Book Blitz: The Upside of Falling Down

Welcome to The Upside of Falling Down Book Blitz, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!

Title: The Upside of Falling Down
Author: Rebekah Crane
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Skyscape
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
GoodReads

Synospsis:

For Clementine Haas, finding herself is more than a nice idea. Ever since she woke up in an Irish hospital with complete amnesia, self-discovery has become her mission.

They tell her she’s the lone survivor of a plane crash. They tell her she’s lucky to be alive. But she doesn’t feel lucky. She feels…lost.

With the relentless Irish press bearing down on her, and a father she may not even recognize on his way from America to take her home, Clementine assumes a new identity and enlists a blue-eyed Irish stranger, Kieran O’Connell, to help her escape her forgotten life…and start a new one.

Hiding out in the sleepy town of Waterville, Ireland, Clementine discovers there’s an upside to a life that’s fallen apart. But as her lies grow, so does her affection for Kieran, and the truth about her identity becomes harder and harder to reveal, forcing Clementine to decide: Can she leave her past behind for a new love she’ll never forget?

Buy Link:
Amazon

Excerpt:

I was born twice. The first time was on July 9 to Paul and Mimi Haas in Cleveland, Ohio. My mother died six years later. My parents hadn’t conceived another child, and my father never remarried. I was born with brown eyes and brown hair, and for eighteen years, I was, for the most part, healthy.

I was delivered again on June 18, just weeks before my nineteenth birthday. The nurses said I was born unconscious with ash tangled in the burned ends of my hair. Rescue workers pulled me from the belly of an airplane, where I was stuck between two seats, like a cushioned sandwich. There was no mother to gaze down at me in amazement or cradle me if I cried, but according to my nurse, Stephen, there were a plethora of camera crews and flashing lights.

Out of the wreckage of that day, which included thirty dead bodies, I was a miracle. Amid so much death and destruction, I was born.

For a day, I lay in the hospital, unconscious, before I opened my eyes to the world for the first time. I had bleached blonde hair and a nasty bump on my head.

When the doctor sat down gently on the chair next to my bed and asked me a question, I could only think to respond with these words, “There are four emergency exits on this plane—two at the front of the cabin and two at the back.”

A handful of nurses and other staff broke into laughter, but my doctor didn’t. She asked me another question, a puzzled expression on her face, to which I replied, “Please take a moment to locate your nearest emergency exit. In some cases, your exit may be behind you.”

That’s when the room went silent. All the laughter fell out of the air.

“Can you tell me where you are?” the doctor asked in an accent unlike my own. It took me a moment to understand her, partly because of the accent, but also because of the odd question.

“Where I am?” I said, feeling around. “Clearly, I’m in a bed.”

A perplexed expression crossed the doctor’s face as the others looked on at the miracle that I was. “Yes, but do you know where? Specifically, what country?” she asked.

I thought for a long while, touching the bump on my head. The bump was a flaw, and something told me that’s not how this was supposed to be. People are born perfect, right?

“What happened to my head?”

“You don’t remember how that happened?” When I shook my head and didn’t offer an answer, the doctor asked me another question. “Can you tell me your name?”

It was a simple question, but at that moment, the complexity of it weighed me down, so much so that I had a hard time breathing.

“Or better yet, can you tell me anything about yourself?” the doctor asked.

“About myself?” I thought long and hard. As if the people gaping at me weren’t clue enough, my confusion should have been. A person shouldn’t have to think so hard about that question. It should come naturally. It’s me. I know me, right? But concentrating so hard made my head start to ache, and I thought I might pass out. And for all that thinking, nothing happened.

Nothing.

The doctor glanced at the nurses, who stared at each other, but all the looking didn’t find them any answers. I started to think answers don’t come that easily.

I died and was reborn on June 18 in a plane crash in Ballycalla, less than eight kilometers from Shannon Airport, and I awoke to a new life a day later in the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Ireland, not far away. When the nurse called me by name, I didn’t respond.

He touched my arm. “Your name is Clementine, love.”

“Clementine.” I said the name over and over in my head, hoping one idea would stack on top of another and another and create something concrete. A person filled with a lifetime of memories.

But nothing happened. Instead, I said, “I have no idea who you’re talking about.”

About the Author:

Rebekah Crane is the author of three young-adult novels—Playing Nice, Aspen, and The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland. She found a passion for young-adult literature while studying secondary English education at Ohio University. After having two kids and living and teaching in six different cities, Rebekah finally settled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to write novels and work on screenplays. She now spends her day carpooling kids or tucked behind a laptop at 7,500 feet, where the altitude only enhances the writing experience.

Author Links:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads

Giveaway:

Enter to win 1 of 10 copies of The Upside of Falling Down + stickers! Open to US/CAN. Ends Dec 14/17.

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Blog Tour + Review: Exposure

Welcome to the Exposure Blog Tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!

Title: Exposure [Incandescent #3]
Author: Sylvie Parizeau
Publication Date: Nov 22, 2017
Genre: New Adult Romance
GoodReads

Synopsis:

PHILIPPE-OLIVIER TISSEROT’s caffeine addiction is about to land him in uncharted territory and one hell of a ride. One that’s about to go viral.

Current status: Computer whiz to hacker to penpal.

Upgrade status: Lover.

Well, I’m still working on the lover part.

I’m just a computer geek studying at MIT. And now I’m in two places at once – the geek and the lover battling it out to get the girl.

The only problem is, my dream girl doesn’t know she knows me in either one of them.

Now I have to win her in both.

Please wait. Upgrade in progress.

Buy Link:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Review:

If you haven’t started this series, don’t worry about it! This book is a lot richer if you’ve read the first part of the series, but it still works great as a stand alone (think K.A. Tucker Ten Tiny Breaths, it works, but read the others ’cause they’re great too).

I think my favourite part about this book is the true friendships that holds the guys together. P.O. is one of six super geeks who have lived together for over thirteen years (thanks boarding school!). Incandescently is Liam’s story, Apprehension is Zac’s, this one’s P.O., and the others are to come. Their friendship and banter made me laugh and smile throughout the entire novel and I appreciated all of P.O. one liner t-shirts boasting techy puns. P.O.’s letters with Aurele were also extremely cute, and I loved the easy banter they fell into. I found it interesting that the author actually made P.O. think in coding/techy terms. It was just simply what was happening, but everything was translated in his head to a language his character would understand better, and that added detail surprised me.

That begin said, at times I was a little overwhelmed by some of the complex language. Even my geeky friends wouldn’t use some of these words in sentences. I’m an English major and I wouldn’t use some of those words in a sentence that wasn’t for a term paper. As such, the whole 20 something getting their degree is a tad bit unrealistic to me.

Call me a sucker or a cliche, but I loved the letter idea – the writing was witty and they were well written in that, as a reader you knew what the words really meant, but the MC was clueless. I found this a good way to develop the character and allow the story unfold for itself. I did think that a couple of the aspects of the story were a little cliche (love at first sight, for one). However, I enjoyed the simplicity of the novel, as well as how adorable the characters and the writing was.

As a whole, it was a lovely, light read that really helped to cut through the stress of life. Definitely happy that I took the time to sit down with this one and am super excited to read the rest of the series as it comes out!

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 3/5
Writing: 4/5
Pacing: 5/5
Overall: 4/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.25/5

eARC obtained via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Buy Link:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

About the Author:

A paralegal by day and incurable romantic by night, Sylvie is a cross-genre, and she takes Happily Ever After very seriously. The End just isn’t in her vocabulary.

An incorrigible daydreamer, she now feeds her obsession with epilogues by concocting stories in which heroes deal with the happy from the get-go. Ready, or not. And she confesses under oath to loving every minute of it.

Sylvie lives her own Happily Ever After in the beautiful mountains of Les Laurentides in Northern Quebec, alongside her whole set of characters.

In between treks in their backyard wilderness, you can find them hanging out at www.sylvieparizeau.com

Author Links:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

Giveaway:

Enter to win a signed copy of Incandescently, Apprehension, and Exposure! Open internationally. Ends Nov 30/17.

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Book Tour + Guest Post: Wheeler

Welcome to the Wheeler Book Tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!

Title: Wheeler
Author: Sara Butler Zalesky
Publication Date: July 4, 2016
Genre: Adult, Romance, Sports, Suspense
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Known as the Ice Queen of the peloton, pro cyclist Loren Mackenzie rarely shows emotion in the heat of competition; she leads her team with quiet strength and determination. But her successes have not come without suffering, and her tragic past is hidden inside tarnished armor.

While out on a training ride with her cycling team near Enfield, England, a chance meeting quickly develops into an unexpected whirlwind romance. But a relationship with an A-list celebrity brings with it the microscope of tabloid-media attention, which expose jealousy and rivalry that threaten to undermine Loren’s leadership of her team.

The new romance also reveals a dangerous obsession, culminating in a terrifying confrontation with someone from Loren’s past. Her injuries not only put her chances at the World Championship in jeopardy but also bring forth memories of a life she had long buried – for good reason.

Can Loren open her heart to the love she has held at a distance, or will her fear ultimately defeat her?

The follow up novel in the Wheeler series is coming soon.

Buy Link:
Amazon

Guest Post – Character Interview of Loren Mackenzie and Graham Atherton

An attractive couple is seated across from you, holding hands, their fingers laced together. They lean ever so slightly toward each other as they watch you prepare for the interview. You meet his bright blue eyes and he smiles.

“Take your time,” he says, his British accent smooth, with only a hint of Scottish brogue. His smile changes as he turns to her; softer, more intimate and he tightens his fingers around hers. She answers with a similar grin but showing her nerves. Her gaze meet yours for half a breath, then continues moving, settling on the digital recorder on the coffee table between you.

You clear your throat. “When I get nervous, I forget everything.”

She gives a soft laugh. “Me, too. We can be nervous together.” She has a softer Northeastern US accent, dropping the ‘r.’

You grin and give a nod, then turn on the recorder. “Loren, Graham, thank you for agreeing to this interview for Between the Pages. It’s a pleasure to meet you both.”

“We’re happy to do it,” he says.

“Let’s get the ball rolling, shall we?” It’s cute, the way they adjust how they’re seated to face you but still maintain contact with each other. “Loren, did he really pick you up off the side of the road?”

They glance at each other, her smile widening. “Yes, and no,” she replied. “I took a hard crash about 20 minutes before he found me sitting on a stone wall. I was trying to get the tire back on the rim when I hear a lorry horn and I looked up just in time to see a Jaguar narrowly avoiding a crash.”

“Yes, well, I admit, I was staring,” Graham says, chuckling. “I didn’t stop at first, mind you. I reckoned she might be right mad, but she couldn’t very well follow me home on a bicycle so I turned around. But don’t you know, she just about took my head off for trying to be a gentleman.”

“Oh, I was mad alright, but I let you help,” Loren countered.

“Hmm, let me help, eh?”

“But you knew who he was, yes?” you ask.

“Oh sure,” she laughed. “I went all fangirl for about a half a second, but I tried to play it cool. Then he held my hand, and I completely forgot my name.”

Graham’s brows go up. “You went fangirl over me?” Loren takes a breath to reply but just smiles and shrugs a shoulder. “After we got the tire on, I watched you ride off,” he continues, facing her. “And for the rest of the day, I couldn’t get you off my mind. I kept thinking of things I could have said to make you laugh, or I would see your smile as I was trying to read. That’s when I looked you up on the internet.”

“But if you didn’t know my name﹘.”

“I remembered the logo on your jersey.”

She gives him a smirk. “You mean the enormous light bulb on my chest?”

Graham clears his throat. “Yes. That one.” Loren giggles at him. “Then I called Ron, he’s my agent and best friend,” he tells you. “And the rest is still going on.”

“That’s very sweet,” you say as you pick up your notes. “Now we have some questions from our readers and the first one is for you, Loren.” She sits up and gives you her attention. “Did you have a favorite toy when you were growing up?”

She blinks, pressing her full lips together as her gray eyes slide away from you. “Hmm, favorite toy. I wasn’t into dolls much, but I remember having a Barbie RV with a horse carrier. I played with that all the time.”

You nod with a grin, then look to Graham. “What about you? Did you have a favorite toy?”

“I had a tricycle that I wouldn’t give up, even when I was much too tall for it.”

Loren bursts a laugh. “Like how you were behind me on the Harley!”

“Yes, it’s all very funny,” he says, pursing his lips to hold back his grin. “Anyroad, my stepfather Gerald purchased a true two-wheeler for me, but I rarely rode it. I was too afraid to fall off.”

“That is adorable, Graham,” Loren chuckles.

You continue with the next question. “Loren, is there one song that you can’t help but sing along when you hear it?”

“Oh, goodness,” she mutters, half smiling. “Happy by Pharrell Williams. I can’t help it.” Graham leans away from her, his brows up near his hairline.

“You didn’t know that about her?” you ask.

“I did not,” he replies, the corner of his mouth curling up. “Her playlists are full of heavy metal and post-rock instrumentals.”

“You’ve infected me with your eclectic taste in music,” Loren tells him.

“Who’s the better cook?” you inquire.

“No question, Graham,” Loren says. “I burn water.”

“Who eats the most junk food?”

They glanced at each other and respond at the same time. “Graham.” “Me.”

“Who has a bigger closet?”

“Me,” he says. “Graham.”

“Who takes longer getting ready to go out?”

Loren snorts a laugh as Graham shakes his head. “I take forever,” he replies.

“Everything has to match,” she adds, waving her hand. “Or go. Whatever it is.”

“Right,” he scoffs. “And you wear Lycra or your team’s apparel all the time.”

“Not all the time,” she laughs. “I’ve worn a skirt four times now.”

“Darling, your socks.” He reaches down and pulls up the leg of her jeans to show off her red and white IDC socks.

She scrunches her shoulders. “They were clean.”

You chuckle along with them. “Graham, what’s an item of Loren’s that you would love to get rid of?”

He huffs. “She had this pair of neon green trainers that were beyond grotty.” His humor evaporated as their eyes met. “They were ruined recently, but I got her a new pair because but she loves them.” Graham let go her hand to put his arm around her shoulders as Loren ducks her chin. You think you see a flash of distress in her expression but it’s gone when she faces you again.

You cough lightly. “What is your favorite place to relax in your house?”

Graham purses his lips. “Anywhere, really, but I rather enjoy lounging in the living room. The back wall of the house is all windows that overlook the farmlands.”

She nods. “Me too, but I like the garage, as well. I have my bike trainer set up out there. I think better when my legs are moving.”

“How is Graham at giving presents?”

“Each gift he’s given me, he’s put a lot of thought into it,” she replies, looking at him. “That means more than how much he’s spent.”

“But then you trump me and spend a small fortune on that copy of Shakespeare’s Sonnets you gave me,” he grumbles.

She kisses his cheek. “You’re worth it.”

“What word describes Loren first thing in the morning?”

Graham throws his head back and laughs. “Right narked!”

“That’s not true!” she nudges him with her shoulder. “I’m a morning person. It’s only when I don’t get enough sleep that I’m cranky.”

“What is Graham like when he gets sick?”

She presses her lips together. “He’s doesn’t complain that much.”

“Graham, have you taken up cycling since being with Loren?”

He grimaces. “She purchased a gravel bicycle for me and we went out a few times together, but it’s been rather cold and rainy in England of late and I can only suffer riding in ankle-deep mud for so long.”

“Have you crossed over into riding motorcycles with her, as well?”

“I have a Kawasaki Vulcan,” he tells you, “but we haven’t gone out much, because of the weather.”

“You’ve made a few appearances at the podium when Loren’s won. How did you manage that?”

“The first time, I was volunteered by her teammate, Charlotte, at the Women’s Tour in England,” Graham replies. “The second was at La Course in Paris, before the final stage of the Tour de France. I didn’t present, I was just on the sideline, as I was for Stages 8 and 9 of the Giro Rosa and for the Championships in Richmond, Virginia.” He puts his hand to his chest. “I am humbled to have played such a small part of her celebrations.”

“You’re so shiny,” Loren tells him, a tiny smile playing on her lips.

You grin at the couple and gather up your notes. “Thank you both for sharing a bit of yourselves with our readers.”

Buy Link:
Amazon

About the Author:

Sara was born in the wee hours of a November night in New York City. When her family moved to a small borough in northwestern New Jersey, she had little choice but to move as well. Self-sufficiency is a tough thing for a toddler.

The dichotomy of being the middle child of three, but the only girl, was difficult, as typically no one really pays attention to a middle child. Mostly, Sara spent her time creating fanciful stories in her head when she should have been focused on other things, an issue that continues to this day.

Most of these stories have never been shared, let alone completed. This all changed in the spring of 2015, when Sara was encouraged by a friend to expand upon a short story she had accidentally emailed to him. The result is ‘Wheeler’, a romantic, women’s fiction/sport novel, which combines the author’s romantic inclinations and her passion for cycling.

Sara currently resides in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA, with her loving husband and their son. She is a paralegal for a boutique law firm in Chester County, Pa, an avid road cyclist and indoor cycling instructor at a national chain.

Follow the author’s blog at sarabutlerzalesky.wordpress.com or on Twitter @sarazalesky. She does a little dance every time someone ‘follows’ her on Twitter. Really.

Author Links:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads

Giveaway:

Enter to win 1 of 5 copies of Wheeler. Open internationally. Ends Nov 23, 2017.

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Book Tour + Guest Post: Year of the Knife

Welcome to The Year of the Knife Book Tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!

Title: The Year of the Knife
Author: G.D. Penman
PublisherMeerkat Press
Publication Date: November 28, 2017
Genre: Adult Thriller and Urban Fantasy
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Agent -Sully- Sullivan is one of the top cops in the Imperial Bureau of Investigation. A veteran witch of the British Empire who isn’t afraid to use her magical skills to crack a case. But Sully might need more than a good education and raw power to stop the string of grisly murders that have been springing up across the American Colonies. Every one of them marked by the same chilling calling card, a warning in the form of a legion of voices screaming out through the killers’ mouths: -It IS tHe YEAr oF the KNife.-

Sully’s investigation will drag her away from the comforts of home in New Amsterdam, the beautiful but useless hyacinth macaw that used to be her boss, and the loving arms of her undead girlfriend, in a thrilling race against time, demonic forces and a shadowy conspiracy that will do anything to keep its hold on power and ensure that Sully takes their secrets to her grave, as soon as possible.

G.D. Penman’s imaginative The Year of the Knife is a fun, fast-paced urban fantasy mystery with an engaging set of characters, most notably Agent Sully of the Imperial Bureau of Investigation.

Guest Post by G.D. Penman – A Few of our Favourite Things

I am not saying that every single one of these characters is an unrepentant liar, but they live in a slightly oppressive Empire and they aren’t always free to wear their hearts on their sleeves. Which is why instead of each character telling you their favourite thing, we are going to have to pry open their brains a little bit and steal the real answers.

Sully would tell you her favourite thing is: A nice Sloe Gin, a pub with wooden panels on the walls, something deep fried and nobody trying to kill her for five whole minutes.
But her favourite thing is actually: Marie.

Marie would tell you her favourite thing is: The unparalleled majesty and wonder of musical theatre.
But her favourite thing is actually: Sully.

Raavi would tell you his favourite thing is: Whatever magical monstrosity is on the table in front of him awaiting vivisection at any given moment.
But his favourite thing is actually: Bowling night.

Colcross would tell you his favourite thing is: Peace, quiet and order across the colony.
But his favourite thing is actually: Nobody calling him all day so that he can smoke his pipe without being disturbed.

Pratt would tell you his favourite thing is: Fine dining, fine wine, tasteful music and good company.
But his favourite thing is actually: The exact moment that he can see the spark of sedition planted in the mind of one of the students that he is lecturing.

Chloe would tell you her favourite thing is: The beautiful diamond engagement ring that her fiancé gave her.
But her favourite thing is actually: The seven seconds a week that she gets to stare at Sully as she walks across to the director’s office.

The Director would tell you his favourite thing is: Grapes
But his favourite thing is actually: Not being magically transformed into a Hyacinth Macaw.

Ceejay would tell you his favourite thing is: Rock and Roll.
But his favourite thing is actually: Mongolian Barbecue

Axis would tell you that their favourite thing is: Bluegrass
But their favourite thing is actually: Axis

Eugene would tell you its favourite thing is: TO WATCH THE PAINFUL DEATH OF ALL MANKIND, TO TEEACH THEM NEW WAYS TO PERCEIVE THE PAIN THAT THE WORLD WILL BE WRACKED WITH
But its favourite thing is actually: Pornography.

About the Author:

G D Penman writes Speculative Fiction. He lives in Scotland with his partner and children, some of whom are human. He is a firm believer in the axiom that any story is made better by dragons. His beard has won an award. If you have ever read a story with Kaiju and queer people, it was probably one of his. In those few precious moments that he isn’t parenting or writing he likes to watch cartoons, play video and tabletop games, read more books than are entirely feasible and continue his quest to eat the flesh of every living species.

Author Links:
Website | GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway:

Enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Open internationally. Ends Nov 23, 2017.

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Book Tour + Excerpt: Spell Book and Scandal

Welcome to the Spell Book and Scandal Book Tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!

Title: Spell Book & Scandal [#1]
Author
: Jen McConnel
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Shelby King is tired of living in her sister’s shadow. Just because Christina is the most powerful caster in school doesn’t mean Shelby’s any good at magic; she’s a scribe, like her mom, and everyone expects her to write spells for her sister, the way her mom always has for her dad. But Shelby’s spells fail spectacularly, and by the time she’s a sophomore, Christina won’t touch them with a ten-foot-pole; their parents aren’t much better. Shelby is fed up, and she decides to show the world she doesn’t care if she isn’t as good as her stuck-up sister, or as talented as their powerful parents. In fact, she decides it’s time to break all the rules, magical and otherwise, and she starts sneaking out to meet Jeremiah Smallwood, the second-best caster in school at illegal pop-up spell battles around town. She may not be able to scribe for him, but she doesn’t mind letting him think that she could; Shelby’s been half in love with Miah as long as she can remember, but he’s never paid attention to her until now, and she’s not going to risk her chances worrying about a pesky thing like the truth. But when Christina rats her out to their parents, Shelby can’t control her anger, and words come pouring out of her that she can’t take back even if she wanted to, threatening Christina’s future…and Shelby’s own chances with Jeremiah. It’ll take more magic than Shelby’s ever dreamed of to set things right, but no scribe has that much magic…right?

Buy Links:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Excerpt:

I glance around at the milling crowd of casters and scribes, but before I can ask another stupid question, a bell chimes and everyone falls silent. Their eyes swivel to a bench in front of the lion enclosure, where a tall, slender girl dressed in a black leather jacket over black skinny jeans stands looking out at the crowd. She grins, a wicked glint in her eyes. “First up, Sampson and Delilah.”

Sampson groans. “The names don’t mean anything!” He calls, but people around us are already laughing as he and Manuel break off from our clump and move toward the girl on the bench. A petite girl with curly auburn hair is already standing there, next to a guy with more piercings than I can count in his face. I take a step closer to Jeremiah. “Are you going to tell me what this is, or do I have to guess?”

He looks down at me with surprise, like maybe he forgot I was there. “Spell battle. Totally illegal, but wicked fun.”

I’m still completely confused, but Jessica slides her arm through mine and tips her head close to my ear. “You know how normies do stuff like poetry slams and rap battles?”

I nod. Our English teacher showed us a video of two poets eviscerating each other with their words at the end of last year, and it had been pretty amazing to see the power that non-magical words could hold. “This is like that? Only…with casters?”

She smiles. “Exactly. You can see why our boy here wants some of your spells; with a King on his side, Jeremiah would blast the competition to smithereens.”

Or get blasted by one of my crappy, backfiring spells. I lick my lips, hoping she can’t read my mind, and wonder why I let Jeremiah talk me into coming tonight.

While we talked, Sampson had been conferring with Manuel, their dark heads close together, shuffling through the stack of papers Manuel is holding. They’re his spells, I realize, and suddenly I understand his nervousness. I’ve never let anyone handle my notebook but me, but here he is, surrounded by people, with his spells ready to blow away in the first gust of wind. The girl, Delilah, hasn’t said a word to her scribe; she’s too busy examining her nails to seem like she’s paying much attention to anything around her. But when the girl in black leather claps her hands again, Delilah barely acknowledges Sampson’s polite nod before her lips are moving, casting the first spell.

Sampson tries to speak over her, but his spell is still half-formed when he begins to lift off the ground. It’s like there’s a rocket strapped to his back; he shoots into the air above us, and a few people clap and whistle, cheering for Delilah. I can’t hear what Sampson says, but clearly, the spell works, because in an instant, he stops flying and hovers in place, like he’s standing on a glass platform over our heads.

Delilah opens her mouth, but before she can get her next spell out, a blast of purple fire knocks her over. She summersaults and lands on her feet in an instant, but I can tell by the way she clenches her fists that she’s mad. “Sampson shouldn’t have done that so soon,” Jess murmurs next to me, and I can tell that she’s worried, too; the red-head may be small, but she’s clearly a powerful caster.

Just as that thought crosses my mind, the girl flicks her hand and Sampson begins to fall through the air. He doesn’t fall straight down, though; it’s like he’s caught by some powerful wind, and he falls sideways. With horror, I watch as he plummets into the lion enclosure. The crowd around me inhales sharply in excitement, and a few people whistle.

I grab Miah’s arm. “Shouldn’t we do something?”

He looks down at me quizzically. “He’s got this. You don’t think that girl would actually hurt him, do you? This is all just for fun, Shelby.”

But somehow, I’m not sure.

Sampson staggers to his feet and shakes his head like he’s trying to get rid of a bug, and over his shoulder, I notice one of the sleeping lions twitch. My heart is pounding in my throat, but Miah is right; by the time Sampson has taken stock of the situation, he’s already started to cast another spell. This time, he flips through the air like a gymnast, landing in front of Delilah outside the lion enclosure. She has a smug expression on her face, but her smile turns to a grimace as Sampson lashes out with his magic, pulling her legs out from under her. She lands in a puddle, and a few people chuckle.

Sampson raises an eyebrow, like he might ask the girl if she’s ready to give up, but before he can say anything, she lifts both hands and blasts him with a spell. Manuel sees it coming and hollers, “Use the counter spell! The one I wrote last week!” But Sampson is too slow. A whirlwind tears at his clothes, ripping the fabric and tossing him around in its embrace, even though there isn’t so much as a breeze where I’m standing. In an instant, the wind dies down, and somehow, Sampson has been stripped down to his plaid boxers, socks, and shoes. He flushes from the tips of his Mohawk all the way down to the waistline of his underwear, and then he hangs his head in defeat.

Everyone cheers, and Delilah takes a prissy bow. Sampson immediately casts a silent spell, and he’s dressed again like it never happened, except for the tell-tale blush on his face. Miah crosses to him and claps him on the shoulder, probably saying something encouraging, but I’m not listening. I glance behind me at the lion enclosure, and my eyes meet the golden gaze of a lioness. She’s awake, and she’s watching the people around me with a calculating expression. I almost imagine that I can hear her thoughts, sizing up the casters and deciding which ones might make the most delicious morsels, and I swallow my fear. After a moment, the lioness looks away and puts her head down on her paws, closing her eyes as if she’s asleep. Before I can worry needlessly about what could have happened, Jess gives my hand a squeeze.

“Not everyone fights like Delilah,” she says softly. “The next round should be fun.”

And she’s right; the rest of the battles are fast, furious, and frighteningly fun, and nobody else gets tossed in with any of the sleeping animals, but I stick close to Miah and his friends, knowing that I’d be toast if anyone decided to fly me in with the lions. Sure, the casters are the ones who are battling, but a little voice inside my head warns that things could turn ugly fast if anyone in that crowd had a score to settle with a caster… or a scribe.

About the Author:

Award-winning author Jen McConnel writes NA, YA, and nonfiction. When she isn’t writing, she can be found on her yoga mat or wandering off on another adventure. Visit http://www.JenMcConnel.com to learn more!

Author Links:
Website | GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

Giveaway:

Enter to have your name in Book 2! Open internationally! Ends Nov 23/2017.

 

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Book Tour + Review: Choosing Hope

Welcome to the Choosing Hope Book Tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!

Title: Choosing Hope
Author: Holly Kammier
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
Genre: Adult Romance Thriller
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Choosing Hope is a harrowing story of passion and deceit, the things we do for love and the rabbit holes we tumble into chasing elusive fairy-tale endings. Dark around the edges with a shocking twist I didn’t see coming, this is the kind of book you’ll be passing around to your friends so you can talk about it. Holly Kammier delivers romance, suspense, and a strong, smart heroine who turns out to be nobody’s victim. Don’t miss this one! – Kat Ross, best-selling author of The Midnight Sea

A broken marriage.
A love affair.
A lie that changes it all…

Hope Rains Sullivan is living the dream—a successful husband, two beautiful young boys, and a charming home in Northern California. She should be happy. She almost convinced herself she was, until Adrian came along.

Adrian, appears to be everything her husband isn’t. He works with his hands, and is even willing to use them in a fight. He’s sexy, strong and fit, with warm brown skin that alludes to his Spanish background. Best of all, he lives for spending time with his kids. Feeling alone in her marriage, Adrian offers her a way out

Hope’s affair is just the beginning. Her journey inward will require untangling her complicated past and surviving an astonishing revelation. Her lover is not who he pretends to be.

She’s searching for her happily-ever-after, and no matter how painful the journey, she’ll find what she’s been looking for all along—the chance to choose Hope.

Buy Links:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBook

Review:

I will say this now, this book has some importance to it. In the end, the lesson is worth learning and it shows that everything in life has consequences. That being said, this book wasn’t at all what I had expected. Let me break it down for you.

This book was hard for me to get into. It made it hard for me to like the characters or to even sympathise with them. A lot of it was the narrator telling us about her problems, about what’s wrong with her marriage, about what’s right about her new man, but we don’t get to see, experience, and breathe it. We follow Hope’s story over a span of ten months, and what we’re given is very surface level. We get her perspective on her husband, but we don’t see much of the behaviour. We see how some things affect her children, but much of it is told to us. It’s hard to connect with her and her experiences without really getting to know the characters on a personal level.

That being said, I really liked her mother. Hope’s mother made the book for me. Everything she said was accurate and important and a lot of this book wouldn’t exist if Hope had just listened to her mom. That lady knew what she was talking about. From the beginning until the end, her mom is the voice of reason, and if someone were in this situation, she’s who they should listen to.

Onto the story itself – I’m not sure that one kind of almost thriller-like scene makes this book a thriller. I understand the idea behind this aspect of the book, but it was seemingly random. I wish we had seen a little more of this behaviour to fully understand the impact of this behaviour on Hope. A part of me believes it may have been better and more impactful had it been from Lisa’s point of view. The romance and courting is a mix of cute and whiplash-y. Hope is indecisive and she jumps back and forth, which also adds to the unpredictability of the book. It also added to my indifference and lack of commitment to the whole story. After the fourth or fifth switch, I began to turn the other cheek like, “Okay girl, I believe you.”

There are a lot of people who are in a similar position as Hope, where she’s fallen out of love with her husband, I think. While I don’t think her way of dealing with it was necessarily the best, I do think that it was important for her to acknowledge the brokenness of her marriage. As a whole, the lessons here are important, and I’m not going to deny that the twist was a surprise. However, I don’t think the book had as much as an impact on me because of the writing. Do I think this book is worth the read? Maybe. Do I think the lesson is something that is important to learn? Definitely.

Plot: 3.5/5
Characters: 2/5
World Building: 4/5
Writing: 3.5/5
Pacing: 2/5
Overall: 3/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.27/5

eBook obtained via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Buy Links:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBook

About the Author:

Co-owner of Acorn Publishing, Holly Kammier is a UCLA honors graduate and an accomplished content editor. With a background in journalism, she has worked everywhere from CNN in Washington, D.C. and KCOP-TV in Los Angeles, to the NBC affiliate in small-town Medford, Oregon.

Holly is the best-selling author of the novel, Kingston Court, and Could Have Been Hollywood, a memoir. She recently completed her third book, Choosing Hope, a spin-off from Kingston Court. Choosing Hope is a harrowing story of passion and deceit, and the things we do for love.

Holly resides in her hometown of San Diego, California, close to family and friends. A world traveler in her younger years, these days when she isn’t writing or working with new authors, she spends much of her time hanging out with her two boys, Josh and Alex. Holly is an avid reader with a passion for timeless books and beautiful writing. She also enjoys long walks with her Jack Russell Terrier, romantic movies, and making her mischievous sons smile wider.

Author Links:
Website | GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway:

Enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card. Open internationally. Ends Nov 16/17.

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Book Blast: Return to Christmas Falls

Welcome to the Return to Christmas Falls Book Blast, hosted by I Am A Reader!

Buy Links:
Amazon | Kobo | Barnes and Noble | iBooks

Homecoming in Christmas Falls by Ciara Knight

Eight years after fleeing Christmas Falls because of a high school prank gone wrong, Ashley Brooks receives a mysterious letter from her mentor asking her to come home. She arrives to face all she left behind—her family, her friends, and the rich boy she’d loved who would never date the girl from the wrong side of town.

Brent Donnelly, high school jock, brainiac, and dutiful son did everything right until the day Ashley returns to ChristmasFalls. With one look at the girl who got away he questions all his life choices, including following in his father’s footsteps in the family business.

Faced with a potentially devastating decline of tourism in their hometown, Brent and Ashley must work together to save the magic of their town, but when Ashley discovers he still has feelings for her best friend she must finally face the real reason she left Christmas Falls—to try to heal her broken heart.

Honeymoon for One in Christmas Falls by Jennifer Peel

Is there room for two on this honeymoon for one?

Piper Wyatt’s Christmas wish is to get promoted to manager at Blackstock Hotel and Resort. Not only does the promotion mean more money, but it means more time with her son and proof that she’s not such a disappointment after all.

Jace Petersen, successful owner of a national chain of sporting goods stores, finds himself alone and miserable on what should have been his honeymoon. That is until he literally falls onto the lovely Piper Wyatt. He’s intrigued with this woman who can fix a car in high heels. Too bad for him, he makes a horrible first impression, and Piper’s not allowed to mingle with the guests.

While Piper tries her best to steer clear of Jace during his stay, she can’t help but notice he’s not the man from their first meeting. But is he worth risking her promotion? Or is Jace right, Piper deserves more than she ever thought possible for herself?

Find out in this charming Christmas tale about finding love in the most unexpected place, a honeymoon.

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Once Again in Christmas Falls by Becky Monson
In one day, London Walsh finds out her ex is going to be her boss and that her parents are getting a divorce—and they want her to referee the situation. So when she’s offered the chance to spend the holidays in her old hometown of Christmas Falls, far away from all the drama, she jumps on it.

But the quaint town doesn’t feel quite like the home it once was. London shed the goth image that defined her in high school long ago, but no one recognizes the woman she’s become.

Except for Andy Broll, London’s childhood next door neighbor. He recognizes her immediately, which sends London’s heart fluttering as she starts to see Andy in a whole different light. But when her time in Christmas Falls doesn’t go as planned, will London face it head on? Or will she find a reason to run?

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Rumor Has It in Christmas Falls by Melinda Curtis

As a political strategist at Dunlop Bennet & Associates, Lexi Townsend’s career is going nowhere. She’s a cubical dweller writing speeches for freshmen senators in DC. But if she can hitch her career wagon to a rising political star, she’ll be on her way to a corner office in no time. When she’s offered a plum holiday assignment–an ideal candidate with deep pockets, someone who could make the leap from local to national politics–she starts to dream about that corner office.

Until she realizes her candidate is Kevin O’Malley, aka Kevin the Hottie, Kevin the Snob, Kevin the Liar, the same guy who shattered her high school reputation back home in Christmas Falls with a rumor. Assignment in hand, Lexi braces herself for the most difficult political race of her career–because this time it’s personal.

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Forever Yours in Christmas Falls by Susan Hatler

Morgan Reed is excited to return to her hometown of Christmas Falls and open her beauty salon, but when she arrives to her rented business space she’s shocked to find it already occupied by Dallas Parker—her brother’s best friend, the guy she had a childhood crush on, and the one her mom blames for their family’s greatest tragedy.

With their landlord out of the country and unreachable, Morgan and Dallas must open their businesses together. But, no worries, all small towns need a combo furniture store/beauty salon, right? Ugh. As they work together, Morgan tries to keep her emotional distance but time and off-the-charts chemistry soon turn a childhood friendship into a blossoming romance.

Unfortunately, just when their relationship develops into something deeper, an unexpected crisis re-opens her family’s old wounds and the blame is on Dallas once again. Will Morgan’s sadness and fear pull them apart, or make her realize Dallas has always been her heart’s true safe harbor?

Website * Facebook

Love Notes in Christmas Falls by Beth Labonte

When Caitlin Cook left the small town of Christmas Falls, Tennessee to attend Harvard University, she left behind the burden of her parents’ slowly increasing hoard of antiques, a much younger brother, and Shane Mitchell—the boy who blindsided her with the news that he loved her on the night before she left.

Shane Mitchell spent his high school years fascinated by Caitlin Cook. The quiet flute player with her nose always in a book, he wanted desperately to find out what made her tick.

Eight years later, Caitlin returns to Christmas Falls—unemployed and newly single—after receiving a devastating letter from her beloved high school mentor. Caitlin is shocked to find her childhood home in disarray, and her little brother in desperate need of his sister. With Shane’s help—now a pillar of the community rather than the carefree teenager Caitlin once knew—she begins to rediscover her love for music, antiques, and possibly even Shane. When faced with the choice of rebuilding her life in Boston, or giving love a second chance in Christmas Falls, will Caitlin be able to decide on the true meaning of home?

Website * Facebook

Finding The Truth in Christmas Falls by Danielle Stewart
Olivia Mackey spent her whole life hearing how she was destined for bigger and better places than Christmas Falls, Tennessee. A regular on the beauty queen scene from a very young age, she learned from her stage mom, that appearances mean everything. Having spent the years after high school traveling the world and failing at the dream everyone told her she should have, she’s back home and wondering what she’s to do next.
Nothing is where she left it. Friends have scattered, her mentor is ill, and Olivia is fumbling her way through a big life in a small town.

Tim Avondale and his young daughter showed up in Christmas Falls one evening looking for a fresh start. Buying the Sleepy Hound Bookstore seemed the perfect opportunity. Life had gone so wrong and now here in this quiet town he could keep anything bad from happening to his daughter again.

When the two cross paths Olivia and Tim find an instant connection. A tug toward each other they don’t want to ignore. The problem is, in the process they are being tugged away from all the things they thought were important in their lives. He can’t hide out from real life forever. She is more than just what people see on the surface. But when they’re forced to decide will they choose to be better together or safer apart?
Giveaway:

$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 11/5/17

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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