The Hive Queen by Robin Kirk

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

Welcome, welcome to my TLC Book Tour review for the second book in The Bond Trilogy, The Hive Queen! Dystopian future meets fantasy in this futuristic look at a time when humans are engineered rather than made in…traditional ways. I’m talking Handmaids meet Avatars.

Of course if you’ve read here before you know I love dystopians but this was an extra interesting take. Following The Bond where Dinitra and 12 ultimately help Fir and his brothers escape a captivity where they only serve their mothers, this is Fir’s story. Headed toward The Master (leader of men) he must travel through The Hive Queen’s domain (leader of drafts) where she’s in interested in more than a friendship with Fir. But Fir has places to be – specifically those free of women as he has always been held captive due to being a man.

Wild battle scenes ensue with drafts (animal, human, plant concoctions) and men as Fir must continually rescue others from death. And in true dystopian style Robin Kirk has no problem killing characters off and some bloody gore. I don’t mean to say kill all the characters, but it definitely keeps you on your toes and adds an element of suspense.

If you like dystopians or SciFi or Fantasy then this is a series you’ll want to grab! It was a fun and very entertaining read in a completely new world – one where women rule (duh) and men are hunted due to their violence toward women and the planet. But as you continue you start to wonder, at what point is it justice and when does it cross the line back into violence for violence’s sake?

In the second book in the INDIE-award-winning Bond Trilogy, warrior Fir leads his brothers on a quest for salvation that will threaten everything he holds dear.

After the battle that toppled the Weave, warrior Fir leads his brothers east to escape servitude, or worse—death at the hands of rival warriors. They search for the fabled Master of Men who promises freedom for men in the Weave. But their quest leads them to a foe more dangerous than they could have imagined.

When the beautiful Hive Queen, Odide, bespells Fir, he’s compelled to betray his brothers—and risks dooming them all to an unspeakable fate. To survive, Fir must choose between his loyalty to his brothers, his allegiance to the Queen, and his love for Dinitra.

But salvation is not what it seems. When theworlds of the Hive and the Master collide, it triggers a devastating betrayal that leaves Fir with an impossible choice: can he sacrifice his brothers for the love he thought he could never have?

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Thanks again to TLC Book Tours and Robin Kirk for my copy to read and share!

Questions of Perspective by Daniel Maunz

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

My TLC Book Tour stop this time is for possibly one of the most intriguing books I’ve read – thanks to TLC and Daniel Maunz for my copy to read and share!

Dave Randall’s life changed forever on April 19, 2011. Of course, he didn’t know it at that time or he might have made some different choices. Instead, when Dave’s friend and coworker John goes missing, Dave throws himself into his boring life as an insurance attorney.

Just as Dave’s life is getting to a new normal- work hard, go home, play with Peaches (the cat he adopted when John disappeared), go back to work and do it again- Dave is shown a new understanding to what happened to John. This leads Dave to search and try to uncover what it really means to live. In this search, he also looks to find what out happened to John and how and why.

This was told in such a way that I was reading about non-serial killer attorneys and their day to day and enjoying it. I wasn’t reading a fast paced thriller and yet I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what happened and then toward the end it’s like the book leveled up and all of a sudden I was with Dave on his race against time.

To wrap up: wow. Very interesting read with some laughable moments, the coolest cat, and some interesting questions. I’m still wondering what I would do in these characters’ shoes which is always a sign to me that more people should read a book!

No one knew it at the time, but April 19, 2011, was the most important day in the history of the world.

After his only friend and colleague, John Manta, disappears without a word, Dave Randall further entrenches himself in the humdrum life of an unenthusiastic lawyer. But once he begins to understand what happened, he embarks on a journey to uncover the deeper meanings and implications of John’s fate.

Accompanied by Peaches the cat, Dave uproots his life and reinvents himself in the midst of his search. Along the way, he is haunted by his piecemeal understanding of John’s fate and what it means for his existence. Little does Dave know, his journey of self-discovery will have ramifications that extend far beyond the borders of his own little life.

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The Rescuer by Jason Sautel

A BarksBeachesBooks

Welcome, welcome! I’m here for my TLC Book Tour post this week to share The Rescuer: One Firefighter’s Story of Courage, Darkness, and the Relentless Love That Saved Him.

This was a powerful read. I was expecting an emotional and tug-at-your-heartstrings memoir but this was much more. From the first chapter Jason gives an eye-opening glimpse into what it is to be a fire fighter. Spoiler alert: it is not just fighting fires. And while it is camaraderie and brotherhood it is also a very emotionally and mentally difficult job. Jason takes readers through many different scenarios that can, and for him have, come up as a fire fighter. But deeper than that, he brings readers to see how he was affected and what was going on in his mind during the best and worst of times.

This was a truly incredible, heavy, and yet hopeful collection of stories that I am so glad I got the pleasure of reading. Everyone respects fire fighters in a general sense (especially since many will never need their help directly) but The Rescuer brings light to the many ways a fire fighter puts their life on the line every day. I recommend everyone reads this. Absolute must read and so important. It will completely change the way you look at fire fighters and give you a whole new sense of appreciation.

He helped save people every day—but he had no idea how to save himself.

Jason Sautel had it all. Confident in his abilities and trusted by his fellow firefighters, he was making a name for himself on the streets of Oakland, California. His adrenaline-fueled job even helped him forget the pain of his childhood—until the day he looked into the eyes of a jumper on the Bay Bridge and came face to face with a darkness he knew would take him down as well.

In the following months, a series of traumatic emergency calls—some successful, others impossible-to-forget failures—drove Jason deeper into depression. Even as he continued his lifesaving work, he realized he could never rescueeveryone, and he had no idea how to save himself.

In the end, Jason was forced to confront the truth: only the relentless power of love could pull him back from his own deadly fall. Action-packed, spiritually honest, and surprisingly romantic, TheRescuer transports readers inside the pulse-pounding world of firefighting and into the heart of a man who needed to be broken before he could finally be made whole.

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The Lost Girls of Devon by Barbara O’Neal

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

Welcome to my stop on the TLC Book Blog Tour for The Lost Girls of Devon by Barbara O’Neal.

This was an incredible read and so unexpected. I was thinking a beachy, light, family drama. This is that, plus a missing person’s case, a lost love story, generations of emotional trauma, and *trigger warning* human trafficking and sexual assault. I know, how could that much fit together at all (let alone perfectly) in 350 pages? BUT IT DOES.

Zoe’s best friend has gone missing so she takes her recently traumatized daughter, Isabel, back to London from Arizona to help look for her. But Zoe has her own trauma to face waiting for her in the form of her mother, Poppy, and her first love, Sage. Everyone comes together under Zoe’s grandmother Lillian’s roof.

Written in alternating points of few, Zoe, Poppy and Isabel tell their story from trauma to newly budding relationships while searching for Zoe’s missing friend. And let me just point out that I rarely see all of the characters so well written especially with age gaps like this. From Isabel at 15 to Lillian in her 80s, every character sounded like their age. For example, Isabel was smart but young so still sassy especially when Zoe tells her what to do. In contrast, Poppy was the wise-hippie-grandmother to Isabel while still frustrated with Zoe and their inability (read:Zoe’s unwillingness) to connect.

This was such a great read and I definitely recommend for fans of family drama, murder mystery, cozy mystery, or even just romance!

*Huge thanks to TLC and Barbara O’Neal for my copy to read and share with you all!*

One of Travel + Leisure’s most anticipated books of summer 2020.

From the Washington Post and Amazon Charts bestselling author of When We Believed in Mermaids comes a story of four generations of women grappling with family betrayals and long-buried secrets.

It’s been years since Zoe Fairchild has been to the small Devon village of her birth, but the wounds she suffered there still ache. When she learns that her old friend and grandmother’s caretaker has gone missing, Zoe and her fifteen-year-old daughter return to England to help.

Zoe dreads seeing her estranged mother, who left when Zoe was seven to travel the world. As the four generations of women reunite, the emotional pain of the past is awakened. And to complicate matters further, Zoe must also confront the ex-boyfriend she betrayed many years before.

Anxieties spike when tragedy befalls another woman in the village. As the mystery turns more sinister, new grief melds with old betrayal. Now the four Fairchild women will be tested in ways they couldn’t imagine as they contend with dangers within and without, desperate to heal themselves and their relationships with each other.

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Something She’s Not Telling Us by Darcey Bell

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

SSNTU Darcey Bell

The latest from the author of A Simple Favor: a thrilling page-turner about a woman named Charlotte who has everything until her brother’s new girlfriend shows up and threatens to destroy it all.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t for me. It was a little jumpy and all over the place between characters for me to follow. And the parts of the premise that drew me to this initially (dark secrets, an unreliable narrator, a missing child) didn’t quite give me the shock I was hoping for. However, there were quite a few very interesting threads to follow so let me tell you what I liked about this one!

Charlotte and Rocco are brother and sister who have a rocky (pun intended) relationship with their mother who lives in Mexico. Charlotte is extremely protective of Rocco which he in turn is very annoyed with. They are guilted into planning a trip to visit their mom and Rocco ends up bringing his new girlfriend, Ruth. Charlotte is not into this idea but even worse, neither is her mother. Their mother is supposed to be a wholly unlikeable character that everyone comes together in hating but I LOVED her. Her character reminded me of an aloof and badass grandmother who casually carries around a flask. She had no filter and no problem with telling people she didn’t care what they thought of her. She was awesome and reminded me of my own late grandmother. This is a very minor part of the story but turned out to be my favorite part.

As for major characters, I loved Ruth’s secret. Unfortunately, it was just kind of there and then done. THAT is where there could have used a lot of the detail that went into Charlotte’s perfect life and her “scandal”. In real life her secret would suck but here it was just hyped and hyped and hyped and then was so small comparatively. Ruth is the drama and the key player here. She shows up mysteriously and basically just declares herself Rocco’s new girl. This is a problem because Rocco dates train wrecks so even before Ruth is sniffing around in Charlotte’s secrets, she has a target on her back.

And then Ruth makes fast and easy friends with Daisy, Charlotte’s daughter. This infuriates Charlotte but everyone tries to calm her down telling her to not be so rude, Ruth just likes kids. Then Daisy goes missing from school and who checked her out for the day? You guessed it. A chase ensues and this is when Ruth’s secrets are revealed. Again, loved her secrets, but I would have loved even more focus on Ruth throughout the book. I’ll just say it, I’m #teamruth.

Even though this wasn’t for me, I will still be reading any future works from Darcey Bell as A Simple Favor was a great and entertaining read. She definitely has a way with messed up secrets (as you see in both of her books) and messed up is my favorite kind of read.

*Thanks to Harper Collins for the copy to read and review.*

Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

The long (LONG) awaited sequel to the amazing P.S. I Love You from Cecelia Ahern is here! Yes, you heard that right: the sequel to the book that brought us the movie that brought us Holly and Gerry’s story that brought us Gerard Butler. 20 pages in and I was crying and scolding myself, “THIS is why you don’t read romance.” But it was worth it.

I loved the beginning and the end, the middle was a little slow for me. I was also was a little annoyed with Holly and Gabriel’s attitudes toward each other’s current hobbies. Gabriel upset about Holly getting involved in a club to help people cope with death. Holly upset that Gabriel asked his daughter to move in over her even though she wasn’t sure she wanted to move in anyway. Those two, man. Breaking my heart left and right.

On top of this, Holly and her attitude. She helps her sister out with a podcast episode on dealing with loss of a loved one. Then suddenly there is interest in starting The P.S. I Love You Club for terminally ill patients to leave something of themselves behind for their loved ones. I loved this idea! I thought it was so sweet. Holly did not. She warmed to it and decided to dip her toe into involvement with the club but she had a such a bad attitude at multiple points that that in itself was a little heartbreaking.

I sound like I’m bashing Holly, but I’m not at all. Of course I realize that Holly had a good reason to be wary and upset – she thought she was past Gerry’s death but this club brought it all back to the surface. And then as we get deeper into the book and Holly gets more involved with The P.S. I Love You Club we see what she’s working through and the different feelings coming up due to confronting Gerry’s death again. We also see Holly bring into question Gerry’s motives for leaving her the letters in P.S. I Love You. At first it’s sad. Did he do it more for himself than Holly? Or both of them? Was it completely selfless? And how can Holly use this to ensure her club leaves the best things for their loved ones?

Holly grows a lot in this novel about love, growing up and moving forward, helping others, and loving yourself enough to know when to say no. As I said before, the middle was a little slow for me – due to the flip flopping in emotions for Holly. But ultimately, the book comes full circle from Gerry’s death and Holly moving forward and was a really heartwarming read. Yes, it cracked my heart at certain points, but it was a really good read about love and, sometimes more importantly, self-love.

Fans of P.S. I Love You will love this much anticipated sequel, finding more than a story about the loss of a loved one.

Flower by Safira X

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

Flower 🌸 🌺 🌹

THIS is a short story.

This is an INCREDIBLE short story.

A FEMINIST, TWISTED, BLOODY, HORRIFIC, incredible short story.

I was on the edge of my seat the entire time which is what I expect from thriller/horror stories. And if it’s short? I expect you to pack an explosive story in there. I know I have high expectations BUT Safira X accomplishes that several times over in this 40 page sucker punch.

Murder ✅ Revenge ✅ Torture ✅ Fragile Masculinity ✅ Sexism ✅ Blood & Gore ✅ Animal Abuse (not my fav but works in favor of the story) ✅ Sex ✅ Supernatural ✅ “40 pages? No way there could be any of the back story or character development needed to make it so good.”FALSE.

I am so impressed and I canNOT wait for the next book!

Hot Splices by Mike Watt

A BarksBeachesBooks Review
 
Hot Splices is not a book, it’s a movie. Not to be confused with a book to movie script but more like reading the subtitles while you watch a movie. Mike Watt warns you before reading this:

“If you do not love film…
If you do not wish to devour it as it devours you…If all you seek from film is entertainment…This is not the book for you.

I would have considered myself a cinephile before reading this (at least an amateur one) but wow, this book tests you. And not just in film knowledge but also in genre knowledge. Because of course there are tons of elements to a film considered to be horror from abuse to assault to actual murder but, be honest, were you counting snuff films in there? And no, this isn’t a book about snuff films. I’m just saying this book is HUGE in its 334 pages. You’re reading between a screen play, the daily activities of “The Addicts” and their endeavor to find the great Borgia films, and their not-so-secret guilty pleasure of “flixing” to movies which is basically a drug-trip on actual film to enhance the movie experience.

 This book is intense. Following several characters, we are led through film school days to each character’s work in the film industry and back to the present. But first, we do start with a scene from a snuff film, so well written and disturbing it’s like you’re in the room watching. A Borgia film perhaps? And then present day, meet Chris Balun, who was there for the original Borgia film viewing that drove a mob of angry film viewers so insane that he locked them inside the building and set it on fire. And Alyce who “sold out” to work in Hollywood…until she made enough money to buy the old film school dorm and get all The Addicts back together down the line. And Boone who is working in a film storage facility to locate and steal the long locked away and largely forgotten Borgia films for an Addicts only viewing. Everyone has so much going on but it all leads back to one thing: watching the Borgia films in their horrific gore, in the right order (hint: not numerical), to either go insane or reach cinematic enlightenment. 

 My favorite part was the ending because like most movies it’s what pulls all the craziest aspects together. But more than that, like most films, after the end comes the deleted scenes and these deleted scenes were top notch. From erotic to splicing into other movies to live machines that seduce and consume their operators to B-flick movie stars and their mysterious disappearances. Once I reached the second half of this book, after all the intentionally-all-over-the-place scenes of the first half, I couldn’t put it down. Especially as it goes from set up and character development to the action and horror scenes. I mean, this book has completely affected me from making waking moments to my dreams. Mike Watts has successfully spliced into my dreams and there has been some F-d up stuff. I’ll be honest, that’s normal. But he did add a special horrific angle.

Hot Splices is complicated and enticing and so captivating. It sets you up to follow multiple characters from their film obsession origins to their final actions upon completing their life’s work: finding, watching, living the Borgia films. You are not just reading this book, you are a part of it. You are spliced in and viewing as an extra alongside the main crew. Reading Hot Splices is like learning a new language. You’ll see what I mean when you start dreaming in cinema. How much blood and death will you see when you close this book each night only to close your eyes and continue the story in your nightmares?

Author Bio

Mike Watt is a writer, journalist and screenwriter. He has written for such publications as Fangoria, Film Threat, The Dark Side, the late Frederick Clarke’s Cinefantastique, Femme Fatales and served as editor for the RAK Media Group’s resurrection of Sirens of Cinema.

Through the production company, Happy Cloud Pictures, he has written and produced or directed the award-winning feature film The Resurrection Game, as well as Splatter Movie: The Director’s Cut, A Feast of Flesh, Demon Divas and the Lanes of Damnation and the award-winning Razor Days.

He is the author of the short fiction collection, Phobophobia, the novels The Resurrection Game and Suicide Machine, and from McFarland Publishing: Fervid Filmmaking: 66 Cult Pictures of Vision, Verve and No Self-Restraint. In 2014, he launched the acclaimed Movie Outlaw book series, focusing on “underseen cinema”. He is also the editor-in-chief of the bi-annual publication, Exploitation Nation.

Through Happy Cloud Media, LLC, he edits and publishes 42nd Street Pete’s Grindhouse Purgatory Magazine, as well as Pete’s autobiography, “A Whole Bag of Crazy”.

In 2017, he edited the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD novelization by John Russo, and the 40th Anniversary printing of Paul Schrader’s TAXI DRIVER screenplay, featuring a new interview with Robert De Niro, published in 2018 by Gauntlet Press.