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?

Purchase: Bookshop.org l Amazon l Barnes & Noble

Connect with Robin: Facebook l Twitter l Instagram l Website

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

Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters by Emily Carpenter

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters entangled in my homegrown pumpkin vine.

A sequel and a stand-alone, Emily Carpenter brings us Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters. The story of Ruth “Dove” Jarrod, one half of the heal-through-prayer sisters that traveled southern Alabama in the 1930s.

The story alternates between Ruth, who was born in an insane asylum to a mother who would later kill herself leaving Ruth to plan her escape, and her granddaughter Eve who has spent her life keeping secrets for Ruth. Ruth’s story is from her escape through her death and the events that made her who she was: an evangelist healer traveling the world to cure people’s ailments. Eve’s story is of a cover. She’s spent the last 8 years keeping Dove’s BIG secrets, that were otherwise buried with her, to protect her mother and brother. It turns out someone might know and expose her anyway. This she is sent racing through Dove’s last trying to uncover the secrets that are being threatened to be exposed in order to save the foundation Eve and her family run in Dove’s name.

This was my first trek through southern gothic fiction and it was such a great read and entertaining story. I definitely recommend if you liked The Lost Girls of Devon or Where the Crawdads Sing. I was so sucked into this story I couldn’t put it down until I started falling asleep…I got up immediately the next morning to finish.

Rarely does an author go from start to finish in a non-thriller and not lose me at some point along the way. You’re basically a passenger of Eve’s throughout the story with glimpses into the famous and infamous Dove’s past. Truly great read.

Dove Jarrod was a renowned evangelist and faith healer. Only her granddaughter, Eve Candler, knows that Dove was a con artist. In the eight years since Dove’s death, Eve has maintained Dove’s charitable foundation – and her lies. But just as a documentary team wraps up a shoot about the miracle worker, Eve is assaulted by a vengeful stranger intent on exposing what could be Dove’s darkest secret: murder…

Tuscaloosa,1934: a wily young orphan escapes the psychiatric hospital where she was born. When she joins the itinerant inspirational duo, the Hawthorn Sisters, the road ahead is one of stirring new possibilities. And, with an obsessive predator on her trail, one of untold dangers. For a young girl to survive, desperate choices must be made.

Now, in order to protect her family, Eve will join forces with the investigative filmmaker and one of Dove’s friends, risking everything to unravel the truth behind the accusations against her grandmother. But will the truth set her free, or set her world on fire?

Connect with Emily: Website l Instagram

Pre-order from your local store for October 20, 2020 release! Colorado local? Try Barbed Wire Books or The Used Book Emporium! Otherwise check Barnes & Noble, Target or even Amazon to get your hands on your next great Southern fiction read!

Thanks so much to Lake Union Publishing for my copy to read and share!

The Grown Woman’s Guide to Online Dating by Margot Starbuck

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

Welcome to my stop on the book tour for The Grown Woman’s Guide to Online Dating and a big thank you to Margot Starbuck and TLC Booktours for allowing me to read and share!

*Four years after an unexpected divorce, best selling writer and funny lady Margot Starbuck found herself venturing into the unknown waters of online dating. What she discovered surprised her – and changed her.* Read to find her tips and tricks for online dating as well some funny dating fails and even interviews Margot gives.

First, I actually finished this. I don’t usually finish self-help type books. The humor was a big help (and what got my attention to begin with) because even if I’m not looking for a man, this was very insightful. Also I love to laugh and Margot has the own-biggest-fan and self-depreciating humor down perfectly. (I laughed out loud more than once.)

My favorite part was probably the emphasis on female friendships. You realize how important those are every year you get older which makes it sad to think back on older articles in magazines and online and even parts of books I’ve read that say not to tell your girlfriends (or anyone really) anything about your relationship because you will ruin it. This book is not that: red flags are real and should be discussed. Trust your girls, trust your family and trust yourself. I love that.

This is a Christian dating advice book but even if you’re not religious I think this could be helpful in your online search for a man. Or a woman. If I had a criticism it would be that this is very hetero-oriented and I do wish it hadn’t been so “woman gets husband” specific because the tips definitely apply to everyone. Not that this blatantly excludes any gender by any means, it just is definitely for any and everyone!

Also, and again not that I have any dating profiles, but I think you should absolutely put your biggest passions on your profile even if it’s just a picture of you at a protest or being your activist self or volunteering. Personally, I don’t want to meet anyone who has the exact opposite passions as me (because I’m always right, right?) but I also have very little patience for people in general so I would think it’d make it easier to be up front in that arena.

This was a fun read overall. Margot goes through the ups and downs of online dating and the fun parts and even the ugly ones. She also is very clear that self care is important in this journey which is awesome. It was a really refreshing take on something like online dating in general, but also for grown ass adults who may or may not have been left by their husband for another man. Did you have a disappointing or rough end to your last relationship? Margot has tips on healing as well.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, are you in the dating scene? Then this book is probably perfect for you. Write your bio with Margot’s insight and hook the fish you’ve been angling for!

P.S. Margot, want to grab coffee and tell me jokes some time? I have a feeling you will make me laugh even more in person and that’s my favorite thing.

Does the thought of joining a dating site invoke feelings of fear and anxiety—or, worse, insecurity or unworthiness? If so, then The Grown Woman’s Guide to Online Dating is the book for you. With practical advice about how these sites work, what to expect, and when to join and quit, along with proven tips for making the most of them, The Grown Woman’s Guide equips readers with all they need to take the plunge.

Purchase: Amazon l Thomas Nelson l Barnes & Noble

Follow Margot Starbuck on: Facebook l Twitter l Instagram l Website

One Hundred Dogs and Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and A Journey into the Hearts of Shelters and Rescues by Cara Sue Achterberg

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

When Cara Sue Achterberg reached out to ask me to read and share One Hundred Dogs and Counting, I almost missed out on the opportunity. Due to the Covid19 pandemic, she could only offer an eBook, but I didn’t have an eReader. Over the next week I realized it wasn’t going to be quick for anything to arrive, so I decided to order an eReader. Once it arrived (because who knows if 2 days was going to be true (it wasn’t)), I reached out and confirmed with Cara. And I am SO GLAD I DID. 


I figured it would be a heart wrenching story about fostering dogs and that I would soon be crying. While it will tug at your heart strings, it is with information that you need to know. And while it will hurt the hearts of animal lovers a little bit, the information gained is worth the tiny bit of pain. In fact, I would recommend every animal lover IMMEDIATELY reads this. You will get insight into fostering dogs, but more than that you get to go on Cara’s journey visiting animal shelters in the south to see why there seems to be a never-ending flow of dogs going into and out of (and sometimes not) shelters. 


Additionally, Cara mentions how it would be possible to save all the dogs instead of just some if everyone were to have this knowledge and then pitch in however they can. Volunteer,donate to shelters (money, food, medicine), foster, spread the word on social media, and most of all just TALK about what is going on. Of course it’s a sad subject but it is so worth your time to help save innocent pups and even some kitties too. 


Go with Cara on this journey to see her difficulties and successes with fostering. See what the animal shelters look like that need the most help and no help. See what Cara sees when there are no shelters or no space or no resources and a lone citizen is willing to take on the job. Invest yourself how Cara invests herself: wholeheartedly. See what YOU can do to help and if fostering might be for you. 


My personal tips: 

1) Don’t adopt unless you plan on keeping that fur baby. Check with your apartments/cities to make sure it’s allowed to that you aren’t having to rehome.
2) Training is available and you should use it if you need to, especially if you’re considering rehoming due to behavior issues. Google it, call shelters, ask friends and family, get a trainer, utilize fund raising sites.
3) Keep your pet healthier and vet costs down by not letting your pet drink from other animals’ water bowls. Make sure open areas are safe for them (there is an algae in Colorado that comes yearly and can kill pets so I have to be careful where and when I hike).
4) Adopt don’t shop-there are so many good animals in need of homes in shelters. The fees usually cover the adoption and spay/neutering and aren’t profiting people that breed animals and then send them to a shelter once they can’t have anymore litters.

To purchase: http://www.carawrites.com/100-dogs–counting.html

*Thanks to the author for my copy to read and review!*

The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

silent treatment 1

Welcome to my stop on the TLC Book Blog Tour for The Silent Treatment by debut author Abbie Greaves- I am so excited to share this with you all!

The Light We Lost meets The Notebook in storytelling. Then throw in some parental nightmares, spousal secrets and the will to not speak to the love of your life…when she’s in the same home.

Maggie and Frank meet fall in love and are married in a whirlwind romance full of secrets neither of them ever suspected the other had. When Maggie and Frank are finally blessed with a child well into their 40s, they both believe the other to be more ecstatic, to be the better parent, the better partner. We follow along as they both realize that if they had said the things they needed to say sooner, they might have avoided so much pain.

When their daughter Eleanor begins to finally act out after 15 years of being the perfect child, her parents believe it to be normal. Unfortunately, the acting out doesn’t seem to be a phase and years later they are left alone at home, out of contact with Eleanor and not speaking to each other. Maggie gives Frank 6 months to come around and to the day, when he doesn’t, Frank finds Maggie face down and unconscious at the kitchen table with an empty packet of pills.

The story of Her Silence and His Silence is more than the literal silence they’ve been enduring the last 6 months, and in a cruel twist Frank is suddenly racing against time to tell Maggie why he shut her out.

Abbie Greaves has an enthralling writing style that hooks you from the get-go and doesn’t let go until the very end. This was an obviously sad story but full of hope and a completely original read. While aspects of it did bring other books to mind (as mentioned at the beginning) it was not in similarities of story as much as small elements of the storytelling itself. As much as this book was an actual race against time for the characters, I didn’t want it to end. I wanted more Frank and Maggie at the end and kept hoping for a secret chapter at the end. Thank goodness for epilogues, am I right?

This was a spectacular debut and I will absolutely be on the lookout for future works from Abbie. Talk about a book hangover, and yet this was completely out of my usual genre. I recommend this to everyone as an important read about many things, but most of all about the enduring nature of love.

silent treatment 2

Purchase here: Harper Collins Amazon Barnes & Noble

Author Links: Website Instagram Twitter

TLC Book Tours: Instagram Facebook Twitter

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.*

How Quickly She Disappears by Raymond Fleischmann

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

Raymond Fleischmann gives us a beautifully written debut novel with How Quickly She Disappears. Following Elisabeth on dual timelines we witness in one the grooming and taking of her 11-year-old twin sister, Jacqueline, and in the other we watch Elizabeth slowly unravel at the appearance of a mysterious man named Alfred. Alfred, who claims to know what happened to Jacqueline. Alfred, who knows everything about Elisabeth though they’ve never met. Alfred who might be a little bit mad.


Elisabeth is living in remote Alaska with her distant husband and fiercely intelligent daughter, Margaret. When Alfred shows up claiming he needs to rest before a flight, Elisabeth allows him to stay in their guest room. From there things quickly spiral out of control. Even after murder, her daughter’s attempts to get attention, her husband constantly battling her beliefs and actions, and prison (among other things) Elisabeth pursues the truth about her sister. 


This book reads like The Silence of the Lambs watches (I’ve only seen the movie) with a drawn-out cat and mouse chase between Alfred and Elisabeth. Alfred’s quickly changing moods do nothing to quell Elisabeth’s hunt for facts. Repeated attempts from her husband and police to stop her vigilante investigationdoes not deter her. I loved the steady pace of this book and the way Raymond really brings us with him to watch Elisabeth lose herself in her search for her 20-years-missing sister.


This book is dark and beautiful and haunting and I will absolutely be buying Raymond’s next book.

Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

Cecilia “Cilka” Klein has every reason to hate her life, the people involved in the pain she’s had to endure, and humanity in general. The amazing thing about her is that she doesn’t. No matter what happens to her, Cilka continues to stand up for herself and those around her and be the best person she can be. I would like to think that I would respond to Cilka’s circumstances as valiantly as she did. But based on my reaction to people not using a blinker in traffic I don’t think it’s likely.

Joking aside, this book is incredible. I am so glad Heather Morris decided to continue her work from Lale and The Tattooist of Auschwitz and let us know what happened to an important and influential character. This is a devasting and heart wrenching story, but it is an as important one as any from the Holocaust and World War 2 are.

Not only is this the story of what happened to Cilka, it also the story of how her very soul endured and continued to give humanity chance after chance to be good when she had no reason to believe it ever would. In Cilka’s Journey we follow Cilka after the release of the concentration camps at the end of World War 2. Cilka is pointed out as having aided the enemy as a spy as well as having slept with the enemy. There is no investigation and few questions asked to find her guilty. Did she in fact speak many languages? Was she sleeping with the commander? The facts the she was intelligent and was not sleeping with the man by choice were not factors in condemning a child who went into Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp at 16 and was forced into exile in a Siberian prison upon her release at age 19.

This journey is what happened next. What Cilka’s life was after Auschwitz-Birkenau and during her time in Siberia. Once again unable to go unnoticed, Cilka draws the attention of the male prisoners. She draws the attention of her female prisoner roommates. She finds and tries to protect Josie while she is found out for her past by Hannah and tries to survive her threats. Finally, she captures the attention of a female doctor at the prison who takes her under her wing and teaches her to be a nurse.

This is an incredible journey to be sure. If you are a WW2 or historical fiction fan, then this is for you. If you like human trial and success stories with themes of love and friendship, then this is for you. If you have a heart, then this is the book you need to read.

The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup

My overall impression with this book can be summed up in this one word: WOW. I haven’t been this impressed with a book in a long time. That’s not to say I don’t like what I’ve been reading but this was just SO GOOD. I couldn’t put it down. I started it on a Saturday evening after finishing up a RomCom and I read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open, passed out, picked it up first thing in the morning and read for a few more hours until I finished.

The Chestnut Man is the story of a serial killer who leaves little chestnut men made of chestnuts and matchsticks at the crime scenes. On the case are Detective Thulin, who is on her last week in the Major Crime Division, and Detective Hess who has been transferred to Major Crimes due to behavior issues at Europol. The pair is put together to solve the case of a woman who was murdered. On the chestnut man they find at the scene is the finger print of a missing, presumed dead girl from almost exactly a year before. From there the book heats up as the detectives try to anticipate The Chestnut Man’s next move when he always seems to be one step ahead.

The links between the victims are very interesting on top of the fact that the crimes are linked back to missing girl case with the fingerprint on the chestnut man. The detectives have an good chemistry as well even though they are constantly butting heads. There is drama and bumps in the road every time Thulin and Hess make any sort of progress. The Chestnut Man was one of those stories where there are lots of surprises and twists and (at least for me) none of them were seen coming. I was so excited by how good it was and still am and I just can’t say enough good things about it. I also can’t say a lot of things in general without ruining it because it was such an intricate story with so much going on-which is frustrating because all I want to do is talk The Chestnut Man.

The following could be interpreted as a spoiler even though it’s just my recommendations, so be warned. This book reminded me of The Snowman by Jo Nesbo and The Summer Children by Dot Hutchison, both of which I would recommend as well. Full disclosure: I’m basing my recommendation of The Snowman on the movie version as I haven’t gotten to the book yet – but the book is always better so you can’t go wrong. Anyway, definitely read The Chestnut Man. It’s going to be a movie, I know it already.

The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup

The Vanishing Season by Dot Hutchison

The team is back in The Collector series by Dot Hutchison! This time Eliza Sterling takes the lead as both detective and story teller in Dot’s most recent case, The Vanishing Season. I am so excited because this is a series that has really stuck with me. Usually I find a series fizzles out after a few books but somehow Dot is doing what others can’t seem to do. I am again, truly, so impressed with her.

Brooklyn Mercer has disappeared. On her walk home from school, the same walk she takes every day, she vanishes without anyone seeing a thing. This throws Eliza and her team into action…a day late. The local authorities didn’t report Brooklyn as a missing child because they were sure they would find her that night. So, their case starts half way to the 48-hour mark, a critical timeframe for missing children.

This is an intense case on top of a currently stressed-to-the-max team as one of their own, Brandon Eddison, is struggling with the time of year: the anniversary of his own missing sister, Faith Eddison. Put all of this together, plus Brandon’s mentor and retired Detective Ian Matson showing up with new links, and suddenly the team has uncovered a chain of missing girls all over the United States. All look alike. All have been the same age. All have been taken during the same time of year, late October to early November, every other year. All have no evidence. It could be a coincidence. It could be a serial kidnapper.

One of the things I love about these books is that each one is told by a different person. Each book also introduces the next likely narrator. In the Butterfly Garden it’s Vic Hanoverian (and a tiny bit of Brandon Eddison) along with Maya telling the unthinkable story of The Gardener. In the next book Brandon takes the lead. It’s incredible how Ms. Hutchison can do this. She tells these amazing stories using all these different characters (from all different backgrounds no less) and yet she does it so seamlessly that I wonder what her real life looks like to do this so effortlessly. (Personally, I imagine she travels all over the world and interviews all kinds of people from different countries and backgrounds to use in her books.)

Another thing that draws me in with this series is that it’s not all serious or all funny or all one tone. Dot seems to really tell the story of a team. Everyone has different personalities, and all are better at something than the others, which contributes to the overall greatness of the team as a whole. Being able to do this makes it harder to stick her books in one genre as well. They are not just horror stories. They also have a true sense of humor as well as drama. They have a true crime sense, as these types of cases are definitely rare but also likely. I’m going to keep calling them thrillers because that’s their best fit but honestly these books would be enjoyable for everyone. Or, mostly everyone. They are “scary stories” after all.

I cannot wait for the fifth book, which there is currently no promise of, but I am placing my bet now: something with dead bodies narrated by the newest team member, Cass Kearney.