❤Book Tour❤ Torn Away – Vincent Morrone @Vince524

Suspense/Romance
Date Published: 11-01-17
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
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Drew Duncan swore he’d never go back to Ember Falls again. After he was wrongfully charged with his high school girlfriend’s murder, he waited for a trial that never came. When he was released from jail a year later, he left everything behind. But when his sister is murdered, Drew is forced to return to the hometown where he and his sisters were brutalized by their alcoholic father.
Once back, not even his training as a Marine and point man for McAlister Security prepares Drew for what he must face–a surviving sister who refuses to forgive him for abandoning her, a nephew who trembles when he enters the room, and an entire town that thinks he got away with murder. To protect his nephew, Drew will face his most terrifying fear. Going home.

My Review:

Drew Duncan and his two sisters did not have a happy home life. Their mother was long gone and their father was nothing more than an abusive alcoholic. When their father was in a rage, Drew did everything in his power to protect his sisters and took the brunt of their fathers abuse while his sisters stayed hidden. Things never seemed to improve for the siblings either. Instead, they took a turn for the worst when Drew was accused of murdering his high school girlfriend. Jailed for a year, then finally released due to lack of evidence, Drew high tailed it out of dodge leaving his two sisters behind. Drew made a new life for himself as a marine and was currently working for Paul McAlister at McAlister Security. Paul McAlister, also known as, The General was more like a father to him and the only real fatherly figure he ever truly had.

Drew’s sisters did not fair well after he left. Ashley did not trust men easily and Kelli bounced from abusive boyfriend to abusive boyfriend. Running from her last boyfriend with her son Cole, she finally reaches out to Drew hinting that he should come home, but it was a little too late as soon after Kelli is found murdered. Once Drew finds out, he does the one thing he thought he would never do again. He returns home to Ember Falls to a sister that wants no part of him and to a nephew he doesn’t even know.

I have to say that when I finally settled in to read TORN AWAY, I never expected such an emotionally heartbreaking and at times dark story. Drew and his sisters, Ashley and Kelli, did not have an easy life and in a way their childhood shaped their future and not always for the better. They each have scars, maybe not physical, but definitely mental. Not only was Drew hiding scars, but he was also hiding secrets too. Secrets that had him running from his sisters whom he always vowed to protect. Drew isn’t the only one with secrets though. Someone else has been hiding a secret for a very long time and it has to do with the murder Drew was charged with so long ago.

This story grabbed my attention from the very first page and never let go. TORN AWAY is cleverly written and I devoured it in a matter of hours. I was hooked from the first page all the way to the last. Drew was a stand out character for me and so three dimensional. You can’t help but feel sorry for what he has gone through, but yet on the other hand be proud for what he has accomplished and the man he has become. The mystery surrounding the deaths of Drew’s high school girlfriend as well as his sister is interweaved through out the story and really has you guessing up until the end and sets the stage for the next book in the series. I just can’t wait to get my hands on part two of the Torn saga. I need to find out what happens! I am hooked!

 

About the Author



Born and raised in Brooklyn NY, Vincent Morrone now resides in Upstate NY with his wife. (Although he can still speak fluent Brooklynese.) His twin daughters remain not only his biggest fans, but usually are the first to read all of his work. Their home is run and operated for the comfort and convenience of their dogs. Vincent has been writing fiction, poetry and song lyrics for as long as he can remember, most of which involve magical misfits, paranormal prodigies and even on occasion superheroes and their sidekicks.
As they say in Brooklyn: Yo, you got something to say? Vincent would love to hear from you at Vincent@vincentmorrone.com
 
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❤Blog Blitz❤ Keep Her Safe – Richard Parker @Bookwalter @BOOKOUTURE

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Keep Her Safe - Blog Tour

Title: Keep Her Safe

Author: Richard Parker

Amazon Links:

🇬🇧 UK http://amzn.to/2hY0xBv

🇺🇸 US http://amzn.to/2yHEXJo

Description:

How far would you go to protect your child?

Maggie’s daughter Penny is her whole world… and she’d do anything to protect her. So when Maggie wakes one night to find a strange woman in her home, she runs to lock herself in her bedroom with her child. But Maggie knows why she’s come…

Someone has been targeting mothers and offering them a choice: do as he says or their child disappears. This stranger in her home has until dawn to follow his orders… but Maggie too has the ‘choice’ to make. Can she put the pieces together to stop the cycle before her time is up?

An edge-of-your-seat thriller that will keep you guessing until the last page. Perfect for fans of Adam Croft and Tess Gerritsen.

My Review:

What would you do if your child’s life was in danger? Would you kill another human being to keep your child safe from harm? How far would a mother go to protect her child?

Maggie knew all to well the answers to these questions as she was faced with them once before. So when she hears a noise late in the evening, she knows why the intruder is breaking into her home. Maggie grabs her daughter and locks herself in her bedroom. The intruder, Holly, is a mother just like herself and someone is pulling her strings forcing her to do things in order to get her baby back. Maggie knows she is running out of time, but what would it take to convince Holly that there might be another way to put an end to the horror they both face.

I really enjoyed the intensity at the beginning of the story. Someone breaking into your home while you are alone with your child would surely scare the life out of me. I am not a mother, so I can only imagine the heart pounding fear one would feel if placed in a situation like this. Maggie was fierce while protecting her child and herself at all cost. It almost made you feel sorry for Holly and the situation she was in. While Maggie did have empathy for Holly, she sure was not going to go down without a fight. I felt that Maggie was definitely the mentally stronger character between the two, but on the other hand Holly seemed to have more of a heart as she questioned if she could really go through with the task at hand in order to save her child.

While the first part of KEEP HER SAFE felt like more of a psychological thriller to me, the second half felt like more of a mystery and definitely gave off a completely different vibe. At this point though, I was really emotionally invested in both Maggie and Holly’s story and really needed to see it through to the end. While I liked the second half of the book it was definitely different than the first half. It was still really good, but it didn’t hold the same “keep you on the edge of your seat heart stopping action” as the beginning of the story until it reached closer to the end and then the action was back in full force. Although the shift felt quite different they both worked really well together as a whole and I was far from disappointed at the turn of events.

I needed to know who the bad guy was and what turned him into such a sinister manipulator. One thing I would have really enjoyed was getting inside the head of the bad guy and reading his POV inter-weaved through the story. What can I say, I am a sucker for evil characters and love reading their thoughts.

I would highly recommend picking up a copy of KEEP HER SAFE, the action was intense and really had me thinking what I would do if faced with same situation. The author, Richard Jay Parker, really knows how to grab your attention and his writing is top of the line. He grabs your attention right from the beginning and doesn’t let go until you are on the very last page. I will be searching out his other books and adding them to my TBR.

Author Bio:

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Richard Parker was formerly a TV script writer, script editor and producer before turning his hand to penning twisted standalone thrillers.

KEEP HER SAFE is the latest book to be published by Bookouture on January 11th 2018.

HIDE AND SEEK was his fifth book published in August 2017.

FOLLOW YOU was his fourth psychological thriller. Reviewers are saying it’s Bookouture’s darkest crime novel to date.

STALK ME was his third and rode high in the UK and US charts.

SCARE ME was his second. Hollywood movie rights have been acquired by major US studio, Relativity Media. Star of PRISON BREAK and screenwriter of dark horror thriller STOKER, Wentworth Miller, has written the big screen adaptation.

STOP ME, Richard’s darkly fiendish debut, was shortlisted for the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award.

Author Social Media Links:

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/richard.jayparker.9

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/Bookwalter

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/bemykiller/?hl=en

WEBSITE: http://www.richardjayparker.com/

❤Blog Tour❤ The Stone Arch Secret – K.D. Dowdall @shanannigans81

The Stone Arch Secret by K.D. Dowdall (Blog Tour)

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Genre: Mystery/ Thriller/ Romance
Publication Date: January 2018
Blurb:
Twenty-eight-year-old cultural anthropologist, Lilly Allaire, receives a phone call telling her that Dax is dead. The cause of death is unknown.
At the age of fourteen, best friends, Lilly and Dax, experience a traumatic incident. After the incident, Dax is institutionalized in a psychiatric hospital with total memory loss. For Dax, his memory loss is an act of self-preservation. Lilly still suffers a blocked memory of that day and has frequent nightmares.
Lilly decides to go back to Salmon Brook, her hometown, to find out the truth about the mysterious incident that left Dax in a catatonic state. Lilly has a chance meeting with a former high school classmate, Noah Hawthorne.
Noah remembers Lilly as his high school secret crush and offers to help her. Together, they try to unravel the mysterious incident that plagues Lilly’s dreams and turns them into nightmares.
However, Noah has a secret of his own, a dangerous secret, that will put Lilly in harm’s way.

My Review:

Long ago, when just teenagers, Lilly Allaire and her best friend Dax came upon a stone enclosure and inside that enclosure was a single gravestone and an alter. Lilly and Dax were big dreamers, often making up tales in the forest where they both liked to go. Curiosity was almost like second nature to Lilly and she practically dragged Dax back out to the enclosure a few days later after they found it. Lilly was fascinated and wanted to learn more about the gravestone in the enclosure. Her curiosity led her and Dax straight into a path of no return. Years later, Lilly still has nightmares about that night. She doesn’t remember what happened and Dax was found unable to speak and in an altered state. One which he never recovers from.

Now that Dax is dead, Lilly finally goes back to her hometown of Salmon Brook to confront her past and to try to fit the missing pieces of the puzzle together. She needs to make sense of what happened that night. She already blames herself for what happened to Dax and now it is finally time to unravel the mystery that has haunted her for so many years. Along with Noah Hawthorne, a boy that was once in her high school class and is also hiding secrets of his own, Lilly tries to unravel the the past, but sometimes the past was meant to stay buried.

I really enjoyed the vibe of THE STONE ARCH SECRET. It felt really eerie and had a ghost story type of setting which I actually loved and it really kept me engaged with the story. The mystery aspect really keeps you guessing and there are a few curve balls thrown your way that left me speechless. There is a romance story-line, but it never takes center stage above the mystery. I often times find that when there is a romance in a mystery story, the mystery aspect takes a backseat, but this was not the case here. All in all, I think this is a story that should not be missed.

Available on Amazon
About the Author
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D. Dowdall, PhD, MSN, RN was born in New England and spent her elementary-grade school years in Granby, Connecticut. She graduated from FAU with a master’s degree in Clinical Research Nursing and has a PhD in clinical nutrition. K. D. is also a lover of ballet, jazz, ballroom dance, contemporary dance, and has had her own dance studio. She has written songs, poetry, short stories, and now several fiction novels; a children’s fantasy adventure story, a historical mystery/murder with a dash romance and a third fiction novel almost complete; a mystery thriller with romance. All are standalone novels. Her next book is a series.
Along the way, it was her good fortune to live in the Republic of China, Saudi Arabia, and England. Each culture she experienced reinforced her belief that all cultures are rich in storytelling to explain their human hopes, dreams, struggles, and life experiences, often in magical fantasy presentations. K. D. still dances, loves swimming, scuba diving, and theatre.
Karen Dowdall
Giveaway: 2 Print Copies of The Stone Arch Secret
Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0e7c6a8f25/?
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❤Review Blitz❤ Awaken Me – Alex Grayson @AlexGrayson10

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The darkness of grief has consumed him. Can he trust anyone to help him heal?
Awaken Me, book four in The Jaded Series by Alex Grayson, is now #FREE in KindleUnlimited!!!

Go get your copies now:
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BLURB:

The highly anticipated conclusion of The Jaded Series, featuring the beloved Nick and the relentless Chris. Be prepared to experience an emotional roller-coaster of a life time!

What do you do when you lose the single most important thing in your life? You grieve. You sink so deep in a hole, you can no longer see the top. All you see is dark. Your life becomes dull and dreary. You withdraw from your friends, lash out at the ones you’re closest to, and become so absorbed in your pain, you feel the only way out is to end it permanently. Your heart no longer pumps properly and you can never get enough air in your lungs. You drink, you neglect your health, and you rent dirty hotel rooms with the sole purpose of ending your pain in them. Guilt eats at you for not being at the one place you were needed the most. And you become angry because you were left behind.

Or at least, that’s what I did. Until she came along…

Chris, the bane of my existence. She’s always there in the background, watching me, trying to ‘be there’ for me. But I don’t want her help. I don’t need her to butt in where she’s not wanted. I just want to be left alone in my dark world. But she’s not giving up, even when I’m a bastard to her. Every time I turn around, there she is. And what’s worse, she’s starting to make me want things. Things I never thought I could have again. She’s making me forget the pain and bringing color back into my life with her fiery red hair, bright green eyes, and the silly faces she makes at herself in the mirror. But what happens if I let her in? Could I be brave enough to open myself up, knowing the possibility of having it snatched away again. Once I know the feeling of touching Chris, of having her heart and soul blend with mine, I would never survive losing that.

Can I take the chance of her being my savior, even knowing that she could also be the one that could push me other the edge of self-destruction?

Awaken Me can be read as a stand alone, but it is HIGHLY recommended to read at least the first in the series, Shatter Me. Through Shatter Me, you will understand the emotional ties between Nick and Chris and why Nick is the way he is. Without reading Shatter Me, Nick’s behavior may seem too harsh for some readers. This is not a light read. Deals with mental abuse through extreme grief. Intended for readers 18+.

My Review:

Alex Grayson has left me in a complete and utter mess with my emotions. Never has a book affected me this much. It felt as if my heart was broken in a million pieces and I didn’t know how all the pieces were going to be put back together again. The gut wrenching sadness and despair in this story completely wrecked me. Imagine losing the love of your life, the one you were always meant to be with. How do you find it within yourself to go on or to move on? It was just heartbreaking to see the turmoil. What makes life worth living when you lose the one you have loved with your whole heart and soul? Can you ever truly live and love again?

Nick is completely gutted and in such a dark place and sinking even deeper as time goes on that it seems impossible to find a light at the end of the tunnel. He has let the darkness take him over for such a long time and he is sinking further and further down a path of no return. There is hope though, a light at the end of the tunnel. The light to his darkness is Chris, a fiery redhead with enough compassion, love, and determination to pull Nick out of the hole he has crawled into. If only he will let her get close enough. He tries to fight it, to push her away and as much as he hates it, Nick just can’t seem to get Chris out of his mind. For the first time in a very long time he finally feels something even though he tries to stomp it down, refusing to admit that maybe she is what he needs to live again.

I have been a big fan of the romance genre for a very long time (over 20 years). I can probably count a handful of times when a book has made such a huge impact on me and has really played with my emotions. This is one of those times. Lately, I found myself in a rut with my reading, especially in the romance genre, to the point where I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to pick up another romance book any time in the near future. I completely lost it and ugly cried pretty much through the entire story. I am ashamed to admit it, but I did. Alex Grayson has broken that dry spell and has renewed my love of romance once again. AWAKEN ME is truly a masterpiece in the genre and should not be missed. I already know that this story is going to be one of my top 10 books of the year. AWAKEN ME is going right where it belongs – on my keeper shelf.

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About Alex

Alex Grayson is the bestselling author of heart pounding, emotionally gripping contemporary romance including The Jaded Series, The Consumed Series, and two standalone novels. Her passion for books was reignited by a gift from her sister-in-law intended to distract Alex and help her pass the time while her husband was away for work. After spending several years as a devoted reader and blogger, Alex decided to write and independently publish her first novel in 2014 (an endeavor that took a little longer than expected). The rest, as they say, is history.

Originally a southern girl, Alex now lives in Ohio with her husband, two children, two cats and dog. She loves the color blue, homemade lasagna, casually browsing real estate, and interacting with her readers. Visit her website, www.alexgraysonbooks.com, or find her on social media!

Find Alex Online!
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2h412hf
BookBub: http://bit.ly/2upSbrK
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Website: http://www.alexgraysonbooks.com

❤Blog Tour❤ The Spring Girls – Anna Todd @jennw23

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The Spring Girls by Anna Todd
A coming of age, new adult romance.
Release Date: January 2nd, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance

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Four sisters desperately seeking the blueprints to life—the modern-day retelling of Louise May Alcott’s Little Women like only Anna Todd (After, Imagines) could do.

The Spring Girls—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy—are a force of nature on the New Orleans military base where they live. As different as they are, with their father on tour in Iraq and their mother hiding something, their fears are very much the same. Struggling to build lives they can be proud of and that will lift them out of their humble station in life, one year will determine all that their futures can become.

The oldest, Meg, will be an officer’s wife and enter military society like so many of the women she admires. If her passion—and her reputation—don’t derail her.

Beth, the workhorse of the family, is afraid to leave the house, is afraid she’ll never figure out who she really is.

Jo just wants out. Wishing she could skip to graduation, she dreams of a life in New York City and a career in journalism where she can impact the world. Nothing can stop her—not even love.

And Amy, the youngest, is watching all her sisters, learning from how they handle themselves. For better or worse.

With plenty of sass, romance, and drama, The Spring Girls revisits Louisa May Alcott’s classic Little Women, and brings its themes of love, war, class, adolescence, and family into the language of the twenty-first century.

Blog Tour (1)

Excerpt:

Meet the Springs

Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,”

Jo declared from her spot on the rug.

She sat at the feet of her oldest sister, Meg. Jo’s long brown

hair was unruly, as it always was. She was my strong girl. She

was the only one of my girls who didn’t hog the bathroom. Her

delicate fingers, the black polish on their nails chipped, picked

at the frayed edges of the Afghan rug under her folded legs.

The hand-woven black-and-red textile had once been bright and

beautiful, and I remembered when my husband had sent it to

our house back in Texas from his former post in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

In my head, Denise’s scratchy voice reminds me to use

proper military lingo: my husband’s FOB in Kandahar. The biggest

forward operating base in Afghanistan, she would also necessarily

add. Denise was always on my case. Come to think of

it, she even had comments about the rug when I got it. She said

he could have sent it to the base and paid no fee.

None of that mattered to my girls. From the moment it arrived,

they loved that rug as much as I did. When I ripped open

the package from their dad, who had been living across the

world for the past eight months, the girls—particularly Jo—

were excited to own such a beautiful, culture-filled treasure

from the other side of the world. Meg loved that we now had

a lavish handcrafted object in our simple home. She was my

most materialistic daughter, but I always knew that if I tried

to teach her right, she would use her love of shiny things to do

something magical and worthwhile with her life. Amy was too

young to really care about the rug, and of course Beth knew

it was coming because her daddy knew that she was the only

Spring Girl who could be trusted to keep the secret. Plus, on

a more practical level, since Beth was basically homeschooled,

Frank knew she could watch out for it. Later, he explained to

me that he wanted to mail the package straight home so that

we could be treated with the rug as a surprise on our doorstep,

rather than as a pickup chore on the base. I’m not sure if I told

Denise that she would understand.

Of late, our beautiful rug wasn’t as beautiful anymore.

Dirty shoes and heavy bodies had worn it down, and the colors

blended into a mud brown that I tried my best to clean, but the

color just wouldn’t come back.

We loved it not one bit less.

TSG-AN2

Read Today!
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2no4u8H
iBooks: https://goo.gl/nBaxhA
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Add to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2jtd8xo

My Review:

Every little girl knows the story of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I read it when I was a girl as did many of my friends. It is one of the classics and the story is well loved by many young girls and even adults. When I first heard that Little Women was going to be modernized, I was a little skeptical at first. I was afraid that the sisters we all grew up to love were not going to get the justice they so rightly deserved in a modern retelling. I could not have been more wrong. SPRING GIRLS by Anna Todd is simply amazing.

Anna Todd takes one of our most beloved stories and turns it into a charming modern day version of four sisters we have all come to love. While, the heart of the story is still the same, there are some differences from the original version. The characterization of the sisters takes on a modern day feel with issues that young girls coming of age go through today. This is the one part of the story that I really loved and really what made this book stand out for me. Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy are renamed the Spring Girls and they go through what almost every military family goes through when a parent is overseas fighting in a war. Not only do they worry about their father overseas, they also worry about how their lives are going to turn out. They each have goals , ambitions, and fears about their future. Their story is just so easy to relate to today and I think most young girls will be able to sympathize with each of the characters as the story progresses.

All in all, I think that Anna Todd really captured the essence of the story and really did it justice with her modern day spin on such a classic story. I would suggest while reading THE SPRING GIRLS to go in with an open mind like I did. Anna Todd’s writing style is flawless and she will quickly draw you in to the lives of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy and make you fall in love with them all over again.

Meet Anna Todd:

Anna Todd is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of the After series. Hailed by Cosmopolitan as “the biggest literary phenomenon of her generation,” Anna began her literary career on the social storytelling platform Wattpad. Serialized on Wattpad in 2013, After has over 1.5 billion reads on the site. The print edition, published in 2014 by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, has over 15 million copies in circulation, has been published in over 30 languages and is a #1 bestseller in Italy, Germany, France and Spain.

A native of Ohio, Anna was a voracious reader all her life, citing Pride & Prejudice, Wuthering Heights and Fifty Shades of Grey as some of her favorites. In 2012, after discovering the world of fanfiction for fandoms like Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, The Mortal Instruments, Anna began writing as a way of continuing the stories she so loved from fanfiction community.

Connect with Anna:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorannatodd/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/imaginator1dx
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/imaginator1d/
Stay up to date with Anna by signing up for her newsletter here: https://goo.gl/KbGJ7F
http://www.annatodd.com

❤Blog Tour❤ The Magpie – Oliver Rock #TheMagpieTour

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★✯ Blog Tour ✯★

The Magpie by Oliver Rock

Hosted by @Quill & Ink PR

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One body per month. Stripped of all its possessions. Zero clues…

Detective Van Loo, one of Amsterdam’s best, is racing against time to track down and capture a serial killer creating unrest in Amsterdam leaving a trail of bodies. Nine bodies and counting – all men, stripped of all their possessions with no clear pattern or commonalities among them. The killer, nicknamed The Magpie, a confident, ruthless and sadistic psychopath is always a step ahead of the authorities. The pile of bodies left behind by the Magpie leaves everyone gasping for clues to connect all the bizarre murders devoid of any real pattern or connection.

Who is the Magpie? What connection do all the victims have? Will the Magpie ever be caught?

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EXCERPT/SNEAK PEAK, CHAP 1

September 25
7:15 a.m.
It was a typical September morning in Amsterdam as the first light broke through a blanket of dull grey sky. The onslaught of heavy rain pelted down on the old cobbled stones of the ‘nine streets’ in the center
of town, washing away old cigarette butts and fast food wrappers that were scattered on the narrow roads, remnants of last night’s festivities. A lone cyclist zigzagged between the litter on Wolvenstraat, almost driving into the five lost English guys who were huddled together in the middle of the street – drunk, disorientated, and white-faced. The cyclist, a young Dutch student, was heading home from a night at her boyfriends’ and was in a rush to get back and change for Sunday field hockey. She rang the bell on her bike but to no avail, as the hungover English guys were too busy arguing amongst themselves about the way back to their hotel, and clearly, they had no clue.
You knew they were English as they all dressed the same – shirts or polo shirts hanging outside their perfectly ironed jeans, tattoos, short cropped hair, loud, and annoyingly drunk. The cyclist swerved around them and rang her bell again. Making sure that she was a good ten meters past them, she shouted out, “eikels”, as she sped off down the street. The stag party was oblivious to her frustration as they had other pressing issues on their mind – a warm hotel room. Now, they were lost in this maze of narrow
crossroads that split the four main canals in the heart of Amsterdam and were getting wetter and colder by the second.
The ringing of the cyclist’s bell and the raised voices woke Roos up. She had had a terrible night’s sleep.
First, the heavy rain hitting the window ledge and beating down on the skylight above her bedroom had woken her at two in the morning. Then, there was the pigeon on her windowsill that was trying to shelter itself from the downpour and didn’t stop cooing. Now, at 7:15 a.m., there were the cyclist and the muffled drunks shouting outside.
Lying in bed, she brushed her dark brown hair off her face and lifted her head up so that she could look at the digital clock that sat on the small bedside table. She checked the time and reached across to turn off the alarm. It was set to go off at eight but there was no way that she was going to fall back to sleep now. Roos was still tired but she had too much going on in her head.
Her hair fell perfectly into an immaculate bob cut, thanks to her monthly visit to the hairdresser, on the Spui. This was the sole treat she gave herself other than her weekly manicure, which she really still couldn’t justify as a nurse in her third year out of training college. Even without a good night’s sleep, Roos still looked pretty, with fresh pale skin, no blemishes, wrinkles or spots. At twenty-five, she took care of her features, using both day and night creams, facial scrubs, and numerous glosses. If only she
could lose the last annoying three and a half kilos, she would be very happy. Working long shifts as a nurse, she only had time to exercise a couple of times during the week and on weekends, so she relied on cycling to and from the hospital to burn the extra calories. The extra weight on her thighs and waist
troubled her and was at the top of her list of issues to deal with.
Roos looked around the room as she lay in bed. It was a small cozy bedroom with clean white walls, recently painted by her younger brother, who had been trying to earn a few extra euros during his school break. The walls were quite bare, apart from the giant-sized poster of a beautiful lonely lady, looking out of a house as if waiting for somebody. Roos often felt like this woman.
Light began to creep in through the gap between the blinds and the skylight. Soon, the bedroom would be lit by the natural rays from the sun and Jade would wake up as well.
At the end of the bed was a large dark brown chest of drawers. It dated back to pre-First World War. It had been well-cared for over the years and this hadn’t changed since it had been passed down to Roos from her parents. When her brother had painted the bedroom, she had given him clear instructions on how to varnish the chest of drawers without damaging the old oak wood, ensuring that it didn’t lose any of its character. It was no surprise as Roos was a bit of a control freak and over the top about cleaning.
The chest was passed on from her father and grandfather. She liked to think of this beautiful piece of Dutch furniture as her third favorite belonging in the apartment.
On top of the chest sat her second favorite possession – the silver picture frame. The frame had been a gift for her twenty-first birthday from her parents, Bram and Theresa Van Vels. They lived in Amstelveen in the same middle-class house where Roos had grown up. Originally christened RoosMarijn, which she hated, her parents were the only ones who still called her by her full name.
The frame was A4 in size and was immaculately polished especially over the silver crest. There was no smudging on the glass or marks on the blue velvet on the back. In fact, it looked nicer now than when it was first removed from its wrapping several years ago. The picture frame was positioned on top, close to the edge of the chest, so that it received maximum light when Roos opened the window curtains in the
morning.
Next to the picture frame was a medium-sized but perfectly manicured white orchid. Placed in a small pot, the orchid had a clean stem and three white flowers. She looked after the orchid as if it were a
terminally ill patient at the hospital. She would wipe the leaves, stem, and petals every day with a wet
cotton ball. Roos would water the plant religiously and followed all the instructions about caring for orchids on the internet. This was actually her fourth orchid and despite the tender loving care she had given, she had lost the first three. Roos was determined to keep this one. Apart from these items, the bedroom was quite bare, which was Roos’ intention. As she lay there looking at the frame, she thought to herself that the only thing that had changed was the picture that sat inside
the frame. When she had opened the gift four years ago, there was a colorful picture of her brother and parents, dressed in their smartest outfits posing with extremely cheesy grins. The whole family wore glasses and Roos always felt good having made the decision to go to Belgium to have eye surgery. She always wanted to please her parents but there were some instances where she would stick her neck out
and go her own way. Having surgery so that she wouldn’t have to wear glasses or contact lenses everagain, was one of them.
Roos enjoyed nursing. Working long hours and helping sick people made her feel good. It had also pleased her parents, especially her father, a consultant and renowned heart surgeon at the Vu Hospital.
She couldn’t have handled the extra years of studying required to become a doctor, and in fact, she wasn’t that ambitious. Becoming a nurse was a satisfactory compromise and it made her father happy.
He also got to have coffee once a week with his daughter at the hospital when their shifts crossed and if Roos bothered to check the text messages that he would send. They would discuss work, her mother, her brother, and her father’s golf game but never anything too serious or personal, like relationships.Whenever relationships were discussed in the past it would always end in a heated argument with her
father raising his voice, her mother getting frustrated and crying, and Roos storming off in a mood. She had gotten so used to these conversations now that when she sensed the topic beginning to arise, she
would either sigh and walk off or make a fake smile and suggest that they change the subject. Roos had learnt to hold back her tears, even if it still made her upset inside. Her parents had also learnt not to
bring up the subject anymore, especially if they wanted to continue seeing their daughter. They had adored both her previous boyfriends: Thijl and Arthur. Both were nice, clean cut boys, and the same age as Roos. She had dated one when she was eighteen and the other when she was twenty. Thijl had become
a journalist and Arthur a teacher, and both had grown up to be great guys but neither was in contact with Roos anymore.
Roos slid out of bed sideways without lifting the duvet in the process. She was wearing a thin, almost transparent, white cotton nightie, through which you could see a tiny string. Her pale skin was smooth, her legs recently waxed and well-creamed, and her toe-nails were perfectly cut and beautifully painted.
As she crept towards the bathroom, she sidestepped on the floorboards that didn’t creak. She was desperate not to wake her flat-mates. As she slipped into the bathroom, she closed the door behind her without making a noise. Flicking on the light, Roos stared straight into the bathroom mirror, observing
her face for any blemishes. Her skin was perfect and her lips rounded and full, never requiring bright
lipstick, unless she wanted to draw attention to herself. She thought her lips were a big plus point and
perfect for being kissed.
Her eyebrows were well-shaped and didn’t need plucking this morning. Happy with her facial features,
Roos lifted her arms towards the ceiling and stretched and yawned silently at the same time. She checked her armpits that she had shaved last night and they were still looking clean. As Roos stretched, her nightie also moved higher, revealing the top part of her thighs which disappointed her greatly. The
cellulite was unsightly in her opinion. She would need to cycle harder to work and spend an additional ten minutes on the ‘step machine’ at the gym to try and deal with this. Roos sat down on the toilet to take a morning pee and looked at the small tattoo on the inside of her right wrist, Greek markings that
spelt out love. She smiled to herself thinking about her parents, who didn’t know that she had a tattoo, and how crazy they would be if they saw it. She liked being a bit rebellious.
Roos got up from the toilet, washed her hands, and took one last glance in the mirror before turning off the bathroom light and creeping back into the bedroom. Gently lifting the white cotton duvet and
quietly lying back on the mattress, she couldn’t help herself from rolling over to stare at her favorite possession that lay beside her in the bed. She stared across at this amazing slender body that lay intertwined in the duvet, noting the real contrast between the dark brown skin and the pure Egyptian white cotton sheets. Roos liked to think of Jade as a possession but actually she was an obsession.
Jade had everything that she didn’t. She was tall, very slim, with beautiful long legs, and a swan-like neck.
Her hair was long, thick, and fair in color, with sun-bleached streaks. Her skin was constantly tanned,
partly from her origins but also from the continuous long distance trips she took as a KLM air stewardess
to South America and the Caribbean. Roos always worried when she was away travelling for work, as she
feared that Jade would fall for someone at a party with the flight crew. Whilst she knew that Jade wasn’t
interested in men, she had the ability to attract anyone and would sleep with them just to play with their
mind. In fact, she had confessed to sleeping with a captain in the past that was arrogant and very sure of
himself. She wanted to teach him a lesson and after a drunken night of passionate sex, she spent the next
three months ignoring him, which brought him back down to earth.
Jade had, of course, experienced relationships in her twenty-seven years of life with both men and
women. At the age of eighteen, she came to realize that she preferred women more. She had had five
proper relationships with girls, Roos being the fifth. Jade never really showed much emotion except in
bed. It was frustrating for Roos as she didn’t feel close enough to her.
Before Jade, Roos had never been jealous but this had all changed as soon as they started dating. She
dreaded Jade going on these long-haul trips. She knew that most of the air hostesses were not gay.
However, there was a small group that was, and they were also pretty and quite forward. Jade was leaving
today for a five-day trip to Argentina. Roos wanted to wake her up, but at the same time, she was scared
that Jade would be annoyed if she was disturbed. They had had a big night yesterday and both would be
suffering from hangovers this morning, especially Jade, who had drunk far too many tequilas. A flirty
barman at the Escape Club had spent the evening chatting Jade up, and she had played along, receiving
complimentary shots in the process.
Everything about Jade was cool, thought Roos, even her name. Moving the long blonde locks away from
one side of her face, Roos could see her perfect cheekbone and pouting lips. Leaning across, she noticed
the smudging of ruby red lipstick on her pillow, mixed with fresh saliva. Even this looked sexy. As Jade
lay fast asleep on her side, Roos moved her hair behind her ear, so that it fell over her back. This revealed
the fine pencil thin Balinese writing that was tattooed at the top of Jade’s neck and continued for about
ten centimeters down her spine. She had got this tattoo done in Asia four years ago with her ex-girlfriend
Brie. Roos had told her that she hated the tattoo but really, she just hated Brie and saw this cool marking
as a memory of her ex. Roos quickly placed Jade’s hair back over her neck to cover up this annoying ink.
Jade was much more confident of herself than Roos and refused to wear anything in bed. While this
made her feel like a prude, Roos did like to feel her naked body next to hers when they slept.
Roos moved her right hand towards Jade’s as she wanted to look at their identical tattoos inked on the
insides of their wrists, together. This made Roos happy as she knew that they would always have this
attachment whatever happened between them in the future. Roos turned Jade’s hand over, and noticed
frustratingly, that the markings were hidden by the old brown leather wristband Jade wore. In contrast,
Roos had her tattoo very visible, purposely not wearing a watch or jewelry, unless she was seeing her
parents. .
While the girls made similar salaries, Jade had a more exotic, carefree job – meeting new people,
travelling all over the world, seeing more places, and partying in the sun. For the five days that Jade was
going to be away, Roos would be bored and needed to find things to do in her spare time. Apart from
working extra shifts at the hospital, she would add more gym classes and running to her schedule. She
didn’t enjoy the fitness training but it kept her mind off Jade and she needed to stay in shape.
Roos knew that she would get very jealous wondering what Jade would be doing and who would be
‘hitting on her’. The more she thought about it, the more it made her blood boil. This time, however, it
would be worse, as they had just had a heated argument the night before. Jade had got drunk and flirted
with not only the barman but also with a tall attractive barmaid. Roos had stayed late just to keep an eye
on her prized possession.
Roos kissed Jade’s neck but Jade didn’t show any sign of enjoying it. Her eyes remained closed and even
her body rolled a little further away as if to say ‘leave me alone’. Roos lay still for a few seconds
pondering over her next move. She decided that she didn’t want to wake Jade and was glad that she had
kissed her neck and smelt the faint fragrance of perfume, surviving odors from last night’s partying. The
soft oily skin against her lips and the familiar smell of the perfume turned Roos on. She got up once
again and tip-toed slowly back into the bathroom, shutting the door behind her and then stepped into
the shower.
Having dried herself off, Roos went to the top drawer of the old chest in the bedroom to pick some fresh
underwear for the day. She stopped for a second to stare at the black and white picture of Jade and Fleur
hugging each other in the silver picture frame. The picture was taken on a holiday in France last summer
and Roos absolutely adored it.
With the towel wrapped around her body, Roos walked out of the bedroom and down the winding
stairwell into the living room. She decided to get dressed there so that she would not disturb Jade.
Hanging over the kitchen doorway was a clean nurses’ outfit, ready to slip on. Normally, Roos would be
more discreet but she could see that Fleur wasn’t home yet. Her bedroom door was wide open. Roos
didn’t know if Fleur had been working last night or was out partying but it must have been a good night
either way, as it was now eight in the morning and there was still no sign of her.
Looking through the open doorway to Fleur’s bedroom, Roos began to shake her head in disbelief at
how messy her second flat-mate was. Scattered all over the floor and bed were stilettos, miniskirts, piles
of underwear, and glittering blouses. At least the mess didn’t spill out of her bedroom, thought Roos.
Fleur’s only excuse for being like this was that she was still a full-time student holding a part-time job.
Roos still had time for breakfast but she was so angry with herself for causing the argument last night
that she felt like she had to be punished. She decided to skip food and head straight to work. Roos had
too many emotions going through her head right now of anger, jealousy, and anticipation. At least her
work would take her mind off things for a while. What was Jade going to do when she was away? Maybe she would get involved in one of these KLM drunken orgies? Would she flirt with another barmaid again? Was she fed up with Roos’ jealous nature? Maybe, when Fleur got home later this morning, they will meet in the kitchen and Jade will tell her how jealous Roos has become. Maybe, Jade actually likes Fleur and will make a move on her. She felt dizzy and grimaced with all these silly scenarios racing through her mind. Fleur likes guys and in the six months that they had been living together, they had become good friends.

Fleur was far too sweet to do that to Roos.
Roos needed to get outside. She put on her shoes and raincoat and left through the front door picking her hospital ID pass and bike keys in one motion. The fresh air would clear her head pretty quickly, she hoped and the ride to work would act as a distraction. As the rain began to fall harder, she thought she was probably going to get very wet and be late for work. That was not a good mix coupled with a head filled with jealous thoughts.
* * *

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Oliver Rock is the author of The Magpie, a crime thriller about a serial killer in Amsterdam and the pursuit to find and capture the ruthless slayer. English born, Oliver lived and worked in London before moving to Amsterdam for ten years. Oliver is married with three children. He is a dedicated husband and father.

#TheMagpieTour #QuillInkPR

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2018 Reading Challenges

This year I am going to be taking part in a few reading challenges.  My reading goal is 200 books for the year.  I should easily be able to reach this goal between review books and my never ending TBR list. Seems like a lot of books, but I am up for the challenge!

Here is a list of all the challenges that I am taking part in:

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2018 Beat the Backlist challenge is being hosted by:  NovelKnight

I am aiming for 50 books for the year.

You can check out my list on Goodreads for this challenge here: BTB Challenge

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The 2018 New Release Challenge is being hosted by Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookreviews

I am aiming for:

Level 2:  31-60 books per year – New Release Pro

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The 2018 Netgalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge is being hosted by Bookish Things & More

I am aiming for:

Gold Level – 50 books

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Craving for Cozies 2018 is being hosted by Escape With Dollycas

I am aiming for level:

Pekish: 1-10 Cozy Mysteries

 

Let me know what your favorite challenges are this year!