12.24.2013

Holiday Reads [Review] I Heart Christmas by Lindsey Kelk

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays which ever you prefer I just hope you enjoy yours with those you love! It’s been a wonderful holiday season so far and this review will mark the last of my Holiday Reads reviews. I saved my fave for last. I will be taking the last weeks of the year off to enjoy and read [of course!] and I will be back on January 1 for another year of fabulous books I can’t wait to read and share with all of you.

I Heart Christmas by Lindsey Kelk
Published: November 21, 2013
Format: via NetGalley
Publisher: Harper
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis
Angela’s planning her very own fairytale of New York…
• Enormous Christmas tree
• Eggnog
• Eccentric British traditions
• Gorgeous man

But Santa’s throwing her a few curveballs – new job (as if it’s not mental enough already), new baby-craze from her best friend Jenny, and Alex determined they should grow up and settle down. Once friends start turning up uninvited on her doorstep (and leading her astray), can Angela really have a merry little Christmas? So much for happy holidays – something’s got to give.

My Thoughts
Oh how much did I enjoy and love this book? TONS! I must say this one was my favorite holiday read of the season. While I have to admit I never have read any of Lindsey Kelk books I will now! She funny and quirky and I adore the characters she writes.

I love Angela and what she stands for, I mean as a single woman who couldn’t identify with her at one time or another right? Not to mention I love just about all things British so you know this book was for me.  Seriously what can I say but I simply loved this book! I know this is a series of sorts don’t let that stop you in diving into this read, I didn’t have any trouble reading this like a stand-alone. However I’ve been convinced to pick up the other books in the I heart series and I can’t wait to get to them.

This is the one read I think everyone will enjoy. It’s a funny romantic and screams of Christmas! I know you will love it as much as I did.

12.23.2013

Holiday Reads: [Review] Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham

Mine under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham
Published: December 5, 2013
Format: via NetGalley
Publisher: Carina Press
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis
Thanks to a transatlantic house swap, California girl Ashley Turner is finally going to fulfill her lifelong dream of a proper English Christmas. Her holiday plans did not include a sexy stranger climbing into her borrowed bed in the middle of the night. But in the light of day, Ashley can't help but wonder if Santa has delivered early...

Game designer Oliver Stansfeld can't wait to leave dreary London—and all its difficult holiday memories—for sunny San Diego. But a freak ice storm and a grounded plane have forced him back to his already-occupied flat. To make up for the mix-up, the least he can do is show his pretty houseguest where to get the perfect Christmas tree before he leaves.

The more time they spend together, the more their attraction grows, and soon Ashley is tempting Oliver to give in to the spirit of the season and snuggle up for the rest of the winter. As the ice melts and flights start taking off again, he must choose between giving in to the past or risking his heart on a chance at love.

My Thoughts
As soon as I started to read this all I  could think about was the movie The Holiday. If you saw the movie this is basically the same. The only difference is instead of exchanging houses as planned Oliver gets stuck by a snow storm before he can leave.

Given the similarities I still enjoyed this cute tale of a holiday romance. Though there is nothing new here it’s still great getting to know these two individuals and knowing in the end they will eventually end up together. This is just another cute quick read you might enjoy.

12.21.2013

Holiday Reads: 3 Mini Reviews

Mulberry Lane by Ginae Lee Scott
Published: April 12, 2013
Format: Free Kindle read
Publisher: Turn the Page Publishing
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis
The quiet neighborhood was starting to wake up to what was around them. What started as a tug in their hearts that Christmas became something very magical for them all. Mulberry Lane is a heartwarming story of a little pine tree that made a Christmas very special one year. Author Ginae Lee Scott has captured in Mulberry Lane a reminder of the blessings that could be for us all. A wonderful book to read and share with others again and again!

My Thoughts
I truly loved this short story. While reading this I really felt the spirit of Christmas. It’s all about a town coming together and really getting to know each other. It’s a typical town of people who keep to themselves until one day they notice the small tree in town has been decorated. Little by little more people come to put more ornaments and start to talk and get to know one another. It shows how one tiny tree and bring together this one town all in the spirit of the holidays. This is a must read for anyone who loves a heartfelt holiday read.


 

A Winter Discovery by Michael Baron
Published: November 15, 2013
Format: Free Kindle read
Publisher: The Story Plant
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis
Returning to the characters of his first novel, When You Went Away, Baron takes us again into the world of Gerry Rubato, a man who has been marked by loss and revived by love, and his son Reese, now five, who celebrates life at a remarkable level but is only now starting to understand that he was robbed of the chance of ever knowing his mother. Reese is old enough now to get caught up in the excitement of the Christmas season and he throws himself into it with abandon. His sense of celebration takes on entirely new levels of meaning, though, when it leads him to an unexpected and most remarkable discovery.

My Thoughts
This story will definitely touch your soul. Gerry is a widower who lost his wife but still has to move on for the sake of their son. Reese is a care free kid who loves Christmas but is getting to age that he realizes and is starting to ask questions about his mother. Reese starts to see and feel a spirit of an “angel” around him not really knowing who or what is happening. He tries to convince his dad to get into the spirit of Christmas not really knowing that is what his mom would’ve wanted. This is a cute and at times heart breaking tale that will get you to see what the true meaning of Christmas is.


 

The Gift of Christmas Present by Melody Carlson
Published: September 1, 2004
Format: Free Kindle read
Publisher: Fleming H. Revell Co
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis
College student Christine Bradley grew up in a loving and honest family. So she couldn't have been more surprised when, shortly after her mother's death, her father revealed the startling truth that Christine had been adopted at birth. In search of clues about her biological mother, Christine encounters a family she never knew she had. She digs deeper as Christmas nears and what she finds reveals a shocking lineage. Will Christine be able to come to grips with the past, take hold of the present, and look forward to a brighter future? Carlson's warm tale of loss, recovery, and acceptance will captivate current fans and create new ones.

My Thoughts
After Christine is told she is adopted it leads her to seek out her birth parents. All she has is a name which leads her to her grandmother, a rich bossy woman who doesn’t take any non-sense. While going to tell her who she is her grandmother thinks she’s there to apply for the job as her care taker. Instead of correcting her she takes the job to get to know her, and little does she know the rest of her family as well. Christine becomes attached to her new family but in the process she finds out buried secrets about who her parents really are. With the strength of her faith and the support of her new family she finds a way to accept what happened and starts to make sense of her new life. This is a moving story of finding who you are and realizing that the past doesn’t necessarily defines your future.

12.20.2013

Holiday Read: [Review] A Christmas for Carrie by Alsion Packard

A Christmas for Carrie by Alison Packard
Published: December 5, 2013
Format: via NetGalley
Publisher: Carina Press
Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis
The very thought of Christmas is enough to darken Carrie Jones's day. "Jingle Bells" and eggnog? Not for this girl; not anymore. But running into a handsome old crush might make this year different…

Home to celebrate with his parents, Nick Johnson loves the holidays and all that comes with them, from trips to the tree lot to the very last strand of tinsel. Stunned to bump into Carrie while on a coffee run, he realizes that his former study buddy has grown into a drop-dead-gorgeous woman. One with whom he'd like to share all the joys—and hidden pleasures—of the season. Spending time with Nick and his warm, close-knit family, Carrie can't help but feel the very beginnings of that elusive Christmas spirit. She's falling in love with all of them...until an unexpected visitor arrives. It will take putting her trust in Nick—and all her newfound happiness—to overcome the ghosts of Christmases past.

My Thoughts
I found A Christmas for Carrie a fresh kind of take on the Christmas tale. I love a lot of things about this cute read. I enjoy that it’s a quick fast paced novella but it reads like a full story near cutting corners. I loved the storyline and the chemistry between the two characters. I loved how it’s Carrie who is the one who dislikes the holiday, usually in these books it’s the male who does and the female is all Christmas crazy.

Carrie has her reasons for not really being gun-ho about the holidays but I found myself rooting for these two to get together. Nick just kind of stole my heart, I mean I guy who loves Christmas as much as I do…YES please!

In the end I can’t say anything more than just read this cute Christmas romance story. It’s good and won’t take a lot of time. It's a story of finding yourself and being able to trust and opening yourself to all things again, including love.

12.19.2013

2014 NetGalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge

I think this is a really cool challenge and I can’t wait to do this one. I have tons of arcs and this one will finally get me read some. Read on if you think this one is for you.

2014 Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge!
http://www.fallingforya.com/2013/12/2014-netgalley-edelweiss-reading.html

Have you ever logged on to Edelweiss or Netgalley with the intention of "Just Looking" and then logging off  having requested 5 new titles even though your TBR is a mile long? Inspired by Netgalley November the 2014 Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge will (hopefully) give you the incentive to tackle your review books, stumble upon new ones, and get your Netgalley percentage to the desired 80%!

Challenge Guidelines:
•This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2014 – Dec 31, 2014.

•Anyone is welcome to join. You do not need to be a blogger, just post your reviews and come back every month to link them up.

•Any genre, release date, request date, length, etc. counts so long as it came from Edelweiss or Netgalley.

•At the beginning of each month there will be a roundup post for you to add your reviews.

•If you forget to link up one month it's not a problem just add your reviews next month.

•If you would like to move up or down levels that is completely fine and at your discretion

•Throughout the year there will be giveaways for Challenge participants, make sure to check in regularly and follow this blog so you don't miss any!

•If you have any questions tweet me @FallingForYA or e-mail Emisbookblog@aol.com

Levels:
Aluminum – 5 books
Bronze – 10 books
Silver – 25 books
Gold – 50 books
Platinum – 75 books
Diamond– 100 books

As for me I’m challenging myself to the Silver level…25 books. I have confidence I can do this… at least I hope so!

12.18.2013

WoW [57]

Waiting on Wednesday [WoW] is a weekly event hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.
Through to You by Lauren Barnholdt
Expected Publication: July 8, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Synopsis...
It starts with a scribbled note in class: I like your sparkle. Harper had casually threaded a piece of blue and silver tinsel through her ponytail in honor of school spirit day. And that carefree, corny gesture is what grabs Penn Mattingly’s eye. Penn—resident heartbreaker of the senior class. Reliably unreliable. Trouble with a capital “T.” And okay, smolderingly sexy. Harper’s surprised by Penn’s attention—and so is Penn. The last thing he needs is a girlfriend. Or even a friend-with-benefits. The note is not supposed to lead to anything.

Oh, but it does. They hang out. They have fun. They talk. They make out. And after a while, it seems like they just click. But Penn and Harper have very different ideas about what relationships look like, in no small part because of their very different family backgrounds. Of course they could talk about these differences—if Penn knew how to talk about feelings. Harper and Penn understand their attraction is illogical, yet something keeps pulling them together. It’s like a crazy roller coaster—exhilarating, terrifying, and amazing all at once. And neither knows how to stop the ride…

Why I Can’t Wait….
That first line had me! Perfect summer time read.

What are you waiting on? Please link me up to yours. I’d love to see your picks!

12.17.2013

Review: Christmas Curveball by Shari Mikels

Christmas Curveball by Shari Mikels
Published: December 5, 2013
Format: via NetGalley
Publisher: Carina Press
Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis
When newly-single Rachel Tanner finds out that pro pitcher Kevin Ganlin has come home to recover from an injury, her heart skips a beat. She’s loved him from afar since her preteen years, never bold enough to let him know.
Kevin is less than thrilled when Rachel shows up at his doorstep. She’s his best friend’s little sister and officially off limits. Besides, he’s staring early retirement in the face, a one-man pity-party with no interest in anything more serious than quick flings on the road. Until an icy mishap lands Rachel cozied up on his sofa, irresistible in his practice sweats.
A little game of Truth or Truth reveals much more than Rachel had ever dared to hope and leads to a midnight make-out session that leaves them both panting. But can she trust that he’s truly changed his ways? This Christmas, Kevin will do whatever it takes to make Rachel understand she’s the only one for him.

My Thoughts
This is definitely a cute romantic Christmas read. Christmas Curveball is the tale of divorced Rachel and Kevin, her high school crush and brothers best friend. Rachel hasn’t really been interested in dating ever since her ex-husband cheated on her throughout their marriage; needless to say she has trust issues. Kevin has recently moved back in town after suffering an injury that ended his pro baseball career.

When Rachel finds out Kevin is back in town she goes out looking for him. While visiting him at his house in the mountains she snowed in and after a few days together they realize they have a connection that is more powerful than they ever imagined. Of course there are so many obstacles in their way there is doubt if they will ever be together.

Kevin is known for his playboy ways, having a girl in literally every town he plays in and of course that doesn’t sit too well with Rachel. She has those trust issues she just can’t get over, not matter how much she wants to trust Kevin there’s something that doesn’t let her fully commit to him.

I love the whole high school crushes having a second chance thing. There’s just something about fate and destiny that can’t help but make you believe it things happening for a reason. This is one book that will make you believe in it.

12.16.2013

Review: Poor Little Dead Girls by Lizzie Friend

Poor Little Dead Girls by Lizzie Friend
Expected Publication: December 18, 2013
Format: via NetGalley
Publisher: Merit Press
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis
Perfect people aren't just born. They're made.

The first time she is blindfolded and kidnapped, star-athlete and posh boarding school newbie Sadie is terrified. She wakes up in a dark room surrounded by hushed whispers, hooded strangers, and a mysterious voice whispering not-so-sweet nothings in her ear. But once the robes come off, she realizes it’s just an elaborate prank designed to induct her into the group that’s been pulling the strings at Keating Hall for generations. The circle has it all--incredible connections; fabulous parties; and, of course, an in with the brother society’s gorgeous pledges.

The instant popularity is enough to make Sadie forget about the unexplained marks on her body, the creepy ceremonial rituals, and the incident that befell one of her teammates the year before. So the next time Sadie is kidnapped, she isn’t scared, but she should be. The worst of Keating Hall is yet to come.

My Thoughts
Sadie goes off to a fancy boarding school in hopes to getting a scholarship to a prestigious university, which she couldn’t afford otherwise. In her first days there she makes friends and at the same time enemies or so it seems. Little does she realize she is being recruited to join a secret society. While getting mixed up with these fancy and spoiled rich kids she finds out a lot about her life that she never knew.

She learns she’s a legacy, which her mom, who is dead, was once a member also. She also comes to realize that maybe her mom’s death wasn’t a suicide as she once thought but actually a murder by the hands of someone in the group. This circle of people are the who’s who of high society. They control and have more power than imaginable. As she goes deeper in researching this people she will learn she is way over her head, putting her own life in danger while discovering secrets she never knew were possible.

This is a great read with so many twists and turns that it will definitely keep you glued until you’ve turned the last page. Lizzie Friend sets up a setting that rings very true, with its amazing writing and the ability to keep the reader intrigued this is a must read!

12.13.2013

Holiday Reads: [Review] Season of Second Chances by Brighton Walsh

Season of Second Chances by Brighton Walsh
Published: December 5, 2013
Format: via NetGalley
Publisher: Carina Press
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis
When a storm strands Claire Hanlin in Chicago on Christmas Eve, the last person she expects to come to her rescue is Logan Dawes, the man she almost married two years ago. The chemistry between them is dangerously potent, but with nowhere else to go, Claire accepts Logan's offer to stay with him for the night.

Back in the home they shared, surrounded by reminders of Logan and his young daughter, Claire begins to realize how much she misses the family she almost had. After a few cups of Christmas cheer, she falls right back into her ex's arms—even though she knows it means setting herself up for heartbreak all over again.

The magic of the season has thrown him together with the woman he's never stopped loving, and Logan's not about to pass up this gift. He's not the workaholic he was two years ago—his family comes first. Now all he has to do is prove it to Claire, before the snow stops and she flies out of his life for good.

My Thoughts
This is just what I needed in a great Christmas novella. It has lots of love, forgiveness and the miracle of second chances. Season of Second Chances is a wonderfully written novella about Claire who is snowed in Chicago and runs into her ex Logan. We come to find out that Claire and Logan had a long relationship but have broken up after having different views on life. The last straw for Claire was when Logan put work over family and wasn’t there when she needed him.

Fast forward years later fate has lead them to be at the same place at the same time. At first Claire refuses to stay with Logan but breaks down when she has no other options. While spending the next few days snowed in, old memories and feelings start to overwhelm both of them. Will this time be different or have things never changed? Is it all in the perfect timing or is this just a sign that things weren’t meant to be?

To me this just felt like a real story. As if this could really be happening. We all want those second chances, the chance to do something that we regretted. I’m a big believer in those, I hate having those “what-if” thoughts. You know always wondering if things would’ve been different if you choose to do the opposite of what you did. I also believe in fate. That things were meant to happen rather it be for good or bad. Some things in life are just way beyond rational thought or feelings.

This is one read that will read true to all of us. We can all find something in here that we can relate to. So if you want a quick holiday read feel free to pick this one up it wont disappoint.

12.12.2013

Holiday Reads: [Review] The Christmas Cookie Collection by Lori Wilde

The Christmas Cookie Collection by Lori Wilde
Published: October 29, 2013
Publication: Avon
Format: copy via publisher
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis
There's a legend in Twilight, Texas. It says that if on Christmas you sleep with kismet cookies under your pillow and dream of your one true love, he will be your destiny.
Carrie, Raylene, Christine, and Flynn are all members of the Christmas Cookie Club. Each has a story to tell, and each discovers the miracles of the season and the power of love.

Carrie: Reconnects with her high school sweetheart . . .the only man she's ever loved.
Raylene: Discovers that the daughter she gave away at birth is living right in Twilight . . .
Christine: Has given up on love . . . until the man of her dreams walks through her shop door.
Grace: It's Christmas Eve and Flynn and Jesse Calloway are thrilled to be expecting a new baby. Then Flynn's car hits a patch of ice, and Jesse must move earth . . . and heaven . . .to save her and their unborn child.

My Thoughts
The Christmas Cookie Collection is one of my favorite holiday reads thus far. It’s a collection of four story stories each focusing on one girl in a group of friends. While each short focuses on one girl, I like how each can be read alone yet they all intertwine flawlessly yet beautifully.

Although each character brings something different to the table, my favorite story would be that of Raylene. I just thought her story and her as a character is funny yet touching. She just screams classic Texan female. She’s tough, such a spitfire yet so loving and protective all at the same time. There’s just something about the magic of Christmas that I love and this just nails it for me. Nothing’s better than Christmas, and that small town feel and those crazy characters that bring that funny feel to it are all a great plus!

I must admit I’ve never read anything by Lori Wilde before I will definitely be buying some of her reads now. She just writes fun characters and has a wonderful way of telling an honest to god great story.

Be sure to put this on your list, I know you will fall in love with the people of Twilight, Texas just as much as I have. This is a classic in the making and I can’t wait for others to enjoy this Christmas tale as much as I have.

12.11.2013

WoW [56]

Waiting on Wednesday [WoW] is a weekly event hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

My Best Friend, Maybe by Caela Carter
Expected Publication: June 3, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA

Synopsis...
It has been three long, lonely, boring years for Colette. Ever since her best friend Sadie dumped her right before they started high school, Colette has tried to be perfect for everyone: for her parents, her younger brothers, her teachers and even her boyfriend, Mark. But she’s bored. And she misses Sadie.

So when Sadie tells Colette out of the blue that she needs her old friend to join her on a Pepper family vacation to the Greek Islands, one that leaves only a few days after the invitation is issued, Colette is surprised to find herself thinking about it. But can Colette get over the hurt of the past three years to be there for Sadie now that she’s called on? Can Colette choose Sadie over Mark after all this time? Can Colette give up her perfect life for a little adventure? A little drama? A summer with Sadie?

Why I Can’t Wait….
This seems like a good summer read and I love to read about friendships.

What are you waiting on? Please link me up to yours. I’d love to see your picks!

12.10.2013

2013 End of the Year Book Survey

I've decided to do this wonderful survey by Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner. This showcases all the awesome books we've read, so here are a few of mine.

1. Best Book You Read In 2013?
 So many but my top 5 [no order]…

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
If He Had Been with Me by Laura Nowlin
Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall
Lies You Wanted to Hear by James Whitfield Thomson

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
 The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?
This Fragile Life by Kate Hewitt

4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?
 A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

 5. Best series you discovered in 2013?
 Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano [book 1]

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?
 Nowhere but Home by Liz Palmer

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
 Justice for Sara by Erica Spindler [don’t read much thriller but this one is AWESOME!]

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?
Divergent series by Rainbow Rowell

9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
If He Had Been with Me by Laura Nowlin

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?


11. Most memorable character in 2013?
 Finn – If He Had Been with Me by Laura Nowlin

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?
 A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?
If He Had Been with Me by Laura Nowlin. This made my heart ache for days!!

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?
 Divergent series by Veronica Roth

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?
"I'd Been around the block long enough to know that sooner or later every romance turns into a negotiation. It's a matter of give and take. Give too little and you breed resentments, take too little and you start feeling used."

"The lies you wanted to hear were the easiest ones to tell."
-both from Lies You Wanted to Hear by James Whitfield Thomson
16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
Shortest: Mulberry Lane [Christmas short] by Gina Lee Scott
 Longest: Divergent by Veronica Roth

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
 Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc)?
 Cath and Reagan from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Finn and Autumn from If He Had Been with Me by Laura Nowlin

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously?
Golden by Jessi Kirby

20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else?
 If I Stay by Gale Forman

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?
 CONTEMPORARY

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?
 Park – Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Finn – If He Had Been with Me by Lauren Nowlin

23. Best 2013 debut you read?
 Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?
 Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?
 Bossypants by Tina Fey

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?
 The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?
 The Whole Golden World by Kristina Riggle

12.09.2013

Blog Tour: Left Drowning by Jessica Park

LEFT DROWNING by Jessica Park
Published: July 16, 2013
Publisher: Skyscape

 
What does it take to rise from life’s depths, swim against the current, and breathe?
Weighted down by the loss of her parents, Blythe McGuire struggles to keep her head above water as she trudges through her last year at Matthews College. Then a chance meeting sends Blythe crashing into something she doesn’t expect—an undeniable attraction to a dark-haired senior named Chris Shepherd, whose past may be even more complicated than her own. As their relationship deepens, Chris pulls Blythe out of the stupor she’s been in since the night a fire took half her family. She begins to heal, and even, haltingly, to love this guy who helps her find new paths to pleasure and self-discovery. But as Blythe moves into calmer waters, she realizes Chris is the one still strangled by his family’s traumatic history. As dark currents threaten to pull him under, Blythe may be the only person who can keep him from drowning.

*This book is intended for mature audiences due to strong language and sexual content, and is recommended for Ages 17+
Left Drowning: Goodreads | Amazon | BN | BD

Excerpt

CHAPTER TWO


Important Gestures

Six o’clock on a Saturday morning is not exactly my preferred time to wake up. I glare at the clock. Well, there is nothing to be done. I am awake. My choice is either get up and deal with the day or stay in bed and spend the next several hours being sucked into the unpleasant and familiar vortex of racing thoughts, panic, depression, and listlessness that has dominated my life for the last four years. Better to get out of bed. As I blink into the dark, I am again hit with how tired I am and how little fight I have in me.

My lack of fight was clear enough yesterday when I met with my fifth, and presumably final, academic adviser, some woman named Tracey. A woman who seemed to think that reviving my career at this liberal arts college might be easy. She clearly doesn’t know who she’s dealing with. Or maybe she forgot to factor in that I only have eight months to drag through until graduation.

I take a deep breath and wiggle my toes. At least I am not hungover, since I’ve stayed true to my vow and gotten through a whole twenty-four hours without drinking. It’s a nice change of pace. After that disastrous phone call with my brother two nights ago, I’m filled with regret over what I’m capable of while drunk. Not to mention how horrifying it was to meet with my advisor while dealing with the hangover of a lifetime. I’m quite sure that I left a pool of alcohol-laced sweat on the seat of her office chair.

I turn on the light by my bed and push the sheets down with my feet, again grateful that I do not have a roommate to growl at me for my odd hours. The yellow light shines over my body, and I involuntarily wince as I sit up and see my legs, which are covered in bruises from falling down while wasted two nights before. As a general rule, I give little thought to my appearance, but even I can see that it’s not just the bruises that make me look like a mess. My legs and bikini line are in dire need of a good shave. Upon further examination, I accept that I could probably stand to work out once in a while. Surviving on little food and too much beer and tequila is, unsurprisingly, not serving my body well. I tap my feet together and watch my thighs. They’re both bony and jiggly; it’s a super-attractive combination.

The shade that covers the one large window in my room retracts with hurricane force when I tug on it, and I flinch at the loud noise it makes. It’s still dark outside, but the act of opening the shade seems like something that people—normal people—should do when they get up. It’s an important gesture, and for some reason I think that today should possibly be a day of important gestures, if not actual connectedness with the real world. I have already made the decision to get out of bed early and not drink for another twenty-four hours, and that’s better than I’ve done in a while.

After pulling on jeans and a hoodie, knotting my hair into a twist, and brushing my teeth, I stuff a few things into a backpack and head for the student union. If I hope to make any other important gestures today, I will need coffee.

Although it’s normally swarming with students, the union is empty at this hour, save for the unfortunate work-study victim who is behind the register at the café. "Coffee?" he asks.

I nod. "Two, please. Extra large. Black."

He peers behind me.

"Yes, they’re both for me."

I tap my fingers rhythmically on the counter as I watch him pour.

"Here you go." He snaps a lid onto the top of each cup and swipes my student ID card.

I thank him and look around the room. Normally I sit by the wall near the emergency exit door, but since the place is so empty today, I decide to sit down in a chair in the center of the room and kick my legs up on the seat of another. The first big sip of coffee is so strong and bitter that it makes me cringe, but I know that by the fourth sip it will go down easier. Just like shots! I think.

I check my phone. It’s been two days, and still no message from James. Not that I expect one, really, but it is hard not to hope. Aha, I think. There it is again. Hope. Maybe one night he will call me after a college party, drunk and full of rambling, incoherent questions that symbolize everything that’s wrong with our hideously damaged relationship. All of a sudden, I feel like an idiot. Could there be a stupider thing to hope for? What I should want is for the two of us to have a sober, heartfelt conversation in which we work out all of our unspoken issues and wind up the best of friends. The way that we used to be. I grimace to myself. Like that’s gonna happen. It’s probably good that he goes to college in Colorado, far away from me, so that he does not have to deal with my being able to just stop by his dorm anytime I want.

I close my eyes and take a deep breath. Just get through the day, Blythe. You can fucking do this. It would have helped if I hadn’t woken up at the crack of dawn, thereby making this day longer than necessary. But I’m out of bed, out of my room, I have coffee, and I even have my earphones so that I can listen to NPR. I don’t listen to music much. Not anymore. Before—when everything was good—I would spend hours flipping through radio stations, downloading music, and dancing around my room. I’d drive around in my parents’ Honda and get lost in music. Music that had heart. That moved me. It used to be fun to fantasize about the future.

I open up the NPR Web site and scroll through stories until I settle on a rather disgusting-sounding piece about a former vegan learning to embrace butchering. Just as I near the end of the story and am learning that said former vegan’s favorite cut of meat is pig’s feet, someone crashes into the seat across from me.

"Hey! You got me a coffee! That was very thoughtful."

Startled, I look up. A scruffy-looking guy in a ripped T-shirt and jeans faces me. He removes a cowboy hat, revealing black hair that is sticking out every which way—although in an admittedly adorable manner—and he has at least three days of good stubble going. Even though they’re bloodshot, his eyes are sharply blue. He is a big guy. Not fat, just bulky. Based on his general aroma, I guess he’s carrying a fair amount of beer weight. What’s most noticeable, however, is the big grin plastered across his face. Well, that and the fact that he is helping himself to the second cup of coffee that I so recently purchased.

He takes a sip. "You know, this really isn’t bad coffee. Sure, sure, everyone likes to make a fuss and complain that campus coffee is grotesque sludge, but that’s just an excuse to get Mommy and Daddy to fund repeated trips to that overpriced coffee shop down the street. What’s it called? Beans, Beans, right? What a dumb name. Not, however, a dumb name for the show that I’m producing, called Beans, Beans: The Musical. Since you generously got me this coffee, I shall thank you for your kindness by giving you front-row seats. And backstage passes! Wait until you meet the guy who plays Evil Grinder Number Three. He’ll scare the hell out of you in the show, but he’s a really good person deep down." He pauses to take a long drink from the cup, and then bangs his fist on the table and grins. "This is hot as shit, huh? Just how I like it."

I blink a few times and wait to see if his one-man show is over. He tips his head to the side and continues looking at me while I try to figure out what to do next.

He leans forward. "Too much?"

Yes, you weirdo, just a bit. But I say nothing.

He sticks out his hand. "I’m Sabin."

"Blythe." I put my hand in his. As much as I’m uncomfortable with physical contact, I feel surprisingly at ease when his big hand engulfs mine. The touch is somehow soothing.

"Blythe, it is my true honor to meet you." He claps his other hand on top of mine, and I still don’t pull away. "Now tell me, what are you doing up so early?"

"Just . . . I don’t know." I wrinkle my forehead. Who is this guy? "I couldn’t sleep. Why are you up so early?"

"You caught me! In my case the question should be, why am I up so late?"

I smile shyly. "Oh, I see."

We sit without speaking for a few moments, my hand still in his, while he looks at me expectantly. I should take my hand away, but I simply can’t. He is too odd and too endearing.

"Aren’t you going to ask me why I haven’t gone to bed yet? Given our close relationship, I’d think that my whereabouts would be an extremely pressing issue here. Your curiosity should be driving you insane. Was Sabin at an all-night karaoke amusement park? Was he abducted by alien cowboy goats?" He points to the hat on the table and raises an eyebrow. "And subsequently subjected to a humiliating yet arousing strip search? Or did a well-intentioned but inept and drug-addled tattoo artist foul up ‘Jesus Loves Me’ and forever brand him with ‘I Love Cheese’?"

"Oh." Even given this bizarre speech, I feel less uncomfortable than I normally do talking to strangers, although I am still quite lost. "I should have immediately asked those questions. Sorry." I try to get a handle on the situation, wondering if he is trying to flirt with me. It doesn’t quite feel like it. "So," I say, "why haven’t you?"

"Why haven’t I what?"

Good Lord. "Gone to bed yet?"

"Oh! Yes!" He grips my hand tighter and stands, pulling me up with him and then pressing my hand into his chest. "I have met a woman, so technically I have gone to bed already. I just haven’t slept. Her name is Chrystle, and she is utterly ethereal. Heart-stoppingly beautiful. And," —he says with a wink—"angelic in the most unangelic way. I am in love."

I can’t help but laugh. Especially because he most certainly didn’t seem to be hitting on me. He is already in love. Or at least lust. "Saved by a good woman?" I offer.

"For now." Another wink. He drops my hand, flops back into his chair, and puts on his cowboy hat again. "So now you know all you need to about me. Let’s hear about you, Miss Blythe. You’re a freshman?"

"What?" I say too defensively. "No. I’m a senior."

"My apologies. You have that lost lamb way about you. It’s sweet. Sitting here alone, a backpack probably full of overpriced textbooks…. I know the type. Besides, I’m a junior and I haven’t seen you around before, I don’t think. And you don’t seem to know who I am."

"Understandable, I guess, but the truth is that I don’t have a backpack full of textbooks. And I’m not really around all that much. I’m more about counting the days until graduation at this point." I shrug. That’s not entirely true, of course, because it’s not as though I have plans I’m looking forward to—but it’s one way to explain my lack of engagement with campus life. "Am I supposed to know who you are?"

"If you’re not a big fan of the theater scene here, then probably not. When I’m not wooing the lady folk, I’m in the theater. So you didn’t see me in The Glass Menagerie? My performance was none too shabby, if I do say so myself. And I directed A Doll’s House last winter." He waits expectantly. "No? Nothing?"

I stare blankly at him. "Sorry."

"I’m hurt. Very hurt. Considering that you and I are close friends now, I expect you to attend each and every performance of mine from now on. Deal?"

"We’re close friends now?" His shtick is both disarming and amusing.

"We are. Don’t you think? This feels right."

"Sure," I say. He is, in fact, onto something. The mood in the room has shifted. My mood has shifted.

"So you’ll come to see me in The Importance of Being Earnest? It opens four weeks from last night."

"Fine. I’ll be there." I can tell that it is easier to agree than to try to explain my general aversion to public events. At least sober ones.

"And I, in turn, will attend anything you invite me to."

"That’s . . . sweet. I don’t expect to have occasion to invite a guest to anything in the foreseeable future, but I’ll keep you in mind." The lid on my coffee cup keeps me busy as I avoid looking at Sabin. He has to be as hyperaware of the differences between us as I am. I’m mortified and feel as though being honest about my complete lack of a life looks like a cry for attention. The last thing I want.

"Wait a minute!" Sabin suddenly exclaims. "I have seen you! You funnel beer better than any girl I’ve ever met!"

"Oh God." I drop my head into my palm.

"I’m friends with a true champ. This is fantastic." He folds his arms across his chest and beams.

"Fantastic, indeed. So, so fantastic," I mutter.

"Listen, new friend Blythe, thank you very much for the coffee, but I have to get back to my dorm and get some sleep." He helps himself to my phone and begins typing, then pulls out his own phone and coaxes me into telling him my number. "There. Now we have each other’s digits. What dorm are you in? I’m in Leonard Hall, room 402, if you want to stop by."

"Okay. I’m in Reber. Room 314."

"Cheer up." He leans in and kisses me on the cheek. "You’re beautiful when you smile."

And then the whirlwind that is Sabin exits the building, stage right.

I shake my head. That was . . . that was . . .

That was kind of nice. In fact, I am noticeably moved.

And then I am crushed—overwhelmed, really—with sadness. That small interaction is the best thing that has happened to me in ages. And how goddamn awful is that?

Of course, this guy has no idea what a mess I am, and he’d probably never have come over to me if he knew that I am such a despondent dope. I sigh. He will find out sooner or later. Probably when he sobers up.

But the encounter has undeniably energized me, and I decide to take what remains of my first coffee—the second one was polished off by Sabin—and head down to the lake. Today I will be able to say that I did something unexpected. This walk will be my important gesture.
 


ABOUT JESSICA PARK
 
Jessica is the author of New York Times bestselling FLAT-OUT LOVE, RELATIVELY FAMOUS, and the NA novel, LEFT DROWNING. She lives in New Hampshire where she spends an obscene amount time thinking about rocker boys and their guitars, complex caffeinated beverages, and tropical vacations. On the rare occasions that she is able to focus on other things, she writes.
Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Dec 2nd - Chapter by Chapter
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12.06.2013

Holiday Reads: [Review] The Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Marie Landry

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Marie Landry
Published: November 5, 2013
Format: Kindle purchased
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, right? At least that’s what twenty-year-old Ginny Bailey’s grandmother always told her, and Ginny believed it until Grama died. She even put on a brave face the following two Christmases, carrying on Grama’s traditions and decorating her house and café with Grama’s favorite decorations. But Ginny can’t pretend any longer. When she finds out she’s going to be alone for the holidays this year, her Christmas spirit goes out the window, along with her luck. Everything that can go wrong does, and Ginny just wants to spend the holidays hiding under the covers...until Dean Riley comes back into her life. With their shared past, old feelings begin to resurface almost immediately, and Ginny thinks Dean might just be the Christmas miracle she’s been waiting for to help her remember why Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year.

My Thoughts
Now this is what I call a Christmas read! It’s everything you will want in great holiday tale. It’s sweet, heartwarming and has just the right amount of romance. Am I the only one who thinks that some of these holiday reads have a huge amount of sex in them? Don’t get me wrong romance is a good thing but I want true romance not sex in my holiday reads.

I truly enjoyed the romance and spark between Ginny and Dean. It’s sweet and there’s just something about first loves reuniting that is worth rooting for. Ginny is still trying to recover after the lost of her beloved Grama when things just seem to get worse over Christmas. She’s left alone while her teen crush moves back in next door. With his help she starts to feel like her old self again, enjoying the holidays again and just wanting to do her best. While this is quick story it reads like a full read. You get the whole experience of great detailed story of love, hope and the magic that is Christmas. I can’t recommend this enough. This my friends is a book you must read over the holidays!

I’m quickly becoming a huge fan of Marie Landry. I read her previous book Waiting for the Storm and loved that book as well. Do yourself a huge favor and curl up under a warm blanket and let yourself fall in love with this awesome read.

12.04.2013

WoW [55]

Waiting on Wednesday [WoW] is a weekly event hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.
The Rules for Breaking [The Rules for Disappearing #2] by Ashley Elston
Expected Publication: May 20, 2014
Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Synopsis...
Anna Boyd almost lost her life to get what she wanted most in the world: freedom. But just when it seems that her family has finally escaped Witness Protection, the illusion that Anna could resume a normal life comes crashing down.

The deadly man Anna knows as Thomas is still on the loose, and now he's using her as a pawn in a dangerous game with the drug cartel determined to silence her forever. When Thomas and a mysterious masked man capture not only Anna but also her fragile younger sister and her boyfriend, Anna decides it's time to break all the rules-even if it means teaming up with the lesser of two evils.

Anna will do whatever it takes to protect the people she loves and win her life back once and for all. But her true enemies are hidden in plain sight. Before long, Anna will learn that putting her trust in anyone may be the last mistake she ever makes.

Why I Can’t Wait….
I loved the first book and I can’t wait to see what happens since it left off on a great cliffhanger! Must find a way to get my hands on a copy ASAP!

What are you waiting on? Please link me up to yours. I’d love to see your picks!

12.02.2013

Book Blitz + Giveaway: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Marie Landry

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Marie Landry
Release Date: 11/05/13
Add to Goodreads
Buy: Amazon/ B&N/ Kobo/ Smashwords/ Apple

Summary from Goodreads:
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, right? At least that’s what twenty-year-old Ginny Bailey’s grandmother always told her, and Ginny believed it until Grama died. She even put on a brave face the following two Christmases, carrying on Grama’s traditions and decorating her house and café with Grama’s favorite decorations. But Ginny can’t pretend any longer. When she finds out she’s going to be alone for the holidays this year, her Christmas spirit goes out the window, along with her luck. Everything that can go wrong does, and Ginny just wants to spend the holidays hiding under the covers...until Dean Riley comes back into her life. With their shared past, old feelings begin to resurface almost immediately, and Ginny thinks Dean might just be the Christmas miracle she’s been waiting for to help her remember why Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year.

What people are saying about The Most Wonderful Time of the Year:
"While The Most Wonderful Time of the Year is a quick read, it is an adorable one. This story shows the value of friends and family and the importance they have in our lives, no matter what time of the year it is…If you're looking for a well-written, heartwarming story for those cold days, pick this up.”
~ Jessica Sankiewicz, author of If Only We

“Marie Landry delivered the perfect little holiday novella with The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. It has a small-town coffee shop, memories of Christmas with Grandma, snowballs, hot cocoa and a yummy man from our heroine’s past. Mini review: romantic, sweet and filled with holiday spirit.”
-Kimberly from Caffeinated Book Reviewer

“The Most Wonderful Time of Year was quick and sweet, just how I like my holiday reads.”
~ Christy from Love of Books


 Excerpt:
‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’ came over the speakers in the café, and I smiled, humming along to the jazzy song. It was one of my favourites, but then again I had a lot of favourite holiday songs. I added a dollop of whipped cream and shook some red and green sprinkles onto the peppermint mocha latté I’d just made. I carefully pressed a lid into place before setting the hot drink on the counter. “Here you go, Mrs. Sanders.”

“Thank you, dear.” Mrs. Sanders tucked a loose white curl under her crocheted hat. She was in her seventies, and had a sweet tooth like I’d never seen. She volunteered at the used clothing store down the street, and on any given day would pop into the café two or three times for a sugary drink or a freshly baked goodie. Mrs. Sanders’ gaze swept over the café. “The place is looking wonderful, Ginny,” she told me, a warm smile lighting her grey eyes. “Looks just like it did when your grandma owned the place and decorated for the holidays.”

I swallowed the lump that always formed in my throat when someone mentioned Grama. “I’m really happy to hear you say that,” I replied, managing a small smile. “Christmas was always her favourite time of year.” “Don’t I know it.” Mrs. Sanders chuckled and shook her head. “She’d be up in that attic of yours fishing around for Christmas decorations as soon as Halloween was over.” Her smile dimmed slightly, turning wistful. “I’m glad she passed her love for the holidays on to you. It’s nice to have someone to keep up those traditions and add in some new life.”

I nodded, swallowing compulsively around that stupid growing lump in my throat. It had been three years since Grama passed away, but I still felt her loss as if it were yesterday. She’d been so much more than my guardian—she was my best friend and confidant, the one person who loved me unconditionally and supported me no matter what. She’d also been a huge part of the community; she had a seat on town council, and had owned what was once the only café in town until a Tim Horton’s moved in near the mall. “I do it for her.” I knew Mrs. Sanders would understand the slight tremor in my voice that I couldn’t control. “Because of her, I’ve believed in the magic of Christmas for as long as I can remember. It was always the best time of year growing up. Everything just seems different around Christmas. Like anything could happen, you know?”

Mrs. Sanders still wore that soft, wistful smile. “Now you sound just like her. She was always talking about the magic of Christmas. She’d be really proud of you, Ginny.” This time my smile was genuine. I knew Mrs. Sanders missed Grama too. They had been friends most of their lives, and Mrs. Sanders was one of the few people who freely talked about Grama around me. Most of the other people in town seemed to think I’d shatter into a million pieces at the mere mention of her. “Thank you.”

The older woman nodded and reached for her wallet, but I waved her away. “It’s on me today. Enjoy.” Mrs. Sanders patted my hand where it rested on the counter, then pulled on her leather gloves and tugged the collar of her coat up around her neck. “I’ll see you tomorrow, dear.”

I watched her go, then glanced around the café as Mrs. Sanders had done a few moments earlier. Most of the decorations were Grama’s, but I’d added a few over the years. There was a small artificial tree in every corner, decorated with lights and the mismatched ornaments Grama and I had been collecting or making since I was a child. Star-shaped lights hung in the big windows on either side of the door, and the fireplace was adorned with stockings that were almost filled with donated toys for the local yearly toy drive. I made my way around the counter, smiling at the people scattered at tables and on couches around the café. It was one of the quietest times of day; the after work rush had finished and most people were home having dinner. Things would pick up again around seven, when a lot of folks liked to drop in for coffee or dessert, or grab a snack on their way to the movies.

I collected dirty mugs and plates before wiping down tables, all the while humming along to the carols playing on the stereo. I was surprised to find almost every empty table held a tip. People didn’t often leave tips, and if they did it was in the fancy jar by the cash register. I scooped the money into the pocket of my Christmassy apron, enjoying the musical jingling sound as the change and bills accumulated. I was heading back to the counter when the front door flew open, sending the bells overhead into a tinkling frenzy and a gust of wintry air into the café. I turned and smiled when I saw my best friend, Clara, sweep inside, stamping her booted feet and shaking the hood of her coat. “Is that snow?” I rushed through the café to the window. I nearly pressed my face against the cool pane when I saw that it was, indeed, snowing softly. We’d hardly had any snow yet this winter, and as Christmas drew nearer I was afraid we weren’t going to get any. Christmas wasn’t Christmas without snow. “I’ll be right back, everyone,” I called to no one in particular as I grabbed Clara’s hand and pulled her back outside. “What are you doing?” Clara asked. “Where’s your coat? You’re going to freeze!”

Ignoring her, I stood on the sidewalk and turned my face toward the sky. Fat snowflakes fell, melting instantly as they touched my skin, which was overheated from being close to the fire while bussing tables. An uncontrollable smile spread over my face, and I closed my eyes, letting the flakes cool my eyelids, cheeks, and forehead. “You’re a loon, you know that?” Something warm settled over my shoulders, and I opened my eyes to see that Clara had taken off her coat and draped it over both of us. She looped her arm through mine and pressed against me, pulling her half of the coat around her as much as she could. “I know,” I answered easily. “But you know how much I love snow.”

“I do, which is why I stopped in. I figured you’d be busy and might not have seen it yet.” “That’s why you came by?” I asked, surprised and touched. “Well, yeah.” Clara shrugged. “I was leaving the library when it started, so I figured rather than call I’d just come up the street and see you. I know I haven’t been around much lately.” It was true. Clara had been dating a guy named Bobby since summer, and they were nearly inseparable. I’d gone from seeing my best friend all the time to practically having to make an appointment just to have a conversation with her. It had been hard on me, and at times it felt like our friendship was scarcely bearing the weight of the strain. None of that seemed to matter right now, though. She was here, it was snowing, and everything seemed right with the world, even if it was only for a few minutes. “Thanks for coming.” I turned my face back to the sky. I didn’t want to talk about Clara’s absence lately. “Well, I knew…” Clara’s voice trailed off and she shifted closer to me. I glanced at her and saw she was staring resolutely at the sky, her jaw tight, and tears glistening in her eyes.

“Don’t,” I pleaded.  “Please don’t.” She jerked her head back and forth, and one lone tear slipped down her cheek. “I’m sorry,” she said quickly. “I swore I wouldn’t. I told myself all the way over here that if I started to cry, I’d never forgive myself, but I just can’t help it.”I let out a quiet groan as I felt the lump return to my throat. Clara and I had grown up together, so she’d known Grama forever, and felt her loss almost as acutely as I did. She’d been the one who had mourned with me, held my hand when I needed comfort, cried with me, and shared stories from our childhood. Clara took a deep breath and slid her hand down my arm to grip my hand tightly. “She was like a little kid when it snowed,” she said quietly. I couldn’t look at her for fear I’d start crying, but I could hear the smile in her voice now, and it calmed me a bit.

“I remember you telling me about how she’d drag you outside during the first snow, no matter where you were, what you were doing, or what time it was,” she continued. “Like that time when you were six and it started snowing in the middle of the night and she dragged you out of bed to see it. I don’t think I really believed you until the next year when I was sleeping over and she woke us up at 3 a.m., bundled us into our coats, and took us outside.”

I laughed shakily at the memory. It was one of my favourites. I could still remember us throwing our coats, hats, mittens, and boots on over our pajamas and following Grama outside. The three of us stood on the huge front lawn, holding hands, and staring up at the sky as fat snowflakes fell around us. Clara squeezed my hand, drawing me back to the present. “I think someone wants a refill.” She pointed over her shoulder at the woman waiting patiently near the counter with an empty mug.

“Shoot.” I started to slip Clara’s coat off, but she swung it off her shoulders instead and wrapped it around me. “I’ll go. You enjoy the snow for another few minutes.” She paused with her hand on the doorknob and gave me a small, sad smile. “I swear I feel her out here, Gin.”

She hurried inside before I could reply—or before either of us could burst into tears and spend the next half hour blubbering on the sidewalk in the snow. I watched her for a second as she spoke to the woman at the counter, smiling brightly and tossing her golden hair over her shoulder. I felt a swell of affection for her that nearly took my breath away, and I turned away quickly before I really did start to cry. While there were a few people who understood that I was still mourning the loss of my grandmother even after all this time, Clara was the only person who I felt really got it. She’d been like a sister to me growing up, and I’d happily shared Grama with her.

Christmas was the hardest time of year for me since it had been Grama’s favourite, but I’d promised myself I would celebrate it just like we always had. I swore I would hold on to the magic of the season, the way she’d taught me. I turned my face to the sky once again and closed my eyes. The snowflakes slowed, touching my cheeks gently like angel kisses. Clara was right; I could feel Grama here too.

About the Author
Marie Landry is the author of BLUE SKY DAYS (contemporary YA—January 2012), THE GAME CHANGER (women's fiction—November 2012), WAITING FOR THE STORM (contemporary YA—April 2013), and THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR (a new adult holiday novella-November 2013). Marie has always been a daydreamer; since early childhood, she's had a passion for words and a desire to create imaginary worlds, so it only seemed natural for her to become a writer. She resides in Ontario, Canada, and most days you can find her writing, reading, blogging about writing and reading, listening to U2, wandering around with a camera in her hand, watching copious amounts of TV on DVD, or having grand adventures with her nephews and niece.

Author Links:
http://sweetmarie-83.blogspot.com/
GIVEAWAY:
2 $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift cards (INT)