Blog Tour + GIVEAWAY: Signal Moon by Kate Quinn

Signal Moon Excerpt

When there was a war on, and when your part in it was so deadly serious it sometimes kept you from sleeping at night, there was really nothing to do but make jokes about it all. It was either make jokes or start weeping at your desk, so Lily made jokes.

“The wallpaper in this place is going to do me in,” she quipped an hour into her shift that Monday. “I can see my obituary now: ‘The Honorable Lily Baines, petty officer in the Women’s Royal Naval Service, twenty-two, dead of mid-Victorian chintz.’”

The others laughed, a welcome sound of cheer in the chilly parlor. The little seaside hotel, in which Lily and her fellow Wrens had spent nearly every day of the last year, had been made over into a listening station at the start of the war. The space was crammed with desks, naval message pads, and National HRO receivers with their cranky dials and chunky headphones. The only part of the room that still looked like a parlor was the wallpaper, pink blotches that might have been cabbage roses or maybe diseased kidneys, writhing across the walls and down the corridor outside, and in all the rooms upstairs where Lily and her fellow Wrens billeted in a welter of hideous china and starched doilies. “This whole place is a mid-Victorian howler,” Lily had decreed their first day, already slotted into her place as court jester, the one who kept everyone laughing.

And if she often felt like weeping from the stress and the fear and the endless grinding dread of it all, what did that matter? There was a war on; you pinned a smile in place and kept going.

“No daydreaming, Baines,” tutted Lily’s superior officer, a middle-aged woman named Fiddian who had a face like a fist. “Put those headphones back on.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Lily blew on her mittened fingers. No one bothered to take off the coats bundled over their uniforms; it was far too cold. One of the advantages of joining the Wrens was supposed to be that sleek, dashing, brass-buttoned uniform (designed by Molyneux!), but no one ever saw the uniform here; Lily and her fellow Y Station listeners spent every shift bundled.

Lily slid the big Bakelite headphones back over her ears. Cold enclosed rooms, headphones, and secrecy—that was a Y Station listener’s world in a nutshell. Reaching toward her wireless receiver, she began turning knobs and went hunting.

It hadn’t seemed like hunting when she was doing her training course in Wimbledon over a year ago as a newly assigned special duties linguist. It had been serious business, of course, but there had been a certain fierce pleasure in learning to do it, and do it well: tuning her ears to the next room where a chap with a microphone droned a never-ending series of call signs, code groups, and German words, and Lily and a cluster of German-speaking Wrens scribbled on their pads, straining for every syllable. Can you repeat that? one of the girls had been foolish enough to ask, and the snap from the next room came right quick: Are you going to ask the Nazis to just repeat that, when you’re taking down their transmissions in the North Sea? It was all about learning to listen with every spark of energy you had, straining to hear as the teachers started building in interference: fading signals, interrupted signals, aural chaff (Write down exactly what you hear, and no guessing, girls!). Lily would exchange delighted grins with the others when they got a message clear; they’d compete to see who was best at parsing the transmissions.

But here in Withernsea, everything was deadly serious: they were intercepting live radio communications sent to enemy vessels, the same vessels that hunted their countrymen. Lily saw her quarry the moment she first sat down at this desk: wolf packs of U-boats knifing through the waters of the Atlantic, German surface vessels poking their ugly snouts through the Baltic, looking for soft Allied flesh. She didn’t have a brother out there, thank God—hers were both too young—but she had a whole flock of cousins, a pack of school friends, an entire flotilla of old beaux she’d fox-trotted and waltzed through her deb season with. Willy, Terry, John, Phil, Arthur, Kit, Andrew, Eddie, Dickie, Alan, Fred . . . Just running the list in her head, the ones she could lose, sent an icy hand of pure terror clawing down her throat.

Chin up, she told herself again, fingers resting on the knob like a pianist’s on the keys, sliding the length of the band. German transmissions, always to be found in the 4, 8, and 12 MHz bands— ship-to-ship communications fell in the 30 to 50 MHz band. Listening through the static, through the fuzz, sliding slowly along the frequencies. (Have my ears grown? Lily wondered sometimes in the bleariness of late-shift exhaustion. Do they stick out from my head like platters, the way I strain and swivel after radio chatter so many hours and hours and hours a day?) Straining, straining, straining, never knowing when a voice in German would suddenly jump into your ears. Two hours of static droned through her headphones tonight before a nasal Teutonic tenor emerged; Lily gave a sharp knock on the desk, and dimly heard one of the other Wrens calling, “We’ve got a Jerry ship up. Call Fiddian—” Lily was already writing with one hand, transposing the drone of German letter groups as her left-hand fingers poised on the knob, ready to track the voice if it disappeared back into static. She lost the signal in the middle, got it back within seconds, only a few letter groups dropped out there . . . It was all ciphered, just gibberish in five-letter clusters, but she didn’t have to make sense of it. She just wrote until her hand burned and listened till her ears bled, the entire person and essence of the Honorable Lily Baines stripped down to a pair of ears and a pair of hands. 

***

About the Story

Title: Signal Moon

Author: Kate Quinn

Publisher: Amazon Original Stories

Summary

Yorkshire, 1943. Lily Baines, a bright young debutante increasingly ground down by an endless war, has traded in her white gloves for a set of headphones. It’s her job to intercept enemy naval communications and send them to Bletchley Park for decryption. One night, she picks up a transmission that isn’t code at all—it’s a cry for help. An American ship is taking heavy fire in the North Atlantic—but no one else has reported an attack, and the information relayed by the young US officer, Matt Jackson, seems all wrong. The contact that Lily has made on the other end of the radio channel says it’s…2023. 

Across an eighty-year gap, Lily and Matt must find a way to help each other: Matt to convince her that the war she’s fighting can still be won, and Lily to help him stave off the war to come. As their connection grows stronger, they both know there’s no telling when time will run out on their inexplicable link.

Author Biography

Kate Quinn is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of many historical novels, including The Diamond Eye, The Rose Code, The Alice Network, and The Huntress. A native of Southern California, she received her bachelor’s and master’s in classical voice from Boston University before turning her focus to writing fiction. Her books have been translated into multiple languages, and The Alice Network was featured as a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick. Quinn lives in San Diego with her husband and three adorable rescue dogs. 

Social Media Links

Website: https://www.katequinnauthor.com/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KateQuinnAuthor 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katequinn5975/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KateQuinnAuthor 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2974095.Kate_Quinn 

Giveaway

CLICK HERE for your chance to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

Review: Luke’s Touch (Walker Security: Lucifer’s Trilogy #2) by Lisa Renee Jones

Title: Luke’s Touch
Author: Lisa Renee Jones
Publisher/Year:  Amazon Publishing 6/18/22
Length:  206 pages
Series: Walker Security: Lucifer’s Trilogy #2

Overview

She loved him. He betrayed her. Nothing is what it seems.

One touch can change everything though, and it did. The minute he showed back up in her life, all deals were off. He touched her and she melted. He promised her everything, and she wanted everything. The question is: is he her salvation or her destruction? Love. Hate. Passion. Danger. It’s about to get hot in here…

My Thoughts

I love Lucifer / Luke and I think being able to see what made him in to the man he is really helps add another layer to things. Add to that the story with Ana, well we have something intense, complex, and HOT.

We left off the first book with these two on the run, we know that many of the people around them are dirty and we don’t yet know who we can trust. There’s so much more of a mystery shrouding the whole situation with what it was that Ana’ brother was doing, as well as the resolution with her father, his business and everyone who’s connected to them. Walker is now involved and we know that they’ve got their back, but there’s always a question of who’s going to survive.

The chemistry between Luke and Ana is something that we have to struggle with. They are meant to be of course, but they fight each other on what the future holds since they both know that it’s not safe to be together. There’s really not future for them though that doesn’t include one another, so we get to watch how they combust, how they dance around each other and hopefully how they resolve to just be what they always were meant to be.

Throughout this second installment we fly all over the place, uncovering more secrets, questioning the motivations and motives around all the actions of the past, and really wondering if people who are said to be dead are dead. You know in these types of books, just like in all good soap operas, if you haven’t seen a body, the person isn’t dead, and even if you have, the person’s not dead. So that’s what we encounter after there are shoot outs, huntings and lies. Someone who’ deemed dead isn’t, and someone that we thought was on our side flips.

So, that means that we’re on the edge of a cliff again. Guns being pointed at everyone’s heads, and there’s a big question mark on who’s going to come out alive. There’s tension, heat and hatred, all wrapped up in the last few chapters here. So on that note, i’m now waiting for book three to come out and I hope you enjoy!

Review: Sonata (North Security #3) by Skye Warren

TitleSonata
Author: Skye Warren
Publisher/Year:  Skye Warren 8/6/19
Length:  280 pages
Series: North Security #3

Overview

Who is Samantha Brooks without her violin? Fear lives in the silent spaces. Love does, too. There’s a battle being waged in her heart, and Liam North is determined to win. He’ll use every weapon in his arsenal. His body. His heart. Except the spotlight puts her in the crosshairs of dangerous men.

Samantha fights to compose her own ending, even as the final notes rise to a heartbreaking crescendo.

My Thoughts

We needed to have this final installment to see how the story not only continued but completed. There’s so much uncertainty in the relationship between Samantha and Liam, as well as in her future as a musician and on top of that, there’s chaos around her father and his motives. We left them with Samantha giving up the violin and going on the run essentially with Liam and we don’t know what that means.

Throughout this final installment we see a few things happen. We see Samantha grow up. you have to remember that she’s only 18, so she’s really not very experienced with the world even though she had quite the untraditional upbringing. When she’s faced with suitors other than Liam and she’s not sure how to read those situations or the motives behind actions, we are once again reminded of Liam’s need and the rationale behind his need to protect her.

Bethany comes back into the fold in this story and we see the bond that she creates with Samantha. It’s a good set up to see what will happen in her own story since she’s about due one. We watch how Samantha’s relationship with the man who’s now backing a new tour that she’ll headline changes the dynamic of the entire story and all the characters within.

The question continues to rise, whether she’s good enough to headline, whether she’s strong enough to risk her life and Liam’s life to go back on stage and what that means in general. She has passion on top of passion for not only music but for her relationship with Liam, and we watch all of that play out in a deep and angsty way.

So on that note, we get a resolution that does this story justice – of course with a lot of tension, fear, and lies. But regardless, it was worthy of this series finale. So, on that note – enjoy!

Review: Concerto (North Security #2) by Skye Warren

TitleConcerto
Author: Skye Warren
Publisher/Year:  Skye Warren 5/14/19
Length:  290 pages
Series: North Security #2

Overview

Samantha Brooks stands onstage as the curtain rises. Her dreams are coming true. She doesn’t know her nightmare is coming too.

The spotlight lands on Samantha Brooks. Years of practice build to the opening night of a global tour. She plays her heart out, but there are darker forces underneath the stage.

There are eyes watching from the wings.

Liam North fights to keep her safe with every weapon he owns. She’s his greatest pride—and his greatest weakness. The danger comes from somewhere no one expected. Betrayal threatens to destroy everything he’s build. His business. His family. His life.

When the curtain falls, only one of them will be left standing.

My Thoughts

We left the first installment with Samantha becoming an adult, free from Liam’s guardianship, and making the decision that the only way to truly figure out what she needs and who she is was to leave him. She moves out of the house and goes to the first tour stop in Tanglewood early. What she quickly learns though is that her protection will continue – Josh is there, watching her back while they try to suss out where the danger is coming from before it gets too close.

This second story takes us to the tour, where we see a new cast of characters which brings new levels of intrigue. We know that there’s a lot of fanfair around Harry March who’s the headliner of the tour and what we learn throughout this story is that there’s so much more under the surface of what drives him, what keeps him going and as a result, what haunts him. The role that he played in making this story come together is one that as a reader we should have suspected, but we focused elsewhere which left us with a bit of a surprise.

The others on the tour all have their own interesting and complicated backstories, some of which I can expect will intertwine with our existing characters. There’s a dynamic shift and odd chemistry that we see developing among a few, that it makes you want to dig in more and see what’s next.

Back to Samantha and Liam though. What we saw in the first book is that they have this bond that’s keeping them tethered together in a way that distance won’t break. They cannot be apart, and when they are, it’s damaging for them. They have this physical attraction that’s hot but they have something that’s so much more, and yet it’s enough to continue to keep them pushing each other away. That results in someone getting shot and being on the edge of death.

It’s true – Samantha’s father is still alive, and now he’s trying to get to her for reasons unknown. Everyone is at risk, and following your heart can put you directly in the line of fire. That’s the lesson that we learn in this second book, and what we find out is that there’s no such thing as trust, loyalty and being safe. So, onto the next book in this series to see how this plays out since we know there’s not meant to be a happy ending for everyone. Enjoy!

Review: Overture (North Security #1) by Skye Warren

TitleOverture
Author: Skye Warren
Publisher/Year:  Skye Warren 2/14/19
Length:  302 pages
Series: North Security #1

Overview

Forbidden fruit never tasted this sweet…

The world knows Samantha Brooks as the violin prodigy. She guards her secret truth—the desire she harbors for her guardian.

Liam North got custody of her six years ago. She’s all grown up now, but he still treats her like a child. No matter how much he wants her.

No matter how bad he aches for one taste.

Her sweet overtures break down the ex-soldier’s defenses, but there’s more at stake than her body. Every touch, every kiss, every night. The closer she gets, the more exposed his darkest secret. She’s one step away from finding out what happened the night she lost her family.

One step away from leaving him forever.

My Thoughts

I love anything that Skye Warren writes and this series is no different. We’re introduced to this world of music and lies – a combination of the two swirling around our leading lady Samantha. She grew up in a world where it wasn’t safe – her father was a diplomat, but we learn that he wasn’t always a clean one, taking money from people, doing the wrong deals etc and that meant that they were often living under extreme circumstances – which we learned included Samantha being left on her own, often without food or money, and at time forgotten. That’s transformed her into not only a strong woman, but added to the allure of her unparalleled talent.

Enter Liam – a man who knew Samantha’s father but was not friends with him. He was in the same orbit as her father and when he ‘passed away from a heart attack’, Liam requested guardianship over Samantha. Her own brother didn’t want to care for her, so it was lucky that Liam took that over. He’s established, owns a security firm and clearly has connections with the ability to protect which we soon learn are necessary.

There’s a lot of character growth in this first installment of the series. We’re at the precipice for Samantha where her life is about to change – the moment she turns 18. She’s no longer the ward of Liam and she’s going to go on an international tour. She’s finding out more about herself and what she wants and she learns how to go after it. In this case – part of that is Liam.

Through the trials and tribulations with two of her friends, Samantha ends up in situations where Liam doesn’t believe she’s safe or frankly is a bit jealous and that brings out a side of him that we were all hoping to see. There’s a mutual attraction here but given that she was underage, that was part of the barrier. The notion that he’s not right for her and capable of being what she needs and deserves is the other aspect of things.

The story progresses with us watching Liam battle internally with what he wants and what is right. His brothers even see through him and warn him from breaking Samantha’s heart and still that’s a battle that he can’t win. Sadly we know that there is going to be no way to come back from whatever it is that they’re going to do.

There’s an attempt on Samantha’s life, and there’s a reporter that’s probing too hard into her past. Liam uncovers that the reporter wasn’t who she said she is, and that means that there’s an uncertain future and risk around Samantha that makes everyone nervous. She doesn’t quite know where it’s coming from, but Liam is pretty sure given some inside information that he’s heard through the wires.

We close this first book with the discovery of passion and chemistry, the loss of the past and innocence and the fear for the future. Samantha has spread her wings since that’s the only way that she can survive and Liam now has to deal with a broken heart and hope that he can protect her from afar. So, what does that mean? on to the next installment to see how this plays out. Enjoy!

Blog Tour + Author Interview + GIVEAWAY!!! – When it All Falls Apart by Catherine Bybee

Interview with Catherine Bybee

For anyone wondering the plot of your newest release, you give a great sneak peek with the title—When it Falls Apart. What is “falling apart” in this novel?

All the threads that hold my heroine, Brooke, together are crumbling down around her. When it Falls Apart begins with Brooke’s romantic relationship crashing and burning. At the same time, in a different state, her father is circling the drain in the ICU. And for the cherry on the top of her “falling apart life”, Brooke has found herself demoted at work. In short, everything in Brooke’s life is dissolving around her.

Like all of your books, When it Falls Apart has a beautiful romance, however, there is a rawness about Brooke’s story. How was writing this novel different from your others?

If you read my notes both in the front and the back of this novel, you’ll soon realize that the story was very personal to me. Rawness comes from experience. The relationship Brooke has with her father is hauntingly familiar to me and my dad. The emotions that the heroine experienced when taking care of him were easy for me to grasp onto and write about. Sadly, the love story with Luca was completely made up and I didn’t have the support of a strong Italian family to help deal with the struggles, but I digress. 

Relationships with a parent who wasn’t there for you growing up are messy. When that parent ages and needs their child, sometimes that help comes with a bucketload of resentment, even if the child wishes they could stop those ugly feelings from creeping up on them. And THAT is the rawness you speak of.

Books, TV shows, and movies oftentimes glamorize what it means to care for a loved one. However, in When it Falls Apart you don’t sugar-coat anything about caregiving and the toll it takes on a person. How do you think readers who have been in similar situations will be affected by this story?

Justified. Validated. Accepted.

It’s a hard job taking care of an elderly family member. And if there aren’t other siblings to help, or won’t help, it’s made even more difficult. It’s difficult, gritty, dirty work that only has a bad ending…eventually. What I do hope my readers take away is that they’re not alone. That the struggle is very real and that if they don’t find balance (which is almost impossible at times) they will burn out completely and not be fit to help at all. I hope my readers are empowered to set boundaries and balance, so they come out on the other side of caring for an elderly loved one whole themselves.

Brooke gets virtually no support from her significant other, which has her reevaluating their relationship. She realizes she has settled and has to make some hard decisions. Do you think this happens too many times to women in real life?

100% Yes! There is a song by Taylor Swift with a line that says, and I’m paraphrasing here, I can be what you want for the weekend. But often that weekend ends up being a relationship that women hold on to or are convinced they can’t live without. Often it takes a huge shake-up to remove yourself from that situation. But once you’re away from the day to day dysfunctional relationship, the easier it is to see the dysfunction.

After her breakup and move, Brooke is not looking for a relationship. In fact, she tells her best friend: “I haven’t wiped off my smeared mascara from Marshall yet, the last thing I want is to jump into anything else.” Her crying over a man lasts all about two minutes when she meets Luca. Tell us about him.

Hmmm, Luca… he is the kind of man who doesn’t want a place on Brooke’s dance card…he wants to rip it up.

Luca is wired to help the people in his life. Brooke becomes a part of his inner circle simply by moving into the family building where he sees her every day.

Now, if Luca had flat out asked Brooke on a date, she would have run the other way…so no, he doesn’t go about it that way. He simply shows up and does not leave. Not when things get tough, or messy…or when his own past peeks its head in. Luca is a man who is right there at Brooke’s side without question or censor on why she does the things she does. His support and validation of her feelings is the part she was missing. Add in the hunky Italian single father and “Mamma Mia!”

At first, Luca is not thrilled that Brooke is renting a room in his family’s building. What changes his mind about her?

Her strength and vulnerability. I know that sounds contradicting, but some of the strongest women I know have a big vulnerable spot in their life that if you know them well enough, you see. The biggest smiles often hide the deepest pain. Luca sees her struggle and dedication to helping her elderly father and since family is first on Luca’s list, she passes his unconscious test.

Luca’s family, the D’Angelo’s, are incredibly close and share everything from ownership of the family restaurant to helping care for Luca’s daughter Franny. How is this different from Brooke’s relationship with her family?

Brooke doesn’t have that family. She has a father who abandoned her as a little girl that she carved out a relationship as an adult, and now she’s charged with caring for. Even her previous romantic relationship didn’t support her unconditionally the way the D’Angelo’s do for each other. She’s rather dumbfounded when they start treating her like family. It’s a wonderful thing to watch happen.

San Diego’s Little Italy plays a huge part in the story. The community, language, and food are in full display. Tell us about your own experiences in your adopted city.

I love Little Italy, the food, the pace… the people. There are many places in San Diego that are overrun with the college scene, San Diego is a college town. But Little Italy is more family friendly. Very touristy, but there isn’t a day you don’t see locals hanging out. I go to the farmer’s market often. Pick up authentic Italian ingredients for my own home cooking. I try new restaurants and take all my friends there when they are visiting from out of town. Not to mention it was the closest thing to the “real Italy” that I could go during the travel restrictions. So why not write about it and tell the world of this small island within San Diego that shouldn’t be missed?

There are two more siblings in the D’Angelo family. Where will you be taking readers next with the series?

Chloe is a yogi. Think Bali!

And Giovanni loves wine… think Tuscany, Italy.

I cannot wait to show you what I have in store for these two!

***

Excerpt

“Oh my God, Carmen. He was standing at his car first thing this morning. Like ‘hop in, bella, let’s get stuff done today.’ Who does that?” 

Brooke had picked up the phone as soon as Luca was off in search of a dump guy. 

“We’re talking about the single, hot, Italian dad, right?” 

Brooke rolled her eyes. “Yes. Luca.” 

“Oy, oy, oy.” 

“Stop it. I need advice. And I need it before he gets back.” 

Carmen stopped teasing. “You don’t need advice. You need to relax. He sounds like one of the good ones. Let it happen.” 

Let it happen,” she mocked. “I don’t ‘let’ things happen. It happens to me and it’s never good.” 

“You didn’t used to be such a pessimist.” 

“Once upon a time the glass was half full. Not these days.” 

“Okay, Debbie Downer. You want my advice . . . here it is. Keep doing whatever it is you’re doing.” 

“I’m not doing anything. Zero effort.” 

“Really?” Carmen didn’t sound convinced. “Makeup . . . a nice dress?” 

Brooke hesitated. “Maybe . . . a little last night, but that was it.” 

Carmen chuckled. 

“Carmen!”

“Sorry. Okay . . . any red flags?” 

Brooke thought about that. “He loved his ex-wife.” 

“That’s a red flag?” 

“I guess not.” 

“Is he good to his mom?” 

Brooke looked back on the dinner the night before. “To the whole family. He takes being the oldest brother quite seriously.” 

“And his daughter?” 

All Brooke could do was smile. “Great dad. We should all be so lucky.” 

“He’s Italian, does he smoke?” 

“No.” 

“A lot of Italians smoke,” Carmen pointed out. 

“In Italy. The San Diego variety are less in that wheelhouse.” 

“That’s good.” Carmen sighed. “I don’t know what to tell you, Brooke. How does he kiss?” 

“He hasn’t kissed me,” Brooke nearly yelled. 

“Now then . . . we have a problem.” 

“There hasn’t been . . . I don’t even know if—” 

“Stop right there. He did not drive your sorry ass all the way to Upland to do grunt work all day if he wasn’t interested in kissing you, bellllaaa. More than that, you want him to.” 

Brooke closed her eyes, and even in her own head she couldn’t convince herself that Carmen was wrong. 

“Let it happen. You deserve some happiness, Brooke.” 

The van with the air conditioning repair guy pulled into the driveway. 

“I gotta go.” 

“I want a kissing update the next time we talk,” Carmen teased. 

“Love you,” Brooke said with a laugh.

“Back at ya, boo.” 

She hung up. 

Her best friend was such a dork.

***

About the Title

Title: When It Falls Apart

Author: Catherine Bybee

Release Date: June 21, 2022

Publisher: Montlake 

Summary

Brooke Turner has always had a complicated relationship with her father. But when his health takes a turn for the worse, she drops everything to care for him. He’s her dad, after all, and he needs her. What Brooke doesn’t anticipate is the unraveling of her long-term relationship and a cross-country move to San Diego’s Little Italy.

Luca D’Angelo is the oldest of three children and a single father to a young daughter. When his mother rents the top floor of their house to Brooke, he’s angry. Who is this beautiful stranger with no ties to the neighborhood? Can she be trusted in such close proximity to his family?

As Luca learns of Brooke’s difficult journey with her ailing father, his heart softens. And Brooke, who witnesses Luca’s struggle as a single parent, develops feelings for him, too. But when it all falls apart, will love heal their wounded hearts?

About the Author

New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee has written twenty-eight books that have collectively sold more than five million copies and have been translated into more than eighteen languages. Raised in Washington State, Bybee moved to Southern California in the hope of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Not Quite Series, the Weekday Brides Series, the Most Likely To Series, and the First Wives Series.

Social Media Links

Website: http://www.catherinebybee.com 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCatherineBybee 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/catherinebybee 

Tik Tok: https://www.tiktok.com/@catherinebybee1 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2905789.Catherine_Bybee  

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Direct Link

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Review: The Queen (Masterpiece Duet #2) by Skye Warren

TitleThe Queen
Author: Skye Warren
Publisher/Year:  Amber Shah 9/15/17
Length:  294 pages
Series: Masterpiece Duet #2

Overview

I have one chance at a new life. A college education. A future outside of Tanglewood’s dark walls. For a breathless moment it seems like I might actually escape.

Then I get a phone call from home.

Damon Scott is my own personal dragon, the fight I’ve always lost, the secret hope of my heart. And he needs my help right now. Only my mind can solve the puzzle. Only my presence can keep him sane as the city fights against him.

Only my heart can unlock a man with such a tragic past.

This is my final gamble, with everything at stake. One last game to win a future for both of us.

And a love strong enough to break the city apart.

My Thoughts

It’s nice to see how this story resolves itself, especially know that the dynamic between Penny and Damon is so intense, and the mystery behind where Jonathan is, is quite compelling. There’s so much fear and worry about what else is going to happen in order for everyone to have a happy ending.

What happens in this book is that there’s a lot of collateral damage. We think that things are moving ahead in their lives, that Penny is able to find her footing, but what happens instead os that she’s being watched, she’s being taunted, and she’s being used as bait. We want to believe the best in the people around her, yet what we know and what we’re seeing makes us second guess everyone, and their motives and their actions.

Penny is living her life at school, trying to live her best Mathematics grounded life, but the attention from her teacher makes us itch, and the fear that Jonathan is still out there and that means that no one is safe makes our skin crawl. What is nice though is the relationship that Penny has developed with Avery. They spend a lot of time together, realizing that their shared experiences with the loves of their lives puts them in a unique space that no one else can understand.

It’s that friendship though that takes this story on a wicked ride – watching Avery go missing, along with Penny’s father and now its a race to see if they can be found before it’s too late. We saw Penny and Damon separate at the end of the first book for her own safety (of course) yet we see that he’s really the one that can help – so back to him she runs.

Penny is protected by Damon in a way that speaks volumes, but he’s still keeping her at a distance, not allowing himself to feel what he does for her, and not allowing Penny to discover what it is to be loved and desired. What happens though is that they work together to solve the puzzles of where everyone is and where Jonathan is, and that takes us to the culmination of things.

The future that we once hoped for is within reach, and the hope that there’s safety and protection is something that we can truly believe in. I think that what’s always nice about books by our author is that we watch a struggle that seems to difficult to overcome, so painful to watch that we really want to hope for the best but would be ok if it’s not sparkly and clean. That’s what we get here, and the epilogue puts things into a new perspective. So on that note, off to find another story to read and i hope you guys enjoy!

Review: The King (The Masterpiece Duet #1) by Skye Warren

TitleThe King
Author: Skye Warren
Publisher/Year:  Amber Shah 6/27/17
Length:  308 pages
Series: Masterpiece Duet #1

Overview

The highest stakes…

My father gambles every night, falling deeper and deeper into debt. When he hits the bottom, he places a new bet: his daughter. I’m his entry bet to the biggest underground poker game.

Every kind of danger circles the velvet-covered table, but only one man makes me tremble.

A trailer park princess.

The son of a criminal king.

We don’t belong together, but I’m caught in a twisted game.

His eyes meet mine with dark promise. And when he puts down his cards, I know I’m going to lose more than my body. I’m going to lose everything.

My Thoughts

I love this continuation of things from the Castle series, seeing the story around Penny since we met her in the final bit of the last installment. We know that these men, the Scotts are an interesting bunch, with Jonathan being deranged and Damon being exactly what you don’t expect of him given his upbringing. We met him through Gabriel, and we saw the dark side of him but when he saved Penny, we realized that there was so much more.

This first installment of the duet takes us back in time with a young Damon and a young Penny met under difficult circumstances, Penny needed to survive the life that she was forced to live, and Damon needed to survive his father. In order to protect penny from his father, he had to go back into the grasp of the devil.

We watch as the years progress, how there was clearly something between these two even though Penny was just a little child when they met, and how over time, there’s this connection that wasn’t severed. When their paths cross again, and when we know that Penny truly is in danger, it’s Damon who wants to protect her but is afraid to knowing that if he does, she will once again be on his father’s radar.

This series is a story of poverty, gambling, trying to hide the abilities that you have because you know that they will draw the wrong attention, survival and then hope. Each of the characters in this story have some element of each, and the way that they manifest are unique. The nuance in this story though is that Penny is still quite young, even when we get through this first book, but the power that she yields, what she’s able to do and what she’s able to compel is more powerful than women twice her age.

What’s nice though is that we have the overlap from Castle – we see how Avery’s relationship with her started and how it manifests into something necessary. It allows Penny to see things through a different lens and that’s also what propels this story forward. There’s a security and safety that is brought to the forefront, and yet there’s a danger that their friendship creates since both are in a position where they feel trapped, stifled, and they want to take control back of their lives.

We’re left in an interesting place at the end of the first book where we see a power shift, we see eyes open, but we don’t know what it’s going to take to push each over the edge. There’s something brewing and we’re not sure the details and the implications, but there’s this rumble of passion and something more that keeps us engaged and intrigued as readers. So on that note, i’m off to read The Queen and see how this duet ends. Enjoy!

Review: Youngbloods (Imposters #4) by Scott Westerfeld

TitleYoungbloods
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Publisher/Year:  Scholastic Inc 4/5/22
Length:  432 pages
Series: Imposters #4

Overview

IT’S TIME TO

COME OUT OF HIDING

Frey has spent her life in a family of deceivers, a stand-in for her sister, manipulated at her father’s command. Free from them at last, she is finding her own voice — and using it to question everything her family stood for.

Tally was once the most famous rebel in the world. But for over a decade, she’s kept to the shadows, allowing her myth to grow even as she receded. Now she sees that the revolution she led has not created a stable world. Freedom, she observes, has a way of destroying things.

As the world is propelled further into conflict and conspiracy, Frey and Tally join forces to put a check on the people in power, while still trying to understand their own power and where it belongs.

My Thoughts

It’s been a minute since we’ve been with this series but it’s so easy to slip back into the series. Getting back into the world of Tally and Frey really leads us down an exciting path, and throughout this fourth book, we don’t know who to trust.

The journey here is one to watch how Frey tries to get over the loss of Col, the one person that she loved, knowing that it was her twin sister who murdered him. Frey doesn’t know who to trust since she knows that her sister isn’t loyal and is moral missing, so she has to tread carefully.

We get to watch the relationships grow with the Youngbloods and all the other cliques that were once part of the city – especially now that laws and dust aren’t a thing, an everyone’s got the chance to reinvent themselves. It’s a reliance on some of those old ‘friends’ that gets us through some of the trials in this storyline.

We see a ‘come to terms’ between Boss X and Frey and the realization that they are more similar than they thought, but have the same scars to get through life which make things harder. These similarities make it that much harder to predict what the future will hold with them since the dynamic is tough.

There’s a quest to uncover an destroy the old dust files that Frey/Rafi’s father had saved – knowing that there’s a lot there that the AI of other nations can use against them. Part of the issue of course is that they are radioactive so it’s harder to get to, and once they discover the hiding place, they learn that they’re not the only ones on this same quest. just for different motives.

Rarfi has made a trade, a deal with another nation without thinking through the repercussions and that means that we’re on the backfoot throughout the quest to save the world.and then when we realize that she perhaps made deals with multiple people, well that means that we have even more to worry about.

Even within the Youngbloods we see that there’s a power struggle on who’s making the right choices for them and for mankind that we don’t know who’s going to be on the right side of things.

There’s strife, stress, fear, angst….everything with the exception of romance since that’s been killed. But…all in all a great next chapter in their journey and in this series. Enjoy!

Review: The Castle (Endgame #3) by Skye Warren

TitleThe Castle
Author: Skye Warren
Publisher/Year:  Amber Shah 4/4/17
Length:  230 pages
Series: The Endgame #3′

Overview

FINAL BOOK IN THE TRILOGY!

Safe in the ivory tower…

Gabriel Miller swears he’ll keep me safe. Enemies lurk outside, waiting to strike. An army held back by these walls.

Except some animal instinct warns me the danger is much closer. It’s already here. Is Gabriel my protector or my enemy? Is this house a castle or a cage?

There’s nowhere for me to go, no one left for me to trust.

No escape from a past determined to capture its prize.

My Thoughts

I’ll be honest, it took me a few days to get into the final installment of this series, and i’m not entirely sure why that’s the case. Probably because of life since this story is still very exciting. We know that Jonathan Scott is out there, yet to be discovered and we know that he’s got a vendetta not only against Avery, but the world in general. Gabriel is doing his very best to keep her safe and that means keeping her locked up in the house and when she plays with fire to negotiate time away, we see what the compromise is.

This third and final installment takes us on a path of watching this relationship grow from one that started on false pretenses into one that became something serious and solid, into one that opened up their eyes to how much they were willing to give up for the other in order to survive.

There’s a lot of discussion around who has the power, and of course it ties back to Chess. Avery even chooses to write her paper on the historical role of women and how It ties to the game of chess to show the evolution of who help the power and what the notion of checkmate really means. The idea of the Castle itself, that’s something that holds an important meaning in solving the whereabouts of Jonathan Scott and how they can get to him.

We see Damon Scott as an entirely different person in this story. We know that his relationship with his father isn’t one that is great, so to see another side of him comes out when a woman’s safety is compromised is a sweet evolution. There’s also an interesting twist related to Damon that we get to see as this story evolves and it makes so much sense once it plays out.

There’s death, destruction, lies and anxiety, all on top of passion, heat, sensuality, personal growth and discovery. I’m sad to see this series end, but we know that the story Avery and Gabriel have coming ahead of them has a single minded direction and the closure in the story gives hope. Next up is a spinoff of sorts and I cant wait to dive in. Enjoy!