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1. 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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2. 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 »

The post Every Breath: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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3. Guest Post and Giveaway: Tina Wainscott, Author of Wild Nights

Welcome Tina Wainscott back to the virtual offices!

Top 5 things you would never find in Saxby’s duffle bag by Tina Wainscott

Saxby Cole is a Southern charmer, dubbed the “prince of Cole, Louisiana” by the ladies in his hometown. While he was supposed to head up his family’s grill company, Sax is all about doing bigger things … like fighting for his country. And now, fighting for justice outside the bounds of the law. He’s been told, since he was knee-high to a mudbug, that Cole men are incapable of monogamy, so Sax is committed to never committing and breaking a lady’s heart.

I’m going to let Sax himself tell you the Top 5 things you would never find in his duffle bag:

“One of those protein bars. Haven’t found one yet that tastes like food and doesn’t remind me of MRE’s—meals ready to eat. That’s the stuff we ate when we were deployed, like spaghetti in a bag. If I’m throwing a snack in there, it’s a Snickers bar. Chocolate, caramel, and peanuts … all good.”

“Sweatpants. Not that I’m a prima donna or anything, but baggy ole sweats are just damned ugly. And I don’t like them on a lady either.”

“Flip flops. While I’m no pretty boy, I do value a classy pair of shoes. Flip flops are for girls, sissies, or surfers.”

“A care package from my sisters. Man, did I get teased about that when I was in the SEALs. They’d pack obnoxious things like nose hair clippers, a portable urine holder, and homemade cookies with smiley faces on them and goofy sayings. It was sweet but embarrassing at the same time.”

“A CD with a love song mix. I don’t do mushy music. For one thing, if I’m with a lady, it gives her ideas. And it makes me kinda sad, too, that I won’t have that ‘everlasting love’ thing. You know who has sexy music without it being obvious? Led Zeppelin. Yep, some Zepp, some Kings of Leon, a little Maroon 5, and we’re rockin’.”

 

Wild Nights

The Justiss Alliance #3

By: Tina Wainscott

Releasing: Nov 4th, 2014

Loveswept

Blurb

The courageous men of USA Today bestselling author Tina Wainscott’s Justiss Alliance series never give up and never make a promise they can’t live up to—especially when love is on the line.

The only commitment Saxby Cole has ever made is to the SEALs. He follows a long line of Southern charmers who swear monogamy isn’t in their blood. He’s never met a woman who made him want to swear his allegiance—until, while undercover for a Justiss Alliance assignment, he finds a woman who makes him think twice.

When Jennessy Shaw’s boyfriend dumps her right before their vacation to a hedonistic Caribbean resort, she goes without him to explore her wild side. Throwing caution to the wind, she propositions Saxby—only to suffer his gentle rejection.

When she wakes in Saxby’s room with no memory of the night before, Jennessy discovers his real purpose: to sniff out an operation where women like her are drugged and prostituted to resort guests. She goes from victim to his investigative partner . . . but getting too close to the sexier-than-sin Saxby may be her wildest move yet.

Praise for the Justiss Alliance series

“Tina Wainscott delivers high-octane suspense and red-hot romance! Full of edge-of-your-seat action and red-hot passion, Wild on You is a souped-up roller coaster of a page-turner.”—Julie Ann Walker, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Black Knights Inc. series

“Bad boys breaking rules and hearts and dishing up justice—Tina Wainscott nails it!”—New York Times bestselling author Cindy Gerard

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/08/wild-nights-justiss-alliance-3-by-tina.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22234180-wild-nights

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KAFVOGE?ie=UTF8&tag=randohouseinc-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B00KAFVOGE

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wild-nights-tina-wainscott/1119471240?ean=9780345548368&itm=1&usri=9780345548368&cm_mmc=Random%20House-_-Wild%20Nights-RandomHouse-9780345548368-_-Wild%20Nights-RandomHouse-9780345548368-_-Wild%20Nights-RandomHouse-9780345548368

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/wild-nights-6

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/wild-nights/id877158042?mt=11

Or, Purchase at Amazon | Barnes | iBooks | Kobo

Author Info

USA Today bestselling author Tina Wainscott has always loved the combination of romance and suspense, because nothing complements falling in love better than being hunted down. The author of more than thirty novels and novellas, Wainscott creates characters with baggage, past hurts, and vulnerabilities. They go through hell, find love, and, at the end, find peace in who they are and everything they’ve gone through. And isn’t that what everyone wants?

Author Links

Website: http://www.tinawainscott.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tinawainscottbooks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Tina_Wainscott
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4731539.Tina_Wainscott

Or,

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Rafflecopter Giveaway ($25.00 Choice Book Seller eGift Card and Loveswept Mug & Tote)

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The post Guest Post and Giveaway: Tina Wainscott, Author of Wild Nights appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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4. Spotlight and Giveaway: Cowboy Up Box Set

 
Enter to Win
$20.00 Amazon Gift Card

 

Cowboy Up
A Contemporary Western Romance Box Set
By: Allison Merritt, Vickie Taylor, Leslie Garcia, Melissa Keir,
Autumn Piper, Sara Walter Ellwood, & D’Ann Lindun

 
 
Seven men as tough as the west…


Seven women who know how to…



Cowboy Up

A boxed set of seven romantic novellas by seven award-winning authors experienced with writing about the men of the West.


Get Now for ONLY $0.99

 

Always, Cowboy by Allison Merritt

The past is better left behind, unless it offers a brighter future.

Brody Longtree’s first love was bull riding, but he loved beauty queen Libby Dempsey equally as hard. When she turned down his marriage proposal, everything from his rodeo career to his love life went to hell. His love ran too deep for blame, so he made the best of what life threw at him. Things finally get back on track…and then she almost runs over his dog.

When her pageant dreams died in an embarrassing display of nerves, Libby made a new, cowboy-free life for herself. One where she could train other girls who want to be pageant princesses. One that doesn’t give her any reason to dwell on what might have been with Brody until his dog bounds into her heart. And she bounds into Brody’s bed.

Despite the differences in their lives, they mesh together, the way Brody always knew they would. No matter what, he’s waiting until he’s certain Libby is ready to get married before he asks again, but their relationship comes under fire when one of her friends reveals a secret about a little girl Libby is awfully attached to—a girl who’s the right age to be Brody’s daughter.

Allison Merritt


Cowboys Don’t Cry by Vickie Taylor
 
A broken cowboy with nothing left to lose…except his heart.

Dash Connaway is hell-bent down a highway to nowhere. But he can’t outrun fate. Just a few months ago, he’d had a new album shooting up the country music charts, a luxury tour bus prepped for gigs in 39 cities, and a live-in girl friend he’d been thinking of asking to marry him. Now he’s just another drifter with an old guitar, a beat-up pickup, and a dog named Bill for a bed mate…until he meets Maggie McCain.

Maggie isn’t your ordinary Oregon rancher. She’s more into organic gardening and hand-spinning yarn from the fleece of her prized alpacas than breeding stinky old cattle. She’s a nurturer, a giver, so when Dash steps into her life from nowhere, she’s ready to trade in her solitary existence on the farm in favor of a husband to grow old with and a passel of children to care for.

But when she learns the real reason for Dash’s commitment to life on the road, she’s faced with a difficult choice and a lesson in the fallacy behind the old saying “Cowboys don’t cry.” Only time will tell just how potent the healing power of love can really be.

Vickie Taylor


A Cowboy’s Heart by Leslie Garcia

Teenage lovers torn apart by betrayal. Have seventeen years changed everything—or nothing?

Star-crossed lovers in their south Texas hill country high school, torn apart by a best friend’s lie, a mother’s cold hatred, and a father’s lack of trust…

High school junior Illy Kingston turns to varsity football star and cowboy in training Gil Salas when her father, a Border Patrol agent, is killed under suspicious circumstances.

Their hormone-fueled, all or nothing affair ends when betrayal tears them apart.

Years, later, Illy returns home, at loose ends after her disastrous marriage to a reality show rock star ends with an embarrassing photo gone viral and a divorce.

When Gil and his mounted Border Patrol make an unannounced civic call at a local elementary school, Gil is shocked to see Illy lurking in the shadows, threatening to upend his existence once again.

The old passion still burns—but neither can go back to the innocence of their high school affair. Illy swore never to love a man wearing a uniform that didn’t involve jeans, a western hat, and boots. Gil has a price on his head.

And star-crossed love doesn’t usually work for cowboys, either.

Leslie Garcia

The Heartsong Cowboy by Melissa Keir
 
Can two people, one horse and the power of love cure a little girl?

Angela French blames herself for her daughter’s lack of voice. Determined to do anything to correct the situation, she seeks out Jake Kyncade, the owner of The Heartsong Ranch.

Jake Kyncade hides his own sorrows behind his no-nonsense demeanor. Helping children becomes one way to correct his past. Using equine therapy, he sets out to make a difference.

Can Jake help Angela’s dreams come true or will Jake’s past bring more heartache? Will love save them all?

Melissa Keir



Cowboy Trouble by Autumn Piper

She’s decided to make some bad choices this weekend.

Susie Howell has always done what her family expects of her, but they don’t know about the divorce papers she’s just signed, or the secret torch she carries for sexy ranch hand Cash. When keeping the secret gets to her, she flees her brother’s wedding reception. Determined to live a little, she swipes the nearest truck from the ranch and heads to Sin City.

Cash Acosta has worked hard for everything he has, and nobody is taking off with his truck. When he sees it driving away, he jumps in—and becomes the unwilling passenger of a ready and willing woman he’s forbidden to touch. Hell-bent for trouble, the boss’s sister has already earmarked him as one of her “bad choices”.

And Susie intends to get what she wants.

Autumn Piper

Chasing a Cowboy by Sara Walter Ellwood

He’s running from heartbreak. She’s chasing after love… Their hearts will never be the same.

Paige Morgan has lived her entire life in the glare of her fraternal twin sister’s star. Although the sisters are as different as sun is from the moon, Paige fell in love with the same man as her famous swimsuit model sister. When country superstar Chase Jordan is dumped at the altar by her twin, Paige sees an opportunity to go after the one thing of her sister’s she’s always wanted.

She finds Chase in Cabo San Lucas nursing his broken heart in the true country song fashion—with a bottle of Jose Cuervo—and reminds him of the desire he once felt for her. Will this singing cowboy change his tune as they set the tropical nights on fire? Or will Paige be the one singing the blues when her sister shows up wanting her man back?

Sara Walter Ellwood

Cowboy Bred, Cowboy Born by D’Ann Lindun

Freedom or family? Only love can make the choice.

Photographer Alannah Murphy refuses to be tied down. She watched her parents struggle to hold onto their dairy farm until it killed them. The mere thought of the same fate makes her shudder. When she meets rancher Sterling Gentry she has to face her fears, or lose him.

Sterling Gentry longs for someone to hand his ranch down to. Like his father before him, he has sacrificed everything to hold onto the land his ancestors settled. But finding Ms. Right proves harder than he imagined. Then he meets Alannah Murphy with her big city ways. How he can ever take a chance with a woman exactly like his mother, who abandoned him when he was a child?

Despite their determination to stay the course they’ve each chosen, attraction pulls them together as steadily as a nail to a magnet. Can these two find a way to mesh Alannah’s need for freedom and Gentry’s desire to hold onto his land?

The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Cowboy Up Box Set appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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5. Spotlight and Giveaway: Sealing the Deal by Sandy James

SEALING THE DEAL by Sandy James (November 4, 2014; Forever Yours E-Book; $2.99)

After losing her sister, Bethany Rogers needs a shoulder to lean on more than ever-though she never expects that shoulder to belong to her new boss . . . 

Bethany has been in love with Robert Ashford since they were teachers at the same high school. After Robert leaves to start his own construction company, Beth puts her feelings aside to focus on her goals. When she finally lands a gig as a part-time designer, she is shocked to find her new boss is none other than Robert . . . and he’s hotter than ever. But Bethany’s happiness is short-lived when she receives word that her sister has been killed in combat.

With the success of building homes for one happy family after another, Robert is finally ready to settle down. When Beth is left to care for her nine-month-old niece, Robert can’t help but step in. And before long, the trio are inseparable. Yet convincing the cautious, bereaved Beth of letting him in proves difficult-but Robert will give everything he’s got for the chance at his own happily ever after.

Buy Links:

B&N

Kobo

iBooks

GooglePlay

Amazon

About the author:

Sandy James lives in a quiet suburb of Indianapolis with her husband. She’s a high school social studies teacher who especially loves psychology and United States history. Since she and her husband own a small stable of harness racehorses, they often spend time together at the two Indiana racetracks.

Social Media Links:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Excerpt:

So warm and sweet.

Shivers ran the length of her body as Beth smiled, loving the way Robert was nuzzling her neck and rubbing her hip. Heat bloomed low in her belly, fanning through her as she wiggled her backside against the groin pressed hard against her.

“Hard” being the key word. The erection was easy to feel, even through their clothing. She wriggled again, loving how he growled against her skin and then ran his tongue around the shell of her ear.

His hand covered her breast, squeezing lightly before returning to her hip. Even more heat shimmered through her. She arched into his touch with the fleeting thought that it had been so long since she’d been with a man.

Years, actually.

But this man? This was the one she’d wanted for a long time, longer than she was willing to admit to herself. She’d always kept her distance, drawing clear lines between her and her colleague, who then became her boss. Besides, he’d never shown an interest in her before. Ever.

She’d only seen him with Barbie dolls. There had been more than a few. Come to think of it, she’d never seen him with the same one twice. Robert was a player, and Beth hated players.

So why this strange fascination?

Robert’s warm lips were on her neck again, and he hoarsely whispered, “Bethany…”

Until he’d said her name, she’d wondered if he was just in the throes of some erotic dream and had reached out to conveniently find a warm woman lying next to him. But he wanted her. Bethany.

The fire inside her flared to an inferno. She needed to show him how she felt, hoping he’d bare some of his own feelings in response. “Robert…”

His insistent hand on her hip turned her to her back. Then his body blanketed her, and his lips settled on hers. With little prelude, his tongue thrust deep into her mouth.

Beth couldn’t have stopped herself if she’d wanted to. And she sure didn’t want to. Returning the ferocity of his kiss, gliding her tongue over his, she looped her arms around his neck and arched into him.

His scent—masculine with a touch of pleasant, spicy cologne—intoxicated her. His taste was quickly becoming familiar, and when his knee nudged her legs apart, she welcomed him and the way his pelvis settled between her thighs.

The kiss continued, a chase of tongues that went on and on. Robert slid his hand over her breast again, squeezing with the perfect amount of pressure as he pressed his hips into her core.

This was going to happen. It was really going to happen.

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The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Sealing the Deal by Sandy James appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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6. Review: How We Fall

How We Fall by Kate Brauning. Merit Press. 2014. Reviewed from ARC.

The Plot:  Jackie's feelings for Marcus are intense, but she tries to hide it. Oh, they flirt, and yes, there are stolen kisses. So why can't they just both admit that it's more than flirtation, why not go on a real date?

Jackie's afraid, afraid of what people will think. Marcus is her cousin. And, to make matters more sensitive, or at least Jackie more sensitive to what people will think, their families share one home. They live under the same roof.

Jackie has few people she can trust or turn to. Her older sister is at college; her parents wouldn't understand, or worse, would over react. Her best friend, Ellie, has disappeared and it's beginning to look like Ellie didn't run away but was kidnapped, or worse.

Breaking up with Marcus, or, rather, stopping things, doesn't help. Her feelings don't just go away, and seeing him with a new girl,, Sylvia, makes things worse. So Jackie tries seeing someone new, Will.

Jackie begins to pore over all emails and messages from Ellie, hoping to figure out what happened to Ellie. And she's surprised when a name turns up in an old email: Sylvia. Could Marcus's new friend have a connection to Ellie and her disappearance?

The Good: How We Fall looks at love and lust and desire. Jackie knows full well what other people are going to think about her and Marcus being together, and I'm sure there are readers who won't be able to get over the first cousin romance. As Jackie points out, though, it's not illegal; and at most, it means that in some states they wouldn't be able to marry. There was something so sweet, and heart-breaking, to have Jackie both trying to deny her feelings and love for Marcus, while doing searches to find colleges in states where marriage is possible. Add to it that Jackie is keeping her emotions and thoughts so close, from fear, that she hasn't shared this with Marcus.

Jackie's attraction to and love for Marcus is clear, and while the story is told from Jackie's point of view, it also becomes clear that what he feels for Jackie is true. On one level, How We Fall is, simply, about star-crossed lovers.

The star-crossed is made more complicated by the unique housing situation. About two or three years earlier (Jackie is now 16, Marcus a year older), the two families decided, for several reasons, to combine households and move in together. For Jackie and her older sister, that meant moving from California to rural Missouri. Her father, a lawyer, now does legal consulting from home; her mother works at the library. Her uncle works in a lawn and garden shop and her aunt takes care of the home, which also involves a working farm.

To use Jackie's words to describe her aunt and uncle: "Uncle Ward's opinions were a junk drawer combination of conservative family values, generous interpretations of self-restraint and normalcy, and questionable ideas Aunt Shelly found on the internet." Ward and Shelly have six children, ranging from twin toddlers to Marcus, the eldest.

The families share a home -- this isn't sharing land, or a building. It's using the same kitchen, the same living spaces, and trying to balance their values. It's not always easy; you can tell that sometimes Jackie's mother (Ward's sister) is biting her tongue about Shelley's judgments and rules. (Let's just say that Shelley isn't a fan of TV or movies while Jackie is looking to major in film in college.) Jackie has also gone from youngest child of two to an eldest child helping not only with chores, and selling their farm produce, and helping in the gardens and with the animals, but also babysitting her younger cousins.

Still, the families make it work. They are happy and functional; but it's also a financial decision. They are living a lifestyle, and in a home, that requires four adults working. But, to be honest, working "less", with a better quality of life, if that makes sense. Look at the father: he can return to law, but he's happier being a consultant. Jackie's mother is happy working at the library, but if the families split, she'd need to get a better paying job. I really loved that this book included this non-typical living argument, and that the arrangement works. And, I also think that more and more readers are going to identify with teens in home situations that are non-traditional.

As you can tell, the love story and the setting is what really captured my attention. There is also a mystery going on, the mystery of Ellie's disappearance, and I liked how this was handled. Jackie is not Veronica Mars; her friend lurks in the background, something that Ellie thinks about but, especially at first, doesn't obsess over. It's as time goes by, and it turns into a murder investigation, and Marcus's new girlfriend is revealed to have a link, that Jackie finds herself actively trying to learn more about Ellie's life to figure out what happened.

There is also Jackie's own new boyfriend, Will. One of the reasons I like Will is he ends up being such a good, understanding guy. Seriously, whether in real life or a book, when a person is confronted with a situation when they can be cruel or they can be kind -- when they can be judgmental or understanding -- when they be angry and lash out,or listen and be a friend? And they choose kind? It just makes my day; it reaffirms that people are good. And that was Will. Someone who is good.

Also, Will is cute. I said that How We Fall is also about desire, and that's true of Jackie and Marcus and Jackie and Will. Jackie is trying to figure out what she wants, and what she feels, and what is love, and what is love -- and it's a bit messy, made messier but the awkwardness of the situation and her thinking she is protecting everyone by not admitting to her feelings for Marcus. And then here is Will and yes he's fun to kiss cause he's older and hot and even with all this he is just such a good guy. And I love that this book shows the complexity of feeling, emotion, and desire that a teen girl feels.



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

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7. Review: Gracefully Grayson

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

The Plot: Grayson Sender is twelve years old.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wearing a sweatband to pretend it's a hairband.

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grade: B

Review copy provided by author

From Amazon:

Their marriage bargain is just what the doctor ordered…

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

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

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9. Review: Crossover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another Favorite Book Read in 2014!

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







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

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

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

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

Issy’s Top 5 must haves:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Christmas at the Cupcake Café

Cupcake Café # 2

By: Jenny Colgan

Releasing October 14th, 2014

William Morrow

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Links

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

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

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

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

Author Info

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

Author Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other plans, huh?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I believe this belongs to you,” he joked.

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

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

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

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

Kendall looked back at him.

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

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

Covering Kendall

Love and Football # 4

By: Julie Brannagh

October 21, 2014

Avon: Impulse

Blurb

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Links

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

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

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

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

Author Info

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

Author Links

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

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12. Interview with Sawyer Bennett, Author of ALEX

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.sawyerbennett.com

www.facebook.com/bennettbooks

www.twitter.com/bennettbooks

sawyer@sawyerbennett.com

Alex

Cold Fury Hockey # 1

By: Sawyer Bennett

Releasing October 14th, 2014

Loveswept

Blurb

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Links

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

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

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

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

Order: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Author Info

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

Author Links

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

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13. Review: Complicit

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

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

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

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

What will Cate do, now that's back?

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

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

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

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

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

Jamie wants to know what she knows.

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

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

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

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

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

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14. Love Is the Drug: Review

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

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

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

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

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

Mad’s fabulous garlic mashed potatoes

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

Myrna’s rolls still warm from the oven

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

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

About THE MAVERICK OF COPPER CREEK

A COPPER CREEK COWBOYS NOVEL

First love always burns hotter . . .

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

About R.C. Ryan

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

R.C.’s social media

http://www.ryanlangan.com/

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

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

@RuthRyanLangan 

Buy Links

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

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

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

GooglePlay: http://bit.ly/ZZdVuC

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

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

Excerpt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He left without another word.

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

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

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

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

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

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

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

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The post Review: He’s So Fine by Jill Shalvis appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for having me on Manga Maniac Café!

The Wedding Vow

Save the Date # 2: A Billionaire’s Demand

By: Cara Connelly

Releasing September 30th, 2014

Avon

Blurb

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

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

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

Buy Links

Purchase at Amazon | Barnes | iBooks | Kobo

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

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

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

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

 

Author Info

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

Author Social Links

Website: http://www.caraconnelly.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cara_connelly

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

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

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18. Review: Belzhar

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

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

Was.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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19. It's Release Day Times Two!

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

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

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

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

Check out the opening pages below:



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

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

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

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

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



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

Look for a SWAG and gift card giveaway this Friday! 

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

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

0 Comments on Book Review- We Were Liars by E. Lockhart as of 9/11/2014 1:18:00 PM
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21. Friday Feature: Into the Fire and Perfect For You Release Week SWAG Pack Giveaway!


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

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

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

Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes and Noble



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

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

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

Goodreads
Amazon



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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

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

 

Review:

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

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

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

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

 

What I Love About You

Truly, Idaho # 3

By: Rachel Gibson

Releasing August 26th, 2014

Avon Romance

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Links

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

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

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

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

Author Info

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

Author Links

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Buy online:

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

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

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

Follow her online:
Twitter: @MargoWKelly

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



That's not all! 



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




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

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




Ebook on sale for $.99 until September 27:

Prefer paperback? Enter the Goodreads giveaway here.

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24. Review: Falling Into Place

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

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

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

It wasn't.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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




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

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

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

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

IT’S NOT EASY BEING RIGHT

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

BUT SOMEONE’S GOT TO DO IT

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

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

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

An Excerpt

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

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

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

“Cameron?”

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

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

“Ah, okay.”

He moved in closer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yeah.”

“They’ll be waiting on me.”

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

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

Pre-Order Now:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/YuEjvW

BAM: http://bit.ly/XNlwet

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

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

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

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

Kobo: http://bit.ly/WOUP8r

About the author:

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

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

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

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The post Teaser and Giveaway: Ruining Mr. Perfect by Marie Harte appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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