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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 + 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 Tour + Review: Just Friends

Welcome to the Just Friends Book Tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!~

Title: Just Friends
Author: Tiffany Pitcock
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
GoodReads

Synopsis:

A new spin on the classic smart-girl-and-bad-boy setup, this witty contemporary romance shows how easily a friendship – even one built on an elaborate lie – can become so much more.

Jenny meets Chance for the very first time when she is assigned as his partner in their Junior Oral Communications class. But after they rescue a doomed assignment with one clever lie, the whole school is suddenly convinced that Little-Miss-Really-Likes-Having-A’s and the most scandalous heartbreaker in school have been best friends forever. It’s amazing how quickly a lie can grow―especially when you really, really want it to be the truth.

With Jenny, Chance can live the normal life he’s always kind of wanted. And with Chance, Jenny can have the exciting teen experiences that TV shows and movies have always promised. Through it all, they hold on to the fact that they are “just friends.” But that might be the biggest lie of all.

Debut author Tiffany Pitcock delivers a spot-on depiction of first love and the high school rumor mill in Just Friends, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads.

Buy Links:
Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo

Review:

As a debut novel, it was pretty good. The subjects broached here are real and hard to deal with and I think Pitcock really treated them with respect and care.

The book starts off a little oddly. Immediately, we have a sense of who the characters are and we get a odd game of pretend. It’s weird. I can’t really see a “good girl” and a “bad boy” doing that together and doing it well. That being said, you immediately see some of the chemistry the characters have with each other. Broaching the subject of “bad boy” and “good girl”, I can’t say they needed the labels. Chance was kind of a player, but there was nothing really “bad” about him. This definitely wasn’t a Katie McGarry sitch where the he’s part of a gang or the wrong side of town, he was just hot and girls liked him. Back to their chemistry though, the characters played off each other well, and I felt like their relationship was really natural.

The story itself was good. Labels aside, the characters were pretty down to earth and seeing into their worlds really brought the story to life. My heart actually hurt for some of them, ’cause honestly life sucks, but they dealt with it well enough. To be honest though, a lot of the story and problems the characters had could have easily been solved with this magical thing called communication. It was all just assumptions, overheard conversations, and jealousy, though I guess that’s kind of what high school is anyway. I don’t know guys, was high school really like this for you guys??

One thing that always drives me bananas is when the protag ditches her best friend for a guy. I get that it was a little different here, but her best friend plays a very peripheral role in this book, and she even states that she never sees Jenny anymore.

After typing all that out, you wouldn’t know what’s good about that novel, but honestly, there was something in the writing that kept me reading. The chemistry between the characters is great and the banter is funny, and as a whole, this book made me feel for the characters and their experiences. Is it a little cliche, sure. Is it super deep, not really. But I think it’s a good book to keep you company because you can’t help but smile while reading it.

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Writing: 3.5/5
World Building: 5/5
Pacing: 5/5
Overall: 4/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.76

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

Buy Links:
Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo

About the Author:

23. Writer. Reader. Sarcastic.

I was born and raised in Arkansas, which isn’t terribly exciting. I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I used to sit in class and write stories in my notebooks, thinking that everyone did. It turns out, everyone didn’t. I love writing because it means I’m putting my thoughts, feelings, and soul out there for someone else to read – for someone else to feel. The fact that someone can read my words, and empathize with my characters – characters that wouldn’t exist with out me, that I created from my mind – is such a wonderful concept to me. I could happily write for the rest of my life as long as there was one person out there who was affected by my words.

Author Links:
GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway:

Enter to win a print copy of Just Friends by Tiffany Pitcock! Open to US/CAN.

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Book Tour + Author Interview: Mind Virus

Welcome to the Mind Virus Book Tour, hosted by Roger Charlie!~

Title: Mind Virus
Author: Charles Kowalski
Publication Date: July 1, 2017
Genre: Mystery Thriller
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Robin Fox, peace-loving professor of world religions, wants only to leave his dark past as a military interrogator behind him. But when an unknown suspect tries to disperse a deadly virus in downtown Washington, Fox is unwillingly drawn back into the shadowy world of intelligence.

The FBI and CIA automatically suspect Islamic terrorists, but Fox digs deeper to discover the far more frightening truth: a global conspiracy to eradicate all religion from the face of the earth.

From Washington to Jerusalem, from Rome to London, Fox must use all his wits in a perilous race to stop a psychopathic mastermind from unleashing worldwide devastation.

Buy Links:
Publisher | Amazon

Interview:

What is the theme of Mind Virus?

Mainly, that the fanaticism that leads to violence can be found anywhere, whether among religious believers or nonbelievers, and the will to seek peace and understanding can also be found anywhere.

How do you develop your plots and characters?

Everything begins with “What if…?” In this case, the question was, “Everyone is always talking about terror in the name of religion; could there be terror in the name of atheism?” From this question flows the rest of the plot and the characters. It was easy to develop Robin Fox; he’s the person I might have been if my life had taken a slightly different turn. As for the other characters, they may be loosely patterned on a real person, or a composite of several. If a minor character doesn’t seem sufficiently well-developed, I ask myself: if I were an actor, how would I play this character? How would I see the story from his or her point of view, since in our own minds, we’re always the central character of any story we appear in?

Tell us about your background. What made you decide to pursue writing?

I’ve been writing stories ever since I learned to write, and finished my first (unpublished) novel at the age of 17. I write fiction because my mind naturally frames things in terms of stories; that’s how I try to make sense of complex issues. I also find that, especially on controversial and polarizing issues, the best way—perhaps the only way—of getting people to see an alternative point of view is through story.

Tell us about the challenges of getting your book published. How did it come about?

It was indeed a challenge. The manuscript won more than its fair share of awards and nominations, and agents and editors found the premise intriguing, but not enough to sign, possibly because they felt the story was too controversial to make it past a risk-averse editorial board. But after dissipating my savings in writers’ conferences, I finally met—on a Twitter pitch fest, of all places—an editor willing to take a leap of faith, Susan Brooks.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Forget what they say about “write what you know.” Write what excites your imagination, and the knowledge you need can be acquired. And if a story grabs hold of you and won’t let go . . . tell it! Pay no attention to the inner voices that say “this is no good” or “no one else will be interested in it.” Believe in yourself, even when it feels like no one else does. To paraphrase Florence Foster Jenkins, people may say you can’t write, but never let it be said that you didn’t write.

Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?

I teach English at a university in Japan. Living abroad adds an extra layer of challenge to the writing process. I often feel somewhat out of touch with contemporary American culture, and research that for a U.S.-based writer would take only a simple trip to the local library, or a call to a local expert, for me requires careful planning and considerable expense. But on the other hand, field research in exotic locations is easier, and living at a distance from my native culture gives me a different perspective from writers who are immersed in it.

What are some of your favorite authors or books?

Of course, I took some inspiration from the big names in the genre, like Lee Child. Tana French showed me it’s possible to write genre fiction with a literary flair. Dan Brown, Daniel Silva, and Jeffrey Small paved the way for thrillers with religious themes. Barry Eisler and Barry Lancet showed me it’s possible for Japan-based authors to produce books with worldwide appeal; I’m hoping the same will prove true even for one who isn’t named Barry! And the list wouldn’t be complete without Leo J. Maloney, who ever since our chance meeting at Killer Nashville has been very generous with his time and expertise and always gave me a dose of encouragement at just the time I needed it.

Thanks so much for your time! We look forward to your upcoming projects!

About the Author:

 

Charles Kowalski is almost as much a citizen of the world as his fictional character, Robin Fox, having lived abroad for over 15 years, visited over 30 countries, and studied over 10 languages. His unpublished debut novel, Mind Virus, won the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Colorado Gold Award and was a finalist for the Adventure Writers’ Competition, the Killer Nashville Claymore Award, and the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association literary award.

Charles currently divides his time between Japan, where he teaches English at a university, and his family home in Maine.

Mind Virus is scheduled for publication by Literary Wanderlust on July 1, 2017.

Other novels and short stories by Charles Kowalski:

“Let This Cup Pass From Me”

“Arise, My Love”

“The Evil I Do Not Mean To Do”

Author Links:
Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Official Website

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Review + Book Tour: Internet Famous

Welcome to the Internet Famous Blog Tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!~

Title: Internet Famous
Author: Danika Stone
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: June 6th 2017
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Can an online romance survive in real life?

Internet sensation Madison Nakama has it all! Her pop-culture rewatch site has a massive following, and fans across the world wait on her every post and tweet. Even Madi’s dismal romantic life seems ready to take off as Laurent, a fellow geek (and unfairly HOT French exchange student!) starts flirting with her in the comments section of her blog. But Laurent’s not the only one watching for Madi’s replies.

Internet fame has a price, and their online romance sparks the unwanted attention of a troll. When Madi’s “real life” hits a rough patch, she feels her whole world crumbling. With Laurent’s support, can Madi rally her friends across the globe to beat the troll, or will he succeed in driving her away from everything―and everyone―she loves?

Review:

First off, I loved that this book gave so much time to Madi actually writing her blog, and tweeting out to her followers. It gave a sense of realism to the book – she wasn’t famous just because, she was famous cause she actually put time and effort into her work. As a blogger, I was able to relate to her a lot. That being said, I can’t say that I’m as accustomed to so many (read: any) responses to my work. It was great seeing Madi interact with her fanbase and try to be neutral and kind in her posts.

I have to admit – the troll made me nervous. There’s something about a faceless villain that really gets to you. And the scary thing is that it can happen. This is the world that we live in, where people can ruin your safe space with a few simple clicks of a button. And it sucks. It sucked for Madi more than most <highlight for spoilers> because the troll actually affected her real life – her schooling, her grades – and I think the worst is that the school kept buying into anonymous tips about Madi’s work that never actually panned out.  My stomach kept knotting itself every time the troll struck, and that feeling is what fueled me through the book. I needed to know what the resolution was. I needed to know why this troll was after her.

Madi herself was well developed – I enjoyed her little quips and appreciated her introversion. Her motto was something along the lines of human interaction sucks, and I can definitely relate to that. We really got to see her step outside of her comfort zone and learn to take control of her own life. Madi’s sister, Sarah, added a lot of emotion to the book. I loved her and yet I also understood Madi’s own kind of resentment towards her parents, and kind of her sister. We learn early on that Sarah is someone with special needs, though her condition is never actually named. She is fun and lovable, and my heart hurts for her throughout the novel. Madi tries her best with her and I love the sisterly relationship that is a big part of this novel.

The romance itself is cute – it doesn’t actually steal the spotlight in the book, and I have to give the author credit for that. Some of the ideas lent to the whole long-distance relationship were fun and creative, too, and I enjoyed learning more about Laurent and the other NYC characters.

Random note: I would love to see/own a printed version of the book because some of the details would be cool to see off the screen.

As a whole, this book is probably one of my favourites this year. The resolution of the book was really well done, and I didn’t actually feel like the end was rushed. In fact, the epilogue was just what I needed to finish off the book (it’s something I kind of wanted to see at the end of books like Girl at Sea and other romantic contemporaries). Definitely would recommend!

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4.5/5
World Building: 4/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Pacing: 5/5
Overall: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.8

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

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

About the Author:

Danika Stone is an author, artist, and educator who discovered a passion for writing fiction while in the throes of her Masters thesis. A self-declared bibliophile, Danika now writes novels for both adults (The Intaglio Series and Ctrl Z) and teens (Icarus and All the Feels). When not writing, Danika can be found hiking in the Rockies, planning grand adventures, and spending far too much time online. She lives with her husband, three sons, and a houseful of imaginary characters in a windy corner of Alberta, Canada.

The first book in Danika’s upcoming Tathagata series (Edge of Wild) was selected as a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel of the Year Award (2013). Edge of Wild (Stonehouse CA) will be released March 2016. Danika’s YA novel, All the Feels (Macmillan US), will be released June 2016.

Ms. Stone is represented by Morty Mint of Mint Literary Agency.

Author Links:
Website | GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway:

Tour-wide giveaway | Open US/CAN

Enter to win a print copy of Internet Famous!

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