Friday, January 22, 2021

The Slummer: Quarters Till Death by Geoffrey Simpson


The Slummer: Quarters Till Death
by Geoffrey Simpson

My rating: 4 stars

Publication date : February 7, 2021
Publisher: Geoffrey Simpson
Genre: Futuristic Science Fiction | Social 
Print length : 255 pages
Available from: Amazon 

In 2083, Benjamin Brandt is among the millions of “slummers” who are relegated to poverty and struggle on the outskirts of society. As a minority growing up in the gritty underbelly of Cleveland’s Industrial Valley, Ben sees the way genetically designed “elites” live only from a distance: from the shadows of public spaces people like him are forbidden to use, and on TV, where he watches the enhanced athletes compete at an extraordinary level. For years, a national track championship has inspired Ben to ferociously cultivate his own talent as a runner.


As Ben logs miles through the potholed, darkened streets of his community, an idea takes hold of him that could turn his highly stratified society upside down. He isn’t prepared to lead a revolution; however, he is prepared to run like a slummer with nothing to lose.

 The Slummer: Quarters Till Death by Geoffrey Simpson


In a future world, it seems that society still hasn’t learned to share. There are the “haves” who have been genetically enhanced, born as designer babies and those relegated to the slums, the workers without enhancements. One slummer had a dream to compete with the best of the enhanced best in the national track competition, something that had never been done, an impossibility…

THE SLUMMER by Geoffrey Simpson is a tale of courage against all odds as one young man pushes against a world that holds him and his “kind” down. Well written, there is a message of oppression, hope and determination. Is this where we are headed in spite of all the talk of affirmative action? Thought-provoking and one of those reads that leaves a mark.

I received a complimentary ARC edition from Geoffrey Simpson! This is my honest and voluntary review.

Sweet Water by Cara Reinard Tour & #Giveaway

Sweet Water

by Cara Reinard

January 1-31, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Sweet Water by Cara Reinard

What did her son do in the woods last night? Does a mother really want to know?

It’s what Sarah Ellsworth dreamed of. Marriage to her childhood sweetheart, Martin. Living in a historic mansion in Pennsylvania’s most exclusive borough. And Finn, a teenage son with so much promise. Until…A call for help in the middle of the night leads Sarah and Martin to the woods, where they find Finn, injured, dazed, and weeping near his girlfriend’s dead body. Convinced he’s innocent, Sarah and Martin agree to protect their son at any cost and not report the crime.

But there are things Sarah finds hard to reconcile: a cover-up by Martin’s family that’s so unnervingly cold-blooded. Finn’s lies to the authorities are too comfortable, too proficient, not to arouse her suspicions. Even the secrets of the old house she lives in seem to be connected to the incident. As each troubling event unfolds, Sarah must decide how far she’ll go to save her perfect life.

Sweet Water Reviews:

“An unsparing account of ‘rich people problems’ that goes on forever, like all the best nightmares." —Kirkus Reviews

Book Details:

Genre: Domestic Thriller, Crime Fiction
Published by: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: January 1st 2021
Number of Pages: 364
ISBN: 1542024935 (ISBN13: 978-1542024938)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

I reach for my phone inside my purse slung around my neck. It’s dangling behind my back because I had nowhere else to put it while examining the body.

“Sarah, is she breathing?” Martin asks. I turn my head to find him, but it’s too dark.

I stumble, disoriented under the canopy of trees. We’re somewhere off Fern Hollow Road, the closest turnoff to Finn’s pinned iPhone location.

“I d-don’t know,” I sputter, still shocked we found her and not Finn when we parked the car and hiked the rest of the way into Sewickley Heights Park.

“Check her—now. I need to find Finn.” Martin’s voice fades into the forest, and all I want to do is follow him, but I just spoke to my son on the phone. His speech was slurred, and his girlfriend is . . .

“Oh God.” I open my mouth and let out a strangled breath, so sick that I sway to the side.

My eyes water as I kneel beside Yazmin Veltri, a girl I’ve known for only the briefest period. The wetness soaks through the holes in my jeans, settling into my bare kneecaps, ice on bone.

“Yazmin?” I shine my phone’s light in her direction, but I’m stopped by the certain hint of marijuana.

Shit. All these years working with at-risk young women, and I couldn’t see that Finn was dating one.

“Please,” I beg the starlit sky peeking through the trees. “Let her be breathing.”

I sniffle and inhale the truth through the rotting leaves. Something terrible has happened here, and I’m too late. The autumn mist snakes in through my nose, out through my mouth, emitting tiny white puffs of air.

The forest ground is slippery, a feathered blanket beneath my knees, slathering the tops of my shoes.

I hear more hurried footsteps. Martin sounds like a mouse lost in a maze. Has he found Finn? I need to go to him, but my husband told me to stay here.

The branches scratch the tops of my feet as I move closer to her, the fallen leaves collecting between my knees. Yazmin could still be alive. A bitter taste rises in my mouth as I bite my tongue, and I’m close enough to touch her now.

My arm trembles as I place two fingers on the cold flesh of her neck. Not only cold—wet. I can’t see what I’m touching, but I can feel her absence. Right below her jawline, in the space beside her trachea where I know a steady drumbeat should exist, there’s nothing.

No pulse. My heartbeat quickens and plummets. Oh God.

My blood is rushing. Pounding. I’m sweating despite the near-thirty-degree temperature. I dip my head closer to Yazmin’s chest, careful not to tangle my hair with hers. I’ve checked on my kids enough times in the middle of the night to know this girl’s not breathing. I shut my eyes and listen anyway.

Sure enough, the steady rise and fall of Yazmin’s chest is absent along with her pulse.

“She’s dead. We have to call the police,” I announce, loud enough for Martin to hear, but not nearly as loud as the screaming in my head.

Call somebody! Help!

I hear Martin crunch closer, and I turn my back on the girl.

I scoot up on my legs and use my hands to push myself into a crouching position. My breath is heavy, and everything on my body—my hands, my knees—rattles with fear. I hear a cry in the distance.

My son’s cry. And then Martin’s rustling footsteps. Beside me again.

“Where is he?” I ask.

“He’s okay, but . . .” Martin nods to the right. “He’s injured. We need to get him out of here, Sarah.”

“Okay,” I say, but I close my eyes because my head is a ringing bell of stress even though this wooded area is one of the things that drew me to this town. The park is near the country club where we’re members, where Martin’s family have been members for years, and things like this just don’t happen here.

“Let’s go, Sarah!” Martin urges.

My eyes snap open, and I hold up my phone. “Wait. I’m calling 911. For her.”

“No.” Martin swats my hand away with the flick of his strong knuckles. The blood on my palms makes everything slick, and my cell phone goes flying across the forest like a bar of soap in the shower. I slip sideways into a bramble of branches and land on my left hip, staring at my husband’s garish face in the moonlight. He looks unfamiliar, that expression one reserved for when he loses business at work, a rare occurrence. Martin is an innovator, his causes noble. Sometimes I don’t approve of how he does things, but I usually approve of why.

“Damn it.” Martin scrambles to find my phone. Right now, I don’t approve at all.

“Why did you do that?” I ask, but I’m more surprised that he’s hit me than I am by the fact that he doesn’t agree with my decision to call the police.

“It will get reported tomorrow. We need to leave with Finn. Now.”

“What? That makes no sense.”

Martin retrieves my phone, and I’m trying to get his attention, but he’s looking right past me at the gas pipeline in the distance, a clear-cut, inclined path free of foliage about a thousand yards long in the mountainous terrain. Martin and I messed around with sleds one winter on a protected slope of land just like it, and I think maybe Finn and Yazmin planned their own adventure out here tonight and something went terribly wrong.

“Martin.” I try to get up, but my foot slips on a mossy rock.

He grabs my arm. Then drops it. “Watch yourself,” he says, but he doesn’t help me rise. He’s too busy texting.

It’s then that I hear water rushing nearby. The river rocks are indigenous to this area, like everything else woodsy and serene in Sewickley.

Sewickley, the Shawnee word for sweet water, derived from the tribe’s belief that the borough’s shores were a little sweeter on that stretch of the Ohio River, the maple trees that grow at its shores only part of the saccharine story.

“Who’re you texting?” I’m crying and my hands are still wet, but I can’t wipe them. There’s blood all over my palms, and I can’t remember how it got there; head wounds bleed the worst.

“Hold on!” Martin is standing with his back to me now, holding his phone in the air like he’s trying to decide what to do with it, a six-foot silhouette of trepidation. He scratches his dark hair and rubs his cell phone on his sweater-vest, but he doesn’t use it to call anyone, only texts.

“I’m getting legal advice from my father,” Martin says.

His father?

I picture William Sr. texting back from the comfort of one of his high-back chairs inside his home, one of the few estates that make up Sewickley Heights like a richly woven patchwork quilt—the expensive kind sewn together with colonials surrounded by alabaster columns and mile-long driveways.

“Martin?”

William’s house is a fat-thatched Tudor hiding behind manicured bushes, a peek of white here, a slip of brown there, but there’s no hiding from this.

“Of course you have to report it!” I look again—at her—and the blood is already congealing around her open head wound, her neck bent at an awkward angle, a matchstick snapped in half. The rushing water streams just behind her.

Martin’s tugging on my coat. “Get up, Sarah. We have to go.”

“We can’t leave her.” Yazmin’s long black hair is covering the expression on her face, although the one I imagine is stuck there will haunt me more than the one I cannot see. She rests on her back, and it would be an odd way to fall, backward instead of forward, her hands crossed over her chest as if she were thwarting an attack. It reminds me of a tae kwon do block from when Finn used to take classes. We’d enrolled him when he was a child because he was painfully shy, whereas Spencer, his older brother, was frequently mentioned by his teachers as boisterous or exuberant, adjectives used in private schools to describe disruptive overachievers. I might expect Spencer to get into trouble with a girl like this, but not my poor Finny.

I turn toward Martin. He’s speaking, but I’ve stopped listening.

His eyes are pleading. “She’s dead. We can’t help her. Finn was the last person with her.”

“But—”

“He’s on something, Sarah. Drugs.” Martin shakes his head furiously. “This looks bad.”

I can hear what he’s saying, but I’ve retreated into my own body, and I don’t even know who we are right now.

We used to be Martin and Sarah Ellsworth of Blackburn Road.

We were the couple sitting at a corner table at a fancy restaurant, splitting a bottle of wine. Laughing at each other’s jokes.

“We have to do something for her.” My voice is swallowed by the humming sounds of the forest and the flapping of the leaves on the trees, the river. She’s already dead, but we need to make sure she’s at least taken to the hospital so her parents can identify her. Bile rises in my mouth. My heart is beating so fast, drowning out everything else, but I faintly hear Finn’s voice again nearby.

“I’m sorry.” Martin extends his arm to help me up, but I waggle my finger in the air at him, pointing to my hands, reminding my brainy husband that I’m bloodied and pulling me up isn’t a good idea. I must’ve made the mistake of touching Yazmin in the wrong place.

“Right.” He draws his palms back.

My legs won’t work. I gaze up, silently praying. The large enveloping trees of Sewickley Heights tower above us like old wealthy gatekeepers winking in the night.

“I need your help. I can’t move him on my own, Sarah,” Martin reveals.

I close my eyes, wishing it all away. It’s all a bad dream.

“Can we just make an anonymous call from a pay phone or something? For her parents’ sake, at least?”

“You can’t. They’ll try to interview Finn, see the drug use, and assume the worst. He’ll go to jail.” His voice is thick with desperation. “Sarah, this will ruin Finn’s life. This isn’t his fault!” Martin kicks a stone with his worn loafer, a product from one of the posh boutiques that line downtown Sewickley, a mishmash of overpriced things people don’t really need displayed in windowed storefronts on cobblestone streets. There’s a place to reupholster old furniture with patterns better left to die with their original owners, a claw-foot-tub specialist, an herbal spa with enough fresh fruit remedies to double as a bakery, the imported-leather-shoe store.

I bought Martin the shoes he has on now, and he’s worn them down to the soles. He’s practical, a computer engineer and CEO of a robotics start-up in the Strip District. He does things that make sense.

But right now, he’s not making any.

“Maybe she slipped.” My voice is shallow like the night air sneaking away from my lips, but the idea of an accident fills my heart with hope. “We’ll leave an anonymous tip.” If I had my phone, I’d call myself.

I’d explain this is exactly how we found her. She wasn’t even near our son when we discovered her body.

Unless . . . we’ve messed with the scene of the crime so much that we’ve hurt Finn more than helped him. I look down at my bloody hands and cringe. As far as we know, Finn is the last one who saw Yazmin alive. This could be very bad for him. “Shit.”

Martin grabs me by the arm. “We have to go, Sarah. Get up.” I can’t see much of Martin’s face but the stringy blue vein in his forehead that only comes out when he’s upset.

It’s been only minutes, but we need to move—faster.

“We need to go to him,” I say.

“Yes.” Martin nods.

I’m in shock. That’s what’s wrong with me. I blindly follow Martin, adrenaline fueling my limbs. Finn is off the beaten path, and I feel as though I’ve already failed him for taking so long. He’s huddled over a pile of leaves, his knees tucked into his chest like he used to do when he was a little kid. He looks so small right now.

So young.

A little boy who fell off his scooter and skinned his knee. I wish this problem were as easy to fix.

I wipe my hands on my jeans and throw my arms around him.

“I’m here. Mom’s here.” Finn’s crying and I don’t know how to make it better for him. He obviously didn’t mean for the girl to get hurt, but this was no accident either. He’s made a terrible mistake, gotten himself into a horrible predicament. So Finn did what we always told him to do if he was ever in trouble—he called us.

***

Excerpt from Sweet Water by Cara Reinard. Copyright 2021 by Cara Reinard. Reproduced with permission from Cara Reinard. All rights reserved.

 

 

Cara Reinard

Author Bio:

Cara Reinard is an author of women’s fiction and domestic. She currently lives north of Pittsburgh with her husband, two children, and Bernese mountain dog.

For more information, visit:
www.carareinard.com
Goodreads
BookBub - @CaraReinard
Twitter - @carareinard
Instagram - @carareinard
Facebook - Cara Reinard, Author

 

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!



 

 

Enter To Win!!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Cara Reinard. There will be two (2) winners each receiving one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on January 1, 2021 and runs through February 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Mainely Money by Matt Cost (Goff Langdon Mainely Mystery, #3)


Mainely Money
by Matt Cost

My rating: 5 stars

Series: Goff Langdon Mainely Mystery - Book 3
Publisher : Encircle Publications (March 10, 2021)
Publication date : March 10, 2021
Genre: Mystery
Print length : 242 pages
Available from:  Amazon


Money is power. Those who have the money wield the power. Laid back, slacker detective Goff Langdon is confronted by this fact as he investigates the blackmailing of a U.S. senator. What starts as a simple extortion case quickly becomes a race for survival as Langdon faces off against a veiled villain with big money and little morals.

Mainely Money by Matt Cost
(Goff Langdon Mainely Mystery, #3)

A powerful Senator is being blackmailed for her extramarital affair and hires Langdon to find the culprit, but there is more to this than meets the eye. Is he in over his head? Who is the blackmailer and why?

A beautiful woman needs him to find her sister, but does Delilah have ulterior motives? Why would she involve Langdon in her deceit? What is the rest of the story?

An innocent man is framed for a series of murders and could face extradition or worse. His friends believe in his innocence, why is he being railroaded? Is he just a patsy or perhaps a great actor?

As this laid back PI goes to work, the road goes from rocky to deadly and even with the help of his friends and family, Langdon may have bitten off more than he can chew. Hang on as each plot thickens, and everyone from Russian mobsters to powerful interest groups do their best to stop him in his small town tracks.

MAINELY MONEY is another fabulously written tale by Matt Cost where, once again, Langdon manages to fight his way out of a maze of murder, mystery and mayhem where money talks and “he who has the most power” usually wins. Hang on for moments of levity, a pooch who manages to steal every scene he is in and the loyalty of friends make all the difference in this cozy, yet hard-boiled tale. A little gritty, a lot of tension and twists like you cannot believe! An ideal read for those who like to play detective!

I received a complimentary copy from Matt Cost! This is my honest and voluntary review.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Not THAT Rich by Belinda Lei


Not THAT Rich
by Belinda Lei

My rating: 4 stars

Publisher : New Degree Press (December 7, 2020)
Publication date : December 7, 2020
Genre: YA | Asian
Print length : 344 pages
Available from:  Amazon

 

Hunter and Trisha Wang, like the majority of their classmates, are trying to balance AP classes, Ivy League applications, numerous extracurriculars, and tumultuously juicy social lives, all while living in their affluent, suburban bubble. Will Hunter get into Stanford and still be able to maintain his relationship with the “it girl” Sierra Jones? Will Trisha find love with outsider Ray Martinez and figure out what’s going on with her influencer best friend, Pamela Shah? Will billionaire newcomer Jack Zhou figure out how to fit in? And who exactly is The Stranger? Welcome to Winchester High, a prestigious college preparatory school where students live seemingly perfect, privileged lives.

Not THAT Rich by Belinda Lei

Teens raised in the arms of the privileged. Parents with oppressive expectations for the success of their offspring. Swirl in the tsunami of high school drama, pecking orders and teen power cliques and Belinda Lei’s NOT THAT RICH proves that teen angst knows no cultural or racial boundaries and money cannot buy happiness.

From the parental pressures, teen insecurities and fear of failure this story embraces dark secrets that these Asian-American teens must keep to save face. Yet, Belinda Lei manages to inject moments of lightness, bordering on ridiculousness as she unveils the lives these teens really live.

Definitely written for a teen audience, this tale often reads like a soap opera where the characters easily become friend or foe. Written with sometimes over-the-top drama, it underscores the pressures young adults have heaped on them by parents too wrapped up in appearances while never allowing their offspring to see what “real” life and responsibility is.

A good read, enlightening, entertaining and even thought-provoking with an ending almost as messy as the day to day life of these insulated teens.

I received a complimentary copy from Belinda Lei! This is my honest and voluntary review.

Snow Dust and Boneshine by Grendolyn Peach Soleil


Snow Dust and Boneshine
The Chronicles of Granny Witch 
by Grendolyn Peach Soleil

My rating: 5 stars

Publication date : December 27, 2020
Publisher: Grendolyn Peach Soleil
Genre: Fantasy | Folk Magic
Print length : 125 pages
Available from:  Amazon

 

Once upon a winter’s night, a lost cowboy finds himself in Purgatory Bend. Patrick Doolin is plagued by a wound that won’t heal, but winter is the season of miracles. As Patrick wanders through Wyoming, he meets Fawna Darling, the mysterious granny witch, who channels the folk magic of her ancestors.


With nowhere to go and a secret Patrick doesn’t yet understand, he seeks shelter with Fawna in the snowswept prairie. Forbidden to fall in love, they form an eternal bond in the dreamscape, but when the bluebirds sing of summer and threaten their empire of dreams, they are faced with an impossible decision. Will Patrick stay in the land of the living, or will he cross over the prairie?


Summer is the season of surprises, and Fawna’s childhood sweetheart, Dezi Ketchum, longs to win her heart too. When winter melts across the gold-slick prairie, Fawna searches for answers under the rose moon. Caught between fire and water and flesh and fantasy, she follows her heart and ventures into uncharted territory.

Snow Dust and Boneshine by Grendolyn Peach Soleil


A warm and spellbinding tale, Grendolyn Peach Soleil’s SNOW DUST AND BONESHINE is NOT a rapid-fire tale of witchcraft, but a gentle tale of warmth, caring and the things we do for love and for others with our unique abilities to heal those in need.

Fawna was born with the healing powers of her ancestors. She grew to know what potions and words would aid those around her, she had a gift of sight, of seeing what others could not and her heart was filled with a tranquil joy. When Patrick came into her life, wounded, she cared for him and a bond of love was born and a beautiful love story begins.

This is a tale of hope, of the gentler side of life, of deep love and of giving. Grendolyn Peach Soleil’s writing flows like a stream, it is relaxing and almost exotic in the telling. Mixed with folk magic, simpler times and beliefs, this is a wonderful escape from the day to day stresses that race by. Highly recommended for a special reading break!

I received a complimentary copy from Grendolyn Peach Soleil. This is my honest and voluntary review.

Doomsday of Tamas by Varun Sayal (Time Travelers, #3)


Doomsday of Tamas
Race to the Second Apocalypse
by Varun Sayal

My rating: 4 stars

Series: Time Travelers - Book 3
Publication date : January 8, 2021
Publisher: Varun Sayal
Genre: Science Fiction | Time Travel
Print length : 243 pages
Available from: Amazon

 

Time demons can possess a man and bend his will. 


But can they stop an asteroid on a collision course with the earth?


Tej is back to fulfill his promise to Rudrakshini. But all she asks him is to save the world from this impending catastrophe.


As the asteroid races towards the earth, an evil entity starts quashing any attempts to prevent armageddon. Astronomers are killed and rocket-scientists are blown apart around the globe.


Tej joins forces with his daughter Pri, who has her unique set of powers. His once nemesis, now friend, Rigasur is also pulled into the conflict. Together they face an enemy who's a master of stealth and tech-warfare.


As they travel back and forth in time to prevent the imminent doomsday, they realize a second apocalypse is waiting to happen.

Doomsday of Tamas by Varun Sayal (Time Travelers, #3)


Artificial intelligence,an asteroid on a collision course with Earth, beings able to sift through time, a race to save humanity, good versus evil in a battle that may end in the next apocalypse, welcome to Varun Sayal’s DOOMSDAY OF TAMAS. Prepare to witness what could be the final battle as enemies become allies and untapped talents stand against the almighty power of tech unleashed.

Varun Sayal’s science fiction/thriller series is a wildly creative journey across time that is as brilliantly executed as it is spellbinding. Detailed scenes come to life, well-crafted characters and a non-stop, page after page tale that invites readers to believe this is more than fantasy!

I received a complimentary ARC edition from Varun Sayal! This is my honest and voluntary review.

Up the Creek by Alissa Grosso Tour & #Giveaway

Up the Creek by Alissa Grosso Banner

 

 

Up the Creek

by Alissa Grosso

January 11 - March 12, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Up the Creek by Alissa Grosso

An unsolved murder. Disturbing dreams. A missing child.

Caitlin Walker hasn't had a dream in nine years. But now nightmares torture her son Adam and awaken in Caitlin buried memories and a dark secret. Her husband Lance has a secret of his own, one that his son's nightmares threaten to reveal.

In Culver Creek newly hired detective Sage Dorian works to unravel the small town's notorious cold case, the grisly murder of a young girl.

How are Caitlin and Lance connected to the horrific crime? And how far will they go to make sure their secrets stay hidden? Find out in this riveting thriller.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery Thriller
Published by: Glitter Pigeon Press
Publication Date: January 12, 2021
Number of Pages: 356
ISBN: 9781949852080
Series: Culver Creek Series, Book 1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Caitlin emerged from a black, dreamless sleep to screams. Adam’s tortured cries sounded almost otherworldly. They turned her blood to ice and made her heart race. She sat straight up, then bolted from bed, blinking sleep from her eyes as she raced toward the door, banging her shin on the dresser as she went. She yanked on the doorknob and almost toppled over when it didn’t yield as she expected. Goddammit. Lance had locked the door again.

She spared a glance toward the bed, but her husband wasn’t there. Instead he was standing, looking out the window. For a moment she thought she was mistaken. Were the screams coming from outside?

“Lance?” she asked.

He turned to her, but his eyes looked past her at some point on the wall.

“What’s going on?” he mumbled, barely awake.

“Adam’s having a nightmare,” she said.

“Again?” he asked. “Maybe we should just let him sleep it off.”

The screams had subsided now, but she could still hear her son’s whimpers from down the hall. Sleep it off? Could Lance really be that clueless? She unlocked the door and flung it open. It bounced almost silently off the rubber doorstopper, which didn’t really give her the dramatic exit she was hoping for.

She still couldn’t quite wrap her head around her husband just standing there looking out the window while Adam cried for them. Usually Lance was the one who woke up first. Maybe he had already gone to comfort Adam and came back to their bedroom by the time she awoke. He seemed so out of it, though. Well, that’s what a lack of sleep could do to a person.

Adam sat on his bed in a nest of tangled sheets. His face was damp with tears and sweat, his dark hair plastered to his forehead. The hippo nightlight cast large, ominous shadows when she stepped into his room. He looked up with a start, then relaxed when he saw it was her.

She sat down beside him and pulled his small body to her, wrapping her arms around him and rocking him gently back and forth. The tears subsided, but he still felt tense.

“Mommy, I’m scared of the bad boy,” he said. “The bad boy’s going to hurt me.”

“Nobody’s going to hurt you,” she assured him. “You’re safe. It was just a dream. Look, you’re safe in your bedroom.”

At this, Adam pulled away from her a little to study the dimly lit bedroom. Maybe they should get a different nightlight. She had never realized how spooky that hippo light made everything look.

“There were trees,” Adam said, “and a river. She was playing in the river.”

Caitlin stiffened. Adam noticed it and looked up at her. She smiled at him.

“It was just a dream,” she said, as much to reassure herself as him. “It wasn’t real.”

There were lots of rivers out there, and wasn’t Adam just watching a cartoon show with cute animals that had to get across a river? That was probably where that detail came from. Plus, she reminded herself, it hadn’t been a river. It had been a creek. She wasn’t sure Adam knew the difference between a river and a creek, though. But a little girl playing in a river? No, wait, was that what he had said? He said only “she.” For all Caitlin knew, this she could have been a girl river otter. Maybe he had been having a cute dream about river creatures.

And a “bad boy,” she reminded herself. She remembered his bloodcurdling screams. There was nothing cute about the dream he had. Still, she clung to the “bad boy” detail. Was he talking about a child? If so, then the river was just a coincidence. She wanted to ask him more about the bad boy, but this was the worst thing she could do. He was already starting to calm down, starting to forget the details of his nightmare. She couldn’t go dredging things back up again.

“Mommy, can I sleep in your room?” Adam asked.

#

Lance was fully awake and in bed when Caitlin returned with Adam in her arms.

“Hey there, champ,” Lance said. “Have a bad dream?”

“Daddy, he hurt her,” Adam said. “He hurt her head. She was bleeding.”

Her son’s tiny body stiffened again in Caitlin’s arms, and she gave Lance an exasperated look as she set Adam down in the middle of the bed.

“We’d already gotten past that,” she said in a whispered hiss.

“Obviously,” Lance said with a roll of his eyes, “which is why he’s sleeping in our bed. Again.”

She slid into the bed beside Adam and adjusted the covers, ignoring her husband. She petted Adam’s head and made soft, soothing noises.

“Remember, that wasn’t real, just make believe, like a movie.” She didn’t want him to get himself worked up again talking about the dream, but it wasn’t just that. She didn’t want to hear any more details from the nightmare because the bit about the bad boy hurting the girl’s head and the blood felt a touch too familiar.

She stroked his face, and his eyelids slowly drooped closed. He looked so calm and peaceful when he slept.

“I thought we said we weren’t going to do this anymore,” Lance said. Even whispering, his voice was too loud. She held her finger to her lips. He continued more quietly, “I’m just saying, I think it would be better for him if he sleeps in his own bed.”

“It’s already after three,” she said. “It’s only for a few hours.”

“That’s not the point,” Lance said. “He’s nearly five years old. We can’t keep babying him.”

It was like the school argument all over again, and Caitlin didn’t want to get into it. Not now. She was still tired and groggy and needed more sleep.

“I want to get him a new nightlight,” she said to change the subject. “The one he has makes these creepy shadows.”

“A new nightlight,” Lance repeated in a skeptical voice. “Sure, that will solve everything.”

“The important thing,” she said, “is that we have to remind him that his dreams are not real. That they’re make believe. We have to be united on this.”

Lance made a dismissive noise and lay back down on his pillow, turning his body away from her and Adam. He muttered something, but his voice was muffled by the pillow.

“Lance, this is important,” she said. “We have to make it clear that his dreams are not real. He has to know they aren’t true.”

He sighed. “What kind of moron do you think I am? Do you really think I’m going to start telling him his dreams about boogeymen are real?” He squirmed around and pulled the covers up in an attempt to get comfortable. She thought he was done, but he stopped shifting around long enough to add, “It’s not exactly like you’re the foremost expert in dreams.”

***

Excerpt from Up the Creek by Alissa Grosso. Copyright 2021 by Alissa Grosso. Reproduced with permission from Alissa Grosso. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Alissa Grosso

Alissa Grosso is the author of several books for adults and teens. Originally from New Jersey, she now resides in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Find out more about Alissa Grosso and her books at:
AlissaGrosso.com
Goodreads
BookBub
Twitter
Facebook

 

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!



 

 

Giveaway!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Alyssa Grosso. There will be two (2) winners each receiving one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on January 11, 2021 and runs through March 14, 2021. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours