Blog Tour + Review and Giveaway – TELL ME A STORY (Claire Goodnight) by Jennifer Rebecca

TELL ME A STORY Blog Tour

Welcome to the blog tour for DATING IN THE DARK, the first book in the adult romantic suspense/crime thriller series, Claire Goodnight, by Jennifer Rebecca. See below for information on the book, buy links, and my review. Be sure to scroll all the way down for details on her giveaway.

TELL ME A STORY (Claire Goodnight #1) by Jennifer Rebecca

TELL ME A STORY (Claire Goodnight #1) by Jennifer Rebecca

Synopsis
George Washington Township, New Jersey has seen its fair share of crime and tragedy. Most recently, a young boy is missing from his home and the tenacious Detective Claire Goodnite is eager to find him.

But the case is stirring up old memories best left forgotten. When a blast from her own past, FBI Special Agent Wesley O’Connell, turns up, Claire finds it hard to keep old ghosts at rest. And even harder to keep the sexy SAIC out of her case and her bed.

Claire Goodnite is the best damn detective in the state of New Jersey and you better believe she’s coming for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Review
Equal parts romance and crime thriller, TELL ME A STORY is a fast-paced, steamy read with deep characters. Twenty-nine-year-old Claire Goodnight is a police detective, whose captain just happens to be her big brother. When she catches a case of a missing six-year-old-boy, we discover Claire has a haunting past that has her brother, and FBI agent, Wes O’Connell, questioning her ability to handle it. In addition to a horrific event in her young life, she also has a long history with Wes, which threatens to derail their investigation and her heart. Nothing about the case feels right to Claire, but the deeper in she gets, the more her own nightmares return.

Plot
The plotting is well done. I had my suspicions about the guilty party, of an on, but never completely figured it out. The author does a great job of shaking things up by throwing in twists and turns. There were a couple of things that seemed off to me in a crime thriller, but they may not bother readers who don’t work with the law enforcement community. The pacing was spot on, moving from one event to the next at just the right speed.

The Characters
Claire’s backstory was unique and set up some of the best scenes in the book. While her flashbacks were hard to read at times, they were necessary to fully understand her character. Wes was equally interesting and because of their history, Claire’s demons are Wes’s demons, which made these two a couple that was easy to root for.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About TELL ME A STORY
1. Claire. She’s one part straight-laced cop, one part insecure female, and one part snark, making her unpredictable in the best way.

2. Claire’s backstory. Unnerving and dark, the events that took place in her youth helped shape the detective and woman she’s become.

3. Wes. He’s got a good heart, brains, and Chris Hemsworth biceps. Enough said.

4. Liam. Claire’s older brother struggles with being a brother and a boss and his internal conflict makes him one of the best characters in the book

5. Plot twists. Several events took the story in directions I didn’t expect, which made it all the more difficult to put down.

Bottom Line
A steamy romantic crime thriller with unique characters.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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TELL ME A STORY Teaser 3

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About the Book
Title: TELL ME A STORY
Series:  Claire Goodnight #1
Author: Jennifer Rebecca
Release Date: March 13, 2018
Pages: 243
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance/Mystery/Crime Thriller
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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Author Jennifer Rebecca

Author Jennifer Rebecca

About the Author
Jennifer is a thirty something lover of words, all words: the written, the spoken, the sung (even poorly), the sweet, the funny, and even the four letter variety. She is a native of San Diego, California where she grew up reading the Brownings and Rebecca with her mother and Clifford and the Dog who Glowed in the Dark with her dad, much to her mother’s dismay.

Jennifer is a graduate of California State University San Marcos where she studied Criminology and Justice Studies. She is also an Alpha Xi Delta.

10 years ago, she was swept off her feet by her very own sailor. Today, they are happily married and the parents of a 8 year old and 6 year old twins. She can often be found in East Texas on the soccer fields, drawing with her children, or reading. Jennifer is convinced that if she puts her fitbit on one of the dogs, she might finally make her step goals. She loves a great romance, an alpha hero, and lots and lots of laughter.

Where to Find Jennifer Rebecca
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Blog Tour – Review – RIGHT KISS WRONG GUY (Offsides) by Natalie Decker

RIGHT KISS WRONG GUY Blog Tour

RIGHT KISS WRONG GUY (Offsides #2) by Natalie Decker

RIGHT KISS WRONG GUY (Offsides #2) by Natalie Decker

Synopsis
You’d think a girl with the most romantic name in the world would have her pick of boyfriends.

But Valentine’s Day sucks when you’re single. Just ask Juliet Valentine, whose last name happens to also be the name of the most dreaded made-up holiday ever.

A romantic at heart, this year is especially hard on Juliet. Her sister, Layla, is in a new relationship, her mom’s match-making business is doing great, and her school’s new fundraiser is “Love-Grams.”

Juliet’s miserable, a little jealous, and lonely.

Quarterback Jared Black is the most popular guy in school. A star athlete, Jared tops the most-eligible bachelor list year after year. But to Juliet Valentine, he’s all but invisible. She isn’t impressed.

Jared’s never had to work hard to get the attention of a girl before. Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and he’s determined to ask Juliet out. After all, if Tyler can win over Layla, Jared ought to have a shot with Layla’s sister.

Unlike Tyler and Layla, charm, flattery and good looks won’t work on Juliet. So with the V-Day dance coming up, Jared uses the school’s Love-Grams to let Juliet know how he feels. Should be simple enough, right?

Wrong. Each attempt ends up either in the trash or thrown in someone’s face. Juliet won’t play his game.

Now, without a date to the dance Jared realizes it’s going to take a Hail Mary to win the girl of his dreams..

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My Review
Layla’s twin sister Juliet had her heart broken by boyfriend Mark at the end of RIGHT TEXT WRONG GUY, and now we get her story. Jared Black has been pining after Juliet for as long as he can remember, but he’s too afraid of rejection to ask her out. The fact that he and Mark are football teammates only makes it worse because Juliet has sworn she’ll never date a football player again. Add to that Jared’s overbearing father and high school football coach, and Jared doesn’t really have much time for dating anyway. That doesn’t stop him from doing everything he can to get on Juliet’ good side, though.

Juliet is angry at all boys. And love. And Valentine’s day. So when a bunch of love grams suddenly begin showing up for her, she assumes it’s Mark, still trying to apologize and win her back. Watching the push and pull of these two is cute and fun, but Juliet’s anger is palpable and there were times I honestly wondered why Jared didn’t give up. He goes all-in though, upping his game with each day that passes, until Juliet’s icy exterior begins to melt.

Plot
This is your basic teen romance. There’s not a heck of a lot more going on. It’s about Jared winning Juliet’s heart and Juliet doing everything she can to keep that from happening with Jared or anyone else. Some of it is predictable, but Natalie Decker’s style of writing is always entertaining. There were more than a few laugh-out-loud moments

The Characters
Jared definitely has a lot going on at home with his dad insisting he run drills in the backyard every night, lift weights three nights a week, and never, ever, stop working toward an NFL career, even though that’s the last thing Jared wants. Even though Juliet’s home life is a bit more settled, she actually goes through more growth than Jared does, coming to terms with the fact that she doesn’t really hate all boys and that Mark is not the poster child for the gender.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About RIGHT KISS WRONG GUY
1. Chase. I love straight guy best friends and Chase is a great one, with his eyes and heart set on Adeline.

2. Perseverance. In this world of #metoo, there is a fine line between determination and stalking, but Jared goes right up to that line without stepping over. His dedication to winning Juliet’s heart is sweet rather than creepy.

3. Jared. He’s a good guy, which is a refreshing change from most romantic alpha males.

4. Juliet. I loved her in the first book, but it took me a while to warm up to her in her own story. Her anger was over the top at times. Not that it wasn’t understandable, I mean anyone who had their heart ripped out during the teen years knows how all-consuming that can be, but I hated that she took it out on everyone around her. It was hard to sympathize with her at first. However, by about the 33% mark, I remembered what I loved about her.

5. Love. As much as Juliet claims to hate love (often broadcasting it with her choice of wardrobe), it wins out in the end.

Bottom Line
This is a sweet young adult romance with plenty of laughs.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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RIGHT KISS WRONG GUY Teaser 2

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About the Book
Title: RIGHT KISS WRONG GUY
Series: Offsides #2
Author: Natalie Decker
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Release Date: January 23, 2018
Pages: 313
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Natalie Decker

Author Natalie Decker

About the Author
Natalie Decker is the author of the bestselling YA series RIVAL LOVE and NA Scandalous Boys Series. She loves oceans, sunsets, sand between her toes, and carefree days. Her imagination is always going, which some find odd. But she believes in seeing the world in a different light at all times. Avid reader of everything. She’s a huge Denver Broncos fan, loves football, and fuzzy blankets. She’s a mean cook in the kitchen, loves her family and friends and misses her awesome dog infinity times infinity. If she’s not writing, reading, traveling, hanging out with her family and friends, then she’s off having an adventure. Because Natalie believes in a saying: Your life is your own journey, so make it amazing!.

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Where to find Natalie Decker
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
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Blog Tour – Review + Giveaway – DEADLY SWEET (Spellwork Syndicate) by Lola Dodge

DEADLY SWEET Blog Tour

DEADLY SWEET (Spellwork Syndicate #1) by Lola Dodge

DEADLY SWEET (Spellwork Syndicate #1) by Lola Dodge

Synopsis
For fans of Hex Hall, The Magicians, Practical Magic, and Food Wars!

Anise Wise loves three things: baking, potion making, and reading her spellbooks in blissful silence. She might not be the most powerful witch, but enchantment is a rare skill, and her ability to bake with magic is even rarer. Too bad one wants witchcraft on their campus. Anise’s dream of attending pastry school crumbles with rejection letter after rejection letter.

Desperate to escape her dead-end future, Anise contacts the long-lost relative she’s not supposed to know about. Great Aunt Agatha owns the only magic bakery in the US, and she suddenly needs a new apprentice. Anise is so excited she books it to New Mexico without thinking to ask what happened to the last girl.

The Spellwork Syndicate rules the local witches in Taos, but as “accidents” turn into full-out attacks on Anise’s life, their promises to keep her safe are less and less reassuring. Her cranky bodyguard is doing his best, but it’s hard to fight back when she has no idea who’s the enemy. Or why she became their target.

If Anise can’t find and stop whoever wants her dead, she’ll be more toasted than a crème brûlée.

Who knew baking cakes could be so life or death?.

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My Review
This is a delicious tale of witchcraft, mystery, and finding your place in the world. Eighteen-year-old Anise Wise lives among the regular folk who run in fear the moment they find out she’s a witch. Making friends is impossible and dating? Yeah, that’s not happening either. All she really wants, though, is to get into pastry school and get her dream job in a bakery. After a rather horrific display of magic at the county fair, Anise is sent packing to Taos, New Mexico, the vortex of witchcraft, where she’ll work as an apprentice in her great Aunt Agatha’s magical bakeshop. For the first time in her life, Anise is among her people, and the local muggles see  witches as celebrities, rather than something to fear. But life isn’t as magical as Anise had hoped. While she feels surrounded by people like her, someone has decided her death would be in their best interest.

Plot
The plot centers around the attempts on Anise’s life, but there are subtle subplots involving her life goal of working in a pastry shop, her relationships with the other witches in the community, and even a little bit of romance. I figured out pretty early on who the warlock after Anise is, which made some of her actions more than a little annoying. I would have liked more red herrings, but Anise only has her sights set on one possible culprit. It’s so Snape-over-the-top, that it was clearly a misdirection. What really worked for me, though, was all of the magical world building. The imagery, analogies, and metaphors were unique and creative. The town of Taos comes alive on the pages.

The Characters
Anise annoyed me more often than not which made it hard to really root for her at times. She did ridiculously reckless things for no logical reason I could discern. Her insistence on constantly risking her life because she was bored drove me insane. But when she was in her baking mode, I warmed up to her. I could identify with her love of creating things from scratch and her desire to be accepted for who and what she was. Wynn, her bodyguard, was by far my favorite characters. His gruff exterior only made him more loveable. Aunt Agatha was equally fascinating. Some of the other characters got jumbled in my head because there were a lot of them.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About DEADLY SWEET
1. World Building. The world of witchcraft as part of everyday life is so well done. The way magic is infused into everything from baking to healing was well-developed and detailed.

2. Wynn. Anise’s moody bodyguard was my favorite character. I’ll read the second book just for more of him.

3. Agatha’s shop. Anise’s great aunt’s bakery is the first place I’d go in Taos if it existed in real life. The beauty and confectionary are so well described, I can’t believe it’s not an actual place.

4. Taos. This small mountain town in New Mexico came alive for me, brilliant and vivid, full of charm and secrets.

5. Finding your place. Anise struggles to fit in with regular humans as well as her witchy counterparts, never quite feeling like she belongs in one and fighting to be accepted in the other. This is something that transcends magic and is a wonderful message for all young adults.

Bottom Line
An upper young adult paranormal adventure that is as delicious as it is action packed.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: DEADLY SWEET
Series: 
The Spellwork Syndicate #1
Author: 
Lola Dodge
Publisher:
Ink Monster LLC
Release Date: January 16, 2018
Pages: 265
Genre:
Young Adult Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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Author Lola Dodge

Author Lola Dodge

About the Author
Lola Dodge is a compulsive traveler, baker, and procrastinator. She earned her BA in English from Stonehill College and MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University—and hasn’t stopped moving since. When she’s not on the road, Lola spends her time indoors where the sunlight can’t melt her, writing or bingeing on anime and cherry soda. She can be summoned in a ritual involving curry, Hello Kitty idols, and a solid chocolate pentagram.

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Where to Find Lola Dodge
Goodreads Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Young Adult Book Review – RIGHT TEXT WRONG NUMBER (Offsides) by Natalie Decker

RIGHT TEXT WRONG NUMBER by Natalie Decker

RIGHT TEXT WRONG NUMBER by Natalie Decker

Synopsis
High school juniors Layla and Tyler are complete opposites. Sure she’s a cheerleader and he’s a football player, but she thinks he’s the biggest jerk in the school and he thinks she is too high on her horse to even be worth of a second glance from him. And when the two of them are near one another, sparks fly in all the wrong directions. They are NOT interested in speaking to one another, let alone date.

But when Layla unknowingly sends Tyler a smack-down text meant for the girl sending naked photos to her then-boyfriend, Adam, Tyler has no idea it’s Layla and decides to play along. After all, Tyler cannot resist messing with the pissed off girl firing off texts about junk pictures, cheating, and girl code.

As the fallout from Adam’s sexting scandal plays out in front of the entire school, Tyler and Layla secretly continue to text one another using fake names. But as days and weeks pass, things take a turn for the serious between them, and suddenly, their texts mean more. They both begin to consider revealing their true identity to the other and taking the relationship from texts to dates, then kissing and maybe more.

They say there’s a thin line between love and hate. Can reality live up to the fantasy, or will Layla and Tyler be forever offsides?.

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My Review
This is a cute story with interesting characters, a fair amount of angst, and a decent romance. With a few exceptions, I thoroughly enjoyed it. There were a few questionable actions by the protagonists at the end that left me frustrated at times, but they weren’t bad enough to take away from the things I loved. What did bother me, though is the extreme number of typos in a professionally published book. To the point that they became distracting.

RIGHT TEXT WRONG NUMBER is about two people who seem to be utterly wrong for each other on the surface, but deep down, they have more in common than either realizes. When Layla, a teen with dyslexia, accidentally texts the wrong number, she and the recipient of that text engage in a flirtatious screen-ship with no future. Until both of them realize they want more. The gentle and honest way the author addresses Layla’s learning disability is one of my favorite aspects of the story. Layla’s relationship with her identical twin sister, Juliet, is another favorite. As the mother of identical twins, the complex relationship of such close siblings is something I’d like to read more of in young adult fiction.

Plot
The plot centers around the relationship of Tyler and Layla. In real life, they hate each other. Or at least that’s what we’re led to believe. But things are far from black and white with these two. Their secret texting life is something completely different. Without reality getting in the way, they’re able to communicate on another, deeper, level, and learn more about the other. Except they don’t realize who they’re texting. So many things can potentially go hilariously wrong, that of course they do.

The Characters
Tyler and Layla are complex characters with rich backstories and solid flaws that make them fascinating. Unfortunately, Layla’s ex-boyfriend, Adam and a few of the female characters came across as stereotypical and two-dimensional. The clingy girl in the second half of the story was especially so. Because this is Tyler and Layla’s story, I could ignore those secondary characters to a point, but they influence the actions of the main characters enough that they can’t really be ignored for long.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About RIGHT TEXT WRONG NUMBER
1. Angsty teen romance. My favorite kind of romance. This is a 10 on the angst scale.

2. Learning disabilities. The author handles Layla’s dyslexia with honesty and heart.

3. Twins. As the mother of identical twins, I love the relationship Layla has with her identical twin sister, Juliet. Although mine are far more alike personality wise than these two, their special bond rang completely true to me.

4. Juliet. The loveable nerd is so much like my daughter, I took an instant like to her and can’t wait to read her story next.

5. Texting first. I love the idea of these two getting to know one another through written words before the whole physical attraction bit could get in the way.

Bottom Line
A cute, angsty teen romance.

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About the Book
Title: RIGHT TEXT WRONG NUMBER
Series: Offsides #1
Author: Natalie Decker
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Pages: 306
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Sports Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Natalie Decker

Author Natalie Decker

About the Author
Natalie Decker is the author of the bestselling YA series RIVAL LOVE and NA Scandalous Boys Series. She loves oceans, sunsets, sand between her toes, and carefree days. Her imagination is always going, which some find odd. But she believes in seeing the world in a different light at all times. Avid reader of everything. She’s a huge Denver Broncos fan, loves football, and fuzzy blankets. She’s a mean cook in the kitchen, loves her family and friends and misses her awesome dog infinity times infinity. If she’s not writing, reading, traveling, hanging out with her family and friends, then she’s off having an adventure. Because Natalie believes in a saying: Your life is your own journey, so make it amazing!.

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Where to find Natalie Decker
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
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Young Adult Book Review – SAVING IT by Monica Murphy

SAVING IT by Monica Murphy

SAVING IT by Monica Murphy

Synopsis

Eden: Josh Evans and I have been best friends forever. He knows all my secrets, and I know all of his. So when he randomly asks me to help him lose his virginity, I sort of flip out. That’s a question that sends your mind to places you’ve seriously never considered before. Like, you know. Having sex. With your best friend. Except Josh doesn’t want to have sex with me—he wants me to help him find a girl. A nice girl who’s funny and smart and cute. Except he already knows a girl just like that…

Josh: Eden Sumner is my best friend. So of course she’d be the person to help me find my perfect match, so I can drop my V card before I head off to college. Except the more we search, the more I realize that maybe the right girl has been by my side all along. I don’t need Eden’s help in finding me a girl to love. I’m pretty sure I’m already in love with Eden. But now she thinks I’m only after one thing…with anyone but her.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book is what happens when American Pie meets Friends with Benefits. It contains two best friends, plenty of angst, and lots and lots of sex talk. Reading this might have you looking at your best friend in a different light!

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My Review
I love me a good freinds-to-lovers story, and I’m a huge fan of Monica Murphy, so this was a must-read for me. Eden and Josh are best friends who acknowledge that they find one another attractive, but are terrified of ruining the friendship with a doomed romance. I get it. I’ve been there. I found this part of the story to be so relatable. With senior year well underway, Josh doesn’t want to graduate a virgin, so he solicits the help of best friend, Eden, to help him find a girl willing to help him out in that department. The more time they spend together talking about sex, though, the more they begin to look at each other as more than just friends. The danger of destroying what they have is still there, but each of them starts to entertain more thoughts about what could be.

Plot
The story was cute and well plotted, but it was also pretty predictable, without any twists at all. There was also a fair amount of repetition that started to bog it down after a while. I understood their reasoning for not acting on their feelings, but it was explained over and over and over again. There was also a spot where Eden fights with Josh and it didn’t come across as authentic. The logic, timing, and even the words spoken didn’t seem to flow with the story. I think it was explained well in the end, but at the time, I kept thinking it was too forced.

Characters
Eden and Josh are beyond adorable and obviously perfect for each other. Everyone can see it except them. Their two other best friends, Molly and Abraham, are the only other main characters in the story. Everyone else is background noise, but that’s okay, because it’s about Eden and Josh. Both are believable as average, perfectly normal high school kids without a ton of baggage.

What I Enjoyed About SAVING IT
1. Friends of the Opposite Sex.
 This is so common with today’s teens, I love seeing it being explored more in young adult fiction.

2. Eden. I love her confidence and self-assuredness.

3. Josh. He’s a typical guy without being a player.

4. Oversharing. Some of the best moments were Eden’s thoughts on Josh’s oversharing of personal information. It added a great dynamic to their friendship.

5. The ending. I love how this wrapped up. It was perfect.

Bottom Line
A really sweet young adult contemporary romance from one of my favorite authors.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: SAVING IT
Author: Monica Murphy
Publisher: Entangled Crush
Release Date: November 6, 2017
Pages: 241
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating:
 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble

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SAVING IT Teaser

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Author Monica Murphy

Author Monica Murphy

About the Author
Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is a traditionally published author with Bantam/Random House and HarperCollins/Avon, as well as an independently published author. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance. She is also USA Today bestselling romance author Karen Erickson. 

She is a wife and a mother of three who lives with her family in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere, along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she’s not writing, she’s reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She’s a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through many angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA..

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Where to Find Monica Murphy
Website | Blog | 
Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram
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Young Adult Book Review – PRESCIENT (The Delphi Chronicles) by Derek Murphy

Prescient (Delphi Chronicles #1) by Derek Murphy

Prescient (Delphi Chronicles #1) by Derek Murphy

Synopsis
A GENETIC EXPERIMENT. AN APOCALYPTIC VISION. A RACE AGAINST TIME.

You’d think time-travel would be a useful gift, for cheating on tests and winning the lottery–stuff like that. I might have enjoyed my ability…if I hadn’t discovered humanity is on the brink of a genetically-engineered apocalypse.

Bodies rotting in the streets.
Wilderness eating away at my hometown.
Monstrous creatures hunting down the few survivors.

No one can save the world… except me.Because for me, it hasn’t even happened yet.For me, it might never happen.

All I need to do is kill the man who will destroy the world. The father of my high-school crush.

The only problem is, the more time I spend in that dystopian wasteland, the less I want to erase it.To save the future, I’ll need to sacrifice the one person I can’t bear to lose.

Prescient (Prophet of Doom) is a young adult science fiction adventure for fans of the Maze Runner and Divergent. Let yourself be captured by this zombie-infested time travel adventure based on Greek mythology. .

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My Review
Young adult time travelling dystopian with a side of romance? Sign me up. This book is every genre I love rolled into one. The premise is fascinating — a teen girl has the ability to travel to the future where she discovers an earth she doesn’t recognize. Something in the very near future brings about devastation of apocalyptic proportions, and Alicia may be the only one who can stop it. While her ability to time travel isn’t fully explained, it has to do with experimental drugs that only affect Alicia in a way that allows her to time jump. At first, she believes she’s dreaming, except it’s far too real and she has lasting physical reminders of her journey. Of course her friends think she’s crazy at first, but soon they’re on board. However, the more time Alicia spends in the future and the people she meets there, she’s less sure disrupting the future and preventing their existence is something she wants to do.

Plot
The story is well-plotted and intriguing. It’s a little slow in a couple of spots early on, but more than makes up for it later. As Alicia navigates her two worlds, more than a few twists are thrown her, and the reader’s, way, adding complexity and intrigue. My only real complaint is that although this is the first book in the series, it just sort of ends. Not on a cliffhanger, but more like in the middle of the story. I kept trying to swipe my Kindle to see if there were more pages, because surely that couldn’t be the end.

Characters
Most of the characters were interesting enough, but this is really a plot-driven story, so they don’t have a lot of depth. I don’t know if that’s all that necessary in this type of book, though. Alicia is well-rounded enough as the protagonist, so I was able to overlook the lack of depth in the supporting characters.

What I Enjoyed About PRESCIENT
1. Premise.
 Time travel is my favorite genre of all time.

2. Alicia. She’s a strong female lead, and although she’s written by a male, she comes off completely female.

3. Zombies. While they’re not called that, it’s what they are and including them in this dystopian adventure was pure genius.

4. World Building. The author does a decent job of setting up the rules for his world. I look forward to exploring more in the next book in the series.

5. Twists. Loved all the twists and turns. Some I saw coming, but most I didn’t.

Bottom Line
A fun, unique time travelling dystopian zombie adventure.

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About the Book – Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited
Title: PRESCIENT
Series: The Delphi Chronicles #1
Author: Derek Murphy
Publisher: Urban Epics
Release Date: April 1, 2016
Pages: 460
Category: Young Adult SciFi/Dystopian/Time Travel
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Derek Murphy

Author Derek Murphy

About the Author
I wrote my MA thesis on Harry Potter and my PhD thesis on Paradise Lost. Now I write YA fantasy novels and design book covers. I blog about self-publishing, book design and book marketing on www.creativindie.com and am renting a castle for Nanowrimo 2016. I hope you like my writing!

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Where to Find Derek Murphy
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter
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Young Adult Book Review – MY SOUL TO KEEP (Rise of the Fallen) by Sean Hayden

MY SOUL TO KEEP (Rise of the Fallen) by Sean Hayden

MY SOUL TO KEEP (Rise of the Fallen) by Sean Hayden

Synopsis
Ever have one of those bad ideas just pop into your head? You know the ones. They seem like a great idea at the time, but if you had stopped to think about it a moment…

I’m talking about those ideas where you just seize the moment and do what your heart tells you to. Then, after the dust settles and you get bandaged up, your parents say, “What the hell were you thinking?”

“But, Dad, I wasn’t!”

I had one of those moments.

I guess if you want to be technical, I had a whole chain of those moments leading up to the big bang moment. The problem was I didn’t have anyone standing around saying, “What the hell were you thinking?”

The moral of this story?

There are several.

First, stores don’t sell black candles for a reason. They’re bad news. If you happen to come across one in the mall that sells questionable items…walk away. Trust me on this one. Black candles are bad.

Second, always know what you want out of life. Coasting along, not caring about anything will get you into trouble. Maybe more than you can handle.

Lastly, if someone offers to grant you your fondest wish, wish for something you really, truly want. Wish for something that will make the world a better place or you a better person. Never ever wish to be a monster… .

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My Review
This was a fun, fast read with lots of action and great characters. Connor is a sarcastic teen with a quick wit and a sharp tongue, but he’s got a heart, which is his redeeming quality right out of the gate. When he says a mysterious chant he isn’t sure where he heard, he’s offered the opportunity for immortality. Connor turns it upside and asks for the one thing no one has asked for before, to become one of the Fallen, those with the powers to grant immortality to others. To say Connor doesn’t know what he’s gotten himself into is an understatement. Along with and annoying younger sister, clueless parents, and a snarky Fallen to help train him, Connor navigates the waters of his new “life.” What he doesn’t count on is falling in love with a mortal.

Plot
The plotting was solid and there were more than a couple of unexpected twists. The pacing was constant, never dragging. The story mixes equal parts paranormal adventure and romance, with a hint at a love triangle, that’s well enough done to not be annoying. My only complaint is the ending. Even though this is a paranormal where anything goes, I thought it was just a little too neatly resolved.

Characters
Connor is well-developed and a delightfully refreshing protagonist in the genre. The author brings a male perspective to young adult romance that fully illustrates the awkwardness and self-doubt of teen boys. Clarisse, as Connor’s unwilling teacher in all things Fallen, is also fully fleshed out and lends an element of angst that is anything but pathetic. Her feelings for Connor or clear, but she’s tough and determined, with a hint of anger thrown into the mix. By far, she’s my favorite character in the series to date. The remaining characters, including Connor’s sister, friends, and even his love interest, Jessie, fell a little flat for me, though.

What I Enjoyed About MY SOUL TO KEEP
1. Connor.
 His sarcastic wit made him easy to like, but his big heart made him an even better character that I came to love.

2. Clarisse. She’s totally kick-ass, take-no-prisoners, with a streak of vulnerability that easily made her my favorite character.

3. The Fallen. I love this twist on the paranormal genre. Looking forward to reading the second book in the series.

4. World Building. The author did quite a bit of world building, developing nuanced rules to create his own take on this aspect of the paranormal, creating a different stage upon which to set his characters.

5. Twists. There were a fair number of twists that kept the story engaging.

Bottom Line
A fun twist on the paranormal genre with intriguing characters and a fast-paced storyline.

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About the Book – Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited
Title: MY SOUL TO KEEP
Series: Rise of the Fallen #1
Author: Sean Hayden
Publisher: Untold Press
Release Date: April 4, 2012
Pages: 187
Category: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Sean Hayden

Author Sean Hayden

About the Author
Born the son of a fire chief, Sean naturally developed a love of playing with fire. His family and friends quickly found other outlets for his destructive creativity. Writing is his latest endeavor.

Always a fan of the macabre, mythical, and magical, Sean found a love of urban fantasy and horror. After writing several novels in this genre, he found, fell in love with, and immersed himself in steampunk. He has always wanted to rewrite history and steampunk gave him that opportunity.

Sean currently lives in Florida as a fiber-optic engineer as well as an author. He was blessed with the two most amazing children he could ever hope for, has met the absolute love of his life, who coincidentally is his partner in everything. His hobbies include grand designs on world domination as well as a starring role in his own television sitcom.

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Where to Find Sean Hayden
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter
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Blog Tour – Review + Giveaway – THE SMALLEST THING by Lisa Manterfield

THE SMALLEST THING Blog Tour

THE SMALLEST THING by Lisa Manterfield

THE SMALLEST THING by Lisa Manterfield

Synopsis
The very last thing 17-year-old Emmott Syddall wants is to turn out like her dad. She’s descended from ten generations who never left their dull English village, and there’s no way she’s going to waste a perfectly good life that way. She’s moving to London and she swears she is never coming back.

But when the unexplained deaths of her neighbors force the government to quarantine the village, Em learns what it truly means to be trapped. Now, she must choose. Will she pursue her desire for freedom, at all costs, or do what’s best for the people she loves: her dad, her best friend Deb, and, to her surprise, the mysterious man in the HAZMAT suit?

Inspired by the historical story of the plague village of Eyam, this contemporary tale of friendship, community, and impossible love weaves the horrors of recent news headlines with the intimate details of how it feels to become an adult—and fall in love—in the midst of tragedy.

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My Review
Inspired by the actual plague in the 1600s, this contemporary story is filled with heart, fear, and the fighting spirit of a seventeen-year-old girl, anxious to escape her tiny English village. Emmott Syddall wants nothing more than to get away from the small village she fears will smother her, where she’ll be just one more Syddall buried in the village cemetery. Planning a future in London with her boyfriend, Ro, she and her father butt heads, their relationship strained as she prepares to leave. But before she has the opportunity, one-by-one, her neighbors become ill with a mysterious, lethal virus, requiring the town to be quarantined. Emmott’s sense of isolation only grows more powerful as she’s confined to her small village and the streets fill with bio-suit-clad healthcare workers. As more and more people she’s known her entire life succumb to the illness, Emmott begins to evaluate what really matters in life. One young aid worker, Aidan, takes a particular interest in Emmott and suddenly life isn’t quite so dull. But when the people closest to her are stricken, she’s forced to make choices she never imagined.

Plot
The story was well-plotted, but the pacing was slow in several spots. To the point that I ended up skimming some sections. However, the writing is elegant and filled with unique metaphors and similes that paint vibrant pictures and bring imaginary characters to technicolor life. The subject matter is serious and the author treats it with respect, not providing easy outs for anyone. She forces painful situations upon her protagonist and watches to see how the flawed Emmott will respond. The story is believable, at times heart wrenching, but all the more authentic for those difficult scenes.

Characters
The story is really about Emmott’s relationship with her father, and those two characters shine. Emmott is complex and a bit immature, but quickly rises to the challenges, that circumstances beyond her control, have thrust upon her. She may not always make the right choices (okay most of the time), but her mistakes lead to logical consequences that force her to grow up rather quickly. Her dad is amazing. He’s the village cheerleader, risking his own health to check on neighbors. He is true to himself throughout, his character rock solid, but through Emmott’s eyes we see who he’s always been evolve as she finally comes to understand him.

What I Enjoyed About THE SMALLEST THING
1. Emmott.
 She’s a rebel with a heart. I love her growth through the story. She takes two steps forward, and one step back, sometimes two steps, or even three, but she arrives at her destination exactly when she’s supposed to.

2. Setting. The small English village is as charming on the pages as it is on the cover. But it’s more than just the setting, it’s also a starring character in the story.

3. Reality. Nothing is sugar coated. A deadly virus in a small town leaves no one untouched.

4. Characters. The characters are well-developed, fully-dimensional, and are the heart and soul of the story.

Bottom Line
Beautiful writing and a heartfelt tale about a teen girl dealing with tragic events in her small English village.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: THE SMALLEST THING
Author: Lisa Manterfield
Publisher: Steel Rose Press
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Pages: 272
Category: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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Author Lisa Manterfield

Author Lisa Manterfield

About the Author
Lisa Manterfield is the award-winning author of I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home: How One Woman Dared to Say No to Motherhood. Her work has appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, Los Angeles Times, and Psychology Today. Originally from northern England, she now lives in Southern California with her husband and over-indulged cat. A Strange Companion is her first novel.

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Where to Find Megan Carney
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Book Review – THE SUCCESSFUL AUTHOR MINDSET by Joanna Penn

THE SUCCESSFUL AUTHOR MINDSET by Joanna Penn

THE SUCCESSFUL AUTHOR MINDSET by Joanna Penn

Synopsis
Being a writer is not just about typing. It’s also about surviving the roller-coaster of the creative journey.

Self-doubt, fear of failure, the need for validation, perfectionism, writer’s block, comparisonitis, overwhelm, and much more. When you’re going through these things, it can feel like you’re alone. But actually, they are part of the creative process, and every author goes through them too.

This book collects the mindset issues that writers experience, that I have been through myself over the last nine years, and that perhaps you will experience at different times on the creative journey.

Each small chapter tackles a possible issue and then offers an antidote, so that you can dip in and out over time. It includes excerpts from my own personal journals as well as quotes from well-known writers. I hope it helps you on the road to becoming a successful author.

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My Review
This book is full of helpful advice on how to be a writer, everything from handling self-doubt and rejections to finding your tribe. Peppered with quotes from successful authors as well as the author’s own journey, not everything will apply to every writer. I found myself skimming many portions of the book, but I suspect that’s the author’s intent — find the pieces that you can relate to and devour them, but move on if it doesn’t apply to you. I found much that did apply to me though and I highlighted a number of passages, including:

Think long term. Create a body of work.

This one really resonates. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the end of the current work in progress. To only think about the upcoming release day, but writing isn’t a trip with a start and end point, it’s a journey, a career. Even in all the years I worked as a project manager, with one eye on the end-date of my current project, I knew another contract needing my attention was on the horizon.

 

Bottom Line
Lots of good advice on surviving the writing process.

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About the Book
Title
: THE SUCCESSFUL AUTHOR MINDSET: A Handbook for Surviving the Writer’s Journey
Author: Joanna Penn
Publisher: The Creative Penn, Ltd.
Publication Date: June 29, 2016
Pages: 166
Category: Writing
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble

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Author Joanna Penn

Author Joanna Penn

About the Author
Joanna Penn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thrillers writing under the name J.F. Penn. She also writes inspirational non-fiction for authors and is an award-winning creative entrepreneur and international professional speaker. Her site, TheCreativePenn.com is regularly voted one of the top 10 sites for writers and self-publishers.

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Where to find Joanna Penn
Goodreads | Website | Twitter
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Blog Tour – Review + Giveaway – THE HISTORY OF HILARY HAMBRUSHINA by Marnie Lamb

THE HISTORY OF HILARY HAMBRUSHINA Blog Tour

THE HISTORY OF HILARY HAMBRUSHINA by Marnie Lamb

THE HISTORY OF HILARY HAMBRUSHINA by Marnie Lamb

Synopsis
Hilary has one goal for her first year in junior high: to become popular. But her plans are turned upside down when her best friend leaves for the summer and a quirky girl named Kallie moves in next door. Kallie paints constellations on her ceiling, sleeps in a hammock, and enacts fantastical plays in front of cute boys on the beach. Yet despite Kallie’s lack of interest in being -cool, – Hilary and Kallie find themselves becoming friends. That summer friendship, however, is put to the test when school begins, reigniting Hilary’s obsession with climbing the social ladder. As Hilary discovers the dark side to popularity, she must decide who she wants to be before she loses everything.

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My Review
This was a well-told tale of bullying and acceptance in middle school/junior high. Hilary has always wanted to be part of the in crowd, and now that she and her best friend, Lynn, are off to junior high, she feels as if this is her chance to get in with Chanel and the cool kids. But when Lynn takes off on vacation with her family for the summer and a weird girl, Kallie, moves in next door, Hilary’s path to popularity may be in jeopardy. Hilary’s story is one of personal introspection as much as anything else, as she discovers popularity comes with a steep price.

Plot
Hilary has a single goal — to be cool. It’s all she’s ever wanted. The plot centers around her attempts to achieve her goal while balancing the diverse personalities of the people in her life. She’s young at twelve, and even a bit immature at that, so she has a lot of growing up to do. Hilary discovers a lot about human nature, loyalty and the friendships that shapes her. A lot of themes are at play here as Hilary not only navigates the waters of tweenage friendships, but also her evolving relationship with her mother.

Characters
I’d say this is more a character-driven story than a plot-driven one. Hilary grows and evolves throughout the story. She’s rather difficult to like in the beginning, when she’s too focused on being popular and the clothes she wears, and movie stars, but Kallie forces her to think about something other than the superficial, which aids in her development. Most of the characters come across as very authentically young pre-teens. They’re childish one moment and determined to be mature the next.

What I Enjoyed About THE HISTORY OF HILARY HAMBRUSHINA
1. The Style.
 The author uses a diary format to tell the story of the summer before and the first year of Hilary’s junior high experience, several years after the events take place.

2. Kallie. Kallie’s free-spirited nature is a nice counterbalance to Hilary’s single-minded desire to be popular. She forces Hilary to examine her priorities from a different perspective.

3. Art. The inclusion and description of the art is colorful and helps drive some of the overarching themes.

4. Realistic Endings. It would have been easy for the author to show the mean girls getting theirs in the ending in a big “karma bites” kind of way, but without giving anything away, she creates a realistic ending to her story that feels good.

5. Subject Matter. I read a lot of young adult, but usually centered on older teen characters. This was a refreshing look at the younger teen years with all of the drama that comes with the jockeying for position in the social hierarchy of junior high.

Bottom Line
A well-written tale of a girl grasping to find her place in the social structure of junior high school without losing herself.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: THE HISTORY OF HILARY HAMBRUSHINA
Author: Marnie Lamb
Publisher: Iguana Books
Pages: 206
Category: Middle Grade/Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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Author Marnie Lamb

Author Marnie Lamb

About the Author
A Journey Prize nominee, Marnie Lamb earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Windsor. Her short stories have appeared in various Canadian literary journals. Her first novel, a YA book named The History of Hilary Hambrushina, is forthcoming from Iguana Books. When she is not writing fiction or running her freelance editing business, she can be found cooking recipes with eggplant or scouting out colourful fashions at the One of a Kind Show.
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Where to Find Marnie Lamb
Goodreads | Website | Facebook

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Giveaway
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Young Adult Book Review – UNDER SUNLESS SKIES (Starlight Saga) by Sherry Soule

UNDER SUNLESS SKIES (Starlight Saga #2) by Sherry Soule

UNDER SUNLESS SKIES (Starlight Saga #2) by Sherry Soule

Synopsis
True love is hard. And a doomed relationship with epic trust issues and shady secrets? Even harder.

For Sloane Masterson, her forbidden love with Hayden Lancaster has been a series of highs and lows, which is overly complicated by those annoying interstellar dating laws.

But once Sloane discovers a shocking family secret, she won’t let those lame rules get in her way—she’s on a mission to win back her hybrid!

Too bad convincing her stubborn ex that they belong together isn’t Sloane’s only problem. . .

After receiving creeptastic blackmail messages, Sloane’s life becomes a real-life horror movie. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, Hayden slimes her with smelly ectoplasm and freaky mutants start tracking her every move. Insert one more major disaster. . .the unexpected arrival of Sector Thirteen.

If she hopes to survive all the crazy with Hayden at her side, Sloane needs to expose the blackmailer and get that potent residue off her skin—fast. Because with Sector Thirteen’s monsters hunting her, Sloane’s not going down without a fight, even if that means trusting the one boy who broke her heart.

*This series is intended for upper-YA readers, has lots of steamy romance and campy humor, and is not considered hardcore science fiction.

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My Review
Book two in the series picks up where the first one ended. Sloane is reeling from being dumped by Hayden, but oh yeah, she’s got a secret, apparently she’s part alien, too. Hoping this will convince Hayden their relationship isn’t doomed after all, she sets her sights on winning him back. This was the first time I disliked her. Her singular focus on getting a boy to like her made her seem very un-Sloane like, the girl I loved in book 1. She spends a fair amount of the book pining over him, but since he’s equally lost without her, it’s mutually pathetic. That said, the angst is well-done, the snarky dialogue is as good as ever, and other than being a lovesick puppy half the time, Sloane is as kick-ass as ever. My biggest problem with this book is that it feels oh so familiar. Anyone who has read the Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout will notice many, many similarities. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, Armentrout’s own Covenant series borrows heavily from the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. My issue is that too much of it was predictable as a result. However, if you haven’t read the Lux series, you’re in for a real treat with this.

Plot
Primarily a romance, this main plot centers around the Sloane/Hayden will-they-or-won’t they dance. But there are subplots involving Sloane’s alien dad, Sector Thirteen, Hayden’s missing adopted sister, and the mystery surrounding who is blackmailing Sloane. Underlying all of that is Sloane’s obsession with all things horror, including her love of hanging out in her town’s cemetery.

Characters
I still adore Sloane. She’s tough, witty, and so secure in who she is. She’s a great young adult role model except when she obsesses over Hayden. Don’t get me wrong, this is young adult fiction, and teens definitely obsess over the opposite sex. I just felt that in this case, it sas of out of character. With her newfound alien blood, she’s even a little tougher in some respects. Hayden seems to have lost some of his umph from the first book. He had that dark, brooding alpha male thing going on, but he came across as more…I’m not even sure what the right word is. Just less Hayden-esque.  The supporting characters are all there to prop up Sloane and Hayden, but Sloane’s BFF seems to accept her huge secret a little too easily. That didn’t ring true. I think she’d want some proof or something. There was also something about Sloane’s mom that felt off, like she didn’t come across as authentically parental, even a parent married to an alien.

What I Enjoyed About UNDER SUNLESS SKIES
1. Dialogue.
 Once again, the author excels at witty repartee that deliciously moves the story along.

2. Blog Posts. I love how Sloane’s horror film blog posts help the reader grasp what Sloane’s going through without extensive internal monologue or exposition.

3. Sloane. She’s simply one of my favorite young adult protagonists. She embraces her plus-size self and doesn’t fret over her body image at all.

4. Hot Make-Out Sessions. Soule knows how to bring the heat without crossing a line.

5. The Mystery. I have to admit, I was never sure who the blackmailer was. The author does a great job of creating a pool of plausible suspects.

Bottom Line
A fun, fast read that’s light on sci-fi and heavy on teen angst.

Disclaimer
I was provided by a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: UNDER SUNLESS SKIES
Series: Starlight Saga #2
Author: Sherry Soule
Pages: 335
Category: Young Adult Paranormal/SciFi Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Sherry Soule

Author Sherry Soule

About the Author
Sherry Soule lives with her family and two black rescue cats in Northern California. She’s always wanted to live in a world where sweatpants are sexy, cupcakes don’t make you fat, and she could adopt every homeless animal.

She writes young adult, new adult, and adult in urban fantasy, romantic comedy, and paranormal romance genres set in fictional places within the SF Bay Area that feature independent females and sexy alpha males.

Many of Sherry’s books have spent time on the Kindle bestseller lists and have been nominated as top picks in the “Best Paranormal Romance” categories.

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Where to Find Sherry Soule
Goodreads | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Book Review – TEMPTING LEVI (Cade Brothers) by Jules Barnard

TEMPTING LEVI (Cade Brothers #1) by Jules Barnard

TEMPTING LEVI (Cade Brothers #1) by Jules Barnard

Synopsis
Cade men are known for two things: arrogance and competitiveness. I grew up in one of the wealthiest, most dysfunctional families in Lake Tahoe, and all I wanted was to get the hell out. I thought I’d succeeded. Until an accident burned up my firefighter ambitions. Then Dad died and left me in charge of the family’s luxury resort. 

If it were only my inheritance on the line, I’d walk and never look back, but I’ve always taken care of my four younger brothers.

Now I’ve got financially uptight advisors telling me what to do, and I need someone I can trust working at my side. The perfect candidate walks through the door in her pencil skirt, fitted white blouse, and that mass of wavy blond hair she tries to contain.

The only problem? She’s my cheating ex’s younger sister.

Hell no. The last thing I need is another Wright female in my life.

But Emily’s good at the job, and she seems trustworthy. I should ignore the desire I have for her. But after all I’ve lost, I’m tempted by what I can’t have and ready to stoke the flame that smolders between us. As long as this Wright sister doesn’t betray me the way the last one did.

Then again, I always liked playing with fire..

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My Review
This first installment in the new Cade Brothers series, a spinoff of the Blue series, is worthy of it’s heritage. We meet Lisa’s ex-boyfriend Levi, brother of Adam, and Lisa’s half-sister, Emily. After the death of their father, Levi is put in charge of Blue Casino’s rival, Club Tahoe, with the help of recent MBA graduate, Emily. There’s a lot of baggage between the brothers and a reluctance on the part of both Emily and Levi to go where exes should never go, but that only adds a layer of forbidden love to this romance. Part sweet romance with just enough heat, part comedy, this book delivers another Jules Barnard treat.

Plot
The push and pull of Levi and Emily’s budding romance is the heart of the story, but there are solid subplots involving Levi’s relationships with his brothers and various business interests of the resort. All of it plays well together and help drives conflict. There’s also a quasi mystery to be solved, making this a fun, fast page-turning romance.

Characters
Levi and Emily are both complex, although Levi more so. Emily doesn’t have anywhere near as much baggage, which works out fairly well, because Levi has enough for the both of them. I loved reconnecting with some of my favorite characters from the Blue series as well. At times, both Levi and Emily came across as a little more angsty than I would think adults their age would be, but it wasn’t to the point of being distracting. Plus, I love my romance with a little angst.

What I Enjoyed About TEMPTING LEVI
1. Grace.
 What’s not to love about a giant, elderly rescue dog?

2. Boy Drama. There’s so much drama between the Cade brothers, it was refreshing to have that kind of conflict between boys for a change.

3. Levi. I love how he really needed to do the right thing, even when it wasn’t what he wanted.

4. Emily. She’s smart and funny. Maybe a little too straight-laced for me, but she was perfect for Levi.

5. Lisa. She’s the best sister.

Bottom Line
A solid new adult romance with a swoony alpha male and an equally alpha female.

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About the Book
Title: TEMPTING LEVI
Series: Cade Brothers #1
Author: Jules Barnard
Pages: 235
Category: New Adult Contemporary Romance/Romantic Comedy
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

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Author Jules Barnard

Author Jules Barnard

About the Author
Before turning to storytelling, Jules earned a master’s degree in public health and spent many an hour running statistical analysis–until she realized her favorite part of the job was writing reports.

She decided to cut out the math and add in some hot guys, and so began her career as a novelist.

Jules is a Northern California native living on the coast with her husband and two children. She has no impulse control around cupcakes and credits herself with the ability to read while running on the treadmill or burning dinner.
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Where to Find Jules Barnard
Goodreads | Website Facebook | Twitter

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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – NEXIS (Tricksters #1) by A.L. Devore

NEXIS (Tricksters #1) by A.L. Davroe

NEXIS (Tricksters #1) by A.L. Davroe

Synopsis
In the domed city of Evanescence, appearance is everything. A Natural Born amongst genetically-altered Aristocrats, all Ella ever wanted was to be like everyone else. Augmented, sparkling, and perfect. Then…the crash. Devastated by her father’s death and struggling with her new physical limitations, Ella is terrified to learn she is not just alone, but little more than a prisoner.

Her only escape is to lose herself in Nexis, the hugely popular virtual reality game her father created. In Nexis she meets Guster, a senior player who guides Ella through the strange and compelling new world she now inhabits. He offers Ella guidance, friendship…and something more. Something that allows her to forget about the “real” world, and makes her feel whole again.

But Nexis isn’t quite the game everyone thinks it is.

And it’s been waiting for Ella.

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My Review
NEXIS is a rollercoaster ride in only the best of amusement parks. A soup pot of adventure, virtual reality, science fiction, romance, in a utopian/dystopian setting, it’s a delicious read. Ella is the daughter of the creator of Nexis, a virtual reality game that is taking her world by storm. After a tragic accident leaves Ella with a life she barely recognizes, she escapes into Nexis. Inside the game, she meets Gus and his merry band of friends and gets sucked into their quest. In Nexis, nothing is as it appears, setting up a fantastic adventure full of action, drama, and intrigue.

Plot
The plot centers around the quest, but there’s more to it, including Ella’s budding romance with Gus and a number of mysteries that I won’t spoil. Some I had figured out from the beginning, others not so much. I think that’s what makes this so much fun to read. It’s part story, part game, part story within a story.

Characters
Ella is annoying at times, but given how she was raised, I could overlook most of it. Gus is an enigma who becomes less so through the story. The rest of the characters play minor roles for the most part. This is probably one of the areas that I least liked about the story. The characters seem to only be there to support the plot, so it’s a good thing the plot is so amazing.

World Building
This is where the story shines like the midday summer sun. Author, A.L. Davroe has created a fascinating world that is layered, detailed, and full of rules that drive everything. What makes this world building so interesting is that there are multiple worlds, each just as detailed as the previous. At times it can be tough to keep it all straight, but the author does most of the hard work for you.

What I Enjoyed About NEXIS
1. World building.
 Absolutely top notch. Complex, detailed, and vibrant.

2. Plot. The plot is layered and brilliant. I love the whole concept behind this and can’t wait to dig into the second book in the series.

3. Gus. He’s the one character I felt had the most development. Guster is infinitely captivating, and while I was pretty sure I figured out who he was from the beginning, his character unfolded through the pages like a flower blooming in spring.

4. Nexis. Why is this not a real thing? If it was, I’d have a hard time not going into Nexis every day.

5. Technology. The author’s imagination comes alive, creating technology that would make Steve Jobs salivate.

Bottom Line
Nexis is a plot-driven story that delivers with plenty of action and lots of twists.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: NEXIS
Series: Tricksters #1
Author: A.L. Davroe
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: December 1, 2015
Pages: 304
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction/Dystopian Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | Entangled

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Author A.L. Davroe

About the Author
I write both YA and adult speculative fiction. I prefer revisionist tales in paranormal, romance, Steampunk, and fantasy. I’m the author of Salvation Station (adult psych horror), The City Steam Collection (adult psych horror), For Your Heart (YA Paranormal Romance) and my YA Sci-Fi novel, Nexis, is coming out with Entangled Publishing in 2015!

By day, I live in Connecticut with my two feline hench-creatures.  I’m a terrible blusher, have a weak spot for cuddly animals, love Laffy Taffy and Cadbury MiniEggs, and I’m a huge advocate of alternative healing methods.  I also wear Vibram five-finger toe shoes and corsets…Though not always in the same ensemble.  I’m a Capricorn, a Hufflepuff, and a few nuggets short of a Happy Meal.  I also suffer from Resting Bitchface Syndrome (RBS), so even though I might look like I’ll tie you in a knot if you come near me, I’m more afraid of you than you are of me (see blushing problem above).

Where to Find A.L. Davroe
GoodreadsWebsite | NewsletterFacebookTwitter

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Giveaway
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Book Review – MASTERING SUSPENSE, STRUCTURE, AND PLOT by Jane K. Cleland

MASTERING SUSPENSE, STRUCTURE, AND PLOT by Jane K. Cleland

MASTERING SUSPENSE, STRUCTURE, AND PLOT by Jane K. Cleland

Synopsis
Enthrall Your Readers!

Suspense is one of the most powerful tools a writer has for captivating readers–but it isn’t just for thrillers. From mainstream fiction to memoir, suspense creates the emotional tension that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Mastering Suspense, Structure, & Plot is your hands-on guide to weaving suspense into your narrative. Award-winning author Jane K. Cleland teaches you how to navigate genre conventions, write for your audience, and build gripping tension to craft an irresistible page-turner.

Inside, Cleland will show you how to:
Implement thirteen no-fail techniques to construct an effective plot and structure for your story Use Cleland’s Plotting Road Map to add elements of suspense like twists, reversals, and moments of danger Write subplots with purpose Improve your descriptions, character development, sentence structure, and more Packed with case studies, exercises, and dozens of examples from best-selling authors, Mastering Suspense, Structure, & Plot is the key to writing suspenseful, engaging stories that leave your readers wanting more.

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“Indispensable! For newbie authors and veterans alike, this terrific how-to is your new go-to. Don’t write your book without it–it’s a treasure.” —Hank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha, Anthony, Macavity and Mary Higgins Clark award-winning author

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My Review
One of my New Year’s resolutions was to read at least twelve books on craft this year. This is my second of 2017. Regardless of what you write, adding a little suspense will always lead to a better story. I found the recommendations in this book on creating, adding, and the pacing of suspenseful elements to be quite useful. There is also a lot of information on structuring and plotting your story. The author includes lots of examples from both fiction and narrative nonfiction which helps drive her points home. I learned some helpful tips, and a lot information I’d previously learned was reinforced. One of my biggest weaknesses is scene setting and she provides numerous ideas on how to improve this aspect of your writing

Bottom Line
I found much to like in this book, from new ideas to reinforcing previous ideas.

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About the Book
Title
: MASTERING SUSPENSE, STRUCTURE, AND PLOT: How to Write Gripping Stories That Keep Readers on the Edge of Their Seats
Author: Jane K. Cleland
Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books
Publication Date: March 31, 2016
Pages: 242
Category: Fiction Writing
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: GoodreadsAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Writer’s Digest

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Author Jane K. Cleland

Author Jane K. Cleland

About the Author
Jane K. Cleland’s multiple award-winning and IMBA best selling Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery series [St. Martin’s Minotaur] has been reviewed as an Antiques Roadshow for mystery fans. Library Journal named Consigned to Death a “core title” for librarians looking to build a cozy collection, one of only 22 titles listed, along with books by Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. The full article is at www.libraryjournal.com. “Josie” stories have also appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.

Jane chairs the Black Orchid Novella Award, one of the Wolfe Pack’s literary awards, granted in partnership with Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. She is a past chapter president of the Mystery Writers of America/New York Chapter and served on the national board as well. Additionally, Jane is the host of the Writer’s Room, a series of interviews with today’s bestselling crime fiction authors that appear on cable television and online.

Jane also writes noir and comedic plays around the theme of women who love men they hate.

Jane has both an MFA (in professional and creative writing) and an MBA (in marketing and management). She’s on the faculty of Lehman College, part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system. She also mentors MFA students in Western Connecticut State University’s MFA in Creative & Professional Writing program and is a frequent guest author at other university programs..

Where to find Jane K. Cleland
Goodreads Website | FacebookTwitter
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Blog Tour – Review + Giveaway – OFF THE ICE (Juniper Falls) by Julie Cross

OFF THE ICE Blog Tour

OFF THE ICE (Juniper Falls #1) by Julie Cross

OFF THE ICE (Juniper Falls #1) by Julie Cross

Synopsis
The NY Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of Whatever Life Throws at You kicks off a brand-new series perfect for fans of Miranda Kennealy and Abbi Glines.

All is fair in love and hockey…

Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again.

Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good.

It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love.

For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart..

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My Review
Tate Tanley is the starting goalie on his high school hockey team in Minnesota, where hockey is a religion. Claire O’Connor is back in town from Northwestern University after her father is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. When she sees Tate for the first time in over a year, she realizes her best friend’s little brother isn’t so little anymore. Tate has had a massive crush on Claire most of his life, but he’s always been the kid brother. Not anymore. These two dance around attraction mixed-up with a lifelong friendship set against Claire’s dreams for her future and Tate’s goals on and off the ice. It’s a super sweet romance with deeply developed characters.

Plot
The romance is the primary plot, but it’s missing that teen angst that I’ve grown to love in Julie Cross’s stories. What it lacks in that department, it more than makes up for in the supporting plots. Tate’s hockey career, college recruiting, and his relationship with his town-legend father. Claire has her issues with her dad’s health and what she wants to do with her college career, saving her family’s business, and more. Told from dual-points-of-view, there’s a lot of territory covered.

The Characters
No one does characters like Julie Cross. Tate is complex, fascinating, and completely loveable. The author takes usdeep inside his head and I never doubt it’s a guy’s point of view. Unfortunately, Claire fell a little flat for me. I struggled to like her her. I felt for her, I mean, who wouldn’t with everything she was dealing with, but I just didn’t love her the way I do so many of Ms. Cross’s characters (Ellie from Chasing Truth, for example). This was a pretty character-heavy story and I had a tough time keeping some of the hockey players straight in my head, but Tate’s and Claire’s families came across in vivid color.

World Building
There’s a lot of hockey here, something I didn’t know that much about before reading Off the Ice. I feel as if I understand it better now. To me, it’s always been “soccer played on ice with sticks.” And maybe there’s a little bit of that to it still, but it sounds a lot more interesting. I may even try to take in a San Diego Gulls game and watch it live.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The romance. It wasn’t that it didn’t work so much as there wasn’t ever a doubt they might not end up together. The romance lacked much in the way of overt conflict. It’s almost as if these two teens were wise beyond their years when it came to relationships.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About OFF THE ICE
1. The realness. I love that nothing was glossed over. The emotions, and feelings, and events were all written with such intensity, they grabbed me and pulled me into the story.

2. Tate. He’s so deeply drawn, it’s hard not to get such a sense of who he is and I love him all the more for his flaws.

3. Hockey. And not just the games. The practice and politics surrounding high school hockey was fascinating.

4. Cancer. No, I don’t like cancer, but I love that the author didn’t gloss over the ugly effects of this heinous disease.

5. Roger. Tate’s stepfather grows more important in Tate’s life throughout the story, so we catch glimpses of him early on, that grow more frequent as the book progresses until we get to see him for who he really is. Hint: he’s one of the really good guys.

Bottom Line
OFF THE ICE is a sweet small-town high school romance. A Friday Night Lights for the hockey crowd.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: OFF THE ICE
Series: Juniper Falls #1
Author: Julie Cross
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Pages: 370
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Sports Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay | !ndigo | BAM! | Book Depository

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Author Julie Cross

Author Julie Cross

About the Author
Julie Cross is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, including the Tempest series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex, Timestorm (St. Martin’s Press). She’s also the author of Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, and many more to come!

Julie lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast, longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former Gymnastics Program Director with the YMCA. She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres.

Outside of her reading and writing credibility’s, Julie Cross is a committed–but not talented–long distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar weather survivor, expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym shoe addict.

Where to Find Julie Cross
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
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Blog Tour – Review + Giveaway – TRAVELER by L.E. DeLano

TRAVELER Blog Tour

TRAVELER by L.E. DeLano

TRAVELER by L.E. DeLano

Synopsis
A teen writer discovers that every mirror is a portal into an alternate version of her life in this romantic YA fantasy by author L.E. DeLano.

Jessa has spent her life dreaming of other worlds and writing down stories more interesting than her own, until the day her favorite character, Finn, suddenly shows up and invites her out for coffee. After the requisite nervous breakdown, Jessa learns that she and Finn are Travelers, born with the ability to slide through reflections and dreams into alternate realities. But it’s not all teacakes, pirates and fantasy lifestyles…Jessa is dying over and over again, in every reality, and Finn is determined that this time, he’s going to stop it… this Jessa is going to live.

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My Review
This was a fresh take on the urban fantasy genre. Jessa discovers she’s a Traveler, someone who can move between parallel universes. The purpose of the Traveler is to keep all the universes orderly, fixing things that can become catastrophic if left unchecked. Together with fellow Traveler, Finn, Jessa reluctantly accepts her fate until she discovers someone is trying to kill her, one universe at a time.The tale is magical with incredible world-building and complex characters. Because each character is slightly different in each universe, the author crafted a wonderfully deep cast. As Finn and Jessa race through portals, they develop a deep bond, but Jessa’s best friend, Ben, has strong feelings for her, setting up one of the most unique love triangles I’ve come across. The teen angst is palpable without being overly dramatic.

Plot
The plot centers around Finn and Jessa’s search for whoever is trying to kill her. There’s a solid mystery component to it with some exciting moments. The romance almost takes a back seat, though. I was hoping for more romance earlier in the book. It takes a good three-quarters of the story to fully develop. Even so, it is well done and I feel as conflicted as Jessa does about the two boys in her life.

Characters
While this is definitely a plot-driven story, the character development really shines. I loved seeing all the slight ripples in personality from Jessa’s viewpoint as she traveled. It’s clear the author spent a lot of time getting to know her characters.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. Pacing.
 The story took too long to really get ramped up. At least for me. I had to plod through the first third waiting for it to grab me, and some sections I ended up skimming.

2. World Building. Don’t get me wrong, I love the world the author created, but I found some of the rules confusing and hard to follow.

What I Enjoyed About TRAVELER
1. Ben.
 I liked him immediately and I love how much he cares for Jessa.

2. Danny. Jessa’s brother takes different shape throughout the story as she travels to different dimensions, but her love for Danny, and seeing him the way he is in other realities and the way it affected her, was one of my favorite aspects of the story.

3. The ending. Even though it took awhile to build, once the story reached its pinnacle, it was a non-stop ride to the finish.

4. Alternate Universes. Or AUs as my teen likes to call them. This is almost as fascinating as time travel.

5. Finn. He’s such a tormented, complex hero. Strong, resilient, and so easy to love.

6. The cover. Seriously, this is absolutely gorgeous!! I’d totally frame it and hang it on my wall!

Bottom Line
TRAVELER is everything I hoped it would be, a fascinating plot with plenty of twists.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: TRAVELER
Author: L.E. DeLano
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Pages: 351
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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Author L.E. DeLano

Author L.E. DeLano

About the Author
L.E. DeLano is a YA novelist rep’d by Barry Goldblatt Literary agency, author of the upcoming “Traveler” (Swoon Reads/MacMillan 2017) and lifelong writer. Her work has been featured on various online outlets and she lives in Pennsylvania with two very adventurous kids and two very ridiculous cats. In her spare time, she writes (of course) and binge-watches way too much Netflix.

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Where to Find L.E. DeLano
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
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Blog Tour – Review + Giveaway – SECRETS OF A RELUCTANT PRINCESS by Casey Griffin

SECRETS OF A RELUCTANT PRINCESS Blog Tour

SECRETS OF A RELUCTANT PRINCESS by Casey Griffin

SECRETS OF A RELUCTANT PRINCESS by Casey Griffin

Synopsis
At Beverly Hills High, you have to be ruthless to survive…

Adrianna Bottom always wanted to be liked. But this wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. Now, she’s in the spotlight…and out of her geeky comfort zone. She’ll do whatever it takes to turn the rumor mill in her favor—even if it means keeping secrets. So far, it’s working.

Wear the right clothes. Say the right things. Be seen with the right people.

Kevin, the adorable sketch artist who shares her love of all things nerd, isn’t exactly the right people. But that doesn’t stop Adrianna from crushing on him. The only way she can spend time with him is in disguise, as Princess Andy, the masked girl he’s been LARPing with. If he found out who she really was, though, he’d hate her.

The rules have been set. The teams have their players. Game on.

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My Review
This book had it’s moments. Both really cute and funny, and a few that went on a bit too long. I loved Adrianna “Andy” Bottom, heir to the Bottoms Bathroom dynasty. She’s funny, quirky, and a little unsure of herself, but she’s also got a solid backbone that I loved. When her family moves from the Pacific Northwest down to Beverly Hills, subject of a new reality show based on their bathroom products, she becomes the Porcelain Princess. The victim of ridicule in her old school, she has a chance to reinvent herself in Southern California. But things go unexpectedly, hilariously wrong when on the first day of school, her new pencil skirt splits right down the back, revealing her Wonder Woman underwear for the entire world to see, literally, since the cameras are always there.

While she quickly makes friends, she sets her sights on cute, but nerdy, Kevin. Her new friend tells her that would be social suicide, so Adrianna finds a way to dodge the cameras and become someone else, someone Kevin might be interested in. The world of live-action role playing (LARPing) takes center stage as Adrianna attempts a Hannah Montana life of having the best of both worlds.

The romance is sweet and the life of a reality-TV star makes for some hysterical moments, but the LARPing was almost a distraction. I loved that side of the story, but a lot of attention was paid to the LARPing events. The first one was great. I loved seeing how their world worked, sort of like living Dungeons & Dragons. But by the third event, I found myself skimming those sections. I knew Adrianna and her friends weren’t in real danger, so the sword battles and treasure hunting didn’t hold my attention. I flipped past those, looking for the nuggets that moved the main plot along.

Plot
The plot centers around Adrianna’s relationship with Kevin with strong subplots involving LARPing and her family’s business. Themes include being true to yourself and loyalty to friends. The main plot was good. There isn’t much heat in the relationship, but it’s definitely cute and I was pulling for these two the whole way.

Characters
I liked all of the characters. Even the antagonist, the show’s camera guy, is more than a stereotype. Some seemed cardboard on the surface, but by the end of the story, it was clear what everyone’s motivations were.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. Long LARPing Expeditions.
 These distracted me from the main plot too much.

2. Southern California Life. Some of it didn’t come across as authentic. Beverly Hills teens don’t take the bus. In fact public transportation in LA is pretty much a joke. I also have a hard time believing a small plumbing store could afford the rents on Rodeo Drive. And there are few empty lots anywhere in town that resemble a forest, but I could overlook most of this for the sake of the story.

What I Enjoyed About SECRETS OF A RELUCTANT PRINCESS
1. Adrianna.
 She was really complex. Part nerd, part cool kid, tough yet vulnerable, there was much to like about our heroine.

2. Kevin. Sometimes I wanted to shake him, other times I felt bad for him, but I always pulled for him to get the girl.

3. Comedy. The author does a fabulous job of weaving wit and humor throughout the story.

4. LARPing. While I didn’t need to read all the details of their quests, I absolutely love this idea of dressing up and becoming another character. Like Comic-Con on steroids.

5. Reality TV. I don’t actually watch any reality TV aside from competitions on the Food Network, but I loved the behind-the-scenes look at life in front of the camera.

Bottom Line
SECRETS OF A RELUCTANT PRINCESS is a cute, funny romance with lovable characters.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: SECRETS OF A RELUCTANT PRINCESS
Author: Casey Griffin
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Pages: 354
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | KoboGooglePlay | BAM! | !ndigo | IndieBound | Book Depository

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Author Casey Griffin

Author Casey Griffin

About the Author
Casey Griffin can often be found at comic conventions on her days off from her day job, driving 400 ton dump trucks in Northern Alberta, Canada. As a jack of all trades with a resume boasting registered nurse, English teacher, and photographer, books are her true passion. Casey is a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel finalist, and is currently busy writing every moment she can.

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Where to Find Casey Griffin
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
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Book Review – How to Write Dazzling Dialogue by James Scott Bell

How to Write Dazzling Dialogue by James Scott Bell

How to Write Dazzling Dialogue by James Scott Bell

Synopsis
There is one sure-fire way of improving your novel fast. . .

You may know the fundamentals of how to write fiction. You may be more than competent in plot, structure and characters. But if your dialogue is dull it will drag the whole story down.

On the other hand, if your dialogue is crisp and full of tension it immediately grabs the reader. And if that reader is an agent or editor, sharp dialogue will give them instant assurance that you know what you’re doing as a writer.

Writing a bestseller or hot screenplay is no easy task, but dazzling dialogue is an absolute essential if you want to get there.

The best part is, the skills of the dialogue craft are easy to understand and put into practice. #1 bestselling writing coach James Scott Bell has put together and expanded upon the dialogue lectures from his popular writing seminars. In How to Write Dazzling Dialogue you’ll learn:

What fictional dialogue is … and isn’t
The 11 secrets of crafting memorable dialogue
The 5 essential tasks of dialogue
5 ways to improve your dialogue ear
4 can’t-miss methods to increase conflict and tension in any dialogue exchange
The top 10 dialogue issues, and how to resolve them

You’ll also see dazzling dialogue in action with examples from hit novels and screenplays.

Don’t sabotage your chances of selling your work to readers or publishers because the dialogue is unexceptional. Dazzle them with what the characters say. How to Write Dazzling Dialogue will give you the tools to do it. .

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My Review
I had this on my wish list and was given it as a Christmas gift. I cracked it shortly after breakfast Christmas morning and found it quite an easy read. There’s a little bit of something for everyone between the covers. Both those new to writing fiction as well as more seasoned writers should find something useful. The new writer will benefit greatly from Chapter 7 which discusses the proper way to format and punctuate dialogue. A number of unique exercises will help experienced authors stretch outside their comfort zone. The book is filled with helpful examples of both good and bad dialogue to really drive the author’s point.

Bottom Line
A useful book on the craft of writing dialogue that will help both new and experienced fiction writers.

Title: How to Write Dazzling Dialogue: The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript
Author: James Scott Bell
Publisher: Compendium Press
Publication Date: May 28, 2014
Pages: 135
Category: Fiction Writing
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: GoodreadsAmazon | Barnes & Noble

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Author James Scott Bell

Author James Scott Bell

About the Author
Jim is a former trial lawyer who now writes and speaks full time. He is the bestselling author of Try Dying, No Legal Grounds, Presumed Guilty, Glimpses of Paradise, Breach of Promise and several other thrillers. He is a winner of the Christy Award for Excellence in Inspirational Fiction, and was a fiction columnist for Writers Digest magazine. He has written two books in the Writers’ Digest series, Write Great Fiction: Plot & Structure and Revision & Self-Editing.

Jim has taught writing at Pepperdine University and numerous writers conferences. He attended the University of California, Santa Barbara where he studied writing with Raymond Carver.

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Where to find James Scott Bell
Goodreads Website | FacebookTwitter
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Book Review – Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie

Welcome to Temptation (Dempseys #1) by Jennifer Crusie

Welcome to Temptation (Dempseys #1) by Jennifer Crusie

Synopsis
Sophie Dempsey is content living a quiet life filming wedding videos until an assignment brings her to Temptation, Ohio. From the moment she drive into town, she gets a bad feeling; Sophie is from the wrong side of the tracks and everything in Temptation is a little too right. And when she has a run-in with the town’s unnervingly sexy mayor, Phineas Tucker, making a little movie turns out to be more than a little dangerous.

Yield to oncoming desire…

All Sophie wants to do is film the video and head home. All Phin wants to do is play pool with the police chief and keep things peaceful. They both get more than they bargained for when Sophie’s video causes an uproar and the proper citizens of Temptation set out to shut them down.

Welcome to temptation…

As events spiral out of control, Sophie and Phin find themselves caught in a web of gossip, blackmail, adultery, murder, and really excellent sex. All hell breaks loose in Temptation as Sophie and Phin fall deeper and deeper in trouble…and in love.

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My Review
This is a fun, fast read with quirky characters and a laugh-out-loud plot. When Sophie Dempsey and her sister head to Temptation, Ohio to help a b-list actress film a comeback, things go hysterically wrong. Everything from a phallic water tower to possible porn erupts. Throw in a mangy stray dog, the hot town mayor, and a dead body, and things go from interesting to downright complicated. Jennifer Crusie creates a place that is as screwed up as it is quaint, filled with equally messed up people, all with something to gain and something to hide.

Mayor Phin Tucker sees an uptight woman in Sophie that he can’t help but be attracted to, which means he should stay far, far away from her. Of course he doesn’t, igniting a tumultuous relationship that should remain physical, but turns into much more for both parties, despite their efforts to avoid it. There are so many great and funny twists and turns, I stayed up way too late to find out what would happen next.

Plot
This is essentially a romance, so the main plot is whether or not Phin and Sophie will end up together, but there are strong subplots involving a possible murder, the complicated relationship of Phin and his mother, the complex inner workings of the City of Temptation itself, and whether or not Sophie is making porn. All the plots are woven together expertly, resulting in a madcap story that just happens to be a romance.

Characters
The characters are the best. They are what make Jennifer Crusie’s books shine. Sophie is smart, funny, caring, and stubborn. Phin is complex, arrogant, and frustrated. The story is rounded out by a supporting cast that are a fascinating character study in small-town life.

Writing
Jennifer Crusie has a way with dialogue and character development, but her writing style took me a little bit to get used to. There’s a lot of combined dialogue and dialogue tags that I had to read more than once to figure out who was saying what. But overall, her writing is witty and engaging.

Bottom Line
Welcome to Temptation is classic Jennifer Crusie, a delightful romp with characters you can’t help falling in love with.

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Title: Welcome to Temptation
Series: The Dempsys #1
Author: Jennifer Crusie
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Release Date: July 11, 2004
Pages: 416
Category: Romantic Comedy
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: GoodreadsAmazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay | BAM! | IndieBound

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Author Jennifer Crusie

Author Jennifer Crusie

About the Author
Jennifer Crusie was researching her dissertation on the differences in the way men and women tell stories when she got sidetracked into writing romance novels.

Her first book was published in 1993 (which pretty much finished off any hope of her getting that PhD) and her twenty-second book, Maybe This Time, came out in August of 2010, all of which she considers a minor miracle, especially since she is also a New York Times, USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestseller and a two-time Rita award winner.

Jenny is currently working on her new Liz Danger mystery series. She is a very happy woman..

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Where to Find Jennifer Crusie
Goodreads | Website Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

Blog Tour – Review – My Friends Are All Strange by M.C. Lesh

My Friends Are All Strange Blog Tour

My Friends Are All Strange by M.C. Lesh

My Friends Are All Strange by M.C. Lesh

Synopsis
My friends are all strange.

Right now I’m living at Brookside, a place for people like me. I’ve met a kitty girl, a brooding beautiful boy, one who can’t be touched, and others. My new friends. Strange people. People like me.

I’ve always been different, but lately, more so. My hands sometimes don’t seem to be attached to the rest of me. I cut up all of my clothes. I’m hot, so hot, all of the time. If I sleep, a wizard haunts every dream. I don’t sleep. Sometimes I want to run, but where do you run to when you’re trying to escape your own mind? I don’t know if I’ll ever be the same. I’m smart. I’m nice, sometimes. I just want to be normal(ish). But, right now, my friends are all strange… Like me.

Dark, funny, snarky, seventeen-year-old Becca struggles to cope with mental illness in My Friends Are All Strange, the gripping contemporary young adult companion novel to Normalish.

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My Review
This book is quite different from most young adult novels I’ve read recently. While there is a bit of a romance that plays out, it’s not the primary plot nor even a major subplot. Instead, My Friends Are All Strange is about a teen girl dealing with mental illness. When seventeen-year-old Becca has a mental break in the school cafeteria, she’s whisked off to Brookside, a juvenile mental health facility. As she struggles to deal with her own sanity, she meets other kids like her, dealing with their own personal hells. At first, Becca resists interacting with the other residents, but before long, she’s drawn into their worlds, making friends, and realizing that mental illness isn’t a one-size-fits-all disease. She’s forced to not only face her own demons, but realize that she can’t fix anyone except herself.

Plot
The plot centers around Becca’s struggle with her sanity. M.C. Lesh did an outstanding job of showing us the inner workings of mental illness. We feel Becca’s fear, anxiety, frustration, and even her tenuous grasp on reality at times. The subject matter is handled with both gentle, loving care and a huge dose of reality. Nothing is glossed over or treated in a light-hearted manner.

Characters
Becca is exceptionally well developed as is her Brookside friend, Kat. Roman, Becca’s boyfriend, is well rounded, too, but the rest of the cast is a bit sketchy. I never got a complete sense of Bobby or any members of Becca’s family.

World Building
This is where the book really shines. The author has created the world of Brookside with nurturing staff and realistic inhabitants that deal with their issues in believable ways.

Ending
The ending is a satisfying conclusion, but fell a little flat. This isn’t a book that’s going to stick with me for months or even weeks after I finish it.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. Lack of a traditional climax. There’s a big build-up to something between Bobby and Becca’s sister that doesn’t materialize in the manner promised, and there’s no real rising conflict or dark moment.

Top Things I Enjoyed About  My Friends Are All Strange
1. Roman. One of the best book boyfriends ever. I love how his devotion to Becca never wavered. He’s always there for her.

2. Dante. Becca’s dreadlocked therapist is the perfect foil, forcing her to view her demons in a different light.

3. Mental illness. The author handles this touchy subject with heart and just the right amount of humor.

Bottom Line
A wonderful story of teenage mental illness and one girl’s struggles with her own mind.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title:
 My Friends Are All Strange
Author: M.C. Lesh
Publisher:  StoryRhyme.com Publishing
Release Date: October 18, 2016
Pages: 230
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Author M.C. Lesh

Author M.C. Lesh

About the Author
California native Margaret Lesh lives in a narrow canyon populated by herds of wild burro and packs of coyote. The canyon is also populated with her creative, handsome husband, her feisty mother-in-law, her not-brave-at-all Border Collie, Echo, and sometimes her son (who is away at college. And she is not quite sure how that all happened so fast).

She writes books to entertain young and not-so-young readers as well as herself. She believes tacos are magic.

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Where to Find M.C. Lesh
Goodreads | Website Facebook | Twitter
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