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!*

5 Binge-worthy Reads Unofficially Inspired by Real Killers

If you’re a true crime addict, and you’re looking for a new way to explore your favorite obsession, then check out one of these five books unofficially inspired by real-life serial killers.

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

Fourteen years after her disappearance, high school popular girl Angela Wong’s remains are discovered. No one suspected that her best friend Georgina “Geo” Shaw had anything to do with it, but the remains were discovered near her own childhood home. Detectives have determined that Angela was a victim of serial killer Calvin James, but who is Calvin to Geo? Geo and Calvin are both sent to prison where Geo tries to make a name for herself, so she has money when she leaves to start over. But Calvin quickly escapes and evades recapture. Which means when Geo’s time is up, she won’t be safe anymore.

The Vibe: Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka

The read the rest of the list, click here!

Thanks to Tittle-Tattle for having me!

The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

I was so excited to receive a copy of The Happy Ever After Playlist from the publisher to read and review. At first, I was a little concerned that I would so willingly take on this challenge after getting my heart ripped out by the first installment, The Friend Zone. But then I remembered that while Abby takes you on a whiplashed tour of all the emotions that you experience in love (including love), she also heals your heart and puts you back together by the end.


In HEAP, Sloane Monroe ends up the pup-sitter for a dog whose owner, Jason, is currently across the world on tour. She cares for the dog and tentatively plans to meet up with Jason when he returns to
 maybe give his dog back. Then it turns out that Jason is actually Jaxon Waters, the musician whose music got her through her fiancé’s death. 


Sloane doesn’t plan on falling for Jason, but fortunately for us Abby oversees her fate. So instead of Sloan playing it safe, we get to play the HEAP on Spotify while we read the book and follow Sloane through her very interesting and entertaining life after loss. And of course, Kristen and Josh are back from the first book as well as cute little Stuntman Mike. This one pulled at my heart strings but thankfully Abby is an expert romance
 and comedy writer so that readers can laugh just as hard as they cry.


This was wonderfully written – I LOVE books that read how I imagine the author talks. That’s how I write and so it really appeals to me. I also love how she weaves together such different elements from drama, to baking, to dog care, to outdoor life, to music, to love, to loss. It makes for a really captivating read. I cannot wait for the third installment, assuming there is one. If there isn’t then I imagine we fans need to immediately start a petition to remedy that.

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.

The War Beneath by S.R. Hughes

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

The War Beneath = Chaos Inliterate

In The War Beneath, a former forensic psychologist is slowly spiraling downward. Having hit rock bottom after his daughter’s death and his sudden ability to hear the whispers of dead people, Paul is now living in a boat house in Oceanrest, Maine. Um, where? The broke and broken city on Maine’s coast where those with magical powers are drawn in larger numbers than anywhere else in the world.

Trying to ignore his past (and the voices) he befriends Deirdre who sells him psychological downers from her, let’s face it, magic apothecary. But on his latest visit, an intruder arrives and takes everything Deirdre has worked for. This puts both their lives in danger in more ways than just the obvious as targets of a robbery.

Deirdre and Paul decide they have to get the product back and start to track down Randall, the man who has essentially ruined Dierdre’s life. Of course, there are A LOT more threats than just the wrath of Randall. There’s the company Deirdre works for who want their product. There’s the dead people who are getting more intense every minute Paul doesn’t have his downers (including his daughter’s ghost and an eyeless ghost asking for help). There is the life of Deirdre’s dear friend Razz and other friends pulled in. There is the detective who’s involvement is suspect considering he is intruding on Paul’s off the record investigation into old (and solved) crimes.

This book is action packed. I mean, think of a war movie where every other scene is a bunch of explosions. I’m talking Harry Potter meets [insert intense action war movie you like because I don’t watch those]. Paul is constantly getting knocked down and the only reason he gets back up is for Deirdre.

Deirdre is a complete badass. She is saving everyone left and right and just basically running the show. And because what would a book with magical elements be without a creature, there is a beast. Guess who handles this? There are demons awoken. Guess who handles this? Paul is dying due to gunshot wounds. Guess who handles this? Honestly this might be one of the best and most well-written female characters I’ve seen in a while.

The only thing that would have made it better for me would have been more interaction with the ghosts, namely Cassandra, Paul’s late daughter. There was something happening there and Paul definitely had unfinished business with his daughter. However, this could have also been a genius move on Mr. Hughes’ part as the book was nicely wrapped up but still with a lead into a second book. Is this a series? TBD.

*I received a copy for free from TLC Book Tours and S.R. Hughes in exchange for an honest review.*

***About The War Beneath***

“There is a war going on behind things, beneath them.”

Paul had been a forensic psychologist. But after his daughter’s funeral, he hit the rock bottom of a spiraling addiction. When the spirits of the dead started rasping their wishes in his ears, he fled New York for withering Oceanrest—a flat-broke city barnacled to Maine’s coast. There, he’s spent the last five years scraping by, trying to shake off the burdens of his past, pretending to be a man without context, without history, without the secret ability to speak with the dead. But soon, all of that will be taken away from him.

Deirdre’s spent the past fourteen years as a resident of Squatter City—the most distal and dilapidated of Oceanrest’s gangrenous appendages. Growing and harvesting a hydroponic farm of mystic flora and esoteric plantlife, she’s built a business as a drug dealer and apothecary. After years of relative peace, Deirdre’s life finally seems tenable. But when one of her regular clients double-crosses her, what little serenity she’s discovered quickly unravels.

Deirdre and Paul soon find themselves under attack from criminals and cultists, on the run from Quebecois mobsters, Aryan Nationalists, and a group of young men who seem dedicated to a cause of brutality and destruction on an apocalyptic scale.

S. R. Hughes inhabits the glittering darknesses between dreams but writes from Queens, NY. He’s been published in Sanitarium, the Wild Hunt eZine, and has had stories featured on several podcasts.

Find out more about him at his website, and follow him on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

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!

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.