Book Blitz – Excerpt + Giveaway – The Lost Eyes of the Serpent (The Rose Delacroix Files) by Jeremy Phillips

The Lost Eyes of the Serpent Book Blitz

Welcome to the book blitz for The Lost Eye of the Serpent, the first book in the young adult mystery series, The Rose Delacroix Files, by Jeremy Phillips. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on his giveaway.

The Lost Eyes of the Serpent (The Rose Delacroix Files #1) by Jeremy Phillips

The Lost Eyes of the Serpent (The Rose Delacroix Files #1) by Jeremy Phillips

About the Book
Title: The Lost Eye of the Serpent
Series: The Rose Delacroix Files #1
Author: Jeremy Phillips
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Release Date: August 8, 2016
Genre:
Young Adult Mystery
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
It may sound crazy, but Jonathan Delacroix is certain his sister Rose really is Sherlock Holmes…

Girls are not detectives. But in the summer of 1893, in the small western town of Hope Springs, Rose Delacroix is bound and determined to prove them all wrong. When the famous Emerald Serpent Jewels are stolen from the Delacroix family hotel and the blame lands solely on her older brother Bill, Rose recruits Jonathan as her Watson-like counterpart to solve the case.

Proving your brother innocent is difficult when the evidence keeps stacking up against him…

Before Rose and Jonathan can properly start their investigation, another robbery is committed. The rusty revolver purported to have once belonged to Wild Bill Hickok has been stolen from the general store and found hidden amongst her brother’s belongings. With Bill in jail, and the owner of the Serpent Jewels planning to sue the Delacroix hotel, Rose knows she has to find a lead, and soon.

A witness comes forward claiming they saw Bill steal the jewels, but Rose isn’t about to be bullied into ignoring the facts…

Rose and Jonathan must put their sleuthing skills to the test or witness their family fall to ruin due to…

…the lost eye of the serpent.

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Excerpt
Rose Delacroix Versus the Box

Rose Delacroix sat on a stump in the bare and dusty yard behind the Delacroix Hotel, staring at a metal box sitting on another stump, a few feet away from her.  She regarded the box with an ever-increasing intensity, not sure how to proceed.  Time was very short, and she wished that she had more of it available to her right now.

“Whatever am I going to do with you?” Rose said to the box.

The box didn’t look like much.  It was the size of a shoebox, but constructed of solid steel, with tight, straight corners.  Its only visible feature was a place for a key to fit, in the front of the box. Really, it seemed simple enough.  But looks, as Rose knew very well, are often deceptive.

In her hand, Rose held a couple of metal clips from out of her hair, clips which she had straightened out to use for this particular purpose.  Except, it hadn’t worked yet.  Rose approached the box again, the box which had at first glance appeared to be so simple, and yet had thwarted all of her prior attempts at entry.

Rose shook the box, which was deceptively heavy in addition to being deceptively difficult to break.  Something solid thunked around inside of it.  Whatever it was, Rose meant to have it out of that box, and soon.

Drawing a deep, calming breath, Rose tried once more to pick the lock on this thing.  The books she’s been reading, the Sherlock Holmes mysteries in addition to other lesser Detective tales, always make this seem so simple, don’t they?  

Using one of the hair pins that she had straightened out, Rose carefully massaged the top of the lock, to where she believed the pins that she needed to trick ought to be.  She could feel the pins moving, so that was good.  With a second hair pin, she applied a constant pressure on the bottom of the lock in the hopes of popping it open, when the pins were all equally deceived into believing that the proper key had been applied into the keyhole.

After another long effort, she stopped again.  What time was it getting to be, now?  

Really, she needed to pop this lock open.  She needed, rather desperately, to know what was inside of this thing.  All of her logic told Rose that whatever was inside of this deceptively secure box, was of vital importance to her investigation.  Even as she sat there in this yard, monkeying around with this locked box, her brother Jon was confronting the box’s owner.  Jon needed her, and he needed her now, not whenever it was that she managed to finally get this thing open.

Perhaps the problem was too obvious.  This box, which she had confiscated, perhaps inappropriately, from its hiding place in a guest room of the Delacroix Hotel, belonged to a man who liked to think of himself as the world’s greatest “cracksman.”   This was a term that Rose had only recently learned, but which referred to the man’s impressive ability to break into locked safes.  Given the great trouble that this person had managed to cause to Rose and her family in the last few days, he had a point concerning his abilities, after all.

Rose took a moment, and tried to think about the problem logically.  She had in her possession the small personal safe of a man who considered himself to be the greatest safe-breaker in the world.  It only stood to reason, that the security on the safe of such a person would defy any normal attempts at lock picking.  

Really, attempting to pick the thing was ridiculous, given the fact that she was an amateur at this sort of thing in the first place.  Rose was self-taught, having only popped a few locks around town during her free time when no one was looking, to see if she could do it.  To Rose’s way of thinking, skills such as lock picking were just the sorts of things that a self-styled Detective simply ought to know, after all.  

Not that everyone was likely to understand this.  She put this into the same category of small-minded thinking as seemed to possess most people that she met, the same type of small-minded thinking which implied that, given her status as a female, she was simply incapable of actual logic thought.  Or much else, either.  This was in the category of things that she simply refused to agree to wholesale, in other words.

Turning the safe around and looking into the keyhole with the aid of the heavy summer sunlight, Rose suddenly understood the problem more fully.  The lock itself seemed to run deeper than most locks did, and what’s more, there appeared to be pins on the right interior side of the lock too.  Those extra pins were placed at a different angle than were normally seen, in all of the others locks that Rose had encountered around the town of Hope Springs.  This was actually a rather extraordinary lock, which would take a rather extraordinary key.  It was a lock the likes of which Rose had never encountered before.

Given enough time, Rose was fairly sure that she could have broken the lock anyway.  It would require another hair pin, and perhaps another hand too, to apply pressure to the lock with the tension wire while she worked at the pins from two different angles at once.  But, time was something that she simply didn’t have much of.  This was going to require a different approach.

Rose placed the box back on the tree stump, then went into a large work shed, which was attached to the barn in the family’s back yard.  She returned a minute later with the heaviest wood chopping axe that she could find, and took a mighty swing at the top of the metallic box.

The first blow did nothing but mildly dent the box, causing it to bounce a foot or so up into the air with the force of her assault.  A second and third blow did little more.  But on her fourth attempt, after getting a reckless running start at the metal box from the other side of the yard, Rose managed to lodge the blade of the axe into the top of the steel box.  Rose’s arms were feeling sore already, from the exertions of trying to break this thing.

It was almost comical.  The axe was now lodged directly into the lid of the steel box.  Feeling her anxiety increase, Rose wondered what time it was now getting to be.   She wondered how things were going for Jon, who was even now confronting the burglar…a man who, the night before, had proven that he was not above pulling a gun on her brother.  He might not be above murder, even.

With great effort, Rose was able to pry the axe blade back out of the top of the box.  This left a large cut along the middle of the lid of the thing, but she could still not get to the contents of the box, or even really see what those contents were, rolling around inside of that damned box.

Rose set the box up on its edge.  This time, it would have to work.  She stepped back again, hefting the axe up over her head.  She stepped back farther, and farther yet.  An absurd feeling came over Rose, as though she were a baseball player up at bat, facing the third strike in the last inning of a tight game.

Well, and wasn’t that pretty much what this was, after all?  How much time did Jon really have, facing off with that criminal?  This was her last inning, and what all was on the line?  Only the freedom and future of her other brother, Bill, who had been framed for two robberies and one attempted murder that he didn’t commit.  Oh, and the possibility of the entire Delacroix family losing their ownership of the Delacroix Hotel to another criminal, and being kicked out into the streets of Hope Springs in the summer of 1893; there was that minor detail, too.  Only those things.  And Jon.

Steadying herself, Rose took a deep breath.  In her mind’s eye, she imagined the cut that she would have to inflict to make this thing happen.  She’s read someplace about the power of the mind, the power to make things happen by carefully visualizing them, first.  This was something she believed in wholeheartedly.

The blow would have to be perfect.  It would have to land squarely on the edge of the lid, to exactly where the hinge must be.  Only that.  Or else, perhaps she could go over to the Blacksmith’s shop and see if he couldn’t pop the thing open for her somehow.  But there would be a lot of questions asked, then.  And a lot of precious time wasted.  She thought again of Jon, headed over to the Bromwell Hotel, across the street.

With a cry, Rose ran wholeheartedly up towards the box, to where it sat there on the tree stump.  She brought the axe down with all her might, producing a bone-jarring ringing in her hands clear up to the shoulder, an ear-cracking SMACK when the unstoppable force of her axe came down on the immovable object of the steel box’s lid…and then the miracle happened.

The blow was perfect, more perfect than seemed fair.  The hinge of the box gave way, and the contents of the box flew everywhere, scattering around to land everyplace on the dusty ground.

Rose quickly rushed around the yard, ignoring the ringing pain in her arms, picking up the box’s former contents and placing them back in the now-broken box.  

There was a little leather pouch full of lock picks, proper ones, made of some fine thin steel that Rose had never seen before.  These she would keep, if things turned out as she hoped they might.  There was also a collection of paper money and coins.  And there, sitting separate and apart from the rest of the stuff, was a round object about the size of an apple.

Quickly picking the object up, Rose examined it closely.  

After a few moments a large smile came across her face, as she realized what the object in her hand was…and what it meant, for her and her all-consuming Investigation.  This was becoming like a Sherlock Holmes story after all, Rose thought, which filled her with excitement and a powerful sense of adventure, although she might not have admitted this to anyone, perhaps not even to her twin brother John.

Holding on to the object and rushing out to Main Street, Rose found herself running as quickly as she could to go help her brother.  Yes, this might help fix things.  It might help fix things very well.

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The Lost Eyes of the Serpent Teaser

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Author Jeremy Phillips

Author Jeremy Phillips

About the Author
Jeremy Phillips has been interested in Buddhist philosophy for more than twenty years, and attends services at a Shin Buddhist temple in Spokane, Washington. When he isn’t writing or keeping busy being a father and husband, he works as a Respiratory Therapist at several different hospitals. He lives in Spokane with his wife, children, dogs, and bonsai trees.
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Where to Find Jeremy Phillips
Goodreads | FacebookTwitter

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Book Blitz – Excerpt + Giveaway – Unlocked by Margo Kelly

Unlocked Book Blitz

Welcome to the book blitz for Unlocked, a young adult mystery/thriller by Margo Kelly, releasing October 1, 2016. See below for information on the book, pre-order links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.

Unlocked by Margo Kelly

Unlocked by Margo Kelly

About the Book
Title: Unlocked
Author: Margo Kelly
Publisher: Merit Press
Release Date: October 1, 2016
Genre: Young Adult Mystery/Thriller
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & NobleBAM! | IndieBound

Synopsis
A provocative thriller involving hypnosis, mystery, love, and friendship!

Someone has been moving the stuffed pink elephant in Hannah’s room. She thinks. And ants crawl over her hands, across the steering wheel, all the time. Don’t they? They’re what made her crash the car on the way home from the fair, and she wouldn’t have freaked out, wouldn’t have caused her friend’s death, for no reason. But she doesn’t know if a person is messing with her, if the paranormal is messing with her–or if she’s just going psychotic like her dad before her.

When her friends bail, Hannah is left floundering. Not even her boyfriend Manny believes her, and new girl Chelsea is practically replacing her at school. Only artsy outsider and self-proclaimed occult expert, Plug, agrees to help Hannah find out the truth about hypnosis and demons, and even he can’t help Hannah reclaim her mind from whatever’s taking over. She’ll have to do that herself if she wants to save her friends, her mom and herself..

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Unlocked Teaser 1

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Excerpt

Friday, August 23

Crimson lights flashed beneath the darkening Idaho sky, and swarms of people screamed as they plummeted on roller coaster rails. My friends and I passed unshaven men who blew whistles and offered the world, if you’d only play their game—toss their rings, shoot their balls, throw their darts—for a small price, of course. The tempting aroma of fried foods made my empty stomach tighten. Funnel cakes. Corn dogs. Fried Twinkies.

    “Hannah, there it is!” Lily motioned toward a massive white tent. A throng of people near the opening pointed and laughed at the show inside. Lily snatched my wrist and yanked me forward, but Manny tugged me back.

    “Food first.” He patted his stomach.

    “No. Hypnotist first,” Lily said. “He’s the whole reason we came tonight.” She pulled, and her tan shoulders hunched. But Manny held on, and together, the three of us blocked the crowd trying to move down the fairway. A tall blonde lady grunted and hedged around us. Then Lily’s long-time love, Jordan, laughed at our spectacle, which was the last thing I wanted. I wrenched free from my friends and took a step away.

    “Let’s work this out,” I said.

    “Oh, Hannah . . .” Lily adjusted her golden tank top. “You’re crazy if you think Manny and I will ever agree on anything.”

    “Then we’ll flip a coin,” I said.

    Jordan plucked a quarter from his pocket. “Who wants to call it?”

    Lily clapped. “Heads!”

    Jordan tossed the quarter high into the evening sky. We craned our necks, and the evening breeze blew my hair across my face. I smoothed it back into place as the coin crested and began to fall. Jordan reached for it, but a burly man—too busy laughing to watch where he was walking—bumped into Jordan before he caught the coin.

    “Dude! Watch out!” Manny yelled at the stranger. I wrapped my fingers around Manny’s arm, and he relaxed. The offending guy held his hands up in apology and wandered away.

    Manny raked his fingers through his thick chestnut hair. “Let’s get the hypnotist over with so we can enjoy the rest of the night.”

    Lily beamed, and her hazel eyes sparkled. “We need to hurry and get our seats. The next show starts in ten minutes.” She grabbed Jordan’s hand, and they darted toward the white tent, but the crowd from the previous performance flooded out and blocked their path.

    “Thanks,” I said to Manny. “I just want everyone to get along and have fun tonight.”

    Manny laced his fingers through mine, and my heart fluttered. Would tonight be the night we finally kissed? We’d been friends for years, but we just officially started dating last week. He was the best thing in my life, and I wanted to be with him forever. He squeezed my hand, and we meandered over to the tent to wait with Jordan and Lily.

    Jordan fiddled with the gold hoop dangling from Lily’s ear, and she fussed over the spikes in his sun-bleached hair. They were the poster children for cute couples. Lily had even bought Jordan a plaid shirt with golden lines through it to coordinate with her tank top, and they both wore faded denim shorts and Converse sneakers.

    The crowd of people cleared, and we ducked inside the mammoth structure. Spotlights illuminated the entire space and rock music blasted from corner speakers. Stands of bleachers spanned two-thirds of the perimeter, and a stage filled the remainder. Men, like a colony of worker ants, moved around sweeping and rearranging chairs for the next show.

    Lily claimed a spot near the middle front of the bleachers, and I perched next to her. A shiver ran up my spine when the cold metal touched the backs of my thighs. I wedged my fingers beneath my legs, and my silver bracelets clanked against the steel.

    “Why do you want to sit so close?” I raised my voice over the blaring song.

    “To get picked for the show.” Lily bugged out her eyes, as if it should’ve been obvious.

    My throat tightened at the idea of making a fool of myself in front of everyone. I wished we could move further back, but all around us, the stands were filling fast.

    Over the noise, a familiar hee-haw laugh split the arena: Chelsea. She and her date, Mark, bounded toward us, her long tan legs accentuated by her short shorts. Her single blonde braid swished back and forth as she moved. She was a starting center for volleyball and towered five inches over Mark who was a second-string tight end for the football team. He had to move twice as fast to keep up with her, but he had pursued her ever since she moved here last fall.

    “You didn’t save us seats?” Chelsea asked.

    “It flooded with people too fast,” Lily said. We hopped up and exchanged hugs with her.

    Jordan stepped in front of Chelsea and fingered the collar of my white blouse. “You’d be hilarious hypnotized,” he said.

    “No, I wouldn’t.” I swatted his hand away and straightened my collar. “Besides, it’s only entertainment. A gimmick.”

    “Jordan’s right,” Chelsea said. “You would be funny on stage, but you’re way too uptight to be submissive to anyone.” My jaw dropped, and Chelsea laughed.

    “I’m not uptight,” I said, but my words faded into the deafening music. I just never wanted to be disorderly like my dad. He embarrassed Mom so many times in public. She would flush beet red as she worked to quiet his outbursts. One evening back in New Jersey, when I was eleven, Dad refused to get into the car. Mom started the engine and threatened to leave him in that crowded mall parking lot. I loved him too much to abandon him there. I pleaded with him, and when I reached for his arm, he backhanded me. My head flung to the side, and the pain seared through my cheek. Less than twenty feet away, a trio of girls from the popular clique gawked at my family’s debacle. Their ringleader cocked an eyebrow. Then the girls snickered and scurried away. I fought back my tears and turned toward Dad. I opened his door and waited—keeping my hands to myself. Several minutes passed before he relented and sank into the passenger seat. He never touched me again. He died three months later.

    The music in the arena suddenly changed from blaring rock to a peppier pop song at half the volume.

    Chelsea edged around me and took my seat. “Well if you’re too chicken to be in the show, Lily and I can volunteer.”

    “Go ahead,” I said.

    “No!” Lily said. “She’s just teasing.”

    Chelsea shrugged and surrendered my seat. “Fine, just make sure you entertain us.” She grabbed Mark’s hand, and they ran off to claim spots at the top of the bleachers.

    “Don’t let them badger you into doing it, if it’s something you don’t want to do,” Manny said. His towering six-foot frame shaded me from the arena’s spotlights.

    “Trust me,” I said. “I’ll choose for myself.”

    His brown eyes widened, and he caressed my cheek with his smooth fingertips.

    “Oh gag.” Jordan pretended to barf. “It’s a good thing we haven’t eaten yet; otherwise I’d be blowing chunks all over you two.”

    Manny whacked Jordan’s chest.

    “Dude!” Jordan lifted his hands.

    “Stop.” Lily pulled him toward her, and he sat to her right. I sat to her left, and when Manny took the spot next to me, he wrapped his arm around my waist.  

    He whispered in my ear, “You’re amazing.” His breath made my skin quiver.  

    A guy on the stage thumped the microphone.  

    “Ladies and gentlemen,” the announcer said, and the song changed to an anthem of drums and guitars, building the excitement. “Tonight, I have the honor of introducing the mystical Master Gira.” The guy swept his arm to the side of the stage, the drums beat at a maddening level, and the crowd applauded as a man stepped onto the stage. He wore powder blue sneakers, worn-out jeans, and a white button-up collared shirt beneath a black blazer. His face, too tan. His hair, too white. He clapped his huge hands together, and his bleached teeth glowed under the glare of the spotlights.

    Lily whacked my knee. “Volunteer with me.” She twisted several strands of her long brown locks around her finger. “Take a risk with me. Life is meant to be lived. Please?”

    I glanced up at the stage and back at Lily. “I’ll do it, but only because we’re friends.”

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Unlocked Teaser 2

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Author Margo Kelly

Author Margo Kelly

About the Author
Margo Kelly is a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, Margo is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Her critically acclaimed debut, Who R U Really?, was published by Merit Press (an imprint of F+W Media) in 2014. Her second novel, Unlocked, will be published by Merit Press in October 2016. Margo welcomes opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book clubs.

Margo Kelly loves to be scared … when she’s reading a good book, watching a good movie, or suffering from the hiccups. She loves writing thrillers for young adults and hopes her stories give you the goose bumps or the itchies or the desire to rethink everyday things. Margo is represented by the not-so-scary, but totally awesome, Brianne Johnson of Writers House..

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Where to find Margo Kelly
Goodreads Website | Facebook Twitter | Instagram

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Young Adult Book Review – The Departed by Kristy Cooper

The Departed by Kristy Cooper

The Departed by Kristy Cooper

3.5 Stars

Synopsis
What if someone tried to fake the rapture?

When hundreds of thousands of people disappear in the middle of the night, including sixteen-year-old Gwen’s best friend Lana, no one knows why. Some believe they were taken in the rapture, while others are convinced that it can’t be true. Doomsday prophecies abound that involve horrifying tales of plague, famine, earthquakes, and more.

At first, Gwen doesn’t know what to think. While she is busy mourning Lana, many people around her are getting taken in by the cultish True Believers Temple, including Gwen’s dad and her friend Mindy. It is clear that more and more people are going to be pressured to join this church, as it starts taking over the media and the government, gaining zealous followers all over the world.

Then Gwen starts receiving emails from Lana. She claims to have been forced into hiding with thousands of others in an underground compound. Gwen is convinced the emails are real and the only other person who also believes her is Isaiah, her moody crush. Together they resolve to find out where everyone is hiding and help set Lana free..

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My Review
I love the whole concept behind The Departed. When 300 thousand people disappear overnight without a trace, the world’s Christians believe the Rapture has occurred and they missed the bus. Panic drives people to search for answers, including both religious and scientific. High school sophomore, Gwen, lost her best friend, Lana, in the disappearance. She’s caught between the boy she likes, who’s an atheist, and her other close friend Mindy, who’s trying to convert her to become a True Believer. At home, she’s caught in the middle of a similar battle between her parents.

Plot
The plot is intriguing. The idea of a faked Rapture has so much potential for conflict and author, Kristy Cooper, delivers. The pacing is good and I never found myself skimming. There were a couple of interesting twists to keep the reader hooked.

The Writing
The writing disappointed me. There are paragraphs of exposition that are difficult to get through and far too much telling rather than showing. It’s a good story but could have benefited from the services of a decent editor.

The Characters
I love Gwen. She’s a sweet main character with a healthy dose of skepticism, probably as a result of being raised by a scientist. Isaiah is the potential love interest and self-professed atheist. He comes across as very authentic. And Gwen’s other friend, Mindy, is believable as the teen who turns to religion to find meaning in what’s happened.

The Ending
So the ending didn’t really work for me. It just sort of stopped, nothing really resolved. It’s not exactly a cliffhanger either. In fact, the author includes the first page or two from the next book in the series, and I think it would have been better to end the first book either a few pages earlier, or included the first part of the next book in this story as a cliffhanger ending. I realize that can upset readers, but I think I’d rather be upset than left feeling “meh” after the ending.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About The Departed
1.The story. It’s a great premise and a good plot.

2. Gwen. I love her perseverance when it comes to finding out the truth.

3. Isaiah. He’s one of the truly good guys in young adult fiction.

4. The cultish religion. The author does a great job of creating a plausible reality with power-hungry crazy religious types as well as logical, honorable believers, who truly believe they’ve been chosen by God for their adventure.

5. The plotting. It was really well done and the main plot points were wrapped up by the end.

Bottom Line
The Departed is a great premise with decent plotting and likeable characters.

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: The Departed
Author: Kristy Cooper
Publisher: Oliver
Release Date: July 6, 2016
Pages: 137
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction/Dystopian Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Author Kristy Cooper

Author Kristy Cooper

About the Author
Kristy Cooper found herself often contemplating unusual what-if scenarios and knew it was time to start writing them down. She worked as a librarian for years and is now busy raising small children and writing YA novels. Stay up to date with her books at kristycooper.com.
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Where to find Kristy Cooper
Goodreads | Website | Facebook Twitter
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Book Blitz – Excerpt + Giveaway – Roman Rescue by Michelle Gilliam

Roman Rescue Blitz

Welcome to the book blitz for Roman Rescue: Who Will Save the Hero, a new adult adult mystery/romance by Michelle Gilliam. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.

Roman Rescue by Michelle Gilliam

Roman Rescue by Michelle Gilliam

About the Book
Title: Roman Rescue: Who Will Save the Hero
Author: Michelle Gilliam
Publisher: Wee Bit Different Publishing
Release Date: April 29, 2016
Genre:
 New Adult Mystery/Romance
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis
Maggie has always been a sassy, headstrong Southern girl. But running off to Rome, Italy on summer break from college is the most impulsive thing she’s ever done. Her brother is in trouble, and she’s determined to rescue him- after all, he’s the older, wiser, military officer who has never needed her help before. Paul is in a mess with an Italian ex-girlfriend who has cut ties with him…but is pregnant with his child. Maggie thinks she can fix it.

After all, a break from her life would be nice, too. She just broke up with her long time boyfriend, and her estranged mother keeps hopelessly trying to reconnect with her. Italy sounds like the perfect refuge. Until she meets Paul’s best friend, Marine Sargeant, Luke Seager. He complicates things in every way. He persists to play tour guide and asserts his way into her plans at every chance. Maggie prefers to become a hero on her own, but as she digs into the truth about Paul’s predicament, danger builds around them. While the tension and mystery grows, so do her feelings for Luke- a man with his own shrouded past.

Nothing is as it seems when Maggie gets more than she bargained for with the girlfriend’s mafia ties, Luke’s dangerous connections, and unexpected guests from home. Finding out the truth lands Maggie in more trouble than she can escape. Who will save the hero now?

Look what People are saying about Roman Rescue: Who Will Save The Hero?

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Excerpt
I strolled further down until I found a pizza place and dove in for a slice of basil, mozzarella, and sausage. I ordered a Coke, but it came at room temperature, so I changed it to water instead. But, pizza and water weren’t the right combinations. Maybe I tasted the tomatoes more, or the sauce’s bright red color made it look too eerie. Again, I blamed it on Fear whispering warnings of stares from unsmiling eyes. Wasn’t Rome the city of romance? Then why did I see figures in the shadows, taxi drivers with guns, and blood in the pizza sauce? 

On the way home, I tried to ignore the shadowed alleys and drivers staring me down as they passed by. I double-checked that my debit card hadn’t fallen out of my bra. It was still there, safe from thieves.

The night air, fruity and moist, smelled unlike the air back home. I walked, taking deep breaths with my nose to the sky. Going through the park, a breeze whipped by, causing me to imagine the world before cars, a time when the Roman statues were real. I could see it. I could see me in it, wearing a long tunic. What did Dr. Francisco call it in English class? A stola, yes. I would look good in a stola, gold chains strapped around me. I imagined the horse dung in the streets and stopped romanticizing. I wouldn’t call it pessimism but realism. Life had taught me not to believe in the wonderful, magical, or romantic. Not that I hadn’t tried.

I pulled the key out of my bra and entered the apartment. I glanced around for a television and spotted the floating stairs. At the top of the stairs was Kayla’s and Luke’s bedroom, tidy and simple with a triple-tier shelving of masculine books: Shooter, Abraham Lincoln, and various spy novels. I also found a TV. I smiled and threw myself into a chair after emptying the clothes from it.

That is where Luke found me, asleep in his bedroom chair. His wide shoulders and his body blocked out the light. It alarmed me. Only a dark sketch of him stood there, looking down at me. 

“According to this note, you must be Maggie.” 

“Please, tell me your name is Luke, so I won’t have to kill you,” I managed to get out while stretching my arms and rubbing my eyes, barely awake—barely thinking—but not afraid.

“Yep, you’re Maggie. I’ve heard of your quipped tongue.” 

I sighed. “Great, my reputation has preceded me all the way to Italy. At nineteen, I’m not sure that’s a good thing.”

“Nineteen, just a baby.”

That riled me. When I should have asked to stay on his couch, I couldn’t. I stood.  “I’m not a baby.” I squinted at his dark silhouette and tried to look him straight in the eyes. I stood on my tippy-toes, but his eyes were still inches away, taller and higher, out of my reach. “Well, damn, are you six-four, or what?”

“Maybe six-three,” he said with pride. 

I composed myself after a thick swallow. “Must be hard to be that tall.” 

“Sometimes.” His insecurity showed. His voice wavered or his shoulders dropped; it was so subtle and so quick. I don’t know, I could just tell. 

I took the clothes from the bed and put them back on the chair. 

“You don’t have to mess with that.”

“I moved them; I’ll return them. What time is it?”

“Twelve-thirty.” 

I took a deep breath, walked over to the top of the stairs, and looked back. That’s when I noticed Luke’s face: soft reddish-tan complexion and pool-water blue eyes. I paused, wordless for too long. 

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Author Michelle Gilliam

Author Michelle Gilliam

About the Author
Michelle Gilliam, BSN lives in Tennessee with her husband and three sons, two of which are college football players. She was raised by a southern mother and a British father and her accent is quite a mess with California, Florida, and Texas influences. She loves to read, analyze, and create. But all of that comes after a good cup of coffee and a conversation with a close friend or while treating her patients. That and her dreams are the source of her stories. She first began writing poetry and it is apparent when you see the use of descriptive launguage as she paints rooms, international settings, and people. .

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Where to find Michelle Gilliam
Goodreads | Website | Facebook Twitter

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Book Blitz – Excerpt + Giveaway – In the Eyes of Madness (Chronicles of Declan Peters) by Michael Pang

In the Eyes of Madness Book Blitz

Welcome to the book blitz for In the Eyes of Madness, the first book in the young adult paranormal urban fantasy series, Chronicles of Declan Peters, by Michael Pang. See below for information on the book, and buy links.

In the Eyes of Madness (Chronicles of Declan Peters #1) by Michael Pang

In the Eyes of Madness (Chronicles of Declan Peters #1) by Michael Pang

About the Book
Title: In the Eyes of Madness
Series: Chronicles of Declan Peters #1
Author: Michael Pang
Release Date: April 30, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
A near tragic incident at the hands of his psychotic mother left Declan Peters alone and with so many questions.

Years later, Declan is determined to find a way to be closer to his mother and takes a job at the institution where she’s being held. That fateful decision will be the impetus for a chain of events so terrifying that Declan will question his own grasp on reality.

What he finds will be more horrifying than anything he’s ever experienced and more dangerous than anything he’s yet known. In a place, rife with demonic possession and sadistic beings, will Declan finally be able to find the answers he’s longed for before its too late or will he succumb to the evil forces that inhabit the institution and all who live there?

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Excerpt
“I want to go to my room now,” said Kyle who turned abruptly toward his room.

Declan and Joe were startled from Kyle’s response. “I think Kyle is tired, Andy; we’re going to go get him settled in,” Declan quickly responded. Andy wasn’t Declan’s favorite in terms of volunteer coordinators, however, he was offended when people were rude to the pastor. Since Declan was a kid he’d known Andy, and he could testify to how the volunteers had helped the patients recover. Whether it was truly the grace of God or not, Declan could not deny the patients’ progress.

“Well, I’ll be seeing you later, dude. Hope you get up to snuff soon,” said Andy, as he turned and said a quick prayer for the room he was about to leave. Declan and Joe were walking into Kyle’s room to get him settled as Andy placed his hand on Kyle’s door. His next stop was Kyle’s room, and he started saying a silent prayer for Kyle.

Just then, Kyle violently turned toward the pastor and yelled, “Leave me alone!” The voice that came from Kyle sounded so foreign and so utterly wrong that it sent shivers down Declan’s spine.

Kyle ran toward the pastor, and Joe caught him by the arm to try to stop him. With inexplicable strength, Kyle took hold of Joe and threw him at Andy by using one arm. Joe collided with Andy and fell. Declan instinctively jumped onto Kyle’s back, snaking his hands underneath Kyle’s arms to restrain him, before he could do any more harm to Joe and Andy. As his hand made contact with Kyle’s skin, he felt an overwhelming gloom that seemed to destroy all that was sunny and happy. All the feelings of dread and misery that Declan had ever felt in his life surged out from all the repressed corners of his mind. He felt that he would prefer to be dead rather than to live the rest of his life. As the sense of coldness spread across Declan’s body, he felt almost frozen.

Kyle started to spin to try to throw Declan off, and it jogged Declan out of his gloom. He tried to use his weight to pin Kyle down, but Kyle was much stronger than he appeared. He stood as if there was a mere child on his back. Kyle started spinning faster, but Declan held on tight.

“Help, guys, help!  What are you waiting for?” shouted Declan as he clenched his legs tighter around Kyle’s abdomen. He kept his eyes closed because he felt that if he opened them, he’d be sick all over the linoleum floor from all the spinning Kyle was doing.

Joe ran into the room with a sedative shot he’d pulled out of the locked medical cabinet outside the room. He leaped onto both Declan and Kyle to add the extra weight to help pin Kyle down, but immediately, he was flung off, and he fell hitting his shin on the bed table.  “Ahhh!” he screamed.

Declan managed a shout to Joe. “Throw it to me!”

Joe carefully tossed the sedative to Declan. It arched toward the ceiling and Declan held one firm grip on Kyle’s arm while he held up his other hand.  He caught the shot and grabbed it tightly.  “Got it!”  

He looked at the tranquilizer in amazement, almost proud that he had caught it despite the chaos and shouting.  But his conquest was short-lived; Declan hesitated a fraction of a second too long. Using his newly freed hand, Kyle grabbed Declan off his back and with a loud grunt placed Declan into a tight chokehold in front of him. Declan started to make gagging noises and his eyes widened with terror when he realized that Kyle’s free hand was inching toward his neck. He struggled but Kyle was too strong. When the injection went into his neck, he screamed.

Immediately, darkness crept into Declan’s vision and threatened to overwhelm him as deoxygenated blood flowed through his brain. Luckily, the sedative worked quickly.

Just before Declan lost consciousness, Kyle’s arms fell limp and collapsed, letting go of Declan.

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Author Michael Pang

Author Michael Pang

About the Author
Project manager by profession but modern Renaissance man by nature, Michael Pang has dabbled in many different areas in his career. From working with steam turbines to eventually switching into the world of IT, his plethora of experience highlights his personality – he’s a person always searching for more knowledge.

Michael was born in Hong Kong in 1983. His family immigrated to San Francisco when he was three and eventually landed in Florida. After graduating from high school, Michael gained his degree in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech. Despite his currently demanding work schedule, Michael is very involved in activities at his local Project Management Institute Chapter where he fulfills his passion for teaching as the Vice President of Education. But, his desire to serve and help others doesn’t end there, he’s an avid Christian and very active in his local church. He loves kids, with two daughters of his own with his lovely wife, and volunteers at children’s church in his ministry.

He speaks fluent Cantonese and Mandarin and in his free time enjoys reading, writing, eating, cooking, playing music, dancing, singing, and watching musicals. One of his mottos is “Everyday that he hasn’t learned something new is a day wasted.”..

Where to Find Michael Pang
Goodreads | Website | FacebookTwitter

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Book Blitz – Teaser + Giveaway – Rose Petal Graves (The Lost Clan) by Olivia Wildenstein

Rose Petal Graves Book Blitz

Welcome to the book blitz for Rose Petal Graves, a new adult mystery/paranormal romance by Olivia WildensteinSee below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive teaser, and details on how to enter her Goodreads giveaway.

Rose Petal Graves (The Lost Clan #1) by Olivia Wildenstein

Rose Petal Graves (The Lost Clan #1) by Olivia Wildenstein

About the Book
Title: Rose Petal Graves
Series: The Lost Clan #1
Author: Olivia Wildenstein
Release Date: May 15, 2016
Genre:
 New Adult Paranormal Romance/Mystery
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis
I thought losing my mother would be the greatest shock of my life, but the greatest shock came after her death.

Founded two centuries ago by an aloof and powerful tribe of Gottwa Indians, Rowan was a quiet town, so quiet that I fled after graduation. Staying away was the plan, but Mom died suddenly, so I rushed home. 

Dad said she suffered a stroke after she dug up one of the ancient graves in our backyard, which happens to be the town cemetery. Creepy, I know. Creepier still, there was no corpse inside the old coffin, only fresh rose petals. 

As we made preparations for Mom’s burial, Cruz Vega, the new medical examiner, arrived. I should have felt relieved, but how could I? He was unnervingly handsome, glowed like a human firefly, and knew absolutely nothing about examining dead bodies. 

But, he did know what killed my mother…or rather who.

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Rose Petal Graves (The Lost Clan) by Olivia Wildenstein (Full Cover)

Rose Petal Graves (The Lost Clan) by Olivia Wildenstein (Full Cover)

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Rose Petal Graves Teaser

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Author Olivia Wildenstein

Author Olivia Wildenstein

About the Author
Olivia Wildenstein grew up in New York City, the daughter of a French father with a great sense of humor, and a Swedish mother whom she speaks to at least three times a day. She chose Brown University to complete her undergraduate studies and earned a bachelor’s in comparative literature. After designing jewelry for a few years, Wildenstein traded in her tools for a laptop computer and a very comfortable chair. This line of work made more sense, considering her college degree.

When she’s not writing, she’s psychoanalyzing everyone she meets (Yes. Everyone), eavesdropping on conversations to gather material for her next book, baking up a storm (that she actually eats), going to the gym (because she eats), and attempting not to be late at her children’s school (like she is 4 out of 5 mornings, on good weeks).

Wildenstein lives with her husband and three children in Geneva, Switzerland, where she’s an active member of the writing community...

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Where to find Olivia Wildenstein
Goodreads | Website │ Facebook │ Twitter

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Giveaway
Enter to win a copy of Rose Petal Graves on Goodreads!
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Release Day – The Masterpiecers by Olivia Wildenstein

The Masterpiecers Release Day

Today is release day for The Masterpiecers, a young adult mystery, by Olivia Wildenstein. See below for information on the book, buy links, and a teaser.

The Masterpiecers by Olivia Wildenstein

The Masterpiecers by Olivia Wildenstein

About the Book
Title: The Masterpiecers
Author: Olivia Wildenstein
Release Date: April 15, 2016
Genre: Young Adult Mystery
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis
Nineteen-year-old Ivy Redd’s talent with a needle and thread has earned her a spot on a coveted reality TV art competition set in New York’s Metropolitan Museum. The prize: a significant amount of money and instant acceptance into the Masterpiecers, the school that ensures new artists fame and fortune. Her talent has also thrust her and her twin sister, Aster, into the spotlight.

Not that Aster needed help with becoming a media favorite. She managed that on her own by running over a wanted mobster. She told the police it was self-defense, because she couldn’t tell them the truth—the truth would make her sister look bad.

Locked in an Indiana jail to await her trial, Aster watches Ivy on the small TV hanging in the dayroom. It’s the highlight of her day, until she finds out what her sister truly thinks of her. Then, observing her sister becomes a punishment far crueler than imprisonment.

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The Masterpiecers Teaser 1

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Author Olivia Wildenstein

Author Olivia Wildenstein

About the Author
Olivia Wildenstein grew up in New York City, the daughter of a French father with a great sense of humor, and a Swedish mother whom she speaks to at least three times a day. She chose Brown University to complete her undergraduate studies and earned a bachelor’s in comparative literature. After designing jewelry for a few years, Wildenstein traded in her tools for a laptop computer and a very comfortable chair. This line of work made more sense, considering her college degree.

When she’s not writing, she’s psychoanalyzing everyone she meets (Yes. Everyone), eavesdropping on conversations to gather material for her next book, baking up a storm (that she actually eats), going to the gym (because she eats), and attempting not to be late at her children’s school (like she is 4 out of 5 mornings, on good weeks).

Wildenstein lives with her husband and three children in Geneva, Switzerland, where she’s an active member of the writing community..

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Where to find Olivia Wildenstein
Goodreads | Website │ Facebook │ Twitter
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Book Blitz + Sale and Giveaway – Murder Madness Such Sweet Sadness (Kiss Kill Love Him Still) by Jamie Blair and Dawn Rae Miller

Murder Madness Such Sweet Sadness Blitz

Welcome to the book blitz for Murder Madness Such Sweet Sadness, the second book in the young adult mystery series, Kiss Kill Love Him Still, by Jamie Blair and Dawn Rae Miller. See below for information on the book, buy links, and details on their giveaway. Plus, for a limited time, you can pick up book 1, Kiss Kill Love Him Still, for free!

Murder Madness Such Sweet Sadness (Kiss Kill Love Him Still #2) by Jamie Blair and Dawn Rae Miller

Murder Madness Such Sweet Sadness (Kiss Kill Love Him Still #2) by Jamie Blair and Dawn Rae Miller

About the Book
Title: Murder Madness Such Sweet Sadness
Series: Kiss Kill Love Him Still #2
Authors: Jamie Blair and Dawn Rae Miller
Release Date: March 21, 2016
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary/Mystery
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Synopsis
Haddie, Livie, Reggie, and Val. Four girls with secrets to tell.

A murderer is loose on the FU campus, and despite their best efforts, the police are nowhere near making an arrest. It’s beginning to look like Jackson’s murderer may walk free — until someone calling themselves The Fifth begins threatening each girl.

Suddenly, The Fifth starts revealing the girls’ darkest secrets: Reggie is the campus drug dealer, Livie is a kleptomaniac, Haddie hasn’t remained a virgin, and Val is struggling with her sexuality.

With no option but to work together, the girls dive deeper into Jackson’s web of lies, and hope to unmask The Fifth while solving the mystery of Jackson’s death.

The more answers they get, the more dangerous life at FU becomes — not just for the girls, but for the people they love the most.

Which makes a girl wonder, who’s next on the murderer’s list?

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Kiss Kill Love Him Still (Kiss Kill Love Him Still #1) by Jamie Blair and Dawn Rae Miller

Kiss Kill Love Him Still (Kiss Kill Love Him Still #1) by Jamie Blair and Dawn Rae Miller

About Book 1 – NOW FREE!
Title: Kiss Kill Love Him Still
Series: Kiss Kill Love Him Still #1
Authors: Jamie Blair and Dawn Rae Miller
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary/Mystery
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Synopsis
Jackson Landis kept secrets. It’s how he got girls into bed, the grades he wanted, and a reputation for being the life of the party.

But now he’s dead, and no one knows how or why. Especially not the four girls whose secrets he protected. Secrets so scandalous they could cause each girl to lose something valuable. Secrets so dark, someone may have killed for them.

The four girls – a campus drug dealer, an overweight bookworm, a closeted lesbian, and a spoiled princess have one thing in common – they’re terrified the things Jackson knew may not have died with him. As Reggie, Haddie, Val, and Livie try to piece together her own role in Jackson’s death, each girl realizes Jackson had some not-so-pretty skeletons of his own.

Which makes a girl wonder, who really wanted Jackson Landis dead?

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Author Jamie Blair

Author Jamie Blair

About Jamie Blair
Jamie Blair lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, their two kids and a cat that broke into their house and refused to leave. She won a young author’s contest in third grade, but it probably shouldn’t count since her mom wrote most of her entry. LEAP OF FAITH is her first novel. She promises her mom didn’t write one word of it.

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Where to Find Jamie Blair
Goodreads | Website | FacebookTwitter

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Author Dawn Rae Miller

Author Dawn Rae Miller

About Dawn Rae Miller

Dawn is a Twitter and fashion addict whose favorite things in life are her family, gorgeous dresses, tea leaf salad, and French macarons. She splits her time between San Francisco and Northern Virginia, and is always up for a trip to Paris.

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Where to Find Dawn Rae Miller
Goodreads | Website | FacebookTwitter

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Giveaway
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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – Holding Court by K.C. Held

Holding Court Blog Tour

Holding Court by K.C. Held

Holding Court by K.C. Held

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Sixteen-year-old Jules Verity knows exactly what’s in store at her new job at castle-turned-dinner-theater Tudor Times. Some extra cash, wearing a fancy-pants dress, and plenty of time to secretly drool over the ever-so-tasty–and completely unavailable–Grayson Chandler. Except that it’s not quite what she imagined.

For one, the costume Jules has to wear is awful. Then there’s the dead body she finds that just kind of…well, disappears. Oh, and there’s the small issue of Jules and her episodes of what her best friend calls “Psychic Tourette’s Syndrome”–spontaneous and uncontrollable outbursts of seemingly absurd prophecies.

The only bright side? This whole dead body thing seems to have gotten Grayson’s attention. Except that the more Jules investigates, the more she discovers that Grayson’s interest might not be as courtly as she thought. In fact, it’s starting to look suspicious…

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My Review
Reading Holding Court was an absolute blast. The characters are quirky and adorable, the story is hysterical, and the mystery is just good plain fun. Jules has a strange gift that her best friend calls psychic Tourette’s syndrome or PTS. She blurts out things that seem to not make any sense, labeling her the weird kid at school. But her ability makes her perfect to play the Mad Maid of Kent in the Tudor Times dinner theater where she pretends to be a psychic and her blurting disorder is just right for the part.

Her long-term crush and his perfect-in-every-way girlfriend also work there, forcing her to spend more time than she’d like with the happy couple. And she can’t even hate the girlfriend because she’s one of the few people at school who hasn’t ostracised Jules for her PTS. But when bodies begin to pile up in the castle, Jules doesn’t know who to trust and the race is on to find out who’s offing the staff.

Plot
The plot centers around the mysterious disappearing body in the castle, but there is a romantic subplot involving Jules pining for Grayson who has a flawless girlfriend, Bree. The mystery definitely takes center stage, but the romance is cute and sweet and definitely adds to the story.

Characters
The characters are easily the best part of the book. They’re so entertaining. Jules is particularly likeable as the insecure blurting psychic with the crush on the unattainable boy. Her whole family is just as unusual and adorable, as is her best friend, Cami, the only person outside her family who seems to really get her. The colorful characters at Tudor Times rounds out the cast in delightful fashion, making it nearly impossible to figure out whodunit, because they’re all a bit wacky.

Writing
The writing is a blast. Debut novelist, K.C. Held, has a way of storytelling that is engaging and hysterical. Her main character is witty and charming, whether she’s blurting or trying to process the latest calamity to befall her.

Ending
There were a few surprising twists, one that I never saw coming!

What I Loved About Holding Court
1. The humor. There were many laugh out loud moments.
2. The characters. They were all unique and amusing, even the seedy ones.
3. The mystery. The disappearing body added a fun twist to this teen murder mystery.
4. The romance. While subtle, it was threaded throughout the story and kept me wanting to know what would happen.
5. Gran. She was a breath of fresh air as Jules’ temporary guardian while Jules’ mother is overseas on business.

Bottom Line
A delightful teen murder/mystery, filled with zany characters and laced with a sweet romance.

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: Holding Court
Author: K.C. Held
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pages: 352
Category: Young Adult Mystery/Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Barnes & NobleiBooks | Kobo | Entangled

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Author K.C. Held

Author K.C. Held

About the Author
K.C. HELD was born and raised in California with stopovers in Honduras, Mexico, and France. Married to her high school sweetheart, and mom to two avid bookworms, she holds an MFA in costume design and is an accomplished seamstress with a background in opera, theater, film, and television. Although she once spent a summer working in a castle, there were no dead bodies involved.

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Where to find K.C. Held
Goodreads | WebsiteFacebook Twitter | Tumblr

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Giveaway
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Book Blitz – Excerpt + Giveaway – Sing Sweet Sparrow by Angela J. Townsend

Sing Sweet Sparrow Blitz

Welcome to the book blitz for Sing Sweet Sparrow, a romantic mystery by bestselling author, Angela J. Townsend. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.

Sing Sweet Sparrow by Angela J. Townsend

Sing Sweet Sparrow by Angela J. Townsend

About the Book
Title: Sing Sweet Sparrow
Author: Angela J. Townsend
Publisher: Spinning Broom Books Publishing, LLC
Genre: Mystery/Romance
Release Date: January 1, 2016
Links: GoodreadsAmazon

Synopsis
With the odd disappearance of her parents, Gussie Gibson has lived her entire life with her granny on a peaceful pecan orchard, owned by the meanest man in all of Georgia—Mr. J.P. Combs.

Granny teaches Gussie many valuable life lessons as a black woman growing up in the still-segregated south. Mr. Combs is an evil underhanded banker who takes liberties beyond his privilege. When Granny dies, Combs informs Gussie she owes him back rent—but he wants much more than money for payment—and more than Gussie can live with.

After defending herself against his sexual advances, Gussie flees to escape certain vigilante justice when she meets a charming, handsome stranger, Sam Johnson, who is just returning from World War II.

Gussie and Sam’s friendship is short-lived when Mr. Combs hunts her down and drags her back to Green Ridge, driven by his craving for revenge and a grudge too deep to comprehend. Gussie fights to return to Sam and his love, but it seems, no matter where she runs, danger follows close on her heels, in the troubled South where cruelty disfigures the human spirit and love is a dim beacon of hope.

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Excerpt

1945

No one on this earth deserves to die more than Mister J.P. Combs.

Mister Combs is the vice president of the Green Ridge Union Bank, and the nastiest man in all of Georgia. He robs from the old, the poor, the sick, and the weak. Granny and I been working for the Combs family for as long as I can remember. Granny taught me how to wash their silver and fancy china so it comes out shiny, how to iron the tablecloths, and how to fold the napkins just how Missus Combs likes it done.

Missus is a nice woman. She treats Granny and me right. On Sunday she takes her coffee into the kitchen to visit with us after church. But not Mister. He hates colored folks. He says we don’t know our place.

Mister never takes his eyes off of me. It’s like he’s making sure I don’t stop to take an extra breath while I’m working, so he’s getting his money’s worth. Granny and I tend the Combs’ house for just sixty-nine cents an hour. That’s a lot less than most maids. The trouble is that Granny is old, tired and slow. Her feet don’t work so good no more. We got to take what work we can get.

Mister comes home early every Friday. He likes to lean against the stove while he peels an apple with a buck knife. He chews the pieces and leers at me while I polish the silver. I’d love to stuff that apple in his mouth and stick him in the stove. I gotta learn to control my temper, sometimes it’s hard, especially when Mister’s at me. Don’t know from one day to the next what’s gonna happen. Somedays I wish I could explode and blow up the whole world.

Granny knows I got a bad temper. It worries her. She takes me into Mister’s parlor and stares at me with her brow all crinkled up. “Gussie child, you keep outta Mister’s way,” she whispers. “I don’t like how he looks at you.” Granny shakes her head in disgust. “You’re only sixteen years old. Don’t you let him get close. You stay by me—you hear?”

I can’t look at Granny. My cheeks burn with shame.

Granny takes hold of my hands. “You listening to me, child?”

I nod. She leans in real close, her bottom lip quivers in a two-tone brown. I stare at the wrinkles around her mouth, and at her bottom row of teeth all worn down. I worry about how much longer she’ll live. I don’t want her to leave me. “I see the way he’s been looking at you,” Granny says. “Like you the hottest thing on the lunch menu.” Granny lifts my chin so that our eyes meet. “If he comes round, and you alone—you tell him you got chores to do.” Granny squeezes my hands tighter. “His heart ain’t nothing but a thumpin’ gizzard. He’ll hurt you if he has a chance. You stay away from him. You understand me, child?”

I nod again. “Yes, Ma’am.”

The lines around Granny’s eyes soften. She cradles my head in her knobby hands. “You the only thing I got in this world, Gussie. I done lost my boy. I don’t plan on losing you too.”

My lips tremble. “I know Granny, I’ll be careful.” I cross my heart. “I promise.”

She hugs me round the waist, but I don’t hug her back too hard. She’s so frail, I worry that she’ll break. I press my face into her chest. Her heart pounds against my ear and I feel her shaking. All this worry isn’t good for her old body. I don’t want to let go of her. I bury my head into her shirt collar. She smells like shea butter and sweet ginger. Granny runs her hand over my head. Her fingers untangle the curls in my hair, the ones she makes with the pressing comb heated on the stove every morning. Granny pulls away from me and sits down. She never sits at Mister’s house. She looks so tired.

“Granny, you okay?”

She closes her eyes for a moment, placing a hand on her chest. “Take me home, child.”

I help her up, and hold tight to her thin hand as she walks unsteady beside me. My heart twists over Granny working so hard at her age. How she worries over me.

We head outside and make our way down the path through the pecan grove. The path is uneven and it’s hard for Granny to walk. Her toes are twisted like tree roots with arthritis. I wish I could carry her home so her feet don’t have to hurt. She holds onto my arm as I help her up the front steps of the shack we rent from Mister.

We go inside but Granny won’t rest. She puts supper on the stove, and waves me away when I try to help. She lowers herself onto her rocking chair while the beans boil on the back burner. Granny releases a heavy sigh, closes her eyes and stops rocking. I touch her hand and she don’t move. I can’t breathe. My soul dissolves into darkness. I know she’s gone but I can’t face it. I run to Mister’s house. Missus lets me use their telephone and I call for help.

Half an hour later, Granny’s church ladies come and take her away while my heart rips into pieces. I sit in the dark staring at her empty chair, at her shoes, at the knitting needles sticking in the ball of yarn. I close my eyes willing it all to be gone, for the day to start over with Granny alive. I wish life could be like a chalk board where you can erase the bad parts and start over. Hours pass with nothing but the ticking of the clock. I look out the window surprised to see the world still going on even though Granny isn’t.

After the funeral, I lay up in the bed and pray that God kills me so I can be with my Granny—the only mother I’ve ever known—the only person I ever loved. I don’t sleep. I don’t eat. I don’t go to work. I just don’t care about living anymore. When Granny died, something came apart and broke inside me. Fell off a shelf and shattered to the floor. And I just can’t put all the pieces back together.

A week passes and Mister comes looking for me. He’s mad that I haven’t been to work. He yells his fool head off, saying I gotta pay the rent or get out. I don’t got no money and nowhere to go. I don’t know why God don’t come down and take me to Granny. What kind of a life do I have to look forward to anyhow. I don’t want to be stuck in some white man’s kitchen the rest of my life.

Mister comes back the next day, but I already got my bags packed. He looks at me and frowns. “Where you think you’re going?”

I just shrug.

“You come on home with me. You can have a room in exchange for looking after the house. You got that, girl?”

I nod my head. I don’t know what else to do.

I don’t got no choice.

A lonesome sparrow hatches inside of me, flies out my mouth, and pulls out my insides as it leaves, taking all my happiness with it.

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Author Angela J. Townsend

Author Angela J. Townsend

About the Author
Angela is a multi-published, award-winning author of young adult and middle grade books.

She has a motion picture based on her award-winning novel, The Forlorned, coming out soon, and a second motion picture project in production for River of Bones.

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Where to Find Angela Townsend
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY HERE!
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Book Review + Giveaway – Dog Collar Knockoff (Lucie Rizzo Mystery) by Adrienne Giordano

Dog Collar Knockoff (Lucie Rizzo Mystery #2) by Adrienne Giordano

Dog Collar Knockoff (Lucie Rizzo Mystery #2) by Adrienne Giordano

4 Stars

Synopsis
Catering to the pampered paws set took Lucie Rizzo from unemployed to entrepreneur. With her dog walking/chic pet accessory business on the verge of success, Lucie’s ready to make a name for herself. One not tarnished by her dad’s mobster rep.

When an art deal she brokered between clients turns suspicious, it’s up to Lucie to sniff out the truth. She might not know the difference between Monet and Manet, but Rizzos are no strangers to jail time—and Lucie refuses to be someone’s prison bitch.

Unless that someone is a tall, blond and Irish cop. Detective Tim O’Brien certainly knows how to get Lucie hot under the rhinestone collar. And with her on-again-off-again relationship with Frankie Falcone currently off, O’Brien isn’t shy about making her feel wanted, mafia ties and all. Even joining her crack—or crackpot—team on the trail of two paintings with equally shady origins.

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My Review
The second book in the Lucie Rizzo mystery series picks up not long after the end of the first one, but a lot has happened in that time. Lucie and Frankie are broken up, this time at Frankie’s insistence. Lucie’s budding business of dog walking and high-end pet accessories is taking off, so much so, she’s hired an assistant. Her young apprentice is an art major and notices some famous paintings hanging in the homes of Lucie’s clients, raising concerns about their authenticity. Most of the book centers around this mystery, especially with her on-again-off-again relationship with Frankie in the off position. But the young, hot detective who helped her out in the first book is still hanging around, and his interest in Lucie might not be one-sided.

Plot
The mystery is the main plot and it moves much faster than in the first novel. And while the author lets on pretty early what’s going on, there were a couple of really good unexpected twists. Lucie’s love triangle is a strong subplot and particularly well done. I neither love nor hate love triangles as a whole, but I do loathe poorly executed ones. Luckily that’s not the case here. Both guys have merit and both are easy to love. Lucie’s conundrum is wholly believable.

Characters
I love that both Lucie and Frankie went through some character development in this book. In a lot of mystery series’ the characters are stagnant, but not with this series. The cast is still a lovable bunch of colorful goofballs, but they’re more meaty than stereotypical. Lucie is introspective and knows she has a bunch of stuff to figure out, and it’s great that she doesn’t take the easy way out. Of anything.

Ending
I didn’t seen the ending coming and I’m happy with the way this chapter of Lucie’s life is wrapped up. I’m fully onboard with the Lucie Rizzo Mysteries now and looking forward to the next one.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. Lack of grippiness.
 If that’s even a word. I never really felt like Lucie was ever in any danger. It’s a fun read, but a little more edge-of-your-seat moments would have made this a real page-turner.

What I Enjoyed About Dog Collar Knockoff
1. The pacing.
 This second book in the series moved at a faster clip than the first, which made it a fun, fast read.
2. Chemistry. As much as I loved the Lucie/Frankie chemistry in the first book, I can’t deny she and Tim have their own sizzle. Adrienne Giordano writes a really believable love triangle.
3. The dogs. In the first book, I almost thought there were too many dogs. I mean, she’s a dog walker, but I still felt like I spent an inordinate amount of time reading about dogs taking a dump. This time, I actually looked forward to Lucie’s time with them. They’ve grown on me the way my own four-legged friend has. The one we got for the kids who has decided I’m his person and I’ve reluctantly accepted that.
4. Ro and Joey. These two will either kill each other or wind up together. If Joey was taking bets on his own life, the odds would be 50/50.
5. The mystery. The mystery was very different than the first one, and was well executed, which isn’t always easy to do.

Bottom Line
The second book in the series is even better than the first and I’m looking forward to the release of the third.

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: Dog Collar Knockoff
Series: Lucie Rizzo Mystery #2
Author: Adrienne Giordano
Publisher: SilverHart Publishing
Release Date: February 9, 2016
Pages: 221
Genre: Cozy Mystery/New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooksKobo

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Author Adrienne Giordano

Author Adrienne Giordano

About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Adrienne Giordano writes romantic suspense and mystery. 

She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her workaholic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaten Terrorist (Terrier).

She is a co-founder of Romance University blog and Lady Jane’s Salon-Naperville, a reading series dedicated to romantic fiction. 

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Where to Find Adrienne Giordano
Goodreads | Website | Newsletter | Street TeamFacebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
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Cover Reveal – Into the Light (The Light Series) by Aleatha Romig

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Althea Romig, is unveiling the cover to Into the Light, the first book in her new suspense/thriller series, The Light, releasing June 14, 2016. See below for the intriguing cover, information on the book, and a pre-order link.

Into the Light (The Light Series #1) by Aleatha Romig

Into the Light (The Light Series #1) by Aleatha Romig

About the Book
Title: Into the Light
Series: The Light Series #1
Author: Aleatha Romig
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Genre:
Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis
An investigator’s search for a friend draws her into a world darker than she could have imagined.

Sara Adams awakes blind, unable to remember the most basic details of her life, but her darkness seems a blessing when she discovers the terrors of The Light.

Stella Montgomery investigates the news on the mean streets of Detroit, where she’s noticed a disturbing trend: young women are vanishing. When her best friend disappears, Stella investigates—despite warnings from her police detective boyfriend—following a twisted trail that leads her through the city’s most dangerous and forsaken precincts. There she uncovers something more sinister than she could have imagined: a shadowy organization known as The Light, led by the enigmatic Father Gabriel.

As Sara struggles to understand her place in the strange world she’s awakened to—an oppressive cult demanding unquestioning obedience—and her feelings for Jacob, the husband she can’t recall and whose harsh and tender attentions confuse and beguile her, Stella risks all to discover the truth. But enlightenment always comes with a price…

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Author Aleatha Romig

Author Aleatha Romig

About the Author
Aleatha Romig is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who lives in Indiana. She grew up in Mishawaka, graduated from Indiana University, and is currently living south of Indianapolis. Aleatha has raised three children with her high school sweetheart and husband of nearly thirty years. Before she became a full-time author, she worked days as a dental hygienist and spent her nights writing. Now, when she’s not imagining mind-blowing twists and turns, she likes to spend her time  with her family and friends. Her other pastimes include reading and creating heroes/anti-heroes who haunt your dreams!

Aleatha released her first novel, CONSEQUENCES, in August of 2011. CONSEQUENCES became a bestselling series with five novels and two companions released from 2011 through 2015. The compelling and epic story of Anthony and Claire Rawlings has graced more than half a million e-readers. Aleatha released the first of her series TALES FROM THE DARK SIDE, INSIDIOUS, in the fall of 2014. These standalone thrillers continue Aleatha’s twisted style with an increase in heat. In the fall of 2015, Aleatha will move head first into the world of dark romance with the release of BETRAYAL, the first of her five novel INFIDELITY series.

Aleatha is a “Published Author’s Network” member of the Romance Writers of America and represented by Danielle Egan-Miller of Browne & Miller Literary Associates.

Where to Find Aleatha Romig
Goodreads | Website | NewsletterFacebook | Twitter | Amazon | Instagram | Pinterest | Tsu | Audible
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Release Day – Excerpt + Giveaway – He Will Be My Ruin by K.A. Tucker

He Will Be My Ruin Release Day

Welcome to release day for He Will Be My Ruin, a sexy suspense, by USA Today bestselling author, K.A. Tucker. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.

He Will Be My Ruin by K.A. Tucker

He Will Be My Ruin by K.A. Tucker

About the Book
Title:
 He Will Be My Ruin
Author: K.A. Tucker
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Genre: Romantic Suspense/Thriller
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | KoboIndieBound | Book Depository | Audible

Synopsis
The USA TODAY bestselling author of the Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series makes her suspense debut with this sexy, heartpounding story of a young woman determined to find justice after her best friend’s death, a story pulsing with the “intense, hot, emotional” (Colleen Hoover) writing that exhilarates her legions of fans.

A woman who almost had it all . . .

On the surface, Celine Gonzalez had everything a twenty-eight-year-old woman could want: a one-bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, a job that (mostly) paid the bills, and an acceptance letter to the prestigious Hollingsworth Institute of Art, where she would finally live out her dream of becoming an antiques appraiser for a major auction house. All she had worked so hard to achieve was finally within her reach. So why would she kill herself?

A man who was supposed to be her salvation . . .

Maggie Sparkes arrives in New York City to pack up what’s left of her best friend’s belongings after a suicide that has left everyone stunned. The police have deemed the evidence conclusive: Celine got into bed, downed a lethal cocktail of pills and vodka, and never woke up. But when Maggie discovers a scandalous photograph in a lock box hidden in Celine’s apartment, she begins asking questions. Questions about the man Celine fell in love with. The man she never told anyone about, not even Maggie. The man Celine believed would change her life.

Until he became her ruin.

On the hunt for evidence that will force the police to reopen the case, Maggie uncovers more than she bargained for about Celine’s private life—and inadvertently puts herself on the radar of a killer. A killer who will stop at nothing to keep his crimes undiscovered.

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He Will Be My Ruin Teaser 3

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Excerpt

Maggie
December 23, 2015

My wrists burn.

Hours of trying to break free of the rope that binds my hands behind my back have left them raw, the rough cord scrubbing away my skin and cutting into my flesh. I’m sure I’ll have unsightly scars.
Not that it will matter when I’m dead.

I resigned myself to that reality around the time that I finally let go of my bladder. Now I simply lie here, in a pool of urine and vomit, my teeth numb from knocking with each bump in the road, my body frozen by the cold.

Trying to ignore the darkness as I fight against the panic that consumes me. I could suffocate from the anxiety alone.

He knows that.

Now he’s exploiting it. That must be what he does—he uncovers your secrets, your fears, your flaws—and he uses them against you. He did it to Celine.

And now he’s doing it to me.

That’s why I’m in a cramped trunk, my lungs working overtime against a limited supply of oxygen while my imagination runs wild with what may be waiting for me at the end of this ride.

My racing heart ready to explode.

The car hits an especially deep pothole, rattling my bones. I’ve been trapped in here for so long. Hours. Days. I have no idea. Long enough to run through every mistake that I made.

How I trusted him, how I fell for his charm, how I believed his lies. How I made it so easy for him to do this to me.

How Celine made it so easy for him, by letting him get close.

Before he killed her.

Just like he’s going to kill me.

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He Will Be My Ruin Teaser 4

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Author K.A. Tucker

Author K.A. Tucker

About the Author
Born in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons.

She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit.

Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.

Where to find K.A. Tucker
Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Pinterest | Instagram

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Giveaway
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Blog Tour – Excerpt + Giveaway – He Will Be My Ruin by K.A. Tucker

He Will Be My Ruin Blog Tour

Welcome to the review and excerpt tour for He Will Be My Ruin, a sexy suspense, by USA Today bestselling author, K.A. Tucker. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.

He Will Be My Ruin by K.A. Tucker

He Will Be My Ruin by K.A. Tucker

About the Book
Title:
 He Will Be My Ruin
Author: K.A. Tucker
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Genre: Romantic Suspense/Thriller
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | KoboIndieBound | Book Depository | Audible

Synopsis
The USA TODAY bestselling author of the Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series makes her suspense debut with this sexy, heartpounding story of a young woman determined to find justice after her best friend’s death, a story pulsing with the “intense, hot, emotional” (Colleen Hoover) writing that exhilarates her legions of fans.

A woman who almost had it all . . .

On the surface, Celine Gonzalez had everything a twenty-eight-year-old woman could want: a one-bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, a job that (mostly) paid the bills, and an acceptance letter to the prestigious Hollingsworth Institute of Art, where she would finally live out her dream of becoming an antiques appraiser for a major auction house. All she had worked so hard to achieve was finally within her reach. So why would she kill herself?

A man who was supposed to be her salvation . . .

Maggie Sparkes arrives in New York City to pack up what’s left of her best friend’s belongings after a suicide that has left everyone stunned. The police have deemed the evidence conclusive: Celine got into bed, downed a lethal cocktail of pills and vodka, and never woke up. But when Maggie discovers a scandalous photograph in a lock box hidden in Celine’s apartment, she begins asking questions. Questions about the man Celine fell in love with. The man she never told anyone about, not even Maggie. The man Celine believed would change her life.

Until he became her ruin.

On the hunt for evidence that will force the police to reopen the case, Maggie uncovers more than she bargained for about Celine’s private life—and inadvertently puts herself on the radar of a killer. A killer who will stop at nothing to keep his crimes undiscovered.

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He Will Be My Ruin Teaser 1

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Excerpt #1
Look, I’m just…” I stare at my reflection in the mirror, my eyes lined with bags, my skin sallow, my hair matted. I look like someone who sat in bed for twenty-four hours, eating cold pizza from the box I had delivered last night and polishing off a bottle of vodka, all while reading the deepest and darkest thoughts from the last fifteen years of Celine Gonzalez’s life. Discovering things that I could have happily gone the rest of my life without knowing.

Which is exactly what I’ve done.

I can barely keep my eyes open and yet I know that sleep will not grant me a reprieve. “I’m dealing with a few private matters.”

“Well, I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to fit you in when you decide that you’re ready.”

“You will, because your boss wants my money.” I hang up before I hear her snippy answer and stare at the journal in my hands.

I was torn between starting from the latest diary first and easing myself in with the oldest one, afraid that I wasn’t ready for what might lie within those last pages. That I wasn’t ready to witness just how Celine had lost herself.

And then I picked up a pink book with butterflies on it—the earliest dated journal—and read a thirteen-year-old Celine recount her major crush on my boyfriend at the time: a tall, gangly guy named Jordan who kissed her behind our house one day while I was changing into my bathing suit upstairs. She felt so guilty, she couldn’t sleep for a week. Through tears, I laughed—because I hadn’t even given that guy a moment’s thought in years—and I knew then that starting at the beginning of Celine’s story was the only way to do this.

And so I did, living the past fifteen years through Celine’s eyes, since the days she and Rosa still lived with me. It wasn’t hard to follow along. She dated every single entry. Some days she didn’t have a lot to say. Other days she’d fill an entire page, even writing along the margin. She seemed to follow a simple rule as the years progressed: one page per day, no more.

So many days.

So many confessions.

So many things that made my heart swell.

And so many that made my heart bleed with pain.

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He Will Be My Ruin Teaser 2

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Author K.A. Tucker

Author K.A. Tucker

About the Author
Born in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons.

She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit.

Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.

Where to find K.A. Tucker
Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Pinterest | Instagram

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Giveaway
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Month in Review – December 2015

Two weeks late, but you know, the holidays… Also, some front yard landscaping, and Aussie exchange student for eleven days, and final edits and publishing of The Uprising (which comes out on Tuesday!). Better late than never. Here are the books I read and reviewed in December, 2015.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Story: 4 Stars
Audiobook: 5 Stars

Title: Gone Girl
Author: 
Gillian Flynn
Release Date: 
May 24, 2012
Publisher:
Random House Audible
Narrators:
Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne
Length:
19 Hours 11 Minutes
Genre:
 Contemporary Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
Story Rating: 
4 out of 5 Stars
Audio Production Rating:
 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | AudibleAmazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge.

Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

Bottom Line
Gone Girl is a disturbing tale, beautifully written, and the audiobook version is one of the best produced I’ve ever listened to.

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Bad Romance: A Stepbrother Novel by by Jen McLaughlin

Bad Romance A Stepbrother Novel by by Jen McLaughlin

Bad Romance A Stepbrother Novel by by Jen McLaughlin

4 Stars

Title: Bad Romance: A Stepbrother Novel
Author: 
Jen McLauchlin
Publisher: 
Loveswept
Release Date: 
September 15, 2015
Pages:
242
Genre: 
New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 
4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Synopsis
In this explosive novel from New York Times bestselling author Jen McLaughlin, a good girl falls for the ultimate bad boy: her stepbrother. Perfect for fans of Sabrina Paige, Caitlin Daire, and Krista Lakes, Bad Romance proves that passion can be so wrong it’s right.

Seven years in the army will change a guy. But after a shoulder wound ends his career as a sniper, Jackson Worthington finds himself back home, fighting a battle that’s all too familiar: keeping his hands off Lily Hastings. She’s still her rich daddy’s little angel, innocent, impossibly lovely, as squeaky-clean as Jackson is dirty. And she’s still his stepsister—forbidden but not forgotten, not after the soul-melting kiss that got him kicked out of the house at eighteen. He couldn’t resist her then. How the hell can he resist her now?

Lily is about to marry a man she doesn’t love, and commit to a high-stress job she hates, all to please the father who controls every waking moment of her life. On top of everything, her teenage crush is back, with a sleek, chiseled body and a trace of the rebellious boy whose lips sealed her fate. Jackson’s timing couldn’t be worse . . . or better. Because Lily’s all grown up, too. She’s aching for another taste. And for the first time, she’s ready to be a bad girl.

Bottom Line
Bad Romance is a page-turning romance about forbidden love and learning to live your own life.

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Royal Marriage Market by Heather Lyons

Royal Marriage Market by Heather Lyons

Royal Marriage Market by Heather Lyons

4.5 Stars

Title: Royal Marriage Market
Author: Heather Lyons
Publisher: Cerulean Books
Release Date: December 15, 2015
Pages: 335
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | iBooks | Kobo

Synopsis
Every decade, the world’s monarchs and their heirs secretly convene to discuss global politics and social issues—and arrange marriages between kingdoms. Elsa may be the Hereditary Princess of Vattenguldia, but she finds the entire situation archaic and unsavory. While she wants what’s best for her country, she isn’t about to jump into an unwanted relationship—let alone a marriage—with a virtual stranger. Of course, her feelings matter little to her parents, whose wheeling and dealings over trade pacts and alliances achieved at her expense begin the moment they set foot in California for the Summit. So when a blindingly handsome royal runs into her, she doesn’t hesitate to tell him there’s no way she’s marrying him.

Christian is all too happy to agree: no marriage. As the Hereditary Grand Duke of Aiboland, his main goal is to get through the summit without a bride being foisted on him. Which is why he suggests they help each other field potential intendeds. As Christian slowly gets to know Elsa, though, he realizes they have a lot more in common than just their feelings about the Royal Marriage Market. Only he can’t fall for her, because royal or not, they’re not meant for each other. Elsa and Christian will have to evaluate matters of the heart verses those of state and crown, and decide whether or not tradition trumps love.

Bottom Line
Royal Marriage Market is a fun twist on the contemporary romance genre with plenty of chemistry and more than a few laughs.

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The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus by Fred White

The Writer's Idea Thesaurus by Fred White

The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus by Fred White

3.5 Stars

Title: The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus: An Interactive Guide for Developing Ideas for Novels and Short Stories
Author: Fred White
Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books
Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Pages: 320
Category: Writing Fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: GoodreadsAmazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
Endless ideas at your fingertips, and at the turn of a page…

Need an idea for a short story or novel? Look no further than The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus. It’s far more than a collection of simple writing prompts. You’ll find a vast treasury of story ideas inside, organized by subject, theme, and situation categories, and listed alphabetically for easy reference. Author and award-winning writing instructor Fred White shows you how to build out and customize these ideas to create unique plots that reflect your personal storytelling sensibilities, making The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus an invaluable tool for generating creative ideas and vanquishing writer’s block—for good.

Inside you’ll find:
•2,000 unique and dynamic story ideas perfect for novels and short stories of any genre or writing style
•Twenty major idea categories, such as The Invasion of X, The Transformation of X into Y, Escape from X, The Curse of X, and more
•Multiple situations that further refine the major categories, such as The Creation of Artificial Life, The Descent Into Madness, Love in the Workplace, The Journey to a Forgotten Realm, and more
•Invaluable advice on how to customize each idea.

The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus is an interactive story generator that opens the door to thousands of new story arcs and plotlines.

 Bottom Line
The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus lives up to its name as a unique reference guide to aid writers in developing story ideas.

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Next Door to a Star (Star Series) by Krysten Lindsay Hagar

Next Door to a Star by Krysten Lindsay Hagar

Next Door to a Star by Krysten Lindsay Hagar

4 Stars

Title: Next Door to a Star
Series: Star Series #1
Author:
Krysten Lindsay Hagar
Publisher: Limitless Publishing, LLC
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Pages: 185
Genre: 
Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon InternationalBarnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | BAM!

Synopsis
Hadley Daniels is tired of feeling invisible. After Hadley’s best friend moves away and she gets on the bad side of some girls at school, she goes to spend the summer with her grandparents in the Lake Michigan resort town of Grand Haven. Her next door neighbor is none other than teen TV star Simone Hendrickson, who is everything Hadley longs to be—pretty, popular, and famous—and she’s thrilled when Simone treats her like a friend. Being popular is a lot harder than it looks.

It’s fun and flattering when Simone includes her in her circle, though Hadley is puzzled about why her new friend refuses to discuss her former Hollywood life. Caught up with Simone, Hadley finds herself ignoring her quiet, steadfast friend, Charlotte. To make things even more complicated, along comes Nick Jenkins… He’s sweet, good-looking, and Hadley can be herself around him without all the fake drama. However, the mean girls have other ideas and they fill Nick’s head with lies about Hadley, sending him running back to his ex-girlfriend and leaving Hadley heartbroken.

So when her parents decide to relocate to Grand Haven, Hadley hopes things will change when school starts…only to be disappointed once again. Cliques. Back-stabbing. Love gone bad. Is this really what it’s like to live…Next Door To A Star?

Bottom Line
While Next Door to a Star moves slow at times, it’s filled with a colorful cast of young teens who think and act like the kids on the cusp of adulthood they are.
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Book Review – Dog Collar Crime (Lucie Rizzo Mystery) by Adrienne Giordano

Dog Collar Crime (Lucie Rizzo Mystery #1) by Adrienne Giordano

Dog Collar Crime (Lucie Rizzo Mystery #1) by Adrienne Giordano

3.5 Stars

Synopsis
Out of work and down on her luck, Lucie Rizzo is forced to do the one thing she’s long avoided—move home to her nutty, mob-infested family. A move that brings her back into the tempting arms of Frankie Falcone, the ex that never fails to make her heart sit up and beg.

When Lucie parlays her temporary dog-walking gig into a career making fancy dog accessories, Frankie becomes her number one supporter. Life starts to look like a walk in the park…until three of her bling-wearing clients are dogjacked.

Despite help from the on-again, off-again Mr. Fix-It in her life, Lucie is thrown into an investigation that’s more Goodfellas than good doggie. One that could shatter her new life and her second chance at love.

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My Review
There was much to love about Dog Collar Crime. In many ways, it reminded me of a Stephanie Plum novel minus the incompetent protagonist and unrealistically stupid criminals. Lucie Rizzo is out of work and forced to move back home with her mom and brother. Born and raised a mob princess, Lucie longs to break free of her family chains and make her own way in the world. But after getting laid off, she’s right back in the middle of the family drama, including a father in prison. Her on-again-off-again boyfriend, Frankie, would do anything for her, except leave behind his own mob-connected family.

Lucie makes ends meet by walking dogs and making high-end pet accessories, while she waits and hopes a job in banking comes her way. But when the dogs she walks start being targeted by someone, Lucie begins to wonder if she’ll ever be able to escape that world.

Plot
The plot is a mystery with a strong dose of romance. Finding out who is targeting her dogs and why is the main plot, but her relationship with Frankie plays a larger role than in most other books of this genre. The pacing was slow more than a few times. There seemed to be a lot of time spent walking the dogs, which granted is Lucie’s job, but not much else happened. There also seemed to be some repeated elements. Instead of escalating early, the dognappings stayed sort of the same and the back-and-forth with Frankie felt too repetitive at times. But there’s light humor, plenty of chemistry between the characters, and a couple of twists that redeem the story.

Characters
The characters are by far the best part of the story. They’re fun, quirky, well-rounded, and believable. Lucie Rizzo’s desire to be anything but the daughter of a mobster is tangible and relatable, even if your dad isn’t a made man. Frankie is also sympathetic as the loyal son who has managed to break away from the crime family and flourish in a legitimate job. Even the gangster family members transcend stereotype and are well-developed and three-dimensional.

Ending
I was expecting more from the ending. Although a mystery and not a thriller, overall the story lacked a real sense of peril for the characters. I never felt like any of their lives were truly in danger. The climax left me wondering what would happen to the characters’ relationships rather than if they would survive. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because I did care about all of them and wanted them to wind up happy.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The pacing.
 The story moved too slow for me at times.
2. Repetition. There were times I felt like we revisited the same issues over and over again, particularly when it came to Lucie’s feelings for, and issues with, Frankie.

What I Enjoyed About Dog Collar Crime
1. The characters.
 All of the characters were well developed, interesting, and avoided stereotypes.
2. Chemistry. There was instant chemistry between Lucie and Frankie, but also a great bromance between Frankie and Lucie’s brother, Joey, between Lucie and her brother, and between Lucie and her mom. These relationships all came across as lovingly authentic.
3. The mystery. The mystery of who was behind the dognappings was well plotted, and kept me guessing.
4. Ro. Best BFF ever.
5. Lucie’s mom. She was so beautifully flawed and yet I never doubted her love for her children.

Bottom Line
Dog Collar Crime is a lighthearted mystery with compelling characters and a touch of humor.

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: Dog Collar Crime
Series: Lucie Rizzo Mystery #1
Author: Adrienne Giordano
Release Date: August 4, 2013
Pages: 256
Genre: Cozy Mystery/New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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Author Adrienne Giordano

Author Adrienne Giordano

About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Adrienne Giordano writes romantic suspense and mystery. 

She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her workaholic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaten Terrorist (Terrier).

She is a co-founder of Romance University blog and Lady Jane’s Salon-Naperville, a reading series dedicated to romantic fiction. 

Where to Find Adrienne Giordano
Goodreads | Website | Newsletter | Street TeamFacebook | Twitter

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Audiobook Review – Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Story: 4 Stars
Audiobook: 5 Stars

Synopsis
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary.

Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge.

Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior.

Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

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My Review
I got the unabridged version of this book from Audible. All 19 hours and 11 minutes worth. At times, I loved the story and took the long way to and from my destination, or lapped the block one more time to continue listening. Other times, I hated it, chose music over audiobooks for months at a time. It took me nearly ten months to finish it. What I can’t deny is that Gillian Flynn is a hell of a writer. The story is intriguing, captivating, unnerving. The audiobook production is among the best I’ve ever listened to, and I listen to a lot of audiobooks. The narrators are talented and brought the characters to life. And what characters they are. Complex, deep, fully three-dimensional, and unfortunately, utterly loathsome.

I absolutely salivated over the brilliant writing of Gillian Flynn, took notes, wished I could write like that. The story was engaging at times, difficult to read at others. The pacing was slow in spots, and those were the times I felt myself less inclined to listen for awhile. At other times, it was fast, riveting. At no point did I figure out what was going to happen next. The plot twists are inspired. So with all of this going for it, why couldn’t I give it five stars? The book left me unsettled, and not in the way a good thriller does. It left me feeling ambivalent toward all the characters, as in I don’t really care what happens to them. In some ways, I wish I’d never read about them. And the ending was flat, not living up to the expectations the author set with her amazing plotting throughout.

Plot
The plotting was fantastic. There were so many twists and turns and unexpected surprises. Gillian Flynn is a master of pre-shadowing. Everything that happens has a purpose that may not become clear until a long time later, but her method of storytelling ensures even the smallest detail is memorable.

Characters
The characters are well developed, believable, stunningly crafted. Even the smallest character was thoroughly developed. I just didn’t care for any of them. Didn’t care what happened to them, and still don’t. But they will not soon be forgotten.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The ending. I absolutely despised how it just ended in a way that felt unfinished. Sometimes, I wonder if maybe it went on longer than necessary, other times, I think it stopped too soon. I just know it feels unfinished and not in a “sequel is coming” kind of way.

2. The characters. Man, I hate them all, with the exception of maybe Margo and Boney. I can’t deny the characters are three-dimensional and wholly realistic. The world is full of people who are difficult or impossible to like. But in the end, I had no one to root for in Gone Girl.

What I Enjoyed About Gone Girl
1. The writing. Flawless, beautiful prose underlies a dark mystery with contemptible characters.

2. The plot twists. There were so many of them and they were so perfectly woven in, they were nearly seamless.

3. The narration. Both voice actors were amazing. This is one of the best audiobook productions I’ve ever listened to.

4. The character development. Yes, I loathe them, but they are so well crafted, I have to remind myself they’re fictional.

5. Attention to detail. The vivid writing made the scenes come alive in my mind as I listened. In some ways, I feel as if I watched a movie.

Bottom Line
Gone Girl is a disturbing tale, beautifully written, and the audiobook version is one of the best produced I’ve ever listened to.

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About the Audiobook
Title:
 Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Release Date: May 24, 2012
Publisher: Random House Audible
Narrators: Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne
Length: 19 Hours 11 Minutes
Genre: Contemporary Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
Story Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Audio Production Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | AudibleAmazon | Barnes & Noble

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Author Gillian Flynn

Author Gillian Flynn

About the Author
Gillian Flynn is an American author and television critic for Entertainment Weekly. She has so far written three novels, Sharp Objects, for which she won the 2007 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for the best thriller; Dark Places; and her best-selling third novel Gone Girl.

Her book has received wide praise, including from authors such as Stephen King. The dark plot revolves around a serial killer in a Missouri town, and the reporter who has returned from Chicago to cover the event. Themes include dysfunctional families,violence and self-harm.

In 2007 the novel was shortlisted for the Mystery Writers of America Edgar for Best First Novel by an American Writer, Crime Writers’ Association Duncan Lawrie, CWA New Blood and Ian Fleming Steel Daggers, winning in the last two categories.

Flynn, who lives in Chicago, grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. She graduated at the University of Kansas, and qualified for a Master’s degree from Northwestern University.

Where to Find Gillian Flynn
GoodreadsWebsite | Facebook

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Blog Tour – Excerpt + Giveaway – Vanquished by S.E. Green

Vanquished Blog Tour

Welcome to the blog tour for Vanquished, a romantic suspense novel from author S.E. Green. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.

Vanquished by S.E. Green

Vanquished by S.E. Green

About the Book
Title:
 Vanquished
Author: S.E. Green
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
(Warning: For mature audiences only)

For a price, the world’s most powerful people can explore their darkest desires. On a private island hidden in the ocean they may hunt humans for game, attend gladiator-style fights, participate in elaborate orgies, and freely indulge in all the deadly sins within the cosplay of ancient times.

Abducted from their life in Miami, Valoria and her younger sister wake up in this secret society, wherein Valoria is condemned to the fights and her sister is taken away to become a sex slave.

Now “property” of a sadistic tyrant, Valoria joins other men and women captives who are forced to fight and maim for others’ enjoyment, to run in their hunts, and participate in deviant fantasies. And she’s under the cold, watchful eye of Alexior, a hired trainer with his own agenda for being involved in the twisted decadence.

After surviving several near-death ordeals, a defiant Valoria focuses on her training and against all odds soon becomes a favorite. But she fights for one thing and one thing only—to be reunited with her sister and to be freed.

But promises of freedom are sometimes just manipulative lies . . .

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Excerpt #3
I come up on all fours, staring, concentrating on keeping my loud breaths steady, like my father taught me. The crowd on the balcony laughs like they think it’s the funniest thing in the world to see a little woman about to get beat.

Blood rushes through the fat man’s face, spreading red all the way to his hairline. He nods to two soldiers who each grab one of my arms.

They’re enormous and I’m nothing next to them, but I still fight their hold. I yank at it. Jab the heel of my foot into one of their legs. And sink my teeth into the other one’s bicep.

The fat man stalks toward me, his eyes clinging to me as he slowly winds his whip and makes a show of fastening it back onto his hip. Blood pounds in my ears, echoing in my head, muting the lingering laughter and whispers from the balcony.

He steps right up to my face. “You’re a little bitch. And I will break you,” he promises.

I hike my chin. “Give it your best.”

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Author S.E. Green

Author S.E. Green

About the Author
S. E. Green (aka Shannon Greenland) is the award winning author of the teen thriller, Killer Instinct, a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers; the teen spy series, The Specialists, an ALA Popular Paperback and a National Reader’s Choice recipient; and the YA romance, The Summer My Life Began, winner of the Beverly Hills Book Award.

Her books have been translated into several languages and are currently on numerous state reading lists. Vanquished is her debut novel for adults.

Shannon grew up in Tennessee where she dreaded all things reading and writing. She didn’t even read her first book for enjoyment until she was twenty-five. After that she was hooked! When she’s not writing, she works as an adjunct math professor and lives on the coast in Florida with her very grouchy dog.

Where to find S.E. Green
Goodreads | Website | Newsletter | FacebookTwitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Wattpad

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Giveaway
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Release Day + Giveaway – Dead Ringer by Jessie Rosen

Dead Ringer Release

Welcome to the release day book blitz for Dead Ringer, a young adult contemporary mystery/thriller by Jessie Rosen. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.

Dead Ringer by Jessie Rosen

Dead Ringer by Jessie Rosen

About the Book
Title:
 Dead Ringer
Author: Jessie Rosen
Publisher: Full Fathom Five Digital
Release Date: November 11, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Mystery/Thriller
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | KoboGooglePlay | Full Fathom Five

Synopsis
From the moment Laura Rivers steps foot into Englewood High, she notices the stares—and they aren’t the typical once-overs every pretty new girl endures. The students seem confused and…spooked. Whispers echoing through the halls confirm that something is seriously off. “That new girl looks just like her,” they say.

It turns out Laura has a doppelgänger, and it isn’t just anyone—it’s Sarah Castro-Tanner, the girl who killed herself by jumping into the Navasink River one year ago.

Laura is determined not to let the gossip ruin her chances of making a fresh start. Thanks to her charming personality and California tan, she catches the eye of Englewood’s undisputed golden boy, Charlie Sanders, and it’s only a matter of time before they make their relationship official.

But something is making Charlie and his friends paranoid—and Laura soon discovers it has to do with Sarah Castro-Tanner.

What really happened to Sarah? Why is Charlie unraveling? And how does Laura Rivers fit into it all? After all, she’s the dead ringer for a dead girl.

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Excerpt #2

Charlie

Charlie’s first morning back at Englewood was as busy as any. He owed Principal Hayden a plan for the Volunteer Core’s winter trip, Coach Stanley the results of his latest physical for the soccer scouts who were already swarming, and Mrs. Smelson his application for student representative to the district school board. And then there was the requisite time spent floating around the halls and catching up with friends about the last few weeks of summer.

Charlie didn’t like to admit it, but he was pretty much a celebrity in the halls of EHS. For the past two years, he’d led the soccer team to state and national victories, and this year he would serve as captain. All the hard work and sacrifice was paying off. In nine short months, Charlie’s high school career would be over and his real life would begin, hopefully with a full ride to his first-choice college.

Right now it was hard to believe he’d ever fought his mom on the decision to leave their comfy home in Toms River for a tiny apartment in this rich soccer mecca. He hadn’t wanted his hobby to uproot their little family of two, but Pattie Sanders had turned out right, as always—it had been worth it. Applications still needed to be finished, but Charlie’s grades were right where they needed to be. Now it was all about what he did on the field, and that was the easy part. It’s nice to feel so confident and relaxed at the start of senior year, Charlie thought to himself as he slipped into Ms. O’Malley’s room. It had been a long, long time since he didn’t have something making the insides of his body churn.

Within seconds, that comfort was gone.

“Charlie, raise your hand for Miss Rivers to see,” Ms. O’Malley said seconds after the first-period bell rang. He lifted his hand as he followed her gaze to the front of the classroom. Then his mind went blank.

Standing in the doorway was… No. How could it be? Charlie clenched his stomach to stop the sick feeling from crawling any higher up his insides. Wait. Of course not. This wasn’t her—it couldn’t be. She was gone. Plus, this girl had blond hair, not black. This girl’s face was round, not long, and her nose was completely different. So then, what was it? The way she was staring? The shape of her body? Or maybe it was her eyes? Something about this girl reminded Charlie so much of her.

He let his hand fall back down, flashed a quick smile, and then looked away. You’re the only one seeing it, Charlie thought to himself. You’re looking for it. Get her out of your head. It’s been long enough.

“Mr. Sanders, Miss Rivers,” O’Malley bellowed from the front of the room.

Before he knew it, the new girl was sitting directly in front of him. He was pretty sure she’d said something cute. There was a chance he’d said something clever back. All he knew for sure was that her name was Laura Rivers, and she was from Southern California. Could she see him staring at her face? Had other people stared, too? They must have. They must have all stared. That is, if they all remembered her half as well as he did.

Forty-five minutes later, Charlie was kicking himself as he watched Laura Rivers walk toward her next class. He’d invited her to sit with them at lunch. He couldn’t explain why, but in two short hours he’d have to—to Kit, Miller, and Amanda.

Charlie may have been the ringleader of their foursome, but he did very little without the approval of the other three members of their set. In fact, the fifty-minute English class that just ended was the first time they’d been apart since 7:30 a.m.

The morning started like it had every single school day in the six years they’d been best friends—except that today, for the first time, Charlie was their ride in the 1996 Pontiac Grand Am convertible he saved his rec-soccer-coaching money to buy for his seventeenth birthday.

Kit and Miller were waiting on the curb between their two houses when Charlie pulled up. Kit was fidgeting with her cellphone while telling a mile-a-minute story to Miller. Miller was half asleep and fake-listening while chugging an orange juice that Charlie knew he would later leave in the back of the convertible car. Without missing a beat, Kit saw Charlie approach, grabbed the almost-empty carton out of Miller’s hand, and tossed it in the trashcan next to the curb. What would Miller do without her? Charlie thought.

“Were you two out here waiting for Bertha’s boob-mobile? If so, I can just meet you at school…”

“I hope I never see that crazy bitch again,” Miller said as he climbed into the back of the car.

“Sean! Be nice. You took that bus for five days and poor Bertha probably had serious back problems because of those boobs,” Kit said as she climbed in beside him. “Let’s go. Amanda is waiting.”

Leave it to Kit to defend the only bus driver in the world that got lost four times a week, Charlie thought as they sped off toward Amanda’s house.

Predictably, Amanda was not waiting at the curb. Amanda Hunter did not wait for people anywhere, ever. After two beeps, she finally appeared with a fake-apologetic look on her face.

“Happy first day, Carly!” she said as she approached the convertible.

Charlie had long since given up on convincing Amanda to drop the dumb nickname she’d given him when he’d first arrived at Englewood Middle School.

“Your name is Carly?” she had said when he introduced himself to her all those years ago.

“No, it’s Charlie!”

“Well, I heard Carly, so I’m calling you that…forever.”

Charlie had thought forever would last about a year, but he’d underestimated Amanda. That was a mistake he’d never make again.

“Hey, kids,” she said, and climbed into the front seat. “Thanks for leaving me the front.”

“Like we have a choice,” Miller said.

“Exactly,” Amanda responded.

Charlie glanced over at Amanda as she sidled in beside him. Sometimes it was impossible to look at her without seeing all the history that had passed between them, but today all Charlie could focus on was the fact that she was gorgeous. She probably spent an hour making her curls look like she just got out of bed and picking out her shorts and top, but Charlie saw right through it. Amanda cared deeply what other people thought of her. Charlie knew how she felt because he was exactly the same.

Amanda must have sensed his gaze because she reached out and gently touched her hand to his knee. “I have a good feeling about this year,” she whispered.

They had decided not to tell Kit and Miller that they’d been talking about getting back together. Kit would explode with delight at the thought of all the double dates in their future, and Miller would immediately inform the rest of the soccer team that Amanda Hunter was off the market again, courtesy of his best friend. Charlie wasn’t ready to jump back into things quite yet, despite Amanda’s very convincing ways.

“You know we’re the best when we’re together,” she’d said to him the other night as they lay on the couch in her pool house. She was right: when he and Amanda were great, they were really, really great. She was demanding and could be a brat from time to time, but underneath that tough edge was a girl who knew what she wanted and how to get it. Charlie always admired that about Amanda. She forced him to work harder to make all his goals a reality. He wanted them to get back to being the couple they were always meant to be, but they had been through more in two and a half years of dating than most people would experience in a lifetime, and it sometimes made Charlie wonder if he and Amanda were cursed.

He took her hand in his and gave it a quick squeeze as he backed out of her family’s long driveway and headed toward school. So what if Kit or Miller noticed? Right then, it felt right.

* * *

But now, as he caught Amanda’s face watching Laura Rivers slowly glide down the lunch line en route to their table, Charlie wasn’t so sure.

“You guys hear there’s a new girl?” Miller asked, his mouth half-full with the first of two meatball subs he’d grabbed from the cafeteria line. As usual, his timing was terrible.

Amanda glanced at Kit, who acknowledged the look, but quickly turned away. So much for Charlie seeing things that weren’t really there.

“Yeah. We have English together first period. I actually invited her to sit with us today,” Charlie said. He knew the Band-Aid approach was best with this group. Better to just rip it off so there was more time to deal with Amanda’s freak-out.

“You did what?” Amanda barked.

“What’s the problem?” Charlie was bluffing, and he knew that she knew it.

“Fine. Since no one else is going to say it…” she lowered her voice and leaned in, “she kinda looks like you-know-who.”

“I think she does, too, Charlie,” Kit chimed in. “But maybe that’s just because we’re paranoid…”

“You girls are crazy,” Miller said. “I don’t see it.”

“You don’t see anything, Sean,” Kit said.

Charlie had no interest in dwelling on the issue. “Her name is Laura and we all need to get over it,” Charlie said, mostly to himself.

The next second, she was standing inches from the table. Charlie looked over at Miller as he registered Laura’s features. Within a second, Charlie could tell that he saw it, too.

Charlie watched Laura nervously touch a chunk of her gold curls and felt his entire body clench. In that moment, any thought about moving on seemed ridiculous. Laura looked like her, yes, but the bigger problem was that Charlie found her totally captivating.

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Author Jessie Rosen

Author Jessie Rosen

About the Author
Jessie Rosen is a writer, producer, and performer. She grew up in New Jersey, attended Boston College in Massachusetts, and began her writing career in New York.

Her live storytelling series Sunday Night Sex Talk has received national attention. She was named one of “The 25 Best Bloggers, 2013 Edition” by TIME magazine for her blog 20- Nothings, which was also named in “The 100 Best Websites for Women” and “The Top 10 Best Websites for Millennial Women” in 2013 by Forbes.

Rosen is the oldest of four girls, which gives her a special window into the minds of teenagers. She now lives in Los Angeles, where she’s working on film and television projects, as well as her next novel.

Where to Find Jessie Rosen
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
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Release Day + Giveaway – Vanquished by S.E. Green

Vanquished Release

Today is release day for Vanquished, a romantic suspense novel from author S.E. Green. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.

Vanquished by S.E. Green

Vanquished by S.E. Green

About the Book
Title:
 Vanquished
Author: S.E. Green
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
(Warning: For mature audiences only)

For a price, the world’s most powerful people can explore their darkest desires. On a private island hidden in the ocean they may hunt humans for game, attend gladiator-style fights, participate in elaborate orgies, and freely indulge in all the deadly sins within the cosplay of ancient times.

Abducted from their life in Miami, Valoria and her younger sister wake up in this secret society, wherein Valoria is condemned to the fights and her sister is taken away to become a sex slave.

Now “property” of a sadistic tyrant, Valoria joins other men and women captives who are forced to fight and maim for others’ enjoyment, to run in their hunts, and participate in deviant fantasies. And she’s under the cold, watchful eye of Alexior, a hired trainer with his own agenda for being involved in the twisted decadence.

After surviving several near-death ordeals, a defiant Valoria focuses on her training and against all odds soon becomes a favorite. But she fights for one thing and one thing only—to be reunited with her sister and to be freed.

But promises of freedom are sometimes just manipulative lies . . .

——————————————————————

Excerpt
A muscle in the right side of his jaw ticks and my eyes go straight to it. I stare at it as it ticks a second time. A third. My vision narrows to just that one hard muscle, and warmth flushes through me. The muscle stops ticking and instead locks into tense attention.

I swallow, and my gaze trails down to his throat to see it constrict, too. The puffy vein in his neck draws my attention next and I watch as it thumps. Thumps. Thumps.

He moves a fraction closer and I draw in his unique Alexior scent. He shifts, and I realize he’s opening the door.

I don’t bring my eyes back to his. I don’t want him to see whatever it is that is going on inside of me right now. I don’t want to face the possibility there is nothing going on inside of him.

He grabs my upper arm and squeezes almost too tightly and then roughly trails his hand down the length of my arm and around to my lower back. So low he’s touching the top of my ass. He turns me and presses me forward into the room.

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Author S.E. Green

Author S.E. Green

About the Author
S. E. Green (aka Shannon Greenland) is the award winning author of the teen thriller, Killer Instinct, a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers; the teen spy series, The Specialists, an ALA Popular Paperback and a National Reader’s Choice recipient; and the YA romance, The Summer My Life Began, winner of the Beverly Hills Book Award.

Her books have been translated into several languages and are currently on numerous state reading lists. Vanquished is her debut novel for adults.

Shannon grew up in Tennessee where she dreaded all things reading and writing. She didn’t even read her first book for enjoyment until she was twenty-five. After that she was hooked! When she’s not writing, she works as an adjunct math professor and lives on the coast in Florida with her very grouchy dog.

Where to find S.E. Green
Goodreads | Website | Newsletter | FacebookTwitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Wattpad

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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