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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: contemporary, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 789
1. Bone Gap: Review

How do you review an unreviewable book? The entire book reads as if it is a dream. How do you describe a dream? There is an impossibility in trying to make sense of what can not be made sense of. I can try to describe to you the aspects that correlate with reality. But when they take a sudden nose dive into the magical, the inexplicable, the surreal…how do I explain that? This is a book full of contradictions. It is a fairytale and it is not. It is a love story and it is not. It is a mythical retelling and it is not. On the surface, this is a book about a young woman who has been kidnapped and about her teenage friend’s struggle to come to terms with what happened. But it is so much more than that. What it is is a compelling, tautly told story... Read more »

The post Bone Gap: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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2. Friday Feature: Looking For Love


My new adult contemporary romance, Looking For Love, is now available! While this is part of the Campus Crush series, you should know that it's a companion series and the books don't have to be read in order. Each features a different couple and stands completely on its own.


Mike Hannigan is looking for love in all the wrong places. Maybe that’s because having his heart torn to shreds by who he thought was the perfect girl left some emotional scarring. But that’s about to change. 



Summer Patterson isn’t like anyone Mike’s dated before, and he can’t help but be intrigued by her. Now if only he could keep his foot out of his mouth long enough to win her over. But when a secret involving Summer brings Mike’s past crashing back to the present, he’ll need some backup from his best friend and wingwoman, Mindy, to sort out the mess.



Will Mike find love before he leaves Timberland College for good?


*This is a New Adult title and is not suitable for younger readers.*

But that's not all. 

I also updated the Campus Crush paperback to include this novella. So if you want to have all the novellas in the series in one place, you can get that from the paperback here

The Campus Crush ebook was not updated and still remains FREE. However, that means Looking For Love is NOT part of the free ebook boxset.

Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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3. Review: The Walls Around Us

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma. Algonquin Young Readers. 2015. Reviewed from electronic galley.

The Plot: Amber is telling about the night her world went wild because the doors opened and the guards were missing. Amber is locked up in a juvenile facility for girls and the electric went out and the generator didn't kick in and all the girls are let out and free and running wild.

Violet is getting ready to go on stage. It is her final dance before she leaves for Juilliard. She is thinking about this final, home stage ballet dance and leaving this town and her family and her memories. It's like escaping a prison, she thinks, realizing it's a terrible thing to think considering what happened three years ago, when her what happened happened, when her best friend Orianna was sent to juvenile detention.

The Walls Around Us is about these three girls, Amber and Violet and Orianna, and how their stories overlap and weave together in a tangled mess of walls and doors, expectations and fears. And anger. Always, anger.

The Good: I'm a fan of Nova Ren Suma's Imaginary Girls and 17 and Gone. The Walls Around Us doesn't disappoint; it may be my favorite one yet. Like those books, The Walls Around Us does many things: there is a surface story but there is also a story underneath, there are observations about how the world views teenage girls and how the girls view themselves, and there may or may not be a ghost story. Then there is the language, creating a world and a setting and a tone that wraps around us -- like walls wrap around us.

As with Suma's other stories, I don't want to give too much away, but at the same time, I just want to talk about what happens and what does not. So the short version is, drop everything and read The Walls Around Us.

The longer version, which some spoiler-sensitive won't want to read.

Amber is a long term inmate and introduces us to her world, starting on that night when the doors opened, to her world and the other girls. Who is innocent? Who is guilty? Why did they end up there? Does it matter, now that they are locked up, what came before or what will come after? As the chapters go back and forth, it is revealed that Orianna has not yet arrived at the facility which means all Amber says happens three years before Violet's story.

And something terrible is going to happen at that place, and Amber's role as observer and watcher and eavesdropper means she is going to tell it to us, best as she can. Orianna never speaks for herself: instead it is those who knew her who describe her.

For Amber, Orianna is the new girl who has to learn the ropes. But Amber is also puzzled by something else, because Ori seems somehow familiar. And that night of almost-escape, has it happened before? Is it happening again? Why do things yet to happen seem familiar?

For Violet, Orianna was her best friend. But also her number one competitor in ballet; even now, years after what happened and Ori was arrested and tried and sent away, it is Ori's easy accomplishments that drive Violet's own path. Vee is still competing. Violet's life has gone on exactly as it should, with her place at the ballet school, and her boyfriend, and a new best friend, and best of all she'll be leaving all this behind her shortly when she leaves for Juilliard.

What did happen? What did Ori do? What did Vee do?

Violet's story seems straight forward enough, even though she's reluctant to say what happened years before. And frankly Violet seems a bit hard, a bit of a bitch, but is wanting to leave your home and start the new life that college promises such a bad thing? Is wanting to forget painful memories bad, and don't some build a hard shell to deal with the past?

Violet wants to go see where Ori was sent, even though now the place is in ruins and no one is there. Or is it it abandoned? Do all the dreams and hopes and fears and anger of those girls just -- disappear, go away, when those girls go away? When Violet walks into that broken, abandoned place, does she see ghosts or is it her own guilt haunting her?

Anger. As I write this, I realize that if there is one thing that The Walls Around Us is about, it's not about ballet and friendships; it's not about murder and punishment; it's not about escape or justice.

It's about anger. Anger that girls feel for all the right reasons, anger at abandonment and betrayal and abuse, anger that is denied because society doesn't want to see it, anger that is denied because girls aren't supposed to be angry, anger at why some girls are punished and some are not. Anger at why some girls have things so easily and others do not. And being angry is hard work, no matter how much a girl tries to deny it and keep it in control. Eventually, the walls holding the anger in, the walls holding the anger out, have to come down.

Yes, this is a Favorite Book Read in 2015.








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

0 Comments on Review: The Walls Around Us as of 3/19/2015 4:02:00 AM
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4. I Was Here: Review

I’m not really a contemporary person, but I am very much a Gayle Forman person. With that said, I’m not sure anyone could be more disappointed than I am that I did not love this book. Forman’s prose and storytelling talent have shown me the heights of what contemporary can achieve in her previous duologies. I do think, honestly, that she is near peerless within her genre. So what left me so cold about her most recent release? A thing with me is that books take on their own “color” and mood. The experience of reading this book felt just like being under a constant cover of gray skies. There was so little in the way of hope or optimism. Which is fine, I suppose. But even if you’re going to stick readers with difficult emotions there should at least be some sort of catharsis. Unfortunately, even that fell through.... Read more »

The post I Was Here: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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5. Review and Giveaway: Worth the Risk by Claudia Connor

Review:

I actually wanted to read Worth the Risk before Claudia Connor’s other book, Worth the Fall, was even on my radar.  I saw that the heroine was a hippotherapist, and that’s all I needed to see.  I didn’t even read the blurb beyond “one therapeutic horseback ride at a time.”  Yup, throw a random horse reference in there, and I’m on board.  But then Worth the Fall was highly recced to me, and despite my aversion to all of those kids, I read it.  And loved it.  And I loved Worth the Risk more!  So the author is now on my auto read list.

I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, so I will be purposefully vague about some key plot points.  I figured a lot of them out, but I don’t want to rob the experience of these discoveries from you, so I’ll just give a general background about the story and why I liked it so much.

Hannah works as a therapist, helping disabled and emotionally battered kids with her horses.  She has a fierce passion for her profession; she suffered through unspeakable brutality when she was a teenager, and horses helped rouse her from of the shell she crawled into.  She lives for her horses and her young clients, so she’s stressing about a letter that she received from the city, questioning the ownership of her property and barn. 

After a very bad day, when she had to unexpectedly put her beloved dog to sleep, she meets gorgeous Stephen.  Having been drilled by her brothers to never trust anyone, she refuses to give him her number, but, taking a step outside of her comfort zone, agrees to meet him later for a drink.  Hannah just wants to forget that she’d be going home to an empty house, and she doesn’t want to deal with her suffocating brothers’ sympathy. 

Five years ago, Stephen also suffered from a heinous act of evil, and he’s been running from it ever since.  He’s cut ties with his family, severed ties with his own emotions, and has poured all of his energy into his company.  When he sees Hannah crying in the grocery store, he feels a twinge of curiosity, as well as attraction.  When she refuses to give him her phone number, he’s even more determined to get to know her.  Their drinks turn into a dinner date, but Hannah still refuses to divulge personal information about herself.  He thinks that she’s just being cautious, and sets his sights on getting what he wants – Hannah.

I enjoyed Worth the Risk for many of the same reasons I liked Worth the Fall.  Both Hannah and Stephen needed each other; they are sadly incomplete alone.  They both feel stifled by their caring, and in Hannah’s case, overprotective, families.  They both had a piece of themselves ripped brutally away, and they were and can never be the same as before.  They have trust issues, don’t want to get involved with anyone, and are reluctant to commit. 

To complicate matters, Hannah’s land is in jeopardy, and Stephen’s partner is scheming to purchase it, with or without Stephen’s approval.  Hannah brings some grief on herself here because she wants to take care of her problem by herself, so she can start to feel self-sufficient.  That comes back to bite her in the behind.

Both characters are easy to relate to, and Stephen, despite his own self-loathing, is kind, caring, and considerate.  He senses that Hannah is skittish, and he woos her with care, even if he doesn’t know why he’s doing it.  He’s made a vow to never fall in love again, and it’s a promise he has every intention of keeping.  Reading along as they gently batter down their reservations kept me completely engrossed in the book, and I read it in just a few hours.  It’s a little angsty, moving, and hard to put down.  Best yet,   I like all of the McKinneys and all of Hannah’s brothers, and keep thinking, Yeah!  Who will be the star of the next book in the series??

Highly recommended

Worth the Risk
The McKinney Brothers # 2

By: Claudia Connor

Releasing Feb 3rd, 2015

Loveswept

Blurb

When a McKinney brother falls in love, powerful emotion and overwhelming desire are never far behind.

Two hearts locked away . . . Hannah Walker spends her days coaching children through injury and trauma, one therapeutic horseback ride at a time. She knows all too well how violence can change a child and leave scars that never heal. It’s easy for her to relate to the kids; what isn’t easy is the thought of facing her own harrowing past.

Millionaire playboy Stephen McKinney could use a little coaching himself. Five years ago he encountered his most horrible nightmare—and the nightmare won. No matter what he achieves, nothing can make up for that awful night . . . or so he believes.

Both desperate for a second chance . . . Stephen is used to getting what he wants. And he wants Hannah. So when she turns him down, he’s intrigued. What he doesn’t know is that her secrets will lead him to a place he never wanted to go again . . . to a side of himself he’s tried to forget . . . a side that would scare Hannah away from ever loving him. Now his only chance to win her trust is to bare his soul, risking everything he tried so hard to protect.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/11/worth-risk-mckinney-brothers-2-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22747252-worth-the-risk?from_search=true

Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo

 

Author Info

Claudia Connor is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of heartfelt contemporary romance. Claudia 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 travel, but spends most of her time typing out the love stories of the almost real people that live in her head. Claudia lives near Memphis, Tennessee, with her husband and three daughters.

Author Links: Facebook | Twitter | Website | Goodreads

Rafflecopter Giveaway ($25.00 eGift Card to Choice Book Seller, Loveswept Mug and Romance at Random Nail Polish)

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The post Review and Giveaway: Worth the Risk by Claudia Connor appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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6. Spotlight and Giveaway: Fire Me Up by Kimberly Kincaid

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for Fire Me Up by Kimberly Kincaid.  Enjoy!

Fire Me Up
Pine Mountain # 4

By: Kimberly Kincaid

Releasing January 27, 2015

Zebra/ Kensington

Blurb

IF YOU CAN’T STAND THE HEAT…

Teagan O’Malley can handle a crisis. She’s a paramedic, it’s her job. But she never expected to land in the kitchen of her father’s pub, with no notice, no cash, and no room for error. The kitchen is not her favorite place. Lucky for her, she just scraped a bad-boy chef off the pavement after a motorcycle accident—and something about him says he can turn up the heat in more ways than one.

Adrian Holt has had a rough few years, and he’s not eager to get tangled up in anything more complicated than a good risotto. But with a broken arm and a head full of bad memories, he needs a challenge to keep him sane. Teagan’s dare-me attitude and smoldering mess of a bar are just what the doctor ordered. And the two of them together might cook up some even better medicine…

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/12/fire-me-up-pine-mountain-4-by-kimberly.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22043083-fire-me-up?from_search=true

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/112826-pine-mountain

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

 

Author Info

Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet. When she’s not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as “The Pleather Bomber”, she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book.

Kimberly is a 2011 RWA Golden Heart® finalist who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. Her digital Line series is all about the hot cops and sexy chefs of Brentsville, New York. She is also the author of the Pine Mountain series, which follows small town singles as they find big-time love. Kimberly resides in Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Excerpt

The astringent bite of rubbing alcohol reached Teagan’s nose as she tore into the packet in her hand, and she measured the intricate black tattoo on Adrian’s right forearm with a casual glance. Placing a line was more about feel than anything else, but it didn’t make this a cozy jaunt down Main Street, either. Still, procedure was procedure, and she wasn’t about to tell the docs in the emergency department that she didn’t start an IV en route when she knew damn well they were expecting her to do it. Explaining the shoulder thing was going to be bad enough.

Taking her eyes off a guy like Adrian in the first place had been the highest order of stupid. She wasn’t screwing up his care again.

“So how come you’re sticking me, exactly?”

His much-softened tone snagged her attention, and she adjusted hers to match. “Because you need painkillers on board before we get to Riverside. The doctors there are going to give you a pretty good workup. It’s not going to be fun.”

“I’m okay with the pain,” he said, although the thin sheen of sweat on his brow coupled with his skin’s growing pallor said otherwise.

Teagan shrugged. “You need the IV regardless. Might as well let the meds take the edge off.” She sat on the bench seat at Adrian’s side and flipped his right arm palm-side up, running her fingers down the corded length from elbow to wrist in search of a good spot.

“So what language is this, anyway?” she asked, folding his hand into a fist before tracing the thickly scrolled letters spanning his skin from wrist to elbow. Maybe if she distracted him, he’d let her do her job without complaint.

“Italian.” He didn’t elaborate, but he also didn’t balk as she ripped open the IV kit she’d pulled from the med box.

“Oh. What does it mean?” Teagan tapped the pad of one gloved finger against the vein now standing in relief against his skin right above the words vivere senza rimpianti.

“You ask a lot of questions, don’t you?”

The edgy little smile that had caught her so off guard in the middle of the road was back in full force, and it hadn’t lost an ounce of steam in its absence.

Teagan’s cheeks prickled with the unfamiliar sensation of a blush. “Sorry. Little pinch here. Ready?”

He nodded, keeping his smile locked in place. “Whenever you are, Red.”

Right. Because that nickname hadn’t haunted her enough in the third grade. “Just hold still.”

She guided the IV into place with a few deft movements despite the fact her pulse had just taken on all the properties of a freight train. “I’m going to put some Fentanyl in here to ease some of your pain. It works pretty quickly, so you should be able to relax soon.”

“Whatever will get this over with faster.” Adrian looked away, the smile slipping from his face as he shifted his weight against the semi-reclined surface of the cot. It figured he’d go and get all agreeable when they were halfway to the hospital, but truly, Teagan knew better than to complain.

She drew two hundred micrograms of Fentanyl into a syringe and worked it into the IV, doing a visual sweep to make sure all systems were go. “I’m just going to recheck your vitals here and see if we can manage some focus assessment before those pain meds get in the way.”

“Focus assessment sounds like something my high school guidance counselor tried once. Hate to break it to you, but it didn’t work out so well then. Doubt you’ll have much luck with it now.”

Teagan’s laugh popped out before she could swallow it, and she palmed the penlight from her bag. “Don’t worry, it’s not that tough. Look up for me.”

Adrian fastened her with a dead-on stare, and whoa, there was a lot roiling around in those hazel eyes of his. No matter how big and bad, most car accident victims experienced some form of shock or another in the aftermath. Her social skills might not be impeccable—or hell, even good—but it was time to keep this guy as calm as possible.

“So, tell me,” she said, slipping the pulse ox clip over his finger. “What do you do, Adrian?”

His forehead creased, making his surprise a dead giveaway.

“I’m a chef.”

Looked like surprise was catching. “And how long have you been a chef?”

“Since the day I was born.”

The laughter pushing past her lips caught her off guard for the second time in as many minutes. “You’ve been busy, then. You must work at the place in the resort.” That tiny tickle of recognition fanned over her again, but as soon as she flicked her attention toward it, it was gone, like smoke in a stiff breeze.

“What makes you say that?” He canted his head to the side, his shoulders seeming to loosen slightly.

Teagan noted his current vitals before continuing with the exam. “Because unless you count the bakery on Main Street, there are only two other full-service places to eat in Pine Mountain, and there isn’t a chef in either one.”

The thought of Lou, the lanky guy who worked his magic at her father’s bar and grill, working up a hoity-toity dish like on those reality shows was downright laughable. Not that Adrian really fit that mold either, but still. He’d been the one to use the c-word, not her.

As if he’d just climbed into her head for an easy looksee, Adrian teased, “Careful making assumptions over there. I ditched the tall white hat as soon as I graduated from culinary school.”

She held up her hands, busted. “Okay. But for the most part, we townies tend to just sling hash and be done with it.” Teagan examined him carefully, and this time the vague recognition darting around in her brain snagged and held. “The restaurant at the resort! You were there last year, when we responded to that call for the other chef. A woman.”

The tumblers and gears of her memory locked into place over the image. They’d been first on scene, and Evan had gone to secure the patient—a nasty facial trauma, if she remembered right. Teagan had been too busy securing the rest of the scene, namely trying to peel Adrian off of Jackson Carter, a local guy she’d known since middle school.

The fight had been short-lived. And Adrian had been boiling-point furious.

“She’s my boss,” Adrian said, dispelling only a touch of the mystery running through her head. “You remember that?”

“Small town. And you have a memorable right hook.”

His eyes flared, in way more panic than irritation. “It wasn’t like that, exactly.” A pause, and it looked like hers weren’t the only gears sliding into place. “Wait, that was you who jumped in the middle of things.”

Teagan nodded, sliding down the bench toward his feet and laying the flat of her hand against the bottom of one monstrous boot. “Securing the scene to administer care is part of the job. Press forward as far as you can.”

He did, and when she prompted, he gave a quick repeat on the other side. “You could get hurt like that, being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“Said the guy on the gurney,” she said, unable to bite back a wry smile. “How’s your arm feeling?” Now that she’d had more time for a more focused exam, it was clear the broken arm was likely the only injury he’d sustained, and even that looked pretty straightforward. Lucky bastard.

“Pretty good.” He closed his eyes for a fraction too long to be a blink, and that, coupled with his answer, signaled the Fentanyl was starting to kick in nice and hard.

“Good. We should be at the hospital in another seven minutes, give or take. You can close your eyes if you want.”

Another blink, this one shuttering his eyes just enough to be sexy as hell. “That might not . . . be the best idea.”

Concern splashed through Teagan’s chest, and she leaned forward from her perch on the bench seat at his side. “Are you sure you’re feeling okay?”

“Relax.” A lazy smile joined his bedroom eyes, sending an entirely different sensation through her chest. “I’m not going to code on you or anything. It’s just, ah, easier to forget about the pain if I’m distracted, that’s all.”

Oh, buddy. If you only knew. “Okay, but consider yourself forewarned. I’m not sure I’m the best person for the job.” Teagan bit her lip over a pause. “Polite conversation isn’t exactly my forte.”

“Polite conversation is for amateurs,” he said. “Tell me something important.”

A streak of shock popped through her veins. “You want me to tell you something personal?” That Fentanyl must be knocking him sideways if he thought she was going to spill her soul.

“Yeah,” Adrian said on nothing more than a rumble. “Personal. What’s your favorite ice-cream flavor?”

More laughter escaped in an unexpected burst, but at least it was a painless question. Poor guy probably was a little loopy from the meds. “Umm, wow. Coffee, I guess.”

“I could see that.” His voice was slow, and it dashed all the way down her spine, lingering only when it reached the lowest point between her hips. Desperate for something clinical to keep her busy, Teagan snatched a few packets of alcohol wipes. She tore one open and leaned in, dabbing methodically at a scrape above Adrian’s eye.

“Ah.” She shook her head, giving the cut a closer look.

“You’ve got a pretty nasty lac here. It’s small, but looks kind of deep. I hate to tell you, but you’re probably going to have to lose this piercing to have it stitched up.”

“Great,” he said, although the sarcasm didn’t quite stick. “You can go ahead and take it out, I guess.”

Teagan made quick work of removing the stainless steel barbell, sliding it into a plastic bag before giving voice to the question in her head. “So how about you?”

“How about me what?” He angled the side of his face so it fit tight into the curve of her hand, and she scooped in a shallow breath at the increased contact.

“What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?” she murmured, surprised to find herself actually wanting to know. His eyes went from warm hazel to smoky quartz in the time it took her to exhale, and he dipped his gaze to her mouth.

“Strawberry.”

“And what’s so great about strawberries?” Oh hell. Was that her voice, all breathy and ridiculous?

“They’re perfect.” He curled the fingers of his uninjured hand around hers, pulling her in and reducing the space between them to a mere sliver. With his stare resting right on her lips, he said, “And red.”

Before the word even sank in, Adrian lifted his mouth to hers in a slow stroke. His lips were the exact opposite of the rest of him, soft and accommodating, and Teagan gasped against them. He tasted like cinnamon, spicy and dangerous, and he tightened beneath her like he had every intention of parting her mouth with his own and discovering all of her. Her brain screamed that she should pull back, give him what-for, do something other than just sit there and let him kiss her, but all her good intentions fell prey to one simple fact.

She didn’t want him to stop.

But then, just as quickly as he’d closed the space between them, Adrian pulled away, and the resulting rush of cool air brought Teagan back to earth with a hasty snap.

“Sorry. I . . .” Adrian trailed off, eyes at half-mast. “I’m so tired.”

“Close your eyes.” Thank God she’d at least faked her way back to her normal speaking voice. The sound of it steadied her ever further. “We’ll be at Riverside in a couple of minutes.”

As if on cue, Evan leaned back and aimed his voice into the narrow pass-through, one eye still on the road as he hollered an ETA of ninety seconds. Teagan shucked her gloves and swept up the debris in the rig, double-checking Adrian’s vitals even though her own probably looked like a skyline shot of Mount Everest. His eyes were closed, his chest rising and falling in smooth rhythm. She’d given him enough Fentanyl to knock out a basketball team, so it really wasn’t a shock that he’d gotten a little goofy. He probably wouldn’t even remember kissing her when his eyes opened up again.

The smartest thing she could do was forget it, too.

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The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Fire Me Up by Kimberly Kincaid appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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7. The Walls Around Us: Review

I’m torn on this one, you guys. There were many things I liked about Nova Ren Suma’s The Walls Around Us: the prose style is gorgeous, and I was much more interested than I expected to be in a story about killer ballerinas. On the other hand, I saw the twists coming from a mile away (rare for me!), but dammit, I was still so interested in this book up until the last twenty-five pages or so. The basic premise of The Walls Around Us: Amber’s in a juvenile detention center, Violet’s off to Julliard. These are our novel’s two narrators. Both their stories are bound together by their relationship to Ori – a promising young ballerina who is sent to the same juvenile detention center after allegedly murdering two rival ballerinas. As readers, we never get Ori’s story directly, but are asked to piece it together from Amber and Violet’s accounts. (This... Read more »

The post The Walls Around Us: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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8. Interview with Lynda Aicher, Author of Game Play and Giveaway

 

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

[Lynda Aicher] Driven. Direct. Loyal. Analytical. Serious.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Game Play?

[Lynda Aicher] Game Play is the first book in my new Power Play series and follows the Glaciers professional hockey team. Young, professional hockey player, Dylan Rylie, meets his match in Samantha Yates, a hockey star in her own right. The heat between them is as hot off the ice as it is on, but her career is at a forced end and his still rising which is hard for Samantha to accept. Dylan has to win her over while still allowing Samantha to follow her own path.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[Lynda Aicher] Ooh… The office sex scene ranks pretty high for me. Lol. But I also like the quieter moments when they’re really learning about each other. I love seeing them both open up to each other.

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

[Lynda Aicher] I had to learn A LOT about the details behind the game of hockey. I do enjoy learning new things though, so that was both arduous and fun. I can now say I know more about the details behind the sport than I ever thought I wanted to.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Lynda Aicher] Excedrin Migraine. Seriously. I get bad tension headaches and two of those will stop a headache before it gets awful.

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

[Lynda Aicher] Slim Jims. Water bottle. Thank you cards (I still have to fill out from Christmas).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

[Lynda Aicher] Beef Jerky and Mountain Dew. Newly added to the list is Dried Roasted Spicy Seaweed.

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

[Lynda Aicher] ??? I have no clue. None. Sorry. I guess I like being me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Lynda Aicher] It would always be teleporting. I would go everywhere and see as many different places as possible.

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

[Lynda Aicher] The Wrong Man by Lane Hayes; No Place That Far by L.A. Witt and Aleksandr Voinov; The Jock Auction by Alex Pendragon; The Way Things Are by A.J. Thomas. I’m reading exclusively Male/Male right now, just so you know.

Game Play
Power Play # 1

By: Lynda Aicher

Releasing February 16th, 2015

Carina Press

Blurb

One night, one time, nothing more. That’s all it was supposed to be. They’d agreed their first night together would be their only night together—and Minnesota Glaciers defenseman Dylan Rylie was fine with that. Giant hickeys and claw marks on his ass had never been his style, even if the very memory of Samantha Yates’s merciless sexual energy gets him hard within seconds. He needs to focus on getting a better contract, not mind-blowing orgasms.

One night, one time, nothing more. Fresh off representing the US at the Games and with nowhere else to play, Samantha gave in to one night of frantic passion with the Glaciers’ brawny hotshot. She couldn’t get hurt—not if she controlled the outcome. And she planned to leave Minnesota soon, anyway. She didn’t expect to be recruited to coach Dylan after they’d gotten down and dirty.

When brutal on-ice workouts lead to kinky locker room sessions and “one night” falls by the wayside, Samantha insists on keeping things casual, despite Dylan’s quiet hope for more. But when Dylan goes down—hard—and his career is in jeopardy, Samantha is the first one by his side. What will it take to keep her there after he’s healed?

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/11/game-play-power-play-1-by-lynda-aicher.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23289990-game-play?from_search=true

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | Kobo | iTunes

Author Info

Lynda Aicher has always loved to read. After years of weekly travel implementing computer software into global companies, she ended her nomadic lifestyle to raise her two children. Now her imagination is her only limitation on where she can go and her writing lets her escape from the daily duties as a mom, wife, chauffeur, scheduler, cook, teacher, volunteer, cleaner and mediator. Find her at: http://lyndaaicher.com

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Excerpt

Timing was everything, and she waited for her moment to kick up some fun on an otherwise blasé event. The charity that donated hockey equipment to kids from military families was a great cause that would benefit from a little show. At least, that was what she told herself.

“Don’t be stupid,” Meg warned in her ear.

“Why not?” Sam asked. “What do I have to lose?” Absolutely nothing. She’d never do anything to smear her name, but it wasn’t like she had a hockey career to worry about. Or a coach she was accountable to.

Or a reason to behave.

Rylie was spending as much time tipping his trademark worn brown cowboy hat at the passing women as he was paying attention to the kids looking for pointers. The ends of his brown hair curled over the back of the gray hoodie he’d worn under his jersey and seemed to match his hat color almost perfectly. Too perfectly.

Nicknamed Cowboy within the hockey world, he was dubbed Pretty Boy as well. The second label was coined his rookie season by a sports announcer and as far as Sam had heard and seen, the man cultivated both brands equally.

“Hi, Rylie,” a group of teenage girls dressed in skinny jeans and overdone makeup chorused as they skated past. Rylie shot them a nod and grin that somehow managed to be appropriate for the age of the girls.

Sam shook her head and chuckled at his easy charm. The guy had it all. Talent, looks, personality—he was a star in the making. One full of potential if he didn’t get distracted by the fame and parties he seemed to enjoy.

Walters smacked the puck toward Rylie, and Sam broke through the kids to swoop across the ice and steal the puck from the preoccupied man. A cheer went up from the kids when she circled the pro player, puck firmly in her control. The air chilled her cheeks and laughter rang in her ears as she sped away.

A quick glance over her shoulder showed Rylie chasing her, the determined pull of his brows blending with a full smile that somehow managed to put a matching one on her face. She caught sight of Meg and passed the puck off before she stopped then took off in the direction she’d just come from.

The circle of kids widened as Walters got into the play, tailing Meg. She swooped around a group of unsuspecting adults, using them as a pick to cut off Walters, and she smacked the puck back to Sam.

“Think you’re hot stuff, do you, Yates?” Rylie was at her side, jabbing his stick at the puck with no effect. She was under no illusion the man knew who she was. Her name was printed in big letters across the back of her jersey.

“Just having some fun.” She cut a sharp circle and faced off Rylie, who skidded to a quick stop.

He tapped his stick on the ice, an indulgent half smile on his lips. “Come on then.” He glanced over his shoulder. “You and me to the net.”

Her stomach did an unwanted flip when his eyes landed back on her. An interesting mix of brown and green, they seemed to dance with the same excitement that flooded her. The challenge was exactly what she’d wanted and his proposition was the best offer she’d had in months. On or off the ice.

“You are so on,” she said, grinning.

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9. Spotlight and Giveaway: Cowboy Heaven by Cheryl Brooks

Howdy! In honor of the launch of Cheryl Brooks’ new erotic western series here’s a little intro to a few of the sexy cowboys – and one cowgirl – that appear in the first book in the series, COWBOY HEAVEN.

Angela McClure

Born and raised on a Wyoming cattle ranch, Angela Kincaid McClure had to grow up fast following the death of her mother at a young age. An only child, she has been the lone woman on the Circle Bar K for most of her life, and her father has always discouraged fraternization with the cowboys employed on the ranch. Angela married her high school sweetheart, Cody McClure, and enjoyed a very happy marriage, raising two sons who have no interest in ranching. With her father aging rapidly, Angela and Cody took over the running of the ranch until Cody was killed in a fall from his horse. Recovering from his loss has taken some time, but after two years, Angela’s interest is once again focused on male companionship. Unfortunately, no one seems the slightest bit interested in taking on her forty-two-year-old self or the ranch. Her father believes she should marry the ranch foreman, Rufus Bentley, but though Angela had a crush on him in her youth and the sixty-year-old foreman is still attractive, his total lack of personality and stern attitude leaves her cold. She’s had her eye on Dusty Jackson, a handsome cowboy employed on the ranch, but she has never received the slightest hint that he might see her as a love interest. Love-starved and lonely, Angela finally finds solace when she picks up stranded rodeo cowboy Troy Whitmore and makes him an offer he can’t refuse.

Dusty Jackson

Born Dustin David Jackson on a ranch in eastern Wyoming, Dusty has never been anything but a cowboy. Something of a loner, after graduating high school, he drifted from ranch to ranch, eventually ending up on the Circle Bar K. He likes the people he works with but there are other reasons for staying on, and just as many reasons to leave. Blessed with good looks and a ready wit, he’s more than a match for the men he works alongside, but when he’s around Angela McClure, words fail him. He knows exactly what he wants, but he also knows that once he takes that first step, there will be no turning back.

Troy Whitmore

Troy Whitmore was born and raised on a ranch in western Oklahoma. He could ride almost before he could walk and was winning prizes at the junior rodeos by the age of six. Too handsome for his own good, women have always been plentiful, but with a tendency to hop from woman to woman and live just a teensy bit beyond his means, by the age of thirty, he needs a woman with enough money to sponsor his rodeo career. When his last “sponsor” dumps him on the side of the highway while en route to the rodeo in Jackson Hole, he’s picked up by Angela McClure, a forty-something widow with an eye for a handsome cowboy and an imagination that fills in where reality leaves off. He’s more than willing to add the perk of sex with the boss to his new job on Angela’s ranch, but soon discovers that the rodeo circuit isn’t the only place where he faces some stiff competition.

What is your favorite way to relax?

Angela: Going for a ride on Apache, my big, bad Paint gelding.

Dusty: I like to sit in front of the fire with a cup of coffee and a good book.

Troy: *smiling* After reading my bio, do you really need to ask that question?

Cowboy Heaven

By Cheryl Brooks

Sourcebooks Casablanca

Erotic Western Romance

March 3, 2015

ISBN: 9781492607458

Trade Paperback $13.99

Buy: Amazon | B&N | BAM | !ndigo | IndieBound | Kobo

When you find yourself in cowboy heaven…

When lonely widow Angela McClure hires a gorgeous hitchhiking cowboy with an affair in mind, she knows they’ll have to be discreet: her old-fashioned father and the stern ranch foreman adamantly discourage any interaction between her and the ranch hands.

Things can get hot as hell…

Despite their attempts at secrecy, the heat between them is undeniable. To divert suspicion, Angela forms a new plan: she’ll flirt with all of the ranch hands. Suddenly Angela has a whole stable full of sexy-as-sin cowboys to play with, but only one can win her heart.

Cheryl Brooks is a former critical care nurse turned romance writer. Her Cat Star Chronicles series includes Slave, Warrior, Rogue, Outcast, Fugitive, Hero, Virgin, Stud, Wildcat, and the newest release, Rebel. She is a member of the RWA and IRWA and lives with her husband and sons near Bloomfield, Indiana.

Connect with Cheryl Brooks: Facebook | Twitter | Website

Praise for Cheryl Brooks:

“Really sexy. Sizzling kind of sexy. Honestly, only Cheryl Brooks can deliver a line like, ‘I can give you joy unlike any you have ever known’ and make you want to melt.”

Bitten by Books

“Ms. Brooks delivers plenty of sexual tension, suspense, and pleasure in simply being alive.”

Romance Junkies

“Incredibly sexy and wonderful to read all around.”

Night Owl Romance

“Fun…unique…and wicked sexy! Cheryl Brooks knows how to keep the heat on and the

reader turning pages!” —Sydney Croft

 

Excerpt from Cowboy Heaven by Cheryl Brooks – Chapter 1

There he was again. That same cowboy I’d seen on the drive into town, still walking, still carrying a big green duffel bag on one shoulder and a saddle slung over the other. He’d been traveling in the opposite direction and hadn’t bothered to look up as I’d passed him earlier. I’d barely glimpsed his face then, but I saw it quite clearly now. A glance over his shoulder revealed his bleak, exhausted expression. He might have been near the point of collapse, but he obviously wasn’t prepared to admit defeat.

Not yet, anyway.

I couldn’t believe no one had picked him up in the three hours since I’d last seen him. He hadn’t looked very fresh even then. I had no idea where he was headed, but in the middle of Wyoming, there wasn’t much within walking distance, no matter where you were going.

He turned toward me, sticking out a halfhearted thumb as I came closer, his face streaked with dirt and sweat and what might have been tears. A black Stetson shadowed his eyes, and his boots and jeans were dusty and worn. His sweat-soaked denim shirt clung to his chest, unbuttoned halfway to his waist, the sleeves ripped out. He probably wasn’t trying to look cool, even though he did. No, he was likely trying to get cool, in any way he possibly could. My truck was air-conditioned and comfortable, and there was plenty of room for him and his meager belongings. I could no more have left him there than I could have ignored a starving child.

As I pulled over to stop, his eyes closed and his lips moved as though uttering a prayer of thanks. His knees buckled slightly, and for a moment, I thought he truly would collapse. Instead, he took a deep breath and stood up straight. Lifting his chin, he aimed luminous blue eyes at me and flashed a dazzling smile. His silver belt buckle suggested this man was no ordinary ranch hand but a down-on-his-luck rodeo cowboy who, unless I missed my guess, was heading for Jackson Hole.

A real heartbreaker of a rodeo cowboy, too. Up close, he was even more handsome than he’d been from a distance. Long and lean with tanned, muscular arms, dimples creased his cheeks and black hair curled enticingly from the open edges of his shirt. Several days’ growth of dark beard surrounded full, sensuous lips, darkening a jaw that my fingertips ached to caress. More ebony curls peeked from beneath his hat, making me long to yank off that Stetson to discover what else it was hiding. Oh yes, there was enough gorgeous cowboy to sway a much stronger woman than I ever claimed to be. Tears stung my eyes as something in his expression reminded me of Cody.

My dear, sweet Cody… He’d been gone for two years now, but I hadn’t forgotten that look, and I doubted I ever would.

Determined to mask my roiling emotions, I searched for something amusing to say as I rolled down my window. “Lost your horse?”

My clever tongue was rewarded with another heart-stopping smile. Cody used to say funny things just to make me giggle—which wasn’t difficult since I tend to find humor in nearly any situation—but brushing up on my own repertoire of one-liners to keep this guy smiling seemed like an excellent idea.

His grin was sheepish as he tipped up the brim of his hat. “He sort of drove off without me.”

“Drove off?” I scoffed. “Somehow I doubt that. Seems like he would’ve needed help.”

My handsome cowboy gave me a grim nod. “Oh, he had help all right. My girlfriend dumped me on the highway and took off with the truck, the trailer, and the horse—all of which were actually hers, by the way. She was kind enough to leave me my saddle and my clothes, although a cell phone would’ve been nice.”

I shook my head. “Nice, yes. Helpful, no. They don’t work very well around here. Which kinda makes me mad—I mean, where would you need a phone more than if you were stranded out in the middle of nowhere?”

He glanced around at the vast expanse of sunbaked rangeland. “Is that the name of this place? Nowhere?”

“Sure is.” I couldn’t help giggling. “Want to get out of nowhere?”

“Yes, please,” he replied. “And as quickly as possible.”

“Throw your stuff in the back and hop in,” I said. “We’ll leave nowhere and go…somewhere.”

He did as I suggested, and suddenly the interior of my truck was filled with the pungent aroma of hot, sweaty, dusty—but cologned—cowboy. He’d most likely showered that morning, but it had been one helluva day. The forecast called for the upper nineties—quite a heat wave even for mid-August—and though the humidity was low, some temperatures are best avoided no matter how dry the air.

“You’re a lifesaver,” he said. “I thought that sun was gonna roast me alive.”

“As hot as it gets in these parts, I never go anywhere without water, enough food for a couple of meals, and an umbrella in case I’m ever forced to hike. Want a sandwich?”

“You bet.”

I tossed a nod over my shoulder. “The cooler’s on the backseat. Help yourself. There’s plenty of water.” Although, at that point, a cold beer probably would have been his first choice.

He pulled out two bottles of water and a sandwich, downing the first bottle in three swallows.

“Better now?”

“Much.”

“Let’s see now…” I said as he unwrapped the sandwich. “A cowboy dumped in the middle of nowhere with a saddle and no horse. There’s got to be a country song in that.”

“If you mean a song about a guy bein’ picked up by a girl in a flatbed Ford, I think the Eagles already did that one.”

“I love that song,” I said wistfully. “Guess I always wanted to be that girl.”

“Well, now you are.” He took a bite of the sandwich, chewing it quickly. “How does it feel?”

“Not much different.” This wasn’t entirely true. I wasn’t in the habit of picking up gorgeous cowboys—and this particular cowboy’s presence had me feeling strangely excited. Oh yes, I was very aware of him, and if my brain hadn’t noticed him, my erogenous zones were there to remind me. “For one thing, this isn’t a flatbed Ford, and I’m not what anyone would call a girl anymore.”

He paused in mid-bite. “Why? Have you had a sex-change operation?”

“Nope,” I replied with another giggle. “You can’t call a forty-two-year-old a girl. Well, maybe you could if you happened to be eighty-two yourself, but I’m pretty sure I outgrew the girl category a long time ago—about the time that song was popular.”

Despite the fact that I never once took my eyes off the road, I was aware of his prolonged scrutiny—an assessing gaze that left delightful tingles in its wake.

“Some things improve with age.” He turned toward the window. “You don’t seem like the type to dump a guy in the middle of nowhere.”

Having heard the catch in his voice, I did my best to keep my tone light. Bursting into tears in front of a perfect stranger probably wasn’t on his bucket list. “True—unless he was really obnoxious.”

This particular cowboy would have to have been homicidal or, at the very least, abusive for me to throw him out. He was the most adorable cowboy I’d ever laid eyes on, including the one I’d married.

“I wasn’t being obnoxious.” He fairly bristled with indignation, which seemed to have won out over heartbreak. “I was asleep. I thought she was stopping for gas when I felt the truck slow down. She asked me to take a look at the tires on the trailer, said she thought one had gone flat. While I was checking the tires, she dumped my saddle and duffel bag on the side of the road and drove off. I found this tucked into the saddle.” Reaching into his shirt pocket, he handed me a torn, sweat-soaked scrap of paper.

It’s not working out. Sorry.

“Ouch,” I said with a sympathetic wince. “That’s pretty hard.”

“Yeah.” With an absent nod, he stuffed the note back into his pocket. “I don’t even know what I did wrong. Don’t guess I ever will.”

He seemed nice enough, and he certainly wasn’t ugly. Maybe his girl had breakup issues. As irresistible as he was, I couldn’t imagine breaking his heart while gazing into those eyes of his, and I didn’t even know his name.

She’d probably gone about it the best way possible—a quick, clean break before losing her nerve completely. One glance, one smile, and she’d have forgotten why their relationship wasn’t working. I wasn’t looking forward to dropping him off at the crossroad to the ranch, myself. I had a sudden, overwhelming urge to take him home and wash him, feed him, and tuck him into bed—my bed, to be precise.

I had my doubts about that part. He couldn’t have been more than thirty, and young men generally didn’t seek solace from older women—not that kind of solace, anyway. Consoling him seemed impossible, so I changed the subject.

“Where were you headed?”

“The rodeo in Jackson Hole,” he replied. “I’m a rodeo cowboy.”

“No shit,” I drawled. “I’d never have guessed that. I don’t suppose your girl left you with any money, did she? I mean, I’m not going to charge you for the ride or the lunch, but I’m not going all the way to Jackson Hole, either.”

“I didn’t figure you were.” His downcast expression suggested his hope that he’d been wrong about that. “But at the time, I didn’t really care.”

“Neither did I. I wouldn’t have left you there no matter where you were going. It was…well, let’s just say it was something I couldn’t bring myself to do.”

“Pick up lots of strays, do you?” Turning sideways, he leaned back against the door, a move that not only drew my eye, but also gave me a full-frontal view that made my breath catch in my throat. Oh yes, I’d taken in lots of strays, but none that were anywhere near as attractive.

I shook my head. “Actually picking them up usually isn’t necessary. They all seem to know where I live.”

“If you don’t mind my asking, where do you live? I mean, are we close?”

Obviously, he hoped I lived somewhere near Jackson Hole. I hated to disappoint him. “It’s about another twenty miles—most of which are not on the main highway. I’ll let you out at the turnoff, if that’s okay with you.”

His face fell, but he nodded, apparently resigned to the fact that this ride wasn’t going to be more than a brief respite. “Not much choice, is there?” He gave a fatalistic shrug. “I don’t have enough money on me to pay you to take me to Jackson Hole. I really should pay you for what you’ve already done.”

I caught myself wishing that he did have enough money—or that he would ask me to run off with him and follow the rodeo circuit, never going home at all. I would have loved to throw caution to the wind and do just that, but I had too many responsibilities. Not only did I have a ranch to run, but I also had my father and my kids to look after.

No, scratch that. Chris and Will were both in college. I had a hard time remembering that except when confronted with the sight of their empty rooms as I passed by them every day. Out on the highway I could pretend they were both there at home waiting for me—and Cody, too.

No, regardless of how much money this man might offer to pay me, I couldn’t shirk my duties and simply up and disappear. Nor would I accept his money. He obviously needed to hold on to what little he had stashed in those jeans.

“I couldn’t possibly take money from you,” I protested. “I wouldn’t be much of a Good Samaritan if I did, would I?”

“I suppose not.”

He shrugged again and we drove on in silence. Remaining slouched against the door, he draped his left arm across the headrest and bent up one knee, stretching his legs apart enough that my eyes were continually landing on that section of blue jeans due south of that big, silver belt buckle. From time to time he shifted his hips as though my glances made him uncomfortable, and while I did try to keep my eyes on the road, every once in a while they would stray back to him—and that enticing bulge in his jeans…

“What would it take to get you to drive me all the way to Jackson Hole?” The hint of suggestion in his voice startled me almost as much as the abrupt nature of his query.

Suddenly, my mouth was as dry as a gulch. Reaching for my bottle of water, I took a sip and stole another peek at him. Those luminous eyes peered at me from beneath lids that were heavy with sensuous intent.

His lips curled into a provocative smile. “I’d be willing to bet there’s something I could do for you that would pay you back—or at least make it worth your while.”

COWBOY DELIGHT

By Cheryl Brooks

Erotic Western Romance e-novella

FREE on all retailers: Kindle | Kobo | Nook

“Out-of-this-world sexy… Brooks’ writing brings the eroticism to life.” —Long and Short Reviews

Getting stranded has never felt so good…

Lauren Allen is on her way to meet her future in-laws when her car breaks down on a scorching, dusty Texas highway. There’s no shortage of handsome cowboys turning up to save the day, but she puts her trust in local rancher Steve Williams. From the moment she shakes his hand, his warm, calloused grip makes her hotter than she knows what to do with…

Rafflecopter Giveaway – 3 copies of COWBOY HEAVEN by Cheryl Brooks

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10. Review: Perfectly Good White Boy

Perfectly Good White Boy by Carrie Mesrobian. Carolrhoda Lab. 2014. Review copy from publisher.

The Plot: Sean's starting his senior year at school not quite sure about, well, anything. He and his mom had to move out of their home into a crappy rental, so "home" isn't really home. His amazing summer girlfriend has left for college, breaking up with him first.

He has a few good things in his life. Like his friendship with his coworker, Neecie. And he's figured out how an average student with no hopes for any type of scholarship can get out of town: join the Marines. Which no one expects, in part because Sean isn't telling anyway.

A year in the life of an average, not so average teen boy.

The Good: Sean, Sean, Sean. I just -- he's just such a teenage boy. And that's what is so terrific about him: he's no one special. And in being no one special, he's very special.

Sean's family has fallen apart, including the move into the rental, and Sean does the best he can. He's neither super son nor super slacker.

Sean's summer relationship with Hallie is amazing and sweet and so obviously a summer romance and here's where things get interesting. Because Hallie breaks up with him because COLLEGE. So of course she does. And Hallie is -- a good girl. Excited about school. And here is where I love the writing, because of what becomes obvious about Hallie even though this story isn't about Hallie, it's about Sean. But -- and it takes a long time for Sean to realize this through his own pain and hurt and want and lust -- it's clear that college isn't what Hallie thought it would be or should be, and at first she comes home to use Sean and physically connecting with him, and later it's clear that she's even more lost than that. And even through Sean's pain and anger, and even when Sean sees Hallie as much as a source for sex as anything else, Hallie is always a whole and complete teenage girl. Even when Sean doesn't see it, the reader does. (I mean, at times I hated Hallie for hurting Sean yet at the same time..... I want more of her story, of the stories for kids admitting that college is not the happy-ever-after that people think it is.)

And then there is Neecie, and Sean's becoming friends with her, and maybe something more. And it's just another example of complex people, and Perfectly Good White Boy having even the secondary characters be whole people.

One more thing: I also love Mesrobian's way with words. "It was like she'd never been caught at anything and didn't know how to be sneaky, almost." And it's clear that she's a good girl but who thinks she is being bad, and that he's gotten away with a thing or two, and it tells so much in so few words.

Oh, I lied. One more one more. I also love how matter of fact Sean's choice of joining the Marines is. I'm not sure what other books takes the reader through all the steps that a high school senior takes in joining up, and does so in a non-judgmental way.

Yes. A Favorite Book Read in 2014.

Other reviews: Cite Something; Just a Couple More Pages; Bibliodaze.


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

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11. Nine pieces of thought-provoking philosophy

Despite what some may believe, philosophy is prevalent and holds a great level of importance in today’s society. It allows us to examine the most fundamental issues that we face as self-aware beings and apply them to a variety of different topics, from free-will to politics to interpretation. To get you started on your own road of contemplation, we’ve compiled some thought-provoking ideas from David Edmonds’s and Nigel Warburton’s Philosophy Bites Again:

Headline image credit: The Thinker. Photo by Dan McKay. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr. All slideshow background images CC0/public domain via Pixabay or CC BY 2.0 via Flickr (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7.1) (7.2) (8) (9)

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12. Review: Worth the Fall by Claudia Connor

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

If a blogger friend hadn’t recommended Worth the Fall, I would have skipped it.  The pregnant heroine and all of those little kids… yeah, not my cup of tea.  Despite my reservations, the characters managed to charm me within the first few pages.  I breezed through this book and had a hard time putting it down, so if you decide to give it a try, plan your time accordingly Smile

Matt, a sexy SEAL, is on leave, and he’s bored out of his mind. The only reason he’s on this stupid beach vacation is because his cousin lassoed him into it.  His female companion is irritating the hell out of him, and he’d rather be working on his fixer-upper house, not wasting time with an air-headed beauty.  During a jog along the beach, he’s pelted in the back by a water logged football, and his life changes forever.

Jack, the young boy who threw the football at him, desperately wants someone to play catch with.  When Matt learns the boy’s father is dead, he feels sorry for him.  He comes from a large family, and he can’t imagine not having his parents there for him.  When he sees Jack’s gorgeous and very pregnant mother, he’s fascinated.  She’s like a mother duck with a flock of ducklings; Abby has four young children and another on the way.  She’s sweet and funny and he wants to get to know her better.

Abby has had a tough life.  Orphaned when she was a young girl, she’s only known heartache as she was abandoned time and again by the adults in her life.  She met her husband, thought she was in love, and married young.  It didn’t take long before she realized that Josh didn’t love her, and she didn’t love him.  He was hardly ever home, and she was left to raise their kids by herself.  When he died six months ago, nothing really changed.  She was still alone, still taking care of herself and her children.

Then along came Matt.  I have to say, Matt is the perfect guy.  As Abby referred to him, he’s a hero, always ready to dart out to save someone.  He’s a man of his word, he’s honorable, and he’s honest.  He also feels empty and he knows that something is missing from his life, but he doesn’t know what it is.  Then he meets Abby and her flock of ducklings and it’s crystal clear to him – he wants a family and he wants it to be them.

Abby is suffering with serious trust issues.  Never having had a stable home and then having an emotionally distant husband, she has erected walls around her heart that at first seem insurmountable.  How is Matt going to get her to trust him and make her believe that he wants nothing more than to be with her?  He’s a handsome young guy with so many more options than a woman who is six months pregnant!  Before starting Worth the Fall, I was skeptical.  How could the author convince me that dashing Matt would make the perfect match for Abby?  I was convinced about a third of the way through the book, and I wanted to shake Abby and make her get over herself.  Then I wanted to pat her on the head and tell her everything would be okay if she would just give Matt a chance. 

Worth the Fall is a feel good romance with a hard won HEA.  I thought it dragged a little near the end, but I did enjoy meeting Matt’s large family, as well as the wedding finale.  Both Matt and Abby helped each other work through their issues and learned to step outside their comfort zone.  The kids didn’t even annoy me!  I liked this so much I have the next book in the series, Worth the Risk, cued up on my Kindle.

Grade:  B / B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

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.

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13. Novella Review: One Mad Night by Julia London

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I decided to read One Mad Night because I thought the description sounded cute.  Two advertising executives trapped in together during a blizzard?  Could they put their animosity aside during their forced togetherness?  Or would they make each other miserable?

One Mad Night is a cute read, but I had a problem with Ian’s lie of omission.  Both he and Chelsea are competing for a large national account, and Chelsea’s supervisor, one of the managing partners (and complete scumbag), has all but promised the account to her.  If she gets it, she’ll finally have that corner office she’s been slaving for, as well as be a new partner.  She’s been working long hours for six long years for this recognition from her employers.  She’s watched as one idea after another was credited to someone else, and she’s not going to let hot-shot Ian steal her thunder.  What Chelsea doesn’t know is that her employers have already decided to give Ian the account, as well as the partner slot, without even having the decency to hear either of their pitches.  Yeah, that sucks, big time!

Ian has been attracted to Chelsea since he jumped ship from his previous advertising firm and accepted the carrot that his new bosses dangled in front of him.  With the promise of a huge paycheck and an eventual partnership, it only made sense to take the new job.  He and Chelsea are at odds from day one, in part because of her competitive nature.  As they compete for accounts, they both grate on each other’s nerves.  Chelsea definitely started the game of one-upmanship; she felt threatened when Ian started winning accounts that she felt should have been hers. 

When the blizzard blows into town, shutting down the subway system and causes massive power outages, Chelsea and Ian are trapped in the office together.  As the evening wears on, Chelsea begins to see that Ian isn’t the pompous ass she thought he was, and Ian realizes that Chelsea isn’t as uptight as he thought.  They actually have fun raiding the boss’s fridge for frozen dinners and breaking into the firm’s bar.  One thing leads to another, and with the help of her overpriced shoes, Ian and Chelsea act on their attraction.

If Ian hadn’t known that he was getting the account, or had told Chelsea about it upfront when she suspected that he knew more than he was letting on, I would have enjoyed this story better.  Instead, I felt that he took advantage of her and that they weren’t  on a level playing field.  It seemed that every male in Chelsea’s life took advantage of her, from Ian to her employers, and it made me mad.

I did enjoy how the ending worked out, and liked the mostly light tone of the novella. 

Grade:  B-

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

A delightful new contemporary romance novella from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julia London.

One winter’s night a blizzard sweeps across the country, demonstrating that fate can change the course of lives in an instant…and fate has got a sense of humor.

Chelsea Crawford and Ian Rafferty are high profile ad execs in cutthroat competition for a client. When a major winter storm puts New York City on lockdown, the two rivals have to make it through the night together-oh, the many ways in which opposites attract…

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14. Book Review: The Bubble Wrap Boy by Phil Earle

Title:  The Bubble Wrap Boy
The Bubble Wrap Boy by Phil Earle review at Death, Books, and Tea
Author:   Phil Earle
Series:    N/A
Published:   1 May 2014 by Penguin
Length:   272 pages
Source: library
Other info: Earle has also written Heroic, Being Billy, and Saving Daisy
Summary :  All my life I've been tiny Charlie from the Chinese Chippie, whose only friend is Sinus, the kid who stares at walls. But I believe that everyone's good at something. I've just got to work out what my something is...
Charlie's found his secret talent: skateboarding. It's his one-way ticket to popularity. All he's got to do is practice, and nothing's going to stop him - not his clumsiness, not his overprotective mum, nothing. Except Charlie isn't the only one in his family hiding a massive secret, and his next discovery will change everything. How do you stay on the board when your world is turned upside down?

Review: Charlie Han is the boy from the Chinese takaway shop, with an overprotective mother and only one friend, Sinus. He plans to find the one thing that will improve his reputation and make his life better, and then he finds it. Skateboarding. However, due to said overprotective mother, he needs to keep his new hobby a secret. One day, he answers the phone to find another member of the family also has a huge secret. These secrets may bring them all together or tear them apart.
I didn’t know what to expect from this really, other than a chinese main character (bringing my total of memorable chinese main characters I’ve read up to four :D) and great things (mainly due to Jim).
It starts off really lighthearted, with a lot of comedy stemming from Charlie’s huge clumsiness and the freidnship that Sinus and Charlie have.  The characters are well developed. Sinus by the end also has secrets and it’s pretty awesome when they come out.  Charlie’s mother is highly overprotective,  but luckily it’s not part of being an overbering non-academic tiger mother; instead, there’s a very good reason and once we learn that reason we see a new side to her and understand her more.
I really liked the fact that family plays a huge part in theis novel. I was not expecting it to be that emotional but the revelation of the secret and all the interactions following made me smile and ugh I can’t describe the happiness from some of the scenes and the sadness from some others and  you just need to read it.
I’d call it a coming of age story because of some of the themese carried through it: the learning ot become more open  with your family, the wanting to make a new identity, the dealing with a major upheaval for the first time in one’s life.
It’s an open ending, which I didn’t like for this because I felt it ended too soon. I’d have liked to know more about Charlie’s mother’s reaction, and the aftermath within the school. However,   Charlie’s costume at the end. Perfect.

Strength 4 tea aka 4 stars at Death, Books, and Tea

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a mostly funny, but also serious,  coming of age book.




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15. All the Bright Places: Review

I’m a black sheep with this one, you guys. (Baa.) But I was really underwhelmed by All The Bright Places. I suspect I will be in the minority here, so, you know, your mileage may (and probably will) vary. But this book features a number of things I don’t care for: most prominently, I don’t tend to like books where one character changes another character’s life (by being irrepressibly quirky, or by teaching them to see the boring old world around them with new eyes, or by being impossibly good) , leaving main character changed for good and with a renewed sense of hope and potential. You know – it’s where characters aren’t important in-and-of themselves but are important for the transformative effect they exert on other people’s lives. (Think of the manic pixie dream girl, something along these lines.) And … All the Bright Places was a bit like this for me. I... Read more »

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16. My Heart and Other Black Holes: Review + Giveaway

This isn’t really a Kim Book.* Although, to be fair, if Kim Books usually involve incredibly heartfelt portrayals of our deepest humanity infused with humor and hope then perhaps I am about that also. Maybe. Every once in awhile a book comes along that crawls right into your heart and rends your ventricles. This is one of those. [Okay so there are moments where I’ll get a bit meta and personal. In ways that don’t really flow with the review but are important if you’d like an auxiliary/personal touch so I’m putting them behind spoiler brackets. When you see spoiler brackets it’s me being personal.] This is the story of Aysel (like uh-zell, rhymes with gazelle) who has longed to escape from the shadow of her father’s horrific crime for years. And of Roman who is living with an unimaginable grief. Both live trapped in the mire of isolation and... Read more »

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17. Friday Feature: Racing Hearts by Laura Lascarso




He wants to honor his father’s legacy; she wants to prove her father wrong. 

18-year-old Jesse is still grieving from the loss of his father to cancer when he learns his mother has lost her job. All too soon, Jesse, his little sister, and his mother might be put out on the streets. 

Jesse hears of a local car race sponsored by his father's nemesis, Shep Bradley, and the prize money might be enough to keep Jesse’s family from losing their home - if he can win it.

When Shep’s own daughter Brooke asks Jesse to build her a racecar against her father’s wishes, Jesse accepts. After all, he needs the money.

Coming February 10 through Leap Books.

Here's a teaser pic to get you ready for this book:


Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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18. Spotlight and Giveaway: Filthy Rich by Dawn Ryder

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for Filthy Rich by Dawn Ryder.  Enjoy!

Filthy Rich By Dawn Ryder

Sourcebooks Casablanca

Erotic Romance

February 3, 2015

ISBN: 9781402287152

“Tantalizing” – RT Book Reviews on Out of Bounds

SHE’S FIGHTING FOR CONTROL…

Celeste Connor swore that she’d never be a victim again. After the hell of her abusive ex, the last thing she needs is to be under another man’s thumb. But when she catches the eye of fiercely dominant Nartan Lupan at her best friend’s wedding, Celeste finds herself drawn into a glittering world of wealth and power that has her body aching and her mind reeling.

HE’S FIGHTING TO MAKE HER HIS…

Nartan is a filthy rich businessman who works hard, plays harder, and doesn’t take no for an answer—and he wants Celeste with a hunger he’s never before felt. He’ll do whatever it takes to have her. But Nartan didn’t expect that he’d want still more…

Buy links: Amazon | Apple | B&N | BAM | !ndigo | IndieBound

Dawn Ryder is the erotic romance pen name of a bestselling author of historical romances. She has been publishing her stories for over 8 years to a growing and appreciative audience. She is commercially published in mass market and trade paper, and digi-first published with trade paper releases. She is hugely committed to her career as an author, as well as to other authors and to her readership. She resides in Southern California.

Connect with Dawn Ryder: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Excerpt from FILTHY RICH by Dawn Ryder

A howl woke her.

Celeste sat up and looked around the room.

The sun had finally gone down sometime after ten. Now the stars were brilliant, and a yellow moon was casting an amazing level of light in the nighttime hours.

There was a whimper and then another long howl.

Alaskan wolves.

She could sleep when she got back to Southern California.

She got up and hurried into her jeans. Only the range light was on in the kitchen, but with so much moonlight coming through the windows, it was easy to get to the mudroom and lace up her boots.

She opened the outer door slowly, sliding through to keep from moving it too much. A howl sounded, so much louder now that she was outside. She pressed the door shut and knelt down.

The starlight illuminated the wolves. At least six of them were pawing the ground as they moved along the road that connected the house with the test facility offices. Those offices weren’t even in sight.

But the wolves were.

And so was Nartan.

He was crouched down twenty feet away. Her breath caught as she took in the way he blended with the moment. The wolves made yipping sounds as they came closer, smelling the road and the air as they went.

Nartan lifted his hand and beckoned her toward him. Her steps seemed too noisy, the crunching sounds grating on her ears. A wolf looked toward her and she froze.

Nartan beckoned again, turning to look at her.

The animal was still fifty feet away, but it was looking toward her. She bit her lower lip, afraid of spooking the animal.

Nartan closed in on her, moving right up next to her.

“He can smell you. You’re upwind. Come down here with me. He won’t worry about you then.”

“Oh…”

Nartan clasped her hand and pulled her down to where he’d been. He lifted his head, judging the wind. The wolf let out a yip and joined the rest as they scratched at the dirt and one another. Two of them would circle another, lowering their heads and yipping. The wolf in the center was the one who lifted its head and let out a long howl.

“The alpha…” Nartan whispered.

He had his arm draped around her, his scent filling her senses.

Why did he smell so good?

Not that it really mattered. He was still as pond water but his skin was warm. His attention was on the wolves, but she felt like it was on her as well. He shifted just a bit, and inhaled next to her hair.

Fresh from bed, it was a soft cloud. She reached up, self–conscious about how messy it was. He caught her hand and stopped her as the alpha looked at them. The animal’s eyes were pools of moonlight. Its mouth was open, giving her a glimpse of its long canine teeth. It made a low sound before pushing its front paws out and stretching its neck up and tilting its head until its nose pointed at the moon. A long, mournful cry filled the night.

It felt like she was suspended in time. They might have been anywhere, in any year.

“Lower your head.”

He tucked his chin and cupped her nape.

“To show submission…”

Celeste stiffened. Nartan chuckled in a bare whisper next to her ear. “To the alpha.”

She bent, the wolf watching her before losing interest and moving along with the pack.

Nartan massaged her neck, his fingers working the stiffness from the muscles as she straightened. “Well done.”

It felt like there was innuendo in his comment. But maybe she was just being too sensitive.

To–be–dealt–with list.

She drew in a deep breath and forced herself to relax. The wolves were moving away now, heading toward a forested area. The alpha looked back at them before it disappeared into the timber.

“That was amazing,” she whispered.

Nartan’s hand was under her hair, the touch so intimate that she was loath to pull away. He threaded his fingers through her hair, pulling his hand free as he finger–combed the strands. He watched her as he did it, his eyes reflecting the moonlight just as the alpha’s had.

He was in his element.

Call it cheesy or lame but she couldn’t shake it.

So she rose, backing away from him as he stood. His shirt was open all the way down his front, his jeans sagging low on his waist because he didn’t have a belt on. And his feet were bare.

“Aren’t you cold?”

He slowly smiled and extended his hand. “Judge for yourself.”

She started to reach for him and froze. Indecision held her in its grip as the wind blew her hair around. One of his dark eyebrows rose as she hesitated.

Chicken…

She reached out and touched him. Allowed her fingertips to rest on his forearm for a moment that felt like a mini eternity. It ended when he twisted his arm around and captured her wrist. He stepped up to her, pulling her toward him. She could have broken the hold, if she was able to think.

Which she wasn’t.

Her brain seemed to have shut down. Somehow, she was caught in a storm of sensations, completely unwilling to think about anything. She simply wanted to experience the moment.

Well, it was quite a moment.

Rich with scents and sensations that were intoxicating. His breath teased her ear and then her cheek. A shudder shook her, sending a tiny gasp through her lips. Nartan took advantage of her parted lips, pressing his down on top of them and tasting them slowly.

God, how long had it been since she’d been kissed?

Pleasure flowed through her, gaining strength like a flame catching a wick. Sure, she knew that a candle was for lighting, but until it was lit, the memory of how bright it could shine was dim.

She stepped back. Startled by how much she liked his kiss.

She wanted more.

A hell of a lot more.

But she turned and headed back into the house before she could do anything impulsive.

Moon madness. That was all.

Only she wasn’t really sure if she would ever be sane again.

Rafflecopter Giveaway for 3 copies of OUT OF BOUNDS by Dawn Ryder:

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19. Book Review- Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Title:  Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author:   Becky Albertalli
Series:   N/A
Published:   7 April 2015 by Penguin
Length:  320 pages
Source: netgalley
Summary :  Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Review: ​Simon has been emailing Blue for some time. And he may be falling in love with him. When the emails are discovered by Martin, he is blackmailed into trying to set Martin up with Abby or risk being outed. 

I've had this on my radar a while because cute funny stories with queer characters are definitely right up my street.  

I love Simon to pieces. I totally understand where he comes from, with his love of grammar and his ensembling in plays, and his sweet personality.  The rest of the characters are just as good. ​ Abby, Leah, and Nick were great friends, Cal was  adorable too, and everyone spoke like they should and everyone was real.

I liked the constant mystery of who Blue was, and when we find out, it wasn't who I expected but the scenes afterwards are perfect.

The tone of writing is perfect. There’s many relatable experiences to do with many aspects of teenage life, and it’s done with a mix of thought provoking things and also humour and also seriousness when needed.

It's hugely quotable.  I could probably make a tumblr with all the brilliant quotes from this novel.  I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to quote without breaking copyright law, so I’m just going to say “read it” and give special mentions to  the conversation with Blue from which the title comes from and the bit   and "White shouldn't be the default any more than straight should be the default. There shouldn't even be a default."

Only thing that I did not understand: the homecoming scene a quarter of the way through which left me really confused. Luckily, Becky told me what it is (where school alumni come back to play a football game) and my confusion led to amazement that Americans really do take school sports seriously enough to have a parade for these things (I thought homecoming was an excuse for a dance and everything else about it was a myth). This isn’t a major thing in the novel, but it got me for a long time.

This review doesn’t the book justice, because I can’t put into words how brilliant it is.  It’s not even one specific thing-just  the general atmosphere and the way everything develops just infuses you with happiness. It’s definitely something to reread on a bad day.


Overall:  Strength 5 tea to a heart-warming coming of age and coming out story that is best described as a warm, giant hug in book form. 


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20. Spotlight and Giveaway: Let Them Talk by Susanna Carr

 
Enter to Win
$25.00 eGift Card to choice Book Seller

 
Let Them Talk
Encounters
Susanna Carr
Releasing February 1st, 2015
Harlequin Blaze

 
A risqué book club inspires three women to be naughty…

THE DIARY

Sydney Tate is writing a fictional erotic diary inspired by the town’s mouthwateringly hot mayor, Matthew Stone. Then her “diary” disappears and suddenly Matthew is bringing all of Sydney’s secret fantasies to life!

TALK OF THE TOWN

Armed with a seduction how-to guide, librarian Isabel Bennett is pulling out every trick in the book to tempt Sean Hawkins. The oh-so-sexy businessman is about to find out just how bad this good girl can be…

CRAVING YOU

Laura Dawson is desperate to get her gorgeous neighbor, Connor Adams, into her bed. So she turns to an aphrodisiac cookbook to serve up the most tantalizing, irresistible dish Connor has ever seen herself.



BUY NOW
 

 
There was something different in the way he looked at her today. His light blue eyes held a predatory gleam.

Impossible. The man had no interest in hunting her. It was wishful thinking on her part.

“Why are you here, Sean? I don’t remember you coming into the library before.” She tilted her head as she considered his lack of visits. “Do you have a library card?”

“I wanted to talk to you about your book club,” he said. “I want in.”

She blinked a few times. She couldn’t possibly have heard that correctly. “Excuse me?”

“I want to join your book club.”

He seemed serious. “Why?” The word dragged out of her mouth.

“Why do most people join a book club? To discuss books and read something out of their comfort zone.”

Isabel frowned. “You only read e-mails and business magazines.”

“True.” Sean nodded. “Time to broaden my horizons, don’t you think?”

“No. What are you up to, Sean?” She couldn’t figure out what his angle could be.

“When’s your next meeting?”

She straightened her shoulders. No, no, no. He wasn’t going to invade her book club. She wasn’t going to have him ask provocative questions or slice through her arguments. Okay, so that would be welcome in most book clubs, but she wasn’t going to share her thoughts with him about these books. “It’s by invitation only.”

“Then invite me.”

She shivered at his low and rough voice. “No.”

“Why not?”

“You wouldn’t understand.” Their meetings were her safe place. A time to bounce ideas off her friends and ask questions. After plenty of Sunday dinners with Sean, she knew the book club’s discussions would completely deteriorate into a battle of wills if he was there.

Sean rested his chin against his hand. “Are you worried that I would learn all your secrets? Find out all the tricks and tips from your readings?”

It was a concern. Knowledge was power. These books emboldened her and she was learning how to reach out and take what she wanted. But the bold side of her wasn’t fully formed, and she couldn’t discuss these subjects with him until it was.

“I want to join the book club,” he said firmly.

“No.” Never. Not going to happen.
 

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

 
Susanna Carr is an award-winning author known for her contemporary romances. Readers throughout the world find Susanna’s stories a delightful escape that has often helped them through difficult times. Reviewers frequently describe her work as “fun”, “sexy” and “a must read.” When she isn’t writing or spending time with her family in the Pacific Northwest, Susanna enjoys reading romance and connecting with readers online.

Find Susanna Here




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21. Spotlight and Giveaway: Playing Dirty by HelenKay Dimon

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for HelenKay Dimon’s latest release, Playing Dirty.  Enjoy!

Playing Dirty
Bad Boys Undercover # 1

By: HelenKay Dimon

Releasing Jan 27th, 2015

Avon Romance

Blurb

As an elite Alliance agent—the joint undercover operation of MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service, and the CIA—Ford Decker lives for the adrenaline. But when he befriends sexy property manager Shay Alexander in hopes of finding her cousin, a known national security threat, Ford crosses the line, getting to know her better . . . in bed.

After being burned by her last relationship, Shay wants to take things slow. Yet she can’t keep her hands off the drop-dead gorgeous hottie who’s moved into her apartment building. So when Ford’s identity as an undercover agent is exposed, his betrayal cuts deep. Shay never wants to see him again, but Ford can’t let her go, not when her life is still in danger. He will sacrifice everything to protect her, then be prepared to walk away from the only woman he’s ever loved, even if it breaks him.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/12/playing-dirty-bad-boys-undercover-1-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22043162-playing-dirty?from_search=true

See the Series on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/series/127877-bad-boys-undercover

Buy Links : Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Playing-Dirty-Bad-Boys-Undercover/dp/0062330055

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/playing-dirty-helenkay-dimon/1119440276?ean=9780062330055

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/playing-dirty/id714578761?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/search?query=HelenKay%20Dimon&fcsearchfield=Author&fclanguages=all

Author Info

HelenKay Dimon is a former divorce attorney turned full-time romance author. Odd transition, right? She has sold over thirty novels, novellas and shorts to numerous publishers, including Kensington, Harlequin and Penguin, Samhain, Carina Press, and HarperCollins. Her nationally bestselling and award-winning books have been showcased in numerous venues and her books have twice been named “Red-Hot Reads” and excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine. But the best part of the job is never having to wear pantyhose.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter |Goodreads

 

 

PLAYING DIRTY by HelenKay Dimon

Excerpt:

                It was almost four o’clock in the afternoon when Ford walked into her apartment. One firm knock, then the keys jingled in the lock before she could get up from the kitchen table. Seeing him walk in—was that a beer ad on his shirt?—had her brain misfiring.

                His biceps bunched under the edge of his tee. Be- tween the scruff around his chin, big smile, and dark brooding good looks, she felt something gurgle in her throat. It was as if she were treading water and getting tugged under. She’d talked about having someone steal her breath before. With Ford she lived the sensation.

                While she loved seeing him, she had no idea why she was right now. He worked long hours and four o’clock qualified more as lunch than his quitting time. With one leg crossed over the other and her foot bouncing against the floor, she stared him down. She held her pen in a death grip to keep from fidgeting and flinging it around.

                The more still he stood there, leaning in the doorway, the more nervous she became. Energy rolled through her, all jumbled and making her twitchy. Maybe if he’d stop staring back. “Ford?”

                “That’s hot.”

                She followed his gaze to her hands. The edge of her checkbook dug into her palm from where she clenched it. With her elbows balanced on the table, she tried to ease the tension in her shoulders and relax, though that rarely worked with him around. “What?”

                This time he gestured with his chin. “You. Right there.”

                She lifted her hand and pointed the bottom of the pen in his general direction. “I’m writing a check.”

                “Exactly.”

                “You should see me vacuum.” She wanted to laugh but no sound came out. His effect on her scared her sometimes.

                “Are you trying to break my concentration?”

                “I don’t even know what you’re doing here at this time of the day.” Standing, leaning, generally making her insides jump and jiggle.

                “Staring.”

                She noticed that, too. “Okay . . . why?”

                “All that traveling, all those times I leave . . .” His voice trailed off as he pushed away from the door and came toward her. “I want to remember your face.”

                That sounded like a goodbye or a break. Like some- thing she did not want and would fight to fend off. “Are you telling me you’re leaving again?”

                He kept walking until she stood next to her chair. “Just for twenty-four hours.”

                Just. “Honestly, Ford. Who needs this type of non- stop computer service?”

                He made a face. “Uh, everyone?”

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The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Playing Dirty by HelenKay Dimon appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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22. Every Breath: Review

There are perhaps some things you should know about me before I embark on this review: I am not traditionally a fan of either contemporary or mystery I am not a fan of the popular BBC series Sherlock nor any other Sherlock adaptation I really do not like bad boy love interests I freaking adored this book When I saw that my friend Gillian was absolutely losing it over the ship in this book I knew I had to get my hands on it ASAP! And boy, did she not let me down! It’s going to take something really special to get this SFF loving gal to even read a contemporary let alone love it. Congrats, Ellie Marney. You succeeded in spades. Man, how good is the characterization in this book? I loved Rachel so much. It’s rare that I think that a character in YA comes across as an... Read more »

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23. Book Review: Purity by Jackson Pearce

Title: Purity
 Author: Jackson Pearce
Series:  N/A
Published:   6 March 2014 by Hodder
Length: 224 pages
Source: publisher
Summary : A novel about love, loss, and sex -- but not necessarily in that order.
Before her mother died, Shelby promised three things: to listen to her father, to love as much as possible, and to live without restraint. Those Promises become harder to keep when Shelby's father joins the planning committee for the Princess Ball, an annual dance that ends with a ceremonial vow to live pure lives -- in other words, no "bad behavior," no breaking the rules, and definitely no sex.
Torn between Promises One and Three, Shelby makes a decision -- to exploit a loophole and lose her virginity before taking the vow. But somewhere between failed hookup attempts and helping her dad plan the ball, Shelby starts to understand what her mother really meant, what her father really needs, and who really has the right to her purity

Review: Shelby promised her dying mother that she would listen to her father, love as much as posible, and live without restraint. She's done quite well in the five years since then, but when her father wants to arrange her part in a purity ball, in which she promises her purity to her father, which is essentially no drugs, drink or sex. Shelby doesn't want this. So she tries to find a loophole; if she has sex before then, she won't have purity to give. Thus begins a five week search for someone to lose her virginity to.
I wanted to read this obok because commentry on the value of virginity and women in society is an important one to me, and I quite liked Sisters Red, even though I knew from the presmise that this would be completely different. 
The characters are funny, not particularly bright, but the friendships are nice and supportive, even if the end “revalation” isn't that surprising or enjoyable. I liked watching the relationship between Shelby and her dad develop.I think Shelby could have developed more.
I like the fact there's humour throughout, without which Purity would be much less lighthearted, and either too sad or too serious.
I find it a bit weird that Shelby goes from not really caring about sex to wanting to do it without caring about who it is as long as they're not diseased. Sure, the possiblity of lack of sex for years is obviously going to make her try and find someone, (it would me if I were in that situation) but there are other ways she could have dealt iwht it, and other parts in the novel when she could have done something else.
I like the fact that faith is a theme. It's not there too much to make it into a preachy book, but it did add a bit of depth to Shelby.
Finally, I just want to ask; since when was “listen to” synonymous with “completely obey”?

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a book that opens discussions for lots of things.


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24. Love Letters to the Dead: review

Months ago, I had to put Love Letters to the Dead down because it was making me so desperately sad. Almost a full year later, I read the last half of it with a lump in my throat and tears dripping down my face. This is a profoundly moving meditation on grief, written with rare sensitivity and the kind of prose that nearly stops your heart with moments of quiet, anguished beauty. I cried throughout the book because there are so many small moments that so keenly observed bewilderment and pain, as well as anger and recklessness in the face of abandonment. This is a slow, contemplative, and occasionally blurry book, but it so skillfully weaves past and present together that when a devastating moment comes late in the story, it took me a minute to realize what was actually happening. My heart aches for this kind of intense, complicated... Read more »

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25. Deeper: Review

If you’re a reader whose interests tend towards (angsty, challenging, occasionally sweet) romance, I can’t recommend Robin York’s Deeper enough. To be clear, this is absolutely not a book for young readers. Deeper definitely falls into the New Adult genre, and as such, is one of the best New Adult novels that I’ve read in the past year. (My favorite of the year is probably Leah Raeder’s Unteachable, which Wendy reviewed a few months ago.) Although I’m still trying to find my bearings in NA lit in general, I like Robin York’s work quite a bit. (This is probably because she is also romance writer Ruthie Knox, who is a person you should read if you like contemporary romances.) Anyway. Here’s what I liked about Deeper (despite what seems to me to be an awful-ish title, and not just because it’s also the title of a lesbian romance novel that is crazy bad). If you’re interested in NA and... Read more »

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