Friday, July 29, 2016

The Crush Dilemma (Dear Aubrey #1) by Susan Hatler {Review}

The Crush Dilemma (Dear Aubrey #1) 
by Susan Hatler
Kindle Edition, 163 pages
Published April 15th 2016 by Hatco Publishing 
 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29848601-the-crush-dilemma?ac=1&from_search=true
 
Teen geek, Poppy Pinkleton, is adding some spice to her senior year of high school: A year of psychological experiments that will 1) Earn her three units of college credit; 2) Give her an outlet to say what she wants, when she wants; and 3) Will NOT include her parents telling her to be the “bigger person.”

How, you ask? Poppy’s gotten the green light from Mrs. Peterson, the newspaper head, to write an online advice column for the school. She’s found the perfect name for her alter ego: Aubrey. It means someone who rules with “magical wisdom.” She’ll be in control of her online experiment, online identity, and divvy her wisdom to the masses while tracking the results for her mini-thesis. 

Now, protected by a secret identity, she’s got the popular crowd clambering to know what she thinks about fashion, homework, and eek . . . even sex! And the best part is, her parents and best friends don’t know anything about it. Finally, she can let loose a wild side and speak her mind—right or wrong, without having to meet anyone’s expectations.

Soon, however, dishing out advice leads to more than Poppy can handle on her own and she must make a choice. Hide behind her alter ego or take the chance that everyone, including the new boy at school, will like her for everything she is.
 
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My Review: 5 Stars
 
I can now look back on my high school years with rose-colored glasses and fondness. The good times and bad times are now sweet memories that I can laugh and smile about. Ah...those were the days and if I could go back and relive them, of course, knowing what I know now, I probably wouldn't, but I might. That doesn't mean that I don't enjoy revisiting some of those memories, because I do, and that's just what this book did for me--it brought me back to that time in my life, but with the knowledge I now possess. 
 
In some ways, Poppy is more mature than most for her age. She is completely dedicated to school and loyal to her best friend, and a pact they made with each other in junior high. For a college credit project, she comes up with the plan to launch an anonymous advice column that turns her school, and everyone in it, upside down. Why is it so hard to say what you mean, speak your mind, or be honest with yourself or those around you? For some reason, it's so much easier to do so when you can hide behind a secret identity, whether it be those seeking advice or for the one giving it. Even as an adult, it's much easier to avoid conflict.
 
There are so many life-altering events that spark because of this column and many of these teens start to learn who they truly are, how their choices and words affect others, and they get a little taste about what it means to grow up. I absolutely loved the relationships, friendships, rivalries, and situations found within these pages. I adored the lessons and the smart wit of many of the characters. I admired the courage and maturity it takes for these people to make changes. My only complaint is the PE teacher--I kind of get where he's coming from and how he's striving to make his students achieve their best, but he comes across as a big jerk.
 
I've decided that Ms. Hatler can write anything--she's fantastic, no matter the genre and I'm definitely looking forward to reading more in this series.
 
Content: some innuendo, talk of hooking up, mild romance (kissing). Clean!
 
*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review*
 
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Buy Link
 
http://amzn.to/2a67Ilz

About the Author

Susan HatlerSUSAN HATLER is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, who writes humorous and emotional contemporary romance and young adult novels. Many of Susan's books have been translated into German, Spanish, French, and Italian. A natural optimist, she believes life is amazing, people are fascinating, and imagination is endless. She loves spending time with her characters and hopes you do, too.

You can reach Susan here:

Facebook: facebook.com/authorsusanhatler
Twitter: twitter.com/susanhatler
Website: http://www.susanhatler.com
Blog: susanhatler.com/category/susans-blog
 
  

Thursday, July 28, 2016

What You Always Wanted by Kristin Rae {Review}

What You Always Wanted (An If Only... Book)
by Kristin Rae
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 29th 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens 
 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25663575-what-you-always-wanted
 
If only…he was the boy she’s been dreaming of.

Theatre girl Maddie Brooks has always had high standards for guys. But she has yet to find one who can live up to the classic Hollywood heartthrobs, especially the dreamy song-and-dance man Gene Kelly. When Maddie begins to carpool with Jesse Morales, her new neighbor and star pitcher of the baseball team, she’s struck by his wit, good looks, and love for his family—but a guy so into sports is definitely not her style. Then Maddie discovers that Jesse was raised as a dancer and still practices in the community theatre’s dance studio to keep in shape. Perhaps her perfect dream guy exists after all! But when it becomes clear that baseball—not dance—is Jesse’s passion, can Maddie find a way to let her dream guy go and appreciate the charms of the amazing guy in front of her?

This fun, high school theatre romance in the If Only line is for anyone who has ever wished for that impossibly perfect guy.
 
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My Review: 4 Stars
 
Maddie is new in town and quickly befriends her neighbors, joins the drama club, and worms her way into the school and community. Theater is her life and her only true love (Gene Kelly) is dead. She's a very dramatic, yet likable girl. I love her easy calm in handling her life changes, even the surprises that upset her. I love her new friends and they way they're all so different, yet so similar. They really mesh well together. Jesse is her best friend's older brother and he's talented, good-looking, and full of charm. What's not to like?
 
I'm a little older than these characters (okay...a lot older...) and I'm still learning some of the lessons they learned. Even with good intentions, it's really hard not to judge sometimes. Understanding others is so much better than placing them in a box. Maddie learns the hard way that what she thinks Jesse's passion should be isn't necessarily what his passion in life is. Sometimes people have to learn things the hard way and it can be painful to go through and almost more painful to read about. 
 
There's a nice and realistic feel to the relationships throughout this story and the coming-of-age moments are a real process that progresses naturally. I love that these characters aren't perfect. This book took me back to the good times in my past and I enjoyed reliving those moments again. This is such a fun series that can be read in any order, as they have nothing to do with each other. I recommend it to those readers who enjoy good, clean, YA lit with some "if only" dreams thrown in.
 
Content: mild, clean romance (kissing); 1-2 cuss words. Clean!
 
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Buy Link
 
http://amzn.to/2aGPkRO

About the Author

Kristin RaeLover of books, music, chocolate, and crafty things. My young adult contemporary novels WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN, and WHAT YOU ALWAYS WANTED are out now, from Bloomsbury. Represented by Marietta Zacker of the Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency.  
  

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Resilient Bride by Lucy McConnell {Review}

The Resilient Bride by Lucy McConnell
Kindle Edition, 189 pages
Published July 12th 2016 by Pepin Publishing Company 
 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31117265-the-resilient-bride?ac=1&from_search=true
 
Enjoy This Heartfelt Romance From Bestselling Author Lucy McConnell.

Liam Bernhard has climbed Egyptian pyramids, skydived, searched for sunken treasure, reached high camp on Mount Everest, and paddle boarded in Antarctica. He has one final wish before he dies; he wants to be married. With time running short, he hires Pamela Jones to find him a bride. 

Kiera Martin has done the Billionaire Marriage Brokers arrangement once before and it didn’t turn out well. She left her verbally abusive husband and BMB behind to nurse her mom through cancer treatments—expensive cancer treatments. Three years later, with few financial options left, still carrying baggage from her first marriage, and her mom in remission, Kiera gives Pamela one more chance. 

What she thinks will be the fast road to debt reduction turns out to be the hardest path she’s ever trod as Liam’s diagnosis looms over their every minute together. He showers her with enough love to last eternity, which is good because eternity may be all they have to look forward to. In order to find her happy ending in a world where sorrows outweigh the joys, Kiera must learn how to live in the moment, cherish every good gift, and love like she was dying.
 
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My Review: 4.5 Stars
 
I made a colossal mistake before reading this book. I didn't read the blurb, so I had no idea what I was getting into and boy, oh, boy! This is such an emotional read and I just wasn't prepared for it. A book that can bring me to tears is a book well-written because that doesn't happen too often. It probably doesn't help that a loved one passed away from cancer almost exactly a year ago and those feelings just came flooding back.
 
Kiera is just getting over a bad marriage and when she's recruited to be a billionaire bride once again, she's hesitant, but her need of money propels her to jump in and do it. Liam is dying and his final wish is to be married. This couple immediately has a deep, almost other worldly, connection and I enjoyed their moments together immensely--especially the ways in which they made lasting memories. 
 
Kiera is able to get past her trust issues quite easily. I love how kind she is and the way she makes his dreams come true. Liam is such a likable guy--anyone would have trouble resisting his charm. I love their connection, relationship, and sweet interactions. I love the little heartbreaking wrench that's thrown into their future. When characters think of others above themselves and the story plays out in such a tender way, my heart just can't take it. Focusing on the positive and living in the moment are really great messages that I took away from the story and I love a book with morals to the story. This is a great feely book--one that I think is well done.

Content: mild romance (kissing, flirting); moderate religious elements (some talk of afterlife, praying beliefs). Clean!

*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review*

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Buy Link

http://amzn.to/2aGMNHc

About the Author

Lucy McConnellLucy McConnell is an Amazon Best Selling Contemporary Romance Author. 

She started out as an editor at an advertising agency before moving on to teach in the marketing department of the local community college. She loved teaching and often misses the academic environment. 

After her third child was born, Lucy retired from teaching and began to write. She has been published in national magazines, newspapers, short story compilations, and she writes cookbooks under the name Christina Dymock. 

Lucy works as a Recreation Specialist, marketing copywriter, and author when she's not trying to keep up with her husband and four kids.

If she's not at the computer, you can find her on the ski slopes, in a boat, in the kitchen, or in the stands watching one of her children bat, dribble, or play goalie.
 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Sigil in Shadow by Constance Roberts {Blog Tour Review}



Sigil in Shadow by Constance Roberts
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 12th 2016 by Cedar Fort, Inc

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28557381-sigil-in-shadow

Ellary Dane knows she deserves to die

- but not for a crime she didn’t commit.

She believes her 19 year streak of bad luck is over when she accidentally saves the life of a highborn officer and is taken to court to study under the tutelage of the most renowned healer in the kingdom. Suspicions surround her sudden presence, making her more enemies than allies. She soon finds herself ripped from her warm palace sheets and thrown into a dank prison cell.

As nobles vie for their spot on the throne, Ellary learns she is bound to a secret history that could change the kingdom forever. If she is going to break her chains, she must trust the charming stranger labeled as her accomplice and face the lie that pushed her into the silent warfare of highborn society.


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My Review: 4 Stars

Sigil in Shadow is a nice surprise. Although it takes place in the past, in a fantasy land, it almost has a modern feel as the story progresses, which makes it easy to read. There are a lot of secrets surrounding Ellary and her family and the way the book unfolds is charming. 

Ellary is summoned to the castle by the king after a situation arises that's completely out of her hands. There are great moments of intrigue and mystery that develop, but the execution (in places) is a turbulent.

I adore a story with good friendships and this book is heavy on loyalty, adventure, and mysterious circumstances. Throw in a few shady characters and the plot thickens. As my followers know, I also love a good, clean romance but this isn't what drives the story (a little to my disappointment) and it plays a very minor role. I would have loved to see this angle expanded on, as there is a lot of potential and would have made things more believable.

There are many elements to the story that drew me in--from masquerades, to potions, to royalty, to danger. I only wish that a few of the characters and situations had been developed just a little bit more because I'd really like to understand some of these motives better. The story flows along at a nice pace and then gets rough towards the end, with a few loose ties that just didn't quite make sense. All in all, it is a fun read.

Content: mild innuendo (implications of affairs, adultery); mild violence. Clean.

*I received a copy through the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

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Buy Links

http://amzn.to/2aqGsno
 http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sigil-in-shadow-constance-roberts/1123424391?ean=9781462118731
 https://deseretbook.com/p/sigil-in-shadow?variant_id=143947
 http://booksandthings.com/sigil-in-shadow-paperback.html


About the Author:

Constance RobertsConstance Roberts is a retired flight attendant who turned in her wings to stay at home with her adventurous daughter and to write. She and her husband live in St. Louis, Missouri where they spend the weekends playing board games with friends. She spends way too much time on Pinterest and her house is littered with half-finished craft projects. She is currently working on Bloodstones, the second book in the Onyx Moon Trilogy, and has big plans for another fantasy series. 
 

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Time Key by Melanie Bateman {Blog Tour Spotlight, Snippet, and Giveaway}

Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Suspense
Publisher: Sweetwater Books, an imprint of Cedar Fort
Publication date: June 14, 2016
Number of pages: 320
When Stanley saves a man, he's given a mysterious device that allows him to travel through time. But he soon learns that changing his past doesn't necessary lead to a better future. Traveling over 100 years into the future may be the only way Stanley can change his fate and save his family.
GOODREADS | AMAZON--KINDLE & PRINT
Melanie Bateman was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and moved to the United States at age nine. She has an associate’s degree in fine art from Utah Valley University, emphasizing in illustration. From a very young age she’s had a passion for drawing, specifically nature and the human figure. It is from this creative look on the world that she began to write stories.
​​GOODREADS | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | PINTEREST | AMAZON | WEBSITE

Chapter One

​ There couldn’t be a better time to begin Stanley Becker’s story than at the moment he stood on the frozen stone wall of Kingston Bridge overlooking the river Thames, breathing in the winter night and pressing the icy metal barrel of a pistol to his jaw.
I have often wondered where it would be most appropriate to begin. A few other moments come to mind, but despite the significance they play, I choose to begin Stanley Becker’s story at the approaching end of his life.
Before he found himself standing on the bridge, Stanley hadn’t contemplated what the best approach to ending his life would be, but he had assumed that a bullet to his head would be the quickest. What did he know about suicide? All he knew was that it would be rather unfortunate if he missed.
Through his misty breath, he looked down at the black waters that seemed so calm and knew it would be the perfect resting place for his worn-down body. The moment he blew his brains out, his corpse would crash down into the dark waters and conceal him from the world he was so determined to leave. Few things could be more poetic. Stanley Becker smiled. Soon he would see Jane again, holding little Maisie’s hand and grinning, just as the last time he had seen them alive.
Although Stanley Becker was about to take his life on this particular night, his thoughts lingered elsewhere, remembering the tragic event that had taken his entire reason to live. He remembered it quite vividly. Six years ago, Stanley had refused to attend the opera despite Jane’s pleading. He had stayed home to write a story that he would never finish. Unbeknownst to him then, on the same bridge where he now stood, his wife and daughter had lain sprawled in the crimson-stained snow, lifeless.
Perhaps the fact that Mr. Miller had not driven that night, but one of the drivers employed by Jane’s father, could have been the single event that sealed his family’s fate. There were other incidents that only I had been able to see as I revisited the night when everything changed, and although unclear, they nevertheless deserve some mention. Perhaps the cause had been that Jane’s father had insisted on sending his own driver, that the driver himself had had a drink too many and had failed to see the incoming collision. Or, possibly, that a street cat had darted across the street and consequently startled the horse of a carriage whose driver had had recent late nights looking for a runaway daughter, losing control only moments before the accident.
I only observed the minor events of that night, but the matter of life and death could have been the result of numerous decisions by unknowing players and (as Stanley’s mother always told him) could not have been stopped and can never be changed. I can’t help but feel sympathetic when I am reminded of this truth, however insignificant it renders us, but it would be a long time before Stanley understood the fragility of our human existence, and how crucial our resolve to ignore such realities impacts the way we play our set role.
As he presently stood on the bridge, yearning for the end to come, Stanley was comforted by the thought that he would no longer need to worry about what he could have done differently. Soon, the long, numbing, excruciating life he had led for six years would be over. He was ready for whatever awaited him in the next life, if there was any- thing waiting for him at all.
The pistol felt heavy and the cold embraced him. He wondered if attempting a suicide could be any less pleasant. As Stanley passed a hand over his eyes, he steadied himself for the big moment. The barrel pressing on his jaw was aimed straight to his brain. For a split second he wondered if it would hurt.
His gloved hand gripped the gun. His finger touched the trigger. Stanley Becker held his breath and felt the end draw near. He squeezed the trigger.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Great Summer Countdown Day 12: The Suspect's Daughter by Donna Hatch





Donna Hatch, author of the best-selling “Rogue Hearts Series,” has won writing awards such as The Golden Quill and the International Digital Award. A hopeless romantic and adventurer at heart, she is a sought-after workshop presenter, and juggles multiple volunteer positions and her six children. A native of Arizona who recently transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she and her husband of over twenty years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.


Q&A With the Author:


1.  What inspired your book?
The murder plot in The Suspect’s Daughter was inspired by a true event in England known as the Cato Street Conspiracy, which thankfully, was averted largely in part due to an undercover Bow Street Runner. This event happened in 1820, the same year my book takes place. When I read of the Cato Street Conspiracy, I knew it had to be Grant's story. Obviously I took some creative license, but the suspense plot in my book strongly parallels the real one. As far as the romantic plot, Grant is so emotionally closed off, as readers of my other books already know, that I knew it would be fun to pair him with a spunky, vivacious, glass-half-full kind of girl who is emotionally strong enough to not only challenge him and match him wit for wit, but with a big enough heart to see through his defensive barriers into the lonely, vulnerable man hiding underneath. 

2. How do you spend your free time?

Free time? I don't think I have ever had any free time. I'm not even sure what that means. When I'm too mentally or emotionally tired to write, and if my family doesn't need me for anything pressing, I read. Reading recharges me in a way that nothing else can. I enjoy going for long walks, watching old movies--especially adaptations of Jane Austen novels and romantic comedies--and playing games with my family. I've become pretty good at ping pong (table tennis) and my husband is a ruthless opponent.

Connect with the Author here: 


"Determined to help her father with his political career, Jocelyn sets aside dreams of love. When she meets the handsome and mysterious Grant Amesbury, her dreams reawaken. But his secrets put her family in peril.                                                 Grant goes undercover to capture conspirators avowed to murder the prime minister, but his only suspect is the father of a courageous lady who is growing increasingly hard to ignore. He can’t allow Jocelyn to distract him from the case, nor will he taint her with his war-darkened soul. She seems to see past the barriers surrounding his heart, which makes her all the more dangerous to his vow of remaining forever alone. Jocelyn will do anything to clear her father’s name, even if that means working with Grant. Time is running out. The future of England hangs in the balance...and so does their love."


~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK


Author Top Ten List:

1. I like cats--kittens are even more fun.
2. I am a harpist and I teach harp lessons.
3. Every morning after I get the children off to school, I go for a walk. (At least, that's always the goal)
4. I hate spiders. HATE. With a passion.
5. Due to moves in my childhood, I attended 9 different schools. Being the new kid isn't all it's cracked up to be.
6. I love cheesecake just as much as I love chocolate--chocolate cheesecake is even better. Caramel is a close second. Caramel-chocolate cheesecake, anyone?
7. Currently I'm juggling: a YA dystopian aka speculative fiction, a YA historical paranormal, book 4 of my Rogue Hearts Regency series, and a new Regency trilogy.
8. I am majorly claustrophobic, which is exactly why, when I had to give my super-warrior weapons master, Kai Darkwood in my fantasy Queen in Exile, some flaw or fear, I chose claustrophobia for his--I understand it.
9. I love to ballroom dance. LOVE.
10. I also love bodies of water of any kind--ocean, river, lake, stream, waterfall, backyard garden pond. It just does something for my soul. This is partly why we recently moved from the desert to Washington State. I even love water when it's falling from the sky. Mermaid, anyone?


To view our blog schedule and follow along with this tour visit our Official Event page 



Friday, July 22, 2016

Chasing Fireflies (The Power of the Matchmaker Series) by Taylor Dean {Review}

Chasing Fireflies by Taylor Dean
Published July 1st 2016

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26301660-chasing-fireflies?ac=1&from_search=true

My sisters think I’m crazy.

But, I’ve never forgotten the mysterious woman from my childhood who told me Paul is the name of my one true love.

She told me to search far and wide for him.

I haven’t stopped looking ever since.

When I stumble across an article about a successful American entrepreneur named Paul who lives and works in China, I’m intrigued. When the opportunity to teach English in China presents itself on the same day, I know it’s not a coincidence.

It’s destiny.

My sisters say I’m chasing a dream.

Just like the fireflies we tried to catch on the warm summer evenings of our youth, the dream seems beyond my grasp. Will my quest for the elusive Paul always be just short of fulfillment?

My sisters tell me it’s a fool’s errand.

Until I remind them of the day we saw the Red Bird.

The memory silences them.

The Red Bird Incident remains inarguable—and proves my search for Paul is not a silly fantasy.

I will find Paul . . . I will.


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My Review: 5 Stars

This book is part of the Power of the Matchmaker series but can certainly stand alone. Pearl, the matchmaker, is a common thread in all of the books. I recommend reading The Power of the Matchmaker first to get some background on Pearl, but otherwise, they can be read in any order.

How many people grasp onto a dream and chase after it? When Savannah is young, she has an encounter with Pearl and three important things about her future are shared with her. Being so young, it would be easy to dismiss these words of advice, but when the prophecies start to become fulfilled, she can't help but to put everything into these dreams.

My in-laws went to China for just under a year to teach English and although they shared pictures, stories, and experiences with us, I found this country and the Chinese people come alive through this book. The real-life experiences and settings are phenomenally written! In such a unique setting, I grew to know and love the characters as well, through their ups and downs, including some very life-changing decisions for several of them. I love a story that has inside jokes and this one has many. Those kinds of things really make me feel as if I'm sitting right there with the characters and a part of the story. These people are dear friends now! Pina Colada anyone?

I don't want to give anything away, but the romance in this one is very swoony and yet clean. There is definitely chemistry and some very deep connections, but the twists and turns caught me off guard. This is one story that I will absolutely be suffering a book hangover from--I didn't want it to end! Taylor Dean is a new author for me and one that I'm really excited to read more from.

Content: mild romance (swoony clean kissing, some innuendo). Clean!

*I received a copy through eBooks for Review in exchange for an honest review*    

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Buy Links
http://amzn.to/29Xl59x
 http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/chasing-fireflies-taylor-dean/1124047982?ean=9781515181163

About the Author

Taylor DeanTaylor Dean lives in Texas and is the mother of four grown children. Upon finding herself with an empty nest, she began to write the stories that were always wandering around in her head, quickly finding she had a passion for writing, specifically romance. Whether it's paranormal, contemporary, or suspense-you'll find all sub-genres of CLEAN Romance in her line-up.