Wednesday, August 5, 2020

New Release! The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan ~ My Thoughts #TheFirstToLie #TallPoppy

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The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Published August 4th 2020 by Forge Books

USA Today Bestselling and award-winning author and investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan delivers another twisty, thrilling cat and mouse novel of suspense that will have you guessing, and second-guessing, and then gasping with surprise.

We all have our reasons for being who we are―but what if being someone else could get you what you want?

After a devastating betrayal, a young woman sets off on an obsessive path to justice, no matter what dark family secrets are revealed. What she doesn't know―she isn't the only one plotting her revenge.

An affluent daughter of privilege. A glamorous manipulative wannabe. A determined reporter, in too deep. A grieving widow who must choose her new reality. Who will be the first to lie? And when the stakes are life and death, do a few lies really matter?


My thoughts about The First to Lie ~~ 

(I love to note the first lines of the books I'm reading. First lines can really grab a reader's attention and I love seeing where the author takes the reader after their first line.)

First line—"Lies have a complicated half-life."

Oh wow! So many lies, secrets, deceit, and revenge all wrapped up in this amazing story. The plot and characters were so twisted, it was sometimes hard to know who was who and what their agenda was. This is not by any means a negative about this book, it's what drove me to keep reading.

I knew it would all make sense in the end—I just had to be patient—but my jaw dropped whenever one of the characters swerved in a new direction. After all the twists and turns, the author wraps up the story with an unexpected but satisfying ending.

I'm not sure why I haven't read anything by this author until now but this book will definitely not be my last. I am impressed with the depth of her writing and the intense intrigue of this story. Hank Phillippi Ryan has just been added my list of must-read authors.

I highly recommend The First to Lie for an edge-of-your seat thriller that will keep you guessing to the very end.

I received and ARC of The First to Lie and this is my honest opinion.

About the author



Hank Phillippi Ryan is a USA Today bestselling author of 12 thrillers, winning the most prestigious awards in the genre: five Agathas, three Anthonys, the Daphne, and for The Other Woman, the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award.

She is also on-air investigative reporter for Boston’s WHDH-TV, with 37 EMMYs and dozens more journalism honors. Book critics call her “a master of suspense,” “a superb and gifted storyteller,” and she’s the only author to have won the Agatha in four different categories: Best First, Best Novel, Best Short Story and Best Non-Fiction.

Her previous novel, The Murder List, is an Agatha, Anthony, Macavity and Mary Higgins Clark Award nominee. NYT bestsellers A.J. Finn says, “exciting, explosive, relentless,” and B.A. Paris says it’s “her best yet.” Hank’s newest novel: the chilling psychological standalone The First to Lie. The Publishers Weekly starred review says “Stellar… Hank Phillippi Ryan could win a sixth Agatha with this one” and bestseller Sarah Pekkanen says “Book clubs will gobble it up.”

Hank is a founder of MWA University and past president of National Sisters in Crime. ~ Author's website

Connect with Hank


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Book Blitz! August Fog by A.L. Goulden ~ Trailer, Excerpt and #Giveaway!


August Fog


August Fog by A.L. Goulden
(August Fog, #1)
Publication date: August 1st 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Women’s Fiction

Monica Waters has 31 days to choose between the love of her life or her soulmate. Juggling an unglamorous Hollywood career and a clumsy injury with an endless cocktail of antidepressants and dull daily routines, Monica moves through her thirties in a fog, avoiding the pain of her damaged marriage, broken body, and fragile mind.

Until he comes along.

When emerging artist Quinn Matthews moves next door, just coping with the downward spiral of life is no longer feasible. Their powerful connection ignites a relationship that will tip the boundaries of their perfectly balanced lives, sparking a mutual obsession and life-altering affair.

Monica tosses her prescriptions, striving to be free of their control, but with each passing summer day, dangerous secrets seep into their quiet suburban life, inching toward disaster. Sometimes the truth is hidden for a reason.

“This is a contemporary tale of a woman’s struggle to navigate love and mental illness, while defining where and how she will land on her own feet.” –Independent Reader

“A raw and honest look at the ugly secrets behind a flawed marriage and the stigmas of depression.”


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Trailer



Excerpt

They meet

Fusion can happen when two objects reach an extreme heat. When the blood boils, the same can be said of hearts. The connection can excite and ache and torment, yet the demise of will goes unnoticed when the thrill renders an addictive high. Monica Waters once loved getting high, both literally and figuratively, but outgrew the juvenile practice of artistic inspiration. She had responsibilities now, like a mortgage and an admirable career… and a husband.

Antidepressants helped too.

When Los Angeles soared past eighty-five degrees in April the unsettling promise of perpetual summer ignited tension across freeways. Monica shielded anxiety with music and a fun car. Bob Marley had eased an hour-long commute, also known as Thursday, delivering her to the sanctuary of home until she slammed the brakes.

A yellow Nissan blocked the driveway with no owner in sight. Her best friend owned the same vehicle but not with New York plates so she glared next door. Sharing a driveway with Rebecca’s bohemian flophouse had reached its limit.

Monica wedged her BMW into an ivy-covered carport at an awkward angle and pried herself out, trying not to scratch her paint against the fence. She mumbled a few obscenities when she couldn’t get leverage to slam the door but squeezed past the filthy SUV, smoothing her long chestnut hair. The tall Japanese-style gate that led to her bonsai garden greeted with Zen and wafts of jasmine.

That’s when she saw him.

On the wooden staircase that wound up to Rebecca’s converted attic was a man that shifted everything into slow motion. A man, that for a second at least, she would follow anywhere. Her reaction defied rational explanation. The guy wearing jeans and t-shirt carried a box but even his muscular build was common in this town. Still, he had a gentle force of gravity tugging like a current.

The back of his shaved head lacked noticeable character, but his climb was hypnotic. She stopped breathing while her heart pounded at an alarming speed. A beautiful tattoo engulfed his entire right arm with gnarled branches and scattered leaves of an old tree. It rooted around the box and swayed like a breeze as he moved.

When the gate slipped from her fingers, the slam jolted her from the daze and he turned. She inspected her purse and fumbled with her keys even when he paused near the top of the stairs, waiting for attention. She rushed to her back door but couldn’t resist the draw of his stare.

His eyes were crystal blue and pensive under a low-slung heavy brow. He stood confident like carved hardwood left unpolished with ample lips, a strong jaw, and a rugged nose, but didn’t come off as arrogant or boring. Her stomach twisted at his asymmetrical smile.

He was beautiful.

Flushed, she returned a tight grin and nod before barreling into her laundry room. “Who’s the guy next door?” she asked, dropping her stuff on the counter next to the deep sink.

Alex, still sweaty from work, gave her a quick kiss, which was followed by the smacks of a powerful dog tail to her thigh. Her husband’s own shaved head and brawny build still resembled an action hero but his gray eyes lacked the dangerous edge that once made him magnetic.

“You mean the Kelly Slater look-alike?” He laughed. “Rebecca’s renting out the upstairs to some artist. She says he’s bi-coastal… whatever that means. Pretty sure he’s gay.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Did you see what he drives?”

She cocked her head. “So.”

“So? That’s what Robin drives.” He flashed his hands.

“That might be the dumbest thing ever said. Did he look at you too long or something?” “Hey, I’ve got no problem if he’s gay. He can look all he wants. I’m just saying.” Alex flexed his arms and inspected himself.

“Just because Rebecca’s a lesbian doesn’t mean everyone she’s around is gay.” Monica reached to pet their rambunctious Lab Pointer mix, Lacey. “I just hate that she and Julie split. I miss her.”

“Me too. I wish she won the house but Rebecca could afford it.”

“Then why’s she renting out rooms?” Her words had that petulant tone she hated with an unwarranted volume.

“I don’t know,” he said, flicking the counter. “It’s not like we have control over our neighbors.” He shuffled towards the bathroom, stripping for his shower along the way. She watched, remembering when that used to send her running after him, but now he hopped around in his socks and underwear looking more child-like than sexy.

In her ballerina flats, Monica was two inches shy of six feet and two years shy of forty. Her curvy size fourteen worked in Hollywood, the land of size zeros. Sometimes she resented being a giant next to tiny, beautiful people because it equated invisibility, but she faked smiles in the back of every crew photo despite the obscurity of an editing career.

She bent to give Lacey attention and propped the back door open while Mr. Bi-coastal moved from his vehicle to the yard. The redwood fence obscured his face but a childhood crush on Yul Brynner embedded an allure to a nice shaved head. Staring like a lech though erased dignity, so she mustered the nerve to make an introduction.

She stepped outside but an eruption of vicious barking made her yelp. Two enormous Rottweilers flanked the middle landing on the staircase, flinging drool over the fence. Lacey ducked behind Monica in fear.

“No. No barking!” Mr. Bi-coastal bounded up the stairs. “I’m so sorry,” he said, setting another box down. “I promise I’ll keep them quiet. They’re friendly, I swear.” He drew an X over his heart like a seven-year-old but his intense expression was all grown-ass-man.

“It’s alright.” She swallowed hard. “My husband had lovable Rotts growing up.” Spitting out her marital status made her fidget but his shoulders relaxed. “My name’s Monica.”

“I’m Quinn.” He leaned against the railing that hovered above as if to shake her hand. “Did you guys just drive across the country?”

“Yeah.” He squatted to pet them and she noticed his left arm didn’t have visible tattoos.

“This is Sadie and Max. Once they know you, they’ll stop barking.”

She moved closer, pretending to care about this new pet relationship despite growls with each step. “They’re just protective of you.” 

“Lucky me.”

She tried not to stare at the unicorn but artists wore gangly and pale with pride, escaping food and sun for months. This man nurtured his body.

“Beautiful dogs.”

Alex stood behind her, wet from the shower in just basketball shorts, but the lack of a Q-tip or something equally inappropriate was boggling.

Quinn straightened. “I was just telling your wife they’re friendly.”

Alex climbed the fence to engage their slobbery faces up-close and flaunt an arm tattoo of a Rott named Bosco. Monica was new to living with dogs but presumed they couldn’t recognize the image of devotion in permanent ink. This king-of-the-castle act was for Quinn.

“Nice tat,” he said, squatting for a closer look.

An immediate tit-for-tat and subtle competition developed between them but Monica found herself comparing odd qualities while they bonded over dogs. The pitch of their voices aligned and laughter became punctuation. Their attributes mimicked one another but Alex’s head was larger while Quinn ate leaner and worked out. They could pass as brothers but something about Quinn upset her.

He was too close.

The two historical homes sat less than seven feet apart, thanks to the lack of building restrictions in the 1920s. That proximity, which had sparked numerous noise complaints, didn’t seem to bother Alex now, tickling those beefy dog faces.

“Rebecca said you’re only here part-time.” Alex stepped off the fence and crossed his arms.

“I’m just starting to show my work here.” He hesitated as if he wasn’t sure he wanted to share more. “My agent thought it was wise, so I’ll be back and forth a lot.”

She hated the two adorable little creases that formed next to his eyes when he smiled. They were marks of experience. Marks of a life lived.

“We should let you get settled,” Alex said, motioning towards the box still sitting on the landing.

Quinn nodded. “It was nice meeting you guys.”

“Absolutely.” She cringed at her valley-girl tone and bizarre wave given to dogs with inherently sad eyes. She beelined for their bedroom hoping to erase that weird encounter from memory.

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About the author
Author of the “most realistic, often hilarious, and wonderfully romantic” (Rosie Malezer, international best- selling author) Chasing Swells returns with another emotionally charged and complicated love story about a Hollywood editor struggling with depression who meets her soulmate while she's married to her high-school sweetheart. This unique trilogy takes you through one woman's mid-life crisis as she stumbles and falls apart before realizing she's the only one who can put her pieces back together.
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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Release Day! The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman ~ My Thoughts #TheOrphanCollector

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The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman
Print & e-book, 390 pages
Published August 4, 2020 by Kensington Publishing Corp.

Ellen Marie Wiseman, acclaimed author of What She Left Behind and The Life She Was Given, weaves the stories of two very different women into a page-turning novel as suspenseful as it is poignant, set amid one of history’s deadliest pandemics.

In the fall of 1918, thirteen-year-old German immigrant Pia Lange longs to be far from Philadelphia’s overcrowded streets and slums, and from the anti-German sentiment that compelled her father to enlist in the U.S. Army, hoping to prove his loyalty. But an even more urgent threat has arrived. Spanish influenza is spreading through the city. Soon, dead and dying are everywhere. With no food at home, Pia must venture out in search of supplies, leaving her infant twin brothers alone . . .

Since her baby died days ago, Bernice Groves has been lost in grief and bitterness. If doctors hadn’t been so busy tending to hordes of immigrants, perhaps they could have saved her son. When Bernice sees Pia leaving her tenement across the way, she is buoyed by a shocking, life-altering decision that leads her on a sinister mission: to transform the city’s orphans and immigrant children into what she feels are “true Americans.”

As Pia navigates the city’s somber neighborhoods, she cannot know that her brothers won’t be home when she returns. And it will be a long and arduous journey to learn what happened—even as Bernice plots to keep the truth hidden at any cost. Only with persistence, and the courage to face her own shame and fear, will Pia put the pieces together and find the strength to risk everything to see justice at last.


My thoughts about The Orphan Collector ~~ 

(I love to note the first lines of the books I'm reading. First lines can really grab a reader's attention and I love seeing where the author takes the reader after their first line.)

First line—"September 28, 1918: The deadly virus stole unnoticed through the crowded cobblestone streets of Philadelphia on a sunny September day, unseen and unheard amidst the jubilant chaos of the Liberty Loan parade and patriotic marches of John Philip Sousa."

Oh. My. Gosh! I had no idea that I would love this book as much as I did. Did I really want to read this daunting book about a pandemic, when we are living in one right now?

Let me tell you, I was sucked in from the very first chapter and I couldn't stop. I continued reading in disbelief as the author wrote about this historic time in our history—wearing masks, remaining in their homes to stay safe from the virus (sound familiar?)—with so many people dying horrible deaths within hours of falling ill.

The Orphan Collector story is centered around Pia, an immigrant who, at the age of thirteen, finds her life starting to fall apart. Hunger and death are everywhere and she is just trying to survive and find food for her brothers. Then things start spiraling downward for her

It was gut-wrenching to read one thing after the other go wrong for this strong, resilient girl. It just never seemed to stop for her. But I couldn't look away. I had to keep reading to make sure Pia was going to be okay. The drama of her life is what made this wonderful book a page-turner for me. 

I highly recommend The Orphan Collector. You will not be able to put it down!

I received The Orphan Collector from the publisher and this is my honest opinion.

About the author

Ellen Marie Wiseman

A first-generation German American, Ellen Marie Wiseman discovered her love of reading and writing while attending first grade in one of the last one-room schoolhouses in NYS. She is a bestselling author whose novels have been translated into eighteen languages. Her debut novel, THE PLUM TREE, is loosely based on her mother’s stories about growing up in Germany during the chaos of WWII. THE PLUM TREE received much praise for its depiction of WWII and was named by Bookbub as One of Thirteen Books To Read if You Loved ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE.

Ellen’s second novel, WHAT SHE LEFT BEHIND, was named a Huffington Post Best Books of Summer 2015. Her third novel, COAL RIVER, was called "one of the most "unputdownable" books of 2015" by The Historical Novel Review. Her fourth novel, THE LIFE SHE WAS GIVEN, was named A GREAT GROUP READS Selection of the Women’s National Book Association and National Reading Group Month, and a Goodreads Best of the Month for July.

Her newest novel, THE ORPHAN COLLECTOR, comes out on August 4th, 2020. Ellen lives on the shores of Lake Ontario with her husband and two spoiled Shih-tzus, Izzy and Bella. When she’s not busy writing, she loves spending time with her children and grandchildren. ~ Goodreads

Connect with Ellen


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Release Day! Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman ~ My Thoughts, an Excerpt, and a #Giveaway! #ParisNeverLeavesYou #NetGalley


Paris Never Leaves You

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Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman
Print & e-book, 368 pages
Published August 4th 2020 by St. Martin's Griffin

“Masterful. Magnificent. A passionate story of survival and a real page turner. This story will stay with me for a long time.” —Heather Morris, author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Cilka's Journey

Living through WWII working in a Paris bookstore with her young daughter, Vivi, and fighting for her life, Charlotte is no victim, she is a survivor. But can she survive the next chapter of her life?

Alternating between wartime Paris and 1950s New York publishing, Paris Never Leaves You is an extraordinary story of resilience, love, and impossible choices, exploring how survival never comes without a cost.

The war is over, but the past is never past. 


Purchase Paris Never Leaves You

BAM | Apple | Kobo | Google

My thoughts about Paris Never Leaves You ~~ 

(I love to note the first lines of the books I'm reading. First lines can really grab a reader's attention and I love seeing where the author takes the reader after their first line.)

First line—"Paris, 1944: They were ripping off the stars. Filthy fingers with broken dirt-encrusted nails were yanking and peeling and prying. Who would have thought they still had the strength?"

I enjoy reading books in this time-frame, the time of WWII. This era fascinates me—the struggles and hardships that the people had to endure are unbelievable. And the fact that people were able to go on and make a life for themselves after is commendable.

Charlotte did what she had to do to survive and to keep her daughter safe in Paris during the war. The story was heartbreaking to read at points but those scenes only reinforced Charlotte's strength and the power of the love of a mother for her child. 

Paris Never Leaves You is a memorable look at life in Paris when the world was falling down around our feet. The characters feel real, the drama feels scary, and the descriptive paragraphs transported me there. This is a must read if you love historical fiction stories set in this time period.

I received an ARC of Paris Never Leaves You from the publisher and this is my honest opinion.

Be sure to scroll down to enter my giveaway for a copy of this wonderful book!

Excerpt

One

New York, 1954

Charlotte spotted the letter as soon as she stepped into her office. There was no reason it should have caught her eye. The desk was littered with papers and envelopes. Stacks of manuscripts and books filled the shelves of the small cubicle and spilled over onto the two chairs. Certainly the airmail envelope didn’t make it stand out. Most of the books she published were American editions of European works, and a good deal of her mail arrived in those tissue-thin blue envelopes. The only explanation for its attracting her attention was that she’d already gone through her morning mail and the afternoon delivery hadn’t yet arrived. Perhaps the letter had gone to another editor by mistake, and he or she had left it on Charlotte’s desk while she was upstairs in the art department. Or perhaps the mailroom had overlooked it in the morning sorting.

Gibbon & Field was a prestigious publishing house, but a certain loucheness lurked behind the scenes. That was the fault of Horace Field, the publisher. He was too forgiving, or perhaps only cannily manipulative. She’d had her earliest inkling of the trait the first Christmas after she’d come to work at the house. Leaving the office one evening at the same time, she and Horace had entered the elevator together to find a young man from the production department struggling to balance two or three oversize art books and several of a more conventional trim size. When he saw Horace, he colored an unhappy Christmas red.

“I see you’ve taken our ads to heart, Seth,” Horace said. “‘There’s a book for everyone on your Christmas list.’”

The young man turned a deeper red and shot out of the elevator as soon as the doors opened. That was unusual. The staff usually deferred to Horace getting on and off elevators, and everywhere else.

“Are you going to take the books out of his salary?” she’d asked as they’d followed him across the lobby.

“Not on your life.”

“It would teach him a lesson.”

“The only lesson I want to teach him, Charlie, is to work his tail off for the greater glory of G&F.”

“And you think encouraging him to walk out the door with an armful of purloined books will do that?”

“I think the next time he asks for a raise and doesn’t get it, he’ll remember all the books he’s filched and feel guilty, or at least compensated. Same with the expense accounts the editors and travelers turn in. They think they’re stealing me blind, but a guilty conscience breeds contrition. Maybe even loyalty. They feel they owe the house something in return. That’s why I worry about you. Those expense accounts you file are a travesty. If the other editors get wind of them, they’ll never forgive you for spoiling the game.”

Horace’s philosophy permeated the entire publishing house from the grand larceny of the production department, run by a man rumored to have ties to the Mafia, to the petty pilfering and general slacking off of the mail- room. That must be why the letter had been delivered late. And the timing was the only reason she noticed it. It had nothing to do with a sixth sense, in which she definitely did not believe.

She sat behind the desk and picked up the envelope. Her name and the G&F address were written, not typed. The handwriting wasn’t familiar. There was no return ad- dress on the upper left-hand corner. She turned it over. As soon as she saw the name, she realized why she hadn’t recognized the handwriting. When had they put anything in writing? No, that wasn’t true. He’d written her once, a year or so after the end of the war. The letter had taken months to wind its way through the Drancy records and the various agencies to reach her in New York. She’d taken solace in that. He didn’t know where she was, and he was still in Germany. She’d never answered that letter. The return address on this one was Bogotá, Colombia. So he’d got out after all. She was glad. She was also relieved. South America was still a long distance away.

What troubled her was not where he was but that now he knew where she was. She’d thought she’d been so careful. Neither her address nor her telephone number was listed in the book. The people who had tried to help her settle into her new life—social workers and do-gooders from various refugee organizations; her colleagues here and at other publishing houses; Horace Field’s wife, Hannah—had found the omission foolish and antisocial. “How do you expect to make a life for yourself in a new country,” Hannah had asked, “if no one can find you?” Charlotte hadn’t argued with her. She’d merely gone on paying the small fee to be unlisted. Gradually Hannah and everyone else had stopped asking and chalked it up to what she’d been through. No one, including Hannah, knew what that was, but that didn’t stop them from speculating.

She wasn’t much easier to find in the office, though apparently he’d managed. Her name didn’t appear in the list of editors that ran down the left-hand side of the company stationery. Most publishing houses didn’t list editors on the stationery but that was another of Horace Field’s peculiar indulgences. A year after she’d come to work at G&F, he’d asked if she wanted to be included.

“Think of it as a sop,” he’d said.

“A sop?” She spoke four languages, could read two others, and had taken her degree at the Sorbonne in English literature, but in those days she was still having trouble with some American slang.

“Compensation for the slave wages we pay you.”

“At least you didn’t suggest I make up the difference by stealing books,” she’d said, and added that she didn’t want her name on the stationery but thanked him all the same. Nonetheless, despite her absence in the phone book and on the company stationery, her name did occasion- ally turn up in acknowledgments in the books she worked on. And my gratitude to Charlotte Foret for steering my vessel safely through the turbulent waters of American publishing. My thanks to Charlotte Foret, who first saw that a book about the Dutch Golden Age written by a Dutchman would appeal to American audiences. The question was how he’d managed to get his hands on a US edition in Europe, or now South America. The various consulates had libraries to spread the American gospel among the local populations, but the books she published rarely spread the American gospel. Nonetheless, he must have found one. Or else he’d tracked her down through a refugee agency. Once in America, she’d distanced herself from the émigré or immigrant or refugee—choose your term—groups, but she’d had to file the usual papers and obtain the necessary documents to get here. She was traceable.

From Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman. Copyright © 2020 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.

About the author


Ellen Feldman, a 2009 Guggenheim fellow, is the author of Terrible Virtue, The Unwitting, Next to Love, Scottsboro (shortlisted for the Orange Prize), The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank (translated into nine languages), and Lucy. Her novel Terrible Virtue was optioned by Black Bicycle for a feature film.


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Monday, August 3, 2020

Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks ~ My Thoughts #LiesLiesLies #NetGalley

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Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks
Print & e-book, 384 pages
Expected publication: August 4th 2020 by MIRA

Daisy and Simon’s marriage isn’t what it seems…

After years together, the arrival of longed-for daughter Millie sealed everything in place. They’re a happy little family of three.

So what if Simon drinks a bit too much sometimes—Daisy’s used to it. She knows he’s just letting off steam. Until one night at a party things spiral horribly out of control. And their happy little family of three will never be the same again.

In Lies, Lies, Lies, #1 Sunday Times bestselling author Adele Parks explores the darkest corners of a relationship in free fall in a mesmerizing tale of marriage and secrets.


My thoughts about Lies, Lies, Lies ~~ 

(I love to note the first lines of the books I'm reading. First lines can really grab a reader's attention and I love seeing where the author takes the reader after their first line.)

First line—"May 1976: Simon was six years old when he first tasted beer."

There are a lot of books out now that are about lies.... and secrets.... and more lies. It seems to be a trend, or maybe they're just the types of books that are grabbing my attention right now. I do love how each author puts their own spin on their characters' packs of lies.

Lies, Lies, Lies is full of secrets and lies—and characters I liked and then didn't like—because of the lies and secrets they were keeping. Simon and Daisy definitely have problems in their marriage. Drinking is Simon's escape but it makes Daisy question why she stays with him. Then one night, everything comes down on both of them and their lives are changed forever. More secrets and lies come out. Will that be what finally ends it for them?

This was an intriguing story with it's share of twists and turns. I was drawn into the story from the start and quickly devoured it—very satisfying. This is the first book by Adele Parks that I have read but she is definitely be on my radar now and I'll be eagerly awaiting her next book. 

I received an ARC of Lies, Lies, Lies from the publisher and this is my honest opinion.

About the author

Adele Parks

Adele Parks was born in Teesside, NE England. She studied English Language and Literature, at Leicester University. She published her first novel, Playing Away, in 2000; that year the Evening Standard identified Adele as one of London’s ‘Twenty Faces to Watch.’ Indeed Playing Away was the debut bestseller of 2000.

Prolific, Adele has published nine novels in nine years, including Game Over, Tell Me Something and Love Lies, all nine of her novels have been bestsellers. She’s sold over a million copies of her work in the UK but also sells throughout the world. Two of her novels (Husbands and Still Thinking of You) are currently being developed as movie scripts. Young Wives’ Tales was short listed for the Romantic Novelist Association Award 2008. She has written numerous articles and short stories for many magazines and newspapers and often appears on radio and TV talking about her work.

Since 2006 Adele has been an official spokeswoman for World Book Day and wrote a Quick Read, Happy Families as part of the celebrations of World Book Day, 2008.

Adele has spent her adult life in Italy, Botswana and London, up until two years ago when she moved to Guildford, where she now lives with her husband and son. ~ Goodreads

Connect with Adele


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Book Blitz! I Am Here Now by Barbara Bottner ~ an Excerpt and a #Giveaway! #IAmHereNow


I Am Here Now


I Am Here Now by Barbara Bottner
Published by: Macmillan
Publication date: August 4th 2020

Genres: Coming of Age, Young Adult

Set in the 1960s, Barbara Bottner’s I Am Here Now is a beautiful novel in verse about one artist’s coming of age. It’s a heartbreaking, powerful and inspiring depiction of what it’s like to shatter your life—and piece it all back together.

You can’t trust Life to give you decent parents, or beautiful eyes, a fine French accent or an outstanding flair for fashion. No, Life does what it wants. It’s sneaky as a thief.

Maisie’s first day of High school should be exciting, but all she wants is to escape.

Her world is lonely and chaotic, with an abusive mother and a father who’s rarely there to help.

So when Maisie, who finds refuge in her art, meets the spirited Rachel and her mother, a painter, she catches a glimpse of a very different world—one full of life, creativity, and love—and latches on.

But as she discovers her strengths through Rachel’s family, Maisie, increasingly desperate, finds herself risking new friendships, and the very future she’s searching for.


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Excerpt

THE CITY

The tiny fire escape is our private spot.

My dad says he’s sorry he’s gone so often.

Do I remember when I was six

and he took me into the city?

I wore a red coat, red shoes,

and perfect white leather gloves

embroidered with tiny blue buds.

I recall watching the road into New York:

billboards, telephone lines, bridges,

muddy sky.

The parking garage man said,

“So you’re the boss man’s little lady

I’ve heard so much about?”

The elevator man, Jimmy,

knew my name!

My dad’s corner office had the most windows,

the biggest desk, too.

My father bragged, “Your daddy runs this joint!”

From his window, as it got dark,

we could see Manhattan laid out in front of us

like a glittering tablecloth.

How could I not remember?

It was a perfect day,

until he turned the key in our front door.

Mother was waiting.

We were in for it.

A breeze pushes the fumes against my face.

He snuffs out a butt, then lights another,

says, “Look, kid, smoking’s a dirty habit.

I’m going to quit soon.”

“Teach me to smoke!” I say.

His eyebrows meet above his nose,

and as the tip of the cigarette burns,

it sends smoke into the clear night

like a signal.

Maybe, across the Harlem River

someone will see it,

realize we are signaling: Help!

“Let me try it, please? I want to be like you!”

“No, you don’t! Not now, not ever.”

“But, Dad, at least I should know

what I’ll be missing for the rest of my life.”

He smiles so wide, I can see his molars.

“Well, you’ll never know about the future,”

he says, ominously.

I grab his arm.

“Tell me the truth.

Are you thinking of leaving?”

“Leaving what?”

“Dad!”

“What?”

“Us! Please! Please don’t leave!

You can’t. I mean it!

She hates me.”

“Calm down, Maisie,” he says.

My voice crackles.

“I’m just telling you, if you go,

she’ll put me in the ground.”

He ruffles my hair

as if I am being amusing.

I want to scream.

“You think I’m a rotten kid, too?”

“You’re a great kid, Maisie.”

“I’m trying to reform, Dad.”

“Maisie, honey,

I like you exactly the way you are:

spirited, smart, your own person.”

“Being my own person

is treacherous,” I say.

He turns to me.

“Are you working me over?” he asks.

I know not to answer.

“Okay, you poor kid, one puff.

I’ll give you one shot at it

but you have to do exactly what I say.

You have to learn how to inhale, okay?”

I do have to learn how to inhale.

How to breathe,

as if I belong here on the earth.

I look at his face,

think how I’m glad that he breaks the rules.

He says we’re alike.

That must be why I’m the way I am,

as my grandma likes to say,

always flirting with disaster,

as if disaster were my middle name.

“When you smoke,

you take in the deepest breath

as if you have to last underwater

without air.

Then, you keep it in

as long as you possibly can.”

“But you don’t do that, Dad.”

“I’ve been smoking a long time, kid.

Ready?” he says, and lights a fresh one.

I sit up tall under the stars,

put my feet on the bench,

straighten my back

so I can always remember

this moment, me and my dad,

on the same wavelength.

Me, trying to figure out

if he wants to protect me

while he’s teaching me to smoke.

How about telling me about school?”

He sighs, offers the cigarette.

“It has its moments,” I say,

and close my lips around the tobacco,

inhale really, really deeply.

I am about to show him the bruises

I still have on my arm,

but then the smoke curls in my chest,

which immediately wants to explode.

“Hold it in,” he commands.

“Don’t let it out.”

Finally my mouth opens

because I’m coughing and gasping.

It feels like some kind of torture.

The taste is nasty.

“It’s awful!” I cough.

“It tastes horrible, feels horrible.”

I’m practically crying.

“So disgusting! How could you?!”

My dad laughs.

“Well, now you never have to do it again!”

I dash inside, refuse to speak to him

for the rest of the night.

“I’m done with you, Dad!”

He laughs!

Later he knocks on my door,

takes my hand.

“Between you and me,

if anything ever happened—

not that it will—in the leaving department,

wherever I’d go,

you’d be coming with me, kid.

I promise.”

I throw my arms around him.

Later I will drift off wondering

how much warning he’d give me.

And what about my brother?

*****************

About the author
Barbara Bottner has written about 50 books for children of all ages. In May, her first YA novel in free verse, I Am Here Now is coming out from Macmillan (Imprint) She's written a NY Times Bestseller, as well as staffed prime time sit-com, sold screenplays, published essays and short stories in both national and literary magazines and reviewed children's books for both the NY and LA Sunday Book Review. Many of her works have been multiply translated and animated, and adapted for short plays. When she was an animator, she won "Best Film For TV" from the Annecy International Animation Festival. When very young, she briefly appeared on stage and in Europe with La Mama Plexus and in television movies. She teaches writing for children privately but won The Distinguished University Teaching Award from The New School For Social Research. Her papers are collected in the Arne Nixon Center for Children's Literature at Fresno State.

Former students include: Lane Smith, Robin Preiss Glaser, Peggy Rathmann, Bruce Degen, Barney Saltsburg and Antoinette Portis.

She feels blessed to have a passion that seems to stick with her no matter how the larger world goes out of control.

Connect with Barbara

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It's Monday! What Are You Reading? August 3, 2020


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's an opportunity to visit other blogs and to comment on their reads. And ... you can add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date. And here we are!

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How can it be August already? This summer seems to be flying by, even though we really aren't doing anything or going anywhere and every day runs into the next. 

Take care. Stay safe and healthy everyone. 
And remember to wash those hands!!

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you all have a good week. 
Happy reading!

What I'm currently reading

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The Borrowed Boy
by Deborah Klée
My thoughts will be posted on Thursday.

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One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow
by Olivia Hawker
Narrated by Jackie Zerowski

What I recently finished

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The Orphan Collector
by Ellen Marie Wiseman
Pub date 8/4

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Paris Never Leaves You
by Ellen Feldman
Pub date 8/4

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Worthy
by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Narrated by Nick Podehl & Tanya Eby

What I am going to read next

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His & Hers
by Alice Feeney
My thoughts will be posted on Friday.

I really love my reading life!
What are you reading this week?

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Saturday, August 1, 2020

Book Spotlight #Giveaway! Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner #LittleEarthquakes

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I have sooooo many books! The Book Spotlight Giveaway feature that I post every Saturday is a way for me to clear my shelves, to share some of the many books I have, and to give someone else the opportunity to enjoy these treasures.


Good luck and be sure to stop back next week!

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Little Earthquakes

Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner
Paperback, 448 pages
Published June 28th 2005 by Washington Square Press

Jennifer Weiner's richest, wittiest, most true-to-life novel yet tells the story of three very different women as they navigate one of life's most wonderful and perilous transitions: the journay of new motherhood.

Becky is a plump, sexy chef who has a wonderfull husband and baby girl, a restaurant that received a citywide acclaim -- and the mother-in-law from hell. Kelly is an event planner who's struggling to balance her work and motherhood while dealing with unemployed husband who seems content to channel-surf for eight hours a day. Ayinde's basketball superstar husband breaks her trust at her most vulnerable moment, putting their new family even more in the public eye. Then, there's Lia, a Philadelphia native who has left her Hollywood career behind, along with her husband, and a tragic secret to start her life all over again.

From prenatal yoga to postbirth sex, Little Earthquakes is a frank, funny, fiercely perceptive take on the comedies and tragedies of love and marriage.


About the author

Jennifer Weiner

Jennifer Weiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of seventeen books, including Good in Bed, In Her Shoes, and, most recently, Mrs. Everything. Her new novel, Big Summer, is out now. A graduate of Princeton University and contributor to the New York Times Opinion section, she lives with her family in Philadelphia. Visit her online at JenniferWeiner.com. ~ Goodreads

Connect with Jennifer


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Friday, July 31, 2020

On Tour! The Friendship List by Susan Mallery ~ My Thoughts and an Excerpt #TheFriendshipList



The Friendship List : A Novel by Susan Mallery
On Sale Date: August 4, 2020
9781335136961, 1335136967
Hardcover, 384 pages
$26.99 USD, $33.50 CAD
Fiction / Romance / Contemporary

Already a worldwide success in mass market and trade paperback formats, Susan Mallery’s newest hardcover is an emotional, witty, and heartfelt story about two best friends who are determined to help one another shake things up and live life to the fullest...only to discover that possibilities are everywhere--especially in the most unexpected of places.

Ellen and Unity have been best friends basically since birth, but they couldn’t be more different. Unity married her childhood sweetheart just after high school and became an Army wife, moving from base to base…until her husband's shocking death in the line of duty leaves her a widow. Grief-stricken, it’s time for Unity to come back home to Ellen—the only person she can trust to help her rebuild her life. But Ellen has troubles of her own. Boys never seemed to notice Ellen…until one got her pregnant in high school and disappeared. Her son is now 17 and she’s wondering what to do with herself now that he’s heading off to college and he's literally her entire world.

But now that Ellen and Unity are reunited, they’re done with their stale lives. It’s time to shake things up and start living again, knowing that they'll always have one another to lean on. So they create a list of challenges they have to accomplish--everything from getting a tattoo to skydiving to staying out all night. And whoever completes the most challenges is the winner. But with new adventures and love just around the corner, there’s no such thing as losing…


Purchase The Friendship List


My thoughts about The Friendship List ~~

(I love to note the first lines of the books I'm reading. First lines can really grab a reader's attention and I love seeing where the author takes the reader after their first line.)

First lines—"'I should have married money,' Ellen Fox said glumly. 'That would have solved all of my problems.'"

Oh my gosh! I loved this book so much. I can't believe that I haven't read Susan Mallery's books before now. If her other books are just as good, and I'm sure they are, then I have some catching up to do, for sure.

The Friendship List focuses on the interesting and fun characters, Ellen and Unity. Different as night and day, but best friends since forever. On the other hand, they are the same in the respect that they are both stuck in the ruts of their lives and don't know how to get out—or even if they want to.

Thus the lists are created, each of them thinking they are doing them to help the other one change. Working through the lists is where the fun comes in as the two women step outside their comfort zones to try to find their way to happiness.

I devoured this book and highly recommend it. I definitely will be checking out more of Susan's books. Seriously, how have I not read her books before now??

Read Chapter One below. I'm sure you'll love it too and will want more!

I received The Friendship List from the publisher via NetGalley and this is my honest opinion.

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Excerpt

Chapter One

“I should have married money,” Ellen Fox said glumly. “That would have solved all my problems.”

Unity Leandre, her best friend, practically since birth, raised her eyebrows. “Because that was an option so many times and you kept saying no?”

“It could have been. Maybe. If I’d ever, you know, met a rich guy I liked and wanted to marry.”

“Wouldn’t having him want to marry you be an equally important part of the equation?”

Ellen groaned. “This is not a good time for logic. This is a good time for sympathy. Or giving me a winning lottery ticket. We’ve been friends for years and you’ve never once given me a winning lottery ticket.”

Unity picked up her coffee and smiled. “True, but I did give you my pony rides when we celebrated our eighth birthdays.”

A point she would have to concede, Ellen thought. With their birthdays so close together, they’d often had shared parties. The summer they’d turned eight, Unity’s mom had arranged for pony rides at a nearby farm. Unity had enjoyed herself, but Ellen had fallen in love with scruffy Mr. Peepers, the crabby old pony who carried them around the paddock. At Ellen’s declaration of affection for the pony, Unity had handed over the rest of her ride tickets, content to watch Ellen on Mr. Peepers’s wide back.

“You were wonderful about the pony rides,” Ellen said earnestly, “And I love that you were so generous. But right now I really need a small fortune. Nothing overwhelming. Just a tasteful million or so. In return, I’ll give back the rides on Mr. Peepers.”

Unity reached across the kitchen table and touched Ellen’s arm. “He really wants to go to UCLA?”

Ellen nodded, afraid if she spoke, she would whimper. After sucking in a breath, she managed to say, “He does. Even with a partial scholarship, the price is going to kill me.” She braced herself for the ugly reality. “Out-of-state costs, including room and board, are about sixty-four thousand dollars.” Ellen felt her heart skip a beat and not out of excitement. “A year. A year! I don’t even bring home that much after taxes. Who has that kind of money? It might as well be a million dollars.”

Unity nodded. “Okay, now marrying money makes sense.”

“I don’t have a lot of options.” Ellen pressed her hand to her chest and told herself she wasn’t having a heart attack. “You know I’d do anything for Coop and I’ll figure this out, but those numbers are terrifying. I have to start buying lottery scratchers and get a second job.” She looked at Unity. “How much do you think they make at Starbucks? I could work nights.”

Unity, five inches taller, with long straight blond hair, grabbed her hands. “Last month it was University of Oklahoma and the month before that, he wanted to go to Notre Dame. Cooper has changed his mind a dozen times. Wait until you go look at colleges this summer and he figures out what he really wants, then see who offers the best financial aid before you panic.” Her mouth curved up in a smile. “No offense, Ellen, but I’ve tasted your coffee. You shouldn’t be working anywhere near a Starbucks.”

“Very funny.” Ellen squeezed her hands. “You’re right. He’s barely seventeen. He won’t be a senior until September. I have time. And I’m saving money every month.”

It was how she’d been raised, she thought. To be practical, to take responsibility. If only her parents had thought to mention marrying for money.

“After our road trip, he may decide he wants to go to the University of Washington after all, and that would solve all my problems.”

Not just the money ones, but the loneliness ones, she thought wistfully. Because after eighteen years of them being a team, her nearly grown-up baby boy was going to leave her.

“Stop,” Unity said. “You’re getting sad. I can see it.”

“I hate that you know me so well.”

“No, you don’t.”

Ellen sighed. “No, I don’t, but you’re annoying.”

“You’re more annoying.”

They smiled at each other.

Unity stood, all five feet ten of her, and stretched. “I have to get going. You have young minds to mold and I have a backed-up kitchen sink to deal with, followed by a gate repair and something with a vacuum. The message wasn’t clear.” She looked at Ellen. “You going to be okay?”

Ellen nodded. “I’m fine. You’re right. Coop will change his mind fifteen more times. I’ll wait until it’s a sure thing, then have my breakdown.”

“See. You always have a plan.”

They walked to the front door. Ellen’s mind slid back to the ridiculous cost of college.

“Any of those old people you help have money?” she asked. “For the right price, I could be a trophy wife.”

Unity shook her head. “You’re thirty-four. The average resident of Silver Pines is in his seventies.”

“Marrying money would still solve all my problems.”

Unity hugged her, hanging on tight for an extra second. “You’re a freak.”

“I’m a momma bear with a cub.”

“Your cub is six foot three. It’s time to stop worrying.”

“That will never happen.”

“Which is why I love you. Talk later.”

Ellen smiled. “Have a good one. Avoid spiders.”

“Always.”

When Unity had driven away, Ellen returned to the kitchen where she quickly loaded the dishwasher, then packed her lunch. Cooper had left before six. He was doing some end-of-school-year fitness challenge. Something about running and Ellen wasn’t sure what. To be honest, when he went on about his workouts, it was really hard not to tune him out. Especially when she had things like tuition to worry about.

“Not anymore today,” she said out loud. She would worry again in the morning. Unity was right—Cooper was going to keep changing his mind. Their road trip to look at colleges was only a few weeks away. After that they would narrow the list and he would start to apply. Only then would she know the final number and have to figure out how to pay for it.

Until then she had plenty to keep her busy. She was giving pop quizzes in both fourth and sixth periods and she wanted to update her year-end tests for her two algebra classes. She needed to buy groceries and put gas in the car and go by the library to get all her summer reading on the reserve list.

As she finished her morning routine and drove to the high school where she taught, Ellen thought about Cooper and the college issue. While she was afraid she couldn’t afford the tuition, she had to admit it was a great problem to have. Seventeen years ago, she’d been a terrified teenager, about to be a single mom, with nothing between her and living on the streets except incredibly disappointed and angry parents who had been determined to make her see the error of her ways.

Through hard work and determination, she’d managed to pull herself together—raise Cooper, go to college, get a good job, buy a duplex and save money for her kid’s education. Yay her.

But it sure would have been a lot easier if she’d simply married someone with money.

*

“How is it possible to get a C- in Spanish?” Coach Keith Kinne asked, not bothering to keep his voice down. “Half the population in town speaks Spanish. Hell, your sister’s husband is Hispanic.” He glared at the strapping football player standing in front of him. “Luka, you’re an idiot.”

Luka hung his head. “Yes, Coach.”

“Don’t ‘yes, Coach’ me. You knew this was happening—you’ve known for weeks. And did you ask for help? Did you tell me?”

“No, Coach.”

Keith thought about strangling the kid but he wasn’t sure he could physically wrap his hands around the teen’s thick neck. He swore silently, knowing they were where they were and now he had to fix things—like he always did with his students.

“You know the rules,” he pointed out. “To play on any varsity team you have to get a C+ or better in every class. Did you think the rules didn’t apply to you?”

Luka, nearly six-five and two hundred and fifty pounds, slumped even more. “I thought I was doing okay.”

“Really? So you’d been getting better grades on your tests?”

“Not exactly.” He raised his head, his expression miserable. “I thought I could pull up my grade at the last minute.”

“How did that plan work out?”

“No bueno.”

Keith glared at him. “You think this is funny?”

“No, Coach.”

Keith shook his head. “You know there’s not a Spanish summer school class. That means we’re going to have to find an alternative.”

Despite his dark skin, Luka went pale. “Coach, don’t send me away.”

“No one gets sent away.” Sometimes athletes went to other districts that had a different summer curriculum. They stayed with families and focused on their studies.

“I need to stay with my family. My mom understands me.”

“It would be better for all of us if she understood Spanish.” Keith glared at the kid. “I’ll arrange for an online class. You’ll get a tutor. You will report to me twice a week, bringing me updates until you pass the class.” He sharpened his gaze. “With an A.”

Luka took a step back. “Coach, no! An A? I can’t.”

“Not with that attitude.”

“But, Coach.”

“You knew the rules and you broke them. You could have come to me for help early on. You know I’m always here for any of my students, but did you think about that or did you decide you were fine on your own?”

“I decided I was fine on my own,” Luka mumbled.

“Exactly. And deciding on your own is not how teams work. You go it alone and you fail.”

Tears filled Luka’s eyes. “Yes, Coach.”

Keith pointed to the door. Luka shuffled out. Keith sank into his chair. He’d been hard on the kid, but he needed to get the message across. Grades mattered. He was willing to help whenever he could, but he had to be told what was going on. He had a feeling Luka thought because he was a star athlete he was going to get special treatment. Maybe somewhere else, but not here. Forcing Luka to get an A sent a message to everyone who wanted to play varsity sports.

He’d barely turned to his computer when one of the freshman boys stuck his head in the office. “Coach Kinne! Coach Kinne! There’s a girl crying in the weight room.”

Keith silently groaned as he got up and jogged to the weight room, hoping he was about to deal with something simple like a broken arm or a concussion. He knew what to do for those kinds of things. Anything that was more emotional, honest to God, terrified him.

He walked into the weight room and found a group of guys huddled together. A petite, dark-haired girl he didn’t know sat on a bench at the far end, her hands covering her face, her sobs audible in the uneasy silence.

He looked at the guys. “She hurt?”

They shifted their weight and shook their heads. Damn. So it wasn’t physical. Why didn’t things ever go his way?

“Any of you responsible for whatever it is?” he asked.

More shaken heads with a couple of guys ducking out.

Keith pointed to the door so the rest of them left, then returned his attention to the crying girl. She was small and looked young. Maybe fifteen. Not one of his daughter’s friends or a school athlete—he knew all of them.

He approached the teen, trying to look friendly rather than menacing, then sat on a nearby bench.

“Hey,” he said softly. “I’m Coach Kinne.”

She sniffed. Her eyes were red, her skin pale. “I know who you are.”

“What’s going on?” Don’t be pregnant, don’t be pregnant, he chanted silently.

More tears spilled over. “I’m pregnant. The father is Dylan, only he says he’s not, and I can’t tell my m-mom because she’ll be so mad and he said he l-loved me.”

And just like that Keith watched his Monday fall directly into the crapper.

*

Keith left work exactly at three fifteen. He would be returning to his office to finish up paperwork, supervise a couple of workouts and review final grades for athletes hovering on the edge of academic problems. But first, he had pressing personal business.

He drove the two short miles to his house, walked inside and headed directly for his seventeen-year-old daughter’s room.

Lissa looked up from her laptop when he entered, her smile fading as she figured out he was in a mood. Despite the attitude, she was a beauty. Long dark hair, big brown eyes. Dammit all to hell—why couldn’t he have an ugly daughter who no guy would look at twice?

“Hi, Dad,” she said, sounding wary. “What’s up?”

“Spot check.”

She rolled her eyes. “Seriously? There is something wrong with you. I heard what happened at school today. I’m not dumb enough to date a guy like Dylan who would tell a tree stump he loved it if it would have sex with him. I’m not sleeping with anyone and I’m not pregnant. I told you—I’m not ready to have sex, as in I’m still a virgin. You’re obsessed. Would you feel better if I wore a chastity belt?”

“Yes, but you won’t. I’ve asked.”

“Da-ad. Why are you like this? Pregnancy isn’t the worst thing that could happen. I could be sick and dying. Wouldn’t that be terrible?”

“You can’t win this argument with logic. I’m irrational. I accept that. But I’m also the parent, so you have to deal with me being irrational.”

He pointed to her bathroom. She sighed the long-suffering sigh of those cursed with impossible fathers and got up. He followed her to the doorway and watched as she pulled the small plastic container out of the bathroom drawer and opened it.

Relief eased the tension in his body. Pills were missing. The right number of pills.

“You are a nightmare father,” his daughter said, shoving the pills back in the drawer. “I can’t wait until I’m eighteen and I can get the shot instead of having to take birth control pills. Then you’ll only bug me every few months.”

“I can’t wait, either.”

“It’s not like I even have a boyfriend.”

“You could be talking to someone online.”

Her annoyance faded as she smiled at him. “Dad, only one of us in this house does the online dating thing and it’s not me.”

“I don’t online date.”

“Fine. You pick up women online, then go off and have sex with them for the weekend. It’s gross. You should fall in love with someone you’re not embarrassed to bring home to meet me.”

“I’m not embarrassed. I just don’t want complications.”

“But you do want to have sex. It’s yucky.”

“Then why are we talking about it?” He pulled her close and hugged her, then kissed the top of her head. “Sorry, Lissa. I can’t help worrying about you.”

She looked up at him. “Dad, I’m taking my pills every day, not that it matters because I’m not having sex. I’m not. I’ve barely kissed a guy. Having you as my father makes it really difficult to date. Guys don’t want to mess with you and risk being beat up.”

“Good.”

She smiled even as she hit him in the arm. “You’re repressing my emotional growth.”

“Just don’t get pregnant.”

“You need to find a more positive message. How about ‘be your best self?’”

“That, too. Gotta go.”

“I’m having dinner with Jessie tonight. Remember?”

“No problem. Be home by ten.”

He got back in his truck but before starting the engine, he quickly texted Ellen. I need a couple of beers and a friendly ear. You around tonight?

The response came quickly. Only if you bring fried chicken. I have beer and ice cream.

You’re on. See you at six.

Excerpted from The Friendship List by Susan Mallery, Copyright © 2020 by Susan Mallery, Inc.. Published by HQN.

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About the author


Susan Mallery is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women's lives—family, friendship and romance. Library Journal says, “Mallery is the master of blending emotionally believable characters in realistic situations," and readers seem to agree—forty million copies of her books have been sold worldwide. Her warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live.

Susan grew up in California and now lives in Seattle with her husband. She's passionate about animal welfare, especially that of the two Ragdoll cats and adorable poodle who think of her as Mom.

Connect with Susan


Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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