Monday, June 30, 2014

'The Trouble With Flying' by Rachel Morgan

The Trouble With Flying - PROMO Blitz
By Rachel Morgan
Young Adult/New Adult
Date Published: June 24, 2014

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When introvert Sarah boards a plane to fly home after an overseas holiday, the last thing she expects is Aiden, the guy sitting next to her who’s never flown anywhere before and refuses to shut up. Hours of random conversation later, they part ways. Sarah can’t stop thinking about Aiden, though, and wondering if she made a terrible mistake letting him go. Should she abandon her safe, predictable life and go in search of him, or would she be chasing a happily ever after that could never exist in real life?



I don’t make friends on aeroplanes. I know there are people who like to strike up a conversation with the complete stranger sitting next to them, but that’s not me. It’s not that I’m an unfriendly person. It’s more the fact that the conversation centre of my brain seems to seize up in the presence of strangers, and I can’t for the life of me figure out what to say. And even if the other person is happy to simply babble on while I pretend to listen and be interested, I’d really rather be doing something else. Like reading. Or watching a movie. Or sleeping. Or trying to figure out how to stop crying.
Yes. Crying. Because if being shy and awkward isn’t enough, today I’m adding red eyes, tears, and suppressed sobs to the embarrassing mix. 
I stare out the tiny, oval window at the patches of reflected light on the wet runway and silently ask God to leave the seat next to me empty. I can’t deal with a chatty neighbour right now. I’d rather watch the black sky and incessant rain until we reach cruising altitude. Then I’ll close my eyes and let sleep take the pain away. 
Oh, STOP IT. It’s not like someone died. 
I wiggle around a bit in my seat and sniff, trying to listen to my inner pep-talk voice. Think of the good things, I tell myself. I’m on my way home. I’m leaving behind the dreary, wet weather for a sunny, summer climate. That, at least, should make me happy. But thinking about home leads to thoughts ofwho I’m flying towards, and that only makes my stomach twist further. 
I hear the sound of a bag being dumped onto the seat at the end of my row. There are only three seats between the window and the aisle—mine and two others—so there’s a fifty-fifty chance this person is about to plonk him or herself down right next to me. 
I angle myself more towards the window and swipe my fingers beneath my eyes. I start the furious tear-banishing blinking. Stop crying, stop crying, stop crying. All I need now is for someone to see my blotchy, wet face and start asking me what’s wrong. 
I hear someone settling into a seat. I don’t feel movement right beside me, so it must be the aisle seat. Fantastic. I send up a quick thank-you prayer and remind God that it would be spectacularly awesome if He could keep the seat next to me empty. 
A tickle inside my left nostril alerts me to the fact that my nose is dribbling. I sniff, but it doesn’t help.Crap, where are my tissues? I lean forward and reach down by my feet for my handbag. Brown strands of hair fall in front of my face and block my vision, but if I can just get the zip open and feel past my purse to the tissues— 
No. Too late. Now it’s trickling down my lip and I’m digging around in the bag and I can’t feel the stupid tissues and a drop of tear-snot just landed on my hand and yuck! I haul the ridiculous handbag—I told Jules I didn’t need something so big—onto my lap with one hand while holding the back of my other hand to my nose. And there the tissues are. Right next to my purse. Perfectly easy to find. I rip one from the packet and jam it against my nose to stop the tear-snot flood. 
And that’s when I catch a glimpse of the guy sitting in the aisle seat. A quick sideways glimpse, but enough to tell me he’s cute. Excellent cheekbones, a strong jawline, and perfectly messy dark brown hair. Terrific. My nose is dripping snot in front of a cute guy. Not that I should care that he’s cute, or that he’s a guy, because it’s not like I’m going to talk to him, and it’s not like I’m even available—am I? I don’t actually know. And thinking about that makes me want to cry all over again—but STILL. I don’t want to look blotchy and snotty in front of a cute guy.

Rachel Morgan was born in South Africa and spent a large portion of her childhood living in a fantasy land of her own making. After completing a degree in genetics, she decided science wasn't for her--after all, they didn't approve of made-up facts. These days she spends much of her time immersed in fantasy land once more, writing fiction for young adults.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

'A Girl Between (War of the Witches Part 1)' by Marjorie Weismantel


“I am cursed; I am divine. I am ancient; I am destined. I am life; I am death. I am a witch.” This is a story of Tess, a 16 year old girl who finds herself an unwitting participant in a myriad of disturbing events. She is forced to move with her aunt and cousins to the mysterious town of Woodley, Connecticut, where she manages to make a few friends. Along the way, Tess also discovers many enemies while finding herself at the confluence of forces she’s at a loss to explain. She finally discovers that she’s lived as a witch in many past lives, including times when she suffered horrific persecution. There, she’s forewarned of evil powers practiced by others, and how her own past foreshadows her crucial role in an apocalyptic battle of good against evil.

Read an excerpt:
Mother and daughter lay close together to ward away the damp. Suddenly, the cell door creaked open and the jailer came in accompanied by the blacksmith. The jailer gazed impassively at the woman and grunted, "It's time." 
The woman extricated herself from her daughter and meekly extended her arms. She winced as the blacksmith gruffly lay down her manacles and pounded them off. The little girl pushed herself up and cried, "Momma, are we leaving here?"

"I must go Elsa," the mother answered with a steady voice while she bent and wiped the tears from her daughter's face.  
"Momma, where are you going? Please don't leave me!" The young girl wailed. 
The jailer grasped the mother's arm and shoved her to the cell door as her daughter stretched her hands toward her. At the door, her mother stopped, looked back at her daughter with weary eyes and proclaimed, "Elsa dear, please keep me in your heart and do not forget the injustice we suffer here on this day." The condemned woman then straightened her shoulders and lifted her head as the jailer led her up the stairs. The child put her fists to her eyes and screamed. Others in the cell pressed their hands to their ears. It was agony to hear. There was nothing they could do. She finally fell back in the hay and wept. 
"Child, come sit by me if you like," the old hag with gentle eyes beckoned to her. "I fear that your mother will not be returning to you." The girl looked at the old woman and wiped her eyes with her ragged sleeve. She sniffed again, but the tears had stopped. She sank into the hay, staring out with dead eyes. 
Outside, her mother was pushed into the cart with the others. A mob of people were waiting for them to pass. Some just watched the cart jostle by. Others jeered and threw rotten apples at them. Gradually, they made their way down the road and up the hill to the ancient oak. 
When it was the woman's turn to hang, the last thing she heard were the final words of the reverend, "Ye shall now be returned to the house of the devil to burn in the fires of eternal damnation."

More about the book:

A Girl Between targets teens as well as young and older adults who have a young and open outlook. The book delves into subjects that have not had much exposure: witches, regression hypnosis, reincarnation, and the afterlife. A Girl Between tells the story of an unassuming teenager who through a myriad of events comes to realize she processes extraordinary powers. The story combines the everyday social struggles of today's teenager with past historical times of witch persecutions, culminating in an apocalyptic battle of good witches versus evil, with life lessons that can be learned by both young and old.

About the Author

Marjorie Weismantel is a high school teacher and mother of three who has enjoyed and valued her many experiences with young adults. While an avid reader of all kinds of books, her favorite genre has been the supernatural, and so, writing a book for young people with a paranormal theme comes naturally to her. She particularly likes to write about things we might contemplate at odd hours of the night but believe will never actually happen; where the outcomes are slightly askew and don’t fit neatly into a box. Her objective is to create an alternate world that readers desire to visit and stay for a while. Marjorie enjoys traveling around the U.S. in a motor home, viewing the beauty of nature and our national parks, and visiting the many wonderful historical sites. When not traveling, she resides in Connecticut with her husband, dog, and two cats.

Friday, June 27, 2014

'Carnelian (Chalcedony Chronicles #1)' by B. Kristin McMichael

Carnelian (Chalcedony Chronicles #1)
by B. Kristin McMichael
Release Date: 02/01/14
200 pages

Summary from Goodreads:

Everyone has a past, but for most it isn’t as long ago as Seth Sangre. His past is literally thousands of years ago. Seth’s life led him to the present seeking something that might help him save his country from destruction. He has been in the present for over three years now and just found exactly what he has been looking for.

Mari had dreams that college will be a fresh start, one where she would start over and not fall for the good looking player like high school. Unfortunately for her, that’s exactly what ends up falling into her lap on the first day she moves into the dorms. Now she has to hold to her promise to herself and not fall for the handsome Seth. But he doesn’t plan to make it easy for her. Seth has already marked her as his next conquest. As the semester progresses, Mari learns that Seth might just have a life of his own that’s actually from the past.

Suddenly Mari finds her future along with her past put into question. She’s connected to Seth far more than she ever wanted to be and maybe the player isn’t who she thought he was. If Mari can trust her heart enough to follow him, Seth will lead Mari on an adventure of a lifetime and reveal family secrets she never knew existed.

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About the Author:

Originally from Wisconsin, B. Kristin currently resides in Ohio with her husband, two small children, and three cats. When not doing the mom thing of chasing kids, baking cookies, and playing outside, she is using her PhD in biology as a scientist. In her free time she is currently hard at work on multiple novels. Every day is a new writing adventure. She is a fan of all YA/NA fantasy and science fiction.

Author Links:

1 grand prize of signed copies of both Carnelian and Chrysoprase
2 runners-up can get signed copies of Carnelian

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review of the Breaking series by Juliana Haygert

Breaking the Reins (Book #1)

Blurb from Goodreads:

Horses, mansions, tea parties, and lies are twenty-year-old Hannah Taylor’s life. To others, her family and her relationship with Eric is perfect. But she knows the truth. She lives it.

After a fire takes her grandma's life and kills her horse, Hannah's immaculate life spirals out of control. Her father disapproves of her decision to run her grandma’s ranch instead of focusing solely on learning the family business; Animal Control brings her Argus, a mistreated horse that she can't turn away even though she's not ready for another horse; and her boyfriend, Eric Bennett, a world famous polo player, becomes possessive and authoritarian. Despite her best efforts to disguise it, Hannah grows wary of him.

Then, Leonardo Fernandes struts onto the polo scene. A cocky rookie with a messy life of his own, he’s drawn to Hannah and isn’t afraid of showing it, even when Eric makes it clear she is his and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep it that way. Hannah suffers for Eric’s jealousy. The abuse only gets worse when Leo steals the title of best polo player in the world from Eric.

But the title isn’t enough for Leo. He wants Hannah too, and she can’t deny her attraction to him either. Somehow, she must find a way to break free from abusive Eric before he breaks every bone in her body.

**My thoughts** 

This book took me a while to read, and I mean that in a good way. I didn't want to rush through it. I was completely caught up in Hannah's world. I enjoyed daydreaming about finding my own hottie Brazilian man, because Leo is luscious. I loved all of the horses and felt like I was right there in the middle of all of the action.

Eric is a total jerk. I am sad that such characters have to exist, because they are people just like him in real life. He is kind of scary!

This was a book that I enjoyed over several afternoons, sipping coffee on the back deck. I looked forward to the sequel!

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Breaking Fences (The Breaking Series, #2)
by Juliana Haygert
Genre: NA contemporary romance
Word Count: ~80,000
Release date: June/2014
Cover by: Okay Creations

Summary from Goodreads:

All Beatriz “Bia” Fernandes wants is to prove herself—to her family and friends—though it’s hard to prove anything with an overbearing father and three famous polo-playing older brothers. After her acceptance into college results in a heated family argument, the Brazilian girl leaves everything behind to find her own American dream.

College life away from home is perfect until the people she believes to be her friends turn on her. With lies and rumors threatening to suffocate her, Bia turns to her only freedom. Riding.

But one thing gets in the way of her escape. Garrett Blackwell and his bad cowboy attitude. Working at the ranch is his obligation, bugging Bia is his newfound hobby. His thick skin and easy grin don’t hide what Bia already knows—this misunderstood and lonely cowboy fights his own demons. Brushing horses’ coats and mucking out stalls shouldn’t be this sexy, and it isn’t long before he becomes a part of her distraction.

However, escaping won’t solve her problems, and it’s up to Bia to break down the fences around her and prove her strength—not to her family and friends, but to herself … and for Garrett. Because standing on her own doesn’t have to mean standing alone.

** Companion novel of Breaking the Reins. Can be read out of order.**

**My thoughts**

I really like Bia. I almost liked her better than Hannah, though I related better to Hannah. Bia is flawed. She is beautiful and headstrong and knows what she wants to do with her life, but society at college is knocking her down. She is still determined and wants to persevere. She goes on quite the rollercoaster ride. Sometimes I wanted to yell at her for her choices and her knee-jerk responses. But at the same time, I couldn't blame her. The men in her life all need to be smacked, at least once. Appropriate ones may be forgiven, though.

I really liked this book, too, and hope there is a third one in the works. 

Caution to younger readers: This is a new adult title, which means it gets quite racy! I needed a fan and some ice water!

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About the author:

New adult author and contributor at NA Alley blog.

While Juliana Haygert dreams of being Wonder Woman, Buffy, or a blood elf shadow priest, she settles for the less exciting—but equally gratifying—life of a wife, mother, and author. Thousands of miles away from her former home in Brazil, she now resides in Connecticut and spends her days writing about kick-ass heroines and the heroes who drive them crazy.

Author Links:

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Review of 'The Unintentional Time Traveler' by Everett Maroon

Young Adult Sci-Fi
Date Published:
February 24, 2014


Fifteen-year-old Jack Bishop has mad skills with cars and engines, but knows he’ll never get a driver’s license because of his epilepsy. Agreeing to participate in an experimental clinical trial to find new treatments for his disease, he finds himself in a completely different body—that of a girl his age, Jacqueline, who defies the expectations of her era. Since his seizures usually give him spazzed out visions, Jack presumes this is a hallucination. Feeling fearless, he steals a horse, expecting that at any moment he’ll wake back up in the clinical trial lab. When that doesn't happen, Jacqueline falls unexpectedly in love, even as the townorin the past becomes swallowed in a fight for its survival. Jack/Jacqueline is caught between two lives and epochs, and must find a way to save everyone around him as well as himself. And all the while, he is losing time, even if he is getting out of algebra class.

Read an excerpt:
Jack Bishop has epilepsy. In this scene his doctor has triggered a seizure. During which, Jack finds himself transported into the body of a girl named Jacqueline who is starting her school day in an old-fashioned, single room school house. Jack doesn’t adapt very well to the sudden change of scenery...


I bolted out the door.

The teacher called out after me, rushing to the front of the school. I untied Lucille’s horse from his post and jumped up on him again, this time struggling to get my hips over his back because he was already galloping. He was more than happy to race off, back down the hill. I hunkered down with my arms around his thick neck, and heard Lucille’s voice, no longer so cheery: “Mrs. Jayme, she’s stealing my horse! Jacqueline, stop!”

I looked over my shoulder and watched the already small schoolhouse shrink before the curve of the hill blocked it from view. We passed a wooded area on our right, and I listened to the horse’s hoof beats as we traveled outside the edge of the village. At the bottom of the long hill the animal slowed and then stopped to nibble on some weeds growing next to the road. Cars definitely had an advantage over this shit. I heard rushing water, so I pulled the horse’s neck toward it and we trotted over, through weeds and brambles that got thicker as we went. I had to grip the saddle tight with my thighs to keep from falling off. And once again I was reminded that I didn’t have my boy junk. My stomach considered revolting. I had passed the tree line and under the lush branches, finally felt a little more at home. Maybe these were the same woods where Sanjay, Jeannine and I relaxed after school, and I was re-crafting them here in my mind. We didn’t have a river, but we had the same humid air and cushiony, moss-covered earth. I threw myself back over the saddle and crashed to the ground. Bad, bad hallucination. The horse, for his part, seemed content to nibble at the green stuff that grew next to the tree roots.

When would I be back home? Why was I in this place? Couldn’t I have created a nicer environment if I had to be seizing?

Seizing. I wondered if I was having a terrible or worst-ever episode, and if this whole series of events was evidence that I was sicker than usual, or dying. Maybe I’d wake up in the doctor’s office, or maybe inside an ambulance. Well, that didn’t make sense, since the study took place at the hospital. Dumbass. I stood up, brushing off old leaves and clumps of dirt, and wiping my hands on the front of my wool pants. My hip, which stuck out farther from me than I was used to, ached from where I’d landed on it. I had wandered away toward a sharp curve in the river. It wasn’t as large as say, the Mississippi, but at this spot it was a good twenty yards across. Cool water met my skin as I put my hand in the river, and I could see the polished stones that sat at the bottom. Next to the flow was a puddle, some kind of spot where water occasionally overflowed here and got stagnant, and grew mosquitos.

I leaned over the puddle and looked at myself. Angular features, small nose, dark brown eyes and hair. A similar but less full jaw line than mine. I wasn’t very old yet, maybe eight or nine or ten, but I could discern how different this girl’s body was from my real one. My hands curled into fists tightly enough that I yelped from the pain of my fingernails in my palms. Geez, even my hands were different—slender, with tiny knuckles. Vision or not, I didn’t care. Without thinking I picked up a rock and hurled it into the river.

“Careful,” said a voice from behind me, “you’ll hurt the fish.”

I swung around, another stone in my hand, searching for whoever had spoken.

“Up here,” said a boy sitting high in a tall tree.

“Leave me alone,” I said. “I don’t care about the fish.”

“What an angry girl you are.”

“Go away.” For a place as desolate as this, I sure ran into a lot of people.

“Pray tell, why are you so upset?” he asked, shifting his weight.

The branch fluttered.

“You wouldn’t understand.”

“Why not?”

“Shouldn’t you be in school?”

“Shouldn’t you?” he asked. Even behind the large leaves I could tell he was smiling. God, I hated smiling.

“If you don’t leave, I’ll throw these rocks at you!”

“I don’t think you can throw that far.” He kept one hand on the tree trunk. He wore torn brown knickers cinched at his knees, a gray button down, collarless shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and thin laced shoes that each sported a small hole where the balls of his feet had worn through the hide. His messy, dark bangs clapped against his forehead and suggested he was not fond of a barber’s chair.

I considered showing the little brat that I didn’t throw like the girl he thought I was, when all of a sudden he came crashing out of the tree. It was a twisting, snapping fall that elapsed in several portions as his body hit strong branches and by the time he smashed onto the forest carpet I had made up the ground from the river bank to his tree.

He was breathing, wincing with each inhale. His legs flexed at terrible angles. Tears cut lines over his dirty skin.

“I’ve never fallen before,” he said in a hoarse whisper. “You’re bad luck, you.”

**My thoughts**

I am not a fan of sci-fi. Yet, something in this book's description caught my attention and made me want to read it. I am not sure if it was the twist about a boy going back in time to be in a girl's body, or the part about epilepsy, or simply the part about being involved in mysteries that span two lifetimes. I do find time-travel interesting, but so often it doesn't do much for me. I was completely drawn into this story, though, from the get-go.

It starts out with Jack going through his epilepsy studies, and then having his initial encounters in the past. Of course, everyone tries to tell him that he is just hallucinating, but it all feels real. It feels real to Jack, but even felt real to me, the reader. 

I found myself reaching back into my knowledge of history and being intrigued by the happenings. On occasion I questioned the way that some of the people spoke in the past, but it wasn't enough to completely distract me from the story. I didn't feel like I ever really got confused between the past and the present, which can sometimes happen in a time-travel adventure. 

I noticed that this book is the first one in a series. I am intrigued enough with Jack to continue following it as those become available.

Buy links

About the author:

Everett Maroon is a memoirist, pop culture commentator, and speculative fiction writer. He lives in Walla Walla, Washington with his partner and two children, one of whom really wants to get a dog. Everett tweets at @everettmaroon and blogs at



Friday, June 20, 2014

'The Fox's Mask (Kitsune Trilogy #1)' by Anna Frost

The Fox's Mask (Kitsune Trilogy #1)

by Anna Frost



Demon hunter Akakiba keeps many secrets from his human companion. The fact he's a werefox isn't the worst one.

In feudal Japan, magic is dying. As a demon hunter, Akakiba finds this problematic. The evil he's been trained to destroy is disappearing and, along with it, the shape-shifting abilities of the clan he left behind. With his only companion, a determined young human named Yuki, Akakiba traverses the country slaying demons and performing odd jobs.

But when an army of demon-possessed humans masses to exterminate his clan, Akakiba must put aside old feuds and protect his family–-all while hiding an important secret from Yuki. Will they find a way to defeat the demon possessed before it's too late? With magic dwindling, will it matter either way?

Read an excerpt:
Sometime later, the boy woke.

“I’m hungry,” he said shyly. “Are we there yet?”

“Do you want a rice cake, um, you?” Yuki blinked. “Uh, you never gave us your name.”

“I’m Taro, because I’m the firstborn in my family,” he explained as if they couldn’t figure out that a person named “eldest son” was likely to be the eldest son.

After discovering Taro’s name, they also discovered that once he was finished being awed into silence, it was very difficult to get him to stop talking.

“Why is your name Akakiba?” Taro asked. “Is it a warrior name?”

“No. It’s the name I was born with.”

“Why would your parents pick that name?”

“My father is named Kiba, the fang. My mother is Akahana, the red rose. They compromised with Akakiba, the red fang.”

“Oh. Do you always wear your swords?”


“Even when you sleep?”


“Even when you take a bath?”


There was an all-too-brief moment of silence before Taro asked another question. “Why is it the Fox clan and not the Dragon clan? Foxes don’t fight demons, dragons do.”

Yuki intervened, perhaps sensing Akakiba’s growing impatience. “Foxes fight demons too. Don’t you know the legend?”

"There’s no legend with fighting foxes,” Taro asserted.

“Is that so? Then I can’t tell you about it since it doesn’t exist...”

"Tell me!”

Yuki’s voice softened as he began. “A long time ago, when foxes were more than mere animals and possessed great powers, it wasn’t rare for them to take our likeness and live among us unseen. It so happened that a fox disguised as a beautiful lady fell in love with a strong and honorable samurai. They married and lived happily for a time.

“One day, a dog wandered into their garden and started chasing the fox lady. So afraid was she that she turned back into a fox and leaped to safety on top of a wall. Having witnessed the scene, the samurai begged her not to leave, swearing to love her forever even if she were a fox. She heard truth in his voice and returned to him. They had many children and lived happily for a time longer.

“In those days, demons were strong and cruel, and they despised foxes for their willingness to side with humanity against them. One such demon descended upon their home and killed the samurai before the fox lady’s eyes. In her anguish, she took up her husband’s sword and slew the monster.

“The fox lady’s sorrow was, however, too great to bear; a wasting sickness took her, and she was soon on her deathbed. Sensing her death approaching, she told her children that they were to become slayers of demons, for nothing else would allow her to rest in peace. Her children obeyed and founded the Fox clan to honor their mother. Ever since, the Fox clan’s warriors have been fighting demons wherever they can be found.”

Akakiba glanced at his friend with surprise. “I didn’t know you knew the legend.”

“I didn’t know it before. Someone in the village told the story during the festival. You should have told me. It’s interesting.”

Akakiba heard the unspoken reproach: You never tell me anything. But why should he? There was no need to speak of his clan. He himself hadn’t dealt with them in years, not since he rebelled, left the clan house, and found Yuki.

Taro spoke up. “But how did the fox lady know how to use a sword?”

Akakiba and Yuki sighed in unison. The road would be a long one.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Anna Frost is a Canadian girl who spends winters writing and dreaming of summer. An overdose of Japanese culture and media has led her to write fantasy inspired by Japanese mythology. In a shocking break with literary tradition, Anna does not live with cats. Instead she lives with chinchillas, which can be just as demanding and evil as cats.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Review of the Diamond Girls series by Elisa Dane

Ex Factor
by Elisa Dane
Release Date: 04/22/14

Summary from Goodreads:

Nevaeh Evan’s life is uprooted after her father’s death, when she moves in with her aunt and cousin, Livvie. Her plan to lay low at her new high school isn’t working. Her friend’s jerky boyfriend keeps asking her out, the guy she likes treats her like garbage, and the thought of tumbling again makes her want to hurl.

So when her aunt pushes her into joining the elite X-FACTOR cheer leading squad, Navaeh goes along with it.

But Nev feels she doesn’t deserve to be happy. Not after what happened the night her father died.

Bodie Scott knows about grief all too well. Critically injured in an alcohol related accident the year before, Bodie struggles with the fact that he’ll never play football again, and he’s so far behind in credits he can’t see straight. That is, until he meets Nev. Haunted by their bloody pasts and wary of a shared future, Nev and Bodie turn to one another for comfort and support, and realize they’re not so alone after all. And when the party scene at school threatens the life of a loved one, the two stop at nothing to keep the past from repeating itself.

**My thoughts**

This book was a blend of Bring It On, Stick It, an ABC After-School Special, and my own life. The Bring It On part of course is the cheerleading competition aspect of the book. I thought of Stick It with Nev's attitude as she adjusts to her new life. The After School Special part stems from the consequences of the alcohol-related accident. As for my own life, I could very easily relate to losing your mother to Alzheimer's and having your father die. Granted, I am twice as old as these characters, but the pain is the same, regardless. I can't imagine going through all of it at such a young age.

Nev understandably has a chip on her shoulder and feels guilty for trying to be happy again when she has endured so much loss. She also feels a tremendous amount of guilt for some secrets that are later revealed in the story. She has to do a lot of growing up through this book and has a great support team to help her. 

I felt like a lot of the different high school personalities were well captured in this book. I enjoyed reading the story and getting to know the characters. I had a hard time with her mother's illness, though, because it just felt like Nev was way too young to have a parent going through it, even if it was early-onset. Perhaps that is just my own prejudice based on my family's afflictions happening at older ages. 

I did really like this book, though, probably even better than the second one in the series. It's a fun read for a summer afternoon, with a little life lesson thrown in.

Buy links

by Elisa Dane

Release Date: 06/10/14

Summary from Goodreads:

Perception is everything to sixteen-year-old Olivia Brown. With her freakishly hot boyfriend, volunteer work at the local animal shelter, successful beauty channel on YouTube, and well-earned spot on X Factor Cheer's elite level five Diamond Girl team, Livvie's the girl every other girl wants to be. At least, that's the illusion she's aiming for.

But Livvie's seemingly perfect life is anything but. Lying about the bruises her boyfriend gives her, and cowering beneath his raging temper becomes a regular way of life until she unwittingly witnesses her drunken neighbor beating his step-son, the town bad boy, Reid Tate.

For Reid, vulnerability is the enemy. Opening up, and letting people in gives them the power to disappoint. Growing up with a co-dependent mother and an abusive alcoholic father, Reid has endured all the disappointment he can stomach.

But when his pretty, do-good neighbor witnesses his step-dad beat him to within an inch of his life, and not only call the cops, but keeps quiet at school about what she saw, Reid wonders if maybe, just maybe, he's found someone he can finally trust.

**My thoughts**

This was a side of Livvie that I didn't expect to see after reading the first book. J.P. is also quite different than I had originally thought he would be after reading the first book. Then again, we didn't get to know him as much. And those who have a raging temper like he does can often hide it for a long time before it manifests. This book takes place during the following school year, so there has been plenty of time for it to grow.

Reid was also a slightly surprising character, as he doesn't appear in the first book (to my recollection). Then again, there was no reason for him to be there. I do like him, though. He is vulnerable and damaged, yet has managed to hold onto the sweetness inside, despite everything he has gone through.

Livvie is typical, in that she doesn't want to provoke J.P. by seeking help. Of course, this causes her problems down the road. I just wanted to smack her for doing that, but can see how easily it happens. She is also amazingly strong, which is beneficial to her.

This story serves as a second After School Special in a way, serving to let teens know that they can get help when in an abusive situation. There are lessons to be learned, and one would hope that they can all end up with a happy ending. 

I enjoyed having some follow-up with Nev and Brodie, as well.

Another fun summer afternoon read, even though I think I preferred the first one. I do look forward to reading more in this series some day!

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About the Author

I'm a lover of books (YA & Adult romance), chocolate, reality television, and am a proud mother to three All Star cheerleaders. Woot!

I write Contemporary YA romance with cheerleaders. Yep. I write what I know, and it's my hope that my stories will not only take you on a romantic journey that will warm your heart, but that you'll find a new respect and interest in the sport of Cheerleading you may not have had before.

Author Links:!/ElisaDane




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'The Possession' by J.D. Spikes

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding winner's choice of two ebooks from Lachesis Publishing ( to a randomly drawn winner via the rafflecopter at the end of this post.

Daphne Wentworth is almost seventeen, definitely a red head, and most likely the tallest girl in her class, which is awkward to say the least when it comes to dating boys in her school. But she doesn’t have to worry about school for the next two months since she’s spending the summer at her aunt Dwill’s lighthouse in Maine.

What she does have to worry about is seeing ghosts in the lighthouse cemetery, having strange dreams, and hearing the voices of star-crossed lovers who lived two-hundred years ago. And then there’s a local boy named Zach Philbrook who works for her aunt. He’s too gorgeous for his own good. He’s also very tall, with midnight black hair, and the most beautiful indigo blue eyes Daphne has ever seen.

Zach is treated like an outcast by the local teens in town. He’s Micmac and therefore not “one of the gang”. Daphne can’t help being drawn to his strength, especially considering that he’s had to live his entire life dealing with ignorance. But the local teens aren’t the only trouble-makers in town. As Zach and Daphne get closer, the lighthouse ghost lovers begin haunting them. When Daphne and Zach try to figure out how to fight them, the spirits get bolder and more dangerous. So how do you protect yourself from something that isn’t really there?

Enjoy an excerpt:

His eyes were indigo, the deep blue-black of the open ocean shot through with the heavy gray of a storm. Their color caught me when he turned and tried to walk away from the group of kids gathered to torment him.

The town kids are mean. They stopped him in front of the hardware store, a bag of grass seed slouched heavily over his shoulder. The girls crossed in front of him so that he had to stop. They batted their eyelashes and taunted him while the guys poked at the bag and tried to make him drop it.

They ran off when that big dope Gary O’Malley stuck his finger through the plastic. Only it wasn’t his finger, but a pocketknife pressed against his palm.

“Zach Attack!” Gary crowed as he backed away from the spilling seed, flashing the knife. The group of six then dashed in my direction.

Zach, if that was his name, clamped the hole closed as best he could, stemming the flow enough to carry the bag back into the hardware store.

I stood my ground, making the six slow at the thin alley opening. Chantal Barrett tried to shove past me and glowered, “What’s your problem? Move.”

My eyes narrowed. Blood pumped faster into my veins and my legs weakened, but I held firm.

“Learn some manners,” I snapped, “and grow up!” What they’d done wasn’t right. I could see Chantal got my message.

“Boo-hoo! Why don’t you run on over and help Zach clean up, if you’re so concerned.”

Gary’s jaw dropped. “She’s sticking up for that—”

“Daphne doesn’t know any better, Gary,” Chantal interrupted, covering his words—she thought. She turned a sweetened smile on me. “She doesn’t live here. She’s not one of us.”

Her words had their desired effect. Each of the six snickered in their own way and one-by-one shouldered past me to disappear down the alley.

Chantal the last, she paused and stuck her face into mine. “Mind your business. Or be sorry.”

She hurried down the alley after the others. I glanced at the hardware store, but Zach was long gone.

I made my way to the grocer.

When I got back to the lighthouse, I told Aunt Dwill what had happened, skipping Chantal’s threat. She was pleased, I could tell, though her words were cautious.

“You’re nothing, Daphne, if you can’t stand up for your principles. Just be mindful that every gain has a loss and every victory a cost. Pick your battles, and be sure you’re willing to pay.”

I frowned. She kissed my forehead. “I’ll put this stuff away. Go on out to the cemetery and start clearing. The fresh air will do you good.”

I guess I should explain about my aunt and the lighthouse.

This year is the lighthouse’s two-hundredth birthday. From the moment they struck the first wick, there has always been a Wentworth in charge. By the end of the first year, a Wentworth woman.

The present Wentworth is my aunt Dwill, Official Lighthouse Keeper of the Bay Head Light in Bay Bluffs, Maine. It’s a small town with a big responsibility. You see, the ledges off Bay Head are some of the worst along the northeastern seaboard. And they’re smack in the middle of two of the busiest seaports this side of the Canadian border.

Aunt’s real name is Edwilda, which explained her willingness to let her siblings foist the nickname ‘Dwill’ on her. It’s an old family name, my mom explained to me one day.

Yeah, well it should have stayed that way, in my opinion. Everyone thinks Aunt must be old until they meet her. She’s my mom’s middle sister, in her mid-forties but already a widow. It happened when I was little, and no one really talks about it much.

Anyway, it’s a big place for one person. She sent us pictures after she moved in. Someone took a picture of her on her front porch. Though almost as tall as me, she looked so small in the middle of the three archways, the light tower rising behind her house, the sea swelling in the background to both sides of the picture.

The lighthouse property sat on a promontory, beautiful but isolated. I remember the first time we came up to visit. Only two of my sisters had come. We arrived at dusk. Neither wanted to get out of the car.

“It’s creepy out here,” they whined. “What’s that noise? Why is it so dark? Is that light going to flash all night?”

All that before they even discovered the lighthouse came with the old historic cemetery in the woods. When we left on Sunday, they were happy to go. I stood by the lighthouse in the backyard, leaning on the fence in the growing mist as the fog horn sounded, a deep boom through my chest.

“Will you send me more pictures, Aunt?” I asked when she came out to get me.

What she sent was a picture of me, smiling broadly on the lighthouse’s hurricane deck, a glimpse of the Fresnel lens visible on my right, the sea on my left. We became pen pals of a sort, and in the summer of my thirteenth year, she invited me up for a week.

One week turned into two and that’s how it’s remained ever since.

This year, however, was special and Aunt decided to throw a celebration for the light, complete with a tour and period costumes. She asked if I could come for a couple of months, to help her ready the property. My parents agreed when they learned I’d be working for her and not just ‘wasting my summer’.

So as you can see, I was well-acquainted with Bay Head Light and already more connected to it than I realized.

I stopped by the shed to get some tools. Gloves, definitely. Don’t want my hands in something I can’t identify. A trowel, small hand claw, paper yard waste bag, pruning shears. Equipment gathered, I quickly twisted my hair up, slipped a scrunchie over it, and headed into the woods.

The cemetery wasn’t far and wasn’t scary. Not to me. Just a scattering of old stones with ancient memories written on them. People long gone to another life and no one here who remembers them.

I dropped my canvas shoulder bag of goods on the ground near the gate. Wrought iron and rusted, it leaned into the cemetery boundaries at a precarious angle. Thank God I didn’t have to push it open . . . I’d have probably landed on the ground with a rusted spiral in my gut.

This place was unfamiliar to me, except in passing. Though I’d known of the cemetery’s existence, I’d never gone in. I had too much to do in the land of the living for my short time here. No one ever came out here, so what difference did the overgrowth make?

Aunt begged to differ and insisted I clean the place up. The lighthouse was two hundred years old this summer, she reminded me, and the cemetery belonged to the lighthouse.

So, on a bright June day, I found myself alone in a somewhat decrepit cemetery in a clearing in the woods. I made my way around the ancient stones in an attempt to put off the start of my project. Most were upright and clear enough of the tangle of brush that a portion of the inscription could be read.

One small stone, nearly buried in the overgrown grass at the north corner, caught my eye. I flattened enough of the green to reveal the single word Sarah, and beneath it Age 3 Months.

Sadness flashed through me, unexpectedly. There were babies buried here?

I slipped the hand pruners from my back pocket where I’d stuck them and carefully snipped the grass down in front of the headstone. I pulled viney growth from the top corner of the stone, revealing a W. and a P.

Sarah W.P.

My hand cramped as I diligently snipped away at the grass, clearing the plot.

The screech of the gate would have warned me . . . had the gate been in better repair. With its useless tilt, however, I never heard him coming. The bag dropping next to me on the mixed pile of living and dead debris announced his presence.

I flipped to the side, tripping myself with my legs, but managed to keep the pruners in front of me. I pointed them into the air in front of my face.

Blue-black eyes studied me, one hand hooked into his pants pocket by the thumb, the other paused in front of him, fingers splayed where it had dropped the bag.

In books you always read about these moments. Crickets clicked, or birds called, or someone’s watch ticked, marking time. Maybe all three.

In real life, the only thing you really hear until you recognize that person is your own heavy breathing, that being indicative of the fact that you are in the middle of nowhere with no possible help nearby.

“Your aunt sent me.”

The pruners remained hoisted. My legs folded gratefully. My butt hit the ground, relieving the pressure on my arm from holding my whole body in the air, as his outstretched arm dropped to his side.

“I’m Zach. You’re starting at Sarah?”

My eyes flashed around the graveyard then to the small stone. I pulled my knees up and rested my arms on them. “She’s just a baby.”

When I turned my gaze back to Zach, his eyes were on me. “It happened. Times were tough.”

As though he’d been there from the start, he retrieved the bag and began to stuff my cuttings into it.

“I’m Daphne.”

“I know.”

His eyes flicked over to me. The flash of a grin revealed he knew he was being a pain, and I could barely keep my own lips from giving me away with a smile. I hurriedly snipped some more overgrowth and tossed it toward him. It disappeared into his bag.

We worked side-by-side in silence, clearing Sarah’s resting place and spreading outward from there. Her mother’s stone sat beside hers and we tidied that. Her dad’s seemed to be missing.

“What do you suppose happened to Mr. P.?” I asked, needing to hear Zach’s voice again, wanting more conversation.

“He wasn’t allowed here. Christians only in church-blessed ground, you know.”

I stared at the mother’s stone. Dorothea. Devoted mother.

“Who says he wasn’t a Christian?” For some reason I felt defensive.

“He wasn’t.”

I stared at him, considering his words. Mostly, though, I just wanted to make him think I was thinking about them, to give me more time to check him out. His hair, straight, near-black and shiny, was pulled back from his face into a ponytail that brushed the base of his neck. His skin was brownish, like a tan but not really. Besides, it was too early for that. His eyes were almost almond-shaped, but not quite, in a not-quite round face. He was tall and thin but not gawky like a lot of the boys I knew.

I think he was older than most of the boys I knew.

He had very nice lips. They were starting to smile.

My face went beet red, I could feel it. Busted! Damn.

“Where do we go from here?”

My heart started hammering, but he pointed up toward the gate, then down along the back fence.

“Th-the back,” I managed to stammer—so smooth. What an idiot.

He walked away. He must think me such a baby, such a fool.

Zach retrieved my canvas bag from near the gate and brought it to the back of the cemetery, gathering his yard sack along the way. As he passed me, he cocked his head toward the back row. “What, you need an invitation? It was your call!” and tossed my canvas bag to me.

Two hours later we packed it in. The sun sat low enough to indicate the time and our watches confirmed it. Zach walked me back to the lighthouse but mostly because he had to. Once he got me to admit I couldn’t do it on my own, it took both of us to lug the filled waste bag over our shoulders.

“I’m sorry if I scared you.” He huffed as we neared the tree line, the lighthouse lawn stretching just beyond the border of trees.

“I don’t scare easy,” I exclaimed. “If the gate was proper, I’d’ve known you were there.”


“It used to have a brass bell on it. A ‘blessing called to sea’ every time a loved one went to pay respects. Everyone in the cemetery is tied to the sea, you know.”

His dark eyes studied me, taking in the lesson.

Zach said goodbye and left after we dumped the bag at my aunt’s trash corral. I caught sight of him, though, just inside the tree line, hovering until I closed the door.

What my mom and aunt would call a gentleman.

Me? I wasn’t so sure.

Jeanine Duval Spikes is a spinner of romantic tales with a touch of the supernatural. Lifelong research and experience with the paranormal infuse her stories with ethereal spirit, while her belief that love conquers all suffuses them with heart.

She is a paranormal investigator with a small local group, aspiring to help those in need by advancing this exploratory field both spiritually and scientifically. When not writing, you can find her cooking, gardening, horseback riding, or forever getting lost in secondhand shops. The mother of two grown sons, she lives in Rhode Island, the Ocean State, with her very own hero-husband Tim, and two crazy cats. She is the proud recipient of the Jo Ann Ferguson Service Award for selfless assistance and dedication to fellow writers and the craft.



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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

'Cinderella Girl' by Ava Smith


Ten year old Briony Duke and her parents own a prestigious girls’ school in the country. This is in contrast to Mrs. Eyres, a middle-aged woman who has just been sacked by Briony’s father for embezzling funds. When Briony’s parents are killed in a car crash, Mrs. Eyres and daughter Lucy take over the school and Mrs. Eyres now becomes Briony’s guardian. Mrs. Eyres makes Briony sleep in the kitchen, cook, clean and tend to her and her daughter’s every whim. Seven years pass and Briony grows to be a beautiful and highly intelligent 17 year old. One day she meets Tom Logan, the sixth richest man in the country. She starts to fall in love with the charismatic 19 year old. The only question is, can she win his heart before her evil stepsister does.

Author Bio

I live with my family in Cambridge, England. I started writing at the age of 7 and have never stopped. I love reading all kinds of books but my favourite authors are Stephen King and John Grisham.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Review of 'Caught in the Crossfire' by Juliann Rich

Young Adult GLBTQ
Date Published:


Two boys at bible camp. One forbidden love.

That’s the dilemma Jonathan Cooper faces when he goes away to Spirit Lake Bible Camp, situated along Minnesota’s rugged north shore, for a summer of fun. He is expecting mosquito bites, bonfires with S’Mores, and photography classes with Simon, his favorite counselor who always helps him see life in perfect focus.

What he isn’t expecting is Ian McGuire, a new camper who openly argues against phrases like pray the gay away. Ian is certain of many things, including what could happen between them if only Jonathan could surrender to his feelings.

Jonathan, however, tosses in a storm of indecision between his belief in God and his inability to stay away from Ian. When a real storm hits and Ian is lost in it, Jonathan is forced to make a public decision that changes his life.

Read an excerpt:
Chapter Seven, CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE by Juliann Rich
All rights reserved.

“Hey, wait up! I’ll join you,” Ian called to me as I walked along the beach later that evening, occasionally stopping to pick up and examine a flat, thin stone. Looking for just the right one. “Whatcha doing?”
“Not much. Just skipping rocks.” Spirit Lake stretched in front of us. The sound of laughing voices carried over the campground.

“Cool. I’ve never done that before.”
“Really? It’s easy. Like this.” I leaned back, arm extended, and aimed low so the stone would skim the surface and skip across it. Except it didn’t. My first attempt flopped and sank. 
“Like that, huh?” Ian mocked. 
“Not exactly.” I picked up another stone, wafer thin and flat, and let it fly. 
One...two...three...yes, four full skips and then it too sank and disappeared, but man, it was beautiful while it flew! “More like that.” Pride crept into my voice. 
“Okay, my turn.” Ian crouched and examined the rocks. He took his time. Finally he chose one, elliptical and rounded at the bottom. 
“Mmm, I wouldn’t—”
He stopped me with one glance.
“Oh, okay. Whatever you want.” I grinned.
Ian wound his arm back like a baseball player and pitched the rock. The splash was even bigger than I’d hoped.
“Excellent form, McGuire. You might have broken a record...for the shot put!” 
“Aren’t you just hilarious? Fine, you show me. How did you hold your arm?” 
I picked up the thinnest, flattest rock I could find and reached back with my arm, waist high and parallel to the ground. Ian stepped behind me. He slid his body against mine and stretched his arm out, pressing it against my arm. The breath from his mouth, hot against my neck, stirred my hair. A shiver ran down my back when he whispered, 
“Like this, Jonathan?” 
“Yeah, I, I mean, yeah, like this. For skipping stones.” My heart pounded. I stepped away and looked at Ian. 
“For skipping stones, huh?” His eyes searched mine, looking for the place I never showed anyone. “Has anyone ever told you that you’re really cute when you’re showing off?” 
The rock I’d been clutching slipped through my fingers and clattered onto the beach. 
Panicked, I looked around. Aaron, Sean, and Sara were sitting with a bunch of kids by the bonfire. Jake and his group were hanging down by the dock. I looked back at Ian. 
“Excuse me?”

“I asked if anyone has ever told you that you’re cute before. Especially when you’re showing off.” 
Sara looked in our direction. A frown passed across her face. 
“Ian, what are you talking about? I’m not, you know...” My voice came out like a cross between a whisper and a hiss. 
“Gay?” Though a cool breeze blew off the lake, I felt myself flush with heat. 
“Yeah. I’m not gay,” I whispered. 
“That’s good to know. Thanks for clearing that up.” Ian turned his attention back to the lake. He wound his arm back again like a baseball pitcher, gripping a small boulder in his hand. 
“Is that what you meant earlier? That I’d be a great junior counselor except that I’m...” 
I couldn’t bring myself to say the word. An image of the locked safe in my bedroom flashed into my mind. For my coin collection, I’d said, when I had asked for it for Christmas. No coins, just a couple of books. Rainbow High, The Boys and The Bees. And of course, the copy of Boy Meets Boy. 
Reading’s just a hobby. It didn’t mean anything, right?

“Yeah, but it was just a crazy thought that flew through my head. I mean, of course you’re not gay. You spent a whole minute sucking face with Bethany today. What gay guy does that?” Ian’s voice dripped sarcasm. His arm snapped forward. The stone soared through the air and splashed into the lake. It sank deeper and deeper through the layers of water, cutting through the strong current until it probed the bottom of Spirit Lake. 
I stared at the place where the rock had hit, shattering the perfect surface. The ripples expanded and drifted toward me. “Are you gay?” I whispered. 
“What do you think?”
“I think you’re terrible at skipping rocks.”
“Yes, I am, Jonathan. I definitely am.” He chuckled.
As the ripples eased into the vast lake, I told myself that he was only talking about his rock-skipping skills, but I knew better.

Nothing about Ian skimmed the surface.

**My thoughts**

It's got to be hard enough to figure out your life when you realize that you are gay. I can't imagine how much more difficult it would be when you were involved with a Christian group that believes that homosexuality is an abomination and a product of Satan. It's hard enough dealing with those groups at times, as it is. I have witnessed the persecution first hand against some of my friends. I have witnessed their pain and confusion as they try to understand why they are theoretically so terrible and why they are being shunned by the very God they love, as well as their friends and families.

I thought the author did a great job of getting inside Jonathan's head. She captured his confusion, guilt, happiness, and faith. She provided a number of reactions within the Christian community, covering so many of their different beliefs and opinions. I like how she showed that not all Christians are anti-gay.

I read most of the book on a warm, sunny summer afternoon. It is an easy, interesting read, that kept my attention the entire way. I would be interested in reading more from this author.

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Author Bio:

Minnesota writer Juliann Rich spent her childhood in search of the perfect climbing tree. The taller the better! Perched on a branch ten to thirty feet off the ground and surrounded by leaves, caterpillars, birds and squirrels was a good place for a young girl to find herself. Seeking truth in nature and finding a unique point of view remain crucial elements in her life as well as her writing.

Juliann is a PFLAG mom who can be found walking Pride parades with her son. She is also the daughter of evangelical Christian parents. As such she has been caught in the crossfire of the most heated topic to challenge our society and our churches today. She is committed to writing stories that shed light on the conflicts that arise when sexual orientation, spirituality, family dynamics and peer relationships collide.

Juliann recently won the Emerging Writer Award at The Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans.

Juliann lives with her husband and their two chronically disobedient dachshunds in the beautiful Minnesota River Valley.

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