Mar 31, 2023

March 31, 2023
Book Tour Featuring *The Way Home Saga* by Bobbi Groover @sdsxxtours #giveaway
Book Tour Featuring *The Way Home Saga* by Bobbi Groover @sdsxxtours #giveawayInside the Grey

The Way Home Saga Book 3
by Bobbi Groover
Genre: Historical Romance

Brayden Wakefield is quickly losing faith that hostilities between the states will end peaceably. He and his neighbors, Fletcher Stedman and Royce Carlyle, seems to be in the minority in their belief that a war would not end in a few months. They know any clash would be long and brutal. But their loyalty to one another supplants their reluctance, and they are drawn into the politics and atrocities of war to save their kidnapped comrade, Caleb Jenkins.

Nothing is as it seems, however. The gentlemen, turned raiders, squirrel behind enemy lines. Brayden uncovers lies and intrigue on both sides but as he and his fellow raiders execute their audacious plan, as they torch the layers of the conspiracy, Brayden finds love hidden among the ashes.

Amazon * Apple * B&N * Kobo * Smashwords * Goodreads

The Inn at Little Bend
The Way Home Saga Book 2

A DAZZLING BEAUTY…In antebellum America, life for an abandoned woman was difficult at best. But when young Grayson escapes her sadistic guardian, she finds freedom just as hostile. The lonesome, starving wanderer flees straight into the path of vicious marauders. Only one thing keeps the rustlers from violating the curvaceous, dark-haired beauty but the punishment they intend to mete out for her crimes borders on insanity.

A SURLY COWBOY…Not far away a lone rover hears the screams, yet continues down the road. He wants nothing more of life than to be left alone. He has his own debts to account for. Once a headstrong irresistible rakehell, the drifter had bolted, shuttered his heart and retreated deep within himself. But now the wafting agony tears at him--his own and the wails of another. Swearing under his breath, he whirls the horse around.
A SIMPLE INN…Grayson Ridge struggles to survive her fated trials and conceal the secrets that plague her. Her exploits collide with the life of Drake Somerset, a scraggly yet oddly dashing drifter besieged by dark shadows. Neither realizes their chance encounter could free them both. Their wrangling ignites a turbulent journey and sets their worlds on fire.
2012 First Place in the Published Beacon Awards (Historical Category)

Amazon * Apple * B&N * Kobo * Smashwords * Goodreads

Season of the Shadow

The Way Home Saga Book 1

It was a time of chivalry and grace but also a time of turmoil in antebellum America. Fletcher Stedman is the crown prince of Virginia's famous Seabrook Plantation. The handsome rakehell is a man of dreams with headstrong passions and an ingenious mind. Suddenly his dreams are shattered and his life ripped from him by a jealous cousin, and Fletcher is put to the test fighting for his life and his sanity.Kyndee Brock always dreams of marrying her handsome Fletcher--her kindred spirit and dearest love. One day, however, Fletcher mysteriously disappears. Kyndee must spend the next decade defying fate, following her heart to reunite them and recapture the love that they had been denied.

Amazon * Apple * B&N * Google * Kobo * Goodreads

I’m a wife, a mother, a writer and an equestrienne. I’ve been composing stories as long as I can remember and have been putting stories to paper ever since I could hold a pencil. I have a vivid memory from age five where I sat alone in the stall of my father’s horse and traced the hood prints in the dirt. An entire story swirled about in my head…who, what, where, when? My family often grew weary of my constant ramblings about my characters. As a result, my drawers were stuffed with stories, finished and unfinished. It wasn’t until my two wonderful boys were born that I finally had the nerve to submit my first book. Fun In The Yellow Pages, a juvenile coming of age novel, was my first publication. It was well received and actually utilized in several school districts. I even had the compliment of being ‘visiting author’ which was very enjoyable. The students constantly asked me to write a sequel.
I actually switched to romance writing on a dare from my husband. I completed Season Of The Shadow. The characters were so popular that they wormed their way into my second romance, The Inn At Little Bend, and played key roles in my latest romance, Inside The Grey. Each romance can stand alone, but my readers will recognize several characters.

Website * Facebook * Amazon * Goodreads


Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
$20 Amazon

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March 31, 2023
Book Fun Friday ~ Girl Watching You by J.A. Schneider #bookbeginnings #friday56 #FLF #BBH
Book Fun Friday ~ Girl Watching You by J.A. Schneider #bookbeginnings #friday56 #FLF #BBHBook Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence of the book you're reading. Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice and asks you to grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% in your e-reader and share a non-spoiler sentence or two.  First Line Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Reading is my Superpower that asks you to share the first sentence of the book you're reading. Book Blogger Hop asks a question of general interest or discussion hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer

My book for today is: Girl Watching You by J.A. Schneider

Publication Date:  June 27, 2019

A young woman, obsessed by a man she considers a predator, climbs a fire escape and thinks she sees a murder.

Out of work actress Ava Beck, reduced to working in a West Village flower shop, starts to watch womanizing hedge funder Peter Greer, who lives near. He likes to romance his girlfriends with flowers.

Ava notices bruises on his troubled-looking date named Chloe. Concerned, she follows them after work to Chloe's studio, second floor in the rear of a brownstone. She hears them arguing, climbs up the fire escape just as Greer angrily sees her...and plunges into a world of stunning twists, murder and madness worse than any she could have imagined...


First Sentence:

Page 56:

Todays Question Is:  What apps/websites do you use to make your social media posts? (submitted by Elizabeth @ Silver's Reviews)

A: I use Later for Instagram. Since my blog is on Wordpress, it posts to my Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Only BBH participants may enter their blog links below. Thank you 😉

Book Beginnings hosted by Rose City Reader

First Sentence Friday hosted by Reading Is My Superpower

Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice

Book Blogger Hop (BBH) is hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer

Please leave a comment, and do visit the hosts above and see what other participants had to say, or better yet join the fun!
March 31, 2023
Book Tour Featuring *Kidnapped Killer* by Nina R. Schluntz @mizner13 @lolasblogtours #giveaway
Book Tour Featuring *Kidnapped Killer* by Nina R. Schluntz @mizner13 @lolasblogtours #giveawayThis is my post during the blog tour for Kidnapped Killer by Nina R. Schluntz. Kidnapped Killer is a toxic love story between a soul eating demon and his unaware human stalker.

This blog tour is organized by Lola's Blog Tours and the tour runs from 20 March till 2 April. You can see the tour schedule here.

Kidnapped Killer (Kidnapped #1)by Nina R. SchluntzGenre: Dark Paranormal RomanceAge category: AdultRelease Date: 6 September 2022

Blurb:One brief encounter and Jimena is determined to make Nic his at all costs. He wants him to be solely his, completely and utterly at his mercy. But, popular, gorgeous Nic doesn’t see Jimena. He is background material at best.
Until Jimena drugs him at a bar and ties him up in his basement.
If that didn’t get Nic’s attention, then the dozen or so bodies buried in the basement he’s tied up in does.
Nic feeds on souls. They taste better if they are flavored by strong emotion, usually fear or pain.
Jimena tastes different. His soul is flavored in obsessive love, focused on Nic. He’s never been loved by someone before, even if it is an unhealthy love and Jimena wants him dead. Not in a hateful way, but in a, I don’t want anyone else to have you, kind of way.
If only Nic could convince him to try being a normal boyfriend, he might be able to feed off Jimena’s soul for a few decades.
A deadly dance begins. A demon wanting to be loved and a serial killer wanting to kill his lover.
If they can find a balance, they might just find they’re perfect for each other.

Links:- Goodreads- Amazon

Book TrailerYou can watch the book trailer for Kidnapped Killer her

Second book in the series releases on 28 March!

Kidnapped Clowder (Kidnapped #2)by Nina R. SchluntzGenre: Dark Paranormal RomanceAge category: AdultRelease Date: 28 March 2023

Blurb:It’s been over a year since Jimena kidnapped Nic and locked him in his basement. Turns out demons love being adored, even by serial killers. This long-term toxic relationship that’s become a marriage hinges on Jimena’s ability to show he is reformed.
What better way to do this than by adopting a feral cat… or seven. Jimena’s new obsession shows him the dark side of humanity and how cruel they can be to unwanted pets.
His murderous intent is now misguided and used to avenge the animals that can’t protect themselves.
It’s an improvement, sort of. Except the demon cop that’s helping keep Jimena out of jail is bringing up old feelings and Jimena is considering upgrading in demons. Might upgrade from avenging pets to avenging people too, because these mass shootings involving children are getting a bit annoying.
Jimena and Nic continue their toxic love story that may not last much longer, especially if Jimena locks a demon cop in his basement.

Links:- Goodreads- Amazon

About the Author:Nina Schluntz is a native to rural Nebraska. In her youth, she often wrote short stories to entertain her friends. Those ideas evolved into the novels she creates today.
Her husband continues to ensure her stories maintain a touch of realism as she delves into the science fiction and fantasy realm. Their three cats are always willing to stay up late to provide inspiration, whether it is a howl from the stray born in the backyard or an encouraging bite from the so called “calming kitten.”
Author links:- Website- Facebook- Twitter- Goodreads
GiveawayThere is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Kidnapped Killer. One winner will win a $25 Amazon gift card.

For a chance to win, enter the Rafflecopter below:

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March 31, 2023
Book Tour Featuring *Fields of Bounty* by Lauraine Snelling @laurainesnellin @justreadtours #giveaway
Book Tour Featuring *Fields of Bounty* by Lauraine Snelling @laurainesnellin @justreadtours #giveawayWelcome to the Takeover Blitz for Fields of Bounty by Lauraine Snelling, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!
About the Book

Title: Fields of BountySeries: Leah's Garden #3Author: Lauraine SnellingPublisher: Bethany House PublishersRelease Date: March 21, 2023Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
They must set aside their own plans and rely on their faith to bring their true destiny to light.
Lilac Nielsen's dream has come true: handsome young Reverend Ethan Pritchard has finally noticed her. Yet she must balance this new courtship with the pursuit of another dream--the publication of her artwork in a New York paper. She has secretly been submitting a series of drawings under a pen name, and if anyone traces the drawings back to her and finds out where Lilac and her sisters settled, the entire Nielsen family could be in danger.
As their family farm expands and Lilac's relationship with the reverend grows, it's a time of new beginnings. But when a family crisis back in Ohio shakes the Nielsen sisters, can they continue to build the new life they've begun in Nebraska? And will Lilac be prepared for what God has in store for her future?
"A tender story. I know my readers will enjoy these stories and look forward to the books yet to come."--TRACIE PETERSON, bestselling author of the Pictures of the Heart series
PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Christianbook | BookBub
More Books in this Series


It was past the supper hour by the time Ethan made his way back to Antelope Creek, where he boarded with a family from that congregation. Twilight fell in summer softness over the prairie, the western sky still streaked with orange and rose. He slid off his horse, Nehemiah, weary to the bone. He stabled and brushed the gelding before heading into the Humphreys’ simple frame house on the outskirts of town. While the husband had died of a fever a few years ago, the grown son, Barton, kept the family livery business running, and Widow Humphrey took in boarders to supplement the household income. Though at present, Ethan was the only one.He let himself in through the side door of the lean-to, trying to do it quietly.“That you at last, Reverend?”He winced. So much for quietly. But Widow Humphrey had ears like a bat and was particular about mealtimes, though she reluctantly allowed that a pastor could not always maintain regular hours.
“We kept supper warm for you. Never dreamed the Salton folks would keep you out this long.” The angular woman looked askance at him, vigorously rubbing a clean pot with a dish towel.Sometimes balancing his two churches made Ethan feel like a parent caught between jealous children. He took the plate left on the stove with what he hoped was a winning smile. “The speaker took longer than I expected. Thank you for saving this for me, Mrs. Humphrey.”She hmphed and flipped the dish towel over her shoulder to put the pot away. “Antelope Creek isn’t much farther from Lincoln than Salton, yet I suppose it’s too much to ask any dignitaries to come here. Never mind that we have a larger population, not to mention a livery stable.”The town was nearly five miles farther from the new capital, but Ethan wouldn’t feed the fire. He sat at the empty table and bowed his head for a silent grace.
Opening his eyes, he dug into the ham, black- eyed peas, buttered potatoes, and corn bread. Whenever he thought about getting his own place or boarding with someone who boasted a gentler tongue, the food at the Humphreys’ lulled him into inaction. Whatever else she lacked, Widow Humphrey was an excellent cook. “This is delicious, thank you. The corn bread, especially.”
“Martha made it. You might offer your thanks to her.” The dish towel snapped again as Mrs. Humphrey hung it precisely on a rack.
Ethan winced. He’d nothing against Martha, but he’d long sensed Mrs. Humphrey’s aim to throw her shy, inching- toward- spinsterhood eldest daughter straight at Ethan’s collared, supposedly marriageable frame. Belatedly, he realized Mrs. Humphrey was waiting for a response. “Certainly. I’ll thank her tomorrow.” If he saw her.
“She’s in the parlor.”Of course she was. He made himself smile. “I’ll be sure to stop by.”

About the Author

Lauraine Snelling is the award-winning author of more than 100 books, fiction and nonfiction, for adults and young adults. Her books have sold more than five million copies. She and her husband make their home in Tehachapi, California.

Connect with Lauraine by visiting to follow her on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.

Tour Giveaway
(1) winner will receive a paperback set of the first three books in Lauraine Snelling’s Leah's Garden series: The Seeds of Change, A Time to Bloom, and Fields of Bounty!

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight March 29, 2023 and lasts through 11:59 PM EST on April 5, 2023. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.
Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.
Enter Giveaway

Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

Mar 30, 2023

March 30, 2023
Book Tour Featuring *Stars on Fire* by Sky Gold @xpressotours #giveaway
Book Tour Featuring *Stars on Fire* by Sky Gold @xpressotours #giveawayStars on FireSky Gold(The Sable Riders, #1)Publication date: February 26th 2023Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction

The thing is, Selene, I don’t do forever. It’s not what this is.’ – Kainan Sable.
He’s lethal, wraith-like, a warrior who lives in the twilight, the hidden inferno amongst the stars.
She’s driven, ambitious, and unrelenting, with an allure that forces him from the shadows.
He needs to control the intensity of his reaction to her.
She fights the temptation glinting in his sapphire wildfire eyes.
He wants revenge.
She wants forever.
But he can’t give her ‘forever’.
Or can he?
War is stirring in the skies and stars above Eden II. Between empires in ascension and realms in decline. Kainan and Selene find themselves caught up in the maelstrom. Together they’ll light the stars on fire, even as darkness beyond their control seeks to turn their destiny – and their forever – to ashes.
If you’re in the mood for:

- A strong, smart heroine AND a sexy, badass anti-hero
- Unrequited love and a personal growth saga that spans a universe
- Steamy, hot epic jolts!
- Paranormal action
- All the feels AND heartfelt escapism

Then take to the Skies Above Eden II. A whole new world awaits you.

Goodreads / Amazon


The four men looked up and studied her coolly.
Kainan’s voice rumbled behind her. ‘Selene Munene, meet the Sable Riders, also known in our official capacity as The Sable Group.’
She stepped closer to the table and gazed at her new acquaintances as calmly as she could manage.
The one closest to her was just as significant in size as Kainan, a hulking figure with a mass of short jet-black hair with blue streaks, a bushy black beard and silver grey eyes, with a stubborn jaw and a swathe of jagged scars down one side of his face. His massive feet were slung up and crossed on top of the table.
The man beside him was also tall, with angular, dark features, a roughly shaven jaw, a beard and penetrating eyes with hazel irises ringed with glowing sapphire flecks. He leaned back in his oversized chair to study her unhurriedly.
Kainan pointed to the scar-faced man. ‘This is Kage, call name Shadow. He’s our ship designer, tech head and all-around maestro. He also runs our mini armada. Next to him is Xion, call name Phoenix – head of internal security on Eden II, privately overseeing law and order on the rock.’
Two other men glanced at her from the other side of the room.
One sported a magnificent sheathe of dead straight white and silver hair that fell to his back in a long, smooth sheet with a braid to one side. His skin was pale, and so were his white irised eyes that he seemed a ghoul, albeit a very handsome one. He wore a close-fitted black jumpsuit with the same crest on his shoulder as Kainan. She assumed this was The Sable Group’s insignia.
He jerked his chin to her, his pale eyes keenly raking her face.
Next to him was a lean, long, striking, powerfully built man in a beautifully cut suit with dark thick hair, a neat moustache and a beard with piercing blue eyes. His elegant presence contrasted sharply with his more casually dressed companions. He nodded to her cordially.
‘At the far back is Riv, call name Wraith. He runs our armouries. He occasionally moonlights as the head of our private surveillance ops and militia, and on his off days, he dallies as a bounty hunter. With him is Zane, call name Phantom. Our business and financial controller. He runs our sales, logistics, private equity and finance division.’
Selene nodded her head formally in acknowledgement, momentarily unable to speak. As it were, her breath had been snatched from her lungs by the presence of these five devastatingly powerful creatures. She saw sleek blasters strapped to their powerful thighs and hips and imagined the various other weapons tucked in places unseen. These were no boy scouts she was dealing with.
‘You remember Mirage,’ Kainan added drily, gesturing toward the gyrfalcon with silver wings and feet.
Selene’s eyebrow rose. ‘Really?’
‘It is indeed, Selene,’ said the gyrfalcon in the AI’s harmonious tone. ‘As a nano-engineered AI, I can take various forms, but this is the one I tend to prefer when I’m off Kainan’s ship. But, of course, I’m also still on the ship due to my split consciousness and various remote capabilities.’
‘Mirage is our eyes and ears across the rock, and she oversees all AI on all our ships and holdings,’ Kainan explained.
‘I’m also taking an encrypted recording of these proceedings,’ Mirage piped up. ‘Which will be shared to all your comm tabs after the meeting and only accessible with your bio authentication.’
Kainan inclined his head. ‘As you can see, she’s a very valued member of The Sable Riders.’
‘Wow,’ Selene said, genuinely astonished. ‘Incredible.’
The gyrfalcon bent her sleek silver head in a bow.
‘Sit,’ Kainan ordered Selene, pulling out a plush chair.
‘What’s your call name?’ she managed to ask him softly as she sat down.
He paused for a moment.
‘Chimera,’ he said quietly.
Fitting, she thought, given the strange ability he had to switch her feelings, from hot to cold, in seconds.


Author Bio:
Sky Gold is a best selling author, writer and lover of all things delicious, fun and courageously life affirming. She imagines herself a warrior for the people she loves and values she stands for! She looks to her gorgeous husband, her whimsical kids, her loyal friends, her sweet Russian Blue Cat, and the stars themselves for her heavenly inspiration.

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Mar 29, 2023

March 29, 2023
I Can't Wait For ~ Out of the Dawn by P.C. Cast (Can't-Wait Wednesday/Waiting on Wednesday) #CWW #WOW @wishfulendings
I Can't Wait For ~ Out of the Dawn by P.C. Cast (Can't-Wait Wednesday/Waiting on Wednesday) #CWW #WOW @wishfulendingsCan't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine. If you're continuing with WOW, feel free to link those up as well! Find out more here.

I love P.C. Cast, but, this one is definitely not my normal genre. Most of her books I have read have been some of her older ones, like the House of Night series, which I loved.

Out of the DawnAvg. Goodreads Rating 4.60Expected publication August 8, 2023

Add to Goodreads

Pre-Order On:

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

Summary: In the thrilling sequel to #1 New York Times bestselling author P. C. Cast’s Into the Mist, Mercury Rhodes leads a group of survivors toward salvation—that is, until someone, or something, starts hunting them again.Mercury Rhodes barely remembers life before the bombs fell, before the green mist. While it proved deadly to all the men who breathed it in, it gave new life to some women who did the same. The green mist provided each member of her newfound family an ability: Stella’s sense of the future, Imani’s earthly connection, Karen’s bond with Spirit, and Gemma’s healing ability. Although Mercury now has incredible physical strength—she doesn’t know if she will be strong enough for what comes next. Especially after the death of Ford, their companion through the aftermath of the mist. Mercury Rhodes barely remembers life before the bombs fell, before the green mist. While it proved deadly to all the men who breathed it in, it gave new life to some women who did the same. The green mist provided each member of her newfound family an ability: Stella’s sense of the future, Imani’s earthly connection, Karen’s bond with Spirit, and Gemma’s healing ability. Although Mercury now has incredible physical strength—she doesn’t know if she will be strong enough for what comes next. Especially after the death of Ford, their companion through the aftermath of the mist. The group finds respite in creating a small community in the Painted Hills. Together, they hope to find a place where they can start over. But Mercury knows it won’t be that simple, not when she knows someone, or something, is hunting them. Something that wants to rule the ruins of the world and something who sees Mercury as a threat to get rid of.Mercury will have to muster all her strength if she is to fight for a new dawn. The fate of her friends—and the world—depend on it.

Please visit Wishful Endings to see what the other participants can't wait to read, or to sign up and join the fun!

Mar 28, 2023

March 28, 2023
Book Tour Featuring *The Mixtape to the Real Me* by Jake Martinez @jakeg956 @xpressotours #giveaway
Book Tour Featuring *The Mixtape to the Real Me* by Jake Martinez @jakeg956 @xpressotours #giveawayThe Mixtape to the Real MeJake MartinezPublication date: March 24th 2023Genres: LGBTQ+, Romance, Young Adult

After a crazy summer of teenage drama and newfound love, Justin Ortega and Dominic Mendoza have decided to take things slower in order to really get to know each other. Both have dreamt of being with someone who truly understands them, but neither teen thought it would be this hard, especially when you have to keep your relationship a secret from the whole world.
Just when they think their lives will always be filled with sneaking around, along comes a new student who opens their eyes to some wonderful new possibilities. But the road to a bright future has some harsh realities, and not everyone is pleased to see the new couple roam the halls of Garza High. Things get especially tense for Dominic when an unwanted figure shows up wanting to see him.
Will Justin and Dominic be able to find a happy ending, or will their past and future collide in ways they never expected?

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo


I know I shouldn’t be laughing. This isn’t the time. But oh, man, I can’t help it.
“Well, are you going to stop?” Justin asks. He’s not happy. I can tell because his lips are doing that thing where they kind of curl in.
I’m trying to tell him that I don’t mean anything bad. But I can’t breathe. I’m laughing way too hard. Probably harder than I should.
“I’m…I’m…I…” That’s all I can get out. He turns away from me and looks straight out the window. It’s starting to rain, and for some reason, the rain, dark clouds, and song are making me laugh even harder.
“Wow, I can’t believe you.”
“Ba…Ba…Babe, come…on. List…en.” I want him to listen. To really listen to it, and to look around.
“Listen to what, the song? I am.” He sounds annoyed. “No, re…really.”
He turns around and looks out the window again. His
arm raises, his hand headed straight for under his chin. Justin closes his eyes, and takes a few breaths. A moment later he snorts out a laugh.
“You…see.” I say, catching my breath a bit.
“Oh my God, that’s too perfect, isn’t it? The song that we can best relate to is a guilty pleasure from Grease 2.”
I’m finally calm enough to talk again. “Yeah, I mean, those words. Except for the stuff about Stephanie, but wow, it all fits. So much.”
It is good to laugh. Really good. I needed it.
“Is that going to be us on Monday?” I joke. “Are we going to be walking through the hall on our way to the office all sad while life keeps going on around us? The way the guy does?” Justin made me sit through the movie a few weeks back. I’m not into musicals, and I thought for sure this one was going to suck. But I kind of liked it. I could only tell Justin that. If I mentioned it to Lila, she would blow a fuse. She is a hardcore fan of the original Grease, and anyone saying that they liked part two more resulted in a punch to the arm. Only Justin, who likes part two better also, seemed to get away with it.
“There are worse things we could do,” he says with a playful smile. It takes me a moment, then I realize it’s a song from the first movie.
“You dork,” I say, rolling my eyes. I want to kiss him so bad right now. Just rip off the seat belt that I still have on, and move over there and get all over him. But even if we were a straight couple, I probably wouldn’t. I wouldn’t want people staring at us. I don’t know how those people from school can do that at the movies and other places.
Maybe we should have talked about what is bothering me now. But it doesn’t feel right, and I don’t feel too good. My stomach is still in knots, though not as bad. Not just from the dance, but from the letter. Okay, it’s mostly the letter. It took over everything. Even hiding it in my drawer didn’t do anything. I just kept staring at the dresser, wondering if the letter was still there. I think I was just hoping that it found a way to vanish. But when I went to pull out some underwear, there it was.
I want to talk about it with Justin. I need to hear what he thinks. Not now though. We need to get this done first. I know him though. He’ll drop everything to help me with this. Shit, why did this have to happen now? Why did that man have to write to me?
“Just let me know when you are ready,” Justin says. His eyes have changed. He looks worried now.
“I will, I just want to stay here for a moment. Get my thoughts together. Spend some time with you that isn’t focused on what happened.”


Author Bio:
Jake Martinez is a former South Texas resident who has found a new home in Chicago. He has been writing all his life but has only recently sought to be published. His debut novel, The Mixtape to My Life, reflects on life as a gay teen growing up in South Texas. Jake holds an MFA in Creative Writing and also loves to write plays and screenplays. Aside from writing, you can find him hanging out at home with his husband, their young son, and an eclectic group of fur babies.
Website / Twitter / Instagram

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Mar 27, 2023

March 27, 2023
It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
It's Monday! What Are You Reading?It’s Monday! What are you Reading is hosted by Kathryn from Book Date, this is a weekly event to share what we’ve read in the past week and what we hope to read, plus whatever else comes to mind.

Currently Reading ~ NetGalley

Finished This Weekend

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NetGally Read

NetGalley Read

Added To My TBR Shelf Last Week

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Completed my Goodreads challenge and still going strong

2023 Reading Challenge

Jody has
completed her goal of reading
60 books in


65 of 60 (100%)

view books

Jody's to-read book montage

Jody's favorite books »

Leave comments and links so I can check out your #IMWAYR posts 🙂
March 27, 2023
Book Tour Featuring *PIERCING THE VEIL* by Steven A. Guglich @stevenguglich @RockstarBkTours  #giveaway
Book Tour Featuring *PIERCING THE VEIL* by Steven A. Guglich @stevenguglich @RockstarBkTours  #giveawayI am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the PIERCING THE VEIL by Steven A. Guglich Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!
About The Book:

Title: PIERCING THE VEIL (The Veil Saga #1)
Author: Steven A. Guglich
Pub. Date: March 31, 2023
Publisher: Your
Wildest Dreams Publishing LLC
Formats: Paperback, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 614
Find it: Goodreads,
They say that legends are born, not
But for Jeremy Goodson and Masaru
Hagen that is far from the truth. Confronted by something that neither of them
can explain, two complete strangers from opposite sides of the world embark on
an unforgettable journey that will forge them into living legends.
It has been almost 4,000 years since
magic disappeared from the Earth. Hidden from humanity by the Veil, those who
possess magic live in ancient settlements across the globe. Over the centuries,
these beings have pierced the Veil, leaving behind glimpses and shadows of the
fantastic and arcane. Fueled by distant memories and humanity’s desire for
wonder, familiar stories of myths and legends have been passed down for
thousands of years in nearly every culture and nation.
Jeremy Goodson, an average,
overweight teacher in New York City finds his entire world turned upside down
when a stranger tempts him to leave everything behind and start a journey that
will test Jeremy’s mysterious gift and bring magic and hope back to humanity.
Masaru Hagen, the adopted son of
American tech entrepreneurs living in Tokyo, has been guided by an unseen voice
all his life. On the eve of his twentieth birthday, the voice leads him across
thousands of miles, on a mysterious and perilous mission he alone can
But there are principalities of this
world that will do whatever they can to stop Jeremy and Masaru and keep magic
out of the hands of humanity forever.
One of these men will bring hope to
the world; the other will bring death. The world they once knew will be changed
forever, not only for themselves, but for everyone on Earth...and maybe not for
the best.
Book Trailer:

Part 1
Chapter 1
An Exceptionally Ordinary Man
“To most, he was under-ordinary; a man of little consequence to his people.”
~ From The Second Gift Giver Chronicles compiled by Erwin Albowyn, a Chronicler
of the Master Construct, Second Order, an alfargnym of Unterbaum
Present Day
On a warm early summer’s day on the bustling streets of New York City, people avoided one another with the skill that only New Yorkers possess. Among the hustle and bustle, one unmoving figure kept watch over a seemingly ordinary human.
Mercurio stood on the sidewalk, busy humans rushing around him. Most of them towered above him, but he was used to that. In some cases, if he wanted to blend in without using his cloak, he could hide among human children. But not today. Today he needed to be unnoticed. The elf stood silent and observing, an unseen watcher hidden in a shroud of magic; the familiar energy of his Veil Cloak surged over his body. The surrounding magic united with his aura and weaved the light around him, making the armor-clad elf invisible to the humans that passed him by. They were completely unaware of his presence, yet they avoided contact with him as if they knew he was there. The cloak’s secondary enchantment acted as a deflector, repelling the
humans at a subconscious level, causing them to move around him like a river flowing around a large rock.
With humans darting all around him, the elf’s eyes focused on his target; a young male sitting on a bench, reading a book. He’d observed this human for weeks and was convinced that this one was indeed worthy of the calling.
This ordinary, plump twenty-eight-year-old man appeared average by most human standards. Perhaps even below average. Jeremy Goodson wore eyeglasses. His round cheeks and belly indicated he ate more than he should. The mustard stain on his blue collared shirt confirmed that conclusion. His brown khaki pants were wrinkled. Was this because he didn’t make and care for his own clothing? He did live alone.

About Steven A. Guglich:

Steven A. Guglich grew up in New York City. He lives inWilliston, North Dakota with his wife, his four children, and his collection ofbooks. He is an Elementary School Principal and is the 2020 North DakotaPrincipal of the Year.
In 2022, he and his wife launched Your Wildest DreamsPublishing, LLC to fulfil a dream born in the imagination of Steven’s Dad,Stanley and to publish Steven’s books.
For more information on Steven’s books, please visit Steven’swebsite.
Subscribe to Steven’s newsletter!
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | TikTok | Goodreads | Amazon
Giveaway Details:
1 winner will receive a finished copy of PIERCING THE VEIL, US Only.
Ends April 15th, midnight EST.

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Tour Schedule:
Week One:


I'm Into Books

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Country MamasWith Kids

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#BRVL BookReview Virginia Lee Blog

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Books With aChance

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Emily Ashlyn

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BrandiDanielle Davis

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Review ThickAnd Thin

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ABlue Box Full of Books

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Jazzy BookReviews

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Week Two:



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The BookCountess

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The Momma Spot




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A DreamWithin A Dream

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MoreBooks Please blog

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Fire and Ice



Rajiv's Reviews

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Mar 26, 2023

March 26, 2023
Book Tour Featuring *Thorns at Sunrise* by Janeen Ippolito @JaneenIppolito @xpressotours #giveaway
Book Tour Featuring *Thorns at Sunrise* by Janeen Ippolito @JaneenIppolito @xpressotours #giveawayThorns at Sunrise(Janeen Ippolito)Publication date: March 23rd 2023Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

A young queen. Her imaginary friend. A kingdom on the verge of death.
She believes she’s crazy.
Queen Usilea has a secret–and he lives in her mind. Ever since she was six years old, her imaginary friend has been her closest companion, and her arranged marriage has been a great dread. When she learns her betrothed and the royal family have suddenly died, she feels obligated to attend the funeral in the foreign land of Absteph–and perhaps learn more behind their mysterious passing.
He only wants the truth.
Petar endures great pain to protect those he does not remember. His only solace is a shadowy woman who he loves–even though she denies that he exists. When a terrible tragedy occurs in his kingdom, that mysterious woman is his only hope of bringing justice to light. For the cage that imprisons him grows harsher every day, and he is losing the fight.
But there are thorns at sunrise.
Brought together on the barest thread of reality, Usilea and Petar must discover what really happened to the royal family. But Petar’s time is running out. Soon not even a Mender like Usilea will be able to save him.
This YA romance features a gender-swapped Sleeping Beauty in an original fantasy world on the brink of doom.

Goodreads / Amazon


Her imaginary friend was playing a new trick on her. This time, she would discern his meaning.
Usilea set down the quill on the paper, frowning at the words mocking her from the page. She pressed her lips together in thought. Thorns at sunrise? What could it mean? What was her mind trying to tell her?
“What do you think of my riddle?”
As usual, the voice didn’t come from within her mind directly, but somewhere outside. Yet were she to glance around, all she would perceive is the vaguest sensation of shadow and soul in the periphery of her vision.
And so, she refrained from looking. Instead, she focused on the words she had written, words he had spoken into her mind at some point in the night.
I think … you’re afraid.
“And what am I afraid of, goldenbird?” Amusement teased the edges of his words. She had known her friend was a male since the first time they had met, whenever that had been. Sometime after her sixth year. “Tell me, you who know me so well.”
I know you as well as I might any figment of my imagination.
“Likewise. That is not the answer to the riddle.”
A sigh escaped her. Usilea leaned back in her cushioned chair and rubbed the tense area around her eyes. You are afraid of being lost. You are afraid of being found. You are afraid of darkness, and you are afraid of light.
No answer came from the voice in her mind. A faint smile curved her lips. He only withdrew like that when she was right and he was bewildered. She had learned that pattern over the years as they had conversed. He liked keeping his mysteries, while he equally delighted in unveiling the mysteries of others. A curious behavior for her imaginary friend.
A strange, stabbing sensation pierced through her musing.
What did it imply about her that her closest friend wasn’t real?

Author Bio:
Janeen Ippolito writes about misfits who defy expectations, whether in fairy tale, steampunk fantasy, urban fantasy, humorous paranormal romance, or poetry. She also spreads wordtastic joy in her work as a fearless book strategist, nonfiction author, and coach. In her spare time, she swordfights and posts cute animal memes.
Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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Mar 25, 2023

March 25, 2023
Stacking The Shelves 03/25/23
Stacking The Shelves 03/25/23This meme is hosted by Reading Reality every Saturday.

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course eBooks! 

And audiobooks. Don’t forget audiobooks!

In other words, if you can read it or if it can be read to you – no matter how you got it – it belongs in Stacking the Shelves.

Finished Reading This Week

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NetGalley ARC

NetGalley ARC

Booksprout ARC

Added To My TBR Shelf This Week

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Have you read any of these, if so what did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts!

Mar 24, 2023

March 24, 2023
Book Tour Featuring *There Goes The Neighborhood* by Jade Adia @JadeAdiaTheNerd @DisneyBooks @LetsTalkYA @RockstarBkTours #giveaway
Book Tour Featuring *There Goes The Neighborhood* by Jade Adia @JadeAdiaTheNerd @DisneyBooks @LetsTalkYA @RockstarBkTours #giveaway 
I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD by Jade Adia Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

About The Book:

Author: Jade Adia
Pub. Date: March 7, 2023
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
Pages: 432
Find it: Goodreads, 
A raised fist against the destructiveforces of gentrification and a love letter to communities of color everywhere,Jade Adia's unforgettable debut tells the darkly hilarious story of three bestfriends willing to do whatever it takes to stay together.The gang is fake, but the fear is real.
Rhea’s neighborhood is fading away―the mom-and-pop shops of her childhoodforced out to make space for an artisanal kombucha brewery here, a hot yogastudio there. And everywhere, the feeling that this place is no longer meantfor her. Because while their little corner of South L.A. isn’t perfect, to Rheaand her two best friends, it’s something even more important―it’s home. Andit’s worth protecting.
But as more white people flock to their latest edgy, urban paradise for itscheap rent and sparkling new Whole Foods, more of Rhea’s friends and family arepushed out. Until Rhea decides it’s time to push back. Armed with theircellphones and a bag of firecrackers, the friends manipulate social media tocreate the illusion of gang violence in their neighborhood. All Rhea wanted todo was protect her community. Her friends. Herself. No one was supposed to gethurt. No one was supposed to die.
But is anyone ever really safe when you’re fighting power with fear?
"Equally strong in its magnetic messiness and potent candor, the novelplunges into discussions of youth activism, capitalism-fueled displacement, andracism’s myriad forms with fierce vision and conviction. A robust cast ofcharacters diverse across various dimensions gives voice to contemporaryperspectives on community-oriented social justice and performative wokeness . .. this one’s a much-needed read. Plain terrific."――Kirkus Reviews
"In this riveting portrait of community care, debut author Adia paints thepain, danger, and consequences of gentrification with visceral clarity,highlighting changes such as displacement and fractured families via Rhea’sbiting and witty voice and her unwavering loyalty to her hometown."――PublishersWeekly


“Swear to god if this happens again, I’m gunna scream.” I pull  my forehead back from the glass and use my fist to wipe away  the condensation. 
“Yeah, I’ll walk straight to the mayor’s mansion, and he  better be ready to catch these hands,” Zeke says. He forms  two fists and throws a couple of fake punches in the air. 
Malachi laughs, gripping the number on his classic Kobe  jersey. “Bruh, you’re not gunna fight anyone.” 
This much is obvious to me and anyone who knows Zeke.  The boy once told me that he could never imagine himself fighting someone, unless it was in space and he had a  lightsaber. 
“Okay, fine,” Zeke relents. “But I will send a strongly  worded email. And write a bad Yelp review.” 
“I don’t think you can write Yelp reviews for the City of Los  Angeles,” I mumble. It’s only July 1, but when I try to count  up the number of mom-and-pop shops to bite it this summer  alone, I give up after ten. Jugos Azteca was the last place in  the neighborhood where you could still get a giant thirty-two ounce Styrofoam cup of agua fresca at any hour for only $2. 
But now it’s gone too. 
The global spice mart was the first to go. Some corporate stooges bought it last year and turned it into a boutique  Pilates studio. And the Liquor Bank where we used to buy  sour belts and chile mango pops? That was shut down for a  health code violation, and now there’s an artisan coffee shop  where you can paint a ceramic mug while you wait. Last year,  someone took over the fish fry restaurant next to that, and  now there’s a goddamn taco shop run by a couple of white  boys, and their only salsa option is pico de gallo. Pico-de fucking-gallo. Not a bottle of Valentina or Yucateco in sight.  Not even any Tapatio or weak-ass Cholula. We went there  once to see what the deal was, but between the three of us,  
we only had enough cash for one taco to split. When the corny  dude brought it over to us, we asked for hot sauce and he  gave us SRIRACHA. Fuck outta here with that ketchup shit.  That would never have happened back in the day. 
So yeah, things in South LA are changing, to say the least. “We could walk on Western Avenue until we find the elote  guy?” I suggest, more so as an excuse to get as far away as  possible from this depressing-ass empty storefront than out  of an actual craving for street corn. 
“Rhea, it’s too hot to walk. Like Mad Max slash Dune slash  that Star Trek episode when Kirk fights that desert lizard  level hot.” Zeke uses the seam of his graphic tee to wipe a  line of sweat from underneath his sheepdog haircut. 
“Well, unless you magically learn to drive, I don’t know  what our other option is,” I say. I’m usually the one good for  thinking of the plan for the day, but between the heat and yet  another spot biting the dust, I got nothing. 
“When I get my permit, I’ll be charging y’all for rides,”  Malachi says proudly.
“Boy, please.” I bop the back of his head. “As if you can  even buy a car.” At fifteen, the three of us can barely afford  snacks, let alone a whole-ass vehicle. 
The sun kicks it up a notch. Trippy waves of gas rising  from the steaming concrete do a little dance for me before  melting away. Across the street, something catches my eye. If  this looks like what I think it does . . . I fight the urge to gag. 
“Wait, guys, hold up,” I say, holding a hand above my eyes  to block out the sun. 
For the past six months, the city’s been building this high speed Metro rail to slice through our neighborhood. The construction site is almost always empty, but today, it looks like  there’s a “special” new addition. 
Cars honk as I dodge traffic, but I couldn’t care less. When  I hit the other side of the street, I lace my fingers around the  wire of the chain link fence to get a better look. You’ve got to be kidding me. 
Zeke catches up and puts on his CNN newscaster voice to  read the brand-new billboard staring at us. “Kofa Park: Los  Angeles’s Newest Up-and-Coming Hot Spot!” 
I roll my eyes. “Gimme your backpack,” I say to Malachi. “Why?” He pulls the straps of his space-themed JanSport  close to his chest. 
“You don’t trust me?” 
“Hell no!” He backs away all dramatic at first, but there’s a  faint trace of a smile beneath it all. I lunge forward to snatch  it but miss. He laughs and tosses me the backpack. 
I snag a Sharpie from the front pocket. “Watch out for a  security guard, aight?” I dig the rubber toes of my Converse  into the gaps of the fence and climb over. My shoes hit the  concrete with a sting.
The marker squeaks as I rub its felt tip against the  Plexiglas. The future train stop shelter has two side panels, so I hit those real quick before focusing on the backside,  which is the most important because this is what faces the  street. 
This is the shit that people see. 
We’ve had bullshit billboards like this popping up all over  South LA for the past couple of years, so normally I wouldn’t  have even noticed. But something about this particular one  caught my eye: 
All the people in the ads are white. 
Well, at least they were until a minute ago. 
I use the brown Sharpie to fill in one last face. 
The guys hop the fence to join me on the forbidden side.  Malachi with his long legs does so much easier than Zeke,  who sort of half scrambles, half falls his way over. 
The hood of the train stop structure casts a thin strip of  futile shade covering only half of the metal bench, which by  now has already absorbed hours’ worth of summer heat, so  it’s way too hot to sit on. But that doesn’t stop Zeke from trying. Twice. 
“Rheaaaa,” Zeke complains to me after burning his ass  once again. He rubs the seat of his jeans. “Can you just let  this go?” 
“No.” As a Black girl, I know how shit works: we’re either  hypervisible or invisible. I’m not gonna pretend that I personally don’t fall in that second category, but I don’t need a  goddamn billboard rubbing it in my face. Let alone erasing  the entire hood into obscurity along with me. 
My hand cramps and I accidentally color outside of  the line.
“I’m too young and too cute to get a rap for breaking and  entering,” Zeke complains. 
On the other side of the fence, a white twentysomething  woman with a cat on a bedazzled leash crosses the street to  avoid walking past us. She clutches her phone all dramatic,  the panic button locked and loaded as if we’ve been lurking  here waiting to mug her. She avoids my eye contact as I stare  her down. 
Apparently, we don’t look very young to her. 
I ignore Zeke and keep coloring. He groans and grabs  the cluster of neon-yellow caution tape from the floor, walking over to Malachi. Even while leaning against the fence,  Malachi towers over Zeke, so Zeke has to rise up on his toes  to wrap the “Do Not Enter” tape around Malachi’s neck. Zeke  arranges the makeshift boa and smiles. “You look fabulous.” 
“Y’all play too much,” Malachi says, hiding a smirk. He  adjusts the caution tape scarf and takes the wave brush from  the back pocket of his jeans, compulsively rubbing it across  his head, fresh from the barber with a new fade. The new cut  works for him. A little too well. I’ve seen the way that other  girls have started to look at him this summer. He’s all height,  glowing brown skin, and perfect teeth since the braces came  off. Not like that’s any of my business—how other girls look  at him, I mean. As his oldest friend, I try not to notice the  changes. Plus, it’s not like I’ve glowed up in any way to match. 
Zeke, Malachi, and I have been best friends since Pampers.  Our moms became tight when they’d volunteer at our day  care together. As we got older, that turned into waiting for us  at the bus stop after school, which was always late because  we’d mess with the driver so much that he’d have to pull over  to yell at us to stay in our seats and shit. So our moms had 
plenty of time to bond and gossip about the other parents.  Eventually, the three of us became accustomed to impromptu  playdates on the patch of grass at the street corner while our  moms kept raising their gelled nails at us, telling us to chill  out for “five more minutes.” And let me tell you, when Black  and Latina moms get into full-on chisme mode, you know  for damn sure that they ain’t gonna be just “five minutes.”  
So, Zeke, Malachi, and I leaned into our crew. We gradually  transitioned from school friends, to bus friends, to friends friends. 
These days, my mom doesn’t hang out with the others  anymore. Or anyone, really, except her newest husband.  Even I didn’t make the cut. So Zeke and Malachi aren’t just  my best friends, they’re my tethers—the ones who keep me  from feeling like I could drift away at any moment without  anyone noticing, the ones who make me feel at home in the  world. Not like I’d ever straight up tell Zeke’s sentimental ass  or Malachi’s smug self how much they mean to me, but what ever, they know. And the fact that they ride-or-die so hard  with me, hopping a fence to watch my back, no questions  asked, means it’s mutual. 
“Incoming security guard.” Malachi tilts forward like he’s  ready to bolt. Little diamond-shaped impressions run down  his spine where he had been leaning against the fence. “You  done yet?” 
“Nah, hold on.” The guys hover over my shoulders, but I  cover my work. “I said I’m not done yet.” 
Malachi sucks his teeth. “C’mon, let us see.” 
“It’s not finished.” 
“Sis, relax,” Zeke says. He swats away my hand and takes  a sharp inhale.
Malachi doubles over in laughter. “They look like they’re  in blackface!” 
“No, they don’t!” I protest. I take a step back but realize  that they low-key do. 
Not my best work. 
“This somehow feels even more racist than the original ad,”  Zeke cackles. 
“Ay, yo, STOP!” On the opposite side of the track, a skinny  security guard pulls up on some bootleg Mall Cop bullshit.  He leans over the handlebars of his bicycle, but his helmet is  slightly too big, so it sags to the side, making him look even  younger than he is. I recognize him because he works the  night shift at Wing Stop. It’s probably just in my head, but  swear to god, I can smell the lemon pepper seasoning lingering on his uniform from over here. 
“The penalties for a conviction of misdemeanor graffiti are  up to 364 days in county jail, a $1,000 fine, or both,” the  guard shouts, tryna make his voice big. The dark skin of his  chicken legs glisten with sweat and cocoa butter. 
“And what’s the penalty for rockin’ shorts that tight on a  Wednesday afternoon?” Malachi clowns as he hops the fence  back to the street. I take the moment of distraction to add my  final touch: I scratch out the “newest up-and-coming” part of  the ad. 
“You know what?” The skinny guard whips out his busted  Android with a screen crack deeper than the San Andreas  fault. “Names and addresses! I got y’all on tape!” 
With that, Zeke and I catapult ourselves over the fence.  I kick out a kink in my leg from the fall as we watch the  goofy Mall Cop nigga round the corner, pedaling straight  toward us.
Malachi’s big brown eyes go wide as he claps in my face.  “Yo, let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!” 
We sprint by the men in suits who hand out copies of the  local paper every afternoon and the mural of the dark woman  whose afro holds a spaceship above the words “Free Your  Mind.” A group of girls, maybe four or five years younger than  us, Double Dutch in the empty parking lot where a woman  selling tamales laughs with a customer who hangs out of their  car window, delicately grasping a plastic bag steaming from  the heat of the corn husks. I can smell the masa even after  we dip into the alley, leaping over empty boxes of backwoods  and lost wads of braiding hair from the salon above the black and-gray-style tattoo parlor. 
Our sprint slows to a jog, which slows to a walk. We  emerge on the other end and lose the guard at last. “Your bad attitude is gunna screw us all over,” Malachi  says between deep gasps for breath. “I’m cutting off your  Sharpie supply, Rhea.” 
Recently, there’s been something about the way he says  my name that makes my stomach do a slow somersault. I  clock the feeling but push it aside. “Whatever, bighead,” I  reply, knocking my sandal against his Jordans, but being  careful not to scuff them up. 
The heat catches up to us, so we practically crawl the final  two blocks to Zeke’s apartment, which is where we hang most  of the time because his mom, Lupe, keeps the fridge stocked  with hella snacks. Within minutes of piling inside, the three  of us are arguing over who gets the last cheese-and-loroco  pupusa when Lupe comes in. 
She’s crying. 
“Ma?” Zeke asks softly, relinquishing the tiny bowl of curtido that he had been threatening to withhold if we didn’t share  with him. 
“Can you get this out of the way, please?” she asks me,  pointing at a chair that we had knocked over earlier. I stand  and move it to its proper place at the table so that she can  move her wheelchair around our mess. We all stare at the  open envelope and crinkled letter lying facedown in her lap,  
but none of us dare to ask about it. She shuts her bedroom  door gently and Zeke sinks back down onto the carpet. “What do you think that’s about?” Zeke asks, clenching his  hands together. 
“I don’t know.” I tread carefully, because Zeke’s one of  those real sensitive, empathetic guys. He’s the type who’ll get  choked up by those corny commercials where someone earns  their degree from an online university and their kids try on  the graduation cap. When things get dark for real, he can  fall apart easily. I never really cry on my own, but with Zeke,  his tears are annoyingly infectious. Once he gets started, it’s  Game Over for me—straight kryptonite. Unlike Zeke, though,  I’d rather keep the feels to a minimum, so I throw myself into  ‘Operation: Zeke Cry Prevention’ at all costs. 
“Do you think it’s health stuff?” Malachi asks cautiously.  Zeke’s mom has been some type of sick for practically our  entire lives. A few years ago, though, her nervous system  stopped working well, which made it hard for her to walk,  until eventually, she couldn’t walk at all. The doctors never  figured out exactly what happened, but she’s been able to  manage with the chair and hasn’t been to the hospital in over  a year. 
Lupe has one of those wild, uninhibited laughs that makes  it easy to forget that she’s often in pain.
“Nah, man. She was at the doctor last week and everything was chill. They spent most of the appointment talking  about how the doc’s bratty son ruined his niece’s quince photo  shoot.” 
“How’d he ruin the photo shoot?” Malachi asks. I flick the  side of his head to remind him to focus on the actual issue  at hand. 
From behind her closed door, Lupe calls out to us. “Why  don’t you all go to Malachi’s house? I need a bit of space to  work this afternoon.” Lupe is the part-time billing manager  for a semiretired dentist, so she’s always contacting some one’s insurance or returning a patient’s phone call. 
“Sure, no problem,” we reply in unison, though the chorus  of our voices comes out more apprehensive than eager. Malachi and I get up, but Zeke’s still glued to the floor.  I reach out my hand. “Just give her a minute, it’s probably  nothing,” I whisper. He grabs my wrist and I pull him up,  careful not to knock over the collection of porcelain crosses  on the bookshelf behind me. 
Zeke locks the door behind us as Malachi and I attempt  to see who can jump high enough to touch the hallway ceiling. I’m centimeters away from swiping the stucco above our  heads when a familiar voice yells at us from down the hall. 
“Cut that shit out!” 
“Not this asshole again,” Malachi murmurs. 
Right on cue, Vic comes waddling down the hall. He’s one  of those short, pudgy white dudes who’s thicc with lower body  curves honestly not unlike my grandma. 
“Here comes the Evil Landlord and his signature body odor  fragrance . . .” I say to the guys. We cackle, which only makes  Vic more pissed.
“Hahaha laugh all you want, cretins. In thirty days, I’ll be  the one laughing.” He haphazardly waves a scroll of paper at  our faces like a fire extinguisher. “I’ll never have to see you  three spilling Arizonas and stomping all over my units ever  again.” 
“’Cause you’re gunna kill us?” I chime in with a devious grin. 
“As much pleasure as that would give me, no. I won’t have  to. Didn’t you hear the news?” He runs his french-fry-grease soaked hands across his mouth and nods at Zeke. “Acne ridden wannabe Carlos Vives over here is moving.” Vic makes  his pale fingers into the shape of a gun and pretends to fire it  at Zeke’s chest. 
“What are you talking about? We’re not moving,” Zeke  pipes back. 
Oil mixed with sweat glistens above the self-satisfied grin  smeared across Vic’s face. “Oh yeah? So, you’re saying that you  personally have the money to afford the sixty percent increase  in rent then?” A fly buzzes through the hallway, filling the  silence that falls between us. Vic moves to swat it. He misses. 
Look, I don’t know how much the rent is, but I got an A in  math last year—a 60 percent increase is no joke. “You see this?” Vic theatrically unrolls the scroll that he’s  been wielding and reveals a set of blueprints. “The shithole  that you’re standing in now—which was run into the ground  by all of your people—will soon be renovated. Out with the old  tenants, and in with the new ones.” I’ve seen enough changes  on the block recently to know what he means. Read: millennials with tech jobs and hipsters with trust funds.