Friday, November 29, 2013

Book Blast: Stim by Kevin Berry
Publication date: October 16th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult
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Robert is different. He has Asperger's Syndrome. He experiences the world differently to 99% of the population. Follow his entertaining and highly empathetic story as he struggles to realise and accept who he really is, try to understand other people—which he cannot—and find a girlfriend. Especially find a girlfriend—he's decided it's his special project for the year. Accompanied on this transformative journey by his quirky flatmates, Chloe (who also has Asperger's, amongst other things), Stef (who hasn't, but doesn't mind) and their oddly-named kitten, Robert endures a myriad of awkward moments in his quest to meet a nice, normal girl...and not even a major earthquake will stop him.

This absorbing and humorous story is starkly told from Robert's point of view, through the kaleidoscope of autistic experience.


Meeting Chloe in the café became comfortingly familiar and as regular as clockwork. On Mondays, Tuesdays (twice), Thursdays and Fridays, we convened in the café—nearly always at the same corner table, whenever we could occupy it, and with the same drinks—like déjà vu stuck in some kind of unstoppable time loop. On a few occasions, the time passed without either of us saying anything, but somehow comforted by the other’s presence. Sometimes we talked about our studies or assignments, but mostly we talked about ourselves. Or more accurately, I should say Chloe talked about herself. She had been entirely truthful about the verbal diarrhoea. Words spilled out of her mouth with a rapid staccato, machine-gun-like rhythm.

But I did not mind this. When I was in the café by myself, I could only observe people interacting socially, try to work out what was going on in their minds and what it was they were doing, to try to unravel the mystery of their behaviour. I never actually knew what was going on with them, could never properly interpret what I observed, because I could only imagine. Invariably, people behaved inconsistently and did not do what I expected or wanted them to do, and I could not discern any patterns underlying their actions. This was confusing, sometimes bewildering.

With Chloe, it was all very easy. She just poured herself out to me, wholly and honestly and clearly, and I lapped it all up like a thirsty kitten drinking cream from the saucer of knowledge. For the first time, I had a friend I could understand, and who could understand me, because we seemed to communicate on the same wavelength. I think she felt the same, but she never said exactly.

Chloe told me all about herself, how she had been first diagnosed when young, and passed from doctor to doctor and psychiatrist to psychiatrist, collecting the acronyms of different diagnoses like alphabet soup until finally she was evaluated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Once she knew that, she sped-read numerous books on the subject, assimilating their collective wisdom. The very best, she told me, were those written by fellow Aspies who had struggled to fit into the NS world but ultimately prevailed to establish their own place within it somehow, and yet remain true to themselves. Chloe said she could identify with their early lives, and that everything in her own life, past and present, made sense to her after reading those books. She had always known she was different, and now she understood why. And I agreed with her. I borrowed the books and read them too. I felt the same.

Chloe explained that her father travelled a lot on business and tried to make up for his frequent absences by ensuring that she always had the best care possible. Evaluations. Psych tests. Personality tests. Private mental hospital whenever she felt especially distressed. A seemingly interminable tweaking of her medications (eleven different combinations so far) in an attempt to find the right mix and dosage, a kind of educated guessing on the part of her doctors. There is so little known about the human mind in general and the Aspie mind in particular. It is so complex that all the doctors can do is just try one thing at a time, pick up the pieces if it does not work out as planned, and try something else, trying to solve the incomplete jigsaw of a fractured human mind.

One day when she met me in the café, my life changed forever.


Kevin Berry is an indie author. His particular niche is writing Aspie New Adult contemporary novels set in an earthquake zone. The first of these is STIM, published in October 2013.

His first novels, co-written with Diane Berry, are Dragons Away!, Growing Disenchantments and Fountain of Forever (humorous fantasy).
These are available as paperbacks and ebooks at Amazon and elsewhere.

Author Links:
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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Book Blast: Entwine by Rebecca Berto

Sarah Langham’s life was the epitome of normal until her dad slept with another woman when she was sixteen. It ripped her family apart.

Twenty-two-year-old Sarah has it together, though.

Waiting at the train station to go home from her first day of her first proper job out of university, she spots a man.

He is an enigma to her. She’s drawn to him, with his square jaw; buzz of hair; and his tall, solid frame, seen under the contours of his business suit. And he’s been looking at her, too. Fate pulls them together that night on a whirlwind date, exceeding anything Sarah’s experienced before. He’s even more into her than she’s into him. Finally, she wants to trust a guy for the first time since she was sixteen.

But then they discover something.

Something that meant they were never two strangers at a train station.

And it threatens to tear their future apart before it, really, ever begins.

Recommended for mature readers due to explicit content. | [This book is published in Australian English and includes relative diction.] 

The smell of the man next to her, panting and sweating from obviously running to catch the train, didn’t matter. Nor did the fact she was standing for a one-hour train trip in heels. There was little that could matter to her right now—except for when the train suddenly stopped, and the driver announced
a delay.

“We have stopped to attend to an ill passenger on board,” he said. “I don’t know how long the wait will be, but it could be up to forty-five minutes due to peak hour traffic and the patient’s condition. Thank you for your understanding.”

At that time, Sarah heard a deep, yet smooth voice say, “Lucky I don’t plan on being anywhere.”

She knew it was Him before she looked up to meet his eyes. Apart from the fact she was sure it came from somewhere in front of her, or thereabouts, a voice in her head associated it with the man she’d almost profiled to full detail.

Looking up, she saw his face and, for some reason, knowing what his voice sounded like was like tying up a little bow on top of her perfect package.

“It’s not like I have to be anywhere,” Sarah agreed.

For a moment, she matched his gaze, trying to stop from doing anything suggestive. She wanted to lick her lips as they were dry, and she was sure even a little grin would crack them. Only an hour ago she’d had gloss on them from her special first day at work, but now they felt dry and baron.

Oh, how with every moment she stood here, it got worse. Now her head was itchy. If only she could sneak up a fingernail to scratch. Just above and behind her ear. Just a bit. But Sarah couldn’t. Why was a stranger doing this to her?

Sarah held her place, gazing with as much power as he had. She wouldn’t lick her lips. Or scratch her head. And now she was a dry, twitching freak.

Stuff it.

She turned a little, trying to hide her hand, and covered it by fussing with her hair near her ear, and licked away the cracked feeling from her lips. When she looked up, the man was shamelessly staring. She knew that look. There was no mistaking that, for some reason, he was as intrigued by her as she
was him.

“Here,” the man said. He bent and dropped against the railing behind his back, his knees sticking out at the sides, and his huge legs separated in a way that made Sarah want to look away but couldn’t. “Sit here. Your feet must be sore.”

That made Sarah self-conscious, made her unable to move. Had he seen her shoes? Or looked up and down the length of her? The idea thrilled her.


Rebecca Berto writes stories about love and relationships. She gets a thrill when her readers are emotional reading her books, and gets even more of a kick when they tell her so. She's strangely imaginative, spends too much time on her computer, and is certifiably crazy when she works on her fiction.

Rebecca Berto lives in Melbourne, Australia with her boyfriend and their doggy.

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Blast: Six by Rachel Robinson

 This book is on my must read list because I am seriously craving a good Paranormal story.  Craving. It.  So when I was offered the opportunity to promote this book, I was all over it because honestly, the premise fascinates me.  


Emmalina is an immortal darkling. A half human, half dark witch. Though she was born with all six emotions, she has arrived at her eighteenth birthday and all but one miserable emotion has fled her body.  The mission of the dark witches who control the new, darker world is simple—eradicate weakness. Weakness is summed up in one word. Emotion. Or, the six. Anger, fear, sadness, joy, surprise, and love. The dark witches want her. She wants something else more.
She wants six.

You want to read it too now, don't ya?  :)

Then, I see the specific memory—the one that haunts me. It is the memory that consumes my being with longing because I have been unable to attach an emotion to it. I feel as if I am in that memory at this moment.

“I’m going to get you Emmalina,” my mother says. I run so fast that my tiny heart is thumping rapidly. Sticky sweat surrounds my face and mats my hair at my hairline. My feet are bare and the gray haze is the lightest I ever remember it being. I look over my shoulder and laugh as I see her running after me. She has her hands stretched out toward me and her brown hair bounces as she runs. It is a dream in slow motion that I get to relive. The moment is perfect. Her smile is electric. Her voice is sweeter than any treat from the old world.

“You can’t catch me, Mommy!” My singsong child’s voice rings back at her. I want her to catch me. I want her hands tickling me. She grabs me and lifts me under my arms, and up over her head. I can touch the sky. I am flying. She spins around in a circle but I do not look around. I look at her smiling face. It is so cheerful, it is so perfect. It holds the same emotion that I feel in this moment.

We are complete. I am not empty.

The emotion rips me from the inside. “I feel joy,” I tell Finn as I throw my head back laughing at the sky. The emotion tears through me more powerful than anything else, filling me with purpose. I am elated, delighted, I feel contentment and relief. Excitement courses through my veins more powerful than dark magic. It is incomparable. I splash the water at my sides and giggle because I want to, not because I think it prudent. I am so happy I remember her—thankful Finn has forced this from me in his own way. I jump toward him and he catches me under my arms.

He lifts me above his head and I feel like I am floating on a cloud in an alternate universe. He spins in one slow circle. I gaze down at him knowing this is what my mother wants for me. I vow to make her sacrifice worth it.

Finn laughs loudly—a hearty, meaningful laugh. We revel in this perfect moment together just Finn and I and our joyful laughter.

I know then that his laugh is the only sound I like more than my own heartbeat.


Rachel grew up in a small, quiet town full of loud talkers. Her words were always only loud on paper. She has been writing stories and creating characters for as long as she can remember. After living on the west coast for many years she recently moved to Virginia Beach, VA.Escaped is her first Paranormal Romance novel. You can find her over at The Mean Girl Diaries writing non-fiction of the satirical sort.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Review: Making Faces by Amy Harmon
A few weeks ago, I was on twitter and I saw one of my book friends raving about this book and after asking her about it, she offered to let me borrow it on my Kindle.

I checked out the premise on Goodreads and like I do with all books that I'm interested in, I added it to my TBR list and got excited about it...and then life happened.  And since the book was on my Kindle and not a physical copy taunting me from the bookshelf across from my chair, it unfortunately started slipping into the 'books I'll get to eventually' list.

But then I got the email that said that I only had 3 days left to read it.  Combine that with my YALLFest high and I was in full on book mode.  Forget life, I was going to read and I was going to enjoy myself and that was just the way it was going to be.

From the moment I finished the first page, none of that extra stuff even mattered.

This book owned every single cell in my body.

I've talked about the reading slump that lasted FOREVER, so I'm not going to rehash the ugly...but it was totally worth the pain and suffering if it means that I get to read books like this one.

Making Faces is a book about relationships.  Relationships between family, between friends, with one's self.  With society.  With team.  With country.

With the one you love.  Even from afar.  Or through proxy.

Fern loves Ambrose. 

For the first part of this book, I was totally taken back to the days of writing initials on pieces of paper during class and daydreaming.  And also of the days of watching that certain person hold hands with somebody else.  The hurt that comes with it which can be erased in the blink of an eye with a smile in the hallway.

We've all been there.

Ambrose doesn't love Fern.

And he doesn't really even know she exists until an unfortunate plan backfires and results in a situation where Fern, even though she loves him, kinda wishes he still didn't know she existed.

Still, the seed is planted and it holds on and starts to take root -- but is it too late?  When high school ends, life as Fern and Ambrose know it will change forever. 

(For real, this is such a tough review to write in words because all my reactions were on an emotional level -- think head nods and contented sighs with eyes closed and tears and fist pumps)

Amy Harmon writes a New Adult novel that is different from others that I have read.  It is sweeter.  And innocent.  And yet completely soul searching and deep.  And yes, there was romance but it wasn't in your was slow.  And steady.  And up and down and backwards and all the delicious moments that come with a slow slow slow burn. 

It wasn't just about the romance though, because there was friendship.  I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about how much I absolutely fell in love with Bailey.  The glue in this story.  Fern's cousin, her best friend, her confidante, Ambrose's friend, Ambrose's sounding board.  Bailey is the little voice inside all of us that cheers us on when we need it and smacks us around when we deserve it.  Love him.  I don't think it is possible to NOT love Bailey. 

(Again with the smiles and sighs and feels)

Yes, I know I'm rambling and that this review is all over the place...but that's what I do when I read a book that draws on every emotion possible.  All the thoughts and feels I have over this book take over and need to come out and hopefully you get what I'm trying to say.  You need to read this book.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Review: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

"You have to kill him." Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was.
All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

My Rating:  5 stars

From the moment I saw the cover and read the premise of this book, I wanted it in my hands.  I MAY have thrown a bit of a pity party when I wasn't able to get my hands on an arc...but if asked directly, I will neither confirm nor deny.

I never thought I'd be a big reader of science fiction, and I won't say that I am really because I don't typically search out sci-fi books, but I will read it in the right book and there was something about this one that just needed me to read it.  And I am soooo glad that I did.

When the story opens, it opens full speed.  Em is in a prison cell, but we don't know why.  And she is obsessed with getting a drain open.  But again, we don't know why.  And even when she figures it out, the reader is still left in the dark. 

This was the point where I was so consumed by putting pieces together that I decided I didn't need to sleep.  Nope.  

And there is a boy, and a doctor, and time travel and all kinds of deliciously confusing things going on that kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last page.  Oh and there were a few a-ha! moments that had me reading through my fingers because while I knew they had to happen, I really didn't want them to because of...reasons.   

All Our Yesterdays is told using two POVs but both from the same person...a before (Marina) and after (Em).    Fascinating enough in and of itself as we learn they hows and the whys of their situation, but when the before and after are together in the same moment...gah, it is SO hard to write this without giving away the good stuff!  I don't know...I just felt smart reading it.  

The growth of the characters as shown between their past and present versions was believable.  The plot was well-paced and I absolutely applaud the author for managing to keep all the different moments and memories from getting tangled in one big ball of inter-dimensional chaos.  This book had so many feels...the action, the swoons, the tears, the cringes, the nostalgia...truly, something for every reader.    

And the ending was just...yeah, as it should be.  Vague sentences are vague, but in this case they are also necessary.  Just trust me and read this one.  You can thank me later.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Review: Louder Than Love by Jessica Topper

In this powerful debut novel, a young librarian grieves the loss of her husband...and discovers a love that defies classification.

It's been over three years since a train accident made a widow of Katrina Lewis, sending her and her young daughter Abbey back to the suburban town of her youth...the only place that still makes sense. Lauder Lake is the perfect place to hide and heal.

Recluse rocker Adrian "Digger" Graves survived the implosion of his music career, but his muse has long lain dormant. Until Kat hires him to play at her library—not on the basis of his hard rock credentials but rather, because of the obscure kids' TV jingle he wrote years ago. In a case of mistaken identity, Adrian stumbles into the lives of Kat and her comically lovable daughter.

Using tattoos as a timeline, Adrian unfurls his life for Kat. But as the courtship intensifies, it's unclear whose past looms larger: the widow's or the rocker's. Will their demons ever rest, or will they break these soul mates apart?

I'm going to go ahead and get this little tidbit out of the way.  I'm going to put it all out there.  I am embracing my past.

**deep breaths** 

Confession time...I may or may not have had a slight crush on the blue Wiggle back in the day.

anthony field photo: Anthony \"Wiggle\" Field anthonywiggle.jpg

Do.  Not.  Judge.

Ok, now that that's out of the way, I can get back to talking about this story and what I liked so much about it  :)

I've read a lot of romance and while I'm almost always entertained and enjoy the stories, I don't always connect with the characters.  I totally connected with Kat.  I get her.  Her reclusive tendencies make total sense to me.  She has been hurt by something completely out of control and she is determined to protect both herself and her daughter.  Makes complete sense.

BUT...I also have a thing for musicians.  They make me swoon and giggle and blush like I'm 13 so I get the draw she feels for Adrian.  And as a writer of children's music, he is obviously safe.

What she doesn't know about Adrian at first, however is that children haven't always been his audience of choice.  He also has ghosts in his past and events that have altered his path in life.

And I think that is what appeals to me so much about this book.  That even with everything that has happened to Kat and to Adrian, the pull between them is so intense that they are forced to take risks.  They can't ignore the chemistry and pretend that they are content with their lives.  They start to live again.

There was a maturity to this book that pulled me in and made me feel.  I didn't have the "awwwww" moments and the "gah, I remember those days".  It was more a book of **fist pumps** and "unfs" and "I want to trace your scars".  It was intensely mature...does that make any sense at all?

I often say that the reason I read so much YA is that as a wife and mother and someone closer to 40 than she cares to admit, I don't want to read about my problems.  But every once in a while, I find a book that reminds me that being a grown up isn't all that bad.

And if there happens to be a guitar thrown in the mix somewhere, all the better.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Illuminating Gracie - Excerpt and Giveaway

illuminating gracie tour

  PP Cover.4043372.indd 


As an old woman's lifeless body lies on a cold stone floor, her soul stands before an angel who offers her a miraculous opportunity: the chance to do it all again. But that is easier said than done. In order to change the path her life has taken, she must put aside years of self-loathing and pain, so she can help the young girl she once was become the woman she should have been. At 17 years old, Grace Bennett is a bitter young woman. Though blessed with a loving family, looks and brains to spare, she hides her light under a bushel, spending most of her time in the darkness of her mind with little more than sarcasm and self-pity to keep her company. But things are about to change for Grace. While delivering food for her family's bed and breakfast, she turns onto a desolate dirt road and drives straight into her destiny. It's on this isolated country lane that the damaged girl meets a strangely familiar old couple and two mysterious young men. Together the group fights the demons that surround Grace, and they teach her what it means to let her light shine. "Illuminating Gracie" is, at once, a metaphorical tale of the fight between good and evil and a spiritual saga of one girl's journey from darkness into the light. If you liked "Twilight" and "The Hunger Games," you will love the story of Gracie.  
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Because he was an angel, Lochedus carried the power of life and death in his touch. With the wave of his hand, he could calm an angry sea or rain down terrible destruction on the heads of the guilty. He could grant peace to the troubled and visit devastating disease on the deserving. But no matter how hard he tried he could not, that night, pull himself from the depression that threatened to tear him apart. It had taken the touch of a small boy to do what a mighty angel could not and the far- reaching fallout from the child’s selfless act would echo throughout eternity. Through the years, Lochedus had checked in on the boy, quietly keeping vigil – never speaking, only watching. Not one time did the boy acknowledge his existence or seem to see him again. Not even in his darkest hours did he call out for help. That is, until tonight. The boy, now an old man, didn’t beg for his own soul, but for the soul of another – the one he loved most in the world. And now, the angel would move Heaven and Earth – and Hell if he had to – to help the one to whom he owed so much.  

 Praise for Illuminating Gracie: "A well-paced fantasy story of redemption and self-improvement." ~Kirkus Review (Sept. 1, 2013 Magazine) "Just the right amount of love story to the action packed plot line left this book a perfectly balanced read." ~Maryann (Amazon “Top 1000” Reviewers) "The story also contains little mysteries that keep you turning the pages, as gems of insight turn up along the way. It is a story of hope and redemption, and a beautiful request of each of us to let our light shine brightly." ~Kimberly Raadt Higgins (Amazon Review) "On a personal level, I can relate to Grace in so many ways. As I read, a lot of memories and feelings from my teenage and young adult years have come flooding back, some a little painful, others fun and exciting, even hopeful. Yet it also has me contemplating where I am today as a middle-aged adult; am I who I thought I would be, who I want to be?" ~N.J. Collar (Amazon Review) "The plot is masterfully drawn and keeps the reader guessing until the end. This book tells the story of the fight between good and evil in a young woman's life. It is brilliant in its use of humor and emotion to draw the reader into the characters." J. Pitts (Amazon and Goodreads)    

lisa templeAuthor Lisa C. Temple On thirty-nine Senior scrolls, the Headmaster of author, Lisa C. Temple's, small, private school wrote "Good Luck and best wishes for a prosperous future!" On the fortieth and final scroll, which was Temple's, the Headmaster penned the words, "Lisa, I can't wait to see to what use you put your unusual talents!" Temple spent the next 30 years trying to assuage her former leader's curiosity - and her own. She sold BMWs in her hometown of Montgomery, Alabama, and hillbillies (as a booking agent) in Nashville, Tennessee. In an effort to escape the enforced servitude of the Junior League, she even attended and was graduated from law school and passed the Alabama State Bar exam in 2002. Through it all, she battled problems and illnesses, many of her own making. But, it wasn't until her father - her hero - was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS), that Temple found her true calling - the "talent" that she finds joy in putting to use. "Illuminating Gracie," is loosely autobiographical and born from a desire to, if only, metaphorically right the wrongs of Temple's own past. It tells the story of a miserable old woman who is given the opportunity - by an angel - to go back in time and help the young girl she once was become the woman she should have been. "Illuminating Gracie," is the first book in a four-book series. The second book, "Instigating Gracie," is due for release in December 2013. Temple laughs when saying she has a loving and complicated husband she deserves, and a wonderful son and two loving stepchildren that she does not. She also shares her life with her beloved pets: Pomeranian, Phebe; Bordernese, Flash; and Tabby cat, MInx.  
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Friday, November 8, 2013

The Edge of Always by JA Redmerski - Excerpt and Giveaway

Publisher: Forever Romance
Release: November 5, 2013
New Adult Contemporary Novel


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author J. A. Redmerski brings us the second book in her heart-renching series about two 20-somethings who find each other in their darkest moment. Camryn Bennett has never been happier. Five months after meeting on a Greyhound bus, she and her soul mate Andrew Parrish are engaged-and a wedding isn't the only special event in their future. Nervous but excited, Camryn can't wait to begin the rest of her life with Andrew, a man she knows in her heart will love her always. They have so much to look forward to-until tragedy blindsides them. Andrew doesn't understand how this could happen to them. He's trying to move on, and thought Camryn was doing the same. But when Andrew discovers Camryn is secretly harboring a mountain of pain and attempting to numb it in damaging ways, there is nothing he won't do to bring her back to life. Determined to prove that their love can survive anything, Andrew decides to take Camryn on a new journey filled with hope and passion. If only he can convince her to come along for the ride...  


Camryn still loves the newer stuff and the Civil Wars more than anything and so that’s usually what we play.

Tonight will be no different.

I love watching her perform them next to me up on stage because she becomes so vibrant and playful and sexy as hell. Not that she isn’t all of those things already, but it’s like another more daring and flirty side of her comes out when she’s singing. And she doesn’t just sing—she puts on a show. I think it’s that little actress she’s always had buried somewhere in herself. She told me she performed in plays at school, and I can definitely see she has the knack for it.

But singing alongside me also seems to make her happy, and that’s why tonight is so important.

“I’m so nervous,” Camryn says next to my ear, having to speak loudly over the music.

I make a pffft sound with my lips. “Oh, please. Since when do you get nervous anymore? We’ve done this dozens of times.”

“I know, but I’m singing in front of your brother this time.”

“He can’t sing for shit, so his opinion is hardly valid.”

She smiles. “Well, I’m not nervous to the point that I don’t want to do it. I guess it’s actually kind of exciting.”

“That’s my girl,” I say and lean in to kiss her lips.

“Those two girls,” Camryn yells to me without looking in their direction, “front table to your left, they’re having sex with you in their heads right now, I swear to God.”

I laugh lightly and shake my head. We’d started picking people in the crowd to sing to lately.

“And that guy standing next to the woman in the purple shirt,” I say, nodding subtly in his direction, “has had your thighs wrapped around his head since you walked on this stage.”

“So it’ll be them tonight then, huh?” she asks.

I nod and say, “Uh-huh.”

“Make sure you give it to them good, baby,” she says, grinning wickedly at me.

“Oh, I will,” I say with the same amount of wicked on my face.

About the Author J.A. Redmerski, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author lives in North Little Rock, Arkansas with her three children, two cats and a Maltese. She is a lover of television and books that push boundaries and is a huge fan of AMC's The Walking Dead.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Review: An Incurable Insanity by Simi K. Rao

Her heart fluttered when she heard the sound of the key turn in the lock. She quickly adjusted her maroon silk sari with the yellow border, the one that had caught his eye, and waited eagerly for his footsteps.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven... Yes, exactly seven steps before he stopped, hesitated for a few moments, then removed his shoes one by one and arranged them neatly side by side on the shoe rack.

She smiled. He had been mindful of taking his shoes off every day now. "I am not used to it, but I will if you want me to. It's probably a good thing to do anyway."

As he settled down, he would pick up the TV remote and, without looking at her, would say in his smooth baritone, "So how did you spend your day, anything interesting?"

Shaan Ahuja found himself bowing to tradition and agreeing to an arranged marriage to the beautiful Ruhi Sharma. He went through the motions but had no intention of carrying through on his vows. His last foray into matters of the heart with an American girl had left him scarred and unwilling to try again. Thoroughly disillusioned and disgruntled he wasted no time in making his intentions clear to Ruhi on their wedding night. But, he was completely unprepared for what his new wife had in mind.

My Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

I had originally scheduled my review of An Incurable Insanity to post in a couple of weeks due to the backlog of pending posts I have looming over my head -- but I can't seem to stop thinking about it.  

I'm not sure what to say about it.  And don't automatically assume that it is a bad thing, because in this case, it isn't.  I started it on Saturday, finished it on Sunday and here I am on Wednesday still trying to tie everything up in a pretty little bow and put it away on my "read" shelf.  But it won't go quietly.  

I have been married for 15 years and let me tell you -- it isn't easy.  And I adore my husband.  We got married after dating long distance (well, if you can say 80 miles apart is long distance) for 3 years and living together for 1.5 years, so I feel pretty confident in saying that I knew him pretty well on the day we said "I do."  So I can't even imagine marrying somebody that I didn't know. 

The premise of this book fascinated me. To be in Ruhi's shoes.  To be in Shaan's shoes.  I mean, talk about taking a leap of faith.  Yikes!

I love a good friends to more story - I've mentioned that before - but this was the exact opposite.  A "more to friends", maybe?  

Then throw in the fact that one of the involved parties has absolutely no intention of following through.  That can't be easy. 

And it isn't.  

(side note - this review is not going at all in the direction that I thought it would)

The characters - I found myself really really liking them, though there were quite a few times where I wanted to grab them by the shoulders and shake some sense into them.  Ruhi, in particular.  She came across as a petulant, spoiled brat...but then I took a few steps back and thought about all the "steps" that she missed.  This marriage was her first, her only, relationship.  Marriage, people.  No dating, no flirting, no messy break-ups.  Marriage.  She was completely naive.  And maybe that allowed me to forgive her behavior just a little bit.  Maybe...though she still generated her fair share of "eyerolls".

That being said, there was no shortage of emotion in this book.  There was a little bit of everything.  For every passage that made me want to smack somebody, there was one where I wanted to nod my head and say "see, you're doing it right".  The swoony moments were swoony, and there was just enough humor to lighten moments at the exact right time.  Thank you, Sunshine and that crazy bird of hers.  

Now, I do feel like I need to talk about the writing.  It was beautiful and fluid and flowy -- but it was also a bit...much.  Not all the time, but there were times when I felt like a moment/scene/chapter/dialogue could have been cut in half and had the same impact.  And yet, I don't know what I'd cut.

See what this book has done to me?  

And stepping back and looking at my ramblings, maybe that is the sign of a good story.  One that does grab a hold of the reader and lingers long after the final page is turned.  It makes it a bit easier to overlook. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Leave the Lights On by Karen Stivali - Review and Giveaway

“When love throws you a curve, swing for the fences. ”

Parker Wood’s dreams of becoming a professional baseball player are shattered when he’s injured in a devastating car crash. After two years in hospitals and physical rehab facilities, he’s ready to move back to his childhood home and take over the family landscaping company. The house and business are his, now that his father has passed.
Sophie Vaughn has suffered through a hellishly public divorce from a husband who couldn’t manage to stay faithful for two months of marriage. Determined not to let her personal drama impact her successful wedding and party planning business, she buys her parents’ old house, hoping the comfort of familiar surroundings will help her heal.
When Parker and Sophie discover they’re neighbors once again, it’s as if time has stood still. Their friendship is quickly rekindled, along with the decade-long crush neither of them ever admitted having. Then the heat between them exposes a long-held secret that threatens to tear them apart…unless they can detach from their painful pasts and move forward-together.
Warning: Contains sultry summer nights, steamy pool-side encounters, and you’ll never look at a jar of peanut butter the same way again.

My rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

I started reading this book a couple of weeks ago with the thought that it would guarantee that I had enough time to read it and process my thoughts before having to sit down and write this review.

I finished it in an afternoon.

I make no secret of the fact that I love a good "friends to more" story.  I don't know what it is, I just love the whole idea and this story took that premise and full-on ran with it.  Parker and Sophie make me smile -- and I kinda loved the fact that we could just jump headfirst into their story without any of the all to common miscommunications and misunderstandings.  Their history allows them to hit the ground running and yet the few stumbles and awkward moments along the way reminds the reader that this new aspect of their relationship is uncharted territory.

Like the moment when I wanted to grab Parker by the shoulders and shake him for being stupid.

But then he does something that makes me like him again, so I end up forgiving him  :)  

That being said, I do feel like there were a few places where I wish I had been given a bit more backstory - especially regarding Sophie.  And for those of you that know me, you know I usually wish the exact opposite and preach "less is more."  Never say never, right?  But remember, I finished this book in an afternoon, so obviously it didn't deter me too much.  This was, after all, the story of Parker AND Sophie and that is what Ms. Stivali delivers. 

All in all, Leave the Lights On was a quick, easy and enjoyable read with solid characters that still has me smiling almost two weeks later.  For those of you that love a good HEA, this book is definitely for you.


  Karen Stivali is a prolific writer, compulsive baker, and chocoholic with a penchant for books, movies, and fictional British men.  When she’s not writing, she can be found cooking extravagant meals and serving them to family and friends, who never seem to mind the excessive quantities she tends to prepare. She attributes her ability to multitask to the fact that she rarely sleeps, which gives her more hours every day. Prior to deciding to write full time Karen worked as a hand drawn animator, a clinical therapist, and held various food-related jobs ranging from waitress to specialty cake maker. Planning elaborate parties and fundraisers takes up what’s left of her time and sanity.
Karen has always been fascinated by the way people relate to one another so she favors books and movies that feature richly detailed characters and their relationships. In her own writing she likes to explore the dynamics between characters and has a tendency to craft romantic tales filled with sarcasm and sexy details. Although she writes in three genres (erotic romance, contemporary romance and women’s fiction) all of her stories are love stories with happily ever after endings.


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