NANA AND THE “C” by DORIS SCHNEIDER BOOK REVIEW @pamlicowritersc @lovingthebook

 

 

Nana and the “c” is a book for all ages and all cultures as it is about family and the ability to support a loved one through the challenges of cancer. It is told from a seven-year-old’s perspective as she gathers the courage to face her grandmother’s illness and learns that her irritating younger sister is perhaps smarter than she seems. Together they also learn how to conquer their biggest fear and replace worry with wonder.

The story is uplifting and often humorous while symbolizing hope. It will make readers of all ages laugh, cry, and remember their own childhood and the relationships and events that influenced who they have become. The goal of this story is to help children through health crises in their family. The illustrator, editor and designer donated their time to help with the project in order to make possible the donation of copies of the book to waiting rooms of cancer clinics.

~ Buy 1 Gift 1 to Charity ~

Thank you so much for your generosity. We’re donating books to hospitals and children’s centers. Anywhere people might benefit from an uplifting story dealing with cancer.

~ Universal Amazon Link ~

 

 

It is my pleasure to read and review Nana and the “c” by Doris Schneider!

It is written very simply so that it can be presented to the youngest child if they are of the age of understanding by their parents. My eight-year-old found it very easy to understand when we read it together!

Ms. Schneider’s own experience with cancer gave her a very effortless voice with which to tell the story to her grandchildren, thus passing it on to others in Nana and the “c”.

The illustrations are very exceptionally placed within the story and allow the readers an opportunity to peer inside the story in addition to reading it!

I definitely recommend this book for any family faced with telling young children about a cancer diagnosis! It takes a scary and complicated situation and simplifies it for our children to understand!

I give Nana and the “c” by Doris Schneider five steaming hot cups of Reviews by Room With Books cups of coffee!

©October 12, 2018

I received a complimentary copy of Nana and the “c” by Doris Schneider for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Many thanks to Loving the Book for the Advanced Digital Copy.

 

 

Doris Schneider is an artist, scene designer, writer, and educator. She taught at William Carey University and was a tenured professor of theatre at North Carolina Central University. She published two novels: Borrowed Things and By Way of Water.

After her own bout with breast cancer, she wrote this story based on a real event with her granddaughters. While the illustrator, Wenhai Ma, was teaching at Duke University, the two became long-term friends—culminating in their collaboration on Nana and the “c”.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR

~ Facebook ~ Blog ~

~ Writing Group ~ Website ~

~ Writing Group Twitter ~

 

 

Meet the Illustrator

Wenhai Ma – American-Chinese scene designer, illustrator and educator. He was granted tenured professorship at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He graduated from the Central Academy of Drama, China and Carnegie Mellon University, USA. He has taught at Duke University, University of Nebraska Lincoln, Purdue University and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, the Central Academy of Drama, China and the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore. He is the author of Scene Design Rendering and Media (Focus Publishing, USA) and illustrator for 10 children’s picture books in the US. He has designed sets and costumes for various dramas, operas and musicals in the United States, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia. His first novel Such An Enchanted Night was published in Taiwan, 2017.

 

 

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COMES A SPECTER, BOOK 2, GHOSTLAND SERIES by KETA DIABLO BOOK REVIEW

COMES A SPECTER, Book 2

Ghostland Series

By Keta Diablo

 

 

Six months ago, Anya Fleming’s ten- year-old son, Willie-boy, found his father hanging in the barn. Traumatized over his father’s suicide, the boy hasn’t spoken a word since. Now, Willie-boy has come down with a grave, unknown illness and there’s only one man who can save him, Sutter Sky, a learned Blackfoot shaman known as Yellow Smoke—a shaman who was once deeply in love with Anya.

But Fate had other plans for Anya and Sutter—she was forced to marry Lewis Fleming, a cruel man who berated her night and day, and brokenhearted Sutter immersed himself in the mystical customs and beliefs of his People and became a shaman.

As if Anya didn’t have enough to deal with after her husband’s death and her son’s illness, an evil, sinister ghost is terrorizing their ranch. Anya is convinced the spirit is Lewis, who apparently isn’t done making her life miserable.

When she turns to Yellow Smoke for help, will he put side his bitterness and save Willie-boy? And can the renowned shaman dispel the powerful ghost from their lives and send him back to Hades?

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GXBF25X

Available on All venues November 1st

 

 

It is always a pleasure to be introduced to an author I’ve never read before. Reading COMES A SPECTER, Book 2 of the Ghostland Series by Keta Diablo today was quite an experience and I’ve found another favorite author to follow!

Keta herself warned me not to read this after dark or in bed, and she was right! I probably would have scared myself to death with every sound from the weather or the menagerie of animals around me! Once I started reading COMES A SPECTER this afternoon, I couldn’t put it down!

Keta’s writing is evocative and chilling! Even though this is the second book in a series, I didn’t feel lost picking it up, so it stands alone very well.

The characters are wonderful! Anya is a strong lead female character! Once Yellow Smoke enters her life again, things become very interesting for Anya personally, as well as with the ghost that is on her property!

The ghost becomes an interesting character as we learn more about him! You’ll need to pick up a copy of COMES A SPECTER to find out who he is and how his story intertwines with Anya, Willy-Boy, and Yellow Smoke!

I very definitely recommend COMES A SPECTER, Book 2 of the Ghostland Series by Keta Diablo! I give this book five steaming hot cups of Reviews by Room With Books cups of coffee!

©October 10, 2018

 

 

“Sutter confronts the ghost.”

Chapter Fourteen

“Make my enemy brave and strong, so that if defeated, I will not be ashamed.”

Plains Tribes

Tendrils of darkness breached the room as Sutter slipped through the window of Anya’s room. He didn’t want Willie-boy to see him dressed for war, the ebony handprints –chin to cheek—the tunic and leggings splashed with blood red paint. If he didn’t return, he wanted the boy to remember how he looked the last time he saw him. A misty cloud of energy trailed Sutter as he sprinted through the woods, a sign the wraith was on the prowl and primed for killing. That suited Sutter just fine. He had one goal in mind—lead the ghost toward the pit. He’d worry about how to implement the second part of his plan when the time came. An odious stench spiraled up his nostrils, another potent omen the heavy, scuffing footsteps behind him belonged to Ten Wounds.

Moments later, a cry from the dead and damned cleaved the dark, chilling Sutter’s blood. No wonder Lewis had cracked, no wonder Anya and Willie-boy were terrified of the evil spirit. No wonder Cobb had said, ‘Run, brother. Take Anya and run.’ Close, the Zeuzeu was close now. Sutter imagined the ghost’s rank breath stirring the long, dark hair at the nape of his neck.

The pit loomed ahead. Sutter spotted the pine branches and broken boughs he’d placed over the illusory grave. “Now or never”, he said to the full moon overhead and came to an abrupt halt. Drawing a deep breath, he mustered up his courage and turned to face Ten Wounds. A haze of gray mist swirled around the spirit’s form, his human form. If the situation weren’t so serious, Sutter could have shouted with joy.

He took in the ghost’s visage. A quiver hung from his shoulder stocked with sharp, pointed arrows—a sign he’d transformed into the fierce warrior who once walked the earth. Steeped in blood (no doubt from his recent kills), his clothing hung in tatters around his massive frame—a vest made of animal hides, a breechcloth and fringed leggings. Sutter’s gaze traveled to his painted, pock-marked face. Yellow and white stripes marked his forehead and chin, and black circles blended into his dark eyes. For a brief second, Sutter’s insides quivered and ropes of tension knotted every cord and fiber of his body. Bleary, unearthly eyes speared Sutter when the wraith raised a hand of claw-like fingers and pointed at his enemy’s chest.

The wind, much like the sound of a thousand women wailing, keened into the deafening silence. Fire exploded from the ghost’s eyes—flames the fires of Hell couldn’t compete with. Sutter shouted over the infernal noise and flames. “You are not welcome here! Hear my words, you are dead!”

Like a misty cloud of energy, Ten Wounds lurched forward, a staccato rhythm of hisses and howls spewing from his foam-drooling mouth. Sutter had never imagined such a demonic apparition.

 

 

Author Keta Diablo, thank you for taking time to answer some questions. If you are ready, let’s get started!

First of all, thank you so much for hosting my latest Western Romance Ghost story, Comes A Specter. Your generosity is much appreciated.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

Oh, no. My mother, now 91 years young, reminds me that I always wanted to be number 1) a boy (I had four brothers), number 2) professional equestrian (course I called it a cowgirl).

Tell us a little about the last/latest book you’ve written

See below in my Author Bio – for some strange reason ghosts always show up in my stories. No different in Comes A Specter, Book 2, Ghostland Series. Several reviewers said they loved the book, but the ghost scared the bejeebers out of them. Gee, I wasn’t scared.

Anyway, I didn’t even know I was writing about all these ghosts. One day, as I was going through my back list of books, I said, “Oh. My. Gosh. Keta!! You write about ghosts all the time.” Read some of my blurbs and you’ll see what I mean. No matter what genre I choose, somehow a ghost shows up. I used to see them—ghosts—when I was a toddler, but that’s another story for another day. Maybe subconsciously, that’s why they keep showing up in my stories.

Where did you get the inspiration for this particular book?

Let’s see, where were we? Oh, yeah…inspiration for Comes A Specter. I love Western Romance, and since I have such a penchant for dead people, er, I mean those who have crossed over, I created sort of a new sub-genre, Western Romance Ghost Stories. I love writing about cowboys, cowgirls, horses, ranches, rodeos, and…did I mention translucent spirits?

On average how long does it take it for you to write a book?

That depends on many factors. First, a writer has to be at the top of her/his game physically and mentally to pull this off. Second, she/he has to create a great plot and well-developed characters (no cookie-cutter walk-ons). Third, he/she must plant their butt in the chair and write, write every day, even if you have to pull the words out of the air. Better to have gibberish at times than a blank page, right? Fourth, it depends on whether one is writing a novella or a novel. A novella, two months; a full-length novel 4-5 months. Caveat: Keta is a slow writer compared to many others.

Do you have any unpublished/unfinished scripts?

Yes, we all have those. Some I keep under the bed, never to see the light of day. Others are sitting on my computer and flash me now and then to finish them.

What types of books do you read?

Across many genres, but never romance when I’m writing romance. Thrillers, suspense, angels/demons, Native American fiction, and small-town contemporary (serious stuff). I hardly ever read humorous. I bet that doesn’t surprise you coming from a person who saw ghosts as a child, huh?

What books are you reading right now?

Freefall (Kristen Heitzmann)

The Dead Game (Suzanne Leist)

and…1,697 waiting for me on my Paperwhite Kindle (sad)

Which are your three favorite books of all time?

To Kill A Mockingbird, Man On Fire, Gone With the Wind, Legends of the Fall.

Do you/have you ever read a copy of your book after it has been published?

Gosh, no. I read it so many times while writing it; I’d get bored to death with the same old, same old. LOL.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author who is just starting out?

Well, I’m really no one to be giving advice to other writers. I made plenty of mistakes starting out myself, so maybe that’s it – study the craft of writing. Know the basic rules at least, and then get good enough at writing you feel comfortable breaking some. I mean, there are some you should never break, but breaking one now and then won’t cause the earth to stop spinning. I have a lot of books on my Kindle (see above). I can’t tell you how many times I read one chapter and delete the book. If it doesn’t grab me right away with lots of questions, then I’m outta there. Take for example Harper Lee’s opening line in To Kill A Mockingbird: Scout: When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.

I mean, she hooked me. Completely. I was in the sixth grade the first time I read that line, and from that moment on, I wanted to know who Jem was and how the heck did he break his arm? That book really opened my eyes to reading, gave me an appreciation for love of the written word.

I hope all your reads are good ones; I hope you fall in love all over again with the written word every time you sit down to read a book.

Keta

 

 

Keta Diablo lives in the Midwest part of the United States on six acres of gorgeous woodland. When she isn’t writing or gardening she loves to commune with nature. A pair of barn owls return to the property every year to birth their young and show them off in the high branches of the oak trees. Nothing more adorable than these white fluffy babies with heart-shaped faces. A lifelong animal lover, Keta devotes her time and support to the local animal shelter. Emma LaPounce, a rescued feline, has been her furry companion for the last ten years.

Keta is an award-winning and best-selling author who writes in several genres: Western Romance, Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance and Contemporary Romance. In a past life, she wrote Gay Romance. Her books have received numerous accolades, including RWA contest finalist, Authors After Dark finalist, Top Pick of the Month and Recommended Review from top review sites, and Best Romance Finalist from The Independent Author Network.

Ps: For some strange reason, ghosts often show up in her stories, no matter the genre.

Keta would be thrilled if you’d find her on the Net and follow her:

★ Author Home: http://authorketadiablo.com

★ Author Blog: http://ketaskeep.blogspot.com

★Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/ketadiablo

★Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/KetaDiablo.Author/

★Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Keta-Diablo/e/B002BODURI/

★Goodreads Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2620426.Keta_Diablo

★Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/ketadiablo/

★Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/112104019710863190872

 

 

Winners will be notified three days after the blog tour ends.

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THE MACBRIDES-HANNAH AND ASH BOOK TOUR

 

 

 

Hannah was proud to be part of the MacBride clan. She loved her family, their land and her lavender.

When she found a love she’d wished for all her life on a trip to Paris she thought she had it all. But hidden circumstances separated them leaving her back home with an unexpected reminder of her brief love affair.

When Ash shows up on their ranch she is torn between wanting to share all her joy with him and afraid to trust him to love her, not just their child.

~ Universal Amazon Link ~

~ GoodReads ~

 

 

 

J.L. Petersen lives in Denver with her husband.

She finds inspiration in her adopted state of Colorado and her belief love is the most powerful, positive emotion we can experience.

~ Publishers Profile ~

~ Amazon ~ Facebook ~

 

 

What a thrill it was for me to read The MacBrides-Hannah and Ash by J.L. Petersen! The book is brilliantly written with characters that soon are embracing you into their family, it is written in such an intimate way.

I love the way Mrs. Petersen has the MacBride family so tightly knit. This family is ready to go to blows to protect one of their own without any hesitation, whether it be their sister, or their mother!

I really enjoy the setting of the ranch in Colorado. Living in the Foot Hills of the Rocky Mountains, I’m familiar with the area around Grand Junction and know how beautiful it is.

The challenge between Hannah and Ash presents itself almost right away and takes most of the book to resolve as both of them are very stubborn, and neither of them is great at talking about how they feel.

I truly enjoyed reading The MacBrides-Hannah and Ash by J.L. Petersen! I’m looking forward to reading the next story about Brand and Callie and I’m definitely going back to read the first book about Logan and RJ.

I highly recommend The MacBrides-Hannah and Ash by J.L. Petersen and give it five steaming hot cups of Reviews by Room With Books coffee!

©October 9, 2018


 

 

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THE VICTORIA LIE by SARAH MARIE GRAYE BOOK REVIEW @SarahMarieGraye @rararesources

The Victoria Lie

The Butterfly Effect, Book 2

By Sarah Marie Graye

 

When is a lie a lifeline? To Tori lies are everything.

ZOE wants to end her life. But she can’t just leave a note. She needs to say goodbye to boyfriend JAMES and best friend ALISON.

TORI is waiting in the wings to fill the space ZOE will leave behind, wanting to claim both James and Alison for herself.

But with ZOE still alive and Alison’s childhood friend RUBY now on the scene vying to fill the gap, TORI realises she has her work cut out.

Just what lengths is TORI willing to go to in order to claim Alison and James for herself?

(Trigger warnings: Suicide, depression, IRA bombings, ADHD, Autism, manipulative characters.)

Amazon links

Amazon book page: https://getbook.at/VictoriaLie

Amazon author page: https://author.to/SarahMarieGraye

 

  

THE VICTORIA LIE by SARAH MARIE GRAYE is the second book in THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT SERIES.

THE VICTORIA LIE focuses on Zoe’s suicide attempt and the affect her plan has on those around her. Although this is the second book of a series, it stands alone very easily!

Zoe’s plans for her own death go awry and we are given a very close, inside look at the impact this has on the lives of her friend, Alison, and boyfriend, James.

Ms. Graye has written THE VICTORIA LIE in the same style as THE SECOND CUP (Book 1). The dialogue between the characters and each character’s internal dialogue is seen throughout the book. She allows us to see each of them in the moments as each learns of Zoe’s suicide and then we become more intimately acquainted with each of them as the book progresses.

Writing THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT SERIES, Ms. Graye is touching on some very real-life issues that we, as a society, are hard-pressed to discuss. I greatly admire her for writing about issues that are difficult to face!

I strongly encourage you to read this book, and then have your teens read it. It very well may open the dialogue that saves a life!

I give THE VICTORIA LIE by SARAH MARIE GRAYE four cups of steaming hot Reviews by Room With Books Coffee!

©SEPTEMBER 29, 2018

Many thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources and NetGalley for the Advance Reader Copy.

 

 

British writer Sarah Marie Graye is the author of The Butterfly Effect series, which looks at suicides and those left behind. The Second Cup, the first book in the series, was published in July 2017, and this Blog Tour is to celebrate the launch of the second book in the series, The Victoria Lie.

 

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarahmariegraye

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahMarieGraye

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sarahmariegraye

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/sarahmariegraye

 

 

 

Win 3 x Signed copies of The Victoria Lie by Sarah Marie Graye (Open to UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions – UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within (7) seven days, then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winner’s information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.

 

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LOVE LIKE OURS by MELISSA FOSTER BOOK REVIEW @Melissa_Foster

Love Like Ours

Sugar Lake #3

By: Melissa Foster

Releasing Sept 11, 2018
Montlake

One wrong move, and she meets a guy with all the right ones…

Talia Dalton lives her life on cruise control. Despite her successful career as a professor, she prefers protecting her broken heart to taking chances. She’s calm, cool, collected, and steady. Until the morning she takes her eyes off that familiar road and almost runs over the sexiest man she’s ever seen. It may not be the best way to start the day, but it might be the type of shake-up she needs.

Male dancer Derek Grant has goals, and nothing is going to get in the way of achieving them. As a graduate student and the sole caretaker of his ailing father, he hasn’t much time for relationships. Then Talia crashes into his life. Sweet, pretty—and so buttoned-up that he can’t wait to help her cut loose.

For Derek, falling in love was a beautiful accident waiting to happen. And it might be exactly what Talia needs—if she’s willing to let go of the past and embrace every surprise Derek has to offer.

LOVE LIKE OURS is being published by Montlake (an Amazon imprint) and won’t be available on other ebook retailers, but you can download a FREE Kindle e-reader app to read it or order the paperback.

Link to Tour Schedule

Goodreads Link ~ Goodreads Series Link

 

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**This book is published by Montlake (an Amazon imprint) and won’t be available on other ebook retailers, but you can download a FREE Kindle e-reader app to read it or order the paperback.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of LOVE LIKE OURS by MELISSA FOSTER for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Many thanks to MONTLAKE AND NETGALLEY for the Advance Review Copy.

 

©September 7, 2018

“You’re in for it now!”

She shrieked and ran across the snow. He darted after her, but she dashed through the gazebo, scooped up a handful of snow, and tossed it at him. It hit him square in the face, and she gasped.

“Sorry!”

He teasingly growled and made a huge snowball, lightly packed so as not to hurt her, and stalked toward her.

She stumbled backward, waving her hands. “No, please!” she said between laughs.

Her killer smile was almost enough to stop him in his tracks. “Oh yes, Parking Lot Princess. You are mine!”

She grabbed another handful of snow and lobbed it at him, missing by a mile. Then she sprinted away. He took off after her and she turned, tripping over her own feet. He lunged, catching her in his arms, but their momentum sent them both to the snow. She landed on top of him, both of them laughing. Molly whined and licked their faces.

Her teeth chattered. “Sorry!”

“Hell, Talia. I’m not.”

Her eyes widened, then brimmed with heat again, dark and alluring as they skimmed over his face and lingered on his lips. Her body sank exquisitely into his. Even separated by coats and clothing, she felt incredible. Molly lay in the snow, watching them as if she felt the unbelievable moment, too. When Talia’s eyes found his again, they were like windows to her soul. Every sexy thought was right there on the surface, so tempting he was about to lean up and take a kiss, when she suddenly schooled her expression, as if she’d just realized she’d shown her true emotions, and rolled off him.

She lay on her back beside him, staring up at the sky, breathing heavily.

He leaned over her and gazed deeply into her troubled, beautiful eyes. Whatever this was between them was magnificent and stronger than anything he’d ever felt, but the caution in her eyes won again. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to cross a line. It’s been a long time since I’ve”—wanted to kiss a woman—“felt whatever this is between us.”

She pressed her lips together, and as he backed off, she grabbed his sleeve and said, “Me too. It’s been a long time.”

Man, she was so close, her desire evident in her tight grasp on his sleeve and the longing look in her eyes, but the tentativeness was still there, brimming before him. He swallowed his desires and went for levity.

“Do you have an ailing family member you’re caring for, too?”

She shook her head. “I have fear of the unknown, trust issues, and a full life.”

“Is that all?” He helped her to her feet, both of them smiling with his tease.

Molly got up, wagging her tail.

Talia’s teeth were still chattering. He put his hands on her arms and rubbed them, itching to pull her against him and heat her up with a scorching-hot kiss. Instead he took her hand and said, “I’ve got something to warm you up.”

“Um . . . ?” Her cheeks pinked up again.

He chuckled. “Yeah, that, but since we’ve already tabled the good stuff . . .” With Molly in tow, he led her to where his backpack lay in the snow. He dug out the thermoses he’d brought and handed her one. “It’s not as fun, but this should do the trick.”

She pulled her hat a little lower on her ears. “What is it?”

“Tuxedo mocha. Have you ever had one?”

She shook her head, wrapping both hands around the warm thermos. “Thank you for not making me an alcoholic drink the other night, by the way. That was really nice of you to remember.”

“You’re hard to forget, Talia.” He loved the sultry look that earned him and had to distract himself before he made the mistake of tasting that look. “I shouldn’t have waited so long to give this to you. The whipped cream and chocolate curls are probably melted.”

“You had me at whipped cream.” She took a sip and closed her eyes, moaning appreciatively. “Holy cow,” she said breathlessly. “This is heaven in a cup.”

He clenched his jaw as his mind chased that moan down an X-rated path. “It’ll be even better next time, when I make it fresh for you.”

“Next time?” she asked and took another sip.

The tip of her tongue swept over her lips, seriously testing his ability to hold his tongue. He shouldered his backpack and took Molly’s leash from where it dangled out of Talia’s pocket. As he hooked it onto Molly’s collar, he said, “How can I help you step out of your comfort zone and get over all your hurdles if we don’t see each other again?”

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Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance and new adult romance with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Melissa’s emotional journeys are lovingly erotic and always family oriented–perfect beach reads for contemporary romance lovers who enjoy reading about wealthy heroes and smart, sassy heroines.

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SAVING PENNY by ARIEL MARIE BOOK REVIEW @the_ArielMarie @EJBookPromos

Saving Penny

Imperial Knights #1

By Ariel Marie

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Release Date: August 21, 2018

Cover Designer: Melody Simmons with Bookcoverscre8tive Book Cover Designs

 

 

Billionaire CEO of the Imperial Knights security empire, Drake Ransley spends his days in full control of every element of his life. By night, he’s a man plagued by a mysterious dream about a brown coin. As time passes, the frequency of the dream increases and the penny morphs into a beautiful woman that Drake can’t stop thinking about.

Penny Berkey has just discovered that she has won the largest payout in lottery history, but it might not be enough to keep her away from danger. The promise of a major payout awaits. Danger lurks in the shadows. A stalker looms at every turn. Unable to elicit help from the police, she turns to the best security team money can buy – the Imperial Knights.

Drake knows the moment he lays eyes on her that she’s the woman from his dreams. His wolf instantly recognizes her as his mate. With danger lurking at every corner for her, he’s all the more determined to keep her safe by any means necessary.

Goodreads

 

Kindle Unlimited

Universal Link: http://viewbook.at/savpen

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2nIKVoR

Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2nK0wV1

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2nNooYa

Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2nKLcre

 

 

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Saving Penny by Ariel Marie for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Many thanks to Enticing Journey Book Promotions for the advance copy.

I am usually a very loyal, one author shifter reader, but Saving Penny by Ariel Marie was worth taking a chance on! I enjoyed reading it very much!

Drake has dreamt of a penny for years with no understanding of the dream’s meaning! He has secured his financial future, as well as that of his brothers, with the Imperial Knights security empire. Then the dream morphs into a woman, but with no defining features.

Penny is the top sales person at her company, a fact that isn’t appreciated by all the men whom she has bested! Penny is blessed by a huge windfall that allows her to resign her position. But she garners a stalker in the last weeks of work. Enter Drake and the Imperial Knights!

Who wouldn’t want an Alpha Shifter, who has sensed Penny as his mate, to take on the head of your security team? The steaminess does ensue, and it is explicit, so this is not for the faint of heart!

Saving Penny by Ariel Marie is a fabulous book, written with a twisty plot, a swoon-worthy wolf shifter, a strong woman to stand with him, and characters that make it entertaining to read! It is short, so I was able to read it in a single sitting, even though I had to elbow my hubby out of my way several times before I was able to get to the end! Ariel Marie, you’ve made a new fan and I’m excited to read the next installment in the series!

I highly recommend Saving Penny by Ariel Marie and give it five steaming hot cups of coffee!

©June 21, 2018

 

 

Ariel Marie is an author who loves the paranormal, action and hot steamy romance. She combines all three in each and every one of her stories. For as long as she can remember, she has loved vampires, shifters and every creature you can think of. This even rolls over into her favorite movies! She love a good action packed thriller! Throw a touch of the supernatural world in it and she’s hooked!

She grew up in Cleveland, Ohio where she currently resides with her husband and three beautiful children.

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SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW by PATTY BLOUNT BOOK REVIEW @PattyBlount

Someone I Used to Know

by Patty Blount

Release Date: August 7, 2018

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

 

 

“Blount has written a heartrending but much-needed view on this subject. This book provides a nuanced look at the toxicity of rape culture and the long-lasting and harming aftermath of sexual assault.”— School Library Journal

 

 

From the award-winning author of Some Boys comes an unflinching examination of rape culture that delves into a family torn apart by sexual assault.

It’s been two years since the night that changed Ashley’s life. Two years since she was raped by her brother’s teammate. And a year since she sat in a court and watched as he was given a slap on the wrist sentence. But the years have done nothing to stop the pain.

It’s been two years of hell for Derek. His family is totally messed up and he and his sister are barely speaking. He knows he handled it all wrong. Now at college, he has to come to terms with what happened, and the rape culture that he was inadvertently a part of that destroyed his sister’s life.

When it all comes to head at Thanksgiving, Derek and Ashley have to decide if their relationship is able to be saved. And if their family can ever be whole again.

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Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW by PATTY BLOUNT for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Many thanks to SOURCEBOOKS FIRE and NETGALLEY for the advance copy.

Ms. Blount tackles the brutal subject of rape by a student athlete head on in this riveting novel which steers us through Ashley’s life leading up to her heart-wrenching rape, and the aftermath of her attack.

Ms. Blount illustrates how a rape rips through a family, a school, and a community in SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW. The effects are felt far beyond the moments of the actual rape and reach deep in to the hearts and souls of Ashely’s family and friends and are felt keenly for several years following the attack.

Ms. Blount shows a very realistic view of the mental anguish a rape victim lives with, often for many years following the actual rape, and how justice from the victim’s view, rarely is just.

I very much enjoy Ms. Blount’s style of writing and her character development was exceptional! This is the first novel of Ms. Blount’s I’ve read, but it won’t be my last!

I wish this book could become required reading for all junior and high school teachers and school staff, as well as incoming freshman boys and girls! I believe it would be a true eye opener for all of them!

I highly recommend SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW by PATTY BLOUNT and give it five steaming hot cups of coffee!

©JUNE 6, 2018

 

 

Powered by way too much chocolate, award-winning author Patty Blount loves to write and has written everything from technical manuals to poetry. A 2015 CLMP Firecracker Award winner as well as Rita finalist, Patty writes issue-driven novels for teens and is currently working on a romantic thriller. Her editor claims she writes her best work when she’s mad, so if you happen to upset Patty and don’t have any chocolate on hand to throw at her, prepare to be a subject of an upcoming novel. Patty lives on Long Island with her family in a house that sadly doesn’t have anywhere near enough bookshelves…or chocolate.

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1

Ashley

Your Honor, thank you for letting me address this court. The first thing I want to say is that I couldn’t wait to start high school. I liked the defendant. I really liked him. And I thought he liked me back. But now I know he never saw me as a person. I was nothing more than an opportunity for him. So now I can’t wait until I’m done with high school.

—Ashley E. Lawrence, victim impact statement

Now

Bellford, Ohio

The mirror is my enemy.

So is the closet.

There’s literally nothing to wear. Clothes litter my room. Several pairs of jeans are balled up on my bed because they hug my butt too tightly. T-shirts lie in piles on the floor because they’re too clingy. Shorts and skirts? No. They reveal too much leg. I throw them over my shoulder. Dr. Joyce, my therapist, claims it’s normal to have trouble getting dressed after what happened.

I always tell her I don’t care what’s normal after what happened; I just want normal—without qualifiers. I want to open my closet, pull on any old outfit, and not obsess about people thinking I’m asking for it.

“Ashley?”

I glance up and find Mom in my doorway, looking me over. I’m wearing a robe even though it’s about ninety degrees outside.

“You okay?”

“Fine,” I lie and dive back into my closet, mopping sweat from the back of my neck. We’d agreed that I’d go to school on my own today. It’s time.

“Ashley, look at me.”

I pull my head out of my closet and meet her eyes.

“Honey, I know you’re upset. We all are, but I promise you, it’s going to be okay.”

At those words, I clench my jaw and shoot up a hand. Then I just turn away because, honestly, I don’t know which part pisses me off more…the colossal understatement implied by a wimpy word like upset or the addition of the pronoun we, suggesting everybody else in this family knows exactly how I feel when they don’t have the slightest clue.

She sighs but nods and then steps over to the closet, rehanging the discarded clothes I dumped on my bed. “We haven’t looked west yet. California is truly beautiful. You know I’ve never been there?”

I roll my eyes. We haven’t looked anywhere. All we’ve done is talk about it, so I say the same thing I always say when this comes up. “Mom, I don’t want to move away.”

“But it could be a fresh new start for all of us, Ashley. No one would even have to know you were—”

“Mom.” I cut her off, forcefully this time. “I really have to get dressed.”

Her blue eyes, the eyes both of my brothers inherited, fill with the look that’s become way too common over the last two years. It’s disappointment. Is it directed at me or what happened to me? I don’t know anymore, and I don’t think it even matters. All I know is it’s so acute, I can’t bear to see it and have to look away. Once again, I return my attention to the closet to find something to wear.

“Okay. Have a great first day. Call if…if you need me.” She turns and heads downstairs.

I don’t answer because great days are yet another myth I’ve discovered in a long series of them, starting with the concept of justice. I roll my eyes. California. Like it would be no problem to just shut down Dad’s auto repair shop and move a family of five across the country where there are no grandparents, no aunts, no uncles or cousins.

As the front door closes and the engine starts in the driveway, my phone buzzes. It hardly ever does that anymore. I glance at the display, annoyed when some stupid tiny seed of hope blooms because there’s a text message from Derek.

Derek: Good luck today.

Rage ignites inside me like a match held to dry leaves. Cursing, I kick over my hamper, swipe every last book and paper off my desk, and come perilously close to hurling my cell phone at the wall. Good luck. Could he be this clueless?

As this is my brother, yes. He could be and often is this clueless…and worse.

Ashley: Yeah. Sure. Luck. That’ll help.

The phone buzzes again.

Derek: I’m sorry. I swear I am.

Sorry? I almost laugh. Derek doesn’t do apologies.

“Derek, tell Ashley you’re sorry,” Mom would order him after he’d made me cry for some thing or another.

And he’d say, “Sorry, Ash.” Mom would walk away or turn her back, and he’d stick out his tongue or roll his eyes and smile that Derek smile, and I’d know. I’d know he wasn’t really sorry. He was only saying it to make Mom happy. Apologies happen when you own up to having been wrong, and Derek has never been wrong in his life.

I stare at the words I’d have given anything to hear my brother say two years ago, but they’re too little, too late, and knowing Derek as I do, false.

I toss the phone to my bed and go back to pawing through every drawer in my dresser and every hanger in my closet for something to wear and finally spy something. It’s this old maxi dress Mom bought for me years ago. The tags are still on it. I grab it and hold it up. It probably doesn’t fit. I think I was twelve or thirteen when she bought it.

There’s a little pang in my chest. Twelve or thirteen.

Before everything changed.

I swallow hard, trying to hold on to the pain because if it gets loose—

Deep breath. Hold it in. Okay. Dress. Right.

I hold the dress up to my body, considering it. Yeah, it might work. I slip it on, smooth it out. It’s actually a bit big. And ugly. Shades of dull beige and brown in a paisley print that hangs all the way to my ankles. I grab a sweater to hide my shoulders revealed by this outfit and smooth down a cowlick in my hair, which has finally reached shoulder length again.

Above the shelf on my wall, there’s a mirror Mom bought so I could get ready for the new school year. I’d smashed the old mirror in another fit of rage not long after I’d hacked off my long hair. Yeah, this outfit does work. It hides pretty much everything.

I grab my phone and try to visualize the day ahead. Tara, my best friend, will meet me at school. She always has my back. The rest of the school is a different story.

Derek’s words rattle around inside my head like some kind of curse. Good luck, Ash Tray. You’ll need it.

Deep breaths. Breathe in, hold for one…two…three…four, breathe out. In, hold, out. In, hold, out. I hate doing these breathing exercises because I feel like a total loser. I mean, who has to concentrate on breathing?

Traumatized people like me, that’s who.

Two years. It’s been two years. I’m fine. I’m absolutely fine. I roll my eyes because that’s another thing I must do. Tell myself complete and total lies. It’s supposed to help me believe them, turning them into what my therapist claims are self-fulfilling prophecies. I get it. The power of positive thinking and all that crap. But the truth is, I’m still waiting to feel fulfilled, yet I keep doing the same stupid breathing exercise, and I keep repeating the same stupid lies until finally my heart stops trying to beat out of my chest.

This is it—the first day of school. Junior year. I can do this. I can. I will do this.

I do something else…something my therapist never told me about. I visualize. I imagine building a dam…a little beaver dam of logs and twigs and dried mud to keep all of the triggers and memories and rage and…pain from leaking out into my life. I spend some time shoring up my dam, and with one last deep breath, I head downstairs, pretending the dread that’s still climbing up my rib cage is anticipation for the first day of my junior year.

I see two coffee cups in the sink and dishes from my parents’ breakfast. It’s normal and typical, and it gives me something to hang on to while I wrestle all that dread back behind the dam.

I glance at the clock to make sure I have time and discover it’s after 8:00 a.m.

No, that can’t be right. I woke up extra early.

My shoulders sag while I stare at the clock blinking on the microwave over the stove and then pull the phone from my pocket. It shows the same time. How? How is this possible? They’re wrong. They’re both wrong. They have to be. I run to the family room, but the cable box is blinking the same time.

I’ve not only missed the bus, but I’ve missed the start of first period.

I shoulder my bag and start walking.

I thought I was past this. I thought the days when I’d lost huge chunks of time doing nothing except breathing were behind me.

***

School is terminally irritating.

I missed first period entirely, and by the time the old bat in the front office gives me my pass, I’ve missed half of second, too.

“Ashley. Hey,” Tara whispers when I finally take my seat in lit class, her face split in a huge smile. “What took you so long?” And then she looks at my outfit. “What are you wearing?”

I shake my head. “Don’t even.”

She puts up both hands in apology—or maybe surrender—and turns back to her notebook. Mrs. Kaplan is reading us the class rules and information about homework, exams, and class participation. I know this drill so I zone out. I take a look around the class, see who’s here, who’s not, and spot Sebastian Valenti over by the window at the same second he jerks his eyes away from me.

They’re really amazing eyes. Hazel. I used to think hazel was a color but found out it actually means eyes that change colors. Sebastian’s eyes look green sometimes, and other times, they look brown, and I’ve even seen them look practically yellow. Sebastian’s a good guy. The best. He saved me when my stupid brother didn’t. Wouldn’t. He keeps asking how I’m doing, and I keep saying fine. And that’s about as deep as our conversations ever get, so I just don’t bother anymore. I haven’t talked to him all summer. But he’s still a really good guy.

“May I have your attention please?”

The PA system cracks into life, and Mrs. Kaplan takes a seat at her desk while the principal welcomes us back to the new school year and tells us about some after-school clubs. And then, right after an announcement about several new teachers, Principal McCloskey ruins what’s left of my life.

“We’d like to welcome our new calculus teacher, Mr. Davidson, to Bellford High. In addition to teaching calculus, Mr. Davidson has agreed to help us start a new and improved football program. Tryouts for this year’s Bengals team will be held after school.”

A cheer goes up around the classroom.

I sit in my seat, frozen. I’m fine. I’m absolutely fine. I lie to myself, but my brain knows better, and I can feel that old pressure spinning inside my chest.

A hand squeezes mine, and I jolt like I’ve been struck by lightning. I look up into the concerned eyes of Tara. That’s when I discover everybody in the entire class has swiveled around to see how I’m taking this news. Most people look concerned, like Tara. But others are triumphant, like Andre, sitting at the front of the classroom, and Bruce, over by the windows next to Sebastian. I can’t stand it, can’t deal with it. Suddenly, I’m on my feet, running for the door. “Ashley! Ashley, come back here!” Mrs. Kaplan shouts after me.

I dart across the hall into the girls’ bathroom and lock myself into a stall. I’m fine I’m fine I’m fine I’m fine.

I repeat the words over and over so fast, they morph into percussion that syncs to the pounding of my heart. It’s bad enough seeing everybody stare at me. Everybody blames me for canceling football.

Derek blames me.

My brother blames me for what happened two years ago. I can never forget that…or forgive it.

It doesn’t matter how many lies I tell myself or how deep I bury those memories, how strong the dam is. Those memories—the pain they cause—they keep finding ways to break out, and I’m just not strong enough to hold them back.

I don’t think I ever will be.

Two Years Ago

Bellford, Ohio

It’s raining, but I don’t care. I love the way the air smells when it rains. Earthy. Clean and fresh and—so alive. I’m totally psyched to start high school and don’t care if there’s a hurricane. Armed with my bright pink umbrella, I’m ready to head to the bus stop, but Mom says Derek could have the car if he drives both of us to school. I squeal and clap. I love riding shotgun with Derek…when he lets me, that is.

Derek’s been treating me like crap for ages. We’re only a year and a half apart, so we shared a stroller, took baths together, went to gymnastics and soccer together. We were on different teams, though. That always bugged me. I wanted to play on his team. We’re a unit, a combo special, a team. Justin, our brother, is a lot older. He has his own separate life. But Derek and I are best friends. Nobody knows it but me, but Derek wants to make video games when we grow up. He has a ton of cool ideas, too.

At least, he used to. He never talks about that kind of stuff with me anymore. Now he’s all about football and girls and driving and avoids me as much as he can. I annoy him. I don’t see how that’s even possible. I try to do all the things he always liked doing with me like movie nights and epic game battles. Now he just rolls his eyes and says I should get a life.

But this is my first day of high school. So that means we can hang out again. I’m older and not so annoying. Derek doesn’t argue with Mom about driving me to school, so I kind of assume that means he’s finally outgrown his problems with me. Mom said he would…eventually. I also kind of assume that driving us to school also means driving us home. He has other ideas.

“Take the bus home. I’m hanging with my friends later.”

“Oh,” I say, smile fading. “Yeah. Sure.”

My first day of high school is awesome in every possible way. I have lunch with Donna Jennings, a girl I know from middle school, who got her hair cut in this really cool undershaved style and got a boyfriend over the summer. She showed everybody the gold heart necklace he’d given her, and my heart sighed. It had stopped raining by the afternoon, so I take my time heading to the parking lot to ride home with Derek, but the space where he’d parked Mom’s car is empty.

Darn. I was supposed to take the bus home. I totally forgot.

“You look lost.” A boy with messy hair and blue eyes says. He is seriously cute and standing with three other boys against a blue car.

“Must be a freshman,” another says.

“Just looking for my brother.”

“Who is he?”

“Um. Derek Lawrence.”

They exchange glances and laugh. “Oh, you’re Ash Tray. Sorry, you just missed him.”

“Cut it out,” the cute one says. “I’m Vic. Victor Patton.” He smiles at me. Dimples. Wow.

“Hey, that’s what Derek calls her.” The boy laughs.

Oh my God. Derek told them that? My face bursts into flames, and I turn away.

“Leave her alone.” Vic straightens up and walks toward me. He’s tall, taller than Derek. “Derek left. He might be back. Why don’t you call him?”

Yeah. Good idea. I pull out my phone and hit his name. It rings, but he never picks up. Next, I try texting him. Meanwhile, the boys pile into the blue car and take off, splashing water all over me.

I brush muddy splotches from my clothes, choking back tears, and call Mom’s cell phone, but it goes straight to voicemail. I try calling Dad too. Same thing.

What am I supposed to do? I head back to the main entrance, sink down on one of the steps, and drop my chin into my hands. I sit there, quietly crying, until the steel doors burst open and a bunch of laughing girls jog past me. Quickly, I fluff my waist-long hair in front of my face to hide the tears. All but one of the five girls wear warm-up suits bearing the word Fusion in bright red letters down one leg.

One crouches down to get a look at me. “Hey. You okay?”

I nod vigorously. “Yeah. Fine.”

“You’re crying. Can I help?” She takes a step closer, and I scrub at my face with the back of my hand, like that has even a remote chance at erasing my complete embarrassment.

“Not unless you have a magic potion that works on stupid brothers,” I blurt. Oh my God! I slap a hand over my mouth. I need to die. Right now. Where’s a lightning bolt when you need one?

“Oh, a stupid brother. I have one of those.” She smiles. She’s so pretty. Long, dark, and lean, she looks like one of the models in my Teen Vogue magazines.

I’m suddenly interested in hearing her story. “Older or younger?”

“Younger. Takes annoying to whole new levels, like it’s some kind of vow he took. Do you know he actually put my retainer in the toilet? My mother nearly burst a blood vessel after that.” She giggles. “Oh! I’m Candace Ladd.”

“Hey.” This time, my smile is bigger. “Ashley. Ashley Lawrence.”

“You must be a freshman.”

I wince, face burning all over again. “Does it show?”

She laughs, revealing perfectly straight, bright white teeth that somehow remained impervious to her little brother ruining her retainer. “Nah. I’ve just never seen you before, and I know pretty much everybody. I’m a junior.” She studies me, her head angled to one side. “Lawrence, huh?” And then her dark eyes open wide. “Oh my God. Is that stupid brother you mentioned Derek Lawrence?”

“You know him?”

She nods. “Yeah, we’re in the same homeroom. Oh, wow. Brittany is gonna hate hearing he’s a jerk. She’s really into him.” Candace points to the field on the other side of the small parking lot. The pretty blond with the great smile is doing ballet pliés.

I stare and swallow hard. Brittany is everything I’m not. Beautiful. Skinny. She even looks like Derek with perfect blond hair and blue eyes. They could be Ken and Barbie. I have dark hair and dark eyes. “Maybe he’ll be nicer to her.”

“Come on.” Candace Ladd grabs my hand, tugging me off the step where I’d been sitting, crying. “You know what’s great for getting over the stupid stuff brothers do?”

I have no idea, but I follow her anyway, making my way across the lot to the field that’s empty except for these girls.

“Dancing.”

I plant my feet in the grass at that. I love dancing. I’d taken dance classes for years when I was little. But I stopped about two years ago and now have a roll of fat bulging from the top of my jeans. I’d stick out like one of those old Sesame Street games—one of these things is so not like the others.

“Everybody, this is Ashley Lawrence. She’s Derek’s sister.”

The really pretty blond snaps her head up at that. Her smooth hair is pulled back in a ponytail, and her blue eyes are so blue, I wonder if she wears contacts. “I’m Brittany,” she says with a smile. “And this is Tara, Marlena, and Deanne.”

“Hi,” I manage to squeak out while the girls each smile and greet me.

Oh God, they’re all so beautiful. Next to them, I feel like a freak.

I am a freak.

“Ashley’s gonna dance with us today. She’s got some brother crap to work out of her system,” Candace explains to her friends, and Tara’s face instantly breaks into an expression of total understanding.

“Oh, honey. I got two of them. Is Derek what caused all this?” She waves a hand with pink-striped fingernails at my new back-to-school outfit, currently splattered in mud thanks to the boys in the blue car.

“Um, indirectly,” I admit.

“Jerk.”

“What an asshole!”

One by one, they all give their opinion of Derek while adjusting hairstyles, retying shoes, and stretching leg muscles. I’m entranced.

“You a freshman?” Marlena asks, and my face heats up again.

I nod, expecting her to make a disgusted face, but she just says, “I’m a sophomore. Candace and Brittany are juniors. And Tara’s a freshman, like you.”

I perk up at this news. Finally, somebody my own age.

Brittany pulls a small wireless speaker from her backpack, turns it on, and sets it on a bench at the edge of the athletic field. “It’s nice having the field to ourselves for once.”

“Hey, let’s teach her the routine,” Deanne suggests. “Then she can try out for Ms. Pasmore.”

Wait, what? Try out?

Holy crap, I can’t. But the rest of the girls agree. Candace crosses her arms and studies me. “Can you do basic moves like pirouettes and leaps?”

I shake my head. “I haven’t done those in a long time.”

“But you know how?” Candace prods. I can only shrug. “Oh, come on. Just try.” She urges me with a smile.

“Come on, Ashley. It would be great if we both make it on to the team,” Tara adds.

Tara’s words shoot straight into my heart and sort of plant roots. Suddenly, I want this. I want to dance and be on the team and have friends who understand all of my Derek problems.

“It’s okay, Ashley. You can do this,” Tara says, and that spot inside my heart warms up again.

I swallow hard, rub my damp palms down my legs, and get into fourth position…or is it fifth? I perform a slow, shaky pirouette. The girls applaud, and my face feels hot.

“That’s seriously not bad for someone who hasn’t danced in a couple of years.” Candace lifts her palm for a high five that I happily give her.

Derek would freak out if I do this.

So I should totally do it.

“That’s really great, Ashley. Okay, now strut!” She calls out, and the girls line up with me, everybody moving left, pumping their arms. I follow along, astounded by my efforts. “Other way. That’s good, Ashley! Now make it bigger.”

We strut back and march in place, and then Brittany takes over, leading us in a series of big, bold movements—kicks, leaps, shoulder shimmies, and pirouettes. They were right. This is fun. We dance for over an hour. The girls teach me their entire routine, and I do it all and have no time to be mad about Derek.

When we finally stop, Brittany angles her head, studying me.

“You know, you should cut some of that. It’s way too long for you.” She waves a hand over my hair.

My hair reaches my waist. “I, um, don’t look good with short hair. I mean, no offense,” I quickly say to Tara, whose jaw-length bob looks totally awesome.

“No, not that short,” Brittany says. “Maybe about here.” She indicates the middle of my back with her hand. “Take some of it off. I think it’ll have more volume.”

“Yeah,” Candace agrees. “When you do those snap turns, you won’t whip us in the face.”

Deanne hands me some forms. “Here. After you try out, you’ll need to order these.”

I stare down the sheet of papers, see the various items, each bearing the team name, Fusion.

“What do you say, Ashley? Are you in?” Candace grins, those bright white teeth gleaming at me.

I scan the group of them, all of them perfect and pretty and good at dancing. “Aren’t you worried I’ll make you look bad? I don’t…look like you all.”

“Oh, honey,” Tara says, putting an arm around me. “All you need is some practice to build up your confidence.” She looks around the group for verification.

“Hell, yeah. In freshman year, I had braces on my teeth, a terrible haircut, and I was six inches shorter than I am now. I could barely talk to anyone,” Brittany admits. “But you have something I didn’t have in freshman year.”

I did? “What’s that?”

“Boobs.” The other girls crack up as my face bursts into flames. “The boys won’t see anything else. Trust me.”

Brittany and Candace hop into a car and are gone after a honk and a wave. Deanne and Marlena stand with me until a minivan pulls up, and then it’s just me and Tara. We start walking toward the school’s main exit.

“So how are you getting home?” I ask her, and she shrugs.

“Walk. I live pretty much next door.” She points down the road.

“Handy.”

“Well, see you tomorrow. It was nice meeting you.”

“You too,” I call back.

I start walking toward town, where my dad’s garage is, wishing I had a bottle of water with me. My legs are like noodles after all that dancing, and a two-mile walk does not appeal to me. Like a wish granted, a horn honks, and a shiny black Chevy slows down beside me.

“Hey, Derek’s sister! Need a ride?”

Oh. Em. Gee.

It’s him. The boy with the cute smile and the dimples.

My voice gets stuck in my throat, so I only nod.

“What’s your name? Your real name, I mean,” he asks through the open passenger side window, smiling and making my wobbly legs even weaker. He isn’t going to call me Ash Tray? Swoon.

“Um. Ashley.” My voice is all squeaky.

“I’m Vic.”

“Yeah, I remember.” Vic. What a cool name. The coolest name in the world. I want to name a baby Vic.

He laughs. “Good. So where are you heading?”

“Oh, um. To my dad’s garage. Over on Blaine.”

“Right, right. I know where it is. Hop in,” he invites with a jerk of his head. “I’ll give you a lift.”

It never occurs to me to say no. He has such a great smile. His hair is somewhere between blond and brown and so messy I itch to touch it and smooth it. He’s really tall but lean. And his eyes are so blue, they look like pools you never want to get out of. But it’s that smile, the one with the dimple at the corner, that makes me forget my name.

“So, Ashley. You’re what? A freshman?”

Is there a sign hanging over my head or something? Wincing, I nod. “It must show.”

“Just a little.” He looks over and winks. “I’m a senior.”

A senior is driving me home. Ohmygodohmygodohmygod.

“Did you join a club or something?”

I nod, and suddenly remember I am probably in urgent need of a shower or a can of deodorant or a wet wipe, and I try to shrivel up against the passenger door and hope he doesn’t get close enough to sniff me. “Yeah. The dance team.”

“Fusion? That’s awesome! The dance team performs at all the Bengals games. I’ll probably see you at practice. Our coach had a meeting today, otherwise we’d have been on the field.” He slows down for a traffic light.

Can he hear my heart pounding?

“How do you like Bellford High?”

“I like the girls on the dance team. And I like my science teacher.”

“Who did you get?”

“Mr. Wilder.”

“Oh, yeah, he’s great. I had him. He likes to give pop quizzes every week, so be ready.”

“Oh. Yeah. I will.”

“Nothing terrible. Just read ahead and you’ll be fine.”

Read ahead. I can do totally do that.

Vic puts on his turn signal and waits for a left turn. “So your brother’s kind of a jerk to you, huh?”

My heart sinks, and I slide a little lower in my seat.

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll say something to him tomorrow.”

Suddenly, I’m grinning like a maniac. There’s probably a circle of cartoon birds and butterflies flying around the heart that just floated out of my body. Vic laughs and shakes his head as he pulls to the curb.

“We’re here. It was nice to meet you, Ashley Lawrence.” Vic hands me my bag as I pretty much fall out of the car on legs I can no longer feel. “See you tomorrow.”

“Yeah. Tomorrow.”

He honks and waves as he pulls away. I’m halfway in love.

“Ashley? Who was that?” Dad asks. He just stepped out of one of the garage bay doors.

“Hmm?”

“Ashley!”

I turn and see Mom in the entrance to Dad’s garage. “Mom! Can we get my hair cut? Please? I’m gonna try out for the dance team, and my hair is too long, and it’s in the way, and I met a senior named Vic, and I need to buy these if I make the team.” I finally pause for air, and Mom takes the Fusion gear order form I have clutched in my hand.

“A haircut. And a uniform. Well, okay. But a senior? No. I don’t know about that.”

“I’m with you on that,” Dad says, grabbing Mom in a hug and tickling her until she squeal

THE HOPE OF AZURE SPRINGS by RACHEL FORDHAM BOOK REVIEW

 

 

The Hope of Azure Springs

by Rachel Fordham

 

 

Seven years ago, orphaned and alone, Em finally arrived at a new home in Iowa after riding the orphan train. But secrets from her past haunt her, and her new life in the Western wilderness is a rough one. When her guardian is shot and killed, Em, now nineteen, finally has the chance to search for her long-lost sister, but she won’t be able to do it alone.

For Azure Springs Sheriff Caleb Reynolds, securing justice for the waifish and injured Em is just part of his job. He’s determined to solve every case put before him in order to impress his parents and make a name for himself. Caleb expects to succeed. What he doesn’t expect is the hold this strange young woman will have on his heart.

Debut author Rachel Fordham invites historical romance readers to the charming town of Azure Springs, Iowa, where the people care deeply for one another and, sometimes, even fall in love.

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Barker Publishing

 

Praise for The Hope of Azure Springs

“With unusual charm and warmth, Rachel Fordham opens the door to Azure Springs, a place as memorable as the people who inhabit it—namely the unique Em, a hero of a sheriff, and an assortment of heart-tugging, endearing townsfolk. A memorable story of faith, family, and happy endings!” ~Laura Frantz, author of The Lacemaker

“The Hope of Azure Springs is full of love and laughter, hope and happy endings. This delightful book about the resilience of the human spirit and the power of love will keep you turning pages until the very end. After you read Rachel Fordham’s satisfying story, you’ll want to give the world a hug.” ~Jennifer Beckstrand, author of A Courtship on Huckleberry Hill

“A tender story about loss, life, and the beauty that lies within each of us.” ~Stacy Henrie, USA Today bestselling author and RITA award finalist

“Authentic. Strong. Memorable. The Hope of Azure Springs and its refreshingly realistic heroine will remain in readers’ hearts long after they’ve reached the stirring conclusion. With eloquently drawn scenes that will tug at a reader’s heart and a beautifully redemptive love story, Rachel Fordham’s debut offers a tender look at the meaning of beauty and self-worth.” ~Joanna Politano, author of Lady Jayne Disappears

“As The Hope of Azure Springs unfolds, readers will find a well thought out and intricately put together love story about an uncommon heroine. Fans of Melissa Jagears and Jane Kirkpatrick will enjoy Rachel Fordham’s books now and for years to come.” ~Dawn Crandall, author of the award-winning series The Everstone Chronicles

 

 

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of THE HOPE OF AZURE SPRINGS by Rachel Fordham for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Many thanks to I Am A Reader for arranging for the Advanced Reader Copy.

Once in a while I have the opportunity to read a book that I find to be an absolute treasure. I found that in THE HOPE OF AZURE SPRINGS by Rachel Fordham. The fact that this is Mrs. Fordham’s debut novel makes this one even more special!

Mrs. Fordham takes one of my favorite genres, Christian Fiction, mixes in some wonderful historical fiction, a bit of mystery, and of course, gives the main characters a fairy-tale-like happily-ever-after!

The townsfolk of Azure Springs are a wonderful mixture of any very small town to be imagined, right down to the wonderful widow woman running the local boarding house! Mrs. Fordham knows how to give each of her characters life, and color, and emotion and they all came to life inside my head as I was reading! Each one of them jumped off the page and came to life for me as I read!

Although I was able to see early on the direction the book was going to end, it was a wonderful journey to take along with Caleb and Em. Mrs. Fordham wrote THE HOPE OF AZURE SPRINGS with many life lessons for those looking to learn a thing or two along the way. She also filled it’s pages with warm Christian values and I enjoyed watching Em learn to accept the love and respect of those around her!

I am a true fan of Rachel Fordham and I highly recommend THE HOPE OF AZURE SPRINGS! I give it five steaming hot cups of Room With Books Coffee and I hope you’ll pick up your copy today!

©June 9, 2018

 

Rachel Fordham has long been fascinated by all things historical or in the words of her children “old stuff”. Often the historical trivia she discovers is woven into her children’s bedtime tales. Despite her love for good stories she didn’t attempt writing a novel until her husband challenged her to do so (and now she’s so glad he did). Since that time she’s often been found typing or researching while her youngest child naps or frantically writing plot twists while she waits in the school pick-up line. In addition to her passion for storytelling, she enjoys reading, being outdoors and seeing new places. Rachel lives with her husband and children on an island in Washington state.

 

Website * Facebook * Newsletter

Amazon Author Page * Goodreads

 

Blog Tour Schedule

July 9th
I Am A Reader – Spotlight
My Life. One Story at a Time. – Review
Cover Lover Book Review – Review
BookHounds – Spotlight
Susan Heim on Writing – Spotlight
Diana’s Book Reviews – Spotlight

July 10th
Locks, Hooks and Books – Review
Literary Reflections Book Blog – Review
Literary Time Out – Review
Julie Coulter Bellon – Review
T’s Stuff – Spotlight
Tianna Holley, Author – Spotlight

July 11th
Pause for Tales – Review
The Becca Files – Review
Why Not? Because I Said So! – Review
A Writer’s Life – Spotlight
Hearts & Scribbles – Spotlight
Katie’s Clean Book Collection – Spotlight
Min Reads and Reviews – Spotlight

July 12th
Simple Wyrdings – Review
Reviews by Room With Books – Review
Paulette’s Papers – Spotlight
Here We Go Again Ready – Spotlight
FLY HIGH! – Spotlight

July 13th
Mythical Books – Spotlight
Bound 2 Escape – Spotlight
Stacking My Book Shelves! – Spotlight
Cassandra M’s Place – Spotlight
Bookish Reviews by Denise Blogs – Spotlight

 

Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Code or $25 in Paypal Cash

Ends 7/24/18

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or PayPal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

 

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RAINY DAY FRIENDS by JILL SHALVIS BOOK REVIEW @JillShalvis

Rainy Day Friends

A Wildstone Novel

By: Jill Shalvis

Harper Collins – June 19, 2018

Following the USA Today bestselling author of Lost and Found Sisters comes Jill Shalvis’ moving story of heart, loss, betrayal, and friendship

Six months after Lanie Jacobs’ husband’s death, it’s hard to imagine anything could deepen her sense of pain and loss. But then Lanie discovers she isn’t the only one grieving his sudden passing. A serial adulterer, he left behind several other women who, like Lanie, each believe she was his legally wedded wife.

Rocked by the infidelity, Lanie is left to grapple with searing questions. How could she be so wrong about a man she thought she knew better than anyone? Will she ever be able to trust another person?  Can she even trust herself?

Desperate to make a fresh start, Lanie impulsively takes a job at the family-run Capriotti Winery. At first, she feels like an outsider among the boisterous Capriottis. With no real family of her own, she’s bewildered by how quickly they all take her under their wing and make her feel like she belongs. Especially Mark Capriotti, a gruffly handsome Air Force veteran turned deputy sheriff who manages to wind his way into Lanie’s cold, broken heart—along with the rest of the clan.

Everything is finally going well for her, but the arrival of River Brown changes all that. The fresh-faced twenty-one-year old seems as sweet as they come…until her dark secrets come to light—secrets that could destroy the new life Lanie’s only just begun to build.

Goodreads Link ~ Goodreads Series Link

 

Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ iBooks

Other ~ Paperback

Series Buy Link

Disclaimer: I received a copy of RAINY DAY FRIENDS by Jill Shalvis for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

It was truly my pleasure to read RAINY DAY FRIENDS for review, but I would have picked this book up to read just because it is a really good book!

Jill Shalvis’ writing takes me on an emotional roller coaster, laughing one minute and tearing up the next! The characters are strong, stubborn, loving and sometimes just plain unlikeable! The one thing that the Capriottis always are is family! And family doesn’t mean blood!

There isn’t just one plot rolling out in RAINY DAY FRIENDS, there are several that intertwine throughout! I had no problem following along with what was happening, even though this is part of a series of books, and I haven’t read any of the previous Wildstone novels.

I give RAINY DAY FRIENDS by Jill Shalvis five steaming hot cups of Reviews by Room With Books coffee! I recommend you grab a copy of RAINY DAY FRIENDS by Jill Shalvis and a cozy place you can read it uninterrupted! I know you’ll love it as much as I did!

©June 19, 2018

 

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Shalvis writes warm, funny, sexy contemporary romances and women’s fiction. An Amazon, BN & iBooks bestseller, she’s also a two-time RITA winner and has more than 10 million copies of her books sold worldwide.

 

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS

 

Read the first Chapter at http://jillshalvis.com/books/rainy-day-friends/

 

 

 Win a print ARC of RAINY DAY FRIENDS

 

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BOUNCE BACK by DR BRIDGETTE JENKINS BOOK REVIEW

Write Now Literary is pleased to be coordinating a Blog Tour for Bounce Back: Tips for Overcoming Adversity, Life Challenges and Setbacks by Dr. Bridgette Jenkins. The tour will run June 4-29, 2018.

 

Publication Date: May 19, 2018

Genre: Inspirational Non-Fiction

 

 

Bounce Back will encourage you to be intentional about facing adversity and challenges while staying positive about your situation. With practicality, wisdom and experience, Dr. Bridgette Jenkins shares strategies and tips that can be used to help you Bounce Back from any negative life situation. After reading this book, and applying the practical Bounce Back tips, you will be able to withstand, recover from and overcome any challenge you might face in life.

Amazon eBook

Amazon Paperback

Barnes & Noble

 

 Disclaimer: I received a copy of BOUNCE BACK by Dr. Bridgette Jenkins, DNP, MSN, RN for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Many thanks to Write Now Literary Book Tours and Divine Purpose Publishing for the advanced digital copy.

BOUNCE BACK by Dr. Bridgette Jenkins is a book filled with practical, biblical advice on how to overcome many of the adversities that may be experienced in life!

Dr. Jenkins has a very practical style and addresses her own life challenges helped me feel comfortable from the beginning of the book. Knowing that she has experience, not just book knowledge, gives me a great deal of ease in looking at the advice Dr. Jenkins was offering. Her obvious knowledge of the Bible made the combination of advice and scripture especially beneficial for me!

In addition, Dr. Jenkins added a declaration at the end of the chapter that captures the essence of all that has been written. These declarations are useful pieces that can be used to heal the heart, mind, and body whenever the evil one begins to whisper in your mind and you forget the healing words Dr. Jenkins offers!

I am definitely recommending BOUNCE BACK by Dr. Bridgette Jenkins as a useful book for those facing life challenges!

BOUNCE BACK by Dr. Bridgette Jenkins, DNP, MSN, RN receives five cups of Reviews by Room With Books coffee!

©June 17, 2018

 

Dr. Bridgette Jenkins is a doctorly prepared registered nurse who specializes in education and community health. She has a heart for nursing students and those struggling to reach their education and career goals. She serves as mentor and coach to nurses and nursing students as they matriculate through the nursing profession.

She is the owner of Health Education Institute where she teaches lifesaving courses to healthcare providers and the public. She also offers a variety of courses to healthcare providers to help them stay current on updates and changes within the healthcare arena. Dr. Bridgette also speaks at churches and community events on various health issues that are prevalent among vulnerable populations.

She is the CEO/President of the Houston Chapter of Black Nurses Rock, a nonprofit organization committed to changing the lives of the citizens in the Houston area and surrounding communities through service and education.

Bridgette resides in Houston Texas where she’s actively involved in her church and community. She is a mother to three adult children and a miniature schnauzer named Dallas. She is also MiMi to two adorable grandsons.

Website

 

 

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