ARC Review and Giveaway: RED WINTER (The Red Winter Trilogy Book One) by Annette Marie

A New Series from Amazon Best-Selling Author Annette Marie, RED WINTER is coming…

“Soon all her human fears would become meaningless. Her future had been written by the kami, and her destiny awaited her.”

In the enchanting new fantasy RED WINTER by Annette Marie, Emi Kimura has been preparing her entire life to become the mortal host of a goddess. When she discovers the lies surrounding her true fate, she makes a dangerous bargain with a fox spirit to seek out the truth. As her final days as a mortal approach, she must choose whether to bow to duty ... or fight for her life.

Emi is the kamigakari. In a few short months, her life as a mortal will end and her new existence as the human host of a goddess will begin. Carefully hidden from those who would destroy her, she has prepared her mind, body, and soul to unite with the goddess—and not once has she doubted her chosen fate.

Shiro is a yokai, a spirit of the earth, an enemy of the goddess Emi will soon host. Mystery shrouds his every move and his ruby eyes shine with cunning she can’t match and dares not trust. But she saved his life, and until his debt is paid, he is hers to command—whether she wants him or not.

On the day they meet, everything Emi believes comes undone, swept away like snow upon the winter wind. For the first time, she wants to change her fate—but how can she erase a destiny already wrought in stone? Against the power of the gods, Shiro is her only hope … and hope is all she has left.

Release Date: October 21, 2016. 

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Excerpt for RED WINTER (Red Winter Trilogy Book 1):
The yokai didn’t move, just held her in place with a strength she couldn’t fight. She tipped her head back to see his face, to gauge his intent. His gaze traveled across her room, intent and analyzing. Then his eyes flicked down and he appeared almost surprised to see her staring up at him. His mouth curved into a sly grin, flashing pointed canines.

His amusement at her terror sparked a tiny surge of anger. “Let me go!”

“Ah, little miko, didn’t anyone ever tell you not to run from yokai?” His deep, purring voice sent a shiver across her skin. He leaned down as his hand on her throat forced her head back. He brushed his nose along her jaw, from her chin up to her ear. “It’s the surest way to make us pounce,” he whispered, his breath tickling her ear.

Goose bumps raced down the back of her neck and she clenched her jaw. “Get your hands off me.”

He hummed as he pushed his face into her hair, inhaling through his nose. “But didn’t you put your hands on me first?”

“I was treating your wounds.” She summoned her most commanding tone, desperately hoping her voice wouldn’t quaver. “You’re proving that your kind’s reputation is well deserved with such disrespect and ingratitude toward the person who saved your life.”

His head came up and fear shot through her that she’d offended him, that he would surely kill her now. Instead, he made a thoughtful noise, and his hands fell away, releasing her.

She almost leaped out of his lap but remembered his comment about running from yokai. With more self-control than she’d thought she had, she carefully stood, walked four steps, and turned to face him. He stayed where he was, lounging on the bed with his feet on the floor, casually propped up on one arm. His head tilted to one side as he watched her, and that slight, knowing grin played about his lips.

She sank down to kneel on the floor, mostly because her legs were shaking so badly she was afraid he’d notice. As nonchalantly as possible, she slid her hands into the opposite sleeves of her kimono and pinched her hidden ofuda between two fingers, ready to pull the paper talismans out.

“No need for that, little miko,” he remarked, each word almost caressing her. How could he have such an otherworldly yet still human voice? “I will not harm you.”
She flushed, embarrassed she’d been so obvious, but didn’t let go of the ofuda. “What was that—that assault then?”

“Assault, you call it? That little embrace?”

“You—” She broke off with a small shake of her head. If he was determined to ignore the inappropriateness of forcefully holding a woman against him and rubbing his face on her, nothing she said would change his mind. “You have the manners of a dog.”

“What did you expect? The ritual greetings of the imperial court?”

“Some respect for the person who saved your life would have been welcome.”

“Ah, yes, you did save me, and I am very grateful.” He idly tugged at a lock of his hair as his gaze slid down her and back up again. “I am in your debt. Tell me your desire and I will fulfill it.”

“My—my desire?” she choked.

He smirked again. “A favor, little miko. I am saying I owe you a favor.”

Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
I don’t know where to start. There are so many great things to say about the book but the more I think about what to write for my review I come up empty. EMPTY. Why do you do this to me Annette Marie?! Why do you always leave me speechless and feeling so heartbroken? But the most important question is… when is book two coming out?

Once again (but rather unsurprisingly) I fell in love with Red Winter just as hard as I did with the Steel and Stone series. Only now I have a new fascination with Japanese mythology to add to my ever growing list of things to obsess over.

Red Winter was set in such a fascinating, intriguing world. The story takes place in modern Japan and all the history and mythology incorporated made me enjoy the book more. I know nothing of Japanese myths and history. My knowledge only goes as far as what Inuyasha (watched that show more times than I can count when I was a kid) has taught me. Which really wasn’t much. But it was obvious that the author did a thorough research to give readers an accurate depiction of Japanese folklore and I loved every bit of it. I mean what’s not to love? Red Winter was full of magic, action, romance, a whole lot of intrigue and an amazing set of characters. Everything I love about YA fantasy, Annette Marie delivered.

I admit the beginning was a bit slow for me. I actually got scared there for a second that I wouldn’t end up loving this the way I expected to. But really I shouldn’t have wasted my time worrying because once Emi learned what she learned and Shiro showed up, everything just got a whole lot better. And way, way more exciting and action-packed.

Emi is definitely a likable and strong heroine. She may not be kickass in the sword-wielding way but she shows her strength in the way she cares for people and in her ironclad determination of approaching things. I really loved getting to know her. One of the things I find the author to be really good at is creating characters that you would come to love and care for from the get-go. And Emi? She had my heart from the start. But Shiro? I don’t want to say too much but… SHIRO. It feels like cheating. Am I cheating? Sorry Ashtaroth. I still love you but, well, like I said SHIRO.

Red Winter was such an amazing read. I love Annette Marie’s writing. She has this way of capturing a reader’s attention and have the book just screaming at you to read it in one sitting. Add to that all the beautiful illustrations and you have the most perfect book you could cuddle with ‘til morning. That’s honestly one of the things I love most about the book. Not only did the drawings give the book a more unique twist but it also made the reading experience more enjoyable. Whoever came up with that brilliant idea deserves a cake. A LOT of cake.

This is honestly one of the books that I will read again and again until the second one comes out. There are still so many questions left unanswered and we still need to know who Shiro really is. I am DYING of curiosity. And is it just me or does anyone else want to meet the Kunitsukami and the other Amatsukami? And doesn’t Yumei sound like just the villain you can’t help but love no matter how untrustworthy he seems? Also he seemed kind of hot, was he not? DAMN. The wait is going to be AGONIZING.

And in case I still didn’t get it across: I ABSOLUTELY LOVE this book.

Thank you so much Barclay Publicity for the review copy! And to Annette Marie for writing such a wonderful book! I really cannot wait to read the next installment! And, uhm, is it possible that this really isn't a trilogy but a ten-book series?? Because I need more Shiro in my life <3


Annette Marie is the author of the Amazon best-selling YA urban fantasy series Steel & Stone, which includes the 2015 Goodreads Choice Award nominee Yield the Night. Her first love is fantasy, a limitless realm of creativity where she can break all the boring rules of real life, but fast-paced urban fantasy, bold heroines, and tantalizing forbidden romances are her guilty pleasures. She proudly admits she has a thing for dragons, and her editor has politely inquired as to whether she intends to include them in every book.

Annette lives in the frozen winter wasteland of northern Alberta, Canada (okay, it’s not quite that bad). She shares her life with her remarkably patient, comparatively sensible husband and their furry minion of darkness—sorry, cat—Caesar. When not writing, she can be found elbow-deep in one art project or another while blissfully ignoring all adult responsibilities.

To find out more about Annette and her books, visit her website at

Find Annette Marie: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads

Grand Prize: 1 Winner will Receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card
Runner-Ups: 3 Winners will Each Receive one $10 Amazon Gift Card Each

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: THE PERKS OF LOVING A SCOUNDREL by Jennifer McQuiston

by Jennifer McQuiston 
Avon Books  |  September 27, 2016 
ISBN: 9780062335142; $$7.99 
E-ISBN 9780062335159; $5.99

About the Book: 

New York Times bestselling author Jennifer McQuiston continues her enchanting Seduction Diaries series as a bookish spinster and an unrepentant rogue unite to unmask a traitor. 

Every girl dreams of a hero…. 

No one loves books more than Miss Mary Channing. Perhaps that’s why she’s reached the ripe old age of six-and-twenty without ever being kissed. Her future may be as bland as milk toast, but Mary is content to simply dream about the heroes and adventures she reads about in her books. That way she won’t end up with a villain instead. 

But sometimes only a scoundrel will do. 

When she unexpectedly finds herself in the arms of Geoffrey Westmore, London’s most notorious scoundrel, it feels a bit like a plot from one of her favorite novels. Suddenly, Mary understands why even the smartest heroines can fall prey to a handsome face. And Westmore’s is more handsome than most. But far worse than the damage to her reputation, the moment’s indiscretion uncovers an assassination plot that reaches to the highest levels of society and threatens the course of the entire country. 

When a tight-laced miss and a scoundrel of epic proportions put their minds together, nothing can stand in their way. But unless they put their hearts together as well, a happy ending is anything but assured.

A veterinarian and infectious disease researcher by training, Jennifer McQuiston has always preferred reading romance to scientific textbooks. She resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, their two girls, and an odd assortment of pets, including the pony she promised her children if mommy ever got a book deal.
Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook

Praise for Jennifer McQuiston and THE PERKS OF LOVING A SCOUNDREL:

“McQuiston’s third Seduction Diaries novel is to be commended for its complex and unusual plot and for featuring characters the reader comes to care for. A surprising, readable story about healing, forgiveness, and trust.”   
— Kirkus

“The story is equal parts mystery and romance, and just when readers begin to feel cheated, the twists and turns navigate to a stunning ending.”
— Publishers Weekly

“Pure Escapism. Ms. Mcquiston created a romance as epic as the characters who lived it. [...] With easily identifiable main characters and a thrilling story, it was a no brainer for me to gift this book with 5 stars and a Top Pick.” 
— Night Owl Reviews

”McQuiston’s Seduction Diaries series captivates readers with clever plots and engaging characters. Incorporating plenty of sexual tension, bantering dialogue and a mystery into this installment delivers everything fans expect from McQuiston. This is truly a delightful addition to a reader’s library.”
— RT Book Reviews

“THE PERKS OF LOVING A SCOUNDREL is full of interesting characters and their interactions, especially those between West and Mary. There is also plenty of suspense concerning the assassination. The era is also a change from the Regency that so Dominates British historical romances.”
— Romance Reviews Today

“Regency romance fans will adore this addition to McQuiston’s Seduction Diaries series”
— Booklist

EXCERPT FROM The Perks of Loving a Scoundrel:

From the Diary of Miss Mary Channing
May 24, 1858

            Eleanor wrote today. I should have been glad to hear from her, given that she is my twin sister and I love her dearly, but it would be untruthful to say the contents of her letter pleased me. Her new husband, Lord Ashington, has been called away on business and she’s asked me to come to London to keep her company during the last two months of her confinement.

            Can you imagine? Me, in London?

            My family says I must get my nose out of my books and begin to live in the world around me. It is true I’ve never been further afield than a day trip from home, and that I have never slept a night outside my own bed. But why would I ever want to leave, when I have my books to keep me company? And a trip to London is not without its perils. I could very well end up like one of the characters in my beloved stories, snubbed by the popular crowd. Whispered about behind lace fans. Or worse . . . led astray by a handsome villain and then abandoned to my fate.

            Yet, how could I not go? Eleanor is my sister, and she needs me. So I shall put on a brave face. Pack a trunk. Smile, if I must. But I can’t help but wonder . . . which worries me more?
            The many things that could happen in London?

            Or the thought of seeing Eleanor, with her handsome new husband, and her shining, lovely life, and everything I am afraid of wanting?

Chapter 1
London, May 29, 1858

The smell should have been worse.

            She’d expected something foul, air made surly by the summer heat. Just last week she’d read about the Thames, that great, roiling river that carried with it the filth of the entire city and choked its inhabitants to tears. Her rampant imagination, spurred on by countless books and newspaper articles, had conjured a city of fetid smells, each more terrible than the last. But as Miss Mary Channing opened her bedroom window and breathed in her first London morning, her nose filled with nothing more offensive than the fragrance of . . .


            Disconcerted, she peeked out over the sill. Dawn was just breaking over the back of Grosvenor Square. The gaslights were still burning and the windows of the other houses were dark. By eight o’clock, she imagined industrious housemaids would be down on their knees, whiting their masters’ stoops. The central garden would fill with nurses and their charges, heading west toward Hyde Park.

            But for now the city—and its smells—belonged solely to her.

            She breathed in againWas she dreaming? Imagining things, as she was often wont to do? She was well over two hundred miles from home, but it smelled very much like her family’s ornamental garden in Yorkshire. She didn’t remember seeing a garden last night, but then, she had arrived quite late, the gaslight shadows obscuring all but the front steps. She’d been too weary to think, so sickened by the ceaseless motion of the train that she’d not even been able to read a book, much less ponder the underpinnings of the air she breathed.

            She supposed she might have missed a garden. Good heavens, she probably would have missed a funeral parade, complete with an eight-horse coach and a brass band.

            After the long, tiresome journey, she’d only wanted to find a bed.

            And yet now . . . at five o’clock in the morning . . . she couldn’t sleep.

            Not on a mattress that felt so strange, and not in a bedroom that wasn’t her own.

            Pulling her head back inside, she eyed the four-poster bed, with its rumpled covers and profusion of pretty pillows. It was a perfectly nice bed. Her sister, Eleanor, had clearly put some thought into the choice of fabrics and furniture. Most women would love such a room. And most women would love such an opportunity—two whole months in London, with shops and shows and distractions of every flavor at their fingertips.

            But Mary wasn’t most women. She preferred her distractions in the form of a good book, not shopping on Regent Street. And these two looming months felt like prison, not paradise.

            The scent of roses lingered in the air, and as she breathed in, her mind settled on a new hope. If there was a flower garden she might escape to—a place where she might read her books and write in her journal—perhaps it would not be so terrible?

            Picking up the novel she had not been able to read on the train, Mary slipped out of the strange bedroom, her bare feet silent on the stairs. She had always been an early riser, waking before even the most industrious servants back home in Yorkshire. At home, the cook knew to leave her out a bit of breakfast—bread and cheese wrapped in a napkin—but no one here would know to do that for her yet.

            Ever since she’d been a young girl, morning had been her own time, quiet hours spent curled up on a garden bench with a book in her lap, nibbling on her pocket repast, the day lightening around her. The notion that she might still keep to such a routine in a place like London gave her hope for the coming two months.

            She drifted down the hallway until she found a doorway that looked promising, solid oak, with a key still in the lock. With a deep breath, she turned the key and pulled it open. She braced herself for knife-wielding brigands. Herds of ragged street urchins, hands rifling through her pockets. The sort of London dangers she’d always read about.

            Instead, the scent of flowers washed over her like a lovely, welcome tide.

            Oh, thank goodness.

            She hadn’t been imagining things after all.

            Something hopeful nudged her over the threshold of the door, then bade her to take one step, then another. In the thin light of dawn, she saw flowers in every color and fashion: bloodred rose blooms, a cascade of yellow flowers dripping down the wrought iron fence. Her fingers loosened over the cover of her book. Oh, but it would be lovely to read here. She could even hear the light patter of a fountain, beckoning her deeper.

            But then she heard something else above those pleasant, tinkling notes.

            An almost inhuman groan of pleasure.

            With a startled gasp, she spun around. Her eyes swam through the early morning light to settle on a gentleman on the street, some ten feet or so away on the other side of the wrought iron fence. But the fact of their separation did little to relieve her anxiety, because the street light illuminated him in unfortunate, horrific clarity.

            He was urinating.

            Through the fence.

            Onto one of her sister’s rosebushes.

            The book fell from Mary’s hand. In all her imaginings of what dreadful things she might encounter on the streets of London, she’d never envisioned anything like this. She ought to bolt. She ought to scream. She ought to . . . well . . . she ought to at least look away.

            But as if he was made of words on a page, her eyes insisted on staying for a proper read. His eyes were closed, his mouth open in a grimace of relief. Objectively, he was a handsome mess, lean and long-limbed, a shock of disheveled blond hair peeking out from his top hat. But handsome was always matter of opinion, and this one had “villain” stamped on his skin.

            As if he could hear her flailing thoughts, one eye cracked open, then the other. “Oh, ho, would you look at that, Grant? I’ve an audience, it seems.”

            Somewhere down the street, another voice rang out. “Piss off!” A snigger followed. “Oh, wait, you already are.”

            “Cork it, you sodding fool!” the blond villain shouted back. “Can’t you see we’re in the presence of a lady?” He grinned. “Apologies for such language, luv. Though . . . given the way you are staring, perhaps you don’t mind?” He rocked back on his heels, striking a jaunty pose even as the urine rained down. “If you come a little closer, I’d be happy to give you a better peek.”

            Mary’s heart scrambled against her ribs. She might be a naive thing, fresh from the country, and she might now be regretting her presumption that it was permissible to read a book in a London garden in her bare feet, but she wasn’t so unworldly that she didn’t know this one pertinent fact: she was not—under any circumstances—coming a little closer.

            Or getting a better peek.

            Mortified, she wrapped her arms about her middle. “I . . .that is . . . couldn’t you manage to hold it?” she somehow choked out. There. She’d managed a phrase, and it was a properly scathing one, too. As good as any of her books’ heroines might have done.

            A grin spread across his face. Much like the puddle at the base of the rosebush. “Well, luv, the thing is, I’m thinking I’d rather let you hold it.” The stream trickled to a stop, though he added a few more drips for good measure. He shook himself off and began to button his trousers. “But alas, it seems you’ve waited too long for the pleasure.” He tipped a finger to the brim of his top hat in a sort of salute. “My friend awaits. Perhaps another time?”

            Mary gasped. Or rather, she squeaked.

            She could manage little else.

            He chuckled. “It seems I’ve got a shy little mouse on my hands. Well, squeak squeak, run along then.” He set off down the street, swaying a bit. “But I’ll leave you with a word of advice, Miss Mouse,” he tossed back over one shoulder. “You’re a right tempting sight, standing there in your unutterables. But you might want to wear shoes the next time you ogle a gentleman’s prick. Never know when you’ll need to run.”

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Book Excerpt and Giveaway: THE BOOKSHOP ON THE CORNER by Jenny Colgan

by Jenny Colgan 
William Morrow Paperbacks | 09.20.2016 
ISBN: 9780062467256; $14.99  E-ISBN 9780062467263; $9.99

About the Book:
Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more. 

Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile—a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling. 

From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending. Buy the book here.

Jenny Colgan is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels, including Little Beach Street Bakery, Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop, and Christmas at the Cupcake Café, all international bestsellers. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland.

Praise for Jenny Colgan and THE BOOKSHOP ON THE CORNER: 
“Losing myself in Jenny Colgan’s beautiful pages is the most delicious, comforting, satisfying treat I have had in ages.”
   — Jane Green, New York Times bestselling author of Summer Secrets

“With a keen eye for the cinematic, Colgan (Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery, 2016, etc.) is a deft mistress of romantic comedy; Nina's story is laced with clever dialogue and scenes set like jewels, just begging to be filmed. A charming, bracingly fresh happily-ever-after tale…”

 “This is a lovely novel with amazing characters who are hooked on books… at least some of them. The plot is believable and is a joy to read. The main female character, Nina, is the librarian who always figures out the best choice for a patron without fail. Jenny Colgan thinks outside the box and creates a memorable book.”
RT Book Reviews

“This charming tale celebrates the many ways books bring people together”

“This light, fresh romantic comedy is the perfect escape for bibliophiles. Enjoy it with a cup of tea on a crisp day.”
Real Simple

“[A] love story about reading and the joys books can bring to people’s lives.”
All About Romance

The problem with good things that happen is that very often they disguise themselves as awful things. It would be lovely, wouldn’t it, whenever you’re going through something difficult, if someone could just tap you on the shoulder and say, “Don’t worry, it’s completely worth it. It seems like absolutely horrible crap now, but I promise it will all come good in the end,” and you could say, “Thank you, Fairy Godmother.” You might also say, “Will I also lose that seven pounds?” and they would say, “But of course, my child!”

            That would be useful, but it isn’t how it is, which is why we sometimes plow on too long with things that aren’t making us happy, or give up too quickly on something that might yet work itself out, and it is often difficult to tell precisely which is which.

            A life lived forward can be a really irritating thing. So Nina thought, at any rate. Nina Redmond, twenty-nine, was telling herself not to cry in public. If you have ever tried giving yourself a good talking-to, you’ll know it doesn’t work terribly well. She was at work, for goodness’ sake. You weren’t meant to cry at work.

            She wondered if anyone else ever did. Then she wondered if maybe everyone did, even Cathy Neeson, with her stiff too-blond hair, and her thin mouth and her spreadsheets, who was right at this moment standing in a corner, watching the room with folded arms and a grim expression, after delivering to the small team Nina was a member of a speech filled with jargon about how there were cutbacks all over, and Birmingham couldn’t afford to maintain all its libraries, and how austerity was something they just had to get used to.

            Nina reckoned probably not. Some people just didn’t have a tear in them.

            (What Nina didn’t know was that Cathy Neeson cried on the way to work, on the way home from work—after eight o’clock most nights—every time she laid someone off, every time she was asked to shave another few percent off an already skeleton budget, every time she was ordered to produce some new quality relevant paperwork, and every time her boss dumped a load of administrative work on her at four o’clock on a Friday afternoon on his way to a skiing vacation, of which he took many.

            Eventually she ditched the entire thing and went and worked in a National Trust gift shop for a fifth of the salary and half the hours and none of the tears. But this story is not about Cathy Neeson.)

            It was just, Nina thought, trying to squash down the lump in her throat . . . it was just that they had been such a little library.

            Children’s story time Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Early closing Wednesday afternoon. A shabby old-fashioned building with tatty linoleum floors. A little musty sometimes, it was true. The big dripping radiators could take a while to get going of a morning and then would become instantly too warm, with a bit of a fug, particularly off old Charlie Evans, who came in to keep warm and read the Morning Star cover to cover, very slowly. She wondered where the Charlie Evanses of the world would go now.

            Cathy Neeson had explained that they were going to compress the library services into the center of town, where they would become a “hub,” with a “multimedia experience zone” and a coffee shop and an “intersensory experience,” whatever that was, even though town was at least two bus trips too far for most of their elderly or strollered-up clientele.

            Their lovely, tatty, old pitched-roof premises were being sold off to become executive apartments that would be well beyond the reach of a librarian’s salary. And Nina Redmond, twenty-nine, bookworm, with her long tangle of auburn hair, her pale skin with freckles dotted here and there, and a shyness that made her blush—or want to burst into tears—at the most inopportune moments, was, she got the feeling, going to be thrown out into the cold winds of a world that was getting a lot of unemployed librarians on the market at the same time.

            “So,” Cathy Neeson had concluded, “you can pretty much get started on packing up the ‘books’ right away.”

            She said “books” like it was a word she found distasteful in her shiny new vision of Mediatech Services. All those grubby, awkward books.

Nina dragged herself into the back room with a heavy heart and a slight redness around her eyes. Fortunately, everyone else looked more or less the same way. Old Rita O’Leary, who should probably have retired about a decade ago but was so kind to their clientele that everyone overlooked the fact that she couldn’t see the numbers on the Dewey Decimal System anymore and filed more or less at random, had burst into floods, and Nina had been able to cover up her own sadness comforting her.

            “You know who else did this?” hissed her colleague Griffin through his straggly beard as she made her way through. Griffin was casting a wary look at Cathy Neeson, still out in the main area as he spoke. “The Nazis. They packed up all the books and threw them onto bonfires.”

            “They’re not throwing them onto bonfires!” said Nina. “They’re not actually Nazis.”

            “That’s what everyone thinks. Then before you know it, you’ve got Nazis.”
With breathtaking speed, there’d been a sale, of sorts, with most of their clientele leafing through old familiar favorites in the ten pence box and leaving the shinier, newer stock behind.

            Now, as the days went on, they were meant to be packing up the rest of the books to ship them to the central library, but Griffin’s normally sullen face was looking even darker than usual. He had a long, unpleasantly scrawny beard, and a scornful attitude toward people who didn’t read the books he liked. As the only books he liked were obscure 1950s out-of-print stories about frustrated young men who drank too much in Fitzrovia, that gave him a lot of time to hone his attitude. He was still talking about book burners.

            “They won’t get burned! They’ll go to the big place in town.”

            Nina couldn’t bring herself to even say Mediatech.

            Griffin snorted. “Have you seen the plans? Coffee, computers, DVDs, plants, admin offices, and people doing cost–benefit analysis and harassing the unemployed—sorry, running ‘mindfulness workshops.’ There isn’t room for a book in the whole damn place.” He gestured at the dozens of boxes. “This will be landfill. They’ll use it to make roads.”

            “They won’t!”

            “They will! That’s what they do with dead books, didn’t you know? Turn them into underlay for roads. So great big cars can roll over the top of centuries of thought and ideas and scholarship, metaphorically stamping a love of learning into the dust with their stupid big tires and blustering Top Gear idiots killing the planet.”

            “You’re not in the best of moods this morning, are you, Griffin?”

            “Could you two hurry it along a bit over there?” said Cathy Neeson, bustling in, sounding anxious. They only had the budget for the collection trucks for one afternoon; if they didn’t manage to load everything up in time, she’d be in serious trouble.

            “Yes, Commandant Über-Führer,” said Griffin under his breath as she bustled out again, her blond bob still rigid. “God, that woman is so evil it’s unbelievable.”

            But Nina wasn’t listening. She was looking instead in despair at the thousands of volumes around her, so hopeful with their beautiful covers and optimistic blurbs. To condemn any of them to waste disposal seemed heartbreaking: these were books! To Nina it was like closing down an animal shelter. And there was no way they were going to get it all done today, no matter what Cathy Neeson thought.

            Which was how, six hours later, when Nina’s Mini Metro pulled up in front of the front door of her tiny shared house, it was completely and utterly stuffed with volumes.