Sunday, September 17, 2023

Reading Corner Chat ( September 2023)

 Welcome to my reading corner , where we talk about the books I've read and think you should know about , and that you might be interested in. From the bad to good, to even audiobooks and before you ask you did read that right,buts its a new a year and I'm slowly getting in to them but I'm still going to be reading more books then audio books , each month the plan is to try and listing to 2 or 3 audio books and then talk about them , so pull up a set and if you want to get a drink. 

Today's book chat is going to be about :

Title : The Carnivale of Curiosities

Author : Amiee Gibbs

Read by : James Langton

Audiobook : 14 hrs 14 mins

Grand Central Publishing

Genre : Gothic fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical fantasy, Magical Realism

Rating : 4 

First off like always a big thank you to the publisher for inviting me to read and review The Carnival of Curiosities as well as the author.  This is the first time I think that I ever read a book about a magical  circus. In fact that what got me to want to read it in the first place and I'm glad I decided to give it a try. I do have to admit that I had to re start it at one point because I had some trouble understanding what was going on but after I did that and took my time with it ,I began to enjoy it 100% , which means this is audiobook you differently need to have the physical book to read along with as your listing to it

Because of how the author describes everything from the places to the characters,  and the Narrator brings them all to life which each chapter of the book. As well as the few twists and turns (that where dark ) but those also helped  with the story line , this is definitely a book I'll be re reading as soon as I can pick up a physical copy .

dazzling gothic tale of Faustian bargains, jealousy, and murder set in a spectacular circus, where star-crossed lovers' destinies are forged at an unexpected price, for readers of V. E. Schwab​'s The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. 

In Victorian London, where traveling sideshows are the very pinnacle of entertainment, there is no more coveted ticket than Ashe and Pretorius' Carnivale of Curiosities. Each performance is a limited engagement, and London's elite boldly dare the dangerous streets of Southwark to witness the Carnivale's astounding assemblage of marvels. For a select few, however, the real show begins behind the curtain. Rumors abound that the show’s proprietor, Aurelius Ashe, is more than an average magician. It's said that for the right price, he can make any wish come true. No one knows the truth of this claim better than Lucien the Lucifer, the Carnivale's star attraction. Born with the ability to create fire, he's dazzled spectators since he was a boy.

When Odilon Rose, one of the most notorious men in London, comes calling with a proposition regarding his young and beautiful charge, Charlotte, Ashe is tempted to refuse. After revealing, however, that Rose holds a secret that threatens the security of the troupe's most vulnerable members, Ashe has no choice but to sign an insidious contract.


The stakes grow higher as Lucien finds himself drawn to Charlotte and her to him, an attraction that spurs a perilous course of events. Grave secrets, recovered horrors, and what it means to be family come to a head in this vividly imagined spectacle—with the lives of all those involved suspended in the balance

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Cursed at Dawn

Welcome to my showcase for Cursed at Dawn which is been hosted by Harlequin Trade Publishing ,Inkyard Press | Canary Street Press

Cursed at Dawn

Author: Heather Graham

ISBN: 9780778334262

Publication Date: August 22, 2023

Publisher: MIRA

Buy Links


Barnes & Noble




Excerpt - Cursed at Dawn by Heather Graham


“I still don’t see how it was possible,” Della said. They had worked so hard, taken such risks, to

arrest and in- carcerate Stephan Dante, the self-proclaimed “king of the vampires,” that it was

unimaginable that he had managed to escape while awaiting trial.

They were headed back to the United States, ready to meet with the horrified warden of

the jail where Dante had been awaiting trial. They were both exhausted but wired, as they

hadn’t slept since they’d heard the news that the man was back on.

Just days after they’d finally caught up with one of his protégés—who had shed the

concept of competing in the vampire field to become “king of the Rippers”— they had learned

that Stephan Dante had somehow man- aged a miraculous escape. He had killed the doctor

who had assumed he was desperately trying to save his life, sent the nurse to intensive care,

where she remained, and had killed one guard and seriously wounded an- other on his way out.

He’d walked easily into the sunlight, having taken the doctor’s clothing, identification and

keys—and therefore, he had simply driven away. The most bizarre thing seemed to be that it

was on tape, though Dante had managed—through a tech friend he’d met while incarcerated,

Della believed—to create false images of the infirmary while he had carried out his attacks with

a scalpel.

They hadn’t been “vampire” assaults and kills.

They had just been murders and attacks that had been expedient. He had his way of

killing that he considered unique and special. But he was also a cold-blooded killer who would

rid himself of anyone who got in his way by any means necessary.

“Dante continues to carry out the impossible.” Mason Carter, seated at her side in the

FBI’s Blackbird plane that was rushing them back to the States, shook his head, staring straight

ahead as he spoke. “He manages to befriend every criminal who can do something he wants

done or provide something he needs. I’ve never seen a criminal as capable of accruing funds

and forged documents in the way that he has managed.” He let out a sigh. “I’ve been conflicted

on the death penalty all my life. You execute the wrong man—or woman—and you can’t fix it if

you’re later proved wrong. You let a man like Dante live and...others have already paid the


“He never made it to trial, Mason,” Della reminded him. “Mason, this is horrible, but it

isn’t on us. And we will—”

“Get him again,” Mason said.

He was still staring straight ahead. She wasn’t worried about Mason as her partner—no

inner conflict would interfere with his abilities as an investigator—or as a man to have at her

back. He was adept at numerous martial arts, with a knife, and was also a crack shot who could

move with incredible dexterity, speed and quiet when necessary. He had blue eyes that could

appear as dark as the deep blue sea—or as piercing and cold as shafts of ice. It didn’t hurt that

he was a dark-haired man who stood at a good six foot five, but as they all knew, a bullet or an

explosive could kill, no matter your size or expertise.

He had told her once that a good agent’s mind was the greatest weapon they could


She just worried about whatever torture he might be putting himself through. He’d been

military before the FBI, been responsible for the apprehension of some of the country’s most

heinous killers and seen his last partner gunned down before him. He had grown weary of killing

and he’d been working solo until he and Della had met on a case in a Louisiana bayou, taking

down a serial killer there before becoming the first chosen agents for Blackbird, a unique unit

created to help when the very specialized assistance the Krewe of Hunters could give was

needed in Europe.

They had worked with local law enforcement from Norway, Scotland, Ireland and France.

Their liaison from Interpol, François Bisset, as well as French Detective Jeanne Lapierre,

English Detective Inspector Edmund Taylor and Norseman Jon Wilhelm, would be joining them

the next day.

Their sixsome had followed Dante, in one way or another, through France, Britain and

Norway, then back to the States.

They’d all expected to be here; Adam and Jackson had set up a meeting for the group of

them at Quantico, one to debrief and the other for a chance to discuss the future of their new

unit—within the Krewe of Hunters.

Della wondered if Jackson and Adam knew things about their team that they didn’t know

themselves. They had discovered that Edmund, a striking and formidable-looking man in his

thirties, could converse with the dead. As always, very few among the spirit world chose to

communicate with the living for their own reasons. But she didn’t know about Wilhelm, François

or Jeanne. Law enforcement might often speak about protocol, especially within different

countries, but in meeting people one seldom just asked bluntly if their fellows could see the


They were back in the States. But with Stephan Dante on the loose, they could be

heading anywhere in the world in the days to come.

“Mason, we can’t second-guess anything,” she said quietly. “We take oaths. And you and

I both believe in standing up and honoring our oaths. We follow the law,” she reminded him.

He smiled and turned to her. “Of course. I just...I just thought that we were done

worrying about him. And seriously? It was nice being tourists in London. For what? All of three


She grinned back at him. “They were good days, though, right? They had to end

because we were due back here anyway. And I talked to Jackson earlier. When we get Dante

locked up again, we get a month, he promised.”

“Right. Unless something else happens,” Mason said.

She shook her head. “I know Jackson and Adam.

They’re busy building up Blackbird and in time, we won’t be the only American


He nodded, pulling up his tablet. “Not sure if all this is the order in which it occurred, but

this is still just... I don’t see how... All right, according to the reports, Dante was bleeding out so

badly that it was assumed he wouldn’t make it. He wasn’t shackled to the bed because

everyone thought he was all but dead. He caught hold of the scalpel when the doctor and the

nurse were urging quick care, ordering blood for transfusions. People ran out of the infirmary, he

downed the nurse and then the doctor and stole the doctor’s clothing, wallet and keys. Two

guards walked in and he took care of them. He had apparently already gotten someone to

somehow get him a fake MD’s identification and all the right certifications to slip into the doctor’s

wallet. How the hell did he go from bleeding to death to slashing others and escaping in the

blink of an eye?”

“Well, he isn’t a vampire,” Della said flatly. “The problem with Dante is that he doesn’t

use force as much as he uses charm and wiles. He is extremely clever, an intelligent man. I

believe that he’s one of those people who constantly studies online. And, of course, as we’ve

known, he’s great at making friends among the killer elite.”

“Killers, forgers, bank robbers... I doubt if he bothers to befriend those who can’t do

anything for him, but to others... I don’t understand. Then again, I still don’t understand how Jim

Jones got nearly a thousand people to drink poisoned Kool-Aid. The power of the mind is


“Beyond a doubt. We’ve said it before—people believe because they want to believe.

They grasp on to concepts and ideas that work for them because they’re down and out,

because they’re bitter or because they’re in pain. Some are too smart to be swayed, but I

believe that our Mr. Dante recognizes those he can control and those he can’t—and he wastes

no time on those who aren’t going to fulfill any of his needs.

“The power of the mind!” Della murmured, continuing. “I spoke with our friend and

colleague Special Agent—Dr.—Patrick Law. He warned everyone that Dante might well pull

something. They believed that they had him in control, that they had so much security that he

couldn’t possibly escape.”

“They tried to save his life,” Mason murmured.

“They’re bound by their oaths, too, Mason. For those in law enforcement, oaths similar to

those we took. And for a doctor...”

“I know. I know. The Hippocratic oath,” Mason said.

“No choice,” she reminded him.

“So, of course, we know that he’s out. We will learn more on the particulars of how he

did it. But he is out—so his escape isn’t the question.”

Della nodded and looked out the window. They would be landing soon. She rested her

head back against the comfort of her chair, wishing they’d managed to sleep.

Smiling grimly, she turned to Mason.

“He has escaped. He escaped in Louisiana and we know that he does love the bayou

country, and who doesn’t love New Orleans? So he escaped here, but the main question

remains,” she said quietly. “Just where will he strike next?” When a man managed to escape

when he was known as high risk, he had to have had help, Mason believed.

While Della headed to the intensive care unit at the hospital to interview the nurse who

had a slim chance of surviving the assault, he worked with the warden, a man named Roger

Sewell, still in disbelief that such a thing could have happened.

“I’m sure you have already heard the particulars, but I’ll go over them again,” Sewell told

him as they walked along the aisle where prisoners spent short incarcerations or awaited trial.

“It started in the cafeteria with the riot. Ridiculous thing, of course. No matter how hard

anyone tries, there’s always a pecking order in a facility like this—you wind up with rival gangs

within the walls themselves. Someone hit someone else in the face with a spoonful of grits.

Then all hell broke out with food flying back and forth, crowd insanity followed, several guards

were injured and Stephan Dante was found on the bottom of a pile of men with a blood pool the

size of Texas under him. Naturally, we rushed him straight to the infirmary, calling the doctor,

warning that the prisoner might exsanguinate within minutes.”

“You found him in a pool of blood,” Mason said. He imagined the scene—and why

guards and a smart man might be fooled.

“With a toothbrush shank still in him.”

Warden Sewell was a serious man, known for having handled the facility in his charge

with diligence, running a tight ship while recognizing human rights as known in the country and

the state. His guards respected him; there had never been such a serious incident before during

his tenure. He continued disgustedly with, “Food fights happen. Gang members gang up on a

target and break his nose. But this food fight...ridiculous food fight...escalated into disaster.”

“It wasn’t a ridiculous food fight,” Mason told him, pausing along with the warden at the

cell where Dante had so recently resided. “It was planned. And that pool of blood didn’t belong

to Dante—some of the blood, sure. But you’re going to find that you have one or more other

inmates who lost pools of blood in that fight.”

“Wait, you’re trying to tell me that Dante planned a food fight to escape? But he didn’t

attack any of the guards, he didn’t—”

“He planned to get to the infirmary,” Mason told him. “Just as he found

someone—someone here on a more minor charge—to rig it so that Dante’s assaults on the staff

weren’t seen on the cameras. One of your prisoners is a damned good tech guy who breached

the system.”

“No. That’s not possible—”

“Warden, I’m not throwing any stones here, trust me. This man has taken all of us in one

way or another. But I doubt your guards were all asleep at the wheel. And when the police ran

the security tapes, they saw nothing but a nurse moving back and forth across the infirmary. We

know that Dante assaulted his caretakers. And the guards who then tried to stop him. And

then—caught on camera—he used the dead doctor’s identity and clothing to escape. Oh, yes,

Dante was shanked. But he’s a man who made sure that he drew blood without hitting any vital


“You think that he shanked himself?”

“I do. Or he had a friend hit him in just the right place in just the right way.”

“But the blood—”

“The ‘pool the size of Texas’ belonged to one or more other men. And a forensic crew

would find DNA so mixed that it would be worthless. But, trust me, the entire escape was

planned from the time the first spoonful of grits went flying,” Mason told him grimly.

“What do you need from me now?” Sewell asked him. “What the hell can I do now to


“Interviews. I need to speak with anyone who was close to or friendly with Dante in any


Sewell suggested, “Start with his cellmate?”

Mason nodded. “Have him brought to an interview room. I’ll observe him a few minutes

before going in. What’s the man’s name and what is he in for?”

“Terry Donavan. His third DUI in a month involved a vehicular manslaughter charge.”

“Sounds like an alcoholic and not a cold-blooded killer. Interesting that he was in with


“Overcrowding in the system, I’m afraid. Special Agent Patrick Law had suggested that

we keep Dante in solitary and we were planning on moving Dante to follow the suggestion.”

Sewell paused, wincing and shaking his head. “We were planning to do the right thing—just

waiting on the move. We have some hardened folks here, awaiting their days in court. One man

is accused of killing his entire family—for the life insurance payouts. Another in here is

presumed guilty of five robbery/invasion homicides. Sometimes it’s hard as hell to see the forest

for the trees.”

“Gotcha,” Mason assured him.

“Observation here,” Sewell said, stopping by a door. “Entry to the interrogation room just

down a few steps.”

“All right. Tell the guards not to shackle the man. I’m going to have to build up some

trust—get past whatever blind faith he might have in believing whatever lies Dante might have

told him.”

“You think Terry Donavan might be involved? He’s... In my mind, the man is a pathetic

waste of what he might have been. In here, he’s polite, agreeable and, so it appears, truly

remorseful for what happened. Went through hell when he first came in—in fact, the doctor

Dante killed helped get Terry through the worst of withdrawal when he came in here. If the



“Sorry. He’s just twenty-three,” Sewell said.

“Right. If he’d had help and embraced it, he wouldn’t be where he is,” Mason said.

Sewell nodded. “Step on in. I’ll get Terry in there,” he said, pointing to the stark

interrogation room.

“Would you mind seeing if you can arrange coffee and water for us both? Sounds like

he’s the type who just might help if I can reach him.”

Sewell nodded. Mason stepped into the observation room and looked through the glass

at the room with its simple table—equipped with attachments for shackles when

necessary—and gray walls and flooring. That was it. The table, the walls, the floor. Planned for


A minute later, he saw a guard bringing Terry Donavan in to sit. The man sat. But he

wasn’t shackled and after he’d been left a few minutes, he began to pace the floor.

He did look like a kid. Short hair still showing something of a rakish and shaggy

appearance, movements nervous, eyes caught in a concerned face as he walked the few feet

within the room.

The guard returned with two cups of water and two cups of coffee. That seemed to

perplex the young man even further.

Mason waited another few minutes. Then Terry Donavan sat again, looking suspiciously

at his cup of coffee before sipping at it, then letting out a sigh as he apparently decided that it

hadn’t been laced with any kind of poison.

Mason stepped out of the observation room, nodded to the guard and thanked him, and

headed on in, taking the seat across from Terry Donavan.

Donavan looked at him nervously.

“Who are you? Why are you here?”

“My name is Mason Carter,” Mason told him. “Special Agent Mason Carter. And I need

your help.”

“You need help—from me?” Donavan asked nervously. He looked around the room as if

afraid that someone might be watching him, might see him.

Guards were watching. But Donavan wasn’t afraid of the guards. He was afraid of the

possibility that another prisoner might hear him.

Or maybe even Stephan Dante himself.

Mason nodded, leaning toward him, deciding to first use what he knew. “You know that

your doctor is dead, right?” he asked quietly.

He saw the young man look down quickly and wince. The doctor had meant something

to him. He had helped him.

“That had to accident. I mean—”

“Terry, I know that you were in a cell with Stephan Dante. I know how mesmerizing and

hypnotic the man is capable of being.”

“He never hypnotized me!” Donavan protested.

“Dante doesn’t sit you down in a chair and tell you to count backward while concentrating

on a point,” Mason told him. “He charms you—the same way a dad might charm his child while

telling a bedtime story. He talks and creates a new world. And it’s all right—trust me. Plenty of

men and women have fallen for his stories, so well told. And you fell for him, too. If you help me,

I can talk to the district attorney. It will help.”

“I never meant to hurt anyone—”

“I believe you. Addiction is a terrible disease. And the doctor who has now given up his

life is the man who helped you through the agony and suffering of withdrawal.”

Terry looked down again, not wanting to face him.

“Why?” Mason asked very softly. “Did Dante promise that no one was going to be killed

as he planned his escape?”

“If someone died, it was an accident—”

“It’s not an if. People died. And it wasn’t by accident, Terry. Stephan Dante killed the

doctor and took his clothing and his wallet and his car to escape. Hard to do that if—”

“He was just going to knock him out. You know. Drugs. It’s an infirmary. They sedate

people all the time—I mean, seriously, our infirmary is like a hospital setting!”

“You don’t sedate a man with a scalpel,” Mason said quietly.

Donavan looked down for a long moment, his thumbs moving nervously as his hands lay

on the table. He shook his head.

“Terry!” Mason said. “Hey, I can tell. You are not a bad guy. You didn’t want to hurt

anyone. Alcoholism is a disease, and it can take a hell of a lot to cure it. The doctor who finally

led you on a path to relief—”

“Hey, I’m locked up awaiting trial where they’ll want to put me away forever,” Donavan

said bleakly. “Had to get cured in here.”

“But it could have been a cruel cure. In fact, if withdrawal isn’t handled correctly at the

level you were drinking, you could have been left to rot and die. But they did things here by the

law—even using compassion where it fit. Dante killed the man who offered you every kindness

and every ounce of compassion. How the hell can you still stand up for him?”

“I—I—I never thought the doctor would die! The doctor or anyone else. And you don’t

understand,” Donavan told Mason, shaking his head. “And you must be blind. Don’t you see it?

Stephan Dante tells the truth. He said that he’d be out. He said that it was easy to play the

authorities when we all played together. He did it. And he’s coming back for me.”

“He’s coming back for you?” Mason asked.

“Yes! He will regain his power, all that was taken from him, and when he does have his

power again, he’ll come back. And he’ll find us, wherever we are. He’ll come in glory and he’ll

sweep us away to his place where his believers become immortal—”

“Oh, good God, Terry! You’ve had trouble, yes, but you don’t seem to be a stupid man.

Seriously, you believe that?”

“He has already done what he said that he’d do!” Donavan reminded Mason.

Mason shook his head. “I just don’t understand you falling for a ridiculous theory. Do you

believe that the Heaven’s Gate suicides jumped on spaceships to travel to a heavenly astral

plane? You do believe that the earth is round, right?”

“Of course!”

“Terry, do you want to believe in something solid and real? I’m solid and real and right

here and the FBI does have sway with the Justice Department. Let me show you something

else that’s real.” He pulled out his phone and flipped to pictures of Dante’s victims. “They look

beautiful, right? But I don’t believe that you meant to hurt anyone. And when Dante steals all

their blood, Terry, they die. They are the beautiful dead who—as all living creatures—will now rot

and decay. They are not buying anyone a ticket to vampire immortality. I can help you, Terry.

Trust me. Stephan Dante has gotten what he wants from you. Oh, well, first he’s not going to

turn into an immortal and he knows it. By the way, he trained Jesse Miller, who is no longer with

us—having been tutored by Dante, but deciding the heck with vampires, he’d just become Jack

the Ripper. An honest thing at least—he just liked the power of stealing life from others. That’s

not you, Terry. Accept this—Dante is not coming back for you. He not only can’t help you, but if

he could, he wouldn’t. You don’t offer him anything more than he needs. I know that you’re not a

cold-blooded killer. So does he. You’ve no history of forging, and to the best of my knowledge,

you’re not sitting on a multimillion-dollar haul anywhere. Help me—and I will help you.”

Terry stared at him a long time and then hung his head. “I... He didn’t say that I had to

kill anyone. He said that my work here would be enough for me to gain my place with him.”

“He lied. He gave you a bold, all-out lie, Terry. And somewhere inside you, you know it.

You wanted to believe in him. You wanted it so badly because it was better than the prospect of

twenty years to life behind bars. Anything was better than that. You know, sometimes it starts

with someone promising all good things. A truly equal society. That’s pretty much what Jim

Jones promised his followers. Social justice. But what turned him on, what kept him moving

forward at all times, was a desire for power. Dante doesn’t believe in the least that he’s going to

be immortal. What he loves, what he craves, is power. He also loves the act of playing God—he

loves killing. Terry, this is your chance to help me out.”

“Yes!” Donavan said, suddenly looking up at him. The man had tears in his eyes. “Yes, I

will help you. I am so sorry. I—I was a wretched alcoholic. I didn’t want to kill anyone, but when I

didn’t drink the shaking and the headaches got so bad, all until I was in here...all until the

doctor... I...” He stopped speaking and looked Mason in the eye. “I will help you. I don’t know

everything, but I will help you.”

“Libby Larson has two small children,” Alexandra—Alex—Beaufort told Della. “Her poor

husband—he’s beside himself. I don’t think that Libby will be returning to work with prisoners,

not after this! In this crazy day and age, the woman has a beautiful home life, people who truly

love her, and now this...”

“She’s still touch and go?” Della asked.

“The doctors believe that she will make it. We were just fighting different situations. He

hit her with a needle filled with sedation, stabbed her in the side—luckily missing major

organs—and knocked her on the head with one was even sure what he

grabbed. But we’ve been giving her constant transfusions and, of course, done everything

possible to clean out her system from the overdose of morphine. Such a good person!”

Della smiled and nodded at the young nurse speaking with her. “Did you know her

before she came in after the attack?”

“I did. We went to nursing school together. She believed that everyone deserved a

second chance. That human beings were basically good, and that...”

Her words trailed.

“I still believe, just like Libby, that most people are good,” Della told her ruefully. “It’s like

anything—we hear the most about the bad. And sometimes we’re unfortunate enough to see it.

But I’ve been at this awhile and I can tell you that most people are good and want to help when

help is needed. We know about the bad—which I believe is the fringe—because the bad is

always loud and makes us question all else. Anyway, sorry, I understand her—and understand if

she doesn’t go back to work at the facility. I didn’t come to cause further problems—I don’t want

to upset her any more but if possible, I would like to talk to her.”

“She wants to see you,” Alex said. “She heard the FBI had brought him in and she wants

to help catch him again. Still...for her safety and well-being, five minutes?” Alex asked.

“Five minutes,” Della promised.

Libby Larson was in a private room. An IV ran fluids into her arm, while a tube in her

nostrils provided oxygen.

Even in a hospital bed with tubes and wires all around her, Libby was a beautiful young

woman. Her eyes were closed when Della entered the room, and she couldn’t help but wonder if

Dante had been furious that he couldn’t tend to her as he did his victims—dressing her up to lie

in “sleep” like a fairy-tale princess just waiting for true love’s kiss.

Her hair was dark black and swept across the whiteness of the hospital sheets. When

she opened her eyes, they were an incredible deep brown.

“FBI?” she whispered.

Della nodded, smiling, drawing up a chair. “And so grateful to see you alive and on your

way to recovery.”

“I knew who he was. And still...we thought he was going to die. The doctor... Oh, God,

we were even discussing the fact that we were compelled to do everything we could to save life.

He should have been dead! I was one of the medical personnel who rushed into the cafeteria

when the guards had it under control and I saw the blood... He shouldn’t be alive! But he is, and

Dr. Henson is dead and others and... I’m so sorry!”

“What happened?” Della asked. “Do you remember anything at all?”

“Yes. When Dante came in, naturally he wasn’t cuffed. I don’t remember exactly, but one

of us figured he needed to be cuffed and the doctor went out to see the guards. Then I felt a

stab, a little prick, and I was bleeding and then I think something hit me on the head but I barely

even felt it...he was so fast. I—I don’t remember more!”

“Did he say anything at all?” Della asked. “We’re trying to ascertain where he might be


“No. Not a word. But...”


“I’d seen him before,” she said softly. “Prisoners get vaccines, checkups. He was always

so polite, friendly to those around him. And When they don’t think that others

can hear them. He made friends with everyone in here—the worst of the worst.” She paused,

wincing. “The only hard-core people he seemed to ignore were pedophiles—he had no interest

in them.”

“To the best of my knowledge, he doesn’t kill children,” Della said.

“How can a man appear to be so decent, polite, even charming and be such a monster?

And I can’t help but feel that it’s partially my fault—”

“Never think that. Never. Saving lives is a beautiful thing. Trust me. Stephan Dante has

fooled just about everyone he’s ever met. Don’t let him succeed. Don’t let him change you,”

Della said softly.

“He whistled sometimes.”

“What did he whistle?”

“I can’t quite put my finger on the tune, but...”


“It seemed as if he was taunting people with it. A lot of what I’m saying is hearsay. I only

saw him a few times while he was incarcerated. I just...” Tears stung her eyes. “The doctor is

dead. A guard... That man is a monster!”

“Thank you,” Della told her. “Thank you. And get better! Rest, get better.”

“I will. I have children and the dearest husband in the world. Do you have children?”

“No, I don’t. But I’ve heard yours are wonderful.”

“Little boy, little girl. And my husband! Are you married?”


“I’m sorry. That was rude—”

“No, it’s okay. There are people in my life who make it very precious, too.”

“Hold them close. Because we never know. We just never know.” She smiled weakly.

“Ah, no children, but there is someone you love. I mean, besides your family!”

“Yes,” Della said, smiling in return. “There is someone very important in my life.”

“Make sure he knows! There were moments when I was semiconscious when I thought I

might die, and I wondered what the last words were that I had said to my husband. And I was so

glad... We’d been on the phone. He’d told me he could pick up the kids and I thanked him and I

told him that I loved him. I was so glad to realize that! Well, happier that they think I’m going to

be okay, but...tell people that you love them. Because none of us knows what our last words to

anyone will be!”

“I will. I will remember your words. And thank you. Thank you again. I’m going to leave

my card on your bedside table. If you think of anything else that might be helpful, will you have

someone call me for you?”

“Of course, yes. And I’m going to work on my memory—and my whistle.”

As Della rose to leave, Libby Larson indeed began trying to whistle. Trying to replicate

what she had heard.

Despite her condition, she found a tune.

And as she walked out, Della went still. At first, the whisper of a whistle just teased at her

memory as well.

Then she thought that she recognized the tune—and that yes, it had been meant to

tease and taunt.

And knowing Dante, she thought bitterly, it was almost an invitation. He wanted them to

run around trying to follow him.

He didn’t want them missing any of his handiwork.

Excerpted from Cursed at Dawn by Heather Graham. Copyright © 2023 by Heather Graham

Pozzessere. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

Book Summary:

Dracula lives—and he’s hunting for his bride.

Vampires may not walk among us, but FBI agents Della Hamilton and Mason Carter know real monsters exist. They’ve witnessed firsthand the worst humankind has to offer. They’re still catching their breaths after the apprehension of two such monstrous killers when they’re met with horrific news: Stephan Dante, the self-proclaimed king of the vampires, has escaped from prison, followed only by a trail of blood.

All too familiar with Dante’s cruelty, Della and Mason know the clock is ticking. But as Dante claims more victims, a chilling message arrives. The vampire killer seeks his eternal bride—Della herself. Playing into Dante’s desires might be the only way to stop the carnage once and for all, assuming they can outwit him. Della is confident the agents have the upper hand, but Mason knows every gamble runs the risk of not paying off, and this time, the consequences could be deadly.

Social Links:

Author Website

Facebook: @Heather Graham

Twitter: @HeatherGraham

Author Bio: 

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Heather Graham has written more than a hundred novels. She's a winner of the RWA's Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Thriller Writers' Silver Bullet. She is an active member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America. For more information, check out her websites:,, and You can also find Heather on Facebook.

Monday, August 21, 2023


 Welcome to my showcase for THE KEEPER OF HIDDEN BOOKSwhich is been hosted by 

HarperCollins Publishers | Harlequin Trade Publishing

Hanover Square Press | Graydon House | MIRA Books | Park Row Books | Canary Street Press

The Keeper of Hidden Books: A Novel

By Madeline Martin

On Sale: August 1, 2023

ISBN: 9781335455024

Hanover Square Press Paperback Original 

Price: $18.99

Buy Links:



Barnes & Noble: 

Social Links:

Author Website: 





About the Book:

1939, Warsaw: All her life, Zofia has found comfort in two things during times of hardship: books and her best friend since childhood, Janina.

But now as Germany bombs and destroys their city, and the horror increases around her, Zofia jumps to action to save her friend and salvage whatever books she can from the wreckage, hiding them away, and even starting a clandestine book club. She and her dearest friend never surrender their love of reading, even when Janina, half Jewish, is forced to relocate into the newly formed Warsaw ghetto.

But life only becomes more dangerous for the women and their families – and escape may not be possible for everyone. Through the war raging around them, Marta and Janina find hope and the will in each other to survive, and fight using the only weapon they have left – literature.

About the Author: Madeline Martin is a New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author of historical fiction and historical romance with books that have been translated into over twenty-five different languages.

She lives in sunny Florida with her two daughters (known collectively as the minions), two incredibly spoiled cats and a man so wonderful he's been dubbed Mr. Awesome. She is a die-hard history lover who will happily lose herself in research any day. When she's not writing, researching or 'moming', you can find her spending time with her family at Disney or sneaking a couple spoonfuls of Nutella while laughing over cat videos. She also loves research and travel, attributing her fascination with history to having spent most of her childhood as an Army brat in Germany


Warsaw, Poland August 1939 

ZOFIA NOWAK SAT BACK on her calves in the warm summer grass while her friend Janina clumsily wound a bandage around her head. The other pairs of Girl Guides sat in a semicircle beneath the oak trees in Łazienki Park, all working to perfect their first aid skills. Not that the looming war on Poland would ever come to Warsaw. 

Still, it was wise to be ready and everyone in the city was preparing in their own particular way. For Papa, it was stocking medical supplies at the hospital while Zofia’s mother waited in endless grocer’s lines to ensure their cabinets were overflowing with tinned food. Posters were plastered all over the city asking men to line up at elementary schools and enlist, and radio stations filled the air with the pulse of patriotic music.

And it was why Helen Keller’s The Story of My Life was nestled in Zofia’s bag, another read inspired by the list of books Hitler had banned in Germany.

Zofia pulled the bandage from her head and repurposed the linen to bind a splint onto Janina’s lower leg. “How’s that?”

“It feels good.” Janina wriggled her limb. “Studying medicine like your father might be a good choice for next year.”

Rather than reply, Zofia considered her handiwork.

“Have you decided what you want to do after our final exams?” Janina’s voice was gentle as she spoke, but nothing could lighten the pressing decision that weighed on Zofia every day.

This was their last year of secondary school, a final exam away from graduating. They would be eighteen then—adults. The whole world stretched out ahead of them like a runway so they could soar into the future.

For everyone, except her.

“You sound like Matka,” Zofia groused.

Though it wasn’t really true. Janina’s characteristic delicacy was nowhere near the brusque tone of Zofia’s mother. Whether she was insisting Zofia dress nicer, be more outgoing, or be more proactive with choosing a career path—something lucrative, like medicine—there was always a demanding air about her mother. Which was precisely why Zofia referred to her in the more formal regard as Matka, rather than Mama.

Janina’s mother was a Mama. The type to smile and ask after a test, or to offer hugs on a bad day rather than criticism.

Perhaps that was why Janina was always so kind and considerate. It was that congeniality that started their friendship so many years ago when they were children. Zofia had never been gregarious, more the kind to keep to herself and tuck into a book than drum up conversation with people she didn’t 

know. Being the tallest in class did her no favors, leaving her feeling as though she stuck out like an ugly duckling among baby chicks. On Janina’s first day in school, she’d strode over to Zofia with an enviable confidence and shared some of the flower-shaped butter cookies her mother had baked, filling in any silence between them with an animated chatter that made Zofia instantly like her.

Now, Janina moved her leg, testing Zofia’s bandage. “If I sound like Matka, then I take back my suggestion.” The loosely tied bandage gave and the neat knot slipped free, the band unraveling from her leg. One of the splints tilted over into the grass.

“Being in medicine is not my path, evidently.” Zofia collected the splint with what she hoped was an uncaring smile. “I think Papa understands.”

Her father was a renowned doctor in Warsaw, specializing in surgeries. His was a name that would be impossible to live up to, especially for a daughter who couldn’t commit to any kind of future.

“You love to read.” Janina blew a lock of dark hair out of her brown eyes. “Maybe you could study literature.” She gasped in excitement and sat up straighter. “Perhaps you could become an author, like Marta Krakowska.”

It sounded ridiculous even when Janina said it with such sincerity. While Zofia had no idea what she wanted to do, she did know she was no Marta Krakowska. The author penned epic tales of romance featuring lovers who meet amid the strife of war. Every story was better than the last, each ending in contented happiness for the couple and a little calico cat.

But Zofia didn’t believe in romance, and she didn’t have the lyrical voice of Krakowska. She was no author, to be sure.

Zofia pulled the other splint from Janina’s leg and wound the bandage into a neat ball. “Did you read The Story of My Life yet?”

Janina’s eyes lit up. “I did. What an incredible—”

“No,” a voice called out from the pair beside them.

Their friend Maria shook her head, blond curls swaying, her arm extended toward her Guide partner, who had it wrapped partially to the elbow. “You can’t talk about the book right now, when I can barely hear you.”

“At the library then.” Janina turned her attention back to Zofia with a mischievous glint in her eye. “But you clearly want to change the subject, so let’s turn to something more pleasant. Like how much you’re looking forward to school tomorrow.”

Zofia groaned and Maria turned away with a quiet smile.

Math was tediously dull, the series of numbers lacking any real challenge. Government was dryer than the dust gathering on her unopened textbooks from last year. Even art was awful. While Zofia appreciated the beauty of it, the medium of their application was of little interest to her. Oh, and how she hated, hated, hated being subjected to the mediocrity of her own limited skills when forced to try her hand. On and on it went with every class, each one more lackluster than the last.

Except literature. She did enjoy that subject.

At least at university, her courses would be tailored to her future endeavors. Whatever they might be.

Their Girl Guide captain, Krystyna, clapped her hands to get their attention, sparing Janina a sardonic reply from Zofia about just how much she was not looking forward to school tomorrow.

“Great job today, Guides.” Krystyna looked around the circle of paired-off girls, her head lifted with satisfaction. “War with Germany is coming, and Poland must be ready. At least the Girl Guides definitely are.”

Warmth effused Zofia’s chest at those words.

The Girl Guides was a scouting organization meant to prepare girls and young women for life with social skills, philanthropic ideals, and the ability to offer aid to the public in whatever form was needed.

If Germany did attack, the Girl Guides’ efforts would help Poland.

Zofia was part of the generation of Poles born in a free state after regaining its sovereignty during the Treaty of Versailles. It was something Poland had fought for more than one hundred and twenty years to obtain. From their earliest days, they were fed tales of heroism and bravery until their eyes burned bright with patriotism and their hearts thumped with Polish pride.

Theirs might be a country young in her independence, having only just celebrated twenty years, but she was ready to cut her teeth on victory.

Something the Germans would likely soon learn.

“What does Antek say about the war?” Janina asked as they pushed up from the grass.

Zofia smoothed a hand over her hair to tame her waves back into place after Janina’s bandaging attempts.

Like most men and boys in Warsaw, her brother was a self-appointed battle strategist in casting his predictions on the impending incursion. The map he had tacked on his wall was crowded with red-tipped pins representing the German army where they clustered around potential attack points.

“He thinks it’ll start in Gdansk.” She kept her tone glib. Antek may be one year older than Zofia, but that didn’t mean she trusted his assessment. “Maybe it’ll happen before school starts tomorrow.”

“Zofia,” Janina scolded. “You shouldn’t say such things.”

Zofia picked a blade of grass from where it had stuck to her knee and grinned up at Janina. “Maybe you should come see his map sometime.”

Janina’s face went red, just as Zofia knew it would. Though the two had been friends for well over a decade, Antek had never noticed Janina until earlier that year. Ever since, he’d made a fool of himself whenever she visited, tripping over his words and giving a funny smile that made a little muscle under his right eye tick.

And as much as Janina protested her own lack of affection for him, Zofia caught her discreet glances and inevitable blushes.

Maria sidled up next to Zofia, her honey-brown eyes as brilliant as Baltic amber. “Are we still going to the library? Papa was recently in Paris and said he’d bring me with him on his next trip. I have to study more books.”

“More?” Janina teased.

As any Francophile worth her Parisian silk, Maria knew everything about the city. And, no, it was not enough that Warsaw was considered the Paris of Eastern Europe. She wanted Paris. The Paris of all the world.

The trio wandered toward Koszykowa Street, keeping to the shadows where the late-August sun couldn’t beat down upon them. They were at the main branch of the Warsaw Public Library nearly every day now, not that Zofia minded.

In previous times, however, they might have gone to the cinema or purchased ice cream from one of the vendors in the park, but the recent lack of coins made such things difficult.

Rumor had it that Hitler ordered all the bronze and nickel coins out of Poland until not a groszy remained, so little things like a single postage stamp or an ice cream were impossible to pay for.

“Can we finally talk about The Story of My Life?” Janina slid a pointed glance toward Maria, who smirked.

“Now that I can hear and participate without being wrapped up like a mummy, yes.” Her chin lifted slightly, a sure sign she’d had her way.

“What Helen Keller has been able to accomplish in her life is truly incredible.” Janina nudged Maria with her elbow. “As I was going to say before.”

“That’s why I thought this was such a good selection to all read together,” Zofia said. It had been her idea for them to read Germany’s banned books as a slight against Hitler. Maria and Janina had agreed, but only after Maria accused Zofia of trying to assign them all summer homework. Once Janina was on board, so was Maria. So far this was the fourth banned book they had read.

Zofia turned to regard her friends, almost tripping over a crack in the walkway. “Did you know she wrote a letter to Hitler and the students of Germany who burned books?”

“Really?” Maria’s brows lifted.

A chimney sweep passed, and the three young women immediately grasped for a button on their Girl Guide uniforms. After all, who would turn down an opportunity for good luck with war on the horizon?

From THE KEEPER OF HIDDEN BOOKS by Madeline Martin. Copyright 2023 Madeline Martin. Published by Hanover Square Press, an imprint of HarperCollins. 

Thursday, August 3, 2023

The Twelve Dogs Of Christmas


Title : The Twelve Dogs Of Christmas 

Series : Pine Hollow book 1 

Author : Lizzie Shane 

Genre: Romance 

Publishing: Forever 

Read as : Pyhical book & NetGalley ARC

Part of my NetGalley Backlist TBR for 2020

Rating : ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Note :

First off a big thinks to Forever, the author Lizzie Shane and to NetGalley for not only letting me request the ARC ,but also for sending me a physical copy of it to read .

My thoughts

Cute and adorable,  will having you smiling and laughing though out the book because of not only the characters themselves but the dogs . And the town they live in is a town that even Mary Poppins would love to visit. 

What it's about : 

Pine Hollow has everything Ally Gilmore could wish for in a holiday break: gently falling snow in a charming small town and time with her family. Then she learns some Grinch has pulled the funding for her family's rescue shelter, and now she has only four weeks to find new homes for a dozen dogs! But when she confronts her Scroogey councilman nemesis, Ally finds he's far more reasonable-and handsome-than she ever expected.

As the guardian of his dog-obsessed ten-year-old niece, Ben West doesn't have time to build a cuddly reputation. But he does feel guilty about the shelter closing. So he proposes a truce with Ally, agreeing to help her adopt out the pups. As the two spend more time together, the town's gossip is spreading faster than Santa's sleigh on Christmas Eve. And soon Ben is hoping he can convince Ally that Pine Hollow is her home for the holidays...and the whole year through.

Monday, July 10, 2023


 Sorry I haven't been posting anything , this year has been crazy and I just haven't been in the mindset to post , but I miss posting so I'm slowly going to get back into it , and make some changes , frist on the top of my blog your see pages , those are where I'm going to start posting the books I read though the year ( from Jan - July ) , then Aug - Dec . Second I'm also going to post a page called Monthly TBRs there are going to be for my monthly TBR , don't worry I'm still going to post reviews that going to be in my blog part of my blog like always , some might have up to 3 or 4 books in a post  ( if so their short reviews ) while others are going to be one big post , still going to do show cases as well as  blog tours ( taking a break from doing blog tours doing the months of Aug- Sept )from Bookouture but I'm still going to be reading and reviewing their books and back doing their blog tours in Oct - Dec. 

So changes 

Pages - Reading Corner ( books read from Jan - July ) and ( Aug - Dec ) 

Pages - Monthly TBRs 

Blog part - short reviews of books or one page review 

blog tours 


book hauls - well as be on in pages 

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Taken Girls

 Welcome to my blog tour stop for Taken Girls which is been hosted by Bookouture 

Author: Carolyn Arnold 
Pub Day: JUNE 20TH 2023
Buy Link(s):

Rating: 5

Would I recommend it? Yes

Would I read more by this author ? Yes

Would I read more of this series ? Yes

First off I want to thank Bookouture as well as the author Carolyn Arnold , and NetGalley for the invite to read and review Taken Girls, This might just be my favorite of the series because of how the author  shows the effects of bullying and those that are left feeling betrayed, rejected, and misunderstood, and why it need to be stopped . As well as show how much the characters themselves have grown and change , and how with each book you get to see their personality shine .

About the Book: 

Music from the busy dancefloor echoes into the deserted room where the Prom Queen lies deadly still. A tiara rests on her soft blonde curls, but her face is frozen with fear, and her painted red lips are forever sealed shut in a silenced scream…When Detective Amanda Steele’s niece, Ava, begs her to look for a missing schoolfriend, she immediately agrees to take on the case. Eighteen-year-old Reese left home three nights ago after fighting with her mother and hasn’t been seen since. But when the teenager’s body is discovered brutally murdered, poised dramatically at the prom venue, Amanda is devastated she didn’t save the girl in time.Haunted by the scene, Amanda dives headfirst into the case. Chasing every lead, she is horrified when she discovers a potential key witness strangled in her own home. It soon becomes clear that the killer will stop at nothing to silence anyone who might reveal their identity. So when Ava mentions she saw someone acting strangely at the prom venue that night, Amanda’s heart stops.And when Amanda’s worst nightmare comes true, and her beloved niece is taken, she knows that every second counts to uncover this twisted killer’s identity and bring Ava home safely. But can she crack the secrets of this killer’s deadly game before it’s too late?A completely pulse-pounding and unputdownable crime thriller, perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Robert Dugoni and Rachel Caine.

Author Bio

CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international bestselling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has several continuing fiction series and has many published books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from police procedurals, hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures. Her crime fiction series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining. This led to her adopting the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.

She currently lives near London, Ontario, Canada with her husband and two beagles.

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Sunday, June 18, 2023

Their Wicked Games


Would I recommend the series ? Yes

Would I read more by this author? Yes 

Would I read more of this series ? Yes in fact I'm slowly buying them though the google play book store so I'll have them to read.

First off I would love to say a big thank you to Bookouture , the author D.K.Hood and to Netgalley for letting me read and review one of my all time favorite series , because One again D.K.Hood has done it by weaving together a  story that is hard to put down when you start reading it , from the very start your hooked , and pulled into a story that is full of surprises,  as well as suspense,  and makes you question everything you thought you ever knew about the town and the people who live there . And all of this is in a town that looks peaceful but really isn't , because its a town that seems to draw serial killers to it like crazy . 

Author: D.K. Hood 
Pub Day:  JUNE 13th 2023
Buy Links: 





About the book: 

As she scans the dark pine forest, the unmistakable sound of a twig snapping breaks the silent stillness. She isn’t alone. She begins to run but she hardly has time to scream before her world goes black…

On a secluded path near Black Rock Falls, three bodies lie bloodied and still—the arrows that killed them removed, and polished penny coins carefully placed on their frozen eyes. When Sheriff Jenna Alton and Deputy David Kane are called in, they are shocked to recognise the hallmarks of an infamous serial killer. But he’s been in prison for ten years.

Jenna is convinced that the attacker knew the trio and lured them into the forest. But who would want to harm three innocent teenagers? And how does a convicted murderer fit in? Jenna knows she must question James Earl Stafford—one of America’s most dangerous killers—if she’s to save more innocent young lives.

With Stafford refusing to give answers, Jenna is convinced that a copycat killer is stalking her small town. And her worst fears are realised when a local fisherman discovers another teenager’s lifeless body floating in the shallows of a local watering hole with the same penny coins covering her eyes.

As parents panic for their children’s lives, Jenna works around the clock to track down the murderer, but little does she know that one of her own team is now being watched. Can Jenna play the killer’s wicked game and prevent another life from being taken?

Perfect for fans of Lisa Regan, Melinda Leigh and Kendra Elliot, Their Wicked Games is a nail-biting crime thriller from USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author D.K. Hood that will have you hooked from the very first page.

**Each Kane and Alton book can be read as part of the series or as a standalone**

Author Bio

D.K. Hood is THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, USA TODAY and AMAZON bestselling author of the Detective Kane and Alton Series. Her spine chilling, fast-paced serial killer thrillers revolve around Sheriff Jenna Alton and her ex-special forces Deputy, Dave Kane. As the main characters fight crime, their secret pasts are never far away. Set in and around the fictional backwoods town of Black Rock Falls, Montana, known locally as Serial Killer Central, D.K.'s imagery takes the reader into the scenes with her. Given the title "Queen of Suspense" by her reviewers, D.K.'s writing style offers her readers a movie style, sizzling fast thrill ride.

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Reading Corner Chat ( September 2023)

 Welcome to my reading corner , where we talk about the books I've read and think you should know about , and that you might be interest...