[Review] ELIZABETH WEBSTER AND THE COURT OF UNCOMMON PLEAS by William Lashner, 5/5

Elizabeth’s parents are divorced. She’s staying with her mom, stepbrother, and stepdad who is also a lawyer like her biological father. She’s used to her father not being around and then suddenly appearing in the most bizarre of places and situations. This time, however, his absence has been the longest she can remember and she’s now wondering if there’s much more to it than just her dad being busy with work.

Then she meets Henry Harrison, the famous swimmer at their school. Her world turns upside down when this jock approaches their table at lunch and asks her tutor him in math. It turns out Henry’s dilemma is not related to linear equations, but rather to something that will let her know more about her heritage and even the current location of her dad. Soon enough, the three of them, Lizzie, her best friend Natalie, and Henry, find themselves in the middle of solving Beatrice Long’s murder that happened long before they were all born.

At first, I was annoyed by Elizabeth because her sarcasm seemed too much for me. But then I had to remind myself that she is a teenager, and we all had that annoying phase (lol no offense). As I progressed, she grew on me and I found her remarks witty. But I believe nothing can beat Natalie to it. I loved both Lizzie and Natalie’s characters, but Natalie just steals the show when she speaks with just the right amount of sass. I’d say I can relate to her more. Lizzie is sassy and smart too, but she’s the reserved type.

It was a slow start for me but the story picked up its pace and became more exciting somewhere in the middle. This book made me laugh and the ending almost made me cry. I thought this was about ghosts and weird creatures, but more than anything, this is about self-discovery and family relationships.

Elizabeth Webster and the Court of Uncommon Pleas by William Lashner surprised me in more ways than one. I didn’t expect much from a spooky Disney middle-grade book, but here I am, still stumped with all the emotions I felt after finishing it. Step into Lizzie’s world with her and her team as she suddenly becomes a lawyer in such a unique court. Trigger warnings include mental health issues, death of a loved one, and a bit of gore.

Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Publishing Worldwide for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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

Advertisements

[Blog Tour + Giveaway] ELIZABETH WEBSTER AND THE COURT OF UNCOMMON PLEAS by William Lashner

About the Book

Title: ELIZABETH WEBSTER AND THE COURT OF UNCOMMON PLEAS
Author: William Lashner
Pub. Date: October 15, 2019
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 320
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonKindle, Audible, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD

~~~

Blurb

Welcome to Elizabeth Webster’s world, where the common laws of middle school torment her days . . . and the uncommon laws of an even weirder realm govern her nights.

Elizabeth Webster is happy to stay under the radar (and under her bangs) until middle school is dead and gone. But when star swimmer Henry Harrison asks Elizabeth to tutor him in math, it’s not linear equations Henry really needs help with-it’s a flower-scented, poodle-skirt-wearing, head-tossing ghost who’s calling out Elizabeth’s name.

But why Elizabeth? Could it have something to do with her missing lawyer father? Maybe. Probably. If only she could find him. In her search, Elizabeth discovers more than she is looking for: a grandfather she never knew, a startling legacy, and the secret family law firm, Webster & Son, Attorneys for the Damned.

Elizabeth and her friends soon land in court, where demons and ghosts take the witness stand and a red-eyed judge with a ratty white wig hands out sentences like sandwiches. Will Elizabeth’s father arrive in time to save Henry Harrison-and is Henry the one who really needs saving?

Set in the historic streets of Philadelphia, this riveting middle-grade mystery from New York Times best-selling author William Lashner will have readers banging their gavels and calling for more from the incomparable Elizabeth Webster.

~~~

Excerpt

Chapter 4: An Annoying Thing To Learn

Henry  Harrison’s  house  always  gave  me  the  creeps— even before Henry Harrison lived in it.

It  was  a  stone  mansion  built  on  top  of  a  hill  a  hundred or so years ago. By the time I was old enough to first notice it, the house was deserted and falling apart. A pillar was  slanted,  the  roof  was  collapsing,  vines  were  crawling everywhere.

And there were stories about it—of a teen gone missing on Halloween night, of shifting lights and eerie howls coming from the ruin. But the house didn’t need stories to make it frightening. There was just something sour about it.

And then, for some cracked reason, the Harrisons came along and bought the place.

They tried to spiff it up. The pillar was straightened, the roof was fixed, vines were chopped down. But the gloomy never went away. The pillars still looked like huge, gaping front teeth, and the shuttered windows still looked like evil eyes. At night, dimly lit, the house was the head of a giant monster with the body buried deep beneath the ground.

The sight of the monster’s head up on that hill convinced me again that I should have said no when Henry Harrison asked  for  math  help.  I  actually  thought  I  had  said  no.  I hugged  myself  in  the  chilly  fall  night  and  headed  up  the long driveway. I told myself I was just there to make a quick twenty-five bucks and then run right on home.

I  banged  on  the  front  door.  A  dog  barked.  There  were no  lights  on  inside.  I  hoped  for  a  second  that  no  one  was inside. But then the door opened with a creak, and there he was, Henry Harrison, in jeans and stockinged feet. A little dog yapped noisily.

“You came,” he said. “I wasn’t sure you’d show.”

“You didn’t give me much choice.”

He  pushed  away  the  dog  with  his  foot.  “Don’t  mind Perky. He’s still just a pup.”

“Perky?”

“It seemed to fit.”

“I hate perk.” The dog kept jumping and yelping. “Maybe you could give it a pill.”

“Let’s work in the kitchen. My folks are out.”                         

“Oh,” I said. The house was dark, the parents were out, the dog was yelping. This didn’t seem right. Not at all. “My stepfather’s picking me up when we’re finished. He’s waiting for my call.”

“Good,”  he  said.  “I  thought  we  could  work  on  some word problems.”

We  set  out  his  textbook  and  some  writing  pads  on  a wooden  table  in  the  kitchen,  and  got  right  to  work.  The word problems from the first few chapters were easy as pi. I taught him how to create equations from the stories, and then how to the flip the equations to make them easier to graph. I moved baby step by baby step so his chlorine-filled brain could keep up.

Perky  lay  on  the  floor  beneath  the  table,  whimpering. Henry asked a few questions here and there, but they were less about the problems and more about me, which was sort of annoying. And then every once in a while, in the middle of one of my explanations, he would abruptly get up from the kitchen table and run upstairs to check on something.

He was so distracted that I got distracted and I started making  mistakes.  I  actually  had  to  scratch  out  wrong  figures on the paper, which bugged me. I was working in pen, of course—I mean, it was only math.

“I thought you were supposed to be a genius,” he said.

“Pay attention. Shirley has a plant a half a foot tall that grows  an  inch  each  month  and  she  wants  to  know  how big  it  will  be  after  a  year  and  a  half.  Now  let’s  build  the equation.”

“What kind of plant is it?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“It matters to Shirley.”

“But  it  doesn’t  matter  to  us,”  I  said.  “It’s  just  a  stupid plant.”

“Is it pretty? Does it have flowers?”

“I don’t care.”

“That’s just sad, Webster. Everyone likes flowers. What do you do for fun?”

“Math.”

“Do  you  ever  just  hang  out,  play  video  games,  throw balls against the wall?”

“No. Can we get back to work?”

“I’m just trying to get to know you a bit. You know, to help the learning process.”

“What helps the learning process is doing the learning.”

“You’re good at this,” he said, “because you figured out my problem right there.”

“Can we just do this equation?”

“No need. I think I get it now.”

I looked up at him. “I think you got it from the start.”

“It’s   only   linear   equations,   Webster.   It’s   not   rocket science.”

“It  is  if  you  want  the  rocket  to  go  up,”  I  said  before slowly closing the book. I wasn’t even angry at him, I was angry  at  myself  for  getting  roped  into  this.  How  could  I have expected anything else? “So this was all one big joke, right?” I said as coolly as I could. “You’re planning to haze me like you hazed Grimes.”

“Who?”

“The kid you stuck in the garbage can.”

“Oh  him,  yeah,”  said  Henry.  “I  didn’t  do  that,  but  I didn’t stop it, which is just as bad.”

“So . . . what? Is something going on upstairs? Are you setting  up  a  prank  for  the  math  geek  so  all  your  friends will have something to snicker about tomorrow? I’m sorry I won’t be able to provide hours of entertainment. I’ll take my twenty-five dollars now.”

I  thought  he’d  be  mad,  or  embarrassed,  or  even  break out in laughter. But what he did instead was smile sort of sadly.

“You’ll get your money,” he said, “I promise. And you’re not  geeky,  or  at  least  not  as  geeky  as  I  thought  you’d  be. And I wasn’t punking you. I asked you here because I need your help.”

“But not in math.”

“No, I’ve had that pretty much down since second grade. But there is something upstairs I need to show you.”

I pulled my phone out of my pocket and started to unlock the screen. “I’m going home.”

“Please don’t,” he said. “It’s not anything like you think, I promise. I really need your help, Webster. Really. If there was  any  other  way,  I’d  take  it,  but  there  isn’t.  Help  me, please.”

Part of my brain told me to get out of there as quickly as possible. But I didn’t listen to that part of my brain, the sensible, responsible part that sounded so much like the voice of my mother. Instead I put away the phone.

What was it that made me stay? Had I somehow caught Natalie’s ambition of being friends with the popular swimming star like you catch the flu in homeroom? I don’t think so.  I  think  it  was  something  else,  something  even  more troubling.

I could tell by his sad smile that Henry wasn’t trying to play a trick on me. He seemed just then like nothing more than  a  scared  kid  who  needed  help.  My  help.  And  here’s the thing. In a way that I couldn’t explain, just his asking for  help  made  me  feel  responsible  for  him.  Talk  about  an annoying thing to learn about yourself. It would have been so much easier to turn my back and walk away, but instead I  was  face-to-face  with  a  truth  as  undeniable  as  a  wart: He needed my help, and because of that I felt like I had no choice but to give it.

“Okay,” I said. “But no funny stuff.”

“Trust me” he said. “There won’t be any funny stuff, at least not from me.”

~~~

About the Author

William Lashner is the New York Times Bestselling creator of Victor Carl, who has been called by Booklist one of the mystery novel’s “most compelling, most morally ambiguous characters.”  The Victor Carl novels, which have been translated into more than a dozen foreign languages and have been sold all across the globe, include BAGMEN, KILLER’S KISS, FALLS THE SHADOW, FATAL FLAW, and HOSTILE WITNESS.  He is also the author of GUARANTEED HEROES, THE BARKEEP, which was an Edgar Award nominee and a Digital Book World Number One Bestseller, THE ACCOUNTING, and BLOOD AND BONE.

Writing under the pseudonym of Tyler Knox, Lashner is also the author of KOCKROACH, described as “roaringly entertaining,” by Publisher’s Weekly, and “an energetic tour de force,” by USA Today.  As Tyler Knox he has written a number of book reviews for the Washington Post Book World.

Lashner was a criminal prosecutor with the Department of Justice in Washington D.C. before quitting the law to write fulltime.  A graduate of the New York University School of Law, as well as the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he lives with his wife and three children outside Philadelphia.

William Lashner Photo © Sigrid Estrada Website | Goodreads

~~~

Giveaway

3 winners will receive a finished copy of ELIZABETH WEBSTER AND THE COURT OF UNCOMMON PLEAS, US Only. Click here to enter.

~~~

Tour Schedule

Week Three

Oct 14 – Books_AndPoetriiExcerpt

Oct 15 – Jena Brown WritesReview

Oct 16 – NerdophilesReview

Oct 17 – Savings in SecondsReview

Oct 18 – The Reading Corner for AllReview

Click the banner to learn more about the Rock Star Book Tours.

[Review] FORGIVEN by Geoff Lawson, 4/5

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

Forgiven by Geoff Lawson introduces us to a brave young man named Richard Wilson, as he fights in the Second Boer War and for the love of his life. Rachel Purdue is the beautiful and equally brave socialite who has captured our protagonist’s heart. They meet once when they were still kids. They see each other again coincidentally around one and a half decades later, and fall in love. The difference in their economic status is already a hurdle in their relationship, given that the setting was in the Victorian era where social standing is very prominent. But then, a lot more things emerge to make their love story even more complicated.

The first half of the book juxtaposes the past and the present, and one must be careful to read the year at the start of every chapter to not be confused. I liked that the story features a handful of strong female characters such as Rachel, Mary, and Lady Sarah. In an outdated social setting where women were only expected to get married at a certain age and make a happy home, they definitely exceeded expectations and have shown strength both inside and out.

Rachel was stubborn. And although that may be seen more as a negative than a positive trait, it helped her grow as a person. That same stubbornness helped her survive and stand out in some scenes. Mary is Richard’s wise and loving mother, and I’m pretty sure Richard won’t be half the great man that he is if not for this heroine. Lady Sarah was one of the royalties that Richard had to escort as a soldier. She seems to be a stuck-up and spoiled bride, but there were scenes in the book that will show you that she is capable of a whole lot of admirable things.

The story’s pace was kind of slow for me, but it was not boring either. I would honestly say that most of the chapters did not move me, and only the last ones had a real impact. I was expecting a different kind of surprise, but the book’s ending is still surprising and dramatic in its own way.

I cannot pinpoint anything that I particularly disliked, so I would say that this is a good book worth recommending. It was well-written, and the author did a good job in his research and in building such great imagery. This book will surely appeal to fans of historical fiction and romance. Trigger warnings include a few mentions of violent acts, gore, and some hints of cheating.

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 + Giveaway] ACADEMY OF THE ELITES by Alexis Calder

About the Book

Title: ACADEMY OF THE ELITES (Untamed Magic #1)
Author: Alexis Calder
Publisher: Alexis Calder
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 139
Find it on: GoodreadsAmazon

Release Dates for Academy of Elites:
Untamed Magic: October 1, 2019
Broken Magic: November 2019
Fated Magic: December 2019

~~~

Blurb

My name is Raven Winters and I’m a mage. Who the hell knew? 

When I somehow summon fire in an act of self defense, I’m given two choices by the magic cops: attend some stuck-up magic school, or go to magic jail. 

Well, shit. There go my plans for the next year. Apparently, I have Untamed Magic, whatever the hell that means. And I’ve got a year to get it under control at this magic academy that’s basically a finishing school for the elite. Everyone here is somebody important. And rich. Except for me. 

Which paints quite the target on my back. Being the token poor kid is bad enough. Throw in that I somehow form a mating bond with four of the school’s most eligible bachelors. Oh yeah, and add in the fact that someone is trying to kill me. FML. 

Academy of the Elites is a reverse harem fantasy series meant for mature readers who want action, magic, and steam.

~~~

Excerpt

Raven

I kissed him harder, my lips swollen, my heart racing. I didn’t want him to stop.

Emboldened by my tempo, Luka slid the fabric of my tunic down my shoulder. Then, he moved to the other side, repeating the motion.

The fabric slid down my chest, practically melting away from skin until it pooled at my waist, held up by the gold belt.

He broke away from the kiss and took a step back from me, staring at me with his gorgeous eyes. I was naked in front of him. Well, half naked and all he did was look at me. His gaze didn’t break from my face and despite the fact that my tits were on full display, he didn’t look down.

There was something in that stare that reached down to my very core. It wasn’t just lust, there was something else there. Some connection that I couldn’t explain.

But then again, this was a dream. Maybe I was searching for a reason to justify how wet I was or how badly I wanted to feel this stranger’s cock inside me.

Heat rushed through me in a rolling sensation that was familiar but difficult to pinpoint. Where had I felt that before? Then, I realized I felt something similar when I’d used my magic. Terrified I was about to burst into flame, I pushed the sensation away, and with it, the moment of connection.

This wasn’t love. This wasn’t personal. This was lust. Pure and simple. It was a dream and I deserved to do what I wanted, right?

Luka

She frowned. “I was trying to open up to you.”

“I know,” I said. “And I’ll leave if you want me to. But have you considered that maybe you need the release? Maybe your body is craving this for a reason?”

Her eyes dropped, and I knew she was looking at the tent in my jeans. There wasn’t any way to hide my arousal from her. Even with my ability to control dreams, I couldn’t control my feelings for her.

“Dreams only,” she said. “Never during the day.”

I was willing to take what I could get, for now. As long as I could have her. “Agree.”

Reaching for her, I cupped the side of her face, rubbing my thumb on her soft cheek, then down her lips.

She held her breath, then she batted my hand away. “Wait a minute, you’re in confinement. You went there for me.”

I shrugged. “It was my fault. I shouldn’t have followed you.”

Her eyebrows knitted together in a look of concern. “Are you okay? They say it’s terrible.”

“It’s not so bad. Especially if you’re someone like me, who can escape in a matter of speaking.” I didn’t want to go into the rumors about reduced magic and lower powers after a trip to confinement. It was too depressing and would definitely ruin the mood. Besides, I was able to get to Raven’s dream. That was all I needed.

Taking a chance, I leaned in, hesitating only a second before I claimed her mouth with mine.

She wrapped her arms around me and I pulled her closer to me. Our lips moved together in ravenous, hungry fashion. Her fingers spread through my hair, tugging the strands as she pulled my head closer to hers.

~~~

About the Author

Alexis Calder writes sassy heroines and sexy heroes with a sprinkle of sarcasm. She lives in the Rockies and drinks far too much coffee and just the right amount of wine.

Facebook | Amazon Author Page | BookBub |  Goodreads

~~~

Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card. This is international. Click here to enter.

~~~

Tour Schedule

Week One

Sep 30
BookHounds YA Excerpt
Wonder StruckReview

Oct 1
Satisfaction for Insatiable ReadersExcerpt
Lifestyle of MeReview

Oct 2
A Gingerly ReviewReview
Polish & PaperbacksReview

Oct 3
Fire and Ice Review
A Bookish DreamReview

Oct 4
Read. Eat. Love.Review
BookriotReview

Week Two

Oct 7
Smada’s Book SmackReview
book briefsReview

Oct 8
Sophie Reads YAReview
Shelf-RatedReview

Oct 9
Novel NoviceExcerpt
Fyrekatz BlogReview

Oct 10
Books a Plenty Book ReviewsReview
EatingbetweenthelinesINCReview

Oct 11
Writer of WrongsReview
Books_AndPoetriiExcerpt 

[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 and the rating has been adjusted for a 5-star rating system, which is more common. To read the original version, please click here.

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.

[Review] Tulip by Raymond Hardy 3/5

This review first appeared on and was written for OnlineBookClub.org (OBC). It has been slightly edited and the rating has been adjusted, considering that OBC only has a four-star rating system. To read the original version, please click here.

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.

[Review] Jurisdiction Denied by Jack Gold and Mark Debbaudt 2/5

This review first appeared on and was written for OnlineBookClub.org (OBC). It has been slightly edited and the rating has been adjusted for a 5-star rating system. To read the original version, please click here.

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.

[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

~~~

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.

~~~

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

~~~

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

__________________________________________________________

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. 

__________________________________________________________

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.

__________________________________________________________

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.

Sign up for Kira’s Newsletter!

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

__________________________________________________________

International Giveaway

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

__________________________________________________________

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 (OBC). It has been slightly edited and the rating has been adjusted, considering that OBC only has a four-star rating. To read the original version, please click here.

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.