Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Book GIVEAWAY: Hush, by Karen Robards, ends 1/9/15

Hush is being released today, and two of my lucky readers can win a copy!

Official synopsis:
When Riley Cowan finds her estranged husband Jeff dead in his palatial home, she’s sure it’s no coincidence. The police rule it a suicide, but Riley thinks someone’s out for blood—specifically someone Jeff’s father ripped off in one of the biggest financial fraud cases of all time. She suspects that someone is trying to send a message to Jeff’s father: Tell me where the money is, or everyone you care about will die.

Riley’s in-laws might be billionaires, but she’s afraid that not even their dirty money can protect her from an irate investor who will stop at nothing to get his hands on his misappropriated cash. Enter Finn Bradley, Philly-based FBI agent and Riley’s love interest from way back when.

Finn agrees to help Riley, and the two reignite sparks they both thought were extinguished long ago. But can they discover the killer’s identity in time, before he resurfaces—and strikes again?

Dubbed an “exceptional storyteller” by the Chicago Tribune and “one of the most popular voices in women’s fiction” by Newsweek, Karen Robards’s latest action-packed novel will keep you glued to the pages until the final, shocking conclusion.

About the author:
Karen Robards is the author of more than forty novels and one novella. A regular on the New York Times, USA TODAY, and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists, among others, she is the mother of three boys and lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Book Review: Last Call, by Alice Clayton

This is the beginning of the end of this love story. Where girls are beautiful and boys are handsome and cats are rock stars. Where friendships endure and relationships mature. Skirts are flippy and emotions are trippy and everyone gets a happy ending ... don't they?

This novella is the last book in the Cocktail series by Alice Clayton. I reviewed Wallbanger back in October 2013, and I have Mai Tai'd Up to review but haven't been able to read it yet. The second book, Rusty Nailed, focuses on Simon and Caroline as well (characters in the first book), and the third and forth, Screwdrivered and Mai Tai'd Up, focus on different couples in the same Simon/Caroline realm.

This one, Last Call, wraps up Simon and Caroline's story, but I found that you didn't need to have read Rusty Nailed to enjoy this one, though I do recommend reading Wallbanger to have some sense of their back story.

Official synopsis:
From NEW YORK TIMES & USA TODAY bestselling author Alice Clayton, known for her “deliciously addictive” (The Book Vixen) novels, this Cocktail series novella reunites readers with Caroline and Simon from the wildly successful Wallbanger.

Simon and Caroline are back for another round of baking, banging, and big life changes. Settling in, but never settling down, Caroline has finally struck a balance between the professional and the personal. As one of the top interior designers in San Francisco, she travels all over Northern California between nook time with Simon.

Perpetual globetrotter Simon has cut his frequent flyer miles in half over the last year, preferring to balance his professional and personal life, as well.

The next step in their lives seems preordained—toasts, veils, and the aisle of rose petals. But when an accident on a photo shoot in Southeast Asia brings Caroline the most terrifying phone call she could ever imagine, she has to ask whether “till death do us part” is a more realistic prospect than faces most couples.

It’s been a grand adventure, and Caroline and Simon wouldn’t go out without the best surprise ending ever. One part sexy, one part laughter, a dash of exotic locales, and one pink nightie, mixed with passion, and you’ve got Last Call. Served with a side of Clive.

In case you're wondering - Clive (in that last sentence) is their cat.

I found this to be a cute and easy read. In Wallbanger, Caroline meets Simon, her next-door neighbor with whom she shares a wall, and whom always seems to have a harem of women showing up at his door. Their meet-cute ends with them (SPOILER) falling in love, and I assume their relationship is explored more in Rusty Nailed.

In Last Call, all of their close friends are either pregnant or getting married, and it leads Caroline to ponder if she and Simon should take that step too. It makes her nervous even thinking about it, but she soon realizes she loves him and doesn't want to lose him.

Even though this series is classified as "erotica," compared to other erotica books I've read it's rather tame in that regard - I'd classify it as maybe PG-13 rated, if it was a movie. So if you're looking to get into the genre but don't want to dive in, so to speak, the Cocktail series would be a good fit.

Last Call will be in stores on January 6, 2015 - click here to preorder. 4 stars out of 5.

The Cocktail Series

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this novella to review. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Suspicion, by Alexandra Monir, ends 1/5/15

I should have remembered what I learned firsthand years ago - that it only takes one night to transform a place; that a single event can crumble a stalwart structure and strip a home of a decade's worth of happy memories. But I never imagined it would happen twice. I let myself be taken in by Rockford once again, and even now, as I long to escape, I'm no match for the land. It pulls me under, seeping into my skin, until I don't know where I end and it begins. Maybe that's what it means to tie your identity to a place: it can betray you, shatter your illusions - and yet you can't stay away.

This novel is based on the book Rebecca, which I haven't read, but I very much enjoyed Suspicion. The reviewers on Goodreads have been rather harsh on the book so far, but I liked how it combines supernatural/paranormal elements with an awesome setting (England) and has a Princess Diaries flair to it (a "commoner" becoming a duchess).

Official synopsis:
Mysterious. Magnificent. Creepy. Welcome to Rockford Manor.

"There's something hidden in the Maze." Seventeen-year-old Imogen has never forgotten the last words her father said to her seven years ago, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family's English country manor.

Haunted by her parents' deaths, Imogen moves to New York City with her new guardians. But when a letter arrives with the news of her cousin's untimely death, revealing that Imogen is now the only heir left to run the estate, she returns to England and warily accepts her role as duchess.

All is not as it seems at Rockford, and Imogen quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind the mansion's aristocratic exterior, hinting that the spate of deaths in her family were no accident. And at the center of the mystery is Imogen herself--and Sebastian, the childhood friend she has secretly loved for years. Just what has Imogen walked into?

Combining a fresh twist on the classic REBECCA with a spine-tingling mystery and powerful romance, SUSPICION is an action-packed thrill ride.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Quick Pick: Accidents of Marriage, by Randy Susan Meyers

  • Opening lines: Maddy ran her tongue over her teeth, imagining the bitter taste of a crumbling tablet of Xanax. After a gut-wrenching day at the hospital, nothing tempted her more than a chemical vacation.
  • Reason I picked up the book: I very much enjoyed Meyers' previous two books, The Comfort of Lies and The Murderer's Daughters - I gave both 4.5 or 5 stars out of 5.
  • And what's this book about?
  • Accidents of Marriage explores a topic rarely shown in fiction: the destruction left in the wake of spouse’s verbal fury. Ben never meant to hurt Maddy. He never imagined his recklessness would lead to tragedy. Maddy is a social worker trying to balance her career and three children. Years ago, she fell in love with Ben, a public defender, drawn to his fiery passion, but now he’s lashing out at her during his periodic verbal furies. She vacillates between tiptoeing around him and asserting herself for the sake of their kids – which works to keep a fragile peace – until the rainy day when they’re together in the car and Ben’s volatile temper gets the best of him, leaving Maddy in the hospital fighting for her life. Randy Susan Meyers takes us inside the hearts and minds of her characters, alternating among the perspectives of Maddy, Ben, and their fourteen-year-old daughter. Accidents of Marriage is a provocative and stunning novel that will resonate deeply with women from all walks of life, ultimately revealing the challenges of family, faith, and forgiveness.
  • Favorite paragraph: 
Cobalt-blue wedding goblets glinted from a glass self - the cups they'd used for their first sip as a married couple. A Jewish tradition. The glasses were not so much expensive as precious, and thus behind glass, taken out each anniversary. Last year Gracie spent an hour getting the room just right for them. Candles. The table cleared of clutter. Two pressed white napkins.
Ben walked to the cabinet, opened the door, and took out the deep-blue glasses, leaving two clean circles int he dust. He carried them to the table. the faceted crystal shimmered in the sun. He lifted the glasses high and tapped them together. Music. Glass music, Gracie called it the last time he and Maddy toasted. 
He clinked them again and again. He clinked them until the music was no longer sweet. He clinked them until the glasses ground against each other. He slammed them harder and harder until finally he threw one against the wall and watched it shatter. 
  • Recommended for: Anyone who likes reading family dramas.
  • Something to know: I started reading this book for my book club, and it wasn't that great at first, but it slowly improved throughout. 
  • What I would have changed: I'm not sure, but the novel didn't flow as well as the author's last two. I overall did enjoy it, but the beginning was just okay, and then once a pivotal event happens in the novel, the story gets more interesting.
  • Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
  • Where can I buy this book? Click here.

    *Disclosure: I received an e-galley of this book from NetGalley. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Quick Pick: The Afterlifer's Tale, by Philip Kadwell

  • Opening lines: I am making my way down a dry creek bed when I stop and crouch by a patch of cattails. When traveling in the wilderness of the Afterlife it is good discipline to occasionally hide and count to sixty while scanning the track you just came across. That is when the Eaters will reveal themselves, flicking soundlessly over the ground, their greenish outlines quivering like amobas.
  • Reason I picked up the book: It's kind of sci-fi, to an extent. I've always been curious about how people interpret the Afterlife, too.
  • And what's this book about?
  • While hiking in the Michigan countryside on a bright January afternoon, Jack Avery decides to cut across a frozen pond. It is too late when he realizes his mistake. The ice breaks up under his feet and he falls into the frigid water, quickly losing consciousness.

    Coming to at the water’s edge, Jack has no memory how he got there. A warm breeze wafts over the pond. The honeysuckle trees nearby are in full bloom. Inexplicably, it seems like a pleasant day in July.

    A tall lanky stranger approaches and introduces himself as Cowboy. He tells Jack that he has died and is in the Afterlife. Jack refuses to accept his fate and stalks off to find his way home. Along the path, Jack encounters the beautiful, dark-haired Olivia; Hector, a physicist; Audrey, a young woman with psychic powers; and Bishop, a grizzled, born-again war veteran. They all have gone through the experience of dying and awaking in the Afterlife.

    After discovering how to manipulate a mysterious sphere that lies half-buried in the sand, Jack devises a daring plan to escape from the Afterlife. But not all goes as intended. Jack has a bigger destiny to fulfill, one that involves the evolution of humanity itself… and answers the biggest question of all: the ultimate meaning of Creation.
  • Favorite paragraph: 
"I want to report my vehicle being vandalized," I say.
Finally, at a lower pitch, and not so cheery: "Sir, we're answering your call as a courtesy. There's nothing we can do for you. You realize, of course, that you are in the Afterlife." 
I take the cell phone from my ear and stare at it for a moment.  
  • Recommended for: Anyone who likes TV shows like Resurrection (one of my new favorites), who is curious about the afterlife and/or "Creation," or who likes a good read.
  • Something to know: The book has just been re-released on Amazon, and it's been edited and retouched a bit.
  • What I would have changed: Nothing I can think of. 
  • Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
  • Where can I buy this book? Click here.

    *Disclosure: The author of this book is the father of one of my friends, and he self-published this novel. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Book Review: The Life Intended, by Kristin Harmel

I can smell salt in the air from the coast nearby, and I reach instinctively for the silver dollar hanging from my neck as I think about how Patrick and I threw a coin into the ocean just blocks from here after we got married. A thank-you to the universe for the best thing that ever happened to me, Patrick said. I wonder if you're allowed to ask the universe to refund your coins when life doesn't turn out the way you planned.

I'm not sure if I've read any of Kristin Harmel's books before this one, but I definitely plan on reading more now. The Life Intended was a fast read that I could not put down - in fact, I was supposed to be reading a book for my book club but started this midway and then had to finish it - and it should appeal to most readers.

Official synopsis:
Finding love once is a gift. Finding it twice – young widow Kate Waithman understands just how lucky that is. 

A music therapist in New York City, Kate is newly engaged to a handsome, successful man. Life should be just about perfect, except that suddenly Kate is having unsettling dreams about her first husband. In those dreams, Patrick didn’t die on that terrible night twelve years ago, and he and Kate have a daughter, Hannah. The feelings and images are so vivid, so right, that Kate doesn’t know what to think. Is Patrick trying to tell her something, or is she just afraid to grasp this second chance at happiness? 

Slowly, piece by piece, Kate’s dream world hands her clues. And as she puts them together, what she finds are unexpected revelations about trusting herself, about hope after heartache, and about Patrick himself. Most of all, Kate learns that even in loss, love never really leaves, but waits to guide us exactly where we need to be.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Author Interview + GIVEAWAY: When Angels Sing (book) and Angels Sing (movie), ends 12/19

Just in time for the holidays, you can win a copy of the film Angels Sing from me, as well as a copy of the book (When Angels Sing) as well! The movie has some great actors in it too, such as Harry Connick Jr., Connie Britton, Kris Krisotofferson, Willie Nelson, and more.

About the movie:
Harry Connick, Jr. stars as Michael Walker, who, as a child, wished every day was Christmas. That is, until a tragic accident crushed his holiday spirit. Thirty years later, Michael still can’t muster any joy for Christmas, despite encouragement from his playful wife (Connie Britton) and well intentioned parents (Kris Kristofferson and Fionnula Flanagan). But when his young son (Chandler Canterbury) faces a tragedy, Michael needs to make amends with his past. A mysterious man named Nick (Willie Nelson) gives Michael a gift that instills in him the courage to find the Christmas joy that he lost.

Website: www.angelssingmovie.com

About the book author, Turk Pipkin:
Writer and actor Turk Pipkin has had a career like no other. A former stand-up comedian who gave up performing after a long run on the road with Rodney Dangerfield and many others, he's since published eight books, including two well-received novels, and written a hundred hours of primetime television. He's also traveled around the world for thirty years, writing as he journeyed for a dozen national magazines. In his latest incarnation, Turk can be seen as a recurring character in the third season of HBO's hit series, "The Sopranos."

Interview with Turk Pipkin:

1. How did you get the idea to write this Christmas story for your daughter?

I wrote When Angels Sing as a Christmas present for my both my daughters and for the rest of my family. I had thought a lot about the connections between family and Christmas traditions, and thought it would be great to use some of our own family traditions as background in the book.

2. Did you have any say/influence over the movie (ie, who they casted, the script, etc)?

Other than writing the novel, my main contribution to the film was to lend a hand on casting. I'd always thought Willie Nelson would be perfect to play the role of Nick, a mysterious man who may or may not be St. Nick. Likewise for Kris Kristofferson, a former army pilot, to play the grandfather. Other friends like Connie Britton, Lyle Lovett, Eloise Dejoria and a great host of wonderful Texas musicians also ended up in the film. Director Tim McCanlies deserves a lot of credit for realizing the musicians like Bruce Robison, Marcia Ball and Charlie Sexton would be great on camera.

3. You yourself are an actor as well - are you in the movie at all?

Most people know me as an actor from my role as that idiot narcoleptic guy in HBO's The Sopranos. In general, I get cast for a little comic relief - no surprise since I used to be a juggler and a comedian (and because I'm 6'7" tall). In Angels Sing, the great Texas singer songwriter Bruce Robison plays Harry Connick, Jr.'s brother, and I played the part of Uncle Theo, who is one of those close family members we all have at Christmas that no one seems to know who or how he fits in. It's a small part but I had a lot of scenes with Kris Kristofferson and the rest of the family. I'd made a couple of movies in the past with Kris and Willie Nelson, and any time you're working with those guys, life is treating you good.

Friday, December 5, 2014

If I Stay, by Gayle Forman: Book vs. Movie Adaptation

*Disclosure: I received If I Stay on Blu-ray combo pack plus a copy of the novel in exchange for this post. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

I read the novel If I Stay by Gayle Forman back in 2010 or '11, and recently picked it up again to reread. I also was able to see the film adaptation of the book back in August 2014, and I reviewed it over on my film blog.

I was glad I reread If I Stay recently, because I had completely forgotten there were so many differences between the movie and the book adaptations.

Here's a quick synopsis of the story:
credit: deliciousreads.com

Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.

I open my eyes wide now.
I sit up as much as I can.
And I listen.

Stay, he says.

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it's the only one that matters.

If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.

I gave the movie 3 out of 5 stars, but would like to watch it again to re-evaluate; sometimes my initial impressions aren't always correct, or my opinions can change upon a second viewing.

I had forgotten that the movie is very different from the novel upon which it's based, in this instance. Both the book and the movie show Mia's life in flashbacks (in the present, she's struggling for life in the ICU) but the movie is a little more choosy on what it shows from the book material. One great scene in the movie involved Mia playing cello, Adam (her boyfriend) playing guitar, and everyone jamming out at a BBQ at her house, and this is included in the book as well.

The book also gives a lot more backstory on Mia's best friend, Kim, and her feelings towards Adam; in the movie, we see how they initially meet, at their school (he's a rocker in a band, she's a cellist) and certain parts of their relationship, but not all of it.

In the novel, Mia finds out she got into Julliard before her car accident, also, and in the movie, I believe someone opens the letter for her (I think Adam does, but not 100% sure on that) and finds out that she was accepted, while she's still in a coma.

The novel also ends rather abruptly, although I'm not sure how else Forman would have lengthened the ending. Did you know there's a sequel, called Where She Went, that's from Adam's point-of-view? I read that as well, but back in July 2011 - I recommend that to fans of the movie or book, if you want to know more about Mia and Adam.

So should you read the book, or see the movie? I'd actually recommend both, as I really enjoyed the book - it's a fast read - and I overall liked the movie too. Because they are so different, the order in which you watch/read them doesn't particularly matter, either.


{To buy both If I Stay and Where She Went: click here}
{To buy the movie on Blu-ray combo pack: click here}

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

GIVEAWAY: Owning Violet, by Monica Murphy, ends 12/10

Owning Violet is the new book out by Monica Murphy, and the first in her new Fowler Sisters series.

Official synopsis:
New York Times bestselling author Monica Murphy begins a sexy new contemporary romance series— perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Emma Chase —that introduces three sisters born to wealth, raised to succeed, ready to love, destined to make waves.

I’ve moved through life doing what’s expected of me. I’m the middle daughter, the dutiful daughter. The one who braved a vicious attack and survived. The one who devoted herself to her family’s business empire. The one who met an ambitious man and fell in love. We were going to run Fleur Cosmetics together, Zachary and I.

Until he got a promotion and left me in the dust. Maybe it’s for the best, between his disloyalty and his wandering eye. But another man was waiting for me. Wanting me. He too has an overwhelming thirst for success, just like Zachary—perhaps even more so. He’s also ruthless. And mysterious. I know nothing about Ryder McKay beyond that he makes me feel things I’ve never felt before.

One stolen moment, a kiss, a touch . . . and I’m hooked. Ryder’s like a powerful drug, and I’m an addict who doesn’t want to be cured. He tells me his intentions aren’t pure, and I believe him. For once, I don’t care. I’m willing to risk everything just to be with him. Including my heart. My soul.

My everything.

You can purchase Owning Violet here, either in e-book or paperback format. 

Stealing Rose (book #2) will be out on March 3rd, 2015, and Taming Lily (book #3) will be out on July 7th, 2015.

Monday, December 1, 2014

ReZoopie Book + GIVEAWAY: 4-pack of tickets to Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo {2 winners!}, ends 12/8

Do you have trouble getting your kids to eat their fruits and veggies? I'll admit that even now, at age 27, I am sometimes picky about what kinds of veggies I eat.

Door to Door Organics has partnered with the Detroit Zoo to create a fun, colorful ReZoopie® cookbook to help you tempt your kids into eating healthy fruits and vegetables, just like their favorite animals.

You can get the cookbook for FREE by clicking here.

I was able to try Door to Door Organics recently too, as some of their fruits were in a swag bag from the Dearborn blogger event I attended, and the persimmons in particular - which I had never actually tried before - were very good.

If you are a new Door to Door Organics customer, you can use the promo code DETROITZOO to get $10 off your first order, too.

A bit about Wild Lights, at the Detroit Zoo:
Experience the magic of the Detroit Zoo in winter as you take in the lights and the sights and enjoy holiday entertainment and activities for guests of all ages. More than five million LED lights will illuminate trees, buildings and more than 100 animal sculptures throughout the front of the Zoo. Wild Lights will be held from 5:30 to 9 p.m. November 22-23 and 28-30 and December 5-7, 11-14, 18-23 and 26-31. Live entertainment, arts and crafts, ice carving and the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit will add to the festivities. Seasonal refreshments, Wild Lights souvenirs and photos with Santa “Paws” (until December 23) will be available for purchase.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

GIVEAWAY: A Shade of Vampire audio book, by Bella Forrest (download), ends 12/2

A few of you might remember my reviews of Bella Forrest's A Shade of Vampire series - the series currently has 8 books, and I've reviewed up until book 6 as of yet.

A Shade of Vampire is now out on audio book, and I have one free audio download for one of my lucky readers to win. Audio books are perfect for those who might not have time to read, but definitely have time when working out, driving, or doing similar activities where you have your phone or MP3 player on hand.

Official synopsis:
When Sofia Claremont was kidnapped to a sunless island, uncharted by any map and ruled by the most powerful vampire coven on the planet, she believed she'd forever be a captive of its dark ruler, Derek Novak.

Now, after months of surviving an endless night, the morning sun may soon rise again for Sofia. Something has possessed Derek's heart and he offers her a gift no human slave has ever been given in the history of his cursed island: escape.

High school, prom and a chance to move on with her life now await her.

But will she be able to forget the horrors that steal her sleep away at night? ... or the feelings that haunt her for that tormented prince of darkness?

The Shade of Vampire series is one of my favorite, and I'm glad to be able to share it again with my readers.

Here's a sneak peek of the beginning of the book:

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Leaving Time, by Jodi Picoult, ends 12/5

Virgil starts to laugh. "You're telling me you are a hack?"

"It's worse. Because I wasn't always." I look at him. There is a green mask around his eyes, a reflection from the mirror, as if he is some kind of superman. But he isn't. He's flawed, and scarred, and battle-weary, just like me. Just like all of us.

Jenna lost her mother. I lost my credibility. Virgil lost his faith. We've all got missing pieces. But for a little while, I believed that, together, we might be whole.

We cross into Delaware. "I don't think she could have picked two worse people to help her if she tried," I sigh.

"That's all the more reason," Virgil says, "to make it right."

I am a huge fan of Jodi Picoult's books, and this one was no exception. She does extensive research to make sure her books are factually accurate, and because of that, each one is very detailed about something specific: in this case, the main character's mother, who is missing, was a scientist who worked among elephants.

Official synopsis:

For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe that she would be abandoned as a young child, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.

Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest. The first is Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons—only to later doubt her gifts. The second is Virgil Stanhope, a jaded private detective who originally investigated Alice’s case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they’ll have to face even harder answers.

As Jenna’s memories dovetail with the events in her mother’s journals, the story races to a mesmerizing finish.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Guest Post - Linda Appleman Shapiro, author of She's Not Herself: A psychotherapist's journey into and beyond her mother's mental illness

Why I chose to tell my story as a memoir instead of fiction

Although I offer the back story of how I came to write this memoir in the Afterword of the book, I'll answer your question as honestly and clearly as I can. I'll start by offering my belief in the importance of knowing oneself, acknowledging one’s strengths and talents, and recognizing ones's weaknesses and deficits.

I realized at some point that fictionalizing my story was not in the cards for me. My ah-ha moment came with the feeling that telling my own story in the form of a memoir might allow others to feel less isolated. Whether they had grown up with a parent, sibling, or child suffering from mental or physical illness, my hope was that they would better grasp the consequences of their situation by identifying with mine.

I also knew a couple of other things to be true for me:

To write about the same subject for a psychological journal would have been far easier. It would have been a combination of research and anecdotal stories from my family and from all the families I’ve treated. But I felt compelled to write a memoir instead and to share my story by showing how each of us survived -- despite the pain and the trauma – and leave readers with my first-hand experience of knowing about love, loss, and loyalty, along with the darker sides of life that shaped who I am but do not define me as a victim.

Going through life feeling totally victimized is not a way to live. It doesn't allow for real joy to be experienced. There isn't a positive way to be productive without moving through and beyond traumas. I say that without any intention of minimizing the effects of trauma, but with the knowledge that unless professional help is sought, or some means of healing are found, those of us who were, more or less, robbed of a childhood and parentified at too early an age, or others who lost their innocence to terrible forms of abuse . . . will never be able to climb out from under the despair that was imposed upon us.

So, while being a psychotherapist/addictions counselor for the past 30+ years and having written critical papers throughout my college and graduate school years, I’d never created stories from whole cloth. That’s an art form that takes knowledge and talent that I’d have to live many more years to develop. Knowing that from the start, I knew that I would never be writing a novel. I’ve been an avid reader since as far back as I can remember, and I loved reading biographies every bit as much as novels. In fact, for many years, I considered books to be my dearest and closest friends. But I’d never taken a creative writing course and I knew that for me to tell my family’s actual story, I needed to do so in the form of a memoir. To place it in a fictional setting would not have been authentic and would not have been the most effective way to tell my story.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Quick Pick: Stars in Their Eyes, by Lauren Blakely

  • Opening lines: He would be here any minute.
    I was ready for him.
  • Reason I picked up the book: It sounded like a cute rom-com of sorts.
  • And what's this book about?
  • William Harrigan wants one thing – to stay in L.A. past college graduation. With a student visa set to expire, the clock is ticking. When he lands a gig that pairs him with the beautiful blond spitfire Jess, he’s scored his best shot at living out the American dream. Winning her trust would be a whole lot easier, however, if he didn’t have ulterior motives... But there’s no faking the intense attraction between them. Try as they might to resist each other, soon sparks are flying, as they devise a plan to sneak into the ceremony. But when Jess' new celebrity client raises the stakes, she starts to smell blackmail, and soon she and Will are chasing down cheating directors, staking out clandestine trysts, and making fake IDs, all while sneaking scene-stealing kisses and hot nights together. The audience loves a happy ending, but in a town where everyone's acting and no one's playing by the rules, can Jess and William find their own ever after in time?
  • Favorite paragraph: 
He was crossing the street and walking towards me, all six foot and then some sexiness of him. He had the look, all right. The jeans, the loose and sexy tee that hinted at his abs, but didn't reveal too much, the nicely toned arms on display, those eyes like a stormy sky, and that lopsided grin that I wanted to lick and kiss and smack the hell off his too-fine face.
"Fancy meeting you here," he said, and then flashed a smile. I wanted to arrest him for the smile. It was the sort of grin that should be outlawed for being impossible to not adore.
  • Recommended for: Anyone who likes a quick, fun read. 
  • Something to know: This book is actually part of the Caught Up in Love series, but each book follows a different couple, though some of the characters show up in a few of the books. I want to read Far Too Tempting now because it follows Matthew, William's brother, and how he met and fell in love with his wife.
  • What I would have changed: Part of the ending is a little too convenient, but it's also very cute. Not sure how I would have changed it, though.
  • Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
  • Where can I buy this book? Click here.

    *Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book from NetGalley for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

GIVEAWAY: The Life Intended + The Sweetness of Forgetting {Kristin Harmel}, ends 11/30

Kristin Harmel's newest book, The Life Intended, hits shelves on December 30th, but you could win your copy before that - as well as a copy of The Sweetness of Forgetting, also by Harmel.

Official synopses of both books:
{The Life Intended - click here to pre-order}
Finding love once is a gift. Finding it twice – young widow Kate Waithman understands just how lucky that is.

A music therapist in New York City, Kate is newly engaged to a handsome, successful man. Life should be just about perfect, except that suddenly Kate is having unsettling dreams about her first husband. In those dreams, Patrick didn’t die on that terrible night twelve years ago, and he and Kate have a daughter, Hannah. The feelings and images are so vivid, so right, that Kate doesn’t know what to think. Is Patrick trying to tell her something, or is she just afraid to grasp this second chance at happiness?

Slowly, piece by piece, Kate’s dream world hands her clues. And as she puts them together, what she finds are unexpected revelations about trusting herself, about hope after heartache, and about Patrick himself. Most of all, Kate learns that even in loss, love never really leaves, but waits to guide us exactly where we need to be.

{The Sweetness of Forgetting - click here to buy}
A baker in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, must travel to Paris to uncover a family secret for her dying grandmother—and what she learns may change everything. The Sweetness of Forgetting is the book that made Kristin Harmel an international bestseller.

At thirty-six, Hope McKenna-Smith is no stranger to bad news. She lost her mother to cancer, her husband left her for a twenty-two year old, and her bank account is nearly depleted. Her own dreams of becoming a lawyer long gone, she’s running a failing family bakery on Cape Cod and raising a troubled preteen.

Now, Hope’s beloved French-born grandmother Mamie, who wowed the Cape with her fabulous pastries for more than fifty years, is drifting away into a haze of Alzheimer’s. But in a rare moment of clarity, Mamie realizes that unless she tells Hope about the past, the secrets she has held on to for so many years will soon be lost forever. Tantalizingly, she reveals mysterious snippets of a tragic history in Paris. And then, arming her with a scrawled list of names, she sends Hope to France to uncover a seventy-year-old mystery.

Hope’s emotional journey takes her through the bakeries of Paris and three religious traditions, all guided by Mamie’s fairy tales and the sweet tastes of home. As Hope pieces together her family’s history, she finds horrific Holocaust stories mixed with powerful testimonies of her family’s will to survive in a world gone mad. And to reunite two lovers torn apart by terror, all she’ll need is a dash of courage, and the belief that God exists everywhere, even in cake ...

Monday, November 17, 2014

GIVEAWAY: If I Stay Blu-ray and paperback copy by Gayle Forman, ends 11/25

The If I Stay Blu-ray combo pack + DVD will be in stores tomorrow, November 18th, but you can win a copy here, as well as a paperback copy of the novel!

I reviewed the movie back in August at my film blog, and I gave it a Yes review. I read the book a while back, too, and it was also very good. 

About the movie:
ChloĆ« Grace Moretz and Jamie Blackley shine” (Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune) in this romantic film based on the best-selling novel. Seventeen-year-old Mia Hall (Moretz) thought the hardest decision she would ever face would be whether to pursue her musical dreams at Juilliard or follow a different path to be with the love of her life, Adam (Blackley). But what should have been a carefree family drive changes everything in an instant, and now her own life hangs in the balance. Caught between life and death for one revealing day, Mia has only one decision left, which will not only decide her future but her ultimate fate. Also starring are Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard as Mia’s parents, Kat and Denny, and Stacy Keach as Gramps.  Rounding out the main cast are Jakob Davies as Mia’s little brother, Liana Liberato as her best friend, Gabrielle Rose as Grandma, and Aisha Hinds as Nurse Ramirez. 

The Blu-ray and DVD have many special features, as well, including audio and music commentaries, and Beyond the Page interviews with the cast/crew and Gayle Forman.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Book Review: Under the Egg, by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

It was the find of the century.

Or so I thought at the time.

This was back when a great day meant finding a toaster oven on the curb with a sign reading WORKS GOOD. Or scoring a bag of day-old danishes (slightly stale), which taste like heavena fter months of plain oatmeal.

Manhattan's treasures are't hard to find. You just have to look.

This novel was a fun read - a mystery story combined with themes of friendship and others. I've read From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, admittedly a long time ago, and the book claims it as influence in its synopsis; I do remember that Mrs. Basil was a mystery of sorts too, and this novel included some historical events as well.

Official synopsis:
Under the Egg book review
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler meets Chasing Vermeer in this clever middle grade debut.

When Theodora Tenpenny spills a bottle of rubbing alcohol on her late grandfather’s painting, she discovers what seems to be an old Renaissance masterpiece underneath. That’s great news for Theo, who’s struggling to hang onto her family’s two-hundred-year-old townhouse and support her unstable mother on her grandfather’s legacy of $463. There’s just one problem: Theo’s grandfather was a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she worries the painting may be stolen.

With the help of some unusual new friends, Theo's search for answers takes her all around Manhattan, and introduces her to a side of the city—and her grandfather—that she never knew. To solve the mystery, she'll have to abandon her hard-won self-reliance and build a community, one serendipitous friendship at a time.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Virgin, by Radhika Sanghani, ends 11/11

Life as an adult virgin is more complicated than you might think. Obviously it is normal, there are thousands of us, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Choosing when to have sex is a completely individual decision, and everyone is different. Some people choose to wait till marriage, and some just want to wait for the right person. Others are religious, and others are just too busy being successful in every other area of their lives to worry about something as minor as intercourse.

At least, that's what the Internet said when I Googled it the second I got home from the doctor's office.

This book was hilarious, and I'm pretty sure everyone can relate to it, or even parts of it, at one time in their life or another. Ellie is a 21-year-old university student, and is also a virgin, something she'd like to change. All of her friends have already lost their virginities, most when they were 16 or 17 years old, and she wants to lose hers before she graduates from college.

Official synopsis:
Okay, I admit it ... I didn’t do it.


This is normal, right? I mean, just because everyone I know has talked like they’ve already done it doesn’t mean that they’re telling the truth…right?

It’s not like I’m asking for that much. I don’t need the perfect guy. I don’t need candlelight or roses. Honestly, I don’t even need a real bed.

The guys I know complain that girls are always looking for Mr. Right—do I have to wear a sign that says I’m only looking for Mr. Right Now?

Sooooo…anyone out there want sex? Anyone? Hello? Just for fun?

I am not going to die a virgin. One way or another I am going to make this happen.

Hey, what have I got to lose? Besides the obvious.

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Written in the Sand, by T.A. Foster and Mary-Kathryn Craft, ends 12/18

This was the last place she should be. The absolute last place. She woke up this morning in hot and dusty Dallas, and now she was standing outside of the Dock House while boats rocked in their slips.
The wind whipped through her hair. She hesitated. This was all wrong. She shouldn't be here, but she had to know. She had to see him again.

She pushed open the door, her heart in her throat, her palms dewy with perspiration, her breath fevered.

Was any of it real, or was it all just a flash of summer heat?

This is the story of Blair and Maggie, recently graduated college students who decide to housesit for a beach house one summer before they have to start their "real lives" (new jobs in different cities). They've been roommates for a while, and they're looking forward to rooming together one last time before they split up (Blair to Dallas and Maggie to Charleston). They're looking for summer flings, as well, but they don't know that their respective flings will start turning to real feelings by the end of the summer.

Official synopsis:
Blair is determined to stay on course. Her reporting career is waiting for her if she can just make it through summer on the island.

Justyn knows not to get attached to tourist girls breezing through town for only a season.

Maggie wants to cherish her last few months of summer freedom. So what if she has to keep a tiny secret to make sure everyone around her stays happy?

Reid doesn’t have time for romance. His new business must succeed, no matter the cost.

This summer everything is about to change. All those carefully laid plans might shift faster than the tides. When these four start spending time together, the island nights get hotter than the sun-drenched days. Trying to stay untangled and unattached is easier said than done when the one thing you want is standing right in front of you.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Book Review: Dirty Rowdy Thing, by Christina Lauren

I open my mouth, saying, "I should ..." and pointing vaguely north, toward home.

He nods, watching me put everything back on before he pats a heavy hand on the bed. "Harlow, you shouldn't run off." Pushing to sit at the edge of the mattress, he says, "Stay. Let me ... fuck, I don't know. Set up a bath for you, or ... just stay here. It was intense. Wasn't it intense?"

It was. It was so intense that I'm suddenly second-guessing everything that brought me here.

As I gather my things to leave, I'm not sure if being with Finn is an escape, or a new dangerous obsession.

This is the second novel in the Wild Seasons series, the first being Sweet Filthy Boy, which I reviewed back in June. Despite the somewhat R-rated title names, all of Christina Lauren's books are great reads, and I always enjoy reviewing them; I made it through this novel in about two days flat.

Official synopsis:
Despite their rowdy hookups, Harlow and Finn don’t even like each other ... which would explain why their marriage lasted only twelve hours. He needs to be in charge and takes whatever he wants. She lives by the Want-something-done? Do-it-yourself mantra. Maybe she’s too similar to the rugged fisherman - or just what he needs.

credit: Christina Lauren Facebook page

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: A World Without Princes (The School for Good and Evil #2), ends 11/5

"So let me get this straight," Hester glared, straddling a gilded sink next to Anadil, both in their saggy black Nevers' tunics. "Tedros wants to kill Sophie. Sophie wants to kill Tedros. And unless you find an ending with one of them now, everyone in this school dies."

Agatha nodded weakly, leaning against one of Honor Tower's ivory bathroom stalls, fitted with a sapphire toilet and tub. She never thought she'd be so happy to see two witches in her life.

A World Without Princes is the follow-up to The School for Good and Evil, which I reviewed in August 2013, and is the second of three books, the last of which will be out soon. In that review, I called it a mashup of The Hunger Games and the Harry Potter series, and this book follows that vein as well.

Official synopsis:

In the epic sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel, The School for Good and Evil, Sophie and Agatha are home, living out their Ever After. But life isn’t quite the fairy tale they expected.

When Agatha secretly wishes she’d chosen a different happy ending, she reopens the gates to the School for Good and Evil. But the world she and Sophie once knew has changed.

Witches and princesses, warlocks and princes are no longer enemies. New bonds are forming; old bonds are being shattered. But underneath this uneasy arrangement, a war is brewing and a dangerous enemy rises. As Agatha and Sophie battle to restore peace, an unexpected threat could destroy everything, and everyone, they love—and this time, it comes from within.

Soman Chainani has created a spectacular world that Newbery Medal-winning author Ann M. Martin calls, “a fairy tale like no other, complete with romance, magic, and humor that will keep you turning pages until the end.”

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Quick Pick: Better off Friends, by Elizabeth Eulberg

  • Opening lines: Guys and girls can be friends.
    Way to get to the point, Levi. 
  • Reason I picked up the book: The premise sounded cute, and I've read other books by the author, too.
  • And what's this book about?
  • For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

    Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?

    From romantic comedy superstar Elizabeth Eulberg comes a fresh, fun examination of a question for the ages: Can guys and girls ever really be just friends? Or are they always one fight away from not speaking again — and one kiss away from true love?
  • Favorite paragraph: 
I wanted my old Levi back.
Even if it was only as friends. 
The way he lashed out at me made me realize how delicate our relationship was. But he was too important to me, such a huge part of my life. I'd take him any way I could. Sure, there would always be something unspoken between us. An attraction we wouldn't act on. But would a high school romance really be worth sacrificing our friendship? 
No, we were better off friends. 
  • Recommended for: Anyone who likes a cute, quick read. You'll probably guess what the ending is, but it's fun seeing the characters get there.
  • Something to know: Elizabeth Eulberg mostly writes books about teens.
  • What I would have changed: Although I (correctly) predicted the ending, I felt that the book ended almost immediately after - I would have liked to have had another chapter or two.
  • Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
  • Where can I buy this book? Click here.

    *Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book from NetGalley for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014

    Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Keep Me Safe, by Maya Banks (Slow Burn #1), ends 10/29

    There was no limit to the possibilities and Ramie already knew the killer looked ... ordinary. Good-looking even. Neat and clean. Precise in his movements and meticulous in his dress.

    Most women would find such a man harmless in appearance and would be liable to feel comfortable and at ease around him. He was, no doubt, charming and likeable.

    What kind of world was it when such monsters lurked in seemingly benign waters?

    Slow Burn is the newest Maya Banks series, and it's just as good as the others I have read by her. Similar to her other books, it will be a trilogy, as well, and the first book gets the series off to a good start; the other books will follow characters who exist in the same world as Caleb and Ramie.

    Official synopsis:
    A sizzling story of a woman who risks her life and her heart to find a wealthy man’s missing sister - the first novel in a sexy new romantic suspense series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Maya Banks.

    When Caleb Devereaux's younger sister is kidnapped, this scion of a powerful and wealthy family turns to an unlikely source for help: a beautiful and sensitive woman with a gift for finding answers others cannot.

    While Ramie can connect to victims and locate them by feeling their pain, her ability comes with a price. Every time she uses it, it costs her a piece of herself. Helping the infuriatingly attractive and impatient Caleb successfully find his sister nearly destroys her. Even though his sexual intensity draws her like a magnet, she needs to get as far away from him as she can.

    Deeply remorseful for the pain he’s caused, Caleb is determined to make things right. But just when he thinks Ramie's vanished forever, she reappears. She’s in trouble and she needs his help. Now, Caleb will risk everything to protect her - including his heart ... 

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014

    Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Tumble Inn, by William Loizeaux, ends 10/28

    "Shall we send it?" she asked, riding the wave of her own enthusiasm. 

    "All right. But it's crazy," I said. "It won't fool anyone. Nothing will come of it."

    As it happened, everything would come of that ingenious letter, thought we couldn't have known that at the time. Now I wonder if Frann would have written it if she could have foreseen the path it would take us on, and if, in particular, she could have known where that path would lead her. For that matter, would I, the next morning, have so casually dropped the stamped envelope into the mailbox at the end of our block, through that little swinging door that you have to pull open, and when it closes of its own accord, it means you can't get the letter back?

    The Tumble Inn mostly takes place in a secluded part of New York, where Mark and Fran live and work. It details how they became innkeepers, what their lives were like as innkeepers, and how it changed once their daughter, Natalie, was born.

    Official synopsis:
    Tired of their high school teaching jobs and discouraged by their failed attempts at conceiving a child, Mark and Fran Finley decide they need a change in their lives. Abruptly, they leave their friends and family in suburban New Jersey to begin anew as innkeepers on a secluded lake in the Adirondack Mountains. There they muddle through their first season at the inn, serving barely edible dinners to guests, stranding themselves in chest-deep snowdrifts, and somehow, miraculously, amid swarms of ravenous black flies, conceiving a child, a girl they name Nat. Years later, when Mark and Fran are nearing middle age and Nat is a troubled teenager, Mark's life is ripped apart, forever changed, and he must choose between returning to his old home in New Jersey or trying to rebuild what is left of his life and family in the place of his greatest joy and deepest sorrow.

    The Tumble Inn is a moving drama about home and about the fragility and resilience of love.

    Tuesday, October 14, 2014

    Book Review: Real, by Katy Evans

    Review by: Gwendolyn Mulholland

    They're all gushing over the whole "experience" except Kyle, who's scowling as he climbs behind the wheel. " That was one weird-ass interview. in a fucking hotel room?" he protests.

    "Tell me about it." My woman's pride is pricked because somewhere down the line I'd convinced myself the guy wanted to sleep with me. Instead, he offers me a job? Not bad, but totally unexpected, that's for sure.

    I think I've got my sensors out of whack, and he's probably the one to blame too.

    Real is the first book in the Real series by author Katy Evans. It showcases Underground Fighting Star, Remington Tate and Brooke Dumas, the woman he hires to train him. That is the premise of the book's story line but the book does delve a little deeper when Brooke finds her sister high on "Coke" when she is thought to be traveling the world. This romance story is heavy on the sexual innuendos and fantasy so if you are not looking for that sort of reading, then this is not the book for you.

    Official Synopsis:
    Remington Tate has a bad-boy rep in and out of the ring, a granite-hard body, and a raw, animal power that sends his female fans into a frenzy. But from the moment their eyes lock, the only woman he wants is Brooke Dumas. His desire is pure, all-consuming, and REAL.

    Hired to keep his perfect body working like a machine, Brooke finally has the lucrative sports therapy job she’s been dreaming of. But as she tours the dangerous underground fighting circuit with Remy and his team, Brooke’s own body becomes alive with the most primal of hungers. If what happens between Brooke and Remy is ever as light as a flirtation, it quickly becomes an erotic obsession for them both, and promises so much more.

    But their white-hot lust has a dark side—and when Remy’s deepest secret comes to light and Brooke’s familial duties demand action, will the pair be able to hang on, or will everything that once seemed so real suddenly fade away like an illusion?

    Saturday, October 11, 2014

    GIVEAWAY: Ripley's Believe It or Not! Reality Shock, ends 10/25

    *Disclosure: Books I Think You Should Read did not receive compensation for this post and is not responsible for prize fulfillment.

    Ripley's Reality Shock Book Giveaway

    Sponsor: Ripley's Books

    I've partnered up with Queen of Savings and a few other bloggers to bring you this giveaway - it would be a great prize for anyone interested in Ripleys-esque facts, or would make a fun holiday gift!

    Reality Shock! is the 2015 edition of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! bestselling annual series. This incredible collection is loaded with unbelievable facts, amazing stories, and incredible animals. With amazing photography, zany stories and unbelievable facts and figures, this book is sure to be a favorite with adults and children alike.

    Prize: Ripley's Reality Shock Book
    Dates: 10/11-10/25
    Open to: US Residents 18+

    Enter to win using the widget below. Good luck!

    Thursday, October 9, 2014

    Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Vampires of Manhattan, by Melissa de la Cruz, ends 10/20 {2 winners!}

    "Whoever did this is going to burn," Oliver promised. The Code of the Vampires protected mortal as well as immortal life now; it was one of the first changes he had made as regent. Vampires who ran afoul of this law were in danger of losing their immortal lives.

    There were no more second chances, not in his coven.

    Vampires of Manhattan is the newest Blue Bloods novel from Melissa de la Cruz, but it's very different from the older books: it takes place ten years after the last book, so the former Gossip Girl-esque vampires are now in their late 20s/early 30s. It's also a NA book (New Adult), so it's a bit more PG-13 than the previous books.

    Official synopsis:
    Vampires of Manhattan is "hipster horror" - the memorable characters from her Blue Bloods series are older and cooler than before, trying to build "Millennial" lives in the bustle of Manhattan while battling forces of evil and, of course, each other.

    Hero of this sexy, paranormal action tale is Oliver Hazard-Perry, former human conduit, and Manhattan's only human-turned-vampire, now the head of the Blue Bloods Coven. When his all-too-human lover is found murdered on the eve of the coven's annual Four Hundred Ball - a celebration meant to usher in a new era in vampire society, and to mark the re-unification of the Coven after decades of unrest and decay - Oliver is devastated.

    Now, not only is he trying to create a new world order for the immortal elite, he's the prime suspect and is stalked by the newly installed head of the vampire secret police. Because according to the new rules, vampires who take human life can now be executed. Burned.

    How can an immortal sentenced to die fight back? He has to find the killer - and the answers lie deep in vampire lore.

    Sunday, September 28, 2014

    Book Review: Burying Water, by K.A. Tucker

    We lie among the fluffy pillows, listening to the fire crackle, smelling the burning leaves - I stuffed a few handfuls into the woodstove, just because I love the smell of burning leaves.

    Her breathing evens out, her heart beats steady against my side.

    I absorb all of it.

    As I fall fast and hard.

    K.A. Tucker is maybe best known for her Ten Tiny Breaths series, and I've reviewed all of the books in that series. Because of that, I was excited to see that she was coming out with a new book (which, according to the afterword, sounds like it may be a new series, actually). Burying Water has Tucker's flair for prose, combined with new characters and situations that are different than most in the TTB series, and it's a great read.

    Official synopsis:
    The top-selling, beloved indie author of Ten Tiny Breaths returns with a new romance about a young woman who loses her memory—and the man who knows that the only way to protect her is to stay away.

    Left for dead in the fields of rural Oregon, a young woman defies all odds and survives—but she awakens with no idea who she is, or what happened to her. Refusing to answer to “Jane Doe” for another day, the woman renames herself “Water” for the tiny, hidden marking on her body—the only clue to her past. Taken in by old Ginny Fitzgerald, a crotchety but kind lady living on a nearby horse farm, Water slowly begins building a new life. But as she attempts to piece together the fleeting slivers of her memory, more questions emerge: Who is the next-door neighbor, quietly toiling under the hood of his Barracuda? Why won’t Ginny let him step foot on her property? And why does Water feel she recognizes him?

    Twenty-four-year-old Jesse Welles doesn’t know how long it will be before Water gets her memory back. For her sake, Jesse hopes the answer is never. He knows that she’ll stay so much safer—and happier—that way. And that’s why, as hard as it is, he needs to keep his distance. Because getting too close could flood her with realities better left buried.

    The trouble is, water always seems to find its way to the surface.

    Friday, September 26, 2014

    Book Review: Sublime, by Christina Lauren

    He jumps from curbs and trucks, train cars and the cables between. He rides over an icy rope bridge he's never been able to balance on before, along a narrow train track and slips only twice. The sound of the train as it roars down the track, closer and closer, only makes him see more clearly, breathe freer. Feel alive. He does backflips he shouldn't. He rides until his outsides feel as battered as his insides. 

    He tries to pretend that he's not looking in every shadow for her. He decides it doesn't matter. Nothing matters. Death lingers in cars, in quiet school buildings, and beneath the freezing earth. Death is everywhere, but his ghost is gone.

    When he makes it back to his room in the thick of the night, he's bruised and covered in scrapes. He suspects one of his ribs is cracked, but he's alive and Lucy is only a memory.

    This is the first non-erotica book by Christina Lauren (the writing duo of Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings) that they've written, and it was very good. If you thought your relationship was hard, Lucy and Colin have it much worse - he's a daredevil, and she's a ghost, except everyone can see her. She's not sure what's tethering her to Colin's prep school, but she does know she feels some sort of connection with him, and he with her.

    Official synopsis:
    True love may mean certain death in a ghostly affair of risk and passion from New York Times bestselling duo Christina Lauren, authors of Beautiful Bastard. Tahereh Mafi, New York Times bestselling author of Shatter Me calls Sublime “a beautiful, haunting read."

    When Lucy walks out of a frozen forest, wearing only a silk dress and sandals, she isn’t sure how she got there. But when she sees Colin, she knows for sure that she’s here for him.

    Colin has never been captivated by a girl the way he is by Lucy. With each passing day their lives intertwine, and even as Lucy begins to remember more of her life—and her death—neither of them is willing to give up what they have, no matter how impossible it is. And when Colin finds a way to physically be with Lucy, taking himself to the brink of death where his reality and Lucy’s overlap, the joy of being together for those brief stolen moments drowns out everything in the outside world. But some lines weren’t meant to be crossed …

    Tuesday, September 23, 2014

    GIVEAWAY: 2 signed copies of Love Like the Movies, by Victoria Van Tiem, ends 9/30

    Back in April, I reviewed the novel Love Like the Movies, by Victoria Van Tiem. It's definitely a fun book for movie buffs like myself, and I enjoyed reading it.

    I did an e-copy giveaway of the book then, and now the author has graciously allowed me to give away two more copies of the book, in trade paperback, to some of my lucky readers! Best of all, the copies are signed and are available to U.S., Canadian, and U.K. readers.

    If you don't want to wait to get your copy of Love Like the Movies, you can purchase it here from Amazon.

    To enter the giveaway:

    Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway will end on Tuesday, September 30th, at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be notified via email on October 1st. Winners will have 24 hours to respond, otherwise an alternate winner(s) will be chosen.

    Open to U.S., Canada, and U.K. residents, please.

    Good luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Thursday, September 18, 2014

    Cover Reveal: Chasing the Tide, by A. Meredith Walters

    So normally I don't do "cover reveal" posts; however, Chasing the Tide is the sequel to A. Meredith Walters' novel Reclaiming the Sand, which is still one of my favorite books of 2014 so far (review here; buy the book here). I had no idea that the author had written a sequel until I heard that the cover was coming out soon, so here we are.

    Presenting: Chasing the Tide.

    Tuesday, September 16, 2014

    Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Taking It All, by Maya Banks (Surrender Trilogy, #3), ends 9/24

    She was his security blanket. The only solid thing in his world where everything else was uncertain. He'd taken her for granted, had shit on her repeatedly over the last two years, and he'd never realized the extent of his neglect. Until now.

    He'd done what he'd vowed never to do: Made her feel unwanted. Invisible. Just as her parents had done. Self-loathing ate at him, digging a yawning chasm in his heart and soul.

    How could he possibly imagine a future without her?

    This novel is the final novel in the Surrender trilogy, by Maya Banks, and I reviewed and did giveaways for both Letting Go (March 2014) and Giving In (May 2014) previously. This book explores the relationship of the third woman in their circle of friends, Chessy, and her dominant husband, Tate.

    Official synopsis:
    Chessy and Tate have been married for several years. In the beginning, their relationship was everything she wanted. Passionate. All consuming. She offered her submission freely and Tate cherished her gift with a tenderness that made her feel safe. Content. Wanted. And loved beyond all measure. But as the years have gone by, Tate has become more immersed in making his business the success it has become, and Chessy has taken a back seat to his business obligations. Growing unhappier with the status of their once blissful marriage, Chessy knows that something has to give. Or they stand to lose it all

    Tate loves his wife. Has always loved her. Providing for her has always been his number one priority. But lately she’s seemed unhappy, and he’s worried. Worried enough that he arranges for a night together that he hopes will reignite the fire that once burned like an inferno between them.

    But a business call at the wrong time threatens everything. Chessy’s safety, his concentration, his wife’s faith in him as her husband, a man sworn to love and protect her above all else. Gutted with the realization that he’s going to lose her—has already lost her—he readies for the fight of his life. Whatever it takes, he’ll get her back. And prove to her that nothing is more important than her love. And that if she’ll allow him to prove himself one more time, he’ll take it all. Everything. But he’ll give far more back. Himself. His undying love.

    Sunday, September 14, 2014

    The Fault in Our Stars on Blu-ray: Favorite moments from the film #TFIOS

    "The Greatest Romance Story of this decade" is releasing on DVD and Blu-ray on September 16th. As a member of The Fault In Our Stars Ambassador Program, I have helped in creating a list of the top moments from the film that I would love to relive!

    Featuring brilliant performances from Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort that made the film a favorite of fans and critics alike, this inspirational modern day tale of star-crossed lovers will have you going from laughter to tears and back again.

    Have you read the book or seen the movie? (or both?)

    I read the book back in August 2013 (click above for review) and was able to screen the movie a few weeks before it came to theaters. I thought they did a great job of adapting it for the big screen (though as usual, the book is ALWAYS better!), and reading the book inspired me to search out and read John Green's other novels, such as Paper Towns, which will also be adapted for the big screen, with Nat Wolff (from TFIOS) in the main protagonist role.

    The other TFIOS Ambassador Program bloggers and I came up with a list of our favorite moments from the film, too:

    What are your favorite moments from the movie that you would like to relive? Comment with your favorites and you will be entered to win a copy of TFIOS - Little Infinities Extended Edition Blu-ray!


    Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway will end on Friday, September 26th at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be emailed on September 27th and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

    U.S. and Canadian residents only, please.

    Good luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Friday, September 12, 2014

    Exclusive Clip: The Fault In Our Stars - John Green and Josh Boone Intro #TFIOS

    The Fault in our Stars Blu-ray

    The Fault in Our Stars will be out on Blu-ray on September 16th - check back later to win a copy here! - and today I have an exclusive, yet-unreleased film clip that will be on the Blu-ray.

    {and if you're a TFIOS fanatic like me, you can click here to pre-order the Blu-ray!}

    Author John Green and director Josh Boone introduce the film and share a few words with their viewers - check it out:

    Friday, September 5, 2014

    Quick Pick: The Here and Now, by Ann Brashares

    • Opening lines: His dad had to work, so Ethan had gone fishing alone. Usually he just followed his dad through the woods to the deep bends of the creek, slapping at the prickers around his ankles. This time he was confounded by how little he knew his way even though he'd been here again and again. After today, though, he'd know.
    • Reason I picked up the book: I love Ann Brashares' Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, and I usually love books about time travel, as well. 
    • And what's this book about?
    • An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

      Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

      This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

      Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

      But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.
    • Favorite paragraph: 
    No one talks about what really binds us together. The gap between what we say and what we feel is so big and dark that sometimes i think I'll fall into it and just keep falling. 
    At least, I think we feel it. I feel it. Does anybody else feel it? I don't know and I won't find out. We follow our scripts like actors in a very large, very long production. And even with no audience, none of us gives a hint that it isn't real.
    I look at the people sitting around this circle. They are my friends. I care about them. This is my life. They are talking about their belts and their shoes and the car they want to get and the show they saw, and I can't hear them because the ghosts are too loud. 
    • Recommended for: Anyone who likes YA fiction or time travel, even though this book wasn't as good as other time travel books I've read. Also anyone who likes sci-fi.
    • Something to know: This is a stand-alone book.
    • What I would have changed: Normally I like Ann Brashares' books, but this one was just okay. The time travel premise, and the reason they traveled back to 2014 or so, was interesting, but could have been explored more. The relationship between the two main characters (one is a "traveler" and one is a "time native," as in he's in his correct time period) is "insta-love," which I tend to dislike. 
    • Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
    • Where can I buy this book? Click here.

      *Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book from NetGalley for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

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