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1. Review: Gracefully Grayson

Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky. Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group. 2014. Reviewed from ARC.

The Plot: Grayson Sender is twelve years old.

Grayson is lonely, even surrounded by classmates, even at home, living with cousins, an aunt and uncle.

Grayson is lonely in part because of Grayson's parents death years ago, leading to Grayson being the odd child out at home.

Grayson is lonely because Grayson cannot connect with others because Grayson is hiding the most important part of who Grayson is.

In Gracefully Grayson, Grayson gradually gains trust and friends until Grayson can reveal the truth: that Grayson is a girl inside. Grayson is a transgender girl.

The Good: I'll be honest Grayson broke my heart, because of how lonely she is. Of how unable to connect with those around her.

At school, Grayson tries out for the play and takes her first step towards her true self by asking to play the part of a girl. One of the happy-tear moments I had was -- spoilers -- when the cast welcomed Grayson, became her friend, treated her like they'd treat anyone else.

Then there were the sad-tears of those who bullied Grayson, and of Grayson's aunt who believes that Grayson is in part causing the problems by not continuing to hide her truth.

And I cried at all the things Grayson did, in hiding. Doodling pictures of girls, but doing it in such a way that people wouldn't know. "If you draw a a triangle with a circle resting on the top point, nobody will be able to tell that it's a girl in a dress. To add hair, draw kind of a semicircle on top. If you do this, you'll be safe, because it looks like you're just doodling shapes."

Loving glitter pens and being prepared with lies to explain why she has the purple and pink ones.

Wearing a sweatband to pretend it's a hairband.

Pretending basketball pants and a t-shirt are somehow a gown, with the wide pants a full skirt.

And how important it is to Grayson, to anyone, to have their own truth by the truth others see. That it's harmful, the years and the lies of pretending to be something other than who she is.

At the end of Gracefully Grayson, someone tells Grayson that "I know it may feel like there are people who are against you, but I want you to remember that most people in the world are good. Look for the people who extend a hand to you. And when they do take it." This, in a nutshell, sums up the book. There are people against Grayson, for various reasons. But there are just as many good people in Grayson's world.

And the question left to the reader is this: is the reader one of the good ones? Does the reader extend a hand to those around them?

I'm making this one of my Favorite Books of 2014, because it is such a beautiful book and Grayson is such an endearing twelve year old.

Links: author interview at Diversity in YA; Bookfabulous Review; Robert Bittner Review at Gay YA;



Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

0 Comments on Review: Gracefully Grayson as of 10/23/2014 5:21:00 AM
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2. Review: The Doctor’s Fake Fiancée by Victoria James

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

When Victoria James asked if I wanted to review her latest release, I had to think about it for all of about 2 seconds.  I have read and enjoyed the other Red River books, so I was eager to jump into The Doctor’s Fake Fiancée.  I’ll admit that I’m always nervous to accept requests from authors, because what if I don’t like their book?  I’m happy to report that once I started this one, I wasn’t concerned about that any longer.  While not every aspect of the story worked for me, most of it pushed all the right buttons.

Grace is a single mother struggling to raise her son without help from anyone.  Her mother, her only source of support, passed away, leaving her with no one to rely on.  Her ex walked out on her while she was pregnant, and even her father is a distant memory.  He walked out on her, too, when she was a young girl, leaving her mother to raise her by herself.  Grace has never had much, but she works hard and provides a loving home for her son. 

The story begins with a terrible car accident; both Grace and Christopher are trapped in her car, with the fiery wreck of a truck threatening to blow at any moment.  Thankfully, Dr.  Evan Manning comes to their rescue, saving both mother and son.  Evan and Christopher are injured during the ordeal, and Evan’s surgical career is over. 

A year later, Grace has managed to locate Evan.  She wants to thank him for saving her and Christopher.  Evan is filling in at the clinic in his hometown of Red River, and he’s hating every minute of it.  He longs for the fast-paced environment of the ER.  The slow pace of the clinic, and the nosy patients, are driving him batty.  He’s not much of a people person, and one of the things he missed least about his hometown is how everyone feels the need to know everyone else’s business.  He’s even so grumpy that the clinic’s long-term receptionist quits and walks out on him.

When Grace and Christopher appear, he’s less than pleased.  He doesn’t want to remember the accident that robbed him of his career.  But then he realizes that maybe their timing is perfect.  He needs a replacement receptionist, and Grace has worked in clinics previously.  He offers Grace a job, as well as a temporary gig – all she has to do is pretend to be his fiancée.  He’s applied for a job as the CEO of a chain of plastic surgery clinics.  It’s not the high pressure excitement of the O.R., but it should be challenging and keep him from losing his mind  to boredom.  To cement the position, he needs a wife.  Or a fiancée.   The company is very family oriented, and he wants all the leverage he can get, so Grace’s sudden appearance is timely.

This was probably the weakest plot point for me.  Grace is unemployed and has rent to pay and a young child to take care of, so I can see her being desperate enough to go along with Evan’s proposal.  He offers her a place to stay, offers to pay the rent on her Toronto apartment, and will even spring for a new wardrobe, because his fiancée is expected to look sophisticated and fashionable.  He’s a complete stranger, and yes, while he did save their lives a year ago, she doesn’t know him, and she can’t be sure that he’s trustworthy.  While I do love the fairy tale simplicity of this set up, I am just too suspicious accept him at face value this early in the game.

What I enjoyed most about The Doctor’s Fake Fiancée was Evan’s growth from a self-absorbed man who put his career before everything else in his life, into a man who learned the importance of family, friends, and roots.  Evan thought that all of the answers to his dissatisfaction with his life would be found in Toronto, as the CEO of Medcorp.  Nothing else mattered to him but snagging that job.  Not his brothers or their wives or their children, or the many people who tried to get him to open up to them and accept how important he was to the community.  For such a smart guy, it takes him an awfully long time to realize what really mattered, and that a big fat paycheck and a lifetime of shuffling around papers wasn’t it.  Evan’s life before he met Grace was so empty and devoid of emotion, it’s no wonder he had a hard time connecting with his own feelings.  They had gone dormant, and it took the shock of a loving woman and a rambunctious boy to jolt them back to wakefulness.

The Doctor’s Fake Fiancée is a sweet, feel good read.  I enjoyed the Red River series,  and the author has become a favorite on my reading list.  I’m looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

Grade: B

Review copy provided by author

From Amazon:

Their marriage bargain is just what the doctor ordered…

Former surgeon and self-professed life-long bachelor Evan Manning has one thing on his mind—to reclaim the career that a car accident stole from him. But when he’s forced to return to his hometown of Red River, Evan comes face-to-face with the gorgeous woman who’s haunted his dreams for the last year—the woman he rescued from the burning car that injured his hand. Now Evan needs her help. In a month, he’ll have the job opportunity of a lifetime…he just needs a wife to get it.

Artist Grace Matheson is down on her luck again…until she walks into Evan Manning’s office. When her sexy former hero hears that she needs work, he offers her a job and a home—if she’ll pretend she’s his fiancée. Grace knows she shouldn’t fall for him. Once the month is up, Evan will be back to his old life. But the more time they spend together, the more real their feelings become—and the more likely heartbreak is.

The post Review: The Doctor’s Fake Fiancée by Victoria James appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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3. Review: Crossover

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2014. Reviewed from ARC.

The Plot: Twelve year old twin brothers, Josh and Jordan Bell, are basketball players just like their father. And just like their father, they are GOOD.

Josh loves basketball and words; he is the one telling the story, in a sequence of poems organized by sections as if it were a basketball game, starting with Warm Up, moving on to First Quarter, and ultimately ending with Overtime. His father loves music, giving Josh the nickname Filthy McNasty after a favorite song.

His twin, Jordan, is JB, and loves basketball and betting.

The Crossover takes the twins through a basketball season, ending with an important game. And while this is a book about basketball and basketball players, it is also a story about brothers, a father and sons, a family. The two brothers complement each other on the court, a great pair leading their Junior High team to victory after victory. Their parents are loving but strict, with complications because their mother is also their Assistant Principal; their father, who played professional basketball, is a stay at home father who coaches his sons. And then there is a new girl in school, who Josh likes but before he can say a word, it's his brother who is dating her.

The Good: I'm on a roll of reading good books lately!

I loved Josh, his poetry, his love for his dad, his brother, basketball, words. Oh and his hair: he's proud of his locks, just like his dad wore when he played, and conflict with his brother starts when Josh loses a bet to JB -- a bet that allows JB to cut one of those locks off. There is also competition and jealousy, but those feelings are hidden deep inside Josh, only coming out in full force when JB begins dating. The feelings are so hidden, and the parents are so into reinforcing the brother bond, that these emotions are ones that Josh has a hard time understanding. Their father pushes both sons to be good basketball players, but he's individually pushing them: there is no setting one brother against the other.

If I talk more about the twins' father, it's because of the strong basketball bond between the father and sons. The father stopped playing years ago, explaining to his sons that he saved his money and is happy being with them full-time. As the twins learn, it's a bit more complicated than that: an injury ended their father's career. Health issues continue to plague the family; there's a history of hypertension, and their father has a huge distrust of doctors and hospitals so refuses to see one. (And yes there is foreshadowing there.)

One thing I really liked about The Crossover is that it's a book about two typical kids -- readers will see themselves in Josh as he struggles with his love for his brother but also his jealousy; with wanting to play basketball; enjoying being good at something; practicing to become better. Having a father who is loving and caring; a mother who is also kind and loving but knows when to be strict. Parents who value their sons' education as much as their basketball skills. It's a story played out in towns and cities everywhere.

Another Favorite Book Read in 2014!

Other reviews: The New York Times review; Stacked; Clear Eyes, Full Shelves; Bookshelves of Doom.







Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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4. Guest Post and Giveaway: Jenny Colgan, Author of Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe

This morning, Jenny Colgan shares Issy’s must haves for the kitchen.  Be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a digital copy of Christmas at the Cupcake Café!

Issy’s Top 5 must haves:

*A good mixer. Kenwood, the British brand is the best: they also come in gorgeous colours!

*a cooling rack. You need to get air under your cakes to finish baking them properly when they’re out the oven!

*a measuring jug. Sometimes you don’t even need to get the scales out if you can approximate from the jug and it’s an easy cake!

* a skewer to poke in and see if your cake is done

* springform cake tins. These are the ones with the bottoms that come out. If you’re clumsy like me, they’re a godsend!

 

Christmas at the Cupcake Café

Cupcake Café # 2

By: Jenny Colgan

Releasing October 14th, 2014

William Morrow

Issy Randall, proud owner of The Cupcake Cafe, is in love and couldn’t be happier. Her new business is thriving and she is surrounded by close friends, even if her cupcake colleagues Pearl and Caroline don’t seem quite as upbeat about the upcoming season of snow and merriment. But when her boyfriend Austin is scouted for a possible move to New York, Issy is forced to face up to the prospect of a long-distance romance. And when the Christmas rush at the cafe – with its increased demand for her delectable creations – begins to take its toll, Issy has to decide what she holds most dear.

This December, Issy will have to rely on all her reserves of courage, good nature and cinnamon, to make sure everyone has a merry Christmas, one way or another. . .

Indulge yourself and your sweet-toothed friends with Jenny Colgan’s new novel, simply bursting with Christmas cupcake recipes and seasonal sugar-fuelled fun.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/09/christmas-at-cupcake-cafe-cupcake-cafe.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13596423-christmas-at-the-cupcake-caf?ac=1

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-at-Cupcake-Cafe-Novel-ebook/dp/B00K53EH56/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1410452461

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/christmas-at-the-cupcake-cafe-jenny-colgan/1113460040?ean=9780062371188

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/christmas-at-the-cupcake-cafe/id524415333?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/christmas-at-the-cupcake-cafe-1/zhaR2ygNd0ie4dITpEBkPA

Author Info

Jenny Colgan is the author of numerous bestselling novels, including Christmas at the Cupcake Café and The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, which are also published by Sphere. Meet Me at the Cupcake Café won the 2012 Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance and was a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller, as was Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop of Dreams, which won the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2013. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and France.

Author Links

Website: http://www.jennycolgan.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jennycolganbooks
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JennyColgan
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/39272.Jenny_Colgan

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5. Guest Post and Giveaway: Julie Brannagh, Author of Covering Kendall

Please give a warm welcome to Julie Brannagh!  She’s here to share a Top Ten list about Drew, her hunky hero from Covering Kendall.

The top five ways Drew McCoy of COVERING KENDALL unwinds after a game

Drew’s workplace isn’t a cubicle in an office or on a construction site. He spends his Sunday afternoons from September until February each year playing in front of 70,000+ screaming fans. Drew loves what he does, but it’s tough for him (and many other pro football players!) to unwind after a game. Here’s the top five things Drew might be doing shortly after he walks through the front door of his house on a Sunday night…

  1. Drew’s a little hungry after chasing some other team’s quarterback around Sharks Stadium for three hours. As a result, he might be out for dinner with one or more of his teammates.

Zach Anderson stopped by his locker as Drew picked up the overnight bag he brought to home games.

Hey, come on out with us. We’re going to Jak’s Grill in Laurelhurst. Cameron’s meeting us there, too,” Zach said. He grinned at Drew. “You know you want a big, juicy steak and a beer.”

It sounds great, but I think I’m going to have to pass this time.”

Other plans, huh?”

You could say that. Give your woman a hug from me.” Drew got to his feet and gave Zach an elaborate handshake. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

  1. Drew loves to read. He owns an e-reader, but prefers the feeling of a book in his hands. A comfortable chair and a new book might be just the thing he needs right now.

Drew stopped on the way home and picked up a to-go dinner. He’d watch some mindless TV, have a beer, and go to bed early with the book Kendall had given him.

He pulled into his garage, disabled the alarm system, and walked into his house. He dropped the overnight bag in his laundry room. He’d unpack it later. He moved through the kitchen and turned into the hallway by his front door to scoop up the book he wanted to start reading.

As he picked up the plastic bag with the two books, he heard a phone ringing. He unfurled the top of the bag, pulled the phone out, hit “talk,” and said, “Hello?”

Is this Drew? It’s Kendall Tracy. You have my phone.”

  1. Maybe a visit to a warm, sunny climate might improve his mood.

Drew rubbed his hand over his face and let out a groan. His concern about how he could return her phone in the most convenient way possible wasn’t self-serving at all. It had nothing to do with wanting to see her again, or spend a few more minutes chatting and laughing together. He’d go to the same lengths for anyone else.

He shook his head and muttered, “No, I wouldn’t.”

  1. Drew McCoy: Overgrown Boy Scout to the rescue.

She moved back, pulling the door open enough for him to step inside. He moved over the threshold into her house. They were still staring at each other, and she licked her lips. He tried and discarded twenty things to say to her in his head. Maybe he should keep things light. He reached into his pocket, pulled out her cell phone, and handed it to her.

I believe this belongs to you,” he joked.

Her fingertips lingered as she took the phone out of his hand. He felt the tingle all the way up his arm.

  1. If all else fails, a visit from someone special might work.

Drew was interested in watching the TV program, but he couldn’t stay awake. It had been a long day. He usually was in bed by ten on game days. He held up his phone to see what time it was: Ten forty-four. Hopefully, his mom and dad were sleeping now. He shoved his phone back into his pocket and heard someone knocking on his front door.

It was pretty freaking late for the guys to drop by and see if the cake was all gone. Maybe one of them left their phone at his house. He hurried to the front door and looked through the peephole.

Kendall looked back at him.

Drew has a few more ways of unwinding after a game. You’ll have to read COVERING KENDALL to find out what they might be!

Again, thank you so much for inviting me to visit, and Go Sharks!

Covering Kendall

Love and Football # 4

By: Julie Brannagh

October 21, 2014

Avon: Impulse

Blurb

Kendall Tracy, General Manager of the San Francisco Miners, is not one for rash decisions or one-night stands. But when she finds herself alone in a hotel room with a heart-stoppingly gorgeous man-who looks oddly familiar-Kendall throws her own rules out the window…and they blow right back into her face.

Drew McCoy should look familiar, he’s a star player for her team’s archrival the Seattle Sharks. Which would basically make Drew and Kendall the Romeo and Juliet of professional football…well, without all the dying. Not that it’s an issue. They agree to pretend their encounter never happened. Nothing good can come from it anyway, right? Drew’s not so sure.

Kendall may be all wrong, but he can’t stop thinking about her and he finds that some risks are worth taking. Because the stakes are always highest when you’re playing for keeps.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/08/covering-kendall-love-and-football-4-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21805397-covering-kendall?from_search=true

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Covering-Kendall-Love-Football-Novel-ebook/dp/B00JDKBU1Q

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/covering-kendall-julie-brannagh/1119471858?ean=9780062363817

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/covering-kendall

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/covering-kendall/id852754397?mt=11  

Author Info

Julie Brannagh has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. She lives in a small town near Seattle, where she once served as a city council member and owned a yarn shop. She shares her home with a wonderful husband, two uncivilized Maine Coons and a rambunctious chocolate Lab. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, or armchair-quarterbacking her favorite NFL team from the comfort of the family room couch. Julie is a Golden Heart finalist and the author of contemporary sports romances.

Author Links

Website: http://www.juliebrannagh.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JulieBrannagh
Twitter: http://twitter.com/julieinduvall
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7127296.Julie_Brannagh?from_search=true

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6. Interview with Sawyer Bennett, Author of ALEX

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Sawyer!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Sawyer Bennett] Empathetic, funny, creative, honest, procrastinator

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?

[Sawyer Bennett] Alex is the first book in my new series with Loveswept, called the Cold Fury Hockey Series. Alex Crossman is a professional hockey player with the Carolina Cold Fury. He’s a bit damaged, a little bit of an ass, and completely averse to developing relationships with people. He’s one of those men that you just want to “fix”. Sutton Price is a social worker that gets sort of gets stuck with Alex to create an outreach program for at-risk youth. Both of them have traumatic backgrounds, but both of them let it shape them differently in their adult lives. This is very much a book about Alex’s journey to really find himself and let the past go. Oh, and it’s pretty steamy and romantic as well!!!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Sawyer Bennett] The concept was easy. I’ve written a few indie books about hockey players that were well received and figured an actual series would be fun. The characters for this story very much grew organically, but I started with this very basic concept… Alex Crossman is a professional hockey player that hates playing hockey. I mean… how messed up is that? I knew I could fashion an interesting story of growth and redemption from that concept.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Sawyer Bennett] Honestly, I loved writing Alex’s voice most. This is dual POV, and I loved writing “asshole Alex”. It’s fun to sort of let go and make a guy distasteful and then try to redeem him later.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?

[Sawyer Bennett] Honestly, not much. I mean, there are some serious issues involving drug addiction and abuse, and I will admit writing the epilogue made me cry a bit. It’s totally my type of swoon, but this book flowed pretty easy for me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?

[Sawyer Bennett] What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong (which is also my favorite song)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

[Sawyer Bennett] My underwear! Ha ha. Okay, that’s not necessarily true so I’ll say my cell phone! I can’t stand not being able to have access to the digital world.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Sawyer Bennett] Picture of my dog, a bottle of papaya scented lotion that I just noticed and have no clue where it came from, and a check dated August 28th that I just noticed I forgot to deposit.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Sawyer Bennett] Without a doubt it would be the President of the United States. I wouldn’t care who was in office at the time, just the acting President. I’d like to be in charge and have all that power (and stress) for just one day.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Sawyer Bennett] OMG! Black Lies by Alessandra Torre. I read it over a month ago and it’s still plaguing my thoughts.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Sawyer Bennett] I love to read but I don’t have much time for that. I have an 8 month old baby girl so I spend most of my free time with her. The best is when she falls asleep on my chest. *swoons hard*

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Sawyer Bennett] I love interacting with readers. They can reach me at:

www.sawyerbennett.com

www.facebook.com/bennettbooks

www.twitter.com/bennettbooks

sawyer@sawyerbennett.com

Alex

Cold Fury Hockey # 1

By: Sawyer Bennett

Releasing October 14th, 2014

Loveswept

Blurb

USA Today bestselling author Sawyer Bennett scores big-time with the first novel in a sexy new series hot enough to melt the ice.
Hockey star Alexander Crossman has a reputation as a cold-hearted player on and off the rink. Pushed into the sport by an alcoholic father, Alex isn’t afraid to give fans the proverbial middle finger, relishing his role as the MVP they love to hate. Management, however, isn’t so amused. Now Alex has a choice: fix his public image through community service or ride the bench. But Alex refuses to be molded into the Carolina Cold Fury poster boy . . . not even by a tempting redhead with killer curves.

As a social worker, Sutton Price is accustomed to difficult people—like Alex, who’s been assigned to help her create a drug-abuse awareness program for at-risk youth as part of the team’s effort to clean up his image. What she doesn’t expect is the arrogant smirk from his perfect lips to stir her most heated fantasies. But Sutton isn’t one to cross professional boundaries—and besides, Alex doesn’t do relationships . . . or does he? The more she sees behind Alex’s bad-boy façade, the more Sutton craves the man she uncovers.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/07/alex-cold-fury-1-by-sawyer-bennett.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21794306-alex?ac=1

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/125350-cold-fury-hockey

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Alex-Cold-Hockey-Novel-Carolina-ebook/dp/B00JTCH5RQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1410967793&sr=1-1&keywords=Alex%3A+A+Cold+Fury+Hockey+Novel

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/alex-sawyer-bennett/1120019672?ean=9780553393002

iTunes: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/alex-a-cold-fury-hockey-novel

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/alex-a-cold-fury-hockey-novel

Order: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Author Info

USA Today bestselling author Sawyer Bennett is a snarky Southern woman and reformed trial lawyer who decided to finally start putting on paper all of the stories that were floating in her head. Her husband works for a Fortune 100 company which lets him fly all over the world while she stays at home with their daughter and three big, furry dogs who hog the bed. Sawyer would like to report she doesn’t have many weaknesses but can be bribed with a nominal amount of milk chocolate.

Author Links

Website: http://www.sawyerbennett.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bennettbooks
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/bennettbooks
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6950682.Sawyer_Bennett

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7. Review: Complicit

Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn. St. Martin's Griffin. 2014. Reviewed from ARC from publishers.

The Plot: Two years ago, Jamie's older sister was sent to juvenile detention. She'd burnt down a neighbor's barn, killing several horses and injuring a young girl who'd tried to save those horses.

Rumors have always swirled around Cate: she was that type of personality, that attracted and repelled and fascinated. And now... now she's been released.

Jamie is afraid, to be honest. He's put that all behind him, what happened with Cate. What she did. He's been seeing someone to help. He lost his best friend but he's rebuilt his life, flirting with a cute girl at school, continuing to get good grades.

What will Cate do, now that's back?

The Good: This is the type of book that is so hard to write about!

Jamie tells the story. He tells what he knows and what he remembers. And that is the sticking point. Jamie is an unreliable narrator.

The story as he knows it, the story as he tells it: Cate and Jamie were the children of a teen mother, struggling to make ends meet. When they were little, about six and eight, she was murdered. Jamie has little memories of his mother, or her death -- just hazy details, of their small basement apartment, of her living on the edge, the type of life that led to her death.

And then the miracle: after months in the foster system, Cate and Jamie were adopted, kept together, by a rich couple who were looking for older children to replace the ones they had lost. At first, young Cate is the one who seems to adjust easily, being happy, taking riding lessons. It's Jamie who is lost and sullen and doesn't quite connect, until he's sent to a therapist and things get better and Jamie gets better. Like the lost son, he takes piano, He calls his adoptive mother "Mom."

When Cate enters her teen years, things change. Jamie, the younger brother, looking on, doesn't understand why but suddenly Cate is the trouble maker, pushing boundaries, drinking, smoking, boys, and then, of course, the barn fire. And now she's back, reaching out to Jamie, and acting as if there's more to the story. That there's more that Jamie knows.

Jamie wants to know what she knows.

That's the story Jamie is telling us. Between the lines, though, the reader sees another story. Of a lost child. Of someone who has learned to act the right way, to give the right responses. Of the growing concern that part of Jamie's acting the right way includes what he is, or is not, telling the reader. Of trying to figure out how much of what he is saying about Cate is real. And of trying to understand Jamie, and who he is, and what he's done.

This is a suspenseful, psychological drama about a mentally ill teen. Who that teen is, and what they do, is a question that will leave the reader guessing.

A bit of a disclaimer: this is the type of book that I only like when done well. Unreliable narrator, unlikable characters, questions left for the reader to answer -- I am so picky about these things that usually my short-form response is that I don't like these things when the truth is that I do like them, I'm just very particular about how such books are crafted and written. And Kuehn in Complicit? Does it so well it's a Favorite Book of 2014.

Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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8. Love Is the Drug: Review

I’ve had my eye on Love Is the Drug since I first heard of it. I haven’t read Alaya Dawn Johnson’s first young adult novel, The Summer Prince – a post-apocalyptic novel set in Brazil that features queer relationships – but it’s been on my to-read list for awhile. (Peyton, however, has a great review of The Summer Prince here on GoodReads. Check it out!) Anyway, I figured Love Is the Drug would be catnip for me. I love post-(or almost-but-not-quite) apocalyptic fiction. I love fiction about bioterrorism. And I love YA fiction that features diverse characters. Also also, I will happily read anything that is sold as “such and such meets Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain.” Thank you, I will take two of those. And on that front, Love Is the Drug did not disappoint. Refer to the blurb once again; it is absolutely all of these things. It is def fiction about... Read more »

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9. Guest Post and Giveaway: R C Ryan, Author of The Maverick of Copper Creek

Please welcome R. C. Ryan to the virtual offices this morning!  She has a Top 5, as well as an awesome giveaway for you to enter!

Ash is planning the perfect dinner date to woo Brenna – What are the Top 5 items on the menu?

Sizzling steak (this is a cattle ranch, after all.)

Mad’s fabulous garlic mashed potatoes

Instead of a salad, just simple slices of garden tomatoes garnished with thick slices of mozzarella cheese and drizzled with homemade vinaigrette dressing.

Myrna’s rolls still warm from the oven

And finally, slices of carrot cake from Rita Bakes, (the bakery in Copper Creek) 

But, in truth, it would be a feast with simple grilled cheese sandwiches, as long as it was served by Ash to Brenna with love.

About THE MAVERICK OF COPPER CREEK

A COPPER CREEK COWBOYS NOVEL

First love always burns hotter . . .

Ash MacKenzie broke his share of hearts when he left Copper Creek all those years ago and struck out on his own. Tall, tough, and proud. That’s how Brenna always remembered him, and from the looks of things, he hasn’t changed much. Once, she thought he could save her-whisk her away from her rough childhood home and start fresh together. Now she knows better . . . Ash isn’t planning to stick around town long. As soon as he uncovers the truth about his father’s death and makes sure the family ranch is safe, he’ll be back out on his own. And then he runs into Brenna Crane. It broke his heart to leave her once-a herd of stampeding horses couldn’t make him do it again. But Brenna has made a new life for herself, one that doesn’t include him. Now he just has to convince her to give their first love a second chance.

About R.C. Ryan

New York Times bestselling author R.C. Ryan has written more than ninety fiction novels, both contemporary and historical.  Quite an accomplishment for someone who, after her fifth child started school, gave herself the gift of an hour a day to follow her dream to become a writer.  In a career spanning more than twenty years, Ms. Ryan has given dozens of radio, television, and print interviews across the country and Canada, and has been quoted in such diverse publications as the Wall Street Journal and Cosmopolitan.  She has also appeared on CNN News, as well as Good Morning America.  R.C. Ryan is a pseudonym of New York Times bestselling author Ruth Ryan Langan. 

R.C.’s social media

http://www.ryanlangan.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3348509.R_C_Ryan?from_search=true

https://www.facebook.com/pages/R-C-Ryan-and-Ruth-Ryan-Langan/120740961280094?fref=ts

@RuthRyanLangan 

Buy Links

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1u3smJe

Books-A-Million: http://bit.ly/ZZdujU

IndieBound: http://bit.ly/1pwS4Q7

GooglePlay: http://bit.ly/ZZdVuC

iTunes: http://bit.ly/1Cu2cSy

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1xq2b21

Excerpt

She was looking up into his eyes, her smile wrapping itself around his heart and squeezing. “Thanks for driving me to town. And for helping Vern. Tonight was…special.” She shrugged, looking shy and awkward.

He seemed about to say something. Instead he swore and let his hat drop to the floor, while he dragged her into his arms.

“Why do you have to be so sweet and forgiving? Why can’t you just hate me for leaving you?”

“Hate…” She blinked. “Ash, I tried that. But I realize now I could never hate you.”

His eyes were hot and fierce as he lowered his head. His kiss was so hot, so hungry, it rocked her back on her heels. A kiss that was all fire and flash and sizzle. It drained her even as it filled her. There was nothing tentative or teasing about this. It was bold and possessive. Demanding. And it spoke of a blazing-hot need.

With lungs straining, he lifted his head. For a moment he merely touched a finger to her cheek while he stared into her eyes, as though trying to read her feelings.

Then, muttering an oath, he lowered his head and kissed her again.

This time it was achingly slow and thorough, his mouth whispering over her eyelids, her cheek, the corner of her mouth, until, with a guttural moan, she laced her fingers around his head, clinging to him as her lips found his.

Now it was all heat and frantic need, as each took from the other with a hunger that bordered on desperation, mouths seeking, bodies straining.

His hands were in her hair, though he couldn’t remember how they got there. Hers were raking his back, her nails digging through the fabric of his shirt in a frantic effort to get closer.

He turned her, pressing her against the closed door, his body imprinting itself on hers as he took the kiss deeper, then deeper still, his mouth restlessly seeking what he really wanted. He couldn’t get enough of her.

The quick, jittery charge to their systems had them practically crawling inside each other’s skin. And still it wasn’t enough.

When he took a moment to change the angle of the kiss, his name was torn from her lips in a frantic cry. “Ash!”

At the sound of his name on her lips, he suddenly went very still.

Chests heaving, they stepped a little apart, waiting impatiently for their world to settle.

Was the floor tilting? Was the room spinning? Or was it their heads? Their hearts?

When he could finally catch his breath he managed to whisper, “Sorry.” He shook his head. “Not for that kiss. I’ve had a hunger for that since I first saw you again. But I…almost crossed a line. I guess I let myself forget for a moment that you’ve moved on with your life, Sunshine, and I’m not a part of it anymore.”

When she said nothing, he bent and retrieved his hat.

He left without another word.

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10. Review: He’s So Fine by Jill Shalvis

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

While I’ve read a few other Jill Shalvis titles, He’s So Fine is the first in the Lucky Harbor series that I’ve picked up.  I’m wondering why I waited so long.  Like Olivia, I was charmed by Lucky Harbor and the people living there.  Cole is a great hero, and his buddies Sam and Tanner kept him humble.  Mr. Fix It, Cole seems able to repair everything but the tattered remains of his heart.  Or was it his pride that needed a patch job?  Whatever it was, he didn’t have enough pockets on his cargo pants to mend the damage.  He needed a little help from Olivia to get the job done.

Heroine Olivia is in need of some mending, too.  A former child star, she went on a binge of bad behavior after her TV show was canceled.  When everyone in her life moved on, she lashed out, tarnishing her image and causing the creation of countless Youtube videos and online posts chronicling her bad behavior.  With her money-grubbing mother and jealous sister, I’m not surprised that she had no guidance and no rock to anchor herself to.  I really sympathized with Olivia.  She carried the careers and jobs of many people for years, and then, when her “cute” days were over, she was tossed to the curb like yesterday’s trash.  Her TV family moved on, leaving her adrift.  Her real family was never emotionally there for her.  How awful.  To realize with sickening clarity that the only worth you have to others is your ability to finance their paychecks.  Until you can’t.  And then you are washed up and not worth the time of day.  Ugh.

When Cole takes an unexpected dip in the frigid water of the marina while working on his boat, Olivia quickly jumps to his rescue.  She bravely leaps onto his head, almost drowning him, all the while thinking that she is saving him.  The start of He’s So Fine had me hooked.  How could I not be, after an introduction like that one?  Shivering with the cold, Cole quickly shepherds his would be savior onto the boat, demanding that she divest herself of her wet clothing before hypothermia sets in.  I loved this whole scene, and it set the tone for their relationship.  There’s humor, and hotness, and two genuinely nice people who you want to get together.  They are both broken, so it’s no surprise that it takes a freezing dip in the ocean to jump start their love lives.

I like small town romances because of the quirky characters that inhabit them.  In He’s So Fine, Cole’s friends and family liven up his life.  Not always in a good way, but Cole is unflappable and always willing to lend a helping hand.  He practically carries a tool box around with him in his cargo pants.  He has to fix things, which makes it all the more troubling when he refuses to fix himself.   After losing his best friend in a terrible accident, he also loses the woman he loved, when she walked away from him at Gil’s funeral.  Cole has never gotten over Susan’s betrayal, and he’s just not willing to put himself out there to be hurt again.  But then Olivia jumps on his head, and the man has absolutely no chance of escaping unscathed. 

He’s So Fine kept me entertained from the first dip in the cold waters to Cole’s eating humble pie act at the end of the book.  I have have two other Lucky Harbor books stashed away on my Kindle (I don’t even remember purchasing them!), so I’m looking forward to more visits to the town, and meeting more of its inhabitants. 

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

For Olivia Bentley, Lucky Harbor is more than the town where she runs her new vintage shop. It’s the place where folks are friendly to strangers-and nobody knows her real name. Olivia does a good job of keeping her past buried, not getting too cozy with anyone . . . until she sees a man drowning. Suddenly she’s rushing into the surf, getting up close and personal with the hottest guy she’s ever laid hands on.

Charter boat captain Cole Donovan has no problem with a gorgeous woman throwing her arms around his neck in an effort to “save” him. In fact, he’d like to spend a lot more time skin-to-skin with Olivia. He’s just not expecting that real trouble is about to come her way. Will it bring her deeper into Cole’s heart, or will it be the end of Olivia’s days in little Lucky Harbor?

HE’S SO FINE is available in mass market paperback, ebook and audio book formats wherever books are sold

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1B0Lc5P

iBooks: http://bit.ly/1p1HaDH

IndieBound: http://bit.ly/1qL9GMO

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1n3cobU

Google Play: http://bit.ly/1vUlsVJ

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1lkIft2

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1qbcfrn

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11. Interview with Cara Connelly, Author of The Wedding Vow and Giveaway

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Cara!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Cara Connelly] Loves dogs, chocolate, and Prosecco!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?

[Cara Connelly] The Wedding Vow is an enemies-to-lovers story about billionaire art thief Adam LeCroix and Maddie St. Clair, the ex-prosecutor who nearly brought him down. Five years after her defeat, Maddie’s still smarting over it when Adam strolls into her law firm and coerces her into going to work for him. But what started out as revenge for him, and humiliation for her, gets complicated when these two strong people who are used to being in control of everything find themselves falling in love. They both have dark secrets and serious baggage. And they also have deep wounds which they never expected to reveal, much less to help each other heal. They fight it every step of the way!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Cara Connelly] I love Adam and Maddie so much. They’re both so tough and prickly on the outside, it was magical for me to peel back their layers and discover the loving, caring people underneath.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?

[Cara Connelly] Peeling back those layers! I write by the seat of my pants, without an outline or any concrete idea where the story and the characters will take me. So I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to find when I got down to their cores. They ended up being so much more complex than I anticipated. They gave me a few scary moments along the way.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

[Cara Connelly] My notebook! As I said, I write by the seat of my pants, and I’m often far from my computer when the next part of the story reveals itself to me. So if I don’t have something to write it down on, I get pretty frantic. I even keep waterproof paper and pencil in the shower! I get my best ideas there.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Cara Connelly] You caught me at my treadmill desk, so there’s a lamp, a cuppa coffee (of course), and a funny stone bird sculpture that holds my laptop cord in place. (Let me just add here that I recommend a treadmill desk for everyone!)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Cara Connelly] That’s an easy one. I’d trade with Chris Hemsworth’s wife! But don’t tell my husband…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Cara Connelly] I just read Maggie McGinnis’s The Accidental Cowgirl – loved it! I also got a sneak peak at Autumn Jones Lake’s forthcoming Slow Burn – sexy, fun, wonderful characters! And I just picked up Karen Robards’ Her Last Whisper from the library – haven’t started it, but I loved the first two book in the series!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Cara Connelly] I love to do just about anything with my husband Billy – even the mundane, everyday things are fun when we do them together. I love walking my dog Bella – we hit the trail almost every day. And I paint whenever I can – I’m not good AT ALL, but it’s very relaxing and challenges an entirely different part of my brain. I don’t watch much TV, but I never miss Supernatural, The Walking Dead, or Star Trek reruns. And I’m loving Outlander!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Cara Connelly] I’m on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/cara.connelly.50 and www.facebook.com/caraconnellyromance.

You can follow me on twitter at: https://twitter.com/@cara_connelly

And of course you can always get the latest on my books, public appearances and other fun extras at www.caraconnelly.com.

Thanks for having me on Manga Maniac Café!

The Wedding Vow

Save the Date # 2: A Billionaire’s Demand

By: Cara Connelly

Releasing September 30th, 2014

Avon

Blurb

Cara Connelly’s second Save the Date novel proves that opposites do attract…
The Playboy
Sexy billionaire Adam LeCroix has a mission: hunt down the sultry spitfire he blames for his troubles, demand her help, and exact revenge while he’s at it. Maddie St. Clair will help him . . . or else.
The Prosecutor
Former prosecutor Maddie damn near nailed Adam for stealing, but the lucky bastard walked. Now, five years later, he’s back, arrogant as ever, giving her an ultimatum—work for him to collect the insurance money, or she’ll never work again.
The Problem
Maddie’s all about right and wrong. Adam’s shades of gray. So when he uncovers the hot body under her hard-ass veneer and she finds he’s a thief with a heart, can the law-and-order lawyer and the fast-and-loose felon put their prickly past behind them?

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/09/the-wedding-vow-save-date-2_4.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20452191-the-wedding-vow?from_search=true

Buy Links

Purchase at Amazon | Barnes | iBooks | Kobo

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Wedding-Vow-Novel-Billionaires-Demand-ebook/dp/B00HPWUM5E/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1409831587

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-wedding-vow-cara-connelly/1118894134?ean=9780062282354

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-wedding-vow/id792997868?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-wedding-vow-4

 

Author Info

Cara Connelly is an award-winning author of contemporary romances. Her smart and sexy stories have won high praise, earning Cara several awards including the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart, the Valley Forge Romance Writers’ Sheila, and the Music City Romance Writers’ Melody of Love. Cara, who lives in rural upstate New York, works as appellate court attorney when she’s not crafting steamy novels of love and romance.

Author Social Links

Website: http://www.caraconnelly.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/caraconnellyromance

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cara_connelly

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6921968.Cara_Connelly

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Print Copy of THE WEDDING FAVOR (US ONLY) and a Second Prize TBD)

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12. Review: Belzhar

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer. Dutton Children's Books. 2014.

The Plot: Jam Gallahue was in love with Reese Marfield and it was wonderful and magical and all that made life living.

Was.

A year that has passed since she lost Reese, a year of life not being worth living, a year of Jam barely able to leave her bedroom, shattered by his death.

So Jam's parents have done the only thing they can think of: sending her away from her New Jersey home and all the memories, to go to The Wooden Barn, a boarding school in Vermont for those who are "emotionally fragile, highly intelligent."

Jam isn't happy to be there, but then she finds herself in a unique seminar: "Special Topics in English," with five students intensely studying one author for a semester. This year, the author is Sylvia Plath.

Each student is given a journal, to write in. And when Jam puts pen to paper ... something magical happens. She finds herself in a place where time stands still, and Reeve is hers again.

As the semester draws to a close, Jam wonders what will happen when she reaches the last page. Will she figure out a way to stay with Reese? Should she?

The Good: Another one of those books that I love, but part of what I love is the twists and turns and the reveals. It's not just the secrets: it's finding out the secrets.

Jam is at a school for the "emotionally fragile," so everyone has some type of story Hers is Reeve. Her fellow Special Topics members (Sierra, Marc, Griffin, Casey) each has had a loss; each, it turns out, can also use their journals to return to that pre-loss time. Inspired by the title of Plath's novel, The Bell Jar, they call the place they go to Belzhar.

Jam's whirlwind romance with Reeve was meaningful and magical but short: only 41 days. Actually, that is the sum total of the days they knew each other. It was sixteen days before they kissed. So Jam has only a handful of memories stored up and what she finds is in that Belzhar, she is limited to experiencing only what actually happened. Oh, it's not as if she's stepping back in time: Reeve understands that something is happening, something outside time almost, and impatiently worries about the times she isn't with him.

And... I don't want to get into spoilers, about Jam and her friends, or about Jam and Belzhar, and what it is or is not. But wowza; there was a certain deliciousness in reading and figuring out and discovering, much like there was with We Were Liars (but for different reasons.) Belzhar is not just about "emotionally fragile" people, but it's what it means to be emotionally fragile and how that shapes how you see the world and how you act in it. And aside from that, it's about the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, much like The Bell Jar itself is Plath telling her story in a certain way.

And, of course, the language! This, for example -- "to be on the verge of your life, and not to be able to enter it" is just such a good description of someone being held back and knowing they are held back, for whatever reasons.

Or this: "Because when I let go of the story I've been telling myself and just try to think about what's objectively true, I can barely get a grip." And how often is that true, also -- the truth being so frightening that we tell ourselves other things we believe to be true, to get through the day.




Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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13. Teaser and Giveaway: Ruining Mr. Perfect by Marie Harte

This morning I have a special treat! I have an excerpt from Marie Harte’s Ruining Mr Perfect, as well as an awesome giveaway! 

IT’S NOT EASY BEING RIGHT

Vanessa Campbell is a CPA by day and a perfectionist by night. She’s fit, successful…and decidedly lonely. She can’t stop thinking about the youngest McCauley brother, Cameron. He’s just like her: smart, attractive, and usually right—except when dealing with her.

BUT SOMEONE’S GOT TO DO IT

Cameron McCauley likes Vanessa a little too much. She’s a blond goddess with a razor-sharp tongue. She hates to be wrong, just like him. But she can hold a grudge and is stubborn to a fault—also like him.

A past disagreement has them rubbing each other the wrong way. Cam is dying to shake Vanessa up—get her to let loose. But if he succeeds, can his heart handle it?

Caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Marie Harte is a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. Whether hiking in Central Oregon, biking around town, or hanging at the local tea shop, she’s constantly plotting to give everyone a happily ever after. Visit www.marieharte.com and fall in love.

An Excerpt

How she’d ever called him average with a straight face, she didn’t know. The man was her every fantasy made flesh. A great body, handsome face, and amazing mind. And God, he could kiss. As much as she wished she didn’t continually replay their embrace, she hadn’t forgotten that kiss at Christmas.

“Oh?” Damn, she sounded out of breath.

Cameron stalked her until she realized he’d backed her into a corner of the kitchen, away from the view from the hallway.

“Cameron?”

He planted his hands on either side of her on the counter. What the hell?

“The guys are on break while we order pizza. The crap kind from a chain.” He sighed. “What can you do?” He glanced at her popcorn and grinned. “Oh, that’s my favorite. Just a bit of oil and it pops up a storm.” He looked back at her mouth. “Great taste.” Pause. “I just came over to say what a good job you did being firm with Colin.”

“Ah, okay.”

He moved in closer.

“Cameron?” she squeaked on a whisper, for some odd reason not wanting the others to know he was here with her.

“Your lips are so red. So pretty. Do you wear lipstick?” He leaned in and kissed her before she could answer or even think to refuse.

Vanessa stood still, letting him control the kiss, his lips soft yet firm, his tongue sipping then penetrating slowly. No rush, but a leisurely exploration that turned her knees to jelly.

He moaned low in his throat and deepened the kiss. Not enough to overpower her, but enough that she felt a raging lust to wrap her legs around him and hold on until the storm passed.

Instead she remained frozen, her hands gravitating to his waist, her mouth under his.

He eased back. His blue eyes looked cloudy, his lips slick from their kiss. He smiled, and the curl of that grin shook her foundation, made her want with a passion that shocked her.

“No lipstick.” He wiped a thumb across her lower lip. “See?”

“Yeah.” She unconsciously gripped his hips, and he shifted, putting his hard body flush against hers.

“I need to get back,” he said to her mouth.

“Yeah.”

“They’ll be waiting on me.”

She heard Colin’s laughter and Maddie’s creature-roar from the living room, and once again answered, “Yeah.”

Cameron kissed her again, and when he let go, she felt lightheaded.

Pre-Order Now:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/YuEjvW

BAM: http://bit.ly/XNlwet

B&N: http://bit.ly/YuEqrh

Chapters: http://bit.ly/1vmjvFg

Indiebound: http://bit.ly/1skZooG

iTunes: http://bit.ly/1pMMCbH

Kobo: http://bit.ly/WOUP8r

About the author:

Caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, USA Today bestselling author Marie Harte has over 100 books published with more constantly on the way. She’s a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. Whether hiking in Central Oregon, biking around town, or hanging at the local tea shop, she’s constantly plotting to give everyone a happily ever after. Visit http://marieharte.com and fall in love.

Check out all of the teasers by visiting the following blogs! 

Visit From the TBR Pile http://fromthetbrpile.blogspot.com/ for tomorrow’s excerpt

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14. Friday Feature: Who R U Really? Book Birthday & Elixir Bound Sale and Giveaway


It’s a BOOKBirthday!
The birth of a debut book is often a long labor of love, and Margo Kelly’s Who R U Really? is no exception. Margo finished the first draft of the manuscript in 2010! More than four years later, more than four title changes, and way-more-than four revisions … it has finally arrived! WAHOO!

*.-*.-**throws confetti**.-*.-*
When Thea discovers a new role-playing game online, she breaks her parents’ rules to play. And in the world of the game, Thea falls for an older boy named Kit whose smarts and savvy can’t defeat his near-suicidal despair. Soon, he’s texting her, asking her to meet him, and talking in vague ways about how they can be together forever. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit’s allure, and hurtles toward the very fate her parents feared most. Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea’s life spins out of control.

“Kelly has painted a realistic picture of how a smart girl can get caught up in something dangerous online. … Guaranteed to give readers goosebumps.” -- School Library Journal.  (http://www.bookverdict.com)

“Thea’s mistakes, while frustrating to encounter, are frighteningly plausible, and the relationships among characters are well–fleshed out, especially between mother and daughter. Kelly’s first novel is a suspenseful page-turner.” -- Kirkus Reviews (www.kirkusreviews.com)

Who R U Really? published in hardcover and e-book versions by Merit Press (F+W Media) on September 18, 2014.

Buy online:

You can also enter for a chance to win a copy in the Goodreads giveaway here.

*.-*.-**throws confetti**.-*.-*

Margo Kellyis a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, she is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Who R U Really? is her first novel. Margowelcomes the opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book clubs.

Follow her online:
Twitter: @MargoWKelly

Scheduled Appearances:
September 26, 2014 – 5pm – Book Signing at Hastings in Meridian, Idaho
September 27, 2014 – 4pm – Book Signing at Hastings on Overland in Boise, Idaho
October 3, 2014 – 7pm – Book Launch Party at Hyde Park Books in Boise, Idaho
October 11, 2014 – 4pm – Book Signing at Barnes & Noble in Boise, Idaho



That's not all! 



My fellow writer friend, Katie Carroll's YA fantasy, Elixir Bound, is on sale (ebook version) for only $.99 until September 27th. And there's a giveaway on Goodreads for a signed paper back. First, here's her book:




Katora Kase is next in line to take over as guardian to a secret and powerful healing Elixir. Now she must journey into the wilds of Faway Forest to find the ingredient that gives the Elixir its potency. Even though she has her sister and brother, an old family friend, and the handsome son of a mapmaker as companions, she feels alone.

It is her decision alone whether or not to bind herself to the Elixir to serve and protect it until it chooses a new guardian. The forest hosts many dangers, including wicked beings that will stop at nothing to gain power, but the biggest danger Katora may face is whether or not to open up her heart to love.




Ebook on sale for $.99 until September 27:

Prefer paperback? Enter the Goodreads giveaway here.

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15. Review: Falling Into Place

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang. Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. 2014. Review copy from publisher.

The Plot: Liz Emerson, a high school junior, has crashed her car into a tree.

She planned it, oh so carefully, to look like an accident.

It wasn't.

Now, as she lies in the hospital, hovering between life and death, Falling Into Place examines just what led her to that fateful moment.

The Good: Falling Into Place has some seriously beautiful writing. I dog-eared (yes, dog-eared, don't tell) so many pages to mark passages where the language knocked me off my feet.

"But that afternoon, in the abandoned field by the elementary school, Liz pretended that they were. In love. She lied to herself. Her world was almost beautiful. She didn't care that it was false."

"Had the world always been like this? Why had it seemed so much kinder when she was younger? Why had it ever seemed beautiful?"

In some ways, Falling Into Place is the mirror-image of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. In Thirteen Reasons Why, Hannah explains her suicide by naming the people who hurt her, who let her down, her gave her no reason to live. Liz's story, also is a list of the reasons she gives herself for aiming her car at a tree... except her reasons are not things done to her. No, Liz's reasons are the things she did to others.

A small aside: if you don't like any spoilers, go no further. Because my conversation will be mainly about the characters and who they are, and aren't, and for some that may be too much.

I'll be honest: Liz is a difficult person to feel sympathy for. Or, at least, it was difficult for me to feel any sympathy for her. I began liking her, the way you would any character, but as the way Liz treated others piled up, action upon action, I just -- couldn't. I felt sorry for her mother, as her daughter's life hung in the balance, because that is a terrible situation to be in. But Liz herself.....

Liz is the type that hurts people because she can. Because she feels it's better to hurt others first, before they can hurt her. Because she has some own deep childhood wounds -- a father who dies tragically, a distant mother who cannot connect either emotionally or physically with her only child. She is, inside, a hurt and jealous child: "It made her remember that there had once been a time when she was in love with the sunshine and the wind and each brief flight. It was like watching the sky change colors, his playing. And then it made her jealous, because Liz Emerson was never at peace like that. Not really. Not anymore."

Liz both recognizes what she does and hates what she does yet cannot stop herself; she knows she does hateful things but does nothing to stop or make amends. She thinks she cannot fix what she does, so she doesn't even try. Instead, her solution is to end herself. "She looked around and saw all of the broken things in her wake, and then she looked inside herself and saw the spidering cracks from the weight of all the things she had done. She hated what she was and didn't know how to change, and half an hour before she drove her car off the road, she that despite all of that, she didn't have enough force to stop the world from turning. But she had enough to stop her own."

And... despite the glimpse into who Liz is, and seeing those who both love her and forgive her, despite not wanting her dead, I find I cannot feel much for Liz. I feel for those who she breaks: there's at least one suicide, plus a handful of teens whose lives get sidelined with pregnancy, drug use, failures. It's nice that we see at least one of her victims put aside Liz's actions and words, see her vulnerability, forgive her, and get on with his own life instead of letting Liz ruin his whole future -- but it wasn't a real balance. Not to me. And Liz herself had nothing to do with it. One of her good friends thinks, "she doesn't remember when she turned into such an awful human being" and the friend is thinking about herself, but it could be about Liz, and the thing is -- they are awful. And they feel bad about it, when it all comes crashing down....but where do they go after that?

These are the teens who I hope against hope that the real life teens I know never, ever encounter. And that if they do -- they are the type who don't care what the Lizs of the world think or do.

What is frustrating about Liz is the obvious: her world, the world she wants to escape, is her own creation. She sees a cruel world because of who she is; and that Liz has shaped her reality to be her is something she doesn't recognize. She doesn't see that she can stop it by changing how she sees the world: by looking, once more, for the beauty she saw as a child.

But what matters about Falling into Place is not what Liz learns or does not -- it's what the reader figures out. That the reader realizes, like one of Liz's targets, that just because someone like Liz is "never careful with her life or anyone else's, and in her disregard was a coldness, a deep cruelty, a willingness to destroy anyone, everyone", there is no reason to let Liz destroy everything: "he found that there were still beautiful things in the world, and nothing could ever change that." What the reader can also see, as Liz's full life comes into view, that Liz's world is also the sum of her own choices, her own times of going for cruelty and power instead of understanding and kindness.

What also matters about Falling into Place is the language. It's beautiful writing, that makes the ugliness more bearable -- much like Liz herself looks for beauty, yearns for it. I look for the beauty in Falling into Place. And I find it, in how the story was told. In how the pieces fall into place. And how, finally -- I do find, underneath it all, that I have sympathy for Liz, after all. In how she and her world spun so far out of her control that she felt like there was only one answer.



Other reviews: Scott Reads It; The Perpetual Page-Turner; Queen Ella Bee Reads.




Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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16. Review and Giveaway: What I Love About You by Rachel Gibson

 

Review:

I haven’t read a Rachel Gibson book in ages, so I was eager to dive into What I Love About You.  I loved this book and could not put it down. Blake is a flawed hero, a “raging a**hole” according to heroine Natalie, and he’s only two steps above a Cro-Magnon.  He’s suffering from PTSD, and he’s an alcoholic, 62 days away from his last drink.  He’s also a bundle of rage; he doesn’t feel that his family is supportive, they keep ragging on him about the littlest things, and all he wants is a little peace and quiet.  Hiding out in his new home in a remote Idaho town, he’s determined to beat back his demons without any help from anybody.  He’s not a wuss, after all.

What he gets is daily aggravation from the little girl next door  a tiny pest with ninja-like skills of stealth.  Her pretty mom takes offensive with how Blake talks to her daughter.  I don’t know how I’d feel if someone told my kid he shit bigger than her, so I had to excuse her for giving him a piece of her mind.  The sparks fly between them, and both of them pretend to want nothing to do with the other.  Blake has to concentrate on beating old man Johnny, and Natalie is a single mom, working hard to provide for her daughter.  One puppy bomb later, though, and they are sharing custody of Recruit Sparky, much to Natalie’s dismay.

Natalie has been burned badly by the man she loved since high school.  After struggling to become pregnant, her husband leaves her, running off with a twenty-year-old – and a large portion of the money he’s been entrusted to invest for his clients.  Now he’s serving time in jail for embezzlement, and Natalie is still trying to put her past behind her.  She’s not having much luck, however, and her first priority is now the true love of her life, her daughter Charlotte.  The grumpy next door neighbor is a pain in the butt, but as long as he stays on his side of the property line, they won’t have any trouble.  Too bad she can’t keep Charlotte from ambling over to pester him.  Repeatedly.

I thought What I Love About You was a great read.  It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year.  I loved how fragile both characters were, and how they both had to learn to trust in themselves and others again.  Add in one annoying kid and a rambunctious puppy, and you have a recipe that never fails to please.  Blake is a gruff, crass hero, and I loved him.  He tells it like it is, and goes after what he wants.  He doesn’t always come across as the kind of guy you’d want to wake up next to for the rest of your life, not at first, but his rough edges are smoothed by the end of the story, starting when he befriends the little girl who lives next door.   This pushed all the right buttons for me, and I highly recommend it.

 

What I Love About You

Truly, Idaho # 3

By: Rachel Gibson

Releasing August 26th, 2014

Avon Romance

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Gibson returns to Truly, Idaho, and to the fate of sexy SEAL Blake Junger
GIMMEE A B-R-E-A-K!
Ex-high school cheerleader Natalie Cooper could once shake her pom-poms with the best of them. But she’s paid for all that popularity—her husband’s run off with what’s left of their money and a twenty-year-old bimbo named Tiffany. Leaving Natalie to manage a photo store and having to see some pictures she, well, really shouldn’t.
GIMMEE A S-H-O-T!
Then she comes toe-to-manly chest with Blake Junger. Exiled to a remote cabin in Truly, Idaho, Blake wants nothing to do with anyone. Instead, he’s determined to struggle with his demons and win—all on his own. But the last thing he needs is Natalie distracting him with her luscious curves and breaking down the barriers of his heart.

GIMMEE YOUR H-E-A-R-T!

Can be read as a standalone. Returns to Truly, ID and is about the second Junger twin, Blake Junger.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/06/now-booking-tasty-virtual-tour-for-what.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19099609-what-i-love-about-you?from_search=true

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/What-Love-About-Truly-Idaho-ebook/dp/B00H1UFLDS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1406676705&sr=1-1&keywords=What+I+Love+About+You+%28Truly%2C+Idaho%29

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/what-i-love-about-you-rachel-gibson/1117542217?ean=9780062247391

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/what-i-love-about-you-1

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/what-i-love-about-you/id771697623?mt=11#

Author Info

Rachel Gibson lives in Idaho with her husband, three kids, two cats and a dog of mysterious origin. She began her fiction career at age 16, when she ran her car into the side of a hill, retrieved the bumper, and drove to a parking lot, where she strategically scattered the car’s broken glass all about. She told her parents she’d been the victim of a hit and run and they believed her. She’s been making up stories ever since, although she gets paid better for them nowadays.

Author Links

Website: http://www.rachelgibson.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RachelGibson

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/33952.Rachel_Gibson

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Two Print Copies of WHAT I LOVE ABOUT YOU)

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The post Review and Giveaway: What I Love About You by Rachel Gibson appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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17. Friday Feature: Into the Fire and Perfect For You Release Week SWAG Pack Giveaway!


I have two young adult novels that released on September 9th! Yes, two! They are both Ashelyn Drake titles. For those who don't know, Ashelyn Drake is my romance pen name. The first is a YA romantic fantasy called Into the Fire.
Seventeen-year-old Cara Tillman’s life is a perfectly normal one until Logan Schmidt moves to Ashlan Falls. Cara is inexplicably drawn to him, but she’s not exactly complaining. Logan’s like no boy she’s ever met, and he brings out a side of Cara that she isn’t used to. As the two get closer, everything is nearly perfect, and Cara looks forward to the future.

But Cara isn’t a normal girl. She’s a member of a small group of people descended from the mythical phoenix bird, and her time is running out. Rebirth is nearing, which means she’ll forget her life up to this point—she’ll forget Logan and everything they mean to one another.. But that may be the least of Cara’s problems.

A phoenix hunter is on the loose, and he’s determined to put an end to the lives of people like Cara and her family, once and for all.

Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes and Noble



The second is a young adult contemporary romance called Perfect For You.
Seventeen-year-old Meg Flannigan isn’t very self-confident, but what girl would be after her sophomore-year boyfriend dumped her by making out with another girl in front of her locker? 

Now a senior, Meg catches the eye of not one, but two gorgeous guys at school. Sounds good, right? What girl wouldn't want to be in Meg's shoes? One cute boy happens to be her boyfriend, and the other? Well, he wants to be. And Meg? She's torn between Ash, the boy she's been with for nearly five months, and Noah who is pretty irresistible. 

But Meg is playing with fire. Pitting two boys against one another, even if she doesn't intend to, could end badly if she isn't careful. 

Goodreads
Amazon



To celebrate the releases Ashelyn is giving away a SWAG pack that includes:
  • A flame pendant from Into the Fire
  • a phoenix button
  • a heart bracelet from Perfect For You
  • $5 Amazon Gift Card
You know you want to enter, so fill out the rafflecopter. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want to be a phoenix in the third and final installment of my Birth of the Phoenix series? Now you can be! Check out my Into the Fire challenge!

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18. Book Review- We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Title: We Were Liars
 Author: E. Lockhart
Series: N/A  
Published:   13 May 2014 by Hot Key Books
Length: 240 pages
Source: library
Summary : A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
Review: Cady is one of the Liars, the younger end of a family that meets every summer to spend the holiday at the summer home. At some point, she loses her memories.  Two years later, she wants to find out what happened.
I was really looking forwards to this and everyone really enjoyed it and watching somep ople's reactions during the liveread made me think it was going to be amazing. Sadly for me it wasn't.
I think I missed something at the start but I really don't get why everyone loves this. It's slow. The writing, while stripped back in places, seems boring too. The story doesn't seem to go very fast, and the forbidden love aspect is not my favourite as a trope anyway and this book didn't change my mind on it.
I didn't connect or like any of the characters. They seemed too detached from me and I didn't really care what happened to them. Cady is a bit whiny and the rich WASP background comes through and she comes off as pretentious in places, something I'd had enough of with Leo from The Go Between which I read at the same time.
I really enjoyed Gat's comments on race and racism, being Indian and surrounded by white people. The repeated retellings of fairy tales were also really good.
I also think that the style, full of metaphors and winding around, is the kind of thing that could be praised in a literary sense. It just wasn't my kind of thing.
The ending is good, I suppose. It didn't seem like a huge thing to me though, and when it was revealed, I just shrugged and read on. I think it's because I disconnected with the whole story so I didn't really care.
Overall:   Strength 2 tea to a book I didn’t get into at the start which meant I didn’t enjoy the whole thing.

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19. Review: Where She Went

Where She Went by Gayle Forman. Dutton Books, 2011. Review copy from publisher.

The Plot: Sequel to If I Stay.

So, um, spoilers for If I Stay.

Three years ago, Adam's girlfriend, Mia, was in a terrible accident.

And now? It's been years since they've seen each other. Mia left for college, and moved on with her life. Adam eventually did the same. Now, they are both successes, he a rock star with an actress girlfriend while Mia is a rising cellist. They haven't spoken to each other in years.

And then they meet. Almost strangers.

The Good: If I Stay was told from Mia's point of view, in a place between life and death, as she struggled with the question of whether or not to stay with the living, despite the tremendous loss of her family in a car accident.

I loved If I Stay: I cried, cried about how perfect and flawed Mia's family was, cried at the decision she had to make, cried at her choice to go on, alone. I picked up Where She Went expecting it to pick up Mia's story and to find out about what happened when she woke up.

Where She Went was not what I thought it would be, but instead was what I needed it to be.

It is Adam's story, after three years have passed. To my shock, Adam and Mia have broken up. And as I read and found out more, it clicked, what Where She Went was about:

Grief. And living with loss. And rebuilding. And those things, those are terrible, horrible, the world has ended moments. Just because Mia chose to go on, didn't mean that she woke up and was the same person. It didn't mean that it was somehow easy to know how to navigate having no mother, no father, no brother. And just because Adam and Mia were everything to each other, it didn't mean that they were, at that moment, the best thing for each other.

So Mia walked away from Adam, because her grief and loss were hers. And if I had to place a bet onto why this is three years later, and why it's not by Mia, my bet would be that what Mia went through was too raw and awful and confusing. Where She Went is a punch in the stomach, and had it not been told when and how it was, it would have been even more overwhelming. Instead of being hard to read, it would have been impossible to read.

With Where She Went being Adam's story, the reader can also see and experience and appreciate Adam's own loss. No, it's not the same as Mia's, but it is a loss. He loved her family, he loved Mia, and then he was left without that and without knowing who he was without her.

Sometimes people are meant to be together, but that does not mean they are meant to be together always. Or forever. And I'm glad that not only does Where She Went explore that, but it also gives two people a second chance. They needed to be apart. But can they come together, again?

In many ways, I liked this book better than If I Stay. So, yes, a Favorite Book Read in 2014.


Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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20. Review: Ketchup Clouds

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher. Little Brown. 2013. Reviewed from ARC. (Note: the paperback is coming out in Fall 2014, and will be renamed Yours Truly; the book will also have a new tagline, see the second image.)

The Plot: Zoe is writing letters, letters to America, to a man on death row.

She is writing him, because "I know what it's like. Mine wasn't a woman. Mine was a boy. And I killed him three months ago exactly."

No one knows. So Zoe is at home, going through the motions of her life, being the daughter her parents expect, the older sister her younger sisters expect, the person her friends expect.

But it's eating at her, what she did, what she didn't do, what happened three months ago. She has to tell someone.

So Zoe picked someone like her. Someone who knows what it likes to have killed someone. Someone who is being punished.

The Good: I have to admit, the "writing letters to a convicted killer in prison" was not the pitch that won me over.

What won me over was hearing it was the winner of the 2014 Edgar Award. I love a mystery!

What made me fall in love with this book was the sympathetic, tragic, and realistic triangle between Zoe and two brothers. It's the type of thing that on paper, that intellectually, you can say doesn't make sense; shouldn't happen. But Ketchup Clouds takes us, slowly, through Zoe's life, through the year, and it breaks my heart. Because it not only makes sense -- at each point, I nodded, agreeing fully with Zoe's emotions and choices.

Max Morgan is popular and handsome and cool, and Zoe is smart enough and self aware enough to know that the attraction is partly being flattered, partly lust. There's a hot boy who likes her, and she likes him back. "He actually sounded nervous. Max Morgan. Nervous because of me."

What Zoe doesn't know is that the handsome mysterious boy she has been flirting with is Max's older brother, Aaron. Aaron is just an boy she's seen and been attracted to at a party, and really, that moment of flirting isn't reason to not kiss Max. When she doesn't know Max is Aaron's brother. And of course, by the time she knows, it's too late. She's kissed Max, she's enjoying whatever it is she has with Aaron, she doesn't know what to do, she doesn't even know if Aaron likes her back

And it's Zoe's first boyfriend, her first relationship. And I just loved it, even forgetting every now and then that it would end in death.

I also liked Zoe's family: Zoe's mother is overprotective, meaning she's not someone Zoe can confide in. Zoe's family was so fully and lovingly drawn, and complete, with it's own story. As Zoe lives with her secret, the two brothers and what happens, she learns about some family secrets and gains a better understanding of her parents' lives and choices. And how you can live, eventually, with the things you think would break you.

There was such a sense of sadness, and living with grief, that I'd hand this to anyone looking for If I Stay readalikes.

Cover change: I love that they kept the design. As for the title, Ketchup Clouds is one of those titles that makes perfect sense after having read the book, but I think Yours Truly with the line "some girls get away with murder," better sells the book to readers.


Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

0 Comments on Review: Ketchup Clouds as of 8/14/2014 5:36:00 AM
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21. Friday Feature: Queen of Someday Trailer Reveal


I am super excited to finally reveal the book trailer for

Queen of Someday: A Stolen Empire Novel

Before she can become the greatest empress in history, fifteen-year-old Sophie will have to survive her social-climbing mother’s quest to put her on the throne of Russia—at any cost.

Imperial Court holds dangers like nothing Sophie has ever faced before. In the heart of St. Petersburg, surviving means navigating the political, romantic, and religious demands of the bitter Empress Elizabeth and her handsome, but sadistic nephew, Peter. Determined to save her impoverished family—and herself—Sophie vows to do whatever is necessary to thrive in her new surroundings. But an attempt on her life and an unexpected attraction threatens to derail her plans.

Alone in a new and dangerous world, learning who to trust and who to charm may mean the difference between becoming queen and being sent home in shame to marry her lecherous uncle. With traitors and murderers lurking around every corner, her very life hangs in the balance. Betrothed to one man but falling in love with another, Sophie will need to decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to become the empress she is destined to be.

   

What people are saying about Queen of Someday:

 
"Love, betrayal, adventure and hard decisions that have no "right answer"... Russian Court is an exercise in "survival of the fittest" and Queen of Someday is a beautiful start to the journey of an innocent young girl growing into one of the greatest leaders of all time." ~June Stevens, author

"I was caught hook, line and sinker with this novel about a young girl's battle in a world that seems perfect on the surface, but is sinister and twisted underneath. I think one of the reasons I loved this book so much is because there was no fantasy or paranormal element the book. I would have loved it just as much if there had been, but to see that somewhere seemingly so safe could be so deadly, without a hint of magic or witchcraft, was haunting." ~Bonfire Book Reviews

"Queen of Someday" is a guilty pleasure read. Just like CW shows and Lifetime movies, it's full of drama, scandal and betrayal. And I just couldn't look away. I found myself gasping and grinning maniacally at every turn. Sophie's schemes delighted me in a way that made me question my own sanity. I enjoyed "Queen of Someday" in the same way that one enjoys CW shows; the melodrama is strangely addictive, but I'm embarrassed to admit exactly how much I enjoyed it." ~The Nerdy Journalist reviews

And be sure to enter the giveaway!


Can't wait to see more? Queen of Someday is available for pre-order here, and will be available everywhere October 7th 2014.

*The footage is courtesy of KK Studios, and the layout and transitions are by Courtney Knuckles and Clean Teen Publishing.

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22. Review: Hate To Love You

Hate to Love You by Elise Alden. Carina Press. 2014. Review copy from publisher. New Adult.

The Plot: Paisley has a "slutty reputation" (her words) but is still "technically" a virgin. Technically isn't good enough: Paisley is pregnant.

Paisley meets her sister's fiance, who is as snobby as Paisley's sister. It's mutual annoyance (but also attraction) from the start.

Which is why Paisley pretends to be her sister and sleeps with the fiance, James.

Paisley doesn't have a supportive or loving family. Which may explain why she slept with James. It also explains why Paisley decides to share the truth - she slept with James - at the wedding reception. It also explains why she decides to tell a lie -- that James is her baby's father.

All hell breaks lose, helped along by the cell phone videos of her epic announcement. In the aftermath, Paisley gives her baby to James and leaves.

It's seven years later, and Paisley is back. Determined to establish a relationship with her son. But will James forgive her?

The Good: Let's start with I LOVED THIS BOOK. If the plot sounds like twelve kinds of soap opera meets a Lifetime movie meets a Syfy show, you'd be right and that's what makes it AWESOME and AMAZING.

First, yes, it's a traditional New Adult book which means plenty of sexytimes.

Now, as I get into things, you may be saying, but Liz, you're telling me too much! Spoilers, sweetie. Actually, all the information above? The reader knows that from the start! Part of why I loved this book is even thought I knew what was going to happen, I still had to turn the pages, wanting to know why and how it was going to happen. About half of the book is explaining just how James and Paisley ended up in bed together; and half is Paisley, seven years later, trying to get her life back.

The first half: I won't go into too many details about the epic night, except to say heavy drinking and black out curtains so that the bedroom is total darkness. (I KNOW.) (And if right now you're thinking about things like logic, like "wait, how can he be so drunk that he can't tell this isn't his fiance's body, that's just not making sense," part of the answer is "Caroline is such a good girl that he wasn't getting any action before this so he didn't know.") (I KNOW.)

The kind of middle, the wedding reception where she announces she slept with James and is having his baby, is noteworthy because of the videos people take of her. Not only does the video go viral, but it inspired a lot of people to use important family occasions to announce secrets to their families. Also on video. EPIC.

In a nutshell, first-half Paisley is a bit of a mess. There's a reason why she has a "slutty reputation" (I really hate the word slut, but Paisley uses it, so it's here in quotes), and that is slowly revealed. (Semi spoilery - there is a tragic backstory AND her family is just awful.) (No, seriously, so awful that by the end, any sympathy I had for Caroline was gone.) In a way, the disaster of the wedding reception and losing her son and her family wanting nothing to do with her is the best thing to happen to Paisley. She leaves England and in the seven years (which aren't shown in the book) Paisley sobers up, continues her education, and gets her act together.

Once back in England.... let's just say this is the type of book that the only job in the entire country that Paisley can get is at the place where James works. Working for him. (I KNOW).

So the second half is Paisley trying to prove to James she's changed, yet there's the attraction with James, and FEELINGS and SEXYTIMES.

But Liz, you may be saying. I get the soap opera and Lifetime references, but Syfy?

Did I mention the kind of psychic powers that Paisley has, and the sort of psychic connection she has with James?

Yes, this book had a lot going on. But you know what? I kept turning the pages. I wanted, no, needed, to find out what happened next and why and how. Paisley was working against such a stacked deck, was such an underdog, that I was understanding of her self-destructive behavior and hopeful that she'd have a happy ending. And at the same time... this was a roller coaster of "what the hell just happened" and I really enjoy that type of book!

Other reviews: Dear Author; Harlequin Junkies; Shh Moms Reading; Confessions from Romaholics.







Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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23. Review: Wildlife

Wildlife by Fiona Wood. Poppy, an imprint of Little, Brown. 2014. Reviewed from ARC.

The Plot: It's time for the "dreaded term" that is an "outdoor education camp." Nine weeks away from home, in the middle of nowhere, just you and some classmates and teachers.

Sib -- Sybilla Queen, 16 -- will be going. It's both dreaded and looked forward to, and she'll be going with friends and teens she's known her whole life. And all that time away from home! Things aren't quite what she expects, though, when she starts a romance with popular Ben Capaldi and her best friend Holly veers between jealous and supporting.

Lou, also 16, is new to the school and the group. She stands out, not just for being new, but for also not caring if she makes friends or enemies. Instead she sits back and observes. But if she's not willing to let people into her life, can she really tell others about how they're living theirs?

The Good: Wildlife - first, for the record, every year there is one book whose name I just repeatedly get wrong. This year, whenever I say Wildfire, know I mean Wildlife.

Wildlilfe alternates between two stories: Sib and Lou. Sib's story is about the girl who before school starts gets her braces off and has her acne clear up -- you get the idea. The cosmetic changes are even more amped up, because she posed for her aunt's advertising campaign. A glammed up version of Sib is what introduces her classmates to the "new" Sib -- except it's still the same old Sib, inside.

The New Sib now has a new boyfriend, Ben, and she is both flattered and scared by that. Yes, she likes him, but it's her first real boyfriend and she's just not sure what she wants or how she wants to be. Her best friend, Holly, is there, always being supportive and telling Sib the way she should be treating Ben.

Here is Sib describing Holly: "Maybe I need to explain that Holly's mean is not really meant to be mean -- it's just Holly! And you get used to it!." The reader doesn't need Lou seeing the Sib/Holly friendship to realize the relationship is toxic, and unhealthy, and Sib has no idea that Holly is that mean.

Lou's boyfriend died. It's probably best to get it out there, up front. She is still grieving and isolated, keeping the world at arm's length. Her moms think that the "outdoor education campus", nine weeks in the "wilderness," will somehow help. (While Lou hasn't attended the school before, one of her mothers went as a teen.) Lou's story is one of grief and loss and recovery, and putting together ones life. She's slowly drawn into the world she finds herself in, not through the other girls in her cabin -- Holly has marked her as an enemy, an outsider -- but through Michael, Sib's other best friend.

This is not a book where Lou and Michael fall in love, or where Lou finds new love. No, it respects Lou's loss and the time, the long amount of time, it takes when a loved one dies. What Michael and Lou offer each other is more important: friendship and acceptance. Lou needs that, even if she won't admit it, and Michael needs it, because he has to go through the pain of seeing the person he loves -- Sib -- happy with someone else.

This isn't a book about Sib and Ben falling in love. Sib and Ben's relationship is important, and I loved how Sib sorted out all her own complicated feelings about Ben. She's attracted to him, she wants a relationship, but she's also not quite sure about him or herself. Ben's a decent enough guy, but he's a teenaged boy. He doesn't pursue Sib until after she's glammed up. He and Sib are put together in a heightened time and place, the intensity and isolation of the wilderness experience. Out in the real world, would they have anything in common? And does that matter? One thing I love about Sib is that, when it comes to Ben, part of Sib realizes all this. But part of her is also young and new to relationships so she is unsure just what she wants from Ben and how to proceed, both emotionally and physically. So Wildlife is about their relationship, yes, but Wildlife is about a more important relationship.

Wildlife is a book about the friendship between Holly and Sib. Sib is in some ways a passive girl. It's not the type of passive of someone who doesn't know what they want; it's the passive of someone who is content with what they have. So content that it's not that she lacks strong feelings about things, but that she doesn't care so let Holly take the lead. It's like the old deciding where to go for dinner: it's not that the person who says "I don't care" doesn't care, it's that they have no real strong urge for Italian or pizza or hamburgers or Indian, they just want food, and if you care, find.

It's the type of passive that allows Holly to be the leader, and for Sib to go along with it. It's what some people call "too nice." But here's the thing about that type of "nice." It is genuine. Sib truly loves, and forgives, Holly.

Holly is a wounded girl: from the start, Sib explains that part of her tolerance for what Holly does is that she, Sib, knows the "real" Holly. What the reader (and Lou) sees is a girl who has gone from acting mean to being mean. A girl whose own insecurities and need for popularity and acceptance means that she's not afraid to push others around, and push other's buttons, to get what she wants. Holly is the type of girl you don't want your child to be friends with: not because she's dangerous, but because you know at some point, she's finally going to go too far and hurt your child emotionally. And much as I grew to hate Holly, I have to confess: given her own emotional wounds, I wonder if Holly at some point will "grow up" and stop hurting others to make herself feel better. I wonder if she will ever become self aware. Still, that is just wondering --in the meanwhile, I want those who Holly hurts to stay away from her because they can't fix Holly. Only Holly can.

Wildlife is about Sib and Holly's friendship slowly, messily ending. Just as the boarding situation helps Sib and Ben's relationship progress, it also helps Sib and Holly's friendship implode.

Oh, the reason I put "wilderness" in quotes earlier is that this isn't tents and camping. There are cabins, and meals, and toilets, and showers, and classrooms. It is in the middle of a wilderness area, with opportunities for tents and camping and no toilets or showers. Like many experiences, it's a very controlled "wilderness." It's also a great time for all the teens to practice being grown up and older with a safety net. They are away from home, yes; but there are still rules and teachers and chaperones around.

This is one of my Favorite Reads of 2014, because of the character growth and the dynamics between people.




Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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24. Interview with Claudia Connor, Author of Worth the Fall and Giveaway

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Claudia! Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Claudia Connor] I asked my family for help on this one. Weird. Tired. Fun. Loving. Hungry. I’d say that’s pretty accurate.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?

[Claudia Connor] Sure. Worth The Fall is a love story, plain and simple, though love is never simple. Abby and Matt are two people with no other reason to be together and lots of reasons to be apart. Matt’s a Navy SEAL hero with skills, badassness and an intense sense of responsibility, but he’s also a man with so much love to give. He’s just never found anyone he wanted to give it to. Until Abby. But Abby’s been left all her life and knows she can’t watch another person walk away.

So it’s about falling in love, making choices and taking chances. It’s also about believing you’re enough, believing you’re worthy of what’s being offered. I absolutely LOVE these characters. I spent three years with them before I ever considered writing their story, then almost three more years writing it. Any minute of any day I can pop into their lives, be a fly on the wall. It’s like watching your favorite movie that never ends! Hopefully when people read the book they’ll feel the same.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Claudia Connor] I don’t really feel like I come up with anything or create anyone, as odd as that may sound. I only try my best to write down what I see and fill in any blanks the characters leave. Though sometimes those blanks are more like craters. Black holes. I watch and listen and write down what they say and do and hope I do them justice.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Claudia Connor] The characters. I could stay with them forever. Even though it was hard, there was so much love between Abby and Matt it always felt good to be with them.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?

[Claudia Connor] Hmm…I guess I’d have to say the hero. I hate to point fingers fingers at Matt, but he had a lot to work out. And then there’s the whole men can be difficult thing:)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?

[Claudia Connor] Ooh…That’s a tough one and it changes hourly, even minute to minute. Okay, I’ll admit, I even googled How To Find Your Theme Song. LOL It was a fun test but I’d never even head of the songs it suggested for me. Maybe…Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd. I’m not sure the song describes me in any way, but it’s always stuck.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

[Claudia Connor] During the day, my phone, my lifeline to the world. Over night, my little pillow, affectionately known as Baby Nino. It was in my crib when I came home from the hospital and I can count on one hand the nights I’ve slept without it. Where I go, Baby Nino goes. And yes, that includes my honeymoon.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Claudia Connor] Diet Coke. Empty mug. Laptop. And twenty-seven other things but you only asked for three;)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Claudia Connor] Back up dancer for J. Lo. Of course that would require a certain amount of talent. But, hey. It’s a dream.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Claudia Connor] Waiting On You, Kristan Higgins. It Happened One Wedding, Julie James. And a re-read, Safe Harbor, Christine Feehan

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Claudia Connor] I love watching TV. My husband and I have gotten into a habit of finding a show then watching the entire thing straight through a couple of episodes each night. We recently flew through every season of Game Of Thrones and just finished both seasons of Vikings. Now we’re sad. My all time favorite show was Alias. I own that and have re-watched with each of my daughters when they hit their teens. I LOVE going to movies. Gladiator is my all time number one favorite movie. I think at last count I’d seen it 14 times. If you haven’t seen it, GO NOW. I promise you will thank me!!! And of course, I love to read. Though there aren’t many hours in the day, not even on the weekend, that I’m not working, thinking, plotting, rewriting, or driving my children to activities.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Claudia Connor] I’m in all the usual social media places. In addition to the ones below, they can find me on Pinterest. I have a special board for each book, always great for procrastination:)

http://claudiaconnor.com

https://www.facebook.com/ClaudiaConnor

https://www.goodreads.com/claudiaconnor

https://twitter.com/Claudia__Connor

Thank you so much for having me!

Worth The Fall
The McKinney Brothers # 1

By: Claudia Connor

Releasing September 9th, 2014

Loveswept

Blurb

Prepare to be swept away by a talented debut author with a passionate, powerful story to tell.

They meet on a beach. . . . Abby Davis isn’t wearing a skimpy bikini or sipping umbrella drinks, not when she’s busy chasing around four little ones. And Matt McKinney isn’t looking for fun—he’s a Navy SEAL, a grown man with a long list of missions . . . and fallen brothers.

They only have a week. . . . Abby has brought her children to this beach to start over, to give them the enjoyable memories they deserve. Matt’s been sidelined by a combat injury, and haunted by the best friend he lost and the promise he made: to remain a SEAL—focused and dedicated. This leaves no time for what he’s always wanted: a family.

But a week is all it takes. . . . Matt opens her heart while Abby soothes his soul. And though they plan to say good-bye when the week is over, something magical happens on that beach, something neither can forget. Something utterly, completely worth falling for.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/07/worth-fall-mckinney-brothers-1-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21469653-worth-the-fall?from_search=true

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Worth-Fall-McKinney-Claudia-Connor-ebook/dp/B00J1IQX4E/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1407203839&sr=1-1&keywords=Worth+the+Fall

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/worth-the-fall-claudia-connor/1120019663?ean=9780553390919

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/worth-the-fall/id841778887?mt=11

Author Info

Claudia Connor attended Auburn University, where she received her undergraduate and masters degrees in early childhood education, and completed her studies in Sawbridgeworth, England. Always a lover of happy endings, she enjoys movies, reading, and spending her days putting on paper the stories in her head. She lives near Memphis, Tennessee, with her husband and three daughters.
Author Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/claudia.connor.18

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Claudia__Connor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8058866.Claudia_Connor

Rafflecopter Giveaway ($25 Gift Card to eRetailer of Choice and Digital copy of WORTH THE FALL)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Interview with Claudia Connor, Author of Worth the Fall and Giveaway appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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25. It's Release Day Times Two!

Today I have not one but TWO books releasing into the world! First up is my YA contemporary romance, Perfect For You.

Seventeen-year-old Meg Flannigan isn’t very self-confident, but what girl would be after her sophomore-year boyfriend dumped her by making out with another girl in front of her locker? 

Now a senior, Meg catches the eye of not one, but two gorgeous guys at school. Sounds good, right? What girl wouldn't want to be in Meg's shoes? One cute boy happens to be her boyfriend, and the other? Well, he wants to be. And Meg? She's torn between Ash, the boy she's been with for nearly five months, and Noah who is pretty irresistible. 

But Meg is playing with fire. Pitting two boys against one another, even if she doesn't intend to, could end badly if she isn't careful. PERFECT FOR YOU is a teen romance from bestselling author Ashelyn Drake, where one girl will risk everything to find her perfect match.

Check out the opening pages below:



Need to know what happens next? Click here to buy the book for only $2.99 on Amazon.

Up next is Into the Fire, a YA romantic fantasy.
Seventeen-year-old Cara Tillman’s life is a perfectly normal one until Logan Schmidt moves to Ashlan Falls. Cara is inexplicably drawn to him, but she’s not exactly complaining. Logan’s like no boy she’s ever met, and he brings out a side of Cara that she isn’t used to. As the two get closer, everything is nearly perfect, and Cara looks forward to the future.

But Cara isn’t a normal girl. She’s a member of a small group of people descended from the mythical phoenix bird, and her time is running out. Rebirth is nearing, which means she’ll forget her life up to this point—she’ll forget Logan and everything they mean to one another.. But that may be the least of Cara’s problems.

A phoenix hunter is on the loose, and he’s determined to put an end to the lives of people like Cara and her family, once and for all.

Here's a video of me reading the opening pages:



You can get more of Cara and the other phoenixes for only $3.19 on Amazon or $3.49 on B&N.

Look for a SWAG and gift card giveaway this Friday! 

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