Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Reapers by Ali Winters Review ~Kami

Title: The Reapers
Author: Ali Winters 
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: May 31, 2015
Hosted by: Lady Amber's Tours


The balance of life and death must be kept at all costs.

Having been a reaper as long as she can remember, Nivian knows that what she does is essential in maintaining balance. After being assigned to a rushed mark she finds that there is more to this human than any other she has encountered.

Kain had been living an ordinary life without a second thought until he meets Nivian who turns his world upside down. He is thrust into a world of hunters and reapers. The keepers of life and death have been feuding for centuries over a reason no one can even remember.

With Kain having been marked for reaping, and Nivian being hunted, they forge a friendship and together must find the truth in order to keep balance in check. Wrong choices could destroy everything. As they journey they discover hidden histories, powers, and lies and truths that have been spun since the beginning of time. The consequence of failure, unimaginable.


Nivian is a reaper. She has an ordinary enough job causing people's deaths and taking their souls. The reaper's headquarters is in an office building on another planet. Apparently the reapers are the natural order of things but they immediately came across as demonic to me. Nivian was an interesting character and the writing is very straight forward. Kain can see Nivian when no one else can and interferes in her killing her mark. This was an interesting variation on the grim reaper story. I liked the story and it kept my attention. 4 stars.

Author Bio:

Ali grew up in the Pacific North West. She attended Oregon State University for photography. After many adventures she moved to Colorado and earning second degree, she found and met and married her husband. 
Ali currently lives in windy Wyoming with her husband and two dogs, Nika and Tedward. When not writing Ali is either photographing, knitting, reading, dancing or staying inside where it’s warm with a hot cup of coffee. She dreams of traveling the world someday soon.

Author Links:

You can email Ali at

Or you can also find her on these social platforms.



Nivian jumped over the edge of the bridge, landing with a soft tap on the surface of the water. She reached down, pulled the soul of the driver up by the collar of his shirt, and stood him up next to her on top of the water. She took the drivers hand palm up in hers, waving her other hand over his. She pinched the air and pulled, lifting up and exposing his life string, his wide eyes were hypnotized by the glowing string. She grabbed the scythe strapped to her back and swung. With a slow deliberate movement she sliced the human’s thread. The light formed a ball and hovered as she pulled out the small pocket watch. The life light floated down to the watch and sunk into it, disappearing. With a snap, she closed the watch and returned it to her pocket.

“You really shouldn’t drink and drive; you could have seriously hurt someone,” she said giving him an apathetic look. He gaped at her, mouth opening and closing like a fish. “Yes, you really are dead.” She confirmed as she started to turn away.

“Are you … the devil?” he managed to sputter.

“No, of course not. I am just the natural order of things,” she said, briefly looking back at him. “Wait here; your spirit counselor will be here soon for you to guide you to your afterlife. I have other jobs tonight,” She turned, walking away as she pulled her hood back up over her head and vanished.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Field Trip The Field Trip by R.A. Andrade review ~Kami

The Field TripThe Field Trip by R.A. Andrade
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A clumsy, socially awkward, absent minded professor who can't get a steady girlfriend goes to Vermont for a field research trip to study evolutionary mutation in trees. There have been strange sightings of lights in the sky and a military presence. Ross then meets a strange woman named Jay and her animal companion Oswald. I liked this book. The writing and pacing are good. I thought Ross was really funny in his awkwardness and then he becomes a totally impressive action hero. 5 stars.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Uprooted by Naomi Novik review ~Kami

UprootedUprooted by Naomi Novik
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A wizard chooses a village girl to live with him in his tower for ten years. The girl he chooses seems to have a natural talent for magic. This book had a very old world fairy tale feel. I thought it was similar to Beauty and the Beast with the huge library and the wizard who is called The Dragon is pretty grumpy. Or maybe Merlin and Nimue. A really good fantasy story about good versus an evil wood. 4 stars.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Alive by Scott Sigler review ~ Kami

Alive (Generations, #1)Alive by Scott Sigler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a weird Lord of the Flies/Matrix/Dark City type young adult scifi story. A girl wakes up on her birthday. She believes she is twelve. She wakes up in a coffin type pod, her body has changed, she meets more children. They have symbols that signify some kind of caste system. They don't remember their names or how they got there. Seems like they are some kind of experiment. I liked this story. It was unusual enough to keep me reading. I wanted to know what was going on. I liked the characters. The writing is good. 4 stars.

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Reflection by Lynn Yvonne Moon review ~Kami

ReflectionReflection by Lynn Yvonne Moon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Journey and her younger sister go to live with their father after their mother dies. I liked this story and it held my interest. I liked the characters. The tone of this story has a very dreamy quality. Journey and her sister accept living on an alien planet pretty quickly which I found farfetched and there was a bit of info dumping. Other than that pretty good. 3 stars.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Bomb by Sarah Mussi review ~ Kami

BombBomb by Sarah Mussi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a pretty exciting thriller about a girl who is kidnapped and forced to wear a suicide bomb vest. It was pretty scary. It kept my interest since I wanted to keep reading to see if she would get help and survive. It is really interesting how this book comes together. Unusual but it works. 4 stars.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Itch: Nine Tales of Fantastic Worlds by Kris Austen Radcliffe review ~Kami

Itch: Nine Tales of Fantastic WorldsItch: Nine Tales of Fantastic Worlds by Kris Austen Radcliffe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nine shorts stories that are a good mix of well written sci fi by Kris Austen Radcliffe. People who like Philip K Dick and enjoy the show Continuum will like these stories, I feel.

Honey to Sooth the Itch is an amazingly written zombie, sci-fi story. Kris Austen Radcliffe is an exceptional writer. I am in awe of her talent. This is a quick read. It immediately draws you in and doesn't let go. This is definitely something special. 5 stars.

A Man Does Not Sneak Away is a really good short story about manipulating the time stream by field workers on a spaceship.

On Fey Street there are monsters.

The Taste of Marbles is a really strange story but I loved it for its quirky peculiarity. Reminded me a lot of Phillip K Dick. The narrator of this strange little tale seems to be in some kind of temporal flux. She can see all time periods at once. To experience all the time periods fully, the narrator licks items. This story is amazingly weird and so well written. 5 stars.

Conpulsio is about Ladon and Dragon in 79 AD Rome. Vesuvius is about to blow. This writer is so skilled at immediately hooking you into a story. The characters are so well thought and fleshed out. The story is so good, my mind wasn't wandering like it often does when I am reading. It was so exciting, I couldn't stop reading it. This is a very compelling, fast paced, well-written novella. "Death was as easy as kneeling under a tree, waiting for a mountain."

Diamonds and bones is a fun space pirate adventure.

Callous is an interesting story about time travel implants that itch.

Cop Killer is a twisted nightmare of a fairy tale with lice.

Cinder to Dust was previously published in Prolusio and is part of the Fate Fire Shifter Dragon universe about Rysa's mother Mira.

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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Rocco's Wings by Rebecca Merry Murdock review ~ Kami

Rocco's Wings (Tales of Terrakesh #1)Rocco's Wings by Rebecca Merry Murdock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The winged Urvogel live in a world with humans. Rocco's mother is human and his father is Urvogel. Rocco doesn't fit in with humans or Urvogel. He is hated by both. A young adult adventure story about a sympathetic misfit. 4 stars.

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The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker review ~Kami

The Witch HunterThe Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A high fantasy book about Elizabeth a witch hunter. In this world witchcraft is against the king's law though magic is real. I thought this book started out kind of slow but it became more interesting when Elizabeth is accused of witchcraft. 4 stars.

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Saturday, May 9, 2015

The List by Kate L Mary review ~Kami

The List (College of Charleston, #1)The List by Kate L. Mary
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Annie has a list of 20 things that she wants to do in college like smoke, get drunk, get a tattoo, and lose her virginity. This is a typical good girl rebelling in college. She meets a couple guys and this turns into a love triangle. An okay new adult college romance. 3 stars.

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Friday, May 8, 2015

Undertow by Michael Buckley review ~ Kami

Undertow (Undertow #1)Undertow by Michael Buckley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lyric lives in Coney Island and has migraines. Her family is living in hiding under mysterious circumstances. Alien fish people: selkies, sirens, Triton etc. came out of the ocean and everyone freaked out and people died. The Alpha are being integrated into society and even going to high school with Lyric. I liked this story a lot. I cared about the characters and the story kept my attention. Lyric and the prince of the Alpha have a very sweet romance. This must be the beginning of a series because there was a lot left unresolved. I look forward to reading more about Lyric's adventures. There was a lot of exciting things happening at the end. 5 stars.

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Monday, May 4, 2015

Piercing the Fold series by Venessa Kimball reviews ~Kami

Title: Piercing the Fold Series
Author: Venessa Kimball   
Genre: YA/Teen Paranormal/ Science Fiction/ Dystopian/ Fantasy
Hosted by: Lady Amber's Tours


Honestly I think this title sounds dirty. But once I could move past that, I was liking the story. The "fold", ahem in this context refers to alien world portals or wormholes. I also didn't like the heavy Christian doctrine, another thing I had to move past. Jesca has night terrors, visions and strange occurrences happen to her so she begins to think she is losing her mind, but her superhuman abilities are tools for being a guardian.  The writing was good. The pacing is slow at first but then picks up a lot. The metaphysics was interesting. 4 stars. 


This book has another dirty sounding title. I liked that this one was heavier on the sci fi adventure than religious doctrine like the first book. The characters are interesting but flat seeming at times. I thought the first book was dragging a lot, but this one had a faster pace. All in all, I enjoyed it. 4 stars. 

Ascending the Veil (Piercing the Fold, #3)

Nate and Ezra were sucked into a wormhole. Jesca loves Xander. I feel like this series has vastly improved since the first book. There is a lot of fast paced action and adventure. 4 stars.

  Transcending the Legacy (Piercing the Fold, #4)

 I think I liked this book the best of the four books. The writing is vastly improved and the pace is fast. The characters have evolved a lot. The book starts out right after the last one with Jesca no longer linked to either Nate or Xander. A good action packed conclusion to the series. 4 stars.


Piercing the Fold: 
"I'm Jesca. I have intense nightmares nightly and hallucinations of dark auras closing in on me daily. Strangers' faces distort before my eyes and I hear voices in my head. All symptoms of insanity, 'illusions in reality', right? Wrong. This is my reality and it has been set askew." Jesca Gershon Sera discovers that she is part of a legacy and a fellowship of guardians destined to protect the human race from a galactic event that will invade and evolve our world.

Surfacing the Rim: Book 2 : 
The impending galactic event that will invade and evolve our world is upon us and our salvation lies in the hands of Jesca and her fellowship of Dobrian guardians. The sadistic Sondian fellowship's inhumane corruption of our world is spreading like wildfire, redrawing lines between allies and enemies. Jesca's fortitude is put to the test when she must make crucial decisions in battle and in love. She must choose between the predestined link that she shares with one man and the unresolved attraction she holds for another. Will Jesca have enough courage to surface the rim of this reality?

Ascending the Veil: Book 3: 
A veil has been parted. A galactic intersection has been spurred by the hands of an enemy, the Sondian Fellowship. Now, a veil, a barrier, meant to divide our universe from all others has been parted. This celestial veil was meant to keep beings of those universes from invading ours; mythical, fantastical, demonic, and angelic beings. Jesca and the rest of the Dobrian fellowship quickly realize that these beings have been the very product of the "illusions in reality" they have been tracking, dodging, and protecting mankind from. One that Jesca must ascend. Ezra Kahn and Nate Sera have sacrificed themselves beyond the veil of our universe in an attempt to protect both Jesca and mankind. Their sacrifice was noble, but not enough to stop the global invasion and apocalyptical evolution in our world. The fate of those Jesca loves and mankind is dismal unless she and the Dobrian guardians can find a way to get Ezra and Nate back and seal the ethereal veil between our universe and those that lie beyond it. Among the illusions a legacy will be unmasked. To her surprise, Jesca's ascension beyond the veil unmasks an ancient legacy that is much older and runs much deeper than the Dobrian fellowship. An empyrean inheritance seeded among mankind long ago that courses through the veins of the Onoch family and Jesca.

Transcending the Legacy: Book 4 (Finale) 
With Jesca’s return from beyond the veil comes the realization that she is part of an ancient and celestial legacy that is much greater than the Sondian and Dobrian rivalry could ever be and the understanding of what has become of our world in the year that she has been gone beyond the veil.
It becomes known that ancient bloodlines and a supernal legacy has linked Jesca, her family, the two men she is torn between, and the team of guardians. With no other guidance but Jesca’s visions of what this legacy holds for them, the guardians are depending on the divining glimpses she is receiving to put them on the path leading to salvation.
As for our world, the population that has survived the galactic intersection, the climatic shift, and the necessary implantations are being invaded, occupied, and destroyed by the very beings Jesca encountered beyond the veil. The beings intent? To possess our world and stop Jesca and the other guardians from fulfilling the legacy that could save the human race and eradicate them.
Once again, Author Venessa Kimball will take you on a spine-tingling and breath-taking roller coaster ride through a reality that has been set askew, a reality that has surfaced the rim of our known existence, a reality that has ascended unworldly obstacles, and now a reality that must be transcended by one for the survival of all. The question is, will the stakes be too high and the loss be too great for Jesca and the guardians?
Get ready for the final book in Jesca’s journey, Transcending the Legacy.

Author Bio:
Having always been passionate about the written word, Venessa Kimball embarked on writing what would become her debut novel, Piercing the Fold: Book 1; a young adult paranormal/sci-fi series. July 2, 2012, Venessa Kimball independently published the first book in the Piercing the Fold series. Book 2, Surfacing the Rim, released March 14, 2013. In August of 2013, Venessa joined the publishing house, Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly. The Piercing the Fold series has been re-published with CHBB beginning with Piercing the Fold: Book 1 on September 3, 2013. Surfacing the Rim: Book 2 re-published on September 24, 2013 and Ascending the Veil: Book 3 released November 2013. The fourth book in the series, Transcending the Legacy: Book 4 released May 13, 2014. Kimball's compelling teen contemporary fiction novel, Dismantling Evan, released January 13, 2015. Venessa is currently working on the Evan series, but as for the future, she is filling her Work-In-Progress folder with some world piercing characters and stories. When Venessa is not writing, she is keeping active with her husband and three children; chauffeuring said children to extracurricular activities, catching a movie with her hubby, and staying up way too late reading. 

Author Links:
Youtube channel with all videos/book trailers/ interviews
Pinterest  (board for PtF, StR, AtV, TtL, and future projects…visual inspiration)
Spotify PtF series playlists by book as well as Dismantling Evan playlist:

Buy Links:
Piercing the Fold: Book 1
Surfacing the Rim: Book2
Ascending the Veil: Book3
Transcending the Legacy: Book4:

Friday, May 1, 2015

Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep review ~ Kami

Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1)Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a really good urban fantasy story with lots of magic, monsters and a spunky, young female protagonist. Just the kind of book that I love. Lila accidentally gets in the middle of a mob feud. Her mother was killed because of the Families and Lila has been trying to avoid them since. A really, exciting, well written magical adventure. I look forward to reading the next book. 5 stars.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Guardian of Paradise by WE Lawrence review ~ Kami

Guardian of ParadiseGuardian of Paradise by W.E. Lawrence
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A mysterious island draws the attention of some dubious characters. I thought the concept was interesting and it drew me in immediately. The writing is good but rough in the beginning. I liked that Kira was outspoken and spunky. The beginning was shaky but the story got better. Some of the book was very erotic and other parts had some exciting adventure. 4 stars.

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Friday, April 17, 2015

The Decaying Empire by Laura Thalassa review ~ Kami

The Decaying Empire (The Vanishing Girl, #2)The Decaying Empire by Laura Thalassa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ember wakes up in the hospital ten months later after having spliced. She knows she works for the government. She knows she can teleport and she knows she loves Caden. This is a well written, fast paced and exciting adventure story. I was liking this book as much as the first one. I like the characters and enjoyed the story. 4 stars.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Vanishing Girl by Laura Thalassa review ~ Kami

The Vanishing Girl (The Vanishing Girl, #1)The Vanishing Girl by Laura Thalassa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ember teleports for ten minutes while she sleeps. She turns eighteen and is recruited into a mysterious program. I liked this book a lot from the beginning. I was immediately drawn into the story and it kept my attention. I like X-men and kids with special power type stories so I was liking this one a lot. This book also reminded me of shows like Nikita and Alias. 4 stars.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Impossible Promise by Sybil Bartel review ~ Kami

Impossible Promise (Unchecked, #1)Impossible Promise by Sybil Bartel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A woman on the run and a marine who is willing to help and protect her. I have read a book with this kind of plot before. This book was predictable but still entertaining. The writing was good and the pacing was okay. I didn't like Layna at all. She is so whiny! Blaze Buck Johnson is the definitive alpha male soldier protector. 3 stars.

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Hindsight by Leddy Harper review ~Kami

HindsightHindsight by Leddy Harper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book's tone is very sad and dreamy. A woman is dying and looking back at all the things that brought her to that moment, her story told in reverse. This book deals with serious issues of scary, violent domestic abuse. I found this book very uncomfortable to read but very well written. 4 stars.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Killing Me Softly by Devyn Dawson review with giveaway~Kami


Holland loses her best friend and she takes care of her mentally ill father. Then through a series of coincidences, she starts seeing a guy, Tate. This is your typical new adult romance. I thought it was cute if slightly predictable. The writing is good and the pacing is good. Holland is a sympathetic character, a lot of hardships are thrown at her but she is strong and overcomes.  3 stars.

Title: Killing Me Softly
Author: Devyn Dawson     
Genre: New Adult/Young Adult - clean, no hardcore cussing or sex scenes
Hosted by: Lady Amber's Tours

Bestselling author Devyn Dawson brings to life this beautiful tale of triumph over disaster. 

Life hasn't been easy for Holland. At nineteen she's juggling a job, college courses, and caring for her mentally ill father. When her best friend Andy died, so did her escape from her real life.

Tate enjoys his life as an air traffic controller in the Air Force. When he was stationed at Tinker Air Force Base in Midwest City, Oklahoma, he wasn't looking for a girlfriend. His dreams included his guitar and his music being played on the radio.

He's drawn to Holland, and soon the two of them will find themselves wrapped up into their own little world. Tate's determined to protect Holland from the heartache in her life. When tragedy strikes, Tate struggles to keep her from breaking completely in half.

This story is about heartache and love. Holland finds her heart beating again in the arms of Tate. This book is a CLEAN New Adult - No Hard Core Cussing - No Sexual Scenes.

"The author writes a beautiful love story..." Reviewer

"Wonderful book, full of sweet moments and romantic scenes that kept me up all night reading." Reviewer 

Author Devyn Dawson is a long time resident of New Bern, North Carolina.  She finds herself writing the types of books she enjoys reading.  After writing young adult novels, she decided to step out of her comfort zone and write this tale about Caide and River.  When she isn’t writing, she binges on Netflix, eats too much chocolate, and makes various crafts.  
Find out more about Devyn on her website

Buy Links:
Amazon US:   

Sam and Bethany share a small ranch house with their other sister Victoria.  I learned the moment I met her that she’s bat-shit crazy.  I’m not sure how many drugs she’s done, but she’s fried some brain cells.  Apparently, she’s like a mad scientist and is always inventing something that will alter the way we live everyday life.  When Bethany impersonates her sister, I usually laugh so hard tears stream down my face.
“Are you freakin’ kidding me?  Shut the front door, you look SICK!” Victoria shouts at me as I walk in the house.
“You just closed the door and I feel fine,” I say to her.  Nuttier than my dad.
Sam laughs as he comes over to hug me.  He thinks he’s being European if he hugs and air kisses everyone who enters the house.  “You do look sick!”
“If I look that sick, I better go home then.”
“You really don’t know what that means do you?  Sick as in amazing.  You look amazing and I’m guessing you took her literal when she said to shut the front door.  She’s trying not to say the F-word anymore.  It’s all part of her plan to get on Ellen with one of her inventions.”
“Oh, okay, that makes more sense.  I really was confused about the door.”  We walk to the back of the house where Bethany is applying vampire-red lipstick.  She’s prettier than average but it’s her humor that takes her to the next level.  Bethany is hilarious with her commentary of everything that happens.  Give the girl a drink and she becomes the funniest comedian since Eddie Murphy.  My dad has made me watch Eddie’s comedy since I was born.  When my mom was around, we watched her favorite Eddie Murphy movie, The Golden Child.  I haven’t seen it since the stormy night she walked out of our lives.  
“Well, if you don’t get a man tonight, they’re blind.  I swear you have the best ass for a white girl.  Those jeans need to be called your bootie jeans from this day forward,” Bethany exclaims.
Me catching a guy is the last thing I need right now.  “Bootie jeans from now on,” I reply.  “Are you ready?”
“Honey, I was born ready.  Let’s blow this popsicle stand,” Bethany says as she struts her way across the house.  “Victoria, don’t blow anything up while we’re gone.”
The Raven Bookstore is on Western next to a trendy sushi bar.  We find a parking space on the far end of the rear parking lot.  The Raven sells books that appeal to a younger crowd.  They carry Manga, Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Humor and Poetry.  The walls are painted in black chalkboard paint and the shelves are all neon that glows under black-lights.  An artist who crushed on Andy, covered the walls in Poe inspired graffiti.  He would come into my store to buy vitamins and talk to me about how pretty Andy was.  I haven’t seen him since she passed away.
“Oh wow, they finished the stage area, it looks insane!” Sam points towards the stage area that is now covered in drops of neon paint.
Bethany spins around in a circle, which I’ve come to realize is one of her signature moves when she’s very happy.  “I can’t wait until you hear him play!”
Her energy is contagious and soon I find myself having a good time.
We pick a table close to the stage, front and center like Bethany wanted.  I stop by the poetry section and pick up the book, A Thousand Mornings, by Mary Oliver.  The last few times I came to buy the book, they were sold out.  Sometimes, poetry speaks to me like music in a book.
Bethany and I both opted for vanilla lattes and organic oatmeal cookies.  We’re totally party animals.  
“You’re so lame, Beth, how can you drink coffee on a night on the town?” Sam says and sets his glass of beer down.  “This is the best IPA, you should try it, Holland.”
“DD remember?”
“One beer won’t hurt you,” Sam says and sips on his beer.
“Yeah, well I’m not up to explaining to the cops that I’m underage, a lightweight, and reek of beer.  I’ll stick to my free lattes.  It causes the same amount of pee breaks, so everyone else will think I’m drinking too,” I pick up my coffee and hold it out for a toast.  “To us!”
We clink our drinks together and laugh.  It’s a good thirty minutes before the first musician takes the stage, but the bookstore filled up with at least another hundred people.  Every place on Western is trendy and fills up with the twenty-somethings. The first musician walks across the stage and sits down on a stool with his acoustic guitar.  All I notice about him is his pickle sized nose and his crazy curly brown hair.  He starts out with a song by the Doors and everyone in the store crowds in to hear him sing.  He sang several songs before he stands up and announces his name and promises to finish off the night with a couple of his own originals.  
There’s a five minute break between musicians so I get up to use the restroom.  
“He was cool, I like what he did with that one country song,” Bethany says as we open the bathroom door.
It’s early in the night for there to already be a line to get a stall.  Girls are talking about whose singing next, a guy named Tate who is apparently the yummiest guy ever, per the girl in front of us.  
The bathroom is bright compared to the bookstore.  The walls are painted with a mural of a fairy tale.  I find something new every time I stare at it.  Bethany and I freshen up our lipstick and fluff our hair before heading back to our table.  Tate had already started playing by the time we get to our table.  Bethany grabs my arm and squeezes it too tight.  “That’s him,” she whispers to me.
His voice, without the hint of an accent sings a haunting version of, Elvis Presley’s, Love Me Tender.  Every strum of his guitar is deliberate, every note in his voice desperate.  I can’t help but close my eyes and listen with my soul.  The power of his words touch something in me that I’ll never be able to explain. It takes me back to a time when my mother would be at the kitchen sink and my dad would go up and wrap his arms around her and sing Elvis songs. As the song ends, I open my eyes as everyone applauds all around me.
“That was great wasn’t it?” Bethany shouts in my ear.  “He’s so good, I’m surprised he hasn’t been picked up yet!”
The singer finally looks up at the crowd and my jaw drops.  He’s the guy with the rash on his ass.  It has to be him.  No, it can’t be him.  As if he can hear my inner commentary, he looks my direction.  Someone yelps, and I’m praying it was Bethany, because if it wasn’t her, it was me.  His face goes from solemn to a half crooked smile.  Oh shit.  He winks.  Bethany’s fingers dig into my bicep as she squeals like a pig.  “Beth, back off, you’re going to draw blood if you squeeze any harder,” I say as I pry her fingers off my arm.
“Did you see him wink?  Be cool, act as if I said something funny.”
I’m certain he was winking at me.  How does Sam not recognize rash-on-the-ass man?  “He winked?” I say trying to play it off instead of argue the fact he’s trying to piss me off.  I lick my lips nervously, a habit I do when I fib.  Andy and my mom are the only ones who ever noticed, but I’m not thinking about that right now.
“He winked and if I have my way, he’s going to be doing more than winking in a little while!”
My hand goes to my mouth to cover the sound of me snorting.  He stands up and fiddles with his guitar strap until the guitar is high on his chest.  The familiar tune to Folsom Prison Blues is brought to life with his ease of singing.  I’m zeroed in on his guitar, afraid to look at his face, afraid he’d realize he’s doing something to me.  He’s breathing life into the song and into my soul.  As the last words are sung and his playing stops, I’m reminded where I am by the applause coming from the crowd.  I take a breath, not realizing I’d been holding it through the song.
“That was epic!  Did you love it?” Bethany shouts over the applause.
It was epic and soulful.  “He’s good,” is all I can say.  “I could use a refill, do you want anything?”  Sam knows I can’t legally buy him another beer so he scrunches his nose and nods, no.
There’s a large crowd gathered around the coffee station.  I can tell the baristas are overwhelmed with orders, so I stand quietly before placing my order.  Tate has started another song, this one from Oklahoma native, Garth Brooks.  Not being zoned into his playing is helping my insides calm down before I have to face, Bethany, and her gushing over Tate.  Once the barista looks caught up, I place my order.  I have only two orders up before mine is ready.  The music stops and the energy in the room shifts.  He must be finished with his set.  Thank God!
Out of nowhere, there’s tons of people surrounding the small coffee section.  I scoot forward, closer to the pick-up area to stay out of the way.   From behind, a whisper in my ear startles me and I jump.
“I recognize you,” he whispers.  HE WHISPERED IN MY EAR! “Small world.”
He’s so close behind me, I catch myself before I lean back into him.  The heat coming from his body is sobering as it penetrates through my clothes.  God! I need a drink!   Turning around, the grin on his face throws me off my center and I put my hand on the bar to keep me upright.  His hand comes out and he grabs my elbow.  God, why does he keep touching me?  “Do I know you?” I blurt out in my attempt at being dumb.
“Either you have a twin and your male friend with you has a twin, or you work in the mall.  You’ve actually seen my ass and it was fantasy worthy.”
Don’t laugh!  “Your ass was fantasy worthy for me, or did me seeing your ass fulfill your own fantasy?  You’re the rash guy who walked out without his refund.”  
“I think it was a little of both,” he flashes that damn crooked grin at me.  I bet he thinks he’s going to melt my panties off with that smoldering look. “I’m Tate,” he holds his hand out to me to shake.
Absently, I accept his hand and shake it, “I’m Holland.”
His black t-shirt is tight enough across his muscular chest that I can see the perfect outline of his pecs.  The strap of his guitar has the Harley Davidson logo in bright orange against the black of the strap. The guitar is pulled up to his back and I can’t help wondering what it feels like to have a guitar on my back like a turtle’s shell.   I wonder if he rides a motorcycle.  I dated a guy in high school who rode a crotch rocket and he drove like a maniac everywhere we went.  
“Nice name, have you been here before?”  Tate asks.
“I have, it’s been a while.  You have a lot of fans in the audience, do you play here often?”  The barista calls my name and I add a packet of sugar to my latte.
He grins without showing his teeth.  “I’ve played here a couple of times.  Everyone’s been great to me here so I keep coming back.  This is the coolest bookstore with a phenomenal clientele.  Hey, I’ve got to go back on in a few minutes.  Can I come over and visit you when I’m finished?”
“Ah, sure,” I stammer.  Bethany is going to kill me.
“See you then,” he says and walks away pulling his guitar around in front of him.
“See you.”   As I get back to the table, Sam and Bethany are deep in conversation.
Bethany leans over and asks, “What was he saying to you?”
“Nothing really, he’s been in my store before.  Do you remember him, Sam?  He’s the guy who came in for a refund and had the rash on his butt?”
Bethany’s hand slaps the table hard enough to make the table wobble.  “It didn’t appear to be nothing.”
“He said he wanted to come over and sit with us when he’s done.  I’m not interested in him, Bethany.  I’m not trying to move in on your guy,” I say sheepishly.  The last thing I want to happen is a fight with the only girl who wants to be my friend.
She looks at me surprised and with a grin she reached over and patted my arm.  “Girl, we’ve been dying to get you two together!  When Sam and I were in here before he recognized him and said sparks were flying when he came into your store.  We knew you wouldn’t come up here if you knew, so we kind of tricked you.” Bethany admits and for a split second, I’m pissed off, but they’re right, I wouldn’t have come.
“Sam, you knew this the whole time?”  I glance at him and he’s grinning from ear to ear.  
He holds up his beer and says, “To friends.”
That means I don’t have to feel guilty about him flirting with me.
“You saw his bum?” Bethany blurts out.  “I pray it looks as good as it does in those jeans he has on.  He should call them his bootie jeans.  You’re not too mad at us are you?”
I hate being tricked.  A part of me wants to storm out and be pissy, another part of me wants to jump for joy.  “I’m not mad, but I’m paying you both back!”  I hold up my latte and say, “Game on.”  
Tate walks up on the stage and takes the microphone with his hands, he’s confident as he peers out to the crowd. “Hello folks, I’m Tate Cook and this is a little song you might know by Johnny Cash.” The crowd goes insane with applause.  I only know the songs because they’re from my favorite movie, Walk the Line.  His eyes check the audience before he settles his gaze on me.  I’d never heard an acoustic version of Ring of Fire, but my heart starts pounding as he never averted his eyes.
“Oh shit Holland, he’s singing it to you,” Bethany bumps me as she whispers in my ear.  “You need to jump on that before someone else snags him up.”  She shrugs her shoulders, “Just sayin’.”
No matter how hard I try, I’m rendered useless and can’t break the connection we’re having in front of all these people.  As he finishes the song not only does everyone clap, but people are leaning over and telling me that my boyfriend is awesome.  Boyfriend?  No, he’ll spend five minutes at my table and find a crazy excuse to leave and I’ll never see him again.  I turn back toward the stage and he’s moved a stool out to sit down. He’s pulling the mic stand until the mic is right at his mouth.  He rests the guitar on his leg and starts singing Losing My Way, and tapping his thumb on the black guitar.  The lyrics are scary and he’s singing them with conviction.  This time, he doesn’t look my direction, instead he focuses on his guitar.  The crowd snaps in rhythm of every thumping sound he makes.  He sings the last lyric and the crowd jumps to their feet and give him a much deserved ovation.  He’s not a regular guy, there’s something more to him.  How I know it, I don’t know, but I do.
Sam jumps up to get another beer and to talk to a girl who was flirting with him a while ago.  No one else will sing for another hour and the first guy will be back to sing.  Bethany is telling me about her sister’s invention to lock your bedroom door with the clap of your hands and I’m wiping my sweaty palms on my thighs.  How do I go from self-sufficient control freak to a nervous groupie?  From behind, someone has put their hand on the back of my chair and my jittery nerves cause me to jump a foot out of my chair.  
Tate and Bethany laugh like old friends as he sits down in the chair to my left.  The square table is pub sized, barely large enough for our drinks so I hold the book in my lap so it won’t get wet.  There’s something familiar about him and this moment.  His presence depletes the oxygen from my lungs making it difficult not to breathe.  
“You were really good, Tate.  Do you know what you’re going to sing before you go on stage?” Bethany asks in her breezy easy going way.  
“Not always.  I change it up for the crowd.  Some of the songs are crowd favorites others aren’t.  This crowd is eclectic and they were easy to entertain with both super old songs and newer ones.  Some crowds only like one or the other, making it hard to know until you do a song and it flops,” Tate says as he makes a quarter weave between his fingers.  My eyes are drawn to his hand, his nails are short but clean, he’s tan so he likes to be outside.  He doesn’t have a lot of hair on his hand, why this is something I notice is beyond me.
“I can’t imagine anything to be a flop.  You’re really great, have you ever been offered a deal?”  Bethany’s enthusiasm makes the conversation interesting instead of one of those awkward conversations that end up turning everyone off.
A guy walking by pats Tate on the shoulder.  “You rocked that Johnny Cash song, Ring of Fire. Will you be out here again?”
“Thanks man, they asked if I could come out in a couple of weeks.  I have to check my schedule, but I’m pretty sure I will.”
“I’ll keep an eye out for the flyer.  See ya,” the guy says and walks away.  
Suddenly, people were all coming over and telling him what a great job he did and what their favorite song was.  Tate is cool with everyone who talks to him.  A couple of people offered to buy him a drink, but he declined.  He never had a chance to answer Bethany’s question and I have the vibe he didn’t want to answer it.  Bethany was happy to have the attention at our table.  A couple of guys bought her a beer or two.  Right now, I’m not the poor girl fighting to keep the electricity on.  During our fourth trip to the restroom, the guy who Bethany was flirting with, came over to get her phone number.  Suddenly, she doesn’t have to go to the bathroom as much as I do so I go without her.
Bethany isn’t where I left her and she isn’t at the table either.  Sam is good at keeping tabs on her so I ignore it and to my disappointment, Tate and his guitar aren’t at our table.  Great, everyone bailed on me the minute I was gone long enough to make the escape.  Sam comes over and tells me Bethany is outside with that guy and she’d meet us at the car.  He said Tate was talking to a group of people and he disappeared.  Now, I’m the girl who can clear a room and the poor girl.  
That guy and Bethany are sitting on the tailgate of the truck parked next to me and are drunk kissing.  It isn’t pretty.  They’re draped all over each other.  It takes Sam a couple of times clearing his throat to get her attention.  She looks up bashfully and not so discreetly, wipes her mouth with the back of her hand.  Bethany takes a sharpie out of her purse and writes her number on his wrist.
“Let’s go, Beth, I have a couple of people coming to the house for drinks,” Sam says and checks his phone.
“You do?” I ask.  
“You’re staying for drinks too, don’t give me that look,” Sam says with a flash of his toothy smile.
“I can’t, I have to study for a final.”  I haven’t told them the depth of my father’s issues.  If they knew I am basically the parent and he’s the emo teenager, they’d label me a big loser.  I’m not.  When I have to parent my dad, I am.  Sam rolls his eyes at me.  “One day, I’m going to jab a toothpick in your eyes to keep them from rolling back in your head.”
“Violent much?  Are you going home to torture kittens?”  Sam opens the car door and climbs into the back seat.  Bethany called shotgun so he gets to be crowded with his long legs.
“No, I only torture humans, kittens are cute.”  I put my key in the ignition to start the car.  A knock on my window makes me jump and scream.  Tate is standing there with a shit-eating grin on his face.  He motions for me to get out of the car to talk to him.  Sam reminds me he has company coming over.
I step out and follow him to the back of my car.  I inhale, and get a whiff of his cologne.  Sexy cologne.  The kind that makes me all mushy inside.  
He has his hands in his front pockets, he actually looks vulnerable and that is sexy to me.  I wonder what he’s thinking.  On the trunk of my car is a small brown shopping bag that looks like a gift bag.  The stamp across it says, Raven Bookstore.  He picks it up and hands it to me.
“This is for you.”  He looks down on the ground and up at me.
Inside the bag is the book of poetry I had on the table.  I glance up and smile at him, dumbfounded that he bought it for me.  “Thank you, that’s so nice of you.”  I don’t know what else to say, a part of me wants to hug him, and the other part…the sensible one says, creepy.
“I thought you left and forgot to get the book since it was scooted over by me.”
“Oh, yeah, I did forget it.  I’ve been hoping to get a copy for a long time.  Every time I’m in the store, they’re sold out.  If you thought I left, what were you going to do?”
“Funny you should ask.  I was planning on showing up to your work and giving it to you.  I saw Bethany and some guy so I figured you were still here so I stayed in the parking lot until I saw you.  That sounds really stalkerish.  Crap, I’m a stalker,” he smiles at me and I can’t stop from smiling back.  
“Yeah, you’re a stalker.  If I catch you singing outside my bedroom window, I’m definitely going to call the cops.”  I try to sound flirty so he won’t think he’s scaring me.  
“Mental note, no singing outside of Holland’s bedroom.  During our brief time together, I notice you like lattes.  I’ve actually never seen anyone drink so many and plan on sleeping.  You do sleep, don’t you?  You’re not one of those binge on coffee at night and sleep all day people are you?”  We laugh as he dances around whatever he’s about to say.  “There’s this great coffee place, it’s small, but they make the best coffee.  I’m sure their lattes are just as good too.  Would you like to go have coffee tomorrow?”
What the what?  He just asked me out.  The girl living inside of me is about to faint, I feel her teetering over.  Thankfully, I’ve mastered the art of hiding her from the world. These bootie jeans are my lucky charm.  I’m off all weekend except for making the bank deposit, I don’t have to clock in at all.  “Coffee sounds great.  Tell me where and what time and I’ll meet you there.”
“Give me your cell number and I’ll text you the name and address.  How about one-thirty?”  
“Let me have your phone and I’ll put in my number.  One-thirty is good for me.”  
He smiles and nods his head a little.  “Cool, see you then.”  I watch him as he walks away, he turns around and waves.
I practically jumped into the car.  Sitting in my seat, I turn to Bethany and shriek.  She shrieks back.  The two of us shriek together.
Bethany and I look at each other one more time and let out one final voice-blowing scream.  
“This girl got asked out on a date!”  I say pointing at myself.  My cell phone vibrates.
I read the text once to myself and once out loud.  Best night ever.

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