On a personal note...

Hi Everyone,
It's with a sad heart that I write this blog post. Due to family obligations, I'm taking the rest of the year off to focus on that and hopefully fingers crossed I will be back at full speed in the new year. I have some commitments that I will fulfill and for the rest of the books I read, I will post my reviews on Goodreads. I hope everyone has a great rest of the year and I can't wait to be back next year.


Blog Tour: The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

By Jenny Colgan
William Morrow Paperbacks
September 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.

Purchase Here

Enter to Win a Print Copy

About the Author
Jenny Colgan is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels, includingLittle 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.

Connect with Jenny Colgan

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.


Excerpt Reveal: The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis


From New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis comes a captivating story of love, second chances and new beginnings...

We are thrilled to bring you this excerpt from Jill Shalvis's upcoming release, THE TROUBLE WITH MISTLETOE! This second standalone novel in The Heartbreaker Bay Series is releasing September 27th! Don't miss the excerpt below, and make sure to preorder your copy today!


If she has her way…

Willa Davis is wrangling puppies when Keane Winters stalks into her pet shop with frustration in his chocolate-brown eyes and a pink bedazzled cat carrier in his hand. He needs a kitty sitter, stat. But the last thing Willa needs is to rescue a guy who doesn’t even remember her…

…He’ll get nothing but coal in his stocking.

Saddled with his great-aunt’s Feline from Hell, Keane is desperate to leave her in someone else’s capable hands. But in spite of the fact that he’s sure he’s never seen the drop-dead gorgeous pet shop owner before, she seems to be mad at him…

Unless he tempers “naughty” with a special kind of nice…

Willa can’t deny that Keane’s changed since high school: he’s less arrogant, for one thing—but he doesn’t even remember her. How can she trust him not to break her heart again? It’s time to throw a coin in the fountain, make a Christmas wish–and let the mistletoe do its work…

Pre-Order THE TROUBLE WITH MISTLETOE in ebook or paperback, releasing 9/27/16

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo| Barnes & Noble

Add to your Goodreads


She watched Keane take in the two newest Christmas trees, one in front of O’Riley’s Pub, the other in front of Reclaimed Woods, both decorated in simple red and gold balls. The only sound around them was the soft trickle of the water flowing from the fountain and some lovelorn crickets mourning the dawn’s lack of warmth. “Legend states that if you make a wish with a true heart, true love will find you,” she said. He met her gaze. “Legend also states that if you put your tooth under your pillow the Tooth Fairy will leave you cash.” She slowed, as always the fountain calling to her to make a wish. Keane slowed too, looking at her with a question. She searched her pockets for change, but could only come up with a dog treat. “Damn.” It was the swear jar’s fault, all her spare change always ended up in there. “What?” “I wanted to make a wish,” she said. A small smile crossed his face. “You want to make a wish? You’ve lived here for how long and you’ve never made one?” “Oh, I have.” She paused. “I like to.” This garnered her a raised brow. “How many times have you wished?” She bit her lower lip. “More than once?” Well, crap. How had they gotten on this subject? “Um…” “More than…five?” “Gee, would you look at the time?” she asked and tried to go but he caught her and brought her back around, his smile now a broad grin. “Fine,” she said. “If you must know, I toss a coin in every time I walk by.” He lost the battle with his laughter and she stared at him. Seriously, he had the best laugh. “It worked for Pru, I’ll have you know,” she told him. “She wished for true love to find Finn, and then he fell in love with her.” And Willa had been wishing ever since, even knowing how ridiculous and silly it was. “So…you’ve been wishing for true love for who exactly?” he asked. She stared at him in dismay. How had she not thought this through? “Me,” she admitted, slapping her pockets because surely she had even a penny. “But I intend to fix that right now. I’ll just wish for love for someone else.” “Who?” he asked warily. She narrowed her eyes at his fear. “You. Got any change?”    
And don’t miss the first novel in Jill Shalvis’ Heartbreaker Bay Series, SWEET LITTLE LIES, now available! Grab your copy HERE!


   About Jill Shalvis
Jill Shalvis - headshotNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s sexy contemporary and award-winning books wherever romances are sold and click on the blog button above for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

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Review: He Found Me by Whitney Barbetti

He Found Me by Whitney Barbetti
Published: May 17, 2014
Format: free Kindle read
Rating: 4/5

When I was seventeen, I disappeared. I walked out the door of my apartment with a backpack and never looked back. I left the life of Cora Mitchell behind, seeking freedom from my real-life nightmare.

But my freedom came with a cost. I lived a fictitious life for the next six years, never letting anyone close enough to see underneath the façade that was Andra Walker.

I was content with my simple little life.

Until I met Julian.

And the moment I started allowing myself to open up, allowing someone to see through the superficial, was the very same moment the Monster from my past would return to find me.

My Thoughts
In He Found Me we met Cora who has been suffering in the hands of someone we only know as “monster”. One night after years of abuse she decides to run away with some help from her mother’s friend. She goes into hiding and soon resurfaces as Andra in Colorado working at a ranch. Due to all that has happened to her, she doesn’t let people in and her love life is nonexistent.

Everything changes one day when a mysterious writer named Julian soon breaks down her walls and melts her heart like no one has ever before. However, as soon as this happens her life is thrown for a loop as she soon discovers “the monster” is back and is looking for her. She is forced to drop everything and go back into hiding losing the one person she has allowed herself to truly love in years.

I found this read pleasant and I loved the banter and chemistry between Julian and Andra. I love that they are playful and don’t take each other too seriously. The romance is hot and you see that Julian truly loves her. However, that said I personally still find him “too good to be true” I hope I’m wrong about this but time will tell. This is a two book series and I can’t wait to see how this all plays out.


Virtual Tour: The Sweetheart Deal by Allison Morse

Will she discover the truth about the past in time to enter into 
The Sweetheart Deal.

Allison Morse
Released June 5th, 2016
Wild Rose Press

Some people in her small rural community think Ellen Hamilton, the business savvy daughter of the town’s largest employer, is too big for her britches. After all it’s the 1950s and women should have no place in running corporations. But when the company is threatened with takeover by John Adair, the man who broke her heart and "betrayed" her family business years ago, she’s determined to stop at nothing to win. Yet, when the cool Ellen turns molten in John’s arms, will she discover the truth about the past in time to enter into The Sweetheart Deal.


Allison Morse grew up in a family of actors in Los Angeles; before the age of five, she started acting classes, which she adored. She continued in the family business until her early twenties when her curious spirit led her to consider other interests.

After receiving a B.A. from U.C. Berkeley, she went on to earn a M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy, and a J.D. from U.C. Hastings College of the Law.

Although she loved learning from each of her varied careers she always knew that storytelling was as essential to her as breathing. So as she pursued her professional life, she kept to a strict writing schedule, and joined the Romance Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

She lives with her wonderful husband in a house in the hills that’s filled with books.


Blog Tour: From the Sidelines by Amy Avanzino

After losing her marriage, life savings, and waistline, Autumn Kovac is terrified of being hit by more heartache. So when her only child decides to try out for the football team, the overprotective, sports-illiterate mom has a near phobic reaction. But Zachary hasn’t smiled since his father left, and she’s desperate to make him happy (and doing nothing and hoping for the best hasn’t been working). She reluctantly enters a new world of youth competitive sports, full of overzealous coaches with Vince Lombardi dreams and fanatical parents trying to achieve vicarious glory. 

Unexpectedly, Autumn begins transforming within this strangely addictive new culture, finding her voice, facing her past, tackling her fears…and uncovering the secret that’s been keeping her from her son. After meeting her ideal catch, she finds herself back in the dating game and discovers some fierce competition of her own. Will Autumn make it off the sideline? Can the underdog finally win? 

September 5 – Chick Lit Plus – Review
September 6 – A Southern Girls Bookshelf – Excerpt
September 9 – Coffeeholic Bookworm – Review
September 12 – SNS Promotions – Excerpt
September 13 – Book Lover in Florida – Review & Excerpt
September 16 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review  & Excerpt
September 16 – Authors and Readers Book Corner – Excerpt 

Praise for From the Sideline
“Avanzino has written a story of motherhood. Every word is one of love, of sacrifice, and of surprising depth. I absolutely adored it.” – Gretchen Archer, USA Today Bestselling Author of Double Knot
"Amy Avanzino is one seriously funny and smart writer. Her wry and winning voice is reminiscent of Liane Moriarty. FROM THE SIDELINE is a wildly entertaining novel about the world of competitive youth sports, and I laughed on every page." --Karin Gillespie, national bestselling author of the Bottom Dollar Girl series
"Sparkles with wry humor and will keep you laughing and cheering for this mom-and-son team." --Jackie Bouchard, USA Today Bestselling Author of House Trained
"Heartwarming, tender, and funny as hell--FROM THE SIDELINE is a lot more than a football story: about parenting, friendships, and the courage to take yourself off the bench and get back in the game. Avanzino will have you cheering!" --Phoebe Fox, author of the Breakup Doctor series and writer for Elite Daily
"A great story that never slowed down with twists around every corner." --Holly Rust, contributing writer for The Huffington Post, The TODAY Show Parenting Team, Scary Mommy, Women's Prospects, and Mother's Guide to Sanity
"FROM THE SIDELINE was just like being handed a perfect sundae - an indulgence that leaves a smile on your face. Amy Avanzino takes a typical setting and cast of characters (i.e. suburban life) and elevates it to an experience. Deftly written in candid honesty and humor, she perfectly captures what it is to be a mom and a woman. Sometimes I had to double-check the name of a character because it felt like she was writing about somebody I know.” –Theresa Murphy, reviewer
“5 out of 5 stars…I loved it!” -Comfy Reading
“I most appreciated Avanzino's ability to put into words the complex feelings of parenting. Rather than coming off as sappy or preachy or pitying, it is a fresh and honest interpretation that readers can relate to. She also captures the essence of woman friendships, that thing that keeps most moms afloat when they're ready to sink.” –The Pensive Missive
"FROM THE SIDELINE packs an emotional punch in the best way. Laughter, tears, heartache and joy all combine for a truly touching read." - Laura Nagore, 125Pages reviewer
“I loved the story, but loved Avanzino's voice even more. She writes with a snarky wit that had me laughing out loud (seriously, on the beach, people turned & looked at me!) and a vulnerability that all moms feel. I highly recommend this heartwarming and funny bone tickling story, and I'm placing Avanzino on my favorites list!” -Goodreads Reviewer, 5 out of 5 stars 
"An absolute delight - funny, sharp, and full of heart. From the Sideline kept me laughing and, more importantly, Amy Avanzino kept me turning the pages. I can't wait to read whatever she brings next." --The Girl with Book Lungs Blog

“I loved this book and I love the author's writing style…There were some pages I read twice just because I loved how funny and honest they were. She can make you laugh and cry on the same page. Her humor and storytelling grab you in the beginning and you don't want to let go! I highly recommend this book and make sure to read Wake Up Call as well! I can't wait to read what she writes next!” -NetGalley Reviewer 

About the Author
Amy Avanzino is a former advertising executive, who has spent the last several years writing while doing extensive hands-on research for her WAKE-UP CALL series. She’s a contributing writer of Hap Scotch, a play performed at the 2008 Frigid Festival in New York.
Twitter: @AmyAvanzino

From the Sideline
I’m not the kind of person who likes to sweat, run, or exert myself in anyway–unless I’m being chased by an angry mob threatening to tear my limbs off—but even then, I’d probably just lay down and hope for the best.
Working out is a cruel and inexplicable punishment.   It’s literally the consequence given at a military school to high risk juveniles for delinquent behavior.  To drop down and give some irate commanding officer twenty push-ups after he yells in your face.  Push-ups are not something I’d ever do voluntarily, when instead I could, say, watch television, eat a taco, hang with girlfriends, read a book, virtually anything else would be better than wielding unnecessary energy.   
Don’t get me wrong, I would die to have Jennifer Aniston’s body, but, nonetheless, I would not diet or exercise.  
I still have post-traumatic flashbacks of times I was forced into acts of physical fitness.  The images of dodging balls, and that impossible climb to the top of the gymnasium, followed by the rope-burning descent, still gives me nightmares.  I can’t forget the disappointed faces of the captains who got stuck with me on their kickball teams.  Not being able to live up to the expectations of our beloved President, in that impossible physical-fitness challenge, no-doubt turned me into the maladjusted adult I am today.  These experiences are unquestionably the root to all of my insecurities.  
So when my only son announced that he wanted to try out for the local youth football team, it left me with feelings of confusion.  How can the fruit fall so far from the tree?
It’s impossible to get comfortable on a metal bench that is conducting heat and blistering my thighs.  Gnats are swirling around my head.  The grass has just been cut so my eyes are swollen and my nose begins to drip.  This mid-summer heat is unbearable.  Beads of sweat grow until perspiration runs down my face.  It’s hard to enjoy anything while having to mop my dripping brow with my forearm.  I have pit marks, two half-moon shaped stains under my breasts, and streak lines where my fat folds.  My favorite blouse now looks like a tie-dye shirt.  
Naturally, I hope my son fails, not miserably, but just enough to get cut from the roster.  
Things are looking great.  Zachary couldn’t look worse.  
He was beaten by every kid his size in the sprints.  After running around the perimeter of the field several times, he hyperventilated.  He tripped over the cones during the agility drills, twice.  Tumbled over his long legs, his limbs flying awkwardly everywhere once he hit the ground.  When he got up; little flecks of black rubber turf were stuck to his sweaty face.  
But despite it all, he hasn’t quit yet.  
It’s day four in the first week of a two-week tryout, not once has any of the kids touched a football, which seems counterintuitive for a football tryout.   
This strict evaluation process incorporates a wide variety of training exercises to measure each player’s little league potential.  The drills are conducted in a no-nonsense fashion and in quick succession to test levels of stamina.  Men with stop watches study these ten-year-olds in great detail and then scribble notes into their clipboards.  They’ll scratch their heads in deep contemplation and exchange knowing nods to one another from across the field.  
These evaluators of youth talent are the most powerful men in Snoqualmie Ridge.  They take their responsibility very, very--I mean exceedingly--serious.   They use a high degree of care and circumspection in their performance appraisal system, with the use of scoring algorithms that calculate each boy’s value and risk to the team.  
This is definitely not what I had in mind when I signed Zachary up to “play a game.”
There is a group of players stretching along the sidelines, doing deep lunges, and neck rolls.  They’re giving themselves pep-talks and performing visualization exercises.  They wear shoes with rubber spikes worth more than designer footwear.  Their hair is styled into intimidating Mohawks or sophisticated patterns etched into their hair.  I’m sure somewhere on the field, the kid sponsored by Under Armour is wearing two-carat-diamond studs on each ear.
These miniature athletes, acting like NFL draft prospects, are busy sizing up their competition.  The winner pumps his fist like Tiger Woods did after he sank a big putt in the PGA Tour.   The others fall to the ground when they are out beat and cry out in woe.  One poor kid throws his hands up in the air in frustration.  He proceeds to cover his ears because he doesn’t know which crazy, screaming adult to listen to; his parents, grandparents, neighbors, the family dog--are all coaching him from the stands, contradicting what the actual coaches on the field are yelling.
The bleachers are full of parents sitting at the edge of their seats, hypnotized by their child’s performance.  They twitch at every move their child makes.  Some pace up and down the bleachers, biting their nails, and shouting exhortations.  They’re all seeking confirmation that great athletic possibilities exist in them.  
I overhear one parent bribe her child with a fifty-inch flat screen TV for his room if he got a certain time in a race.  She’d throw in a Nintendo if his time lands in the top five.
There was a dad on day two that threw his shoe at a coach.  “How dare you move my child from the backfield!  He’s a skill player!  His trainer says he’s college scholarship material!”  This dad, who had veins protruding from his neck, had to be dragged off the property by two men with big muscles and tiny tank tops.  They were completely unbothered by the event.  “Mark my words John, I’ll be buying my paint from someone else from now on!  I’ll never do business with you again, never!”  His son didn’t seem surprised by his dad’s outburst either.  He casually grabbed his water jug, bumped fists with a few buddies on his way out, and met his dad in his monster truck.  They peeled out of the parking lot, as was expected.  
When one kid threw up orange Gatorade all over the sideline and his parent told him to, “Stop acting like a crybaby,” it became swiftly evident that these are not our peers.  We do not belong here.  
“Are you a football mom?” asks a man wearing a safari hat, mirror sunglasses, and a badge that reads EMT.   
“Me?  No way.”  I nearly collapse at the thought.  “My son is only here for the tryouts.”
“Okay.”  He doesn’t say anything right away.  “I’m going to need his medical release and parental consent forms before he can suit-up and is allowed to participate in full contact.”    
“Oh.” Several thoughts run through my mind, none of which I can decipher.  There’s a long uncomfortable pause, at least sixty awkward seconds pass.  “Do you mean the forms that relinquish this organization of any liability if my son gets hurt while under your supervision?”  
“Um, ah,” he stammers, “yeah, those are the forms.”  
I know signing this contract is like signing a contract with the devil.  My son’s happiness in exchange for all that I am against:  violence, competition, perpetual judgment, egos-
“So, you got ‘em?”
I knew even as I was saying the words, even as I was thinking them, that I’d soon regret it.  “Yes.  I have the forms.”
I dig into my bag and hand over the binder of paperwork.  It includes the registration forms, physical form, medical clearance, emergency and treatment authorization, grade check, uniform and equipment information, parent code of conduct contract, volunteer (although it’s not really volunteering when you’re forced to do it) contract, mandatory fundraising contract, several other forms I didn’t read, and a whopping five-hundred-dollar check.  
I cross my arms and inform him, “There are labels along the side for every requested item.”
“Wow.”  His bushy eyebrows raise up behind his sunglasses.  “It’s color coded.”  The EMT flips through the binder.  The corners of his mouth turn upward, which tells me he’s impressed.  “No one has ever done this before.”   
“You’re welcome.”
He checks several pockets of his cargo pants for a pen.
“Maybe it’s in your fanny pack,” I say, wincing on his behalf because the fanny pack is one of the most polarizing trends of the eighties.  
He scratches his forehead.  One falls out from his ear.  
Perfect.  This is the man who’ll be supervising my child.  He can’t even keep track of a pen or what decade we are in.
I follow the EMT to his E-Z Up canopy to ensure he does not lose Zachary’s paperwork along the way. As he files the forms, I look around.  It is fully equipped with emergency and first aid equipment.  There is a trauma kit, basic life support equipment, splinting equipment, stretcher, AED, airway masks, and supplies needed to stabilize a patient until an ambulance can arrive.  
All at once, I realize everything that can go wrong and I want my binder back.  
The EMT tells me, “Okay, you’re now good to go Ms...” He looks down at his clipboard.  “Autumn Kovac.”
I’m overcome with the thought of my baby needing a neck collar or oxygen.  I begin to pace circles around his tent, like I’m being chased by my fears.  
“Are you okay Ms. Kovac?”
I put my hand out and brace myself on the table.  “Fine. Fine.  I’m fine.”  But the words get lodged somewhere in my throat, tangled up with my furiously beating heart.  My breath is coming fast and shallow.  I can’t catch it.  
Now I’m choking on air.  
“I’m, I’m, I’m going to go outside and get some air,” I spit out before my mouth goes very dry.  My tongue feels like it’s sticking to its roof, making it difficult for me to talk.  “It’s a bit stuffy in here,” I slur.
The EMT gives me an odd look.  “This tent has no walls.”  He cocks his head to one side. His face begins to spin like a Kaleidoscope.
A heat-wave rolls up on me suddenly.  It starts in my chest and rises to my neck and head. “It’s really hot in here,” I think to myself, but accidently say out loud.  
The EMT unfolds a metal chair.  He places it behind me.  “Why don’t you sit down for a second and have some water?”
What I need is air conditioning, to be indoors in a controlled climate, on a comfortable couch, with my son curled up in my arms where I can protect him from the world.
I want out of here.  
I need to get out of here.
I dodge the EMT, teetering for a second before I get my legs back.  I stumble my way over to the bleachers.  I try and stop shaking.  I begin an inner dialogue inside my head.  I’m asking myself hundreds of questions, while trying to answer them at the same time.  
I catch Zachary glance over at where I’m sitting.  I wave and give him my very best fake smile.
I try to remember why I agreed to a contact sport.  
Oh yes, I can recall that it all began with Zachary’s meddlesome pediatrician.  The doctor was concerned about his weight.  He described my son as “disproportionately heavy for his size.”  Zachary has always had a healthy appetite.  He’ll eat anything, Brussel sprouts, quinoa, organ meat, and all in a single sitting.  He’d eat the cat food if our cat wouldn’t scratch his eyes out.  I’ve always consider my son big boned or at least that’s what we called thick, stocky kids when I was growing up, decades ago.  The doctor called him “obese.”  He prescribed more physical activity.  
“You should seriously consider organized sports.  They build character and self-esteem, promote self-discipline, and sportsmanship…” His pediatrician went on and on as if he’d make commission from his sale.
“Can I mom?”  Zachary looked up at me with piercing eye contact.  
“I guess,” is how I responded.  “Do you want to do track, tennis, golf?”
“Football,” he decided.
I made a gagging sound, blacked out for a second, and continued.  “There’s also soccer or basketball.”
“I want to play football Mom.”  
“Flag football?”  
“Tackle football.”  
“No fricking way,” is what I should have said, but instead I told him, “You don’t have to decide now.  Why don’t you think about it,” which he did, obsessively, for over a month.  He checked out every book from the library on the topic.  He began reading the daily sports column in the newspaper and pulling up sports news sites on the computer.  
He presented me with a PowerPoint presentation.  He showed me confusing graphs and tables, statistical sheets with a bunch of numbers, and research written by people with a series of letters that trail their name.  
I got a second doctor’s opinion and a third.  I even asked my gyno if she thought my son should play football.  They all said the same.  “The benefits outweigh the risks and that playing sports is better than playing video games all day.”
I also picked up a prescription for Xanax.
The man who looks like Mr. Clean, wearing gym shorts, a tight shirt, and a lanyard with a whistler attached yells, “Bring it in boys!”  I met him at the equipment pick-up.  He introduced himself as Coach McCall, followed by a heavy slap on my back, which nearly knocked me off my heels.  He’s the head coach of the pee-wee team.  He went through his extensive sports resume, but all I understood is that he is extremely serious about his after-work-hobby.  
There were also seven assistant coaches; I had no interest in getting to know.  
On the coach’s command, sixty-two anxious young boys line up, desperate for a handful of spots available on the team.  About a third are returning players; many have played for three or more years.  You can tell by their posture, who is experienced and who’s on the chopping block.  
Coach McCall has finally brought out the leather sphere.  They begin a catching drill.  He doesn’t even look at Zachary, he just shouts, “Your turn Twelve!” Addressing him by his tryout number.   
Zachary’s lips tighten.  His eyes narrow.  He digs in at the line.  He pushes off.  His long arms and legs flair.  His auburn wavy locks blow in the wind. Before the ball even leaves the thrower’s hand, Zachary hits the ground.  The coach looks up at the equipment shed.  “Is there a sniper on the roof?  What the hell was that?”
Zachary blinks hard.  He lowers his head.  His shoulders are slump over, as he heads towards the back of the line.  
He tries again.  The thrower throws the ball.  He puts it right into Zachary’s chest.  It bounces off and falls to the ground.  The thrower keeps putting the ball where Zachary should be able to catch it.  He even begins throwing them softer.  He’s practically lofting them like pop flies in softball.  Zachary drops every one.  
I try not to smile.
A part of me feels terrible rooting against my child’s dream, but a much bigger part of me wants to keep him safe.  I want him locked away in a padded room, just he and I, with miniature unicorns as our pets, for the rest of our lives.  
I allowed him to tryout because I hate disappointing him and I was confident he wouldn’t make the team.  He’s too much like me.  We have grey owl-like eyes that take up a disproportional amount of space on our face.  We’re pale, like we’ve been hiding in the shade for years.  We’re both five-foot-five and robust.  We’re also bookish, flat-footed, completely lack in physical aggressiveness, and terribly uncoordinated.  He can fall up the stairs, not just going down.  He runs into the kitchen table even though it’s been in the same spot his entire lifetime.  He trips over air and spills everything.  I’m confident he won’t make the team.
At the water break the kids scatter to find their parents.  We are not allowed on the field; in fact, we have to be off the turf, passed the track, and behind the chain linked fence.   
Moms are massaging their kids’ shoulders and misting their faces with water.  Dads are giving their sons inspirational speeches and wise insider knowledge.  Players are ingesting performance enhancing energy drinks and nutritional supplements.  One family is holding hands kneeling on one knee and praying.  
I have nothing prepared, so I go with my usual.  “I’m so proud of you Baby.”
“Stop calling me a baby.”  I look into his face.  All I see is disappointment that I’m not his father or Russell Wilson.  I’m just a divorced, unsuccessful, single mom, who’s hoping for the worst for her son.  
“You were terrific.”  This is a lie.  He was terrible.
“I suck,” he says.
“Don’t say the S-word,” I remind him.
“I can’t throw the ball, catch the ball, or carry the ball.  Coach McCall asked me if I was left-handed.”
I reach out and pat his saturated hair, trying to connect with him at any capacity.  “Who cares what they think?”  
“I do.”  He gives an exaggerated sigh.  “They’re gonna cut me mom.  I know it.”  His face is all twisted up, as though he’s in pain.  
“It’s not a big deal if you cut,” but I know it is.  He wants this and it seems the harder I wish him not to, the more determined he becomes.  
There’s a long silence before he says, “You don’t understand.”  
He’s right.  I don’t.  Football is a violent culture and I’m a passive person.  My instinct is to avoid confrontation.  I like win-win solutions.  I’m an indoorsy type.  I’d prefer not walking around perspiring or greased from suntan oil.  

Zachary starts fidgeting with the label on his Gatorade.  His eyes water over.  “Dad would understand,” I hear him say, almost to himself.  His forehead gathers. My heart clenches.  This is when everything changes.