Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Reign by M.N. Forgy - Review






Author: M.N. Forgy
Publication Date:  27 January 2016
Publisher: M.N. Forgy, LLC
Series:  Sin City Outlaws, book 1
Genre:  Contemporary Romance, MC Based
Age Recommendation: 18 and Up
Rating: 5 Stars
~ I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ~ 

Book Description:

As the president of the Sin City Outlaw Motorcycle Club, l fuck as hard as I ride and rarely go to bed alone.

The women are fast and the violence is intense.

I excel in both.

People either respect me or fear me. I'm not arrogant. It’s just the truth.

I was a king, reigning over Vegas without complication, until one gorgeous sheriff made everything fall apart.

When I saw her, I became a Neanderthal, wanting nothing more than to be between those legs.

I guess that’s where I went wrong, because my reality was shot to hell real

fucking fast.

One kiss caused her to step over that blue line.

One night in her bed made me a traitor.

And now… we’re both screwed.





My Review:

I was really excited to get my hands on this new MC based series and am happy to say that it did not leave me disappointed.  This was my first M.N. Forgy read and I am left wondering why?  How had I not come across her before now being a huge fan of MC based romances?  I am so glad that I know of her now because you can bet I will be going back and checking out her previous series, especially since it has connections to this one.  

Zeek. President of the Sin City Outlaws is as known for his ways with women as he is for the ruthlessness of his MC.  His MC is all he knows.  He's been raised to run this club and the area he claims with a iron fist.  That darkness has begun to seep into his soul now and when a feisty new sheriff comes across his path he is left questioning where his heart lies and who he can trust.  

Jillian has always wanted to follow in her step-father's footsteps and become a sheriff and now that she has made it not toe the Clark County Department she's out to prove that she one, got there on her own, two, is as good as any of the men, and three, that her step dad can be proud of her.  But all that comes into question when she meets Zeek and discovers that things aren't as black and white as they seem and maybe the 'good' guys are actually more bad then the 'bad' guys.  

Reign starts off right in the thick of things.  We get a quick look into the Sin City Outlaws 6 years in the past and how Zeek became the man he is today.  We meet a few key characters, one you will despise and not trust from the get go, with hints of future betrayal,  if only Zeek could have seen what we see while reading the story.  I really enjoyed getting to know these characters, sometimes it seems challenging for an author to introduce us to a new set of characters in the first book, making sure to give us enough information but not so much that we loose interest or that we become bogged down in details.  M.N. Forgy does an excellent job at laying out who these characters are but gives them so much room to grow as their worlds collide and the story plays out.  I also love a few of her secondary characters and hope that we will get to see more of them, perhaps they will find their own story in the pages of books to come.  I also greatly appreciate how Ms. Forgy doesn't glamorize the life of an outlaw MC....she keeps it real and harsh.  These guys aren't 'good' guys, the women aren't 'good' women, they are hard and brutal when need to be and full of passion for life....but for a life that they live on their own terms. I greatly appreciate how her characters stay true to who they are....yes there are changes with them as they discover the world through someone else's eyes and as they find a sort of love, but in the end they are who they were in the beginning of the book.  Zeek isn't going to suddenly become a sweet romancer, Jillian isn't going to suddenly be a 'Biker Babe' (to put it in polite terms), He's rough and harsh, she's tough and yet soft...they are who they are and while I look forward to seeing how they change together as a couple I know that from what I have seen in Reign they will stay true to who they are at their core and I look forward to that.  

This is an intense story any way you look at it.  Zeek, he's just plain an intense alpha male type of anti-hero that you can't help but fall in love with.  Jillian is a soft woman with a hard exterior who is so sure of right and wrong and how her life should be that her feelings and emotions just pour off the pages.  The choices they have to make are serious and possibly deadly, their romance is heated, it's an insta-lust with a hard earned trust and dare I say it love. The whole story line will have you anxious and clutching your book or e-reader as you tear through the pages and then...the end will have you begging for more.  The book does end on a cliff-hanger and I am so anxious to get my hands on the second book.  I need to know what is going to happen and how these two characters are going to make their future work...will there even be one for them.  

I mentioned earlier this book has ties to M.N.'s previous series, The Devil's Dust series...while you do not have to have read this series I will mention that a few things were brought up in Reign that would have been clearer if I had read it prior to this one.  Do not let that distract you from getting your hands on this book though, like me you just might find yourself grabbing up copies of the other series and devouring them...it will give us something to do while we wait (patiently right...so patiently...I can do this...patience.) for Mercy, book 2 in the Sin City Outlaws.  This is a great read for Contemporary Romance Fans....MC fans are going to fall head over heels!  

~ HAPPY READING ~




EXCERPT

“Really? You got me donuts?” I arch a brow, dropping the lid.
He turns, a mischievous smile fitting his face.
“Don’t all cops like donuts?” he jeers. I roll my eyes, placing my hand on my hip.
“That’s so stereotypical,” I huff. 
“Oh, really?” he replies, grabbing the box off the table, a smug smile still on his face.
“I’ll get rid of them then.”
“No, wait!” I nearly trip over my feet trying to grab the box of donuts. He holds them higher than me and smiles so big I think I see two dimples. Really, he’s pulling the notorious bully move holding them just above my reach? Why am I attracted to him again?
“I thought you didn’t like them,” he taunts.
“I do like them. A lot, actually.” I cross my arms, my cheeks flushing. My dad used to always take me to the local bakery to get donuts on the weekends. I would get whatever I wanted—usually anything with sprinkles—and we would drop the rest off at the department. What can I say, embrace your stereotypes.
“So, it’s true. Cops love donuts,” he states arrogantly, sitting the box back down.






GIVEAWAY
$25 Amazon Gift Card & Swag Pack (1 Winner)





 M.N. Forgy was raised in Missouri where she still lives with her family. She's a soccer mom by day and a saucy writer by night. M.N. Forgy started writing at a young age but never took it seriously until years later, as a stay-at-home mom, she opened her laptop and started writing again. As a role model for her children, she felt she couldn't live with the "what if" anymore and finally took a chance on her character's story. So, with her glass of wine in hand and a stray Barbie sharing her seat, she continues to create and please her fans. 












Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Hard Ever After by Laura Kaye - Review, Excerpt, and Giveaway!

Hard Ever After - Review & Excerpt Tour Banner

 

I am over the moon excited to help bring you the Review & Excerpt Tour for Laura Kaye’s HARD EVER AFTER, a novella in Laura’s New York Times and USA Today bestselling Hard Ink Series releasing 

February 2, 2016

Grab your copy of the amazing final book in the Hard Ink Series today!

    Hard Ever After - cover

Amazon ~ Barnes&Noble ~ iBooks ~ Kobo ~ Goodreads

Author: Laura Kaye
Publication Date:  2 February, 2016
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Series:  Hard Ink, book 4.6
Genre:  Contemporary Romance, military based
Age Recommendation: 18 and Up
Rating: 4 Stars
~ I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ~  


Book Description:

 Justice served. Honor restored. Team reunited. After a long battle to discover the truth, the men and women of Hard Ink have a lot to celebrate, especially the wedding of two of their own—Nick Rixey and Becca Merritt, whose hard-fought love deserves a happy ending. As Nick and the team shift from crisis mode to building their new security consulting firm, Becca heads back to work at the ER. But amid the everyday chaos of demanding jobs and their upcoming nuptials, an old menace they thought long gone reemerges, threatening the peace they’ve only just found. Now, for one last time, Nick and Becca must fight for their always and forever, because they know that when true love overcomes all the odds it lasts hard ever after.  

  HEA Teaser 3   


My Review:

It's so hard to let go of the Hard Ink crowd, I feel like I have known them all my life, like they are good friends and members of my family.  Thankfully Laura Kaye is letting us all down gently (or maybe not so gently, this was a bit of a wild ride...as you would expect with a Hard Ink novel.  

This is the perfect end to this series because it is the beginning of everything for our favorite couples, the beginning of the rest of their lives.  They have fought so hard to come back from tragedy and pain.  They are rebuilding their lives as a team and finding happiness.  Of course as any Hard Ink story must go there is suspense, nothing but love comes easy for this crew but they always fight their way through and they do it by believing in each other. One of my favorite things about Laura's characters is how much they stay true to themselves and even after coming out of this 'battle'  they have come out the same people we fell in love with.  

Oh and Charlie!  Charlie you made this entire book for me.  That one sentence, was EVERYTHING...I loved seeing him relax with in the strong bonds of the group, I love knowing that he has found his 'home' and that he is accepted for being exactly who he is!   

There are as always many moments of laughter, love, and of course some heartache.  Get ready to laugh, swoon, tear-up, but most importantly feel totally complete as this book comes to a close. That isn't to say I wouldn't be OVERJOYED if Laura decided to bring theses guys, gals, and their new venture back, hint hint.  

This is a FANTASTIC read for Contemporary Romance fans, it is one of my favorite series. Do NOT pick up this book and read it if you haven't read the rest of the story, this is not a standalone....but you won't regret picking up the rest of the series!   Laura Kaye you were a favorite author of mine already but the way you took these characters, gave them love, hope, happiness, and their own special HARD HAPPILY EVER AFTER's cements you there.  

~ HAPPY READING ~ 

  HEA Teaser 1    



Hard Ever After Excerpt, Dress Shop Scene


“I think we’re all pretty guaranteed to get laid at Becca’s wedding,” Kat said with a mischievous grin.

They all burst into laughter. “When do you not get laid, Kat?” Emilie asked with an arched eyebrow.

“Aw, don’t even talk to me, Miss Garza, because you and Marz are loud as hell. Not that I mind, because, dude, does he have a mouth on him,” Kat said with a big grin.

“Oh, my God,” Sara said, her cheeks turning bright pink but her smile saying she was enjoying the teasing.

“He really does.” Grinning, Emilie shrugged. “The hazards of sharing an unfinished apartment. Can’t be helped.” Kat and Beckett had been staying in the room Nick and Jeremy reserved for her in their apartment until one particularly loud session of lovemaking had apparently caught Jer’s ear. His teasing had been relentless. Finally, Kat and Beckett relocated to an empty room upstairs. As much as they all enjoyed each other’s company, everyone was going to be thrilled when the new building was done, that was for sure.

Becca could only laugh as the good-natured ribbing went on. “Well, I know I’m getting laid. The rest of you are on your own.” By the time they’d all been fitted and had paid for their gowns, Becca was pretty sure they were on the verge of getting thrown out of the store.

They spilled out onto the street, laughing and hungry for lunch. Becca fell behind while she fished for her cell phone in her purse and paused to shoot off a quick text to Nick.

All done dress shopping! I’m gonna knock your socks off! ;) 

Nick responded immediately. Sunshine, you already do.

Grinning, she glanced down the block—and nearly gasped out loud. Tyrell Woodson, the man who’d attempted to abduct her months ago, stood at the corner, glaring at her.

“Hey, Becca, come on,” Kat called. 

Becca blinked and the man was gone. Vanished. A figment of her imagination. Not that her body seemed to know the difference. Heart racing, she caught up with the group as they made their way to an Italian place they’d agreed on earlier.

“You okay?” Kat asked.

“Yeah. Great.” Her voice sounded flat to her own ears. She glanced back over her shoulder. Woodson wasn’t there. Of course he wasn’t. She let out a long breath. Clearly, her subconscious wasn’t done worrying about Woodson, though, however unnecessary—and unfounded—that worrying was.



  
Author PhotoAbout Laura Kaye: Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over twenty books in contemporary and paranormal romance and romantic suspense, including the Hard Ink and upcoming Raven Riders series. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.      

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Laura Kaye’s HARD EVER AFTER – Review & Excerpt Tour Schedule:
January 25th
I Love Romance – Review & Excerpt
My Book Snack – Review & Excerpt
Provocative Pages – Review
Sofia Loves Books – Review
January 26th
Reads All the Books – Review
Shayna Renee's Spicy Reads – Review & Excerpt
Biblio Belles – Excerpt
Krista's Dust Jacket – Review & Excerpt
January 27th
NightWolf Book Blog – Excerpt
Barbara Book Blog – Excerpt
January 28th
She Hearts Books – Review
JordansBookReviews – Excerpt
Write for Your Life! – Review & Excerpt
Always YA at Heart – Review & Excerpt
January 29th
Book Sojourner – Review & Excerpt
Brittany's Book Blog – Excerpt
Obsessive Reading Disorder – Review & Excerpt
Smut Matters – Review & Excerpt
January 30th
Bookaholics Not-So-Anonymous – Review & Excerpt
mignon mykel : reviews – Review & Excerpt
Only One More Page – Review & Excerpt
Bookalicious book babes – Review & Excerpt
January 31st
Extreme Bookaholic's – Excerpt
It's About the Book – Review
Ticket to Anywhere – Excerpt
Kelsey's Corner Time – Review & Excerpt
Cocktails and Books – Review & Excerpt
February 1st
Read-Love-Blog – Review & Excerpt
Bambi Unbridled – Excerpt
Becky on Books – Review & Excerpt
First Dream of Books – Review & Excerpt
Carol Kittie Reviews – Review & Excerpt
February 2nd
The Book Hammock – Review
I A-M a Bookaholic – Excerpt
About That Story – Review
What I'm Reading – Review & Excerpt
FMR Book Grind – Review
February 3rd
Books Need TLC – Review
My Girlfriends Couch – Review & Excerpt
February 4th
Reviews by Tammy and Kim – Review & Excerpt
Book Lovers 4Ever – Review & Excerpt
Jax's Book Magic – Excerpt
Ripe For Reader – Review
Sultry, Steamy Reading – Review & Excerpt
February 5th
Vera is Reading – Excerpt
Wickedcoolflight – Review & Excerpt
JB's Book Obsession – Review & Excerpt
Book Reader Chronicles – Review & Excerpt
February 6th
Love Drug Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
She's a Lip Biter – Review & Excerpt
Book Nook Nuts – Review & Excerpt
I'm A Sweet And Sassy Book Whore – Review & Excerpt
Shelf_Life – Review & Excerpt
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Monday, January 25, 2016

The Lost Heir by Tui T. Sutherland - A Mom Monday Reivew



MOM MONDAY
(As reviewed by Olivia, 10 years old)



Author: Tui T. Sutherland
Publication Date: 1 January, 2013
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Series: Wings of Fire, book 2
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Age Recommendation: 7 and up
Rating: 4 Stars


Book Description:

The WINGS OF FIRE saga continues with a thrilling underwater adventure -- and a mystery that will change everything!

The lost heir to the SeaWing throne is going home at last...

She can’t believe it’s finally happening. Tsunami and her fellow dragonets of destiny are journeying under the water to the great SeaWing Kingdom. Stolen as an egg from the royal hatchery, Tsunami is eager to meet her future subjects and reunite with her mother, Queen Coral.

But Tsunami’s triumphant return doesn’t go quite the way she’d imagined. Queen Coral welcomes her with open wings, but a mysterious assassin has been killing off the queen's heirs for years, and Tsunami may be the next target. The dragonets came to the SeaWings for protection, but this ocean hides secrets, betrayal—and perhaps even death.


(Fan Art by Olivia to go with book 2, The Lost Heir)

Olivia's Review:

Tsunami is finally going home to the kingdom of the sea.  But she doesn't know what mysterious things have been happening, and Queen Coral, Tsunami's mother has had her daughters mysteriously destroyed in their eggs.  Tsunami is determined to save the last surviving egg and discovers secrets even her mother didn't know of.

I like the mysteries, they are very strange and can be a bit spooky at times, but also a story filled with magic and fun.  I can't wait for the next book, I just finished Escaping Peril.  I really want a book about Kinkajou.

I think that this book is a bit scary and readers should be prepared.  Also, beware of enchanted statues.

Bah Bah Buuuuumm!

Mom Says:

Really after she leaves you with a Bah Bah Buuuuumm I am not sure what else I can say, haha.  

A few things...the world building for The Kingdom of The Sea is fantastic.  Anytime a young reader can fully visualize the world they are reading about and get excited about it you know you have a winner.  One of my favorite things about this series in fact is it's ease at pulling in reluctant readers and turning them into book-a-holics.  

I like that in this series each book gives us the point of view of a different Dragonet, but continues with the main original characters each fighting their own battles and working together to discover their world and find their way. 

As with the first book there are some moments that may be more difficult for sensitive readers, particularly one moment that involves Tsunami's father.  There are not too many scary moments so don't let that keep you from getting this book, but you might have a moment where your reader needs to talk to you about what is happening.  Of course if they are anything like my MG reader, they will want to talk your ear off about all these books regardless of any scary moments, these are books I find that readers just HAVE to share!  

This is a great book for Middle Grade readers, particularly reluctant readers. The books are both fun, with sarcastic and witty characters, they are balanced with poignant moments and battles.  I do recommend that they be read in order, you will be missing out on important facts by reading them out of order.  A great addition to any teachers classroom library!  

~ HAPPY READING ~

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Tui? What kind of name is that? Is it short for something?
Nope. Among the many great things to come out of New Zealand (the Lord of the Rings movies, cats that paint, my mom) is a bird called the tui—not as well known as the kiwi, but a heck of a lot noisier!

I was born July 31 (same birthday as Harry Potter!) in Caracas, Venezuela, and lived in Asuncion, Paraguay; Miami, Florida; and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, before moving to New Jersey in high school, where I started doing theatre—mostly backstage work, because (a) it was fun, and (b) you got to hang out in the dark with cute boys. (Er, I mean . . . because it was artistically fulfilling, yes.)

I graduated from Williams College in ’98 and I currently live in Boston with my husband, my perfect new baby, and my adorable yoodle Sunshine (what’s a yoodle? A puppy that’s three-quarters poodle and one-quarter Yorkshire terrier, of course!).

Much to my parents’ relief, I abandoned my theatrical aspirations after college for the far more stable and lucrative career of fiction writing.

My first two official books were beginning readers, part of Grosset & Dunlap’s “First Friends” series for kids learning to read. MEET MO AND ELLA is tough to find now, but FUN WITH MO AND ELLA should still be out there somewhere.

My first novel for teenagers was THIS MUST BE LOVE, which retells Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a modern-day high school, from the POV of the two heroines, Hermia and Helena.

And now I'm writing in a new project called SEEKERS! It's a children's book series that I'm writing with Erin Hunter. Check out my blog to find out more!







Friday, January 22, 2016

Ice/Reaux by Alexandra Ivy and Laura Wright - Review





Author: Alexandra Ivy and Laura Wright
Publication Date:  18 January 2016
Publisher: Self-Published
Series:  Bayou Heat, book 20
Genre:  Paranormal Romance, Shifter
Age Recommendation: 18 and Up
Rating: 4 Stars
~ I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ~ 


Book Description:

ICE
Cammy, a beautiful, talented Hunter, has always taken her future for granted. She will mate with her best friend Rage and live happily ever after. But her perfect future explodes, quite literally. Rage has chosen another mate, and the Pantera’s enemies have struck at the very heart of the Wildlands. Now she is forced to partner with Ice, the aloof, always mysterious Hunter, to retrieve one of their own. Together they must track down the humans who attacked them, and uncover a secret that threatens the survival of the Pantera.

Can she find a way to work with the gorgeous male who stirs her most primitive emotions? And, more importantly, is a happily-ever-after still possible?

REAUX
Taken from her home when she was only 17 and forced to breed, Karen finally has her freedom back. But the chains of captivity still hold the beautiful human mother close, and when she starts to break down emotionally, she knows she needs help.
Unfortunately the only Healer she wants is the very one she can’t have.

All of his life, Reaux has been labeled a wicked mistake. With his body constantly sending out a sexual musk, he’s irresistible to females. So, the brooding Healer keeps to himself. Until he meets Karen. She needs him desperately. Not for sex, though. Just for healing.

But how can he do the work he’s meant to do, if he’s falling in love with his patient?



My Review:

I always enjoy these novella's from Alexandra Ivy and Laura Wright and these two Ice and Reaux or no exception.  The stories while novella length, we are now into the 20th book in the series, (each novella is considered a book when counting)  create a novel+ length series that will have you anxiously awaiting each new 'book'.  

This is a series that you must start from the beginning, every new book builds on past stories...the romantic relationships are different in each one but the underlying story, the story of the Pantera and their enemies is a story that is constantly moving forward and changing with each story.  

The thing that I did find different about these two stories is that while I felt that the story was complete, I don't feel like I was let down or missed anything, I wanted more of each of these relationships.  Usually I walk away from the books simply anxious to get my hands on the next one, but with these two couples I want more time with them.  I wanted both of them, in particular Reaux and Karen, to have their own full length novels.  

I think one of the reasons when it comes to Reaux's book is that not only did we get a good amount of time with the couple but we also got a lot more time with past characters than we normally do and I wanted more of them as well.  I loved seeing more of the relationship with the community as opposed to just the couple.  There was simply something that felt a bit different about Reaux's story than any of the previous 19 books and even though I can't put an exact finger on it, I liked it.  

The action between Pantera and the ever nefarious Christopher and his 'group' is heating up...while the Pantera begin to call home their 'brothers and sisters' for protection they are still sending out 'troops' into the 'human' world to hunt down Christopher's labs, employees, and hopefully one day the elusive Christopher himself.  There is as always that insta-love that comes with Shifters, the fight to understand one another in the relationships with out hurting the other.  There are more twists and turn, more suspense, and anxiousness of what could possibly come next.  I found that in this book there were more heart breaking moments, and yet there were also more powerfully profound and happy moments as well.  

I am always thrilled to see how these two authors bring their stories together to make this complex and intriguing story thrive after so many books.  They manage to stick to a formula and yet make each new book and romance a fresh adventure for the reader.  This is a great series for any Paranormal Romance fans.  Each story is novella length so they can be nice quick reads and if you are starting at the beginning you don't have to feel overwhelmed at there being 20 books. I do HIGHLY suggest that if you have not read this series before that you start with book one, Raphael/Parish . This would be a great series to read this weekend if you, like me, are in the path of Snowmageddon 2016...of course it would be a good series to read no matter when, but trust me getting lost in the world of the Pantera is so much better than looking out your snow covered windows...those Pantera will keep you nice and cozy inside your house!  

~ HAPPY READING ~




About Alexandra Ivy:


I'm not exactly sure when I fell in love with books. Probably on my mother's knee listening to her read Dr. Seuss to me. I do remember that I was barely old enough to cross the street by myself when I discovered the delights of the local library. Could anything be more wonderful than spending summer days surrounded by stacks of Nancy Drew mysteries? Over the years I fell in love with Victoria Holt, Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, and J.R.R. Tolkien just to name a few. I read poetry, essays, biographies, and plays. In fact, I read anything I could get my hands on. 

Years later (no, I'm not admitting how many) I'm still an avid reader, and my tastes are still as varied as they were in my youth, which I suppose helps to explain why I enjoy writing regency historicals under the name of Deborah Raleigh, as well as my contemporary paranormals as Alexandra Ivy. For now that is enough to keep me busy, but who knows what the future might hold!

I do have a few other loves in my life besides reading and writing, the most important being my unbelievably patient husband, David, and my two sons, Chance and Alexander. Without their constant support and belief in me, I never could have been able to follow my dreams. They are truly my heroes.



About Laura Wright:

Unlike many of my peers in the writing world, I wasn’t a writer or a reader until I left high school. During my youth I was into theater, song and dance, commercials and boys. I loved romance surely, but I had never read a romance novel until my late teens. With that said, I remember the day I did like it was a moment ago – my aunt gave me the Jude Deveraux novel, Knight in Shining Armor and I couldn’t put it down until the very last word. Then I went straight to the library and got another – then another until I’d read everything she’d ever written. After that, it was McNaught, Howard, Schone, Kleypas, and the Silhouette line, Desire. I instantly loved those emotional, sexy reads, so much so that I began to carve out ideas for my own stories, themes that were unique to me and moved me. In 1997 I enrolled in UCLA extension writing classes, met my mentor and critique partners and since have never stopped writing. I was committed then and I still am now; the need to tell my own romantic stories a full on obsession. My first manuscript was rejected, and though the second one was as well the editor who’d rejected it wanted to see something else from me. I had something (note to authors; always keep working, even after you’ve sent in a proposal) and sent it right away. The day I got the call telling me Desire wanted to buy Cinderella and the Playboy was the best day of my life. That is until I married my husband, and had my two beautiful children. But I must say, writing is much like motherhood – tough, grueling, surprising, delicious and for me, a dream come true.

I was born and raised in Minnesota. It’s where my love of all things green, wet and grown in the ground comes from. As you read above, before writing I was an actor, singer and dancer, specifically a BALLROOM dancer – an instructor and competitor as well. That work took me to many places like New York, Ohio and Wisconsin. I live in Los Angeles now, but I’m always thinking about greener pastures – literally.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson - Review and Giveaway





Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ B&N ~ Indiebound ~ iBooks ~ 

Author: Shaun David Hutchinson
Publication Date:  19 January 2016
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Series:  StandAlone
Genre:  Young Adult Contemporary, LGBT
Age Recommendation: 16 and up
Rating: 5 Stars
~ I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ~ 

Book Description:

Henry Denton doesn’t know why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button.

But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind.

Since the suicide of his boyfriend, Jesse, Henry has been adrift. He’s become estranged from his best friend, started hooking up with his sworn enemy, and his family is oblivious to everything that’s going on around them. As far as Henry is concerned, a world without Jesse is a world he isn’t sure is worth saving. Until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past who forces Henry to question his beliefs, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. But before Henry can save the world, he’s got to figure out how to save himself, and the aliens haven’t given him a button for that.


My Review:

I can't begin to tell you how excited I was when this book came across my path for review.  I fell head over heels for Shuan David Hutchinson's writing after reading The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley, so I jumped at the chance to read and review We Are the Ants and I have to tell you I am so glad that I did.  This book tangled me up in knots, it made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me swoon. This book made me look deep inside myself as well as made me think outside of my little world and consider the deeper impact of how all the smallest pieces of us make up the amazingly big picture that is our life.  

When I finished this book I was so elated about how much I loved it that I wanted to shout to the world that every one should buy this book, everyone should read this book. I wanted to tell you all how amazing it is and how important it could be, but at the same time this book left me completely devoid of speech.  How can it be so hard to explain something so great?  You would think that the words would fly from my mouth (or fingers) that I would know exactly what to say to you and how to say it.  You would think that it would be a simple thing and yet as soon as I finished reading I sat in my comfy chair completely blown away and completely mute.  

I realized that the reason I don't have the words to tell you is because I don't believe that the words I can give you are worthy of the emotions that this book gave me.  They aren't worthy of the impact that this book could have on...well anyone.  This book may be classified as a YA, some will say that this book is a LGBT book (and it is, but it is so much more), do not let those labels fool you or stop you from picking up this book. In fact one of my favorite aspects of this book is that yes the main character in this book is gay, but you know what, it is what it is.  This isn't a topic that is ever talked about as being one thing or another.  He is gay, he is a teen, he is struggling, he is a lot of things, but all that matters is he is Henry!

This book crosses all the lines of what it should be or what it is supposed to be.  This is a book that simply should be read because it is a book that will show you a world you perhaps didn't know existed, a world that maybe you try and pretend doesn't exist.  It will show you the struggle of an 'everyday' family, the struggles of growing up and the struggles of growing old.  This is a book about love, life, death, choices, heartache, struggle, family, friendship, tears, and laughter.  This is a book that hits on topics of Alzheimers, bullying, suicide, divorce, abuse, sex, and love.  

In fact I think that my favorite thing about this book in the end is that it is in my opinion (I imagine others won't see it this way) it is a love story. It is the story of first loves, the story of familial love, the story of friends who love and most importantly the story of learning to love yourself.  

And that is where my words begin to run out.  I could tell you what happens in the book but I think you should and I know you want to read that for yourself.  I could try and sit here and expound on more reasons to love this book, but I have a feeling if you aren't sick of my bookish excitement yet you will be soon if I continue.  I can tell you that GASP there was a part I didn't like...that I wish we had more closure when it came to the aliens, but will that make a difference in the end on whether you should read this book or not.  No.  I can tell you that I wish to see someone be redeemed, but you know people aren't always redeemable and honestly who is to say that the character doesn't redeem himself in the future, does he have to redeem him self now as a lost teen, does he have to redeem himself ever?  No.

What I will do is finish up by telling you that this book is so worth reading.  It is a fast-paced read, but it's impact is something that will stay with you long after you close the back cover.  It is a book that should be a standard in how to write YA.  It is a book that will give every reader something to think about but it is also a book that very well may change a reader's life, may save a reader's life.  Usually I would tell you here that this would be a great read for any fan of YA Contemporaries or YA LGBT readers, but I am going to say that this is would be a great read for ANY and EVERYONE.  Due to some sexual situations I do recommend for older teens (16 and up) but you know your children best, if your 14 year old is mature enough to handle sex scenes then buy this book...but know that there is quite a bit of 'romance' that goes on, none of it overly explicit, but it is there. This is a book that I can tell you without doubt, even though we are only 21 days into the new year, will be one of my top favorite reads by the end of the year!


~ HAPPY READING ~  



Giveaway:
3 Finished Copies of WE ARE THE ANTS




Shaun is a major geek and all about nerdy shenanigans. He is the author of The Deathday Letter, fml, and the The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley. He can be reached at shaun@shaundavidhutchinson.com. He currently lives in South Florida with his partner and dog and watches way too much Doctor Who.















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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Isle by Jordan Frankel - Review







Author: Jordana Frankel
Publication Date:  19 January 2016
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Series:  The Ward, book 2
Genre:  Young Adult Dystopian
Age Recommendation: 14 and up
Rating: 3 Stars
~ I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ~


Book Description:

Drought season is coming....

The Ward is in trouble—its streets filled with seawater after a devastating flood and its impoverished inhabitants suffering from a deadly disease called the Blight.

Ren, with the help of her scientist friend, Callum, and her racing buddy, Derek, has discovered a cure—miraculous spring water—administering it to her sick sister, Aven. But when Aven is kidnapped by Governor Voss, the malevolent dictator of the United Metro Isles (UMI), Ren must go on a dangerous mission to save her sister, again.

The mysterious healing water is the only source of freshwater throughout the entire UMI—water that Ren had been tasked by the government to discover. Although she refuses to give up the water’s location, Governor Voss has his own selfish reasons for wanting it. And he will do anything to satisfy his thirst for unquenchable power.

But Ren and Aven have more enemies than the governor. An ancient order, the T├Ętai, has been guarding the magical water for hundreds of years. And they will kill to protect it. With the Ward in desperate need of freshwater and wracked by disease—and deadly enemies at every turn—the sisters face a dangerous journey, marred by mysterious secrets and horrifying truths, to save their friends and neighbors, and a city.



My Review:

The Isle picks up right where book one, The Ward left off.  The cast of characters, Ren, Callum, Dererk discovered a natural spring (with some very special properties) and  saved Aven from the Blight only to have her stolen away from them by the nefarious Governor Voss, who is determined to push Aven into every scientific experiment he can think of to discover just how far this new cure will go...how much it will cure.  The race is now on for Ren and the 'crew' to not only save Aven but to stop Govenor Voss from discovering the 'cures' source and misusing it.  The Isle is told from the dual POV of Ren and Aven.

So this was an interesting read to me because I really REALLY wanted to like this so hard.  Now, it isn't that I didn't like it, I did...but I had a lot of trouble sticking with it.  It took me quite a bit of time to get through it because I didn't have that "OMGosh I HAVE to finish this now!" feeling when it came to this book.  Funnily enough though this is a pretty quick read, I can see people tearing through it in now time at all.  It is filled with action, these characters are constantly on the run from someone or another (mainly Voss) or racing to save someone.  I think the challenge for me was I felt like I didn't get all the relationship development I wanted with each character.  There are all these simmering feelings just beneath all the action but we never really get there.   The only relationship that is ever fully developed ( and I don't mean strictly romantic relationships) is Ren and Avens.

Let's talk about the girls and their relationship really quick.  I loved them.  I love Ren's spirit and drive.  I love her passion and dedication to those who she cares for, who she considers her family.  She can be risky, but nothing good ever comes out of not being willing to risk everything in a Dystopian right?  Aven, what a sweet soul.  I will say at times she rubbed me a bit wrong because I wanted her to be stronger, or more I wanted her to stop saying she wasn't strong enough.  It is a huge theme for her through out the book, that she isn't as strong and capable as Ren and that bothered me a bit.  She may not be as quick in difficult situations, she isn't quite as bold or street smart as Ren but her spirit is just as strong.  Ren to me can be described as the earth but Aven she is the sun.  The earth will always be there to turn, to survive, and grow, but it can only do this as long as the sun continues to shine down on it, going it light and hope.  I enjoyed the relationship between these two.  While not blood relatives they have taken each other on as sisters and it (as one of 4 sisters myself) can be fun to watch them interact.  There are a number of times that I found Aven to be the petulant younger sister and Ren the snappish bossy older sister.  They completely balance each other and I really appreciate seeing this strong relationship between two female characters.

What I missed out on is more from the boys.  Callum, Derek, and Terrence.  I wanted more of them, I wanted for their characters to feel fully developed and yet I walked away from the book filling as though it was a bit incomplete because I don't really know these guys the way I'd like to.  I wanted to see more of how their relationships developed with the girls, especially Derek and Ren, or Ren and Callum...there was a bit of something underlying there as well.

The two other things that made this a bit of a challenging read for me were the fact that Ren's language seemed to flip flop between what we might consider an average teenage girl and a uneducated street smart teen and she was the only one that seemed to speak in this manner which confused me because she isn't the only one coming up from a harsh street/orphanage type of life.  The other issue was the fact that there were a lot of out of body/existential type moments and I couldn't quite figure out what was going on, but I will say that is likely just an issue for me...I am not a existential kind of person....I like my worlds clear and concise, ha.

Overall, I really enjoyed this duology, and I think it is a great read for YA dysopian fans.  I felt like he first book was better, but that often happens in a series so don't let it stop you from going into this.  The relationship between Ren and Aven is enough of a reason to read this book, but you will also get twist and turns and quite a bit of action.  I love the strength of the female characters in this book and while I missed getting to know the male characters better I appreciate how much of this book showed that you don't have to have strong male characters to carry a book, strong females can do it just as well.  While this series as I understand it is complete...I felt like it was left a tad open, so maybe if we are very very good we will get another peek into the world of UMI.


~ HAPPY READING ~

Giveaway:
3 Finished copies of THE ISLE


Jordana Frankel is a Jersey native.

She's been a camp counselor, a salesperson of diamonds, a hostess at a southwestern grill, an archivist of rare books, a yoga instructor, and a reading teacher, but her shining moment was when she got to hang out in Walmart for 12 hours a day as the AXE girl.

She received her B.A. in English from Goucher College, graduated and then went to live in Italy for a year. Afterwards she then went for her MFA in Poetry at Hollins University.

But then she graduated and she moved back to NYC.

She got her first job at The Literary Group International as a literary agency, where she'd started as an intern reading queries and then assisted editorially. At Linn Prentis Literary, also a literary agency, she handled foreign sales, picked up gems from unsolicited mail, and helped authors through the publishing process. And then it was onto The Book Report Network where she handled ads and promos for features on Teenreads.com, Kidsreads.com, and GraphicNovelReporter.com.

Jordana is currently writing a (history textbook/)novel entitled THE WARD, forthcoming from KT Books/HarperCollins in 2013. She also teaches creative writing workshops for kids ages 8 to 18 through Writopia Lab, a non-profit organization based in New York City.








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