giving each one of them an important role. Just when you thought everything was so predictable, the author surprises the readers with great character revelations and jaw-dropping plot twists.

I’d recommend this to lovers of crime thrillers and mystery. I would also like to give a fair warning that this book contains a lot of profanity, some gore, and a mention of child molestation.

For more honest reviews and other bookish stuff, check my sidebar and follow me on the rest of my social media accounts: Instagram, Goodreads, and Twitter.