Monday, April 24, 2017

"Bone White" by Wendy Corsi Staub

Bone White
(Mundy's Landing Book 3)
by Wendy Corsi Staub

Bone White is the third book in the Mundy's Landing series by Wendy Corsi Staub. Also available: Blood Red and Blue Moon.

Bone White is currently on tour with Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

In Mundy’s Landing, bygone bloodshed has become a big business. During the rigorous winter of 1666, all but five colonists in the small Hudson Valley settlement died of starvation. Accused of unimaginable crimes, James and Elizabeth Mundy and their three children survived, but the couple were later accused of murder and executed. Left to fend for themselves in a hostile community, their offspring lived out exemplary lives in a town that would bear the family name. They never reveal the secret that died with their parents on the gallows ... or did they?
"We Shall Never Tell." Spurred by the cryptic phrase in a centuries-old letter, Emerson Mundy has flown cross-country to her ancestral hometown in hopes of tracing her ancestral past - and perhaps building a future. In Mundy’s Landing, she discovers long lost relatives, a welcoming ancestral home ... and a closet full of skeletons.
A year has passed since former NYPD Detective Sullivan Leary solved the historic Sleeping Beauty Murders, apprehended a copycat killer, and made a fresh start in the Hudson Valley. Banking on an uneventful future in a village that’s seen more than its share of bloodshed, Sully is in for an unpleasant surprise when a historic skull reveals a notorious truth. Now she’s on the trail of a murky predator determined to destroy the Mundy family tree, branch by branch.

Chapter 1
July 20, 2016
Los Angeles, CA
We shall never tell.
Strange, the thoughts that go through your head when you’re standing at an open grave.
Not that Emerson Mundy knew anything about open graves before today. Her father’s funeral is the first she’s ever attended, and she’s the sole mourner.
Ah, at last, a perk to living a life without many—any—loved ones; you don’t spend much time grieving, unless you count the pervasive ache for the things you never had.
The minister, who came with the cemetery package and never even met Jerry Mundy, is rambling on about souls and salvation. Emerson hears only We shall never tell—the closing line in an old letter she found yesterday in the crawl space of her childhood home. It had been written in 1676 by a young woman named Priscilla Mundy, addressed to her brother, Jeremiah.
The Mundys were among the seventeenth-century English colonists who settled on the eastern bank of the Hudson River, about a hundred miles north of New York City. Their first winter was so harsh the river froze, stranding their supply ship and additional colonists in the New York harbor. When the ship arrived after the thaw, all but five settlers had starved to death.
Jeremiah; Priscilla; their sister, Charity; and their parents had eaten human flesh to stay alive. James and Elizabeth Mundy swore they’d only cannibalized those who’d already died, but the God-fearing, well-fed newcomers couldn’t fathom such wretched butchery. A Puritan justice committee tortured the couple until they confessed to murder, then swiftly tried, convicted, and hanged them.
“Do you think we’re related?” Emerson asked her father after learning about the Mundys back in elementary school.
“Nope.” Curt answers were typical when she brought up anything Jerry Mundy didn’t want to discuss. The past was high on the list.
“That’s it? Just nope?”
“What else do you want me to say?”
“How about yes?”
“That wouldn’t be the truth,” he said with a shrug.
“Sometimes the truth isn’t very interesting.”
She had no one else to ask about her family history. Dad was an only child, and his parents, Donald and Inez Mundy, had passed away before she was born. Their headstone is adjacent to the gaping rectangle about to swallow her father’s casket. Staring that the inscription, she notices her grandfather’s unusual middle initial.
Donald X. Mundy, Born 1900, Died 1972.
X marks the spot.
Thanks to her passion for history and Robert Louis Stevenson, Emerson’s bookworm childhood included a phase when she searched obsessively for buried treasure. Money was short in their household after two heart attacks left Jerry Mundy on permanent disability.
X marks the spot…
No gold doubloon treasure chest buried here. Just dusty old bones of people she never knew.
And now, her father.
The service concludes with a prayer as the coffin is lowered into the ground. The minister clasps her hand and tells her how sorry he is for her loss, then leaves her to sit on a bench and stare at the hillside as the undertakers finish the job.
The sun is beginning to burn through the thick marine layer that swaddles most June and July mornings. Having grown up in Southern California, she knows the sky will be bright blue by mid-afternoon. Tomorrow will be more of the same. By then, she’ll be on her way back up the coast, back to her life in Oakland, where the fog rolls in and stays for days, weeks at a time. Funny, but there she welcomes the gray, a soothing shield from real world glare and sharp edges.
Here the seasonal gloom has felt oppressive and depressing.
Emerson watches the undertakers finish the job and load their equipment into a van. After they drive off, she makes her way between neat rows of tombstones to inspect the raked dirt rectangle.
When something is over, you move on, her father told her when she left home nearly two decades ago. She attended Cal State Fullerton with scholarships and maximum financial aid, got her master’s at Berkeley, and landed a teaching job in the Bay Area.
But she didn’t necessarily move on.
Every holiday, many weekends, and for two whole months every summer, she makes the six-hour drive down to stay with her father. She cooks and cleans for him, and at night they sit together and watch Wheel of Fortune reruns.
It used to be because she craved a connection to the only family she had in the world. Lately, though, it was as much because Jerry Mundy needed her.
He pretended that he didn’t, that he was taking care of himself and the house, too proud to admit he was failing. He was a shadow of his former self when he died at seventy-six, leaving Emerson alone in the world.
Throughout her motherless childhood, Emerson was obsessed with novels about orphans. Treasure Island shared coveted space on her bookshelf with Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, The Witch of Blackbird Pond
She always wondered what would happen to her if her father died. Would she wind up in an orphanage? Would a kindly stranger take her in? Would she live on the streets?
Now that it’s happened he’s down there, in the dirt … moving on?
She’ll never again hear his voice. She’ll never see the face so like her own that she can’t imagine she inherited any physical characteristics from her mother, Didi—though she can’t be certain.
Years ago, she asked her father for a picture—preferably one that showed her mother holding her as a baby, or of her parents together. Maybe she wanted evidence that she and her father had been loved; that the woman who’d abandoned them had once been normal—a proud new mother, a happy bride.
Or was it the opposite? Was she hoping to glimpse a hint that Didi Mundy was never normal? Did she expect to confirm that people—normal people—don’t just wake up one morning and choose to walk out on a husband and child? That there was always something off about her mother: a telltale gleam in the eye, or a faraway expression—some warning sign her father had overlooked. A sign Emerson herself would be able to recognize, should she ever be
tempted to marry.
But there were no images of Didi that she could slip into a frame, or deface with angry black ink, or simply commit to memory.
Exhibit A: Untrustworthy.
Sure, there had been plenty of photos, her father admitted unapologetically. He’d gotten rid of everything.
There were plenty of pictures of her and Dad, though.
Exhibit B: Trustworthy.
Dad holding her hand on her first day of kindergarten, Dad leading her in an awkward waltz at a father-daughter middle school dance, Dad posing with her at high school graduation.
“Two peas in a pod,” he liked to say. “If I weren’t me, I’d think you were.”
She has his thick, wavy hair, the same dimple on her right cheek, same angular nose and bristly slashes of brow. Even her wide-set, prominent, upturned eyes are the same as his, with one notable exception.
Jerry Mundy’s eyes were a piercing blue.
Only one of Emerson’s is that shade; the other, a chalky gray.

Praise for the Book
"Cunningly orchestrated, Bone White once again proves why Wendy Corsi Staub’s name remains at the very forefront of domestic psychological suspense." ~ Criminal Element
"It wasn't quite what I expected. But with Wendy, nothing ever is, and that's what makes her a great writer. It was a very puzzling whodunit, and I think that almost everyone will be as surprised as I was." ~ Karen Payne
"Good read, interesting, great twist at the end! Loved it. Another winner from this author can't wait for a follow up!" ~ T wyn
"You don’t have to be familiar with Blood Red or Blue Moon, the first two books in the Mundy’s Landing trilogy, to fully appreciate this concluding volume, though you will want to acquire those just to get a feel for how quietly twisted this particular piece of New England real estate truly is in the fictitious world that Staub has created. [...] Bone White is arguably Staub’s most ambitious novel to date. She is among the best at weaving the events of the distant past into the present. Here, she exceeds her own standards, creating enough mysteries for three books and leading the reader down a carefully crafted path of twists and turns to a series of revelations that even her longtime fans won’t see coming. She also sets up her next trilogy, or at least appears to do so, which will give us something to look forward to, even if we have to wait a year or so before we get it. Our patience will be rewarded." ~ Joe Hartlaub, Bookreporter
"As much as I enjoyed the other books in the series, this one is my favorite. From the 1600’s to the present, and from the West coast to the East, it’s a convoluted series of events and crimes. There are some new characters to contend with along with some favorites. The author fleshes them out and tangles their lives together. It’s up to you to sort out who did what, and she doesn’t make it easy. Numerous plots abound in this mystery and it’s a race to the finish line, with no easy answers and plenty of intrigue. And you won’t see the end coming. I couldn’t read this fast enough and wished it were longer." ~ laurathomas61

About the Author
New York Times bestseller Wendy Corsi Staub is the award-winning author of more than eighty novels. Wendy now lives in the New York City suburbs with her husband and their two children.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of three print copies of Bone White by Wendy Corsi Staub (US only).


Friday, April 21, 2017

"Meg & Linus" by Hanna Nowinski

Meg & Linus
by Hanna Nowinski

Meg & Linus by Hanna Nowinski is currently on tour with Xpresso Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Can friendship, Star Trek, drama club, and a whole lot of coffee get two nerdy best friends through the beginning of their senior year of high school?
Meg and Linus are best friends bound by a shared love of school, a coffee obsession, and being queer. It’s not always easy to be the nerdy lesbian or gay kid in a suburban town. But they have each other. And a few Star Trek boxed sets. They’re pretty happy.
But then Sophia, Meg’s longtime girlfriend, breaks up with Meg. Linus starts tutoring the totally dreamy new kid, Danny - and Meg thinks setting them up is the perfect project to distract herself from her own heartbreak. But Linus isn’t so sure Danny even likes guys, and maybe Sophia isn’t quite as out of the picture as Meg thought she was ...
From crowdsourced young adult imprint Swoon Reads comes Meg & Linus by Hanna Nowinski, a fun friendship story about two quirky teens who must learn to get out of their comfort zones and take risks - even if that means joining the drama club, making new friends, and learning how to stand on your own.

“Meg?” he asks and stops walking, and when I turn to him he looks worried. “Is everything okay?”
I give up, shoulders slumping, and hang my head to stare at the dark ground of the parking lot beneath my feet. Sometimes it just really sucks having a best friend who actually knows you. “Not really?”
“What happened?”
I brush my hair from my face and can't quite make myself look up at him. I haven't actually told anyone other than my mom, telling people will just make it real, but Linus is my best friend and it's not like he isn't going to find out either way sooner or later.
“Sophia dumped me.”
He stares at me as if I've been speaking Elvish. Except, he'd probably have understood that. “Um. Excuse me?”
“Look, it's not really hard to understand at all: Sophia broke up with me. It's really a very simple concept. We were together. Now we're not. Do you need me to write it down for you?” I wince a little, shocked at myself for talking to him this way. I have no idea what's wrong with me today. But because Linus is the sweetest person alive, he doesn't turn on his heel and walk away from me like I would have deserved. Instead, he looks really worried, takes a careful step closer to me.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"Every queer kid in high school needs to read this novel. ... It’s exactly the sort of relevant and positive portrayal that is needed." ~ Teen Vogue
"Told in short chapters with alternating points of view, Meg & Linus is a story of friendship, stable families, and sweet romance. The fact that the protagonist and supporting characters are gay is a nonissue, which makes this a refreshing read." ~ VOYA
"Meg and Linus’s romantic lives take center stage, but first-time author Nowinski also addresses the difficulty of being queer in a small town, where pursuing a relationship requires confidence, and can involve a fear of outing or offending—all of which comes into play as Meg reflects on her past and Linus considers the possibility of a future with Danny." ~ Publishers Weekly
"Readers experience [Meg's] pain and Linus’ uncertainties as the story moves back and forth between their respective perspectives. ... this is one of the rare LGBTQ books to feature both a gay boy and a lesbian who are friends." ~ Booklist
"I also love that friendship takes center stage in this story. ... I didn't want the story to end! Such a beautiful story." ~ Rita, Swoon Reader

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
Meg and Linus are best friends who initially bonded over their mutual appreciation of Star Trek. They both also happen to be gay. Meg starts her senior year of high school just as her girlfriend Sophia breaks up with her and leaves for college. Meanwhile, Linus fancies Danny, the cute barista at his favorite coffee shop, who later shows up in his history class on the first day of school. When Meg realizes that Linus has a crush on Danny, she decides to set them up. Tutoring and joining the drama club are just part of her plan. Meanwhile, Sophia starts messaging Linus, and he doesn't tell Meg. As the secrets and lies between them mount, so does the tension. As one relationship ends, another is beginning, and these two friends need to learn to cope with the changes it will bring to their friendship.
Alternating chapters tell the story from the points of view of Meg and Linus. The chapters are really short and the constant change in viewpoint is disorienting. Both characters have the same voice, and I often found myself forgetting whose story I was reading. The narration is awkward and repetitive, with too much introspection and self-doubt, and full of unnecessary comments - almost as if they are telling us everything as, and when, it comes into their heads. It's phrased like they are speaking directly to us, which feels a bit odd, especially in the present tense. Both the narration and the dialogue are lacking in contractions, making the writing stilted and unnatural. The author should try reading her work aloud to hear how it sounds. The dialogue also suffers from an extreme overuse of exclamation marks! Nevertheless, there is some really insightful writing throughout, as you can see from the "Some of My Favorite Lines" section below.
It's nice to see a bit of ethnic diversity among the characters (Danny is Indian and Sophia is African American), and the gay best friends angle is a nice touch. However, Meg herself is too unlikable for a protagonist. She's extremely naive, talking first about her prospective marriage to Sophia, and then about Linus's marriage to Danny - when they haven't really met and we don't even know if Danny is gay! Meg's behavior and treatment of Linus doesn't correspond to that of a best friend. I found her very annoying and was amused when Meg herself later said, "I’m seriously starting to annoy even myself." She's also always feeling sorry for herself; even she admits it: "And now I’m feeling sorry for myself again." The constant shoulder bumping between all characters also gets a bit tiresome.
What I did love was Meg's relationship with her mother. I also enjoyed the interactions between Linus and Danny. Their first conversation is adorably awkward. And the reactions of Linus's parents are priceless. Meg and Linus learn to take risks and try new things as a prelude to their life after school, and it's nice to see them grow throughout the course of the book. I just wish these so-called best friends would learn to talk to each other a bit more.
A light and fun, if slightly disappointing, read.

Some of My Favorite Lines
"... no matter how much tonight feels like a good-bye, I know it isn’t one ..."
"He almost seems a little shy. Like me. At least we have that in common. I like having something in common with him, even if it’s just the inability to chat with strangers."
"I just miss her so much I can’t breathe sometimes, and it hurts."
"... this last first day of school is the worst first day of school ever."
"... maybe details like this will help explain why I don’t want to dwell on any of this - life is different enough without her, without me constantly reminding myself of just how different it really is."
"People sometimes seem to assume that just because you like learning about things, you don’t like being around people. But you can like books and people at the same time!"
"I guess I just always thought that if you found someone who’s willing to put up with all your crazy just to make you happy, it must be the real thing."
"He looks up as I enter and smiles at me; I don’t even have to make a conscious decision to smile back. It just sort of happens to my face."
"He keeps looking at me for a moment, then quickly leans over to give me a hug. Just a brief one, and I don’t really know what it’s for, but hey, free hugs. Not gonna turn them down."
"I’m seriously not built for this level of excitement and sneakiness. Good thing I’m not considering a career in politics."
"Maybe he’s never going to be my boyfriend, but he can still be my friend, and that’s a really nice thought."
"I just want my friend back. Nothing’s the same without him."
"I guess there is a really fine line between helping someone and sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong."

About the Author
Hanna Nowinski is a language enthusiast and trained translator for German and English who lives in the middle of nowhere, Germany. She has wanted to be a writer since she learned that books were made by real people. As a kid, she made up her own bedtime stories, mostly sending her stuffed animals on adventures around the world. She loves books, music, coffee, and getting way too emotionally invested in TV shows. Meg & Linus is her debut novel.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a print copy of Meg & Linus by Hanna Nowinski (US/Canada only).


Thursday, April 20, 2017

"Fixing Sydney" by Diane Zparkki

Fixing Sydney
(Branson's Kind of Love Trilogy Book 1)
by Diane Zparkki

Fixing Sydney, the first book in Diane Zparkki's new Branson's Kind of Love Trilogy, is currently on tour with Reading Addiction Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Sydney Sommer’s world fell apart after senior prom. Since then, her life had become a constant loop of unfortunate scenarios that kept her in constant fear of what might be lurking around the next corner. Her trust in others was at a standstill. Even those who were closest to her were held at a distance.
After serving active duty overseas, Jaxon Triggs moved away from his hometown, hoping the change in scenery would help him build a new future for himself. What he wasn’t expecting was to fall for a girl who was broken.
From the first moment Jaxon laid eyes on Sydney, he was curious. He became determined to do everything he could to break through the armor Sydney held around her so securely. His instinct to protect her and keep her safe kicked in as the dangers she encountered became more personal.
With dread always looming close by and secrets discovered, would Sydney be able to handle the new changes in her life yet heal at the same time?

Staring at myself in the mirror propped up in the corner of my bedroom, I wondered, How the hell did I get here? I stood there for another ten minutes, thinking I better contemplate My outfit included black jeans, converse, and a black tank top. My wardrobe mostly consisted of jeans, hoodies, sneakers, and boots. No dresses. In fact, the only formal dresses I had owned were the two I had worn to prom. The first one was to my best friend Shannon’s prom. Billy asked me to be his date after his girlfriend dumped him two days before to go with one of the football stars. Bitch. I donated that dress to a local charity. The other dress was worn to my own prom the following year. That dress was now long gone, buried at the bottom of some garbage landfill, being wormed back into the earth. Good riddance.
I was ready for my parents’ famous Sunday barbeque—well, my mom and stepdad, but I just called him “Dad” now. They loved having the family over for dinner. I didn’t know why they thought it was such a big deal when one of us was always there during the week, mooching dinner. If I were honest with myself, the real reason they had these dinners was to check on my mental stability. Over the past few years, those dinners had become a regular occurrence after I moved out to attend college.
I had taken a year off after high school to get myself back on track after I’d had a major meltdown that would have taken out three towns. Now I was coming back at a turtle’s pace, but I was coming back.
High school was so long ago, filled with great memories of football games, soccer games, pep rallies, dances, drinking, and school pranks. It had been the ultimate high school experience…until I had started dating Steve. Prom night had destroyed all those happy memories. That evening had twisted me up inside, shut me down so tightly nothing was going to penetrate my Teflon wall. It was the closest I had ever felt to death.
Death…Maybe death had occurred, just not in the physical sense.
I knew what death looked like, and I knew how people acted around it.
My father died when I was four. My memory was cloudy of him, but I remembered that day clearly.
My father lay in a plain mahogany coffin, wearing his favorite blue, checkered shirt. I had no idea why I knew it was his favorite; I just knew. He also had on a pair of black jeans, his boots, and his leather vest that had patches on it, like the other men at the funeral. To this day, every once in a while, I would get a whiff of worked-in leather, and it would remind me of him. I didn’t know why I would remember that above all else, though.
I also remembered a man at the back of the parlor, dressed similar to my dad. He had several tattoos, as did the rest of the men who stood with him and shook his hand.
“Mommy, is Daddy sleeping? Why can’t I wake him? Why won’t he wake up? Daddy, wake up!” I remembered saying.
My mother took my hand and brought me over to the casket where she laid her hand on my dad’s. “Daddy died, sweetheart. His soul is already in Heaven. His body is here so that all his friends and family can say good-bye.” As she explained death to me, it was the first time I saw tears stream down her saddened face.
I had no idea what a soul was, so she tried explaining it again to me. “It’s like when your daddy would ride his motorcycle. He was the soul of the bike; he controlled it. He brought the bike to life and made it move. When he got off the bike and turned the engine off, the bike stood still. His body is like the bike, and his soul is the engine.” She looked down at me and gave me a big sigh because I stood there with big doe-eyes in confusion.
“Daddy’s a motorcycle?”
That was when a blonde lady came up behind me and asked if I needed to use the bathroom. My mom nodded her head at the lady and hugged me before sending me off to the bathroom.
The lady came into the stall to help me fix my tights. Even as a child, I hated getting dressed up.
While we were in there, we heard two women speaking in the bathroom.
“Poor Sara. What is she going to do with that little girl now, raising her alone so far away from her family? Maybe she will move back home,” one woman said.
“She might when she realizes her husband’s so-called family will no longer take care of her,” added the other woman.
I looked up at the blonde lady, trying to make sense of what my little ears were hearing. She just continued to fix my clothes until the women left. Then we walked out of the stall and washed our hands.
I remembered looking up into the reflection of the mirror and seeing the blonde lady’s eyes held anger in them, but she also wiped a tear away from her cheek. I never asked the lady about it.
She brought me back into the funeral parlor, and I noticed a lot of people I had never seen before, most of them dressed in black, hugging my mom and speaking in another language.
I had no idea my mom spoke another language until that day. I always thought she spoke gibberish when she was angry. However, I later learned that she was actually speaking Italian and cursing like a sailor.
Mom always said families were great, but you couldn’t pick your family. Sometimes, the families you built with friendships were the greatest ones. They knew how to support you the best. I would guess that was why we never spent much time with my mother’s family.
We rarely saw her family, only a few phone calls on birthdays or Christmas. As the years moved on the phone calls started to dwindle. We were on our own.
The next few years were hard on us. We moved from our home to a small two-bedroom apartment not too far from my school. Mom worked a lot of hours as an accountant and took on new clients, working late into the night after putting me to bed. I was always in before and after school programs. Regardless, my mom made sure I never went without, and she absolutely made sure I knew I was loved.
We had teddy bear picnics in the park, put lick and stick tattoos up and down our arms, or on rainy days, built forts in the living room. She never made me feel like I was missing out on anything.
What she didn’t know was that I could hear her crying in her room at night. Her cries were muffled, probably because she was sobbing into her pillow, but I could hear her. Still, she never showed her heartbreak over the loss of my dad to me or anyone else. Instead, each morning, she would get up and start her day with a smile. She had done better than I was doing now.
When I was seven, Mom started dating Brad. I wasn’t sure how I felt about him, but I knew he made my mom happy. She laughed more, her smiles were genuine, and her late night cries were replaced by phone calls that had her giggling.
Mom had met Brad at a singles mixer—well, that was the story they told everyone. They actually met at a bereavement group for widows and widowers raising children on their own.
Brad had lost his wife Jenny due to a freak complication during childbirth. She had been giving birth to their second son, Logan, when something had gone wrong. Logan had only met his mother for a short few seconds before she had lost consciousness and died.
Just before Mom and Brad moved in together, the man from the funeral home came to the apartment. I remembered how nervous Brad was, pacing the floor and rubbing his hands up and down the front of his jeans. Mom, on the other hand, was as calm as a Hindu cow. It was rare that she would get flustered.
The boys and I played video games in the living room while Brad, Mom, and the man talked in the kitchen. The boys had just looked up at him when he had first come in, seeming unaffected by his presence, and continued playing.
The man had sat with his back to me, so I couldn’t see his face. They talked for a while, and once the man finished his beer, he shook Brad’s hand, hugged Mom, and then left. He never came back to our home again.
The following month, Brad, his boys, Mom, and I all moved in together. The house they bought had two huge oak trees in the backyard. They were so big I couldn’t put my little arms around the trunks. We had tire swings hanging from them, a tree house built in one, and Mom even made Brad rent the tallest ladder he could find to climb up the tree and carve our deceased parents’ names in them—Thomas in one tree and Jenny in the other. She said, that way, as the trees grew, they could watch over our growing family, too.
Mom was raised Catholic, but she had become more spiritual than religious. She often would say their spouses had brought them together. I thought that was a little morbid but sweet in a bizarre kind of way. That was my mom.
It was a week after we moved in that I met Shannon. She walked right up to me, wearing a little pink summer dress with white sandals, and her dark brown hair was pulled up in a ponytail with barrettes holding the strands in place.
“Hi, I’m Shannon. What’s your name?” she introduced herself.
There I was, lying on my belly on a floral blanket in the front yard, coloring. My messy, curly red hair was all over the place as I looked up at her and blew a strand out of my face, swearing I had put it up in a ponytail that morning. I was wearing my favorite purple tank top and little jean shorts with a purple flower on them, and I was barefoot.
“Hi…I’m Sydney,” I said. “Why are you all dressed up? You going to a party?”
Shannon smoothed out the front of her dress, looking at me with confusion in her eyes. “No, this is my summer dress.”
Oh, boy, were we in trouble, and trouble we were from then on.
We were inseparable and as opposite as opposites could be, but she was still my best friend, and I knew she was also worried about me.
Shannon was a year older than me, whereas my new brothers and I were all two years apart. Therefore, I had to spend my last year of high school without my best friend. Meanwhile, my brother Holden was in his third year of college away from home, and Logan had enlisted and was deployed overseas in Afghanistan. That whole year, it was just me, Mom, and Brad holding down the fort.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"I so enjoyed Fixing Sydney! [...] I liked the growth of Sydney's character...she became stronger but still remained vulnerable but open to new ideas and relationships. The author described the settings so well, that I could visualize the loft, school and variety of locations. Sydney's flashbacks were well written, giving me just enough details to keep me guessing, until all was revealed. I liked the intensity of the relationships and how they were intertwined between the main characters, the MC, and the secondary characters. Including the play list was a great idea! I am looking forward to the continuing story of Sydney and Jaxon!!" ~ Amazon Customer
"I love this book! I couldn't put it down. I finished it within 24 hours, reading it until 6 am. Fixing Sydney is a suspense with twists and turns you actually didn't see coming. A love story that makes you addicted to reading on as Jaxon and Sydney's relationship develops. A friendship that reminds you of your best friend, and a family that you wish you could be a part. With that being said, it's a unique story that I haven't read in other novels. Can't wait for the next book to come out!!" ~ Amazon Customer
"Fixing Sydney by Diane Zparkki is a sensational read! I couldn’t put it down. Falling deep in the minds and inner thoughts of the characters was perfectly portrayed by the author. This love/romance suspense story, takes you through a journey of difficult experiences, finding love and the challenges of a young girl trying to heal while putting the past behind her. A surprising twist, which leaves you wanting more. I was pleased to learn this is the 1st of a Trilogy. So looking forward to the next book!" ~ Amazon Customer
"Just finished reading Fixing Sydney. What a great read. You will be gobsmacked at the end when all the twists, turns, and betrayals reveal themselves. The story takes you through a gamut of emotions as you follow Sydney's journey to heal herself and start fresh. The book will leave you wanting more so luckily it is the first in the trilogy." ~ Amazon Customer
"Fantastic book! Can't wait for the next one in the series!!" ~ Amazon Customer

About the Author
Diane Zparkki lives in the greater Toronto area. She is a working mom, and with her husband, she has raised three great kids. She is a thrill seeker who usually drags her family along with her.
She was never a big reader or writer in her youth - Coles Notes were her best friend through college. Her enthusiasm for reading came later in life when she joined a book club. She loved those books, but she wanted raw, simple, and happily ever after with a bit of get down and dirty. That was when her love for bad boys on a Harley was set in motion.
After reading so many books, her mind started to create her first story, and she needed to get it out.
Fixing Sydney of the Branson’s Kind of Love trilogy is her first book, and she hopes you enjoy it as much as she has enjoyed having these characters running around in her head.

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