Mountain Charm by Sydney Logan – Release Day and Giveaway

Today is the release day for Mountain Charm by Sydney Logan!! I am so excited to share this gorgeous new book. Sydney is sharing an excerpt with us, and a giveaway, so be sure to check it all out!!

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Mountain Charm eBook Cover

About Mountain Charm:

“True love and sweet whispers, till death do us part;

Send someone to love my Appalachian heart.”


At the age of thirteen, Angelina Clark followed in the footsteps of her ancestors by casting an Appalachian love spell, which promised she would find her true love. A young Angelina had been thrilled to participate in the ritual, but through the years, her father’s untimely death and her mother’s illness have shaken Angelina’s magical faith to its core. Now, as her twenty-first birthday approaches, she refuses to practice her supernatural gifts and no longer believes in the love charm.

That is, until Dylan Thomas arrives on her front porch.

Dylan, a Nashville writer, travels to the mountain town of Maple Ridge to unearth the family’s supernatural secrets. While her clairvoyant mother is convinced that Dylan is her daughter’s soul mate, Angelina refuses to see the nosy reporter as anything more than a nuisance.

The two grow closer just as her mother’s health takes a turn for the worse. Faced with mounting medical bills, Angelina is faced with selling the family’s music shop to make ends meet. Desperate to help the woman he loves, Dylan explores his own family tree and finds support from an unlikely source.

Can Dylan prove his love is real—spell or no spell?

Buy Links:

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Exclusive Excerpt:

The bar was the biggest redneck tavern he’d ever seen in his life, but the music was loud and the beer was cheap.

Which would explain his present state of intoxication.

The bartender offered him another bottle, but Dylan declined. He needed to sober up if he had any chance of driving home tonight.

“You’re that reporter from Nashville, aren’t you? Doing the story on Angelina Clark and her mom.”

Dylan’s body shivered at the mention of her name, and he cursed under his breath. Escaping her, even in a dump like this, was impossible.

“They’re good people,” the bartender said.

Dylan couldn’t remember his name. Mel? Max? It was an M, definitely.

“Yes, they are.”

“Angelina’s a sweetheart,” the man continued. “That ex of hers sure treated her badly.”

Dylan nodded. “He better pray I never see him again, because if I do, I’ll beat the shit out of him.”

The bartender grinned and pointed toward the pool tables. “Is that a promise?”

Dylan couldn’t believe his eyes. Standing there, laughing and drinking with his buddies, was Adam McDonald.

They spotted each other at the same time, and Adam smirked. He said something to his friends and dropped his pool stick before heading to the bar.

“You look like you could use another,” Adam said, his voice slurring a little as he waved to the bartender. He slapped Dylan on the shoulder. “Look, man, I’m going to give you a little advice. If you’re waiting to get into Angelina’s pants, don’t bother, because you’ll be waiting a long time.”

Dylan’s entire body bristled at the mention of her name on the bastard’s lips. He wasn’t so drunk that he didn’t take a moment to consider the consequences of his actions.

This was a redneck bar, and it was quite possible he’d get his ass kicked.

Then he thought of Angelina’s sweet face, her pretty eyes, and her cinnamon kiss.

Worth it.


About Sydney Logan:

Sydney Logan is the bestselling author of six novels. She has also penned several short stories and is a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul. A lover of music, she fills her playlist with everyone from Johnny Cash to Eminem.

Sydney holds a Master’s degree in Elementary Education and spends her days surrounded by kids and books. A native of East Tennessee, she enjoys playing piano and relaxing on her porch with her wonderful husband and their very spoiled cat.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


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The Reapers by Ali Winters – Promo


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Join us every Thursday for IABB #Confessions

The Reapers (The Hunted Series: Book 1)

Author: Ali Winters

Title: The Reapers

Series: The Hunted, #1

Pages: 348
Genre: Paranormal
Date published: May 31, 2015


Having been a reaper as long as she can remember, Nivian knows that what she does is essential in maintaining balance. After being assigned to a rushed mark she finds that there is more to this human than any other she has encountered.

Kain had been living an ordinary life without a second thought until he meets Nivian who turns his world upside down. He is thrust into a world of hunters and reapers. The keepers of life and death have been feuding for centuries over a reason no one can even remember.

With Kain having been marked for reaping, and Nivian being hunted, they forge a friendship and together must find the truth in order to keep balance in check. Wrong choices could destroy everything. As they journey they discover hidden histories, powers, and lies and truths that have been spun since the beginning of time. The consequence of failure, unimaginable.


Nivian leaped over the edge of the bridge and landed with a soft tap on the surface of the water. She reached down, pulled the soul of the driver up by the collar of his shirt, and stood him up next to her on top of the water. She took the driver’s hand, palm up, in hers and waved her other hand over his. Pinching the air, she pulled and lifted up to expose his life thread. His wide eyes stared unblinking, hypnotized by the glowing string of light. Nivian reached behind her and grabbed the scythe strapped to her back, and swung. With a slow, deliberate movement, Nivian sliced the human’s life thread. The light formed into a ball and hovered between them. She pulled out a small pocket watch and guided the life energy down to the watch. It sunk into it and disappeared.
She snapped the watch closed and returned it to her pocket. “You should know better than to drink and drive. You could’ve seriously hurt someone.”
He gaped at her, his mouth opened and closed like a fish. “Yes, you really are dead,” she confirmed and gave him an apathetic look as she turned away.
“Are you … the devil?” he managed to sputter.
“No, of course not. I am just the natural order of things,” she said, looking back over her shoulder. “Wait here. Your spirit counselor will be here soon to guide you to your afterlife. I have other jobs tonight.” She spun on her heel and walked away, as she pulled her hood back up over her head and vanished.

The Sapphire Legend: Part II by E.L. Tenenbaum

The Sapphire Legend: Part II by E.L. Tenenbaum

The Sapphire Legend: Part II Cover

5 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of The Sapphire Legend: Part II by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Sapere and the surviving villagers of her tribe have been in the Wild for months, and many of them have adjusted to life there. When Sapere and Venatore find the fifth tribe, they have an obligation to warn them of an impending attack by the Pliz. Their sister tribe also has an obligation to offer asylum to the survivors.

But life in the tribe by The Great Waters is vastly different than what Sapere is used to. Her tribe was just beginning to accept her differences—that she was given her family’s gifts, which are only passed down to males—and her place on council. Now she has to prove herself all over again, and she has to do it while her instincts are telling her they are woefully unprepared for an attack by the Pliz.

The Sapphire Legend: Part II is a young adult fantasy about a young woman who has to prove her worth to the rest of her people while discovering her value for herself. Because of the gifts she was born with, Sapere had to fight for her place among her people in part one. Even after all she did to save her tribe, she is once again an outsider who has to gain respect among the new tribe.

The story drew me in immediately, picking up right where part one left off, with Sapere and Venatore discovering the fifth tribe. They needed to develop allies in order to convince the rest of council to journey to the other tribe by The Great Waters, but once they arrived their quest had only begun. While some settled easily into life with the fifth tribe, others, like Sapere, weren’t comfortable with the differences in the way they lived. These differences made it even more difficult for Sapere to be accepted among council.

The author’s description of Sapere’s gifts was exquisitely written, making me feel like I was picking through sounds and feeling the heartbeat of the earth right along with Sapere. I enjoyed watching how she struggled to grow her gifts and teach others, as well as her indecision when she needed to use them with less-than-honorable intentions.

Sapere’s growth was not limited to her own self-worth. Throughout the story, her relationship with her older sister Onyx also grew and changed. Where Sapere once looked up to Onyx, their roles were suddenly reversed and she came to realize she now had Onyx’s admiration. Once Sapere settled her own personal battle with the Pliz’s attack, she was also able to move on and accept Reo’s feelings for her. The romance in this story was secondary to the main character growth but a well-rounded addition.

The entire story contained a general feeling that something was going to go wrong, that something wasn’t right with the new tribe. There was good buildup to the battle, and good timing of Sapere’s recognition of Reo’s love.

I truly enjoyed this book as the conclusion of what began in book one. Ms. Tenenbaum’s talent for drawing a reader in and holding them captive assures great things in her future.

Book Links:

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The Tower (Psionic Pentalogy Book 2) by Adrian Howell

The Tower (Psionic Pentalogy Book 2) by Adrian Howell

The Tower Cover

5 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of The Tower by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

At thirteen, Adrian Howell has already lived a full life as a wild-born telekinetic. He’s happy to be settling down in the heart of the new psionic city of New Haven. He freely joins the Guardians, hoping they’ll be able to help him rescue his sister from the Angels. But life as a Guardian means intense combat training of more than his telekinetic powers.

Terry is Adrian’s combat trainer, and she also becomes a friend—something Adrian doesn’t have many of. But the rigorous training makes Adrian uncomfortable. He has no interest in shooting a gun or being able to kill someone with his hands. Even more uncomfortable are his recurring nightmares, indicating something hiding inside his mind. Adrian will have to unlock his own secrets before someone he cares about gets hurt.

The Tower is book two in the Psionic Pentalogy series, and it starts right where book one left off. It’s a thrilling addition to the series, continuing on Adrian’s journey into the world of psionics as he learns how to use his powers and fights for what he believes in. While the main characters are young, the book deals with some death and killing, as Adrian lives in a world where he doesn’t get to be a regular kid.

Once again, I enjoyed watching Adrian’s struggle to make grown-up decisions when he was still just a kid. The author did a wonderful job of presenting Adrian’s attempt to be a normal thirteen-year-old and handle mature situations at the same time. He had to work through feelings for Terry in a normal young teen way while he was also struggling with his own identity. Adrian didn’t know who he really was, what he was capable of, or what normal was for him. He discovered all of this throughout the story. The addition of dealing with his feelings for Alia, his pseudo-sister, made for a wonderful emotional journey.

The plot was well thought-out, leaving little kernels throughout in a way that really made the reader think about the details. Although I knew who the betrayer was and why they betrayed the Guardians before it was revealed, the author did a good job keeping the suspense going. The story still came to a gripping climax, and it even had more issues to resolve and character growth beyond that.

This book is part of a series and best enjoyed when read in order, but enough background information was provided to be read as a standalone. The story had a satisfying conclusion while still leaving doors open for the next book in the series. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

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Suanne Laqueur – Author Interview, Excerpt, and Giveaway

SLQR Author Interview 2

Here to Stay is now available on Amazon!

In honor of the release of Here to Stay, the third book in The Fish Tales series, Rach Lawrence Books is proud to present our first author interview. With us today is the author of The Fish Tales, Suanne Laqueur.

RLB: Welcome, Suanne! Thanks for joining us. Can you tell us a little about yourself and what inspires you to write?

SLQR: I’m the daughter of a dancer and a translator which I guess is the perfect combination to make me a writer. I was a dance major in college and then I taught for ten years. I’ve since gone from choreographing bodies to choreographing words. I love to write stories from life. I love to take life’s little moments or big feelings and flesh them out into something people can connect with.

RLB: Who is your favorite author and what’s your favorite book?

SLQR: I can’t pick one favorite but I do have my gurus and certain books of theirs that are my bibles. I love Rumer Godden, in particular her novel In This House of Brede. That and Laurie Colwin’s book Family Happiness helped me discover what kind of writer I wanted to be. Stephen King’s Eyes of the Dragon taught me about storytelling. Catherynne M. Valente’s Fairyland series showed me how to make everything in a story come alive. I also love Philip Pullman, Neil Gaiman, Ann Patchett and Joanne Harris.

RLB: What are the best and worst things about being an author?

SLQR: I can’t think of a worst thing except the pressure of having to come up with new material and the obsession with checking your sales graphs. The absolute best thing is getting fan mail. When a reader reaches out to you to tell them what your words meant to them. When they say your book changed them. Or your book made them think differently. There is nothing like that high. Connecting with readers, bloggers and other writers is the best. But I also must say that when I used my royalties to buy a new garage door, it was pretty cool as well.


RLB: How did The Man I Love come about?

SLQR: It was a story about 23 years in the making. I created the characters in college but I just played with them like paper dolls. They had a lot of college-centric, sitcom scenes but no story arc. I came back to them in my late 20s and all that post-adolescent drama was boring to me, so I took the couple at the center of it all and began to write about them as adults. Except they weren’t together anymore. This was Erik and Daisy.

So I had material about them meeting. And then material about them being apart and reconciling. What happened in the middle? I didn’t get an idea for that until 2013, when I was in my mid-40s. All at once I felt it was time and I made a very sudden decision to give this couple an arc and finish this book. I started writing in earnest in November 2013, published in June of 2014 and have never once regretted it.


RLB: What made you write the second book, Give Me Your Answer True? How did you make the same time period from another character’s perspective different and interesting?

SLQR: I was all set to write a sequel. Or rather, a prequel. Perhaps a bit of both. But something kept happening whenever I sat down to write about Erik’s past or future: Daisy kept tapping me on the shoulder with something to say.

I realized I’d finished The Man I Love loving Erik, but not 100% sure Daisy deserved forgiveness. Not entirely clear on what had driven her to do what she did. I realized I didn’t know her as well as I knew Erik. And it soon became clear I wouldn’t and couldn’t write anything new about her and Erik and their “new normal” until I’d dug deeper into Daisy as a character in her own right. I needed to find her voice.

The challenge with this alternate-POV was to avoid a play-by-play rehash of what readers already knew. The story wouldn’t become fresh until Daisy and Erik parted ways and the reader followed her path. I avoided the rehash by writing the rehash. Sounds weird, right? But I figured it was better to have too much material and cut, rather than not have enough and write in panic mode. So I wrote EVERYTHING from Daisy’s side, and then I ruthlessly chopped what served no purpose. If I kept a scene that had already been told, I made sure it was only because the reader learned something new by seeing it from Daisy’s eyes.

I also played around with time in Give Me Your Answer True. I’m not a huge fan of flashbacks or books that jump around in time, so I wrote The Man I Love in a strict linear fashion. Start at the beginning, tell the story. With Daisy’s story, the readers already knew the ending, so I could jump back and forth between past and present. I also used Daisy’s therapy sessions, her letters and her newspaper articles as a vehicle to jump large stretches of time while maintaining a narrative.

RLB: Is Here to Stay the last we’ll read from these characters?

SLQR: For the time being. I do have an idea for a fourth book which is a prequel telling Erik’s family story. But now it’s time to peel my fingers off The Fish Tales and see what other people are living in my head. It’s time to do something that scares me.

RLB: Are you working on anything at the moment?

SLQR: Yes. I’m not sure exactly what but so far it involves a town called Guelisten and a family called Lark. A drugstore soda fountain, dollhouses and treehouses. A dressmaker, a journalist and a massage therapist. A used bookstore, a tattoo parlor, slutty brownies and coffee. I really don’t know where I’m going with this. It’s the first book I’ll ever think up from nothing and not take 20 years to finish. So come back in a few months. Did I mention it’s time to do something that scares me?


RLB: Anything else you’d like to share with us?

SLQR: It’s never too late to follow a dream or reinvent yourself. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose by trying. Try something new.

As Elizabeth Gilbert says, “Done is better than perfect.”

And as my friend Ami says, “Not everything has to be a thing.”

RLB: Thanks for taking time for the readers at Rach Lawrence Books!

Suanne Laqueur

Suanne Laqueur’s debut novel The Man I Love won a gold medal in the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. Its other accolades include the 2015 Beverly Hills Book Award, a gold medal at the 2015 eLit Awards, and is a current finalist in the 2015 Kindle Book Awards.

Laqueur graduated from Alfred University with a double major in dance and theater. She taught at the Carol Bierman School of Ballet Arts in Croton-on-Hudson for ten years. An avid reader, cook and gardener, she started her blog EatsReadsThinks in 2010. She lives in Westchester County, New York with her husband and two children.

With The Man I Love and its companion novel, Give Me Your Answer True, Laqueur has gone from choreographing dancers to choreographing words. Her goal is to create a new kind of emotionally-intelligent romance that appeals to the emotions of all readers, crossing gender, age and genre.

You can find Suanne Laqueur at:

Website │ Amazon │ Goodreads │ Facebook │ Twitter │ Pinterest │ Instagram │ Google+

Rach Lawrence Books Reviews of The Fish Tales

The Man I Love

Give Me Your Answer True

Here To Stay

Excerpt from Here to Stay:

It’s a strange thing to find a lost lover in your hands again. Like finding your childhood baseball glove in an attic box of memories. You’re sure it won’t fit. But the heat of your palm, a flex and a bend. A cautious knead of the leather and a tentative reach into the furthest recesses… It knows you. It remembers you.

It fits you.

“Do I feel the same?” Daisy asked, her voice a silken caress.

After twelve years, Erik thought, of course not. He had loved a girl. It was a woman’s body up against him now, with the heft of wisdom and the weight of experience. He ran his fingers up her backbone and felt all the bits of new fused steel, overlaid with the strong assurance in her muscles and the soft aplomb of her skin. She was a hundred times more beautiful. A thousand times more thrilling.

And as her blue-green eyes stared into his, he was keenly aware of her vulnerability.

“You feel more,” he said, his hands moving along her body, trying to remember how she felt when he last touched her. Thin. Beyond ballerina thin—she was drugged thin at the end of their days in college. Yet beautiful to him. Never anything but stunningly easy on his eyes and liquid in his embrace and sweet in his mouth.

“You feel right,” she said, her own hands gliding along his limbs, in and out of him. “Maybe a little thinner.”

“I probably am. I lost and gained weight over and over. Depending on how I was feeling at the time. When the dark times came around, I’d stop eating.”

“I know, but…” Her delicate, arched eyebrows flickered in her brow. “I think over the years, in my head, I made you bigger than you were. Or maybe I beat myself down into something smaller. But now I remember your body. I remember mine with it.”

She was kissing him, pulling him to roll on top of her again. The digital clock on her bedside table read 2:06 in the morning. They had been going at it like possessed demons for hours now and no matter how tight he held or how hard he clung, Erik could not get both arms around making love to her. Too much feeling grabbed at him, clamoring for attention and precedence. Euphoria, lust, guilt and sadness were four wild stallions chained to each limb, intent on tearing him apart. Yet at the center of the jerking, pulling emotion, his heart was calm and accepting. Quietly riding out the storm, safe in the knowledge he was living his truth, living the life he was born to live.

“Don’t leave me,” she whispered under him.

“I can’t,” he said. “I’d never breathe again.”

Giveaway – 1 Signed Copy of Here to Stay
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Her Master’s Servant (Lord and Master Book 2) by Kait Jagger

Her Master’s Servant (Lord and Master Book 2) by Kait Jagger

Her Master’s Servant Cover

5 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided an ARC of Her Master’s Servant through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

In book two of the Lord and Master series, Luna Gregory sets off on her own after being betrayed by her long-time mentor and the love of her life in one fell swoop. By accepting a job from someone she trusts, she gets as far away from Arborage Estate as she can. A project in Shetland convincing the local sheep farmers to breed black sheep should keep her mind occupied for a while.

Stefan Lundgren isn’t willing to give up on his relationship with Luna so easily. He goes the extra mile in his fight for Luna once he finally understands what she needs. But their reunion is only the beginning. Not everyone is happy that Stefan is set to inherit Arborage, and he’ll need Luna’s help to hold on to the estate and run it according to his vision.

Her Master’s Servant is book two in the Lord and Master series, and it is immediately engrossing, starting right at the point where book one left off. The author’s writing style is fascinating, drawing you in and keeping you hooked. Anyone who can write about sheep breeding and still hold me captive to the plot is a winning author in my opinion. I felt the emotion of both characters, hurting for each of them while still understanding why they were apart.

Luna and Stefan are both well-developed characters from book one, and they hold true to their characterizations even though they each have learning and growing to do in this story. Having been betrayed by those she trusted most, Luna needs to learn to trust again. Stefan is a successful businessman who never had to consider anyone else’s feelings before. In order to win Luna back and hold on to her, he has to prove she’ll be more important than his job. I loved watching both of these characters open up and blossom with each other.

The same underlying heat flows through this story as well. There’s a bit of a Dominant/submissive relationship between Luna and Stefan, and I love the stimulation it adds without detracting from the main plot. Like book one, there is just enough explicitness without going overboard.

I enjoyed watching Luna learn Stefan’s language, although I did have to use Google Translate quite a bit to figure out what she was saying. It wasn’t strictly necessary to know what the phrases meant, and many times I was able to get the gist of the phrase from the surrounding narration. I admit it was my own curiosity that pushed me to translate many of the phrases.

Although this book leaves quite a bit open for book three in the series, I felt more settled with the way it ended. The issues brought up in the main plot of this book were resolved, leaving me satisfied while still wanting more. I look forward to reading the next book in the series as well as anything else this author writes.

Her Master’s Servant will be available on January 18, 2016. My review of Lord and Master can be found here.

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Speaking Greek by Selena Laurence – Release Day Promo


Have You Met Niko?

From USA Today Bestselling Author Selena Laurence, a brand new romance that will take you on a Trip to Sexy.

A Greek Billionaire and his student intern (an opposites attract romance)

Tess Richardson is from a family that’s all about the law. She follows the rules, and works hard for everything she has. When she gets accepted to junior year abroad and an internship at an International shipping company, she knows that doing things the right way has paid off. Then she meets Niko Stephanos, and breaking the rules has never looked so good.

Niko has always been the golden boy. Handsome, smart, and the son of a Greek billionaire, with a father as rich and powerful as his, he’s got the world by the balls. But all he wants is Tess, and convincing her to let loose becomes an addictive game. Then just when it looks like he might win the best prize of his life, he discovers secrets about his own world that are dark and dangerous, and the woman he’s falling for becomes his family’s greatest enemy.

Wreck me SG Teaser

Speaking Greek is LIVE on these retailers for only $2.99:

Amazon US



Barnes and Noble (coming soon!)

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Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton – Excerpt and Promo

Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton

Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia.


Lacy Dawn’s father relives the Gulf War, her mother’s teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in The Hollow isn’t great. But Lacy has one advantage — she’s been befriended by a semi-organic, semi-robot who works with her to cure her parents. He wants something in exchange, though. It’s up to Lacy Dawn to save the Universe.

To prepare Lacy for her coming task, she is being schooled daily via direct downloads into her brain. Some of these courses tell her how to apply magic to resolve everyday problems much more pressing to her than a universe in big trouble, like those at home and at school. She doesn’t mind saving the universe, but her own family and friends come first.

Will Lacy Dawn’s predisposition, education, and magic be enough for her to save the Universe, Earth, and, most importantly, protect her own family?

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. It is a children’s story for adults, not for the prudish, faint of heart, or easily offended.

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Chapter Four, The End of Perfect School Attendance:

Despite the same bad dream, Lacy Dawn (the protagonist) slept well. The next morning, she was up early, got 100% on a math test at school, and nobody got beat up.

The world’s a better place.

That evening, her father came home late, went straight to bed, and cried himself to sleep. It took two hours, kept her awake long past bed­time, and the next morning she didn’t wake up on time for school. It was the first time since Head Start that she’d missed.

At 9:00 a.m., her parents were still asleep. She tiptoed to the back porch and lay down to talk to her dog. “What would DotCom (the android) do if he was me?” she asked Brownie through a crack in the floor boards. “I bet he’s never missed one day of work in his whole life, and that’s a real long time.”

He’s taught me so much—plugged me into libraries. I’ve learned a lot but I don’t know how to deal with this. Maybe….

 DotCom had taught her logic so she made up an excuse.

How could I be expected to get up on time to catch the bus after I spent the entire night hiding under my bed? My daddy was acting so weird….

She got up, tiptoed into the living room, and punched a hole in the wall with her fist. Although it looked like other holes made by her father, it was lower. She rubbed her knuckles, found the old NAPA calendar that she’d taken down the week before and turned the page to find her father’s favorite picture. She hung a 1966 Dodge truck over the new hole on a nail that was already in the right place. She gave it the finger.

I’ve been through a lot worse than last night and still made it to school.

DotCom had taught her advanced mathematics. She went to her bed­room, got out a textbook she’d bought at Goodwill, and did a college cal­culus problem that no sixth grader or even her teacher could have done. Five minutes later, she closed the book.

If I’m so smart, why couldn’t I figure out how to make it to school to­day?

DotCom had taught her about the power of love so she returned to the back porch and tried to love Brownie.

“Pfllt,” he farted and wouldn’t come out from under the porch.

Brownie knows I should be in school.

DotCom had taught her about how work is healthy and that people are happier when busy on things they think are important.

I’ll clean house for Mommy.

She walked through the house and looked for a project: two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and a tiny bathroom attached to the creek side of the kitchen. Her bedroom was also used for storage. Cardboard boxes were stacked to the ceiling. She didn’t bother to look for a project there. Her parents’ bedroom was occupied so she skipped it too. She blew off the dust on top of wood stove in the living room, replaced the beer can used as an ashtray with an empty one, and rubbed her finger across the mantle but found no project there, either.

In the kitchen, she emptied the mop bucket into the back yard, set it back in the corner beside the sack of potatoes, and looked around. Except to straighten a school picture held onto the refrigerator with a magnet, there was no project there. Clean cups and glasses were in the dish drainer, but there was no more room in the cabinets to put them away. She tight­ened the assortment of stuff that was always on the kitchen table—spices and canned goods that wouldn’t fit under the sink. She looked in the bath­room where everything shined.

Ain’t nothing dirty. Mommy would be scared if the house wasn’t clean.

DotCom had taught her about human mental disorders and how dis­ease can cause violence. She went to the living room, moved an extra fuel pump for the truck that was sitting on top of a cardboard box, and got out the psychiatric manual that Dwayne had stolen from the public library – DSM IV. After finding the right page, she tiptoed into her parents’ bed­room.

A psychological reaction occurring after a stressing event that is char­acterized by depression, anxiety, flashbacks, recurrent nightmares, and avoidance of reminders of the event,” she read to her mother about post-traumatic stress disorders. Jenny was still asleep. Lacy Dawn tiptoed back out.

There ain’t no answers in this book.

Lacy Dawn went back to bed.

Maybe DotCom can help me get over this shit.

After Lacy Dawn heard noises, she got out of bed. Jenny, her mother, was sitting on the commode in the bathroom with a washrag held on her right eye. Another rag cooled in the sink.

“Can’t you see I’m using it?” Jenny reached for the toilet paper.

Jenny’s panties were up and not in the right place to pee. She blew her nose on the toilet paper and waved her daughter to leave. The mo­tion drew the attention of a yellow jacket which defended its nest in the crack of the corner of the bathroom wall. The block had settled after the bathroom had been added to the house and created the perfect habitat for nests of this and that.

“Go peel some potatoes, Lacy Dawn, right now,” Jenny said. God, I wish this bathroom had a door.

Lacy Dawn backed out of the doorway into the kitchen. After a mo­ment, Jenny came in, opened the dented refrigerator door, got out four brown eggs, washed them again, and hugged Lacy Dawn. They started lunch.

Mommy’s smart. She’s not book smart, but maybe she can help me feel better about missing school today.

“Hell, I was pregnant with you before the middle of the eighth grade. It’s not so bad missing one day of school. Just make up for it tomorrow by doing great.”

“I will.”

“I know you will. Your dad used to do so good in school—he graduated and everything. He was good looking, smart, popular, and on the basket­ball team. I was in crazy love. He was all I could think about. Everybody thought he would be a big success one day. He was sane. You know all this stuff because I’ve told you a zillion times.”

“I still like to hear about it – especially the part about when he tried to kiss you the first time and you wouldn’t let him.”

That’s what I’m going to do to when DotCom tries to kiss me one of these days.

Jenny reached up and pulled another piece of loose latex from a ceiling board. Lacy Dawn held open the plastic Kroger garbage bag already full of potato peels and took it to the burn pile. They washed their hands under the faucet drip that caused the electric bill to be high because the water pump ran so much.

“It’s all on account of that Gulf War,” Jenny said.

“I know, Mommy.”

“Last night, it was an accident. I’m for real. He was asleep and didn’t realize that he’d hit me. Honest, Honey. I rubbed his shoulder because I thought that maybe it’d help him stop crying. He rolled over on his side and his elbow hit my eye. He didn’t mean to this time. It was my fault. I touched him without asking first.”

“I know, Mommy.”

DotCom don’t sleep so he’ll never hit me by mistake.

Lacy Dawn scooped more potato peels and egg shells into a new Kro­ger bag that she’d gotten from the metal sink base. She tried to turn on the faucet to wash her hands, gave up, and washed them again under the drip.

I wish I could tell you about DotCom. He knows a lot more than us about the types of chemicals used in human wars.

DotCom had drawn maps on his monitors, provided details, and an­swered as many questions as she could think of to ask about the Gulf War. It was a lot of questions. Despite several months of studies, every now and then Lacy Dawn would think of a new question to ask about her father’s military experience.

DotCom is going to help us fix Daddy.

Coffee had brewed. Jenny got a cup and sat down. Lacy Dawn stroked her mother’s hair.

I’ve studied amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. I don’t understand it yet. One thing I know for sure is that when Daddy’s speech slurs, that’s why he wants to kill the world.

“Not now. You might get hair in lunch. Don’t forget to wipe down the counter top before you slice the potatoes. I wish we could afford a new one,” Jenny said.

“I do, too. This counter’s gross.”

The counter top was covered with left-over linoleum pieces that used to match the floor. The heads of the tacks that held it down had rusted but the flowers on it were much brighter because they had not been walked on. Lacy Dawn wiped.

I know more about post-traumatic stress disorder. I’ve got it too. Like DotCom said, I’ll turn it into an advantage when it’s time.

Lacy Dawn threw away the envelope for her father’s VA check that had been left on the counter and got the cutting board off the wall. It was a wobbly square that he wouldn’t let them burn because it was made in ninth grade shop class. She tried to whistle Jefferson Airplane’s “Volunteers to America.”

$1,724.58 a month ain’t enough disability check for what he went through.

Jenny left the kitchen to check on her husband. Lacy Dawn sliced po­tatoes, cut bacon from the slab they’d been given by a neighbor who raised pigs for slaughter, peeled onion, and cooked. Aroma filled the space. She gave up on the tune.

I’m depressed. I hope DotCom can help. I wish he could smell.

“He’s breathing,” Jenny yelled from the bedroom.

“That’s a good sign,” Lacy Dawn said.

War is bad.

DotCom and Lacy Dawn had discussed how this or that politician thought this or that war was either good or bad. It was part of her Earth World History plug-in lessons and included how some people made mon­ey off war and others paid. Despite her best efforts to start an argument about war, DotCom like Switzerland, always maintained neutrality on the topic.

“It’s not fair if you don’t pick a side,” she said to the skillet of potatoes.

“Just turn them when they brown, Honey. I’ll be there in a minute.”

“Okay, Mommy.”

Nothing’s fair in love or war. I hate it when DotCom says that.

“Put in a little more bacon grease if you need to.”

“Okay, Mommy.”

I’d better turn down the burner to reduce my moral anger. I get so emotional and he always stays so calm. I guess it’s in his programming.

She flipped the potatoes.

Since he won’t take a side, I’ll never win an argument about war any­way.

“Nothing’s fair in love and war,” she said to the skillet, turned to the open kitchen window and yelled loud enough for the maple tree to hear, “He loves me!”

“Are you okay?” Jenny asked from the bedroom.

“I’m just playing with Brownie.”

It’s his way of telling me he loves me. Just like war, our love ain’t fair either. One of these days, I’m going to tell him that I love him back.

Lacy Dawn flipped the potatoes again and started the bacon. Almost immediately, it competed with the redolence of frying onions. She grinned for a moment.

Sometimes love ain’t enough. There’s got to be something practical or magical that DotCom taught me that’ll make me feel better about missing school today.

Most of her plug-in lessons were presented by DotCom because Lacy Dawn kept asking one question: “Why?” He would plug her in to the next lesson plan. A tiny port had been installed on her spine below her shirt collar. She could reach it when she stretched. It was the exact same color as her skin.

“Why is blood red?” she asked the bacon.

“Because God made it that color,” Jenny answered from the bedroom.

Lacy Dawn gave Heaven the finger.

That ain’t why. It’s because of the iron in it. DotCom told me so and he would never lie about bacon or anything else.

Lacy Dawn checked to see if the potatoes were browning and flipped the bacon.

DotCom knows everything about everything. But, sometimes he’s like the psychiatric manual that Daddy stole. Knowing everything doesn’t mean that a person has a true answer to an actual question. He’s been do­ing the same thing since I was five—telling me why even when I don’t ask.

She flipped the bacon again.

Like Oak said, I don’t learn nothing at that school. DotCom is my true education. I just hope I didn’t mess it all up by missing school today. He’s bound to be disappointed in me.

“Is Daddy okay?” Lacy Dawn asked.

How about the how part? Sometimes, DotCom’s answers take so long that I have to go home before he gets to the how part. When he gets to the how part, sometimes there’re so many that I can’t sort them all out.

“He’d never lie to me!” Lacy Dawn yelled through the open window to the maple tree.

“Never trust a man,” Jenny smacked her on the butt. “Dwayne’s alive. I gave up on getting him out of bed to eat lunch.”

They ate and did the dishes. Jenny washed. Lacy Dawn dried and stacked. Every now and then there was a whimper from the bedroom.

“Go outside and play with Brownie. I want to check on your dad again.”

Lacy Dawn bolted out the back door. “C’mon Brownie, let’s go Roundabend to as DotCom why I missed school today.” Brownie came out from under the back porch.

I heard the whimpers too. It’s safe.

Brownie looked like a beagle with floppy ears and squat body, brown and tan, but often acted like his daddy—a German shepherd a foot taller who guarded the next farm down. The shepherd had been caught in the act with Brownie’s mother, who was killed by truck tire because of her compulsion to chase them. Brownie’s name came from when he stole a brownie instead of a wiener from Lacy Dawn’s plate that she’d put on the back porch floor during a cook-out. He was still a puppy. Lacy Dawn got switched for it. Brownie was rewarded with the rest of that wiener and Lacy Dawn’s next one, too.

“Roundabend, roundabend, roundabend…,” she whizzed by one tree af­ter another without acknowledgement. Brownie trotted up the hill. Less than a minute later, she sat in front of her monitor. She sobbed, wailed, screamed, cried, blew her nose and wiped snot on her forearm.

“I feel like such a failure. Always making it to school no matter what was the only thing that ever made me feel good about myself. Now, it’s gone.”

DotCom took a screw out of his mouse.

“And, I don’t want any more fucking psychological bull crap either. If you ever remind me about what my IQ is again, I swear I’ll unplug your monitor for a week. I ain’t kidding. And don’t tell me that I already know all the stuff they’re teaching in the sixth grade, the tenth grade, college or anything like that. It’s not the stuff. It’s the perseverance—the determi­nation—the will—that’s what counts. I messed up. All I want you to tell me is why. I haven’t asked you why for a long time but this is killing me. I never want to feel this way ever again.”

Her head down, Lacy Dawn sank lower in her chair, sobbed, and waited. There was no answer from DotCom. She looked up at her monitor and watched data flash on the screen. Data also flashed on the screens of DotCom’s monitor and the ten others hung around the ship.

“Well?” she said.

DotCom swiveled his chair and stood.

“I don’t know.” He sat back down. “My analyses found that you are the strongest human known by my people to have existed in this planet’s history. We have a detailed marketing directory which spans centuries by your calendar. Personal, socioeconomic, social, cultural, psychological, physical, health, environmental, and political factors were included. I found no correlates that could explain why you missed school today. As a friend—maybe you just overslept.”

“I love you, DotCom,” Lacy Dawn said.

He stood up again. She has never said that to me before.

“I love you too, Lacy Dawn.”

His voice quivered. It’s never done that before.

“Give me a hug bye-bye. I’ve got to get home to wash clothes because I ain’t got no real clean jeans. I sure don’t want to miss school tomorrow and I want to look perfect.”

He ain’t like other boys.

She extended her arms.

Daddy would be pissed if he found out that I let a naked older boy like DotCom hug on me.

She took a step toward him.

DotCom don’t say nasty things to be cute. He don’t tease or try to touch my butt and never laughs at the loudest fart in class. Besides, he ain’t got no private parts—not even a little bump. He’ll be a perfect boyfriend for when I grow up.

They hugged goodbye and she left his ship. Outside, Brownie had treed a ‘coon and ignored her command to leave. He ran around the tree and barked until Lacy Dawn said, “Good dog.”

“That guy sure is smart. I feel a lot better,” Lacy Dawn said to Brownie and chanted. Her feet elevated off the ground and Brownie chased her down the path. She beat him home by five minutes. Inside her house, she got Brownie some fresh water and table scraps. He dragged the scraps un­der the porch. Her father was still in bed, and supper, untouched, was on the stove. There was an occasional whimper. Jenny pretended to be asleep on the couch. Lacy Dawn ate and put the leftovers in the refrigerator.

There won’t be no goodnight kiss tonight. Cool for a day that started out as the worst of my life. Failure feels worse than being hurt by others. It hurts more than being switched. But, it turned out okay. DotCom said he didn’t know the answer to a question. I never thought I’d ever hear him say that.

“Since DotCom don’t know everything, I’ve got a little room to mess up every now and then. Nobody’s perfect,” she said to Brownie through a crack in the back porch floor boards. He came out and rolled on his back. She rubbed his belly.

No more mistakes—straight A’s in school—and I’m going to fix this family too.

Lacy Dawn pulled the extension cord out the back door and plugged in the washer on the porch. She picked out school clothes that Jenny had left in the tub, wrung them, hung them on the line to dry overnight, unplugged the washer, and went to bed.

A nice house that is warm in the winter even if we run out of firewood. Daddy has a job and Mommy drives the truck.

It was her best dream ever.


About the author:

Robert Eggleton has served as a children’s advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. He is best known for his investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997, and which also included publication of models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions, research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next — never finding a permanent loving family, and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency. Today, he is a recently retired children’s psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel and its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. Robert continues to write fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children that he met when delivering group therapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.


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Falling From The Sky by Nikki Godwin

Falling From The Sky by Nikki Godwin

Falling From The Sky Cover

5 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Falling From The Sky by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Sixteen-year-old Ridge McCoy hopes that summer basketball camp will not only improve his jump shot, but his life as well. He’s been in a holding pattern ever since his father’s death in a plane crash, and he doesn’t know how to deal with his mother, his brother, or even his girlfriend. When the carousel operator at the local mall, Micah Youngblood, offers to show Ridge what each of the carousel horses mean to his tribe, Ridge reluctantly accepts. It has to be better than hanging out with the guys at basketball camp, who are only interested in girls and beer.

As the friendship between Ridge and Micah grows, so do deeper feelings, as well as Ridge’s confusion. There’s nothing wrong with a summer fling, but Ridge may be doing some falling of his own and he’ll have to decide if this relationship can stand the distance.

Falling From The Sky is a young adult male/male romance about two high school boys—one who is sure of his sexuality and doesn’t need labels, and one who thought he was sure of his sexuality but begins to have questions. The YA M/M plot was a departure from what I typically read, and I’m glad I took a chance on this book.

When the story started, Ridge was a bit of a mess, beyond typical teenage drama and hormones, and hoping summer camp would be the escape he needed. Ridge’s father had passed away in a plane crash and he didn’t know how to deal with the remaining feelings. He also didn’t want the pity that came along with his father’s death and suspected his girlfriend only stayed with him because of that. His characterization pulled me in right away, and I fell in love with the boy who stopped in the middle of parking lots and prayed for airplanes.

The confusion of his life carried right through the story to when he met a strange new friend, developed feelings and had to deal with those feelings, and right up until he had to make decisions concerning his future. At times I could feel Ridge’s confusion right along with him. In one scene, I was able to feel pain from not only Ridge, but Micah as well.

If there was anything holding this book back, it would be the lack of an epilogue, a few minor inconsistencies, and some editing errors, but truly these were not enough to detract from the wonderful and emotional writing. I absolutely loved this story and look forward to reading more by this author.

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Finding Focus by Jiffy Kate

Finding Focus by Jiffy Kate

Finding Focus Cover

3 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided an ARC of Finding Focus by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

With nothing else going on in her life, Sheridan “Dani” Reed accepts a freelance photojournalism job in Louisiana. She’s recently been fired from her former job and her boyfriend of years is off on a vacation by himself, so there’s nothing keeping her in New York City. At the Landry Plantation, which she’s photographing, she meets the Landry family and feels a sense of home she’s been missing. Her friendship with playboy Micah Landry is something she carries back to NYC with her when she’s unexpectedly called home.

But life at home isn’t providing any satisfaction, and when her boyfriend betrays her, there’s no longer anything holding her to the city. Things with Micah begin to heat up, but Dani still needs to find her focus and find her home.

Finding Focus is the debut novel for Jiffy Kate, and it’s contemporary romance with a hint of humor and a lot of Southern charm. It’s told in first person point of view from both main characters, but the focus is on Dani. She is essentially at a crossroad in her life with not only her job, but her love life too, and she needs some direction.

While the tale was somewhat enjoyable, it could have used a little more polishing to make it a standout story. The writing was relatively error-free, but it lacked depth in many areas. None of the characterizations really rang true. When the story started, Dani was confused about her relationship with her boyfriend, yet she was immediately attracted to Micah when he left a motel room after being with another woman. Dani tells the reader she needs to stay professional so she shouldn’t be thinking about Micah, but the night before she’d gotten drunk with Micah and his brother.

Micah was a playboy who internally crowed about his accomplishments but then got annoyed when his best friend joked about it. At the same time as he told us about how many women he’d slept with, he claimed to have standards and wouldn’t sleep with one particular woman. Rather than feeling a subtle shift in Micah’s personality from the beginning of the story to the end, it felt like he was two completely different characters: the cocky playboy from the beginning and the perfect boyfriend at the end. Micah also loses his Southern slang at times in both dialogue and narration.

The secondary characters were enjoyable and added some interest to the story, but they weren’t fully developed or incorporated beyond what was needed for the plot. There were romances between the secondary characters, but the reader was only given superficial information.

The story was also very “telling.” It is much more believable to learn about a character through their actions rather than have them tell the reader about themselves or their relationships. I would have preferred some more action and less narration.

Several parts of the story were cliché, like Dani’s boyfriend having been great for years but suddenly becoming a jerk, and the way Dani found out about what a bad boyfriend he really was. There were also inconsistencies in the story. Dani said she was an only child of an only child and she didn’t know her father, but she had aunts and uncles she wasn’t close to. At one point, she was drunk and barely able to text or answer the phone one second and spouting perfectly spoken long diatribes the next. I had trouble determining the timing of Dani and Graham’s relationship based on inconsistent information.

Overall, the plot was creative but the execution could have used some work.

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