REVIEW: Squirrel Bait by Chip Davis

Squirrel Bait by Chip Davis

Series: Chip’s Dollar Dreadfuls #1

Read: June 3 – Aug 18, 2016

Format: Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 3 Stars

Genre: Humor / Horror

 


ABOUT THE BOOK

Tonya has an unusual passion for books, even for a librarian. When her books are harmed she takes it personally. When people turn up dead over damaged books, there are questions to answer. When the killer is a weresquirrel, the questions become more confusing.

There is a certain pretentiousness in classical literature. Elegant writing filled with meaning both astounding and sublime. This is not that. Not horrific enough to be horror, nor humorous enough to be comedy, welcome to Chip’s Dollar Dreadfuls. There may not be any fundamental truths, but there will be blood…so much blood.


REVIEW

So, I kept hearing about this book. Chip Davis is a notorious presence on a Facebook page I often frequent (usually on Thursdays) so I went ahead and finally purchased and read his short novella, Squirrel Bait.

This is the story of a library. Well, sort of. You see, when people damage the books in the library, librarian Tonya gets very upset. She doesn’t go into homicidal rages, no, she just becomes very emotional. Her books are her precious. I’m not sure what’s wrong with this town Tonya lives in, but people just seem to walk into the library and damage books for no reason other than they want to. It’s a little odd, but in a book like this, we forgive things like that. Anyway, police reports are filed and the punks names and addresses are logged at the library. But at night, the punks have begun being murdered. Obviously Tonya is the #1 suspect. Oh yeah, and her boyfriend is a cop, so of course that makes things especially awkward.

The way this book started, I honestly thought there would be no plot. That it would literally just be squirrels killing people. However, I was pleasantly surprised when there was a small twist around 20%, and then there was a full backstory as to where the Weresquirrels came from and so on.

This isn’t a deep thinking book. If you’re looking for a literary masterpiece, Chip Davis will probably be the first to tell you that this is not it. This is a humorous horror book, in line with something the Sci-Fi (or is it still Sy-Fi?) channel would produce. But it’s better than Sharknado. I mean, there are murderous squirrels. SQUIRRELS! Tiny, furry, scurrying squirrels. Desecrating people! If you can’t handle comedic violence, stay away.

There were some minor errors that would have been caught by a good proof reading of the book prior to publication, but nothing that will really pull the average reader from the story. It’s a quick read, and for those who like B-movies, this novella will be well worth your 99 cents.

(By the way, the last two pages are THE BEST.)


Get the book here:

Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited!)

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

“I’m going to marry the densest cop on the planet. What did I do to deserve this?”

“You’ll marry me?” Steve was getting more confused by the second.

Tonya smiled at him. “Yes, Steve, I will marry you. Thank you for finally asking.”

~

“How hard can it be to kill one squirrel?”

 

REVIEW: Lexie Maxwell & One Spooky House by Heather Balog with Tara Balog

Look at me on a roll with another book review!
I actually have a number of reviews written up, waiting for me to find the time to post.
Additionally, I finished two more books last night, so those will soon be added to the queue.
Why are there only 24 hours in a day people!

In other news, I started training at my new job this evening. I’m leaving retail (woohoo!) and moving onto hospitality, working the front desk at a hotel. Just call me Lorelei Gilmore. (But with less power. And less coffee running through my veins.)

Without further ado, below is my review of a fun young readers novella that my 9 year old daughter really enjoyed reading with me.


Lexie Maxwell & One Spooky House by Heather Balog with Tara Balog

Series: The Lexie Maxwell Diaries #1

Read: July 11 – August 10, 2016

Format: Print Book (Goodreads Win)

My Book Rating: 4 Stars

Genre: Children’s Books (9-12 years)

 

I received a copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads.

 

I win a lot of books from Goodreads and some excite me more than others. This was one I was pretty excited about because my oldest daughter is the perfect age to read it. I ended up reading this book aloud to both of my daughters at bedtime and they were both engaged in the story (my 9 year old more than my 4 year old). When we finished reading each night I’d get some whines accompanied by “Just ONE more chapter?”

Lexie Maxwell is spending her last summer before starting middle school trying to write a story for a contest but she keeps getting interrupted. Her mother is always demanding her attention for one thing or another. Her older sister is so annoying. Her brothers are loud and obnoxious. And was that a ghost and and her best friends saw in the empty house across the street???

Part of this story is actually the story Lexie is writing for her contest. It’s a really cute detective story about a missing dog. I especially enjoyed reading these sections aloud because I got to use the over dramatic mystery voice over. The kids enjoyed this part too because it was a mystery surrounding a missing dog.

The rest of the story takes place in the real world with Lexie and her friends trying to solve the mystery of the ghost. The mystery is solved in the end, but it was a little anticlimactic. Still, there was closure.

The only negative I can really say is that there were enough editing errors for me to take notice. Nothing a good proof reading couldn’t fix. Despite that, I would still recommend this book. In fact, as soon as we finished reading tonight, my older daughter snatched the book from my hand and said, “I want to read it again!” followed by, “I want to read ALL the books in this series!” So, you’ve got a new fan Heather and Tara Balog!

 


Buy the book:

Free on Kindle Unlimited or only 99 cents!

Amazon

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 

You can also snag book two, Lexie Maxwell & Two New Kids now as well!

Amazon

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 

Deja Revu – August 15, 2016

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Déjà Revu is a weekly review round-up that is open to all book review blogs.
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Contemporary

Fantasy

Paranormal

 

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Romance

Woman’s Fiction

 

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Contemporary

Paranormal

Romance

Science Fiction

Suspense/Thriller

Woman’s Fiction

 

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Woman’s Fiction

 

REVIEW: Friday Night Brides by Samantha Chase

Friday Night Brides by Samantha Chase

Read: May 9 – August 1, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 4 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Romance

 

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Friday Night Brides is the story of four best friends. For the past 20 years they have modeled wedding fashions in a bridal show every Friday night. Now in their mid-twenties, we get to follow their (mis)adventures in love.

I love that this story followed four different main characters and the author did a great job weaving their individual stories into one cohesive book, and in making them stand out as their own person.

Hailey’s mom owns Enchanted Bridal, the whole reason for the Friday Night Brides existence. She’s in lust with the perfect Logan, who has never shown even an inkling of returning the attraction, and can’t stand Jackson, the long haired, tattooed bad boy who models in the shows as well.

Becca always falls for the wrong guy. She has self esteem issues because she doesn’t have the slim figures of her friends. When she meets Max though, her luck seems to turn around.

Angie doesn’t really have a filter, she tells it how it is. When her ex comes back into her life, she has to decide if she can forgive him and try again.

And finally, Ella: she and her boyfriend Dylan have been together since middle school. With their wedding looming before them, and growing out of control thanks to their families, she’s beginning to doubt being with just one man EVER.

The only reason this book took me so long to read is because I started reading too many at once. Once I dedicated myself to finishing this book toward the end of July I sped through it. I needed to know what was going to happen with each of the women. And I was not disappointed. This book reads like a drama on The CW – in a good way!

I wish I could say that one couples story was more interesting than another, but I loved them all. I would say Ella’s probably resonated with me most because she’s marrying the man she’s been with since forever. I also married my high school boyfriend and have experienced some of her same feelings about wonder what, if anything, she/I missed out on by not dating other people. As far as character growth, I feel like Hailey grew the most as a person.

If you’re looking for a fun contemporary romance that’s a little different than others, this is it for you. I was honestly afraid at first it might read like chic-lit, but thankfully it does not! (At least not the chic-lit I’ve read in the past!)

 


Get The Book

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

 Okay, I was so engrossed in this book I only highlighted one passage because it spoke to me!

“You want to know how I see us? I see us as people who work hard and are planning for our future. While everyone else is running around—or sleeping around—we’re committed to each other. We’re not pissing away our money at bars and clubs. … You’re looking around and thinking ‘look at all we’re missing’ and acting like it’s a bad thing. I’m looking at the same people and thinking about it all with relief! You know what, El? I bet if you asked any of them they’d all rather be us!”

 

BEHIND THE COVER, Vol 2: Unhinged by Shelley R. Pickens

 

Since 2011 I have been honing my talents as a cover designer for a small press called Melange Books, LLC, as well as their subsequent imprints, Satin Romance, and Fire & Ice YA Books.

It’s been five years and hundreds of covers, and I’m still evolving as a digital artist.

As a cover artist, I am charged with creating an eye catching cover design that accurately represents the theme of the book, while remaining visually captivating to the potential reader, and satisfying the author.

In this series of blog posts, I’m going to showcase some of my cover designs and explain what inspired them; why I chose the elements/images I did, and how they relate to the books theme or tone.

I’d love to hear your questions and comments below!

 

I did not intend for so much time to pass between my first Behind the Cover feature and the second, yet here we are.

I’ve been busy as a bee with my (not so new) part time job, plus my work for Melange Books. Last night I added more to my plate, starting a new in depth revision on my teen paranormal novel, Blood & Magic.

But enough of all that, today I’m here to talk about the process that went into designing the cover for Unhinged by Shelley Pickens.

This cover was created using 2 pieces of stock art; the girl, and the tornado.

Unhinged is another cover I had the opportunity to read prior to publication, due to my job as acquisitions editor for Fire & Ice YA Books.

This is the second in a paranormal/horror series about a girl named Aimee with the power to absorb ones memories with only a touch. In this particular book in the series, Aimee’s loved ones are being trapped in their own minds, poisoned by horrific memories that have been placed there by the story’s villain. Aimee must save her friends by going into their minds herself and removing the memories.

The girl on the cover is, obviously, Aimee. Her powers are being tested to their limits, she’s and she’s not really in control, which shows in the girls pose. She’s becoming Unhinged.

The tornado in the background is both metaphorical and literal. Metaphorically, Aimee’s life has turned completely upside down. It is in total upheaval. The tornado represents the chaos that is taking over her life. On the literal end, when Aimee travels into her loved ones minds, she encounters a literal tornado that she must face in order to save them.

I chose to give the cover that sepia toned look because storms are often devoid of color, and visually it is easier for the eye to focus on the basically two-toned elements.

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 7.28.58 PMAs for the text, the font was an easy choice because it had already been chosen for the first book in the series. I opted to use a white font with a slight drop shadow / glow because the sepia color pallet was so dark I wanted the text to pop.

I love this cover, and it’s honestly one of my favorites I’ve designed to date.

This cover also earned me the bragging rights of ‘Award Finalist’ for the 2016 EPIC Ariana awards.

 

You can see more examples of my covers on my website: www.carolineandrus.com/design/covers.html
And my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/CarolineAndrusDesigns

I’m also available for hire. Shoot me an email or Facebook message!


UNHINGED by Shelley R. Pickens

Being normal isn’t always a good thing, especially if it ends up killing you.

Aimee, the sixteen year old girl who can see your every memory with just one touch, is fresh out of the torture room after risking everything to capture a killer. Despite her instinct to avoid contact with others, she tries her best to find a new normal at school—perhaps even a boyfriend. But for those who are cursed, happiness and normality aren’t easy to obtain. A bizarre illness spreads like wildfire through the school and causes those around Aimee to lose their sanity before falling into a coma. Slowly, all the people she loves succumb to this strange disease.

Alone and terrified, she must use her curse to find a way to save her family and friends. As she delves deeper and deeper into their memories, she realizes David, a delusional person from her childhood, is the bigger threat that could destroy her. Despite the danger that surrounds her, she struggles to solve the puzzle before it’s too late to help those she cares for the most. But as David moves closer to eliminating her, one puzzle still remains. Will she be able to save herself?


GET THE BOOK

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WATCH THE TRAILER


READ AN EXCERPT

I wouldn’t say Mary is a delicate flower per say, but her stint in the hospital almost dying from smoke inhalation has definitely made her more fragile. Hell, it would soften most people. Most normal people at least. For a freak like me, facing death and coming out the other end damaged but alive, changed me. It has made me hard, unbending, and unwilling to let anything I love come to harm. Some would call that strength. Most would call it stubborn. I just call it my life.

“Mary, are you okay?” I ask in a soft voice, careful not to startle her.

Her eyes are vacant as they stare off into space. She begins to rock back and forth in her chair, both hands cradling her head. She begins to murmur to herself, but I can’t make out what she’s saying. The scene from the lunchroom today comes flooding back. I have never been more scared in my short life than I am right now. I have no idea what to do; helplessness consumes me. Then I remember what happened to Logan in Dejana’s basement and how my touch brought him out of his trance. I get up out of my seat and slowly approach her. I gently put my hand on her shoulder, hoping it comforts rather than startles her.

“Mary,” I repeat in a soft whisper. “Please, tell me what’s wrong. What can I do to help you?” I ask, desperate to find a way to get through to her. I’m not sure if she feels my hand on her or not. She doesn’t try to remove my hand, but doesn’t acknowledge it either. Panic boils up inside me. Okay, enough of the careful approach; time for more desperate measures.

“Dammit, Mary, stop it this instant!” I scream in the best scolding mom voice I can muster. I even stomp my foot on the floor for good measure. My voice must have gotten through to her because she stops rocking, removes her hands from her head, and begins to look around. Confusion marks every feature of her face. When her eyes land on me, her sweet smile returns as she pats my gloved hand still resting on her shoulder.

“Aimee, dear, why are you up from your seat? You know you can’t be excused until you’re finished with your food. Is everything alright? Do you need something else to drink, sweetie?” she asks, clearly unaware that five seconds ago she was murmuring to herself like a lunatic.

“Sorry, I don’t know what came over me. I’m not very hungry right now. Can I be excused please?” I ask, hoping she doesn’t notice how my voice shakes.

“Well, of course dear. I’m not feeling well myself, either. I think I may go ahead and go to bed. Do you mind cleaning up the kitchen for me?” she asks, her voice normal with no hint of confusion or idea that something was off.

I nod, still confused by what just happened. Maybe I just imagined it. There’s that avoidance therapy again, rearing its ugly head.

“Thank you, sweetie,” says Mary, giving my head its usual pat since she learned from the beginning I don’t like to be kissed, even if she’s never understood why.

I watch her walk away, my heart heavy with worry for her. I have no clue what’s going on today with people acting so strangely. I am no fortuneteller but I have a bad feeling that something terrible is coming. And I have no idea how to stop it.

REVIEW: The Season by Jonah Lisa Dyer & Stephen Dyer

The Season by Jonah Lisa Dyer & Stephen Dyer

Read: June 9-13, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 3 Stars

Genre: New Adult – Modern Pride & Prejudice

 

I received an ARC of this book from Penguin First Reads in exchange for an honest review.

 

When I saw this book up for grabs on Penguin First Reads, I had to have it. Pretty girl in a dress? Debutantes? Yes and YES!

And then I received the book and started reading. Wait a minute…. She’s in college? Wait… How could her parents FORCE her to do this whole debutante thing if she’s a legal adult no longer living under their roof? I was confused.

Early on there is a legitimate reason for Megan going along with her mothers desire for her to make her debut among Texas society, but it still felt like sort of a stretch.

As I read in another review on Goodreads, the targeted audience for this book is confusing. It’s listed as a young adult novel, but it deals with a lot of adult themes that I don’t think most high school kids would identify with. There’s also a lot of sex talk, nothing too graphic, but also really not something all that appropriate for teen books. (Yes, I believe in clean teen reads! I don’t like casual sex in books at all, especially teen books!)

Anyway, once I was able to get past the whole NOT REALLY A TEEN BOOK thing, I started to enjoyed the book. It’s not one that’s going to stay with me forever, but I certainly enjoyed looking for the parallels between this book and Pride & Prejudice. I thought the chapter headings were the best part of the book, witty little one liners such as, “In Which Megan Takes a Long Look in the Mirror” and, “In Which Megan Puts Away Serious Groceries.”

I did appreciate that Megan, who was incredibly prejudiced in the beginning, looking down on the debutante society and all they stand for, was able to gain a new perspective in the end. As I said before, this story won’t stay with me forever, but I always appreciate when the protagonist of the story grows into a better person, and that was very much the case here.

The other thing that bothered me was the lack of interaction between the “Elizabeth” and “Darcy” characters. I wanted more interaction between them, especially earlier on, to really base their relationship/interactions on.

So, would I recommend this book? Yes and No.

I would not recommend The Season to younger teens, but those nearing 18 and through their early 20’s would probably enjoy this book.

Special thanks to Penguin Publishing for the chance to read an advanced e-galley for review.


The Season goes on sale July 12, 2016

~ Add to Goodreads ~

Preorder:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks


QUOTES

 

Several girls used this pause for a dainty sip of tea. Prissy bitches.

 

If I had to put myself in someone’s hands, better this French lunatic than my mother.

 

I ran for hours, lifted weights, rode my bike everywhere, and now this broad was threatening me with standing for five minutes? Bring it on!

 

“NO! I AM NOT OKAY!” Was I shouting? I couldn’t hear very well because my ears were frozen, but my voice sounded really loud. “I am cold and wet and I look like road kill!”

The douche bag laughed.

 

Deja Revu – July 5, 2016

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Déjà Revu is a weekly review round-up that is open to all book review blogs.
Picture
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Paranormal

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Contemporary

Fantasy

Paranormal

Romance

Woman’s Fiction

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Contemporary

Mystery

Romance

Science Fiction

Woman’s Fiction

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General Fiction

Historical

Non-Fiction

Paranormal

Romance

Woman’s Fiction

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Romance

BEHIND THE COVER, Vol 1: Swimming Alone by Nina Mansfield

BehindTheCover

Welcome everyone!

Today I’m excited to start a new feature on the blog. As you may (or may not) know, I wear many hats in the publishing world. Sure I dabble in writing (someday I’ll finish my book. I promise!) My biggest contribution to the publishing world, however, is book cover design.

 

Since 2011 I have been honing my talents as a cover designer for a small press called Melange Books, LLC, as well as their subsequent imprints, Satin Romance, and Fire & Ice YA Books.

It’s been five years and hundreds of covers, and I’m still evolving as a digital artist.

As a cover artist, I am charged with creating an eye catching cover design that accurately represents the theme of the book, while remaining visually captivating to the potential reader, and satisfying the author.

In this series of blog posts, I’m going to showcase some of my cover designs and explain what inspired them; why I chose the elements/images I did, and how they relate to the books theme or tone.

I’d love to hear your questions and comments below!

 

With many of the covers I design, as is true with most if not all cover designers, I have not had the opportunity to read the books first. That was not the case with SWIMMING ALONE. One of the many hats I wear with the Melange Books is that of acquisitions editor for the teen / new adult line of books, Fire & Ice.

While reading Nina Mansfield’s manuscript submission, I already had some ideas swirling around in my head as to what I imagined the cover to be. When it came to actually sitting down and coming up with a design concept for the cover, I was very fortunate that Nina was on board and receptive to my vision.

This cover was created using three pieces of stock art – the woman on the towel, the stormy beach, and the ripped newspaper.

Because SWIMMING ALONE is a mystery, I knew it had to be a little dark and foreboding, so I chose to go with a stormy sky over the turbulent waves. This also worked because the book takes place in a small beach town, while also setting the tone for a mystery. I kept the colors bright and vivid to appeal to the teen audience.

The main character, Cathy, is a teen girl with long dark hair, who longs to spend her days on the beach, but instead ends up working in a bookstore. I used the sunbathing model both to represent Cathy, as well as the Sea Side Stranglers victims, because they were found on the beach and share Cathy’s physical description.

With this book, I really didn’t want the text to appear as though it was just slapped on. One reason being that the text could easily get lost amidst the lightning, the other reason being this would be a lost opportunity to tie more elements of the story into the design.

I went with the torn newspaper look because in the book Cathy reads about the Sea Side Strangler in the newspaper. I aligned the title and byline to appear as though it literally was ripped from a newspaper, even going so far as to research which font faces are typically used in news print, and finding one that was similar and worked visually for this cover.

With the subtitle, we didn’t want potential readers to assume this was an adult novel due to the bikini clad woman on the cover. I think she looks like a teenager, but others may not. We made it very obvious by stating that this is A YOUNG ADULT MYSTERY. There’s no surprise when you open the pages, you get exactly what you expect; a young adult mystery. Place text in this location also eliminates dead space on the cover; it adds balance.

And there you have it! Scroll down to learn more about SWIMMING ALONE and Nina Mansfield.

You can see more examples of my covers on my website: www.carolineandrus.com/design/covers.html
And my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/CarolineAndrusDesigns
I’m also available for hire. Shoot me an email or Facebook message!


SWIMMING ALONE by Nina Mansfield

The Sea Side Strangler is on the loose in Beach Point, where fifteen-year-old Cathy Banks is spending the summer with her aunt (who happens to be mystery writer Roberta McCabe.) Although thrilled to be away from her psychotic, divorcing parents, with no cell phone or internet access, Cathy is positive that her summer is going to be wretched. Just when she begins to make friends, and even finds a crush to drool over, her new friend Lauren vanishes. When a body surfaces in Beach Point Bay, Cathy is forced to face the question: has the Sea Side Strangler struck again?


GET THE BOOK

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~ Add To Your Goodreads Shelf ~


READ AN EXCERPT

 

The Sea Side Strangler Strikes Again!

 

Leave it to my mentally unstable, common sense impaired parents to ship me off to the only town in America with an active serial killer on the loose. I could so easily have the life squeezed out of me by some deranged killer. Now that would be the ultimate revenge. I mean, talk about a guilt trip—not that I’d be alive to benefit from it. And quite frankly, I’d prefer to die peacefully, in my sleep, at the age of one hundred and eight, thank you very much.

But seriously, what kind of psychos send their only daughter, their bundle of joy, the light of their lives away to a town where dead bodies keep washing up on shore? My parents, that’s who—all so they could strangle each other without having to worry about me getting in the way. Not literally, just legally. You know—the “d” word: Divorce. The week before they shipped me off, Mommy dearest smashed one-half of the Tiffany china when she found a foreign thong in Daddy’s glove compartment. Now the lawyers are trying to figure out whose half she smashed. (I’d find the questionable thong far more intriguing if I wasn’t totally skeeved.) These are the atrocities they are trying to shield me from.

Serial killers weren’t exactly on their radar when they decided to ship me off.

This particular serial killer wasn’t on my radar either until I saw the headline splashed across the front page of the Beach Point Gazette.

Beach Point, Rhode Island. My current abode. On my own? No such luck. I’m fifteen, but my parents still think I’m five and need a babysitter. I’m staying with my Aunt Bobbie. You might know her as Roberta McCabe, mystery writer extraordinaire. Yeah—that Roberta McCabe. She decided to rent a bungalow this summer here in Beach Point—lock herself in to complete her current masterpiece. I know what you’re thinking—bungalow, beach, mystery writer. Cool, right? Except, there’s a catch.

No TV. No internet. Landline long since disconnected. My only beacon to the world beyond: Aunt Bobbie’s cell phone, which is A) hers, and B) usually off and in her purse and not loaned out to her niece. That would be me—teen girl. Stranded. Cell phoneless. (Long story. There was a toilet involved.) I’m jonesing for a text. I can literally feel my thumb muscles atrophying.

And if that weren’t bad enough, I’ve been forced to find a job. What is the point of spending my summer by the beach if I actually have to work?

The rationale behind this inhumane treatment: “So you stay out of Aunt Bobbie’s hair.” She made it sound like Aunt Bobbie would spontaneously combust if I interrupted her flow of creative juices. But a job? Thanks a lot, Mom. Turns out all the good jobs in Beach Point were already taken. I tried the Smoothie Shop. The Taco Shack. The skeevey guy at the Speedy Link Internet Café wouldn’t even stoop to look at me. He was too busy drooling over his computer monitor. Can we say porn much? (And yeah, who knew internet cafés still existed. I guess it stuck around for all those people who thought they could unplug for the summer, and then realized they couldn’t.)

That’s how I ended up at Ocean View Books one lovely June morning, staring at the aforementioned headline and a picture of a bright-eyed brunette who had apparently washed ashore just days before. The caption read: “Pauline Krystal, 19, Rhode Island State University freshman found dead last Thursday.”

Last Thursday I’d been arguing with my parents. “What do you mean you won’t get me a new cell phone?” I had figured divide and conquer would work. It didn’t. One too many lost or damaged cell phones apparently. The ’rents wanted me to learn some responsibility. And when I had a job (they reasoned independently of each other), I could afford to buy my own.

“But…but…” The whining hadn’t worked. Neither had the stomping to my room and the dramatic slamming of my door. Staring at the newspaper though, I felt lucky…lucky to be alive. Breathing. Not front-page news, gory details of my demise entrancing total strangers. And I was entranced. So entranced I didn’t hear her.

“Can I help you?” I finally heard her say. It must have been her third time or something. She seemed annoyed.

I looked up at a freckle-faced girl who was forcing her lips to curl into a smile and raising her eyebrows as if to say, what’s your problem? The freaky thing was she looked remarkably like the girl in the picture, sans cap and gown and cheesy senior photo smile. For a moment, I thought I was staring at a ghost.

“I know, the resemblance is uncanny.” She sighed, like she’d already heard it a million times. “Is there something I can help you with?”

She seemed peeved with my presence. I was going to have to get on her good side fast. “Um, yes, actually…” Total brain freeze. I stalled for time, setting the newspaper back on the rack. She began to straighten it.

“Sorry,” I muttered. She ignored me. I tried to Zen out. Deep breathing. Unfreeze my brain. But now the girl was just ignoring me, so like some un-socialized primate, I stared at the back of her head.

“Look, I know I look like her, but I’m not Pauline Krystal,” she spat when she finally turned around.

“No, it’s not that…I saw the sign in your window. I’m looking for a job,” I managed to blurt out, terrified I’d fail to make meaningful contact.

The girl let out a snort and then a smile—kind of devious—the way Mr. Grady, my history teacher, used to do right before he gave us a pop quiz. “You want a job here? Why?”

“Well, I like books.” Wow, that sounded lame.

“Good answer.” She batted the sarcasm in my direction with her too-long lashes.

“No, really, I do.” I was beginning to sound desperate. Who was I kidding? I was desperate.

“Yeah, that’s what they all say.”

“So, there’ve been a lot of applicants?”

“Uh…no.” Smirk. Squint. Bitch or cool, I couldn’t decide. “Here, fill this out.” She pulled out a clipboard with an application from behind the counter.

It looked just like the last three I’d filled out right before being told, “We’ll keep this on file in case anything opens up.” I was seriously beginning to develop a callus from all this unnecessary writing.

“You guys are actually hiring, aren’t you?” I asked. I wanted to be sure this time.

Sigh. Nod. “Yeah, we are.”

Made me wonder if they were replacing someone.

I borrowed a pen that was practically dead. I scribbled it back to life in the margins. I parked myself outside on a bench and began to fill in my life story:

Name:  Catherine (call me Cathy—let’s leave out the middle name) Banks. (Used to be Bankovsky, but it got shortened way back when on Ellis Island.)

Date of Birth:  Gemini. Old enough to have a job.

Address:  Upstate New York, but currently, somewhere off of Broad Street in Beach Point, Rhode Island.

Former Employer: None. (I’m 15!)

School/Degree:  Just finished the 9th grade.

Why would you like to work at Ocean View Books?  Mom and Dad told me to get a job this summer. Why they care what I do when they aren’t around, who knows. Oh, and the only other place I’ve spotted with a help wanted sign is a burger joint, and I’m a vegan (except for ice cream).

Favorite Author:  Well that’s easy—my aunt!

Availability:  Unfortunately, totally open.

I think you’re intelligent enough to figure out that isn’t what I really wrote, but you get the picture. All those impersonal blanks, and they were going to decide my fate for the summer. Seemed unfair. And then I thought of Pauline Krystal again, and I decided to cease and desist with the negativity. At least I could apply for a job, even if the rejection was starting to get to me.

When I’d dotted my last “i,” and crossed my last “t,” I handed the clipboard back to that girl, who stood with this condescending look frozen on her face—like she was the queen of books and I was just some peon who didn’t stand a chance in hell of getting hired.

“Hi, Catherine. I’m Lauren. Lauren Spade.” She extended her hand and…was that a smile I detected?

“You can call me Cathy.”

She gave me a once over before slipping into the back room, leaving me by my lonesome to check out the store. There wasn’t much to check out. It looked like a bookstore. Rows of books, displays in front, the notorious magazine and newspaper rack off to the side. It had this nautical color scheme going—blue and white with a splash of pale yellow. Exactly what you’d expect from a beachside bookstore. The place was small, not like those mammoth chains. Homey, clean, air-conditioned. If I had to work, I figured this place wasn’t the worst place in the world to slave away.

Lauren returned empty-handed. “Mr. Hopper will be right out.” At this point, she had turned on her customer service personality, which I chalked up to the impending appearance of her boss.

We stood there for a moment, waiting. I wondered if I should say something, and what I should do with my hands.

Lauren broke the awkward silence. “My birthday is in May, too.”

My first thought: she’s psychic. She was infiltrating my mind using the top-secret knowledge she’d acquired as a sleeper cell agent for some international terrorist organization. Either that or she wasn’t entirely human and possessed all sorts of powers I would never fully comprehend. She was actually waiting for me to read her mind but realized I was just another pathetic human—OK, I’ll admit it now. I have a slightly overactive imagination at times. It usually helps make life a little more interesting—but then I figured out the mundane reality, which, to anyone but me, would probably have been pretty obvious:  She’d read my job application.

“And I noticed Roberta McCabe is your favorite author.”

“Actually, she’s my aunt.”

“No way! I loved The Private Lives of Serial Killers.”

“You read it?” The true extent of my aunt’s fame never ceased to amaze me.

“Yeah. I mean, there’s something about serial killers—crime in general. You wonder why people do it, what motivates them to kill.” Her eyes blazed, like someone had lit a match inside them.

“I know what you mean.” The truth of the matter is, murder is one of the few things that keeps my attention these days. I’ve read every FBI profiler book out there—and of course, all of my aunt’s mayhem-inspired fiction. But Lauren actually seemed more into it than me, if that was possible, which was either cool or freaky. I couldn’t decide.

“Your aunt—is she working on a new book?”

“She always is.”

“What about?”

That, I didn’t know. I never knew. Aunt Bobbie never divulged the details of her handiwork until she’d printed out the last page, so to speak. “Couldn’t tell ya,” I said to Lauren, then added, “She keeps it secret,” so she wouldn’t think I was being a bitch. “I’m staying with her this summer, and I honestly haven’t the foggiest idea what she’s writing about. She thinks it’s bad luck to reveal even the tiniest detail, like it will spin her into serious writer’s block.”

“No way! Roberta McCabe is in Beach Point this summer?” For a second, I thought Lauren was going to hyperventilate. I imagined a brief, yet disturbing, vision of her face turning blue. But she contained herself and continued. “Well, she’s come to the right place if she’s writing about another serial killer.”

Before I had the chance to respond, Arnie Hopper slithered onto the scene.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

 Tammy Marie RoseNina Mansfield is a Connecticut based writer. Swimming Alone is her first young adult novel. Nina began her writing career as a playwright; she has written numerous plays, which have been produced throughout United States and in Canada, Australia, England and Ireland. Her short plays have been anthologized in Smith & Kraus’s The Best Ten-Minute Plays (of 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014) and YouthPlays’ Middle Schoolin’ It.  Her one-act play Clean is published by Original Works Publishing.  A collection of her plays entitled Three More Marriage Plays, along with her plays No Epilogue, Crash Bound, Text Misdirected and Missed Exit are available from One Act Play Depot. Her short mystery fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Mysterical-E. In addition to writing, Nina enjoys reading, seeing theater, practicing yoga, traveling and spending time with her husband and daughter.  Nina is a member of the Dramatists Guild, Mystery Writers of America, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and Sisters in Crime.

Connect with Nina Online:

 

REVIEW: You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day

In case you missed it, JUNE IS HERE!

School is winding down for the kids, and I’m neck deep in JuNoWriMo (it’s like NaNoWriMo, but in June – the goal being to write 50K in just 30 days.) I’m making progress on the sequel to my labor of love, Blood & Magic, as well as starting a brand new novel.

On top of all that, I also started a new part time job.

So basically, I’m all over the place here!

It’ll probably be a while before I post a new review. Right now I’m making my way through A Clash of Kings, the second book in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. (Better known as Game of Thrones.)

I do have an idea I’m toying with for the blog, which I may implement soon enough. You’ll have to wait and see. 😉

Annnndddd……. I’ve been meaning to share since FOREVER! I finally uploaded to YouTube the video I took of my favorite redhead Richelle Mead at the Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul, MN last month. (Yay!) And, after the video, scroll down to read my review of You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by my other favorite redhead, Felicia Day.

 


 

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day

Read: May 26 – 29, 2016

Format: Hardcover

My Book Rating: 4 Stars

Genre: Memoir
It’s no secret that I’m a huge Felicia Day fan. She’s my girl crush. She’s my patronus. She’s me, but way cooler. In like, a super geeky way, or whatever.

Here are some similarities between myself and Felicia Day: We both enjoy the smell of gasoline, we’re both recovering WoW addicts, we’re both a little socially awkward but feel at home on the Internet, and we both want to please the people around us.

Okay, so if you have no clue who Felicia Day is, I’ll clue you in. She’s the writer/creator/star of ‘The Guild’ web series, founder of ‘Geek & Sundry’, starred alongside Nathan Fillion and Neil Patrick Harris in Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, and oh yeah, she also played a recurring character named Charlie on a little show you may know, Supernatural?

So yeah, Felicia Day is all around amazing. And this book gives the reader a glimpse into how she got there. Fun fact: Felicia was homeschooled (but not for religious reasons). She was raised very liberal in the deep south. Her mom had great intentions for homeschooling, but that sort of went out the window and Felicia and her brother were basically allowed to do whatever they want. And you know what? Even with that incredibly casual learning environment, girl went on to college (without even having her GED mind you!) and earned TWO degrees – in violin and mathematics, all on a violin scholarship.

I loved that this book gave a little glimpse into what it’s like to be an aspiring actor in Hollywood. And, how to make a TV pilot with a teeny-tiny budget.

What I loved the most, however, was seeing more of who Felicia is as a person. Her addiction story is crazy similar to mine. She got started with an old PC game called Ultima. My first gaming addiction was World of Warcraft (aka WoW), which was also the big one that nearly destroyed her life. WoW was also my last gaming addiction, because I just don’t allow myself the chance to get sucked in any more, because chances are I will be. She talks about how depression affected her and her relationships. She got deep at times. And it was awesome.

I wish this book was longer though. I want to know more. I loved the little stories, but I didn’t feel like we were getting a complete and clear picture. She jumped around to different points in her life, which is all good and well, but at times she wasn’t clear on what timeframe it took place in. Was she 7 or 17 when that happened, I just don’t know!

So, what I need from you Felicia, is a sequel – You’re Still Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) perhaps? I’d also like to read some fiction because you have a wonderful, quirky author voice.

End thoughts: If you’re a fan of Felicia Day, read this book. If you’ve never heard of her, but you’re curious to read about a funny woman and her unusual upbringing and her rise to (situational) fame via the Internet, read this book.


QUOTES

 

On Childhood:

Ballet, tap, jazz dance, youth orchestra, martial arts, watercolor at the local community college (me and a bunch of eighty-year-old rocking’ the stand of maple trees!), cross-stitch, poise class (held in the back of a department store, for REAL!), my mom basically trained me to become a geisha.


(From young Felicia’s diary)

“Do you know what I would like more than anything (except environmental and biological stability forever) in the world? I would like to travel in time like in Quantum Leap. It would be so wonderful.”

 

The only kid, in real proximity to me was Erin, a thirteen-year-old who lived next door. She taught me that owning a trampoline was the most glamours thing a girl could have, and that jelly shoes were haute couture. I learned all this through spying on her through my bedroom window, because she didn’t like me and wouldn’t spend any time with me, physically.

 

My weirdness turned into my greatest strength in life. It’s why I’m who I am today and have the career I have. It’s why I’m able to con someone into allowing me to write this book. (Hi, Mr. Simon and Mr. Schuster!)

 

On Addiction:

(If I did drugs, I would totally be a sniffer. Gasoline and Magic Markers, I gotta fight against getting my nose all up in there.)

 

I tend to obsess over things easily. Like eating oatmeal every morning for a year, wearing a pair of sneakers over and over again until my big toe pokes out, and having an unhealthy fixation on the martial arts personality Jean-Claude Van Damme.

 

On Her Career:

 With zero dollars and incredibly high standards, I had to look in creative places for set decorations.

Thus began my obsession with trash.

 

And that’s how we made four more seasons (of The Guild) with Xbox. Because I dug my heels in and was unreasonable, and got rewarded for it.

 

I love it when people tell me I’m doing the wrong thing, or that something isn’t possible, or just straight dismiss me. That lights my fire in a perverse way, like a two-year-old who deliberately touches a hot stove after you tell them not to. But compliment me or expect something big? That’s the perfect way to destroy my confidence.


 

BUY THE BOOK

Kindle | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads Shelf ~

 

Deja Revu – June 5, 2016

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