5.31.2018

Excerpt Reveal: Unexpected Love Story by Natasha Madison

 
  
 

When one man’s death exposes a complex web of lies, three couples discover the true meaning of love, loss, and redemption. Crystal I was the strong one, they said until two words brought me to my knees. It was a secret I didn't share with anyone. A secret that made me promise I’d never fall in love. I no longer wanted that white picket fence of every woman’s dreams. Until the unthinkable happened. Gabe, I thought I had it all with the best medical practice in the state and the woman of my dreams. I wore a smile on my face every single day. I couldn't wait to watch her walk down the aisle and start our forever, except she never did. My runaway bride made me realize love isn't worth it. 
What happens when your dreams unexpectedly come true? This is the story of unexpected love.   

   

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EXCERPT

Crystal   “I’m going to the restroom.” I giggle to Dawn, who nods her head at me. Making my way through the crowd of people around the bar, I bend my head to watch my feet. Walking into the dim hallway, I smash into a man who has just come out of the bathroom. His arm automatically flies to wrap around my waist and bring me against him. His smell intoxicates me further, and I giggle as I try not to fall. I put my head back, looking up at him, and my smile gets even bigger. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t watching where I was going.” I look up into his blue eyes, and he smiles down at me.   “It’s my fault.” His voice comes out deep. “I should have looked right and left when I walked out of the bathroom.”   I throw my head back and laugh. “I get it. Like crossing the street.”   He loosens his hold on me, and I step back, finally taking him in. His hair is cut short on the side, the top longer. His t-shirt looks like he is bulging out of it, especially his biceps. Ink decorates both arms to his wrists. His jaw looks chiseled, his nose perfect. I don’t know if it’s the booze talking or not, but this man is fucking perfect. “Are you here for the convention?” I ask him, and he nods.   “Are you?” He puts his hands in his back pockets.   “No, I’m a nurse over at the hospital,” I tell him as someone walks by me and nudges me with their shoulder, sending me flying into him again. “Sorry.”   “You’ve fallen into my lap twice now, and I still don’t know your name.” He smiles at me, holding my arms in his hands.   “I’m Jane,” I tell him, hoping he gets the joke. “Jane Doe.” This time, he is the one throwing his head back and laughing.   “Well, Jane Doe, I’m John.” He holds out his hand, and I take it in my hand, shaking it. “John Doe.”   “I think we’re related somehow.” I smile at him, and this time, his eyes go serious.   “I really fucking hope not.” He takes a deep breath.   “I have to go to the bathroom,” I say, dropping his hand. “Excuse me.” I look down and then back over my shoulder once I walk away to see him staring at me. “Enjoying the view?”   “More than you fucking know.” He smiles, and I push open the bathroom door, whispering, “Holy shit,” the whole time.   Gabe   I watch Jane Doe walk into the bathroom, thinking this night just got a whole lot better.   When we first arrived an hour ago, even with a large crowd I spotted her. My gaze found her right away, and then she moved her hips, and I just couldn’t look away. It was as if fate handed her to me when she smashed into me.     I look toward the bar and then back at the bathroom door as I list the pros and cons of staying and leaving in my head. Everything tells me this is a bad idea, but I go with my gut, which brings me back to the women’s bathroom door. I lean against the wall, facing the door, one foot on the wall, and both hands in my pockets. I haven’t done this in forever. I was never a one-night stand kind of guy, but something tells me not to walk away.   The door swings open, and there she stands. If I thought she was good looking through the crowds of people in the dim light, then nothing compares to her standing in the fully lit bathroom. Her blond hair falls down her back and her blue eyes shine with mischief. Her neck bare and white gives me the sudden urge to bite her. “You waiting for me?” she asks, walking to me.   “I wanted to know if maybe you wanted to grab a drink.” Her citrus smell hits me in the stomach. Fresh and clean. “I was thinking,” I say, tracing my finger down her cheek, “we could maybe go over our family tree.”   Her hands go straight to my waist as she leans into me. “Let’s go have that drink.” She winks at me, walking away from me as I follow her to the bar. “What are you having?” She turns to ask me.   “Scotch on the rocks,” I yell to the bartender, who then looks at her. “I’ll have the same,” she says.   “So.” She leans in, the noise of the bar drowning out her voice. The bartender returns with the two scotches and places them in front of us.   “Put it on my tab,” I tell him, and he nods his head. I pick up the glass, holding it in front of me. “To long-lost family.”   She picks up her glass. “To living in the moment.” I clink her glass in a toast, then she drinks a sip and looks at me. “Are you married?”   I shake my head. “Nope. Single. You?” I ask her. Even though I want to do this, I don’t want to cross that line.   “Always single.” She smiles, taking another sip, this time longer. “So, John”—she looks at me, stepping into my space—“there is just one more question that needs answering.”   I down the scotch, not even hissing when it burns my throat to my chest and then straight down to my stomach. I place the glass on the bar. “Do you want to go someplace where it’s quiet?” I ask her. She nods and smiles at me. It’s a smile that I’m not sure I ever want to see go away. It’s a smile that lights up her whole face. I don’t know if it’s the booze or not, but I’m not ready for it to be over just yet.   “I just have to tell my friends I’m leaving.” She points behind her and goes to tell them something while I close up the tab. A couple of women look over her shoulder, waving their hands at me, and one high-fives her. She shakes her head, laughing, while she walks back to me. “So where to?” she asks me. I grab her hand and walk outside to the building next door. “Well, that wasn’t too far.”   I guide her to the elevator and press the button standing next to her. I’m nervous; I haven’t had sex with someone new since Bethany and that feels like forever ago. I start thinking about different moves when the elevator dings, and the doors open. She steps in before me. “What floor?” she asks.   “Twenty-seven,” I say, and she presses the button. She leans on the wall while I lean on the other across from her. “I don’t usually do this.”   The little minx smiles at me. “A one-night stand or sex?”   I smile at her. “Very funny. A one-night stand.”   She stands straight and walks over to me. Her hands go straight to my chest, causing my heart to beat faster. “Well, then”—she inches closer, her hands moving to my neck, and my hands going to her waist, pulling her close to me, “let me start then.”   She goes on her tippy toes, and something in me takes over. I turn her so she is the one against the wall now. My hand runs over her bare neck, coming up to cup her chin. “I’m the one driving this car,” I tell her right before I hear her breath hitch and my mouth crashes into hers. I taste the scotch on her when her hand touches my cheek, and I angle my head to get more of her. To get all of her. The elevator dings, letting us know we are on our floor. Our lips separate from each other as our chests rise and fall rapidly. I hold out my hand, and she places hers in mine. As soon as our fingers intertwine, I pull her out of the elevator before the doors shut us in. She laughs as she follows me, and I make the mistake of looking over at her, seeing her with her hair going everywhere, the smile on her face, and the twinkle in her eyes. I make sure to remember it all.         
 
When her nose isn't buried in a book, or her fingers flying across a keyboard writing, she's in the kitchen creating gourmet meals. You can find her, in four-inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It's a good thing her characters do what she says, because even her Labrador doesn't listen to her... 

5.30.2018

Review: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
Published: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Format: via Overdrive
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis
Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

My Thoughts
I was so anticipating this new book from Becky Albertalli and I was so happy with the results. You don’t have to have read her previous novels but all three of her reads have characters that cross over so it does help as far as having already known who’s who. In this read, we continue with Leah, Simon’s best friend and her troubles in life.

We see how she struggles with coming out as bi with her friends although she is out to her mother. We see her relationships with her friends and how she struggles with some of them more than others. We also see her struggle to come to terms with her crush and more, as she spends time with her the worse it is to just be friends with her but she doesn’t want to tell her how she feels because she doesn’t think she’s into her.

I loved seeing the different sides to Leah. I liked how she comes off as so strong but deep down she is so unsure of what to do. She has this soft side when it comes to her crush and her feelings but she is harder on her mom. I didn’t like how she treated her mother who has raised her alone and is now dating and Leah hasn’t been the most supportive of her boyfriend choices. I get that Leah was rude and mean but I also get that its typical teen attitude.

All in all, I did enjoy this book. I liked revisiting this world that Becky Albertalli has created and all her characters that are so real you can't help but be drawn into it. At this point, I will read anything she writes and here’s to hoping for more wonderful stories from this talented author.

5.29.2018

Release Day Blitz: Fool for Love by Marie Force

Today we are celebrating the mass market paperback release of FOOL FOR LOVE by Marie Force. This is the second title in Marie's bestselling Gansett Island series. Check out the links for the book below, along with other books in the series.


PURCHASE FOOL FOR LOVE NOW!

 

FOOL FOR LOVE (Gansett Island #2) by Marie Force

Now Available in Mass Market Paperback!

Book Blurb

Sometimes you have to rock the boat . . . Joe Cantrell, the owner of the Gansett Island Ferry Company, has been in love with Janey McCarthy for as long as he can remember. And for just as long, Janey has had a boyfriend—now fiancé— doctor-in-training, David Lawrence. But when things go terribly wrong and the engagement is broken, Janey decides that a few days on the mainland with Joe—who she calls her “fifth brother”—is just what she needs before she goes home to the island to face her family with the bad news . . . Loving Janey from afar was tough enough on Joe, but having her in his house is pure torture. Will he keep himself in the friend zone? Or will he take advantage of this opportunity to show Janey what they could have together? And what will his best friend—Janey’s protective older brother, Mac—have to say about it? Now Joe will finally have to decide if it’s time to leave safe waters and set his own course . . .

Check out Marie's website for a huge release giveaway!

 

Praise for Marie Force and her novels “With the McCarthys of Gansett Island, Marie Force makes you believe in the power of true love and happily ever after. Over and over again.” —Carly Phillips, New York Times bestselling author of the Serendipity series “Force excels at creating characters readers can identify with and care about.” —Booklist

 An Official Military Spouse Book Club Pick

OTHER MASS MARKET PAPERBACK TITLES IN THE GANSETT ISLAND SERIES

PURCHASE MAID FOR LOVE!

Available Now!

PRE-ORDER READY FOR LOVE NOW!

Coming June 26

-------------------

CHECK OUT THE REST OF THE GANSETT ISLAND SERIES


AUTHOR INFORMATION:

Marie Force is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 50 contemporary romances, including the Gansett Island Series, which has sold more than 3 million books, and the Fatal Series from Harlequin Books, which has sold 1.5 million books. In addition, she is the author of the Butler, Vermont Series, the Green Mountain Series and the erotic romance Quantum Series, written under the slightly modified name of M.S. Force. Altogether, her books have sold more than 5.5 million copies worldwide! Her goals in life are simple—to finish raising two happy, healthy, productive young adults, to keep writing books for as long as she possibly can and to never be on a flight that makes the news. Join Marie's mailing list for news about new books and upcoming appearances in your area. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter @marieforce and on Instagram. Join one of Marie's many reader groups. Contact Marie at marie@marieforce.com.

AUTHOR LINKS:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Newsletter | Goodreads

Join Marie's Reader Groups
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5.27.2018

Mini Review: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Published: 1967
Publisher: Puffin
Format: audiobook via Overdrive
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis
The Outsiders is about two weeks in the life of a 14-year-old boy. The novel tells the story of Ponyboy Curtis and his struggles with right and wrong in a society in which he believes that he is an outsider. According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for "social") has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he's always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers--until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy's skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser.

My Thoughts
Like many of us I have grown up watching The Outsiders by until now have never read it, so I thought why not since it was available on audio via my library. Let me just say I LOVED the book but the audio version was awful! They need to redo it and once it was over the audio started again on a random part it was a mess! Moving on, I felt that the movie was pretty true to the book and even after all these years I felt the book still stood the test of time. The division of class and how each viewed each other still rings true everywhere today. We always think others have it better than ourselves but we all have our troubles despite what we think. I have always loved this movie and now I love the book just as much if you want a fantastic read that will stand the test of time this is one you should pick up without a doubt.

5.26.2018

Mini Review: The Tailgate by Elin Hilderband

The Tailgate by Elin Hilderbrand
Published: May 1, 2014
Publisher: Little Brown and Co
Format: via Overdrive
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis
Clendenin Hughes first kissed Dabney Kimball during a Nantucket snowstorm freshman year of high school. Ever since that moment - God, the rush, the chemistry! - Dabney has known that she and Clen are an unsplittable unit - essentially the same person in two different bodies.

Of course, with Dabney now at Harvard and Clen at Yale, those bodies are 140 miles apart. And traveling is a serious challenge for Dabney, for reasons she'd prefer not to discuss, reasons having to do with her mother (or lack thereof). But with the big Harvard-Yale game coming up, Dabney is determined to make the trek to New Haven to see Clen. She's even borrowed a sexy black outfit from a classmate down the hall.

But when she arrives at the tailgate to see sparks flying between Clen and Jocelyn, a girl with dark blue eyes and luscious black hair, Dabney fears the collapse of a bond she has never questioned before, a bond so important that she'll be lost without it. A stirring portrait of young love at a crossroads, THE TAILGATE introduces two irresistible characters and invites us into a world we don't want to leave.

My Thoughts
This was an okay introduction to Elin Hilderbrand’s characters from The Matchmaker. We get a glimpse into the early lives of Clendenin and Dabney during their college years. Though I had already read The Matchmaker I didn’t really get much from this short story. I was aware of the characters and their backstories so I already knew them, but this didn’t really give me any more than I knew just by reading The Matchmaker by itself. Nevertheless, as a huge fan of the author and I will read anything she writes and if you do too this is a fast read that gives us a short history of Clendenin and Dabney the early years.

5.25.2018

Mini Review: Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close
Published: August 9, 2011
Publisher: Knopf
Format: via Overdrive
Rating: 2/5

Synopsis
Wickedly hilarious and utterly recognizable, Girls in White Dresses tells the story of three women grappling with heartbreak and career change, family pressure and new love—all while suffering through an endless round of weddings and bridal showers.

Isabella, Mary, and Lauren feel like everyone they know is getting married. On Sunday after Sunday, at bridal shower after bridal shower, they coo over toasters, collect ribbons and wrapping paper, eat minuscule sandwiches and doll-sized cakes. They wear pastel dresses and drink champagne by the case, but amid the celebration these women have their own lives to contend with: Isabella is working at a mailing-list company, dizzy with the mixed signals of a boss who claims she’s on a diet but has Isabella file all morning if she forgets to bring her a chocolate muffin. Mary thinks she might cry with happiness when she finally meets a nice guy who loves his mother, only to realize he’ll never love Mary quite as much. And Lauren, a waitress at a Midtown bar, swears up and down she won’t fall for the sleazy bartender—a promise that his dirty blond curls and perfect vodka sodas make hard to keep.

My Thoughts
I listened to this as an audiobook and honestly, it was the worse. I thought this was going to be something light and fun but, I was confused as hell. It claims it was a story of three friends but I swear there were so many characters I didn’t know who was who. What I was looking for and what I got were two different things and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the storyline and the characters were whiny and dislikeable. This was one read that fell really flat, to say the least.

5.24.2018

Review: This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel
Published: January 24, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Format: via Audible
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis
This is how a family keeps a secret…and how that secret ends up keeping them.

This is how a family lives happily ever after…until happily ever after becomes complicated.

This is how children change…and then change the world.

This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress and dreams of being a princess.

When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.

Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.

This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it’s about the ways this is how it always is: Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again, parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts, children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever.

My Thoughts
I've had this audiobook for over a year until one day I was scanning my Audible and decided to listen. Wow! This book is simply amazing and it touched my soul like no other. In This Is How It Always Is we start off with a couple and we get to know their courtship, marriage and then their kids. We soon learn that they are expecting again and once again it’s a boy… and then Claude is born.

Claude is a loving child who soon shows us he likes to play with dolls and likes to dress up but as time goes by it becomes more. It isn’t a phase to Claude he wants to be girl…deep down he knows he is a girl. Even at a very young age, he knows who he is and more importantly who he isn’t.

We see Claude as he goes to school and after they move so Claude who has changed his name can start his life as who he was meant to be and make friends who only know him as a girl. He is living the life he wants all while his family keeps his secret. In time the secret is out and their lives begin to unravel, we see how this has affected everyone in the family and the toll it takes on Claude. He decides to go back to Claude as to not hurt anyone but it's clear he’s only hurting his true self not to mention he isn’t Claude anyone, more like he was never meant to be Claude.

This is a heartbreaking novel of a person who from the start knows who he was meant to be. I was literally in tears when he cuts his hair and starts to dress “like a boy” so that he wouldn’t hurt his family anymore but its clear at that point that he wasn’t Claude anymore. What I also found interesting were the parents. Penn was a stay at home dad and Rosie was a doctor. We usually hear about the mother always being the more understanding one and the father is the one who doesn’t want to come to terms with things but in the story, it was the opposite. Penn wanted their child to be who they wanted regardless of what others thought and Rosie was scared maybe or by being a doctor wanted to think about all the options.  This was a beautifully written novel that gives us an insight into the lives of transgender children and their families. It shows us how parents have the difficult decisions on what to do and when to listen to their children's pleas on who they really are. I personally loved this novel and loved how it focused on a younger child than we usually read about. If you're looking for a book based on love, understanding and family pick this one up it's definitely worth the read.

5.23.2018

Review: Forever is the Worst Long Time by Camille Pagan

Forever is the Worst Long Time by Camille Pagan
Published: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Format: via Kindle Unlimited [audiobook]
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis
When struggling novelist James Hernandez meets poet Louisa “Lou” Bell, he’s sure he’s just found the love of his life. There’s just one problem: she’s engaged to his oldest friend, Rob. So James toasts their union and swallows his desire.

As the years pass, James’s dreams always seem just out of reach—he can’t finish that novel, can’t mend his relationship with his father, can’t fully commit to a romantic relationship. He just can’t move on. But after betrayal fractures Lou’s once-solid marriage, she turns to James for comfort.

When Lou and James act on their long-standing mutual attraction, the consequences are more heartbreaking—and miraculous—than either of them could have ever anticipated. Then life throws James one more curveball, and he, Rob, and Lou are forced to come to terms with the unexpected ways in which love and loss are intertwined.

My Thoughts
This is a love story of sorts, in the beginning, we met James and Rob who are the best of friends and one day James goes the visit Rob and Rob tells him he has met someone and she’s the one. The One is Lou and James can't believe his friend is in love but as soon as James meets Lou he knows why. He instantly falls for Lou and he knows this isn’t right but Lou is the one for him. He knows he can't do anything about it so he stays away knowing if he’s near her he won't be able to help himself. Soon Lou and Rob get married and Rob is devested he goes on with his life meeting other people but in the back of his mind, Lou is always there.

Rob and Lou after years of marriage start to have problems and Lou goes to James for comfort and after Lou finds out she’s pregnant and its James since she and Rob have separated. James is thrilled wanting to be with Lou but she decides they can co-parent since she doesn’t want to rush into another relationship.

In the beginning, we know James is telling a story to someone but we don’t know who well we soon find out it's their daughter and while I won't tell you everything that happens it’s a very heartbreaking story. While Lou and James never get together they have built a family in their own way and when something happens that family means everything.

This is a story of love and family and in the different forms, they come in. That true love can be romantic or friendship and to receive love is something we should be thankful and grateful for. This is one novel that while it's sad it shows us what really is important in life.

5.22.2018

Review: Sailing Lessons by Hannah McKinnon

Sailing Lessons by Hannah McKinnon
Expected Publication: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Atria Books
Format: via NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis
Wrenn Bailey has lived all her life on Cape Cod with her mother Lindy, older sister Shannon, and younger sister Piper. Growing up, life was dictated by the seasons with sleepy gray winters where only the locals stayed on, followed by the sharp influx and colorful bustle of summer tourists who swept up the elbow of the Cape and infiltrated their small paradise.

But it wasn’t just the tourists who interrupted Wrenn’s formative years; her father—brilliant but troubled photographer Caleb—has long made a habit of drifting in and out of his girls’ lives. Until the one summer, he left the Cape and did not return again.

Now, almost twenty years later, Caleb has come back one last time, suffering from pancreatic cancer and seeking absolution. Wrenn and her sisters each respond differently to their father’s return, determined to find closure. But that means returning to the past and revisiting old wounds—wounds that cause the tightknit Bailey women to confront their own wishes and wants and admit to their own wrong-doings over the years. In a place that brings both great comfort and great pain, the Bailey sisters experience a summer on the Cape that promises not only hard endings, but perhaps, hopeful new beginnings.

My Thoughts
Focusing on family, love, and forgiveness, Sailing Lessons shows us that love can heal all wounds. We get to know three sisters Wrenn, Bailey, and Shannon all who are dealing with their issues unknown to other members of the family, come together when they realize their father who hasn’t been around in decades wants to come and visit them for reasons that are later revealed.

Shannon, the oldest, is the protector of them all. She doesn’t want anything to do with their father who left after a terrible accident years ago and she is the most like him for many reasons. She presents everything as perfect, her life, her family and herself. She wants to be the “fixer” yet beneath it all everything is less than perfect. With the news of her father coming back she must confront her demons and deal with her past or risk losing it all.

Wrenn is going to open her own business which she has worked hard for. She has a beautiful daughter and has tried to make their lives better but the one thing her daughter wants, to know her father, is the one thing Wrenn doesn’t need in her life right now. Not to mention her long-lost dad coming back into the picture is another thing she doesn’t need. She finds herself in the middle between him and her sisters.

Bailey the youngest, she just trying to find her way in life. She is constantly in school getting degrees after degrees but never settling down and truly starting her life. She is scared to enter the real world and has found herself in a relationship that isn’t the best, to say the least. She’s in love with someone who can't give her want she wants and when she realizes her father is back in the picture she couldn’t be happier. She's the one sister that doesn’t remember him or exactly what happened that day. 

I enjoyed this wonderful relatable tale especially the relationship between the sisters and their mother. The way their mother never put her feelings about their father on them was good, she let them make up their own minds about him. I also liked how each sister had their own time with him and each came to terms with him on their own time. This is a true story of forgiveness. I felt that while each sister was going through things in their lives some of it does stem from the past, maybe more than others but it was there. In seeing their father I felt it wasn’t so much for him but for them. They’ve had to come to terms with the past and let go in order to let that negativity free them. This is great read and one that has multi-layers that is a gift to unwrap. This is one book that is well worth the read.

5.21.2018

2018 Summer Reads


It's that time of year Y'all!! The sun is shining [more like blazing here in Texas] and all you want to do is hit the pool or beach. I’m here to share some of my reads I’ll be getting to this Summer season. I enjoy light reads during these hot days but I also enjoy my thrillers/suspense novels. So here’s my list and hopefully you will find something you can enjoy in the months ahead.







5.16.2018

Review: Tin Man by Sarah Winman

Tin Man by Sarah Winman
Published: May 15, 2018
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Format: via Edelweiss
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis
This is almost a love story. But it's not as simple as that.

Ellis and Michael are twelve-year-old boys when they first become friends, and for a long time, it is just the two of them, cycling the streets of Oxford, teaching themselves how to swim, discovering poetry, and dodging the fists of overbearing fathers. And then one day this closest of friendships grows into something more.

But then we fast forward a decade or so, to find that Ellis is married to Annie, and Michael is nowhere in sight. Which leads to the question, what happened in the years between?

With beautiful prose and characters that are so real that they jump off the page, Tin Man is a love letter to human kindness and friendship, and to loss and living.

My Thoughts
This is one book that will fill your heart yet will break it at the same time. You really take these characters to heart and you become so invested in them that you feel their pain and just want to protect and comfort them.

In the Tin Man, we met Ellis who has lost his wife and is just trying to go through the motions day after day. He lost his mother at a young age and is left with his father who doesn’t know how to deal with him. He soon finds solace in a woman named Mabel and soon her grandson Michael who comes to live with her. Soon Michael and Ellis become fast friends and in time something more. We know Michael and Ellis care deeply for each other and they keep whats between them just to them. As they grow older Ellis meets Annie and falls in love and soon marries. There is a time when Michael goes missing from their lives and no one knows what happens to him. He does come back and the bond between Annie, Ellis, and Michael is tight. I loved this friendship that is grounded in love and while Annie has had her suspences in the true nature of Michael and Ellis bond it never bothers her. As Ellis is trying to deal with his life he soon finds journals that belonged to Michael and he soon discovers where Michael was and how his life has been. We see his journey and the heartache he went through.

I really enjoyed this read while it was a quick, short and easy read it is a jammed packed emotional read. You have a novel of love that spans decades and genders. You have heartache then joy and heartache again. This read shows us that love isn’t defined by gender or race but simply by emotion. The heart wants what it wants and nothing can change that. This is one read that transcends and crosses all lines and while it will break your heart it’s a read that will make you believe in love.

5.15.2018

Review: The Sometimes Sisters by Carolyn Brown

The Sometimes Sisters by Carolyn Brown
Published: February 27, 2018
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Format: audiobook via Kindle Unlimited
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis
When they were growing up, Dana, Harper, and Tawny thought of themselves as “sometimes sisters.” They connected only during the summer month they’d all spend at their grandmother’s rustic lakeside resort in north Texas. But secrets started building, and ten years have passed since they’ve all been together—in fact, they’ve rarely spoken, and it broke their grandmother’s heart.

Now she’s gone, leaving Annie’s Place to her granddaughters—twelve cabins, a small house, a café, a convenience store, and a lot of family memories. It’s where Dana, Harper, and Tawny once shared so many good times. They’ve returned, sharing only hidden regrets, a guarded mistrust, and haunting guilt. But now, in this healing summer place, the secrets that once drove them apart could bring them back together—especially when they discover that their grandmother may have been hiding something, too…

To overcome the past and find future happiness, these “sometimes sisters” have one more chance to realize they are always family.

My Thoughts
The Sometimes Sisters is the story of sisters who come together after the death of their grandmother. They all would spend the summers together growing up with their grandmother and now that she has passed they come back together after many years to sort out her affairs. Each has their notions about each other but none of them know how the others are actually really living. They all agree to stay for awhile and work at her business but little do they know she wanted them there in hopes they would reconnect and finally act like sisters. There isn’t any real reason why they aren’t close but in spending time together they do eventually bond.

I really enjoyed this novel of love, family and family secrets. I loved how in the beginning they didn’t get along but let someone else hurt one of them they all came to each other's rescue. I loved the sense of community the small town had and how their grandmother's longtime friend, who they considered an uncle was there to guide them and to make their grandmothers wishes a reality. While the journey of the sisters was a wonderful thing to see what I really loved was the story of their grandmother. We see how after her death she confesses who her true love was and why she couldn’t live her truth. She lived in a different time and she didn’t want people to get hurt.

This was a wonderfully written tale of love at all levels and how the journey is well worth it in the end. It's about how family is the most important thing, and that no matter how much time has passed you can indeed go home again. Do yourself a favor and seek this read out it's an emotional read that you will LOVE!

5.14.2018

Review: The Memory of Butterflies by Grace Greene

The Memory of Butterflies by Grace Greene
Published: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Format: audiobook via Kindle Unlimited
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis
Hannah Cooper’s daughter is leaving for college soon. The change is bittersweet. A single mother since the age of eighteen, Hannah isn’t eager to confront the pain of being alone, but she’s determined not to let her own hang-ups keep Ellen from the future she deserves. As Ellen’s high school graduation approaches, Hannah decides it’s time to return to her roots in Cooper’s Hollow along Virginia’s beautiful and rustic Cub Creek.

With the help of longtime friend Roger Westray, Hannah devotes her energies to building a new house on the site of the old family home, destroyed in a fire more than a decade ago. But Hannah’s entire adult life has revolved around one very big secret. And her new beginning comes with unanticipated risks that will cost her far more than she could have imagined—perhaps more than she can survive.

When a confrontation forces Hannah to expose her secret, the truth may destroy her beloved daughter. Hannah is prepared to sacrifice everything to protect her family, but can their lives and their bond withstand the seismic shift that’s coming?

My Thoughts
In The Memory of Butterflies, Hannah never knew that rebuilding her family house would result in uncovering family secrets that could destroy everything she holds dear. Hannah was raised by her grandparents after her parents were said to have died in car accident. She didn’t go to college and instead stayed behind pregnant and taking care of her ill grandmother. One rainy night tragedy strikes and things will never be the same again.

A few years go by and a miracle of sorts appears making Hannah and her grandmother whole ago. From then on things appear to be fine all until Hannah decides to rebuild her old family and in rebuilding all the family secrets are uncovered. Hannah has no choice but to confess her part in things and to her surprise, she uncovers secrets she never even knew.

Sorry if I’m being very vague but this story is so good that I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who would want to read it. This is a tale of family, secrets, and forgiveness. I loved how this story had a few twists and turns and some caught me by surprise which I enjoyed. What I loved most was how in the end everything wasn’t neatly tied up in a bow which was a nice thing to read because this is how life is most of the time. In reality, things aren’t always summed up right away and we just have to let things play out in their own time. This is one read that will have you in tears at times and will also break your heart but it’s a wonderful tale that I guarantee you will enjoy very much.

5.11.2018

Release Day Blitz: 13 by Rhonda James

 
Today we have the release day blitz of 13 by Rhonda James! We are so excited to share this sexy new romance with you! Check it out and grab your copy today!

13 by Rhonda James

Genre: Contemporary Romance

About 13

“Fake it till you make it.”   A notion I once considered utterly ridiculous. Until one crazy night with a mysterious man resulted in a social media frenzy that had the entire entertainment industry talking.   Seems a fake marriage was just what my career needed to make Hollywood come knocking.   Convincing him to continue the charade was almost too easy. The chemistry between us made it impossible to keep my hands to myself. But it was all just pretend, right? Love was never in the script.   
That is until he re-wrote it.   13 Reasons You Should Stay:  
  1. I’m crazy about you
  2. I make you laugh
  3. You totally dig me

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Exclusive Excerpt

The first thing I noticed were his eyes. Bottle green with the tiniest flecks of copper scattered throughout, and when the light hit them just right, those flecks sparkled in the most intriguing way. His shaggy caramel-blond hair stuck up in all directions, as if he’d been running his fingers through it all day, and the longer I stared, the more I found myself wanting to do the same thing. Tattoos circled both of his wrists, and his ears were pierced and adorned in black onyx. He had a smile that could simultaneously melt your heart and panties. Everything about him screamed male model, and if he wasn’t, then he sure as hell should be. He was that gorgeous. The bar was packed, and he was seated close. So close his muscular thigh pressed tightly against mine, making it impossible to ignore his presence. Not that I wanted to or anything. By the time I finished examining him, I looked up and found his pouty lips were puckered as if he was deep in thought. Either that or he was thinking about kissing me. Yeah, I knew we hadn’t been formally introduced, but I’d definitely consider kissing those lips. His gaze was intense, and it roamed my entire body, slowly, as if he were cataloging every detail for later when he was alone and naked in the shower. The thought of him naked, alone or otherwise, excited me. “No one special.” I fidgeted in my seat. “Old boyfriend.” “If you ask me, he’s a dumbass for letting you get away. You’re much prettier than candy.” Another blush heated my cheeks as I shook my head and responded, if only to keep him talking, “Ahh, but you haven’t seen this particular piece of candy.” “Don’t need to. He gave you up. In my book, that’s reason enough to achieve asshole status.” He winked and tipped his glass to mine. “But, thanks to his assholery, you’re here with me. So… to assholes.” Okay. He was definitely flirting.   
 

About Rhonda

Rhonda is an Amazon bestselling romance author who strives to create a book boyfriend for all her readers. She’s married and lives in Michigan with her family. In her spare time you can find her talking to readers, getting lost in a new book, or just spending time with her family.

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5.09.2018

Sam & Ilsa's Last Hurrah by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Sam and Ilsa’s Last Hurrah by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Published: April 10, 2018
Publisher: Knopf BYR
Format: audiobook via Overdrive
Rating: 2/5

Synopsis
Siblings Sam and Ilsa Kehlmann have spent most of their high school years throwing parties for their friends--and now they've prepared their final blowout, just before graduation.

The rules are simple: each twin gets to invite three guests, and the other twin doesn't know who's coming until the partiers show up at the door. With Sam and Ilsa, the sibling revelry is always tempered with a large dose of sibling rivalry, and tonight is no exception.

One night. One apartment. Eight people. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, we all know the answer is plenty. But plenty also goes right, as well...in rather surprising ways.

My Thoughts
Let me start off by saying I’m a fan of Rachel and David’s previous novels so when I heard they were coming out with new read I couldn’t wait to read it but sadly this isn’t one of my favorites from them. In this read, we have twins Sam and Ilsa whose lives are at a crossroads. They are about to graduate and Sam is the apple of his grandmother's eye and Ilsa isn’t sure what she wants. They are known to throw dinner parties at their grandmother's lavish apartment but this one will be their last. They soon will move on and their grandmother is giving up her apartment and moving so they want this one to be best.
Needless to say, nothing goes as planned. Each one invites three guests and when everyone arrives its all a mess, no one gets along and the food is awful which is crazy since Sam is a great cook. Soon there are arguments and Sam and Ilsa must confront each other and say whats really bothering them not only to each other but also to themselves. I was really looking forward to this one but the story just fell flat to me. I thought this was just an unbelievable story not to mention I just saw these characters as pretentious and whiny rich kids. There wasn’t any real story for me to connect to and I just found myself rolling my eyes and waiting for this short read to be over. This was one read I couldn’t wait to be done with.

Spotlight + Giveaway: Out of Left Field by Kris Hui Lee

Out of Left Field by Kris Hui Lee
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Praise for Out of Left Field
“The novel offers a nice look at girls in sports, with lots of detailed baseball scenes. Additionally, the story gains some depth as it incorporates the complications and confusion of growing up, namely new expectations and the changing nature of friendships. Lee’s debut rests comfortably with sports-themed novels such as Catherine Gilbert Murdock’s Dairy Queen (2006) and Miranda Kenneally’s Stealing Parker (2012).”  ̶ Booklist

“Debut author Lee has created a brash, conflicted character in Marnie. She’s not always likable, but her self-doubt is endearing and readers who are into sports fiction/ romance will breeze through this. VERDICT: an additional purchase where realistic fiction is popular. –School Library Journal


Summary
There’s no playing it safe in love or baseball in this sparkling debut, perfect for fans of Morgan Matson and Kasie West.

Marnie has never had a hard time fitting in with the guys. It would take a lot more than their goofy antics to keep her from joining them at the neighborhood sandlot to do what she loves best: play ball.

An added perk of hanging out at the sandlot? Spending time with Cody Kinski, their high school’s star pitcher and Marnie’s best friend. Sure, he can be stubborn and annoying. He also knows how to make her laugh and respects her skills on the mound. And when he gets nailed in the arm by a bone-fracturing pitch, Marnie becomes the team’s best chance at making it to the playoffs. Except no one told the guys they’re supposed to be on her side.

With her own team against her, Marnie begins questioning her abilities. And when fate throws her a curveball, can she play without losing the game, Cody, and her belief in herself?

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About the Author
Kris Hui Lee is a contemporary YA author who also doubles as a graphic designer. In 2015, she was a finalist in the Pitch Wars writing contest hosted by Brenda Drake. When not writing or designing, she can be found cuddling with a dog on the floor. Learn more at krishuilee.tumblr.com

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Excerpt from Out of Left Field
SEVENTEEN YEARS OF EXISTENCE HAVE TAUGHT me many lessons—some relevant to survival, others not so much—but one that I have come to fully understand is that there are three kinds of idiocy.
The first is what I call Mundane Idiocy. This is the type of idiocy that happens when you, say, walk into a dark room thinking you can manage without the lights, and then you stub your toe on a table. It happens to the best of us.
The second kind is Voluntary Idiocy. Sticking your tongue to a frozen pole or prodding a beehive with a stick or eating fourteen brownies in one sitting would fall under this category. Discretion is advised.
And finally, the last level of idiocy has been achieved by only one person, and his name is Cody Kinski.
Here I am, in the bleachers of my high school baseball field on a brisk May night—crickets chirping in the darkness beyond the bright stadium lights, the scent of french fries hitching a ride on the gentle breeze. I’m on the tips of my toes, waiting in anticipation like all my fellow game-goers. Usually, the excitement at high school baseball games never gets higher than the occasional collective gasp after a great hit followed by an anticlimactic defensive play, but our team is far from what you’d call usual. And this particular game is miles from being typical.
It’s the bottom of the seventh. The last inning. There are two outs and two strikes. Kyle’s on first. Cody’s at bat. We’re down five to four, and even though, to me, it feels like our chances of turning it around are borderline zero, everyone else seems to have an ounce of belief left in them.
The pitcher’s given name is Santino Accardi, but in our neck of the woods, he is commonly known as Douche Face.
There are only two things you need to know about this olive-skinned, curly-haired, smarmy bastard: (1) no one on this planet knows how to wear a condescending, self-righteous smirk like he does, and (2) every time he and Cody get within two hundred feet of each other, the apocalypse seems imminent. I mean, they’re two of the best pitchers in our entire region. They have both been playing on varsity since freshman year, on teams with a notorious rivalry. It’s the kind of clash that’s going to put an end to the world as we know it.
Basically every time Cody has been up at bat during this game, Santino has thrown at least one brushback pitch past Cody’s face. It is only thanks to Cody’s lightning-fast reflexes that he hasn’t been knocked unconscious. Santino has been pulling this stunt since freshman year. He suffers from an oversized ego. Jock stuff—you know the deal.
Standing behind home plate, bat raised over his shoulder, eyes focused on Santino, Cody looks beyond prepared. He’s ready for anything. And he should be, considering Santino’s brushbacks are consistent. Parents, classmates, and residents from around the neighborhood cheer for Cody all across the home-team bleachers. Iron-Arm Kinski, they call him. He was first dubbed that when he was eight by his Little League coach. His killer fastball got him that name, but Cody is one hell of a hitter too. He’s not a god, but sometimes he doesn’t seem to be entirely human.
On the mound, Santino winds up his pitch. Every part of his body, from his long legs to his muscular arms, displays his power.
Then it comes. The ball launches out of Santino’s hand at Major League speed. 
Right toward Cody’s head.
But he must not be as prepared as he seemed.
Does he move out of the way?
No.
He stands there like a moron like there’s not some sadist on the mound. It’s only at the very last second that his left arm flies up to shield his head.
The ball smashes into Cody’s left forearm. His bat clatters to the ground, and it’s like everyone from here to the moon and beyond gasps. Cody clutches his arm to his chest as his face twists in pain. It’s a look I recognize to mean I’ve broken a bone, and I’m in some real fucking pain.
Fire from the pits of hell radiate from the glare Cody shoots Santino, and if I were Santino, I’d want to jump on the next flight out of the country. All of Cody’s fury and hatred—three years in the making—engulfs his face, his whole body. Cody has never been the kind of guy to be provoked by cheap shots, which I’ve learned in the eleven years I’ve known him, but right now, not even I can predict his next move.
But even though he might want to react, Cody doesn’t get the opportunity. Jack Chizz, our coach, runs out to home plate as the ump calls, “Time!”
Joey, our guy on deck and Cody’s best friend, follows Chizz. The three of them—Chizz, the ump, and Joey—gather around Cody, blocking my view of what’s happening.
Santino’s cronies in the outfield crowd together too, but unlike those huddled around home plate, they seem unconcerned about what their overlord Santino has done. And Santino, for all the emotion he’s showing, might as well be standing in line at a grocery store. I’m surprised he isn’t shooting off fireworks and confetti of triumph over his good aim.
The buzzing energy is gone, and it's replaced by silent anticipation. And then: “WOOOO! WAY TO GO, CODY!” This is Sara, who’s standing next to me. To everyone else, it probably sounds like a cheer of encouragement. But Sara is no overzealous cheerleader.
She’s teasing him.
“You’re an asshole,” I tell her, trying to keep a straight face. Under the fluorescent lights, her normally tawny skin seems lighter. Her grin widens as she claps loudly. “Bringin’ ’em to state!”
“Oh my gosh,” I mutter, but I can’t help but laugh a little. Sara, like me, has more than a decade of history with Cody, which entitles her to be a complete asshole to him in this very serious and stressful moment.
Cody, who has gotten some breathing room, takes off his batting helmet to reveal his disheveled dark brown hair. He then takes a moment out of the time-out to nonchalantly scratch his forehead with his middle finger in our direction. Those eleven years of friendship work in Cody’s favor too—he gets a pass on being nice.
Cody drops his hand and listens intently to what Chizz is saying. At first, they both seem rather calm, given what’s happened, but then Chizz says something else, and Cody goes ballistic. His eyes bulge in rage, and his uninjured arm flies in all directions. Cody points to first base. Chizz points a commanding finger toward the dugout. 
“Don’t be an idiot, Cody,” I mutter. “Go to the hospital.”
As if he can hear me, Cody kicks his bat to the side and stalks toward first. Chizz objects, but Cody shrugs him off. The interaction looks dramatic from here, which is so unlike Cody. He has always been a quiet, modest guy, but being on the field changes him. Out there, he’s the confident jock everyone expects him to be.
Everyone cheers as Cody takes his base. I wonder if they can see him wince in pain with every step. Proud, stubborn bastard.
As the game resumes, so does the crowd’s excitement. They’re exhilarated by Cody’s perseverance (or, as I would call it, idiocy).
The count: two outs, zero strikes, with Kyle on second, Cody on first, and Joey at bat.
Tufts of Joey’s blond hair stick out from under his batting helmet as he steps up to the plate and takes a few practice swings. This is a guy who walks into closed glass doors and trips on perfectly tied shoelaces, but I swear he has magic powers when he’s on the field. He will move mountains to catch a foul ball and has been known to belt homers at the exact moment they’re needed. You’d never know it though because he can be a real baby sometimes. A few months ago, he was reduced to an inconsolable teary mess after he found out his ex-girlfriend is a lesbian. No one would have guessed at the time that the crying weenie he was then is our best hope for bringing in a miraculous run to tie up the game now.
On the mound, Santino winds up again. One of his trademarks is his sidearm pitching style. That’s why he’s one of the best; he’s unique. I feel like a traitor, but I must admit that I admire his skill.
He throws the first pitch against Joey: foul tip. Strike one.
Second pitch: the ball and bat connect, and the crowd gasps. It’s a foul over the first baseline. There’s a collective sigh. Strike two.
The count: two outs, two strikes, five to four. The hopelessness settles in deeper.
On the third pitch, Joey smacks the ball with an echoing clink! and he runs. Screams of excitement follow him.
The ball soars toward the fence. It looks like it will be a home run between left and center field. Unfortunately, that’s the kind of luck you can only dream about.
The ball hits the back fence and bounces onto the grass where two fielders race to snatch it up.
Kyle’s past third, on his way to home, and Cody’s passing second.
The ball is traveling from the outfield to shortstop.
Kyle’s foot lands on home plate. It’s now five to five.
Cody’s foot hits third.
From the dugout, Chizz shouts at Cody to stop where he is.
The ball is at the shortstop. And Cody’s going home.
“Idiot!” Sara and I both shout.
But it’s no use. The ball and Cody race toward home.
The throw to the catcher is off by a foot. He steps away.
Cody dives, headfirst, arms outstretched.
He collides with home plate and becomes buried under a plume of sand and the catcher.
“Safe!” the ump shouts. “Safe!”
The shouting and cheering intensify as our team hops over the dugout wall and dog piles Joey, who brought in the runs. Santino and his team look like they’re about to commit fifteen different types of manslaughter.
And there, still on the ground in the fetal position clutching his arm, ladies, and gentlemen, is the third and final category of idiocy: Cody Kinski.

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