Friday, December 19, 2014

Review: The Darkest Part by Trisha Wolfe

Title: The Darkest Part
Author: Trisha Wolfe 
Age:  NA
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Pressing the boundaries of both the psyche and the heart, Sam and Holden embark on a dangerous journey that will test the limits of love.

Sam Wintry’s life used to be almost perfect. She was engaged to her childhood best friend and high school sweetheart, Tyler Marks, planning an amazing cross-country honeymoon during her college break. But after a hit-and-run leaves her in ruin, she begins seeing Tyler’s fractured, ghostly presence, and her family believes she’s losing her mind. Not until she completes their journey, stopping along the way to scatter Tyler's remains, will Tyler be able cross over. Sam ready for him to leave her?

When the black sheep of the Marks' family, Holden Marks, returns to check on Tyler's case, Sam convinces him to give her his brother's ashes. Despite their shaky history, she needs, he owes it to Sam and his brother. What she doesn’t count on is Holden’s relentlessness to go on the trip.

On the road, Holden realizes just how unhinged Sam has become. Dealing with her psychosis forces him to confront his dark past, making it harder to keep secrets hidden that should remain buried. Especially from Sam, the only woman he’s ever loved. And as Sam starts to unravel the truth, she begins to question if the brother she's unwillingly falling for again is in an even darker place than her.

4.5 out of 5 stars

I was a little nervous about this one, I have to admit.  Don't get me wrong, I wanted to read it, but I was scared that I'd have issues with it.

And at first, I thought my worries were justified.  There was no way I was going to be able to get through this story.  I was totally crazy about Tyler and my heart was broken for Sam and Holden was just a selfish ass who didn't care about anybody but himself.

Yeah...not so much.

This story rocked my emotional world.

I have been craving a book that made me feel all the feels.  And there have been a few that were close, so very close - but this one was exactly what I had been needing to read.  My heart was shattered in parts, bursting in others.  What I thought I wanted at the beginning was the opposite of what I ended up needing at the end.  There were layers to these characters that you don't see in the synopsis and these layers make this story so much more than what you think you are getting.

Before The Darkest Part, I had never read anything by Trisha Wolfe.  That will change.  I've already added the other upcoming books in this series to my to-read list and I'm excited to get my hands on her previous works.

From an early age, Trisha Wolfe dreamed up fantasy worlds and characters and was accused of talking to herself. Today, she lives in South Carolina with her family and writes full time, using her fantasy worlds as an excuse to continue talking to herself.

For more information on Trisha Wolfe and her works, please visit:

To be the first to hear about new releases and sale events, sign up for Trisha Wolfe's Newsletter:

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Review: Miles from Kara by Melissa West


Kara Marcus is desperate to forget the past and move on. But she can’t escape her choices—especially when she finds herself falling in love…

Since the first day she stepped into her childhood Southern Baptist church, two truths have been engrained in Kara Marcus’s head: sex before marriage is bad and murder is a sin. And that’s why Kara can never forgive herself for what she did at the age of sixteen.

Now, as second semester of freshman year comes to a close, Kara has stood by her high school boyfriend, Ethan. But as they seem to grow further and further apart every day, Kara realizes that she has feelings for someone else: Ethan’s roommate Colt.

Suddenly, Kara’s clear-cut world shifts out of focus, and she’s torn between what her head tells her is right and what her heart is desperately pushing her to do—even if it means committing another undeniable sin...

4 out of 5 stars

This book was exactly what I needed.  And so was Colt.


I read the first book in this series, Pieces of Olivia, when it first came out and was very excited to learn that there was going to be more.  I put Miles from Kara on my to-read list and on my radar...and then life got busy like it always seems to do and well, my to-do list becomes more of a wishful-thinking list and I haven't had the chance to read as much as I'd like.

SOOOOO...when I got the ARC, I was super excited and jumped on this title like I jump on cupcakes.

For those of you that know me in real life, you know I am pretty even-keeled and introverted, so I do have to confess that in the first book, my relationship with Kara wasn't the best.  She is bubbly and outgoing and I was giving her serious side-eye reading Olivia's story.  But then I started to notice things and realize that Melissa West was doing what all good authors do -- setting up for the next book in a way that makes you interested but doesn't take away from the current book.  I suddenly found myself realizing that Kara wasn't just some flaky secondary character...the girl has her own story and I needed to know more.

And then there was Colt.

Holy Swoons, Batman!

But I digress.  Kara.  Yeah, back to Kara.

She has her demons, like we all do, and after years of trying to keep them suppressed, they were dying to come out.  Throw in a dying long term, long-distance relationship and questions about her career choices and BOOM -- perfect storm.  Especially when her internship gives her a great big giant dose of the "what could have beens."

I felt her struggles.  I found myself equally frustrated with Kara and sympathetic for her.  I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her a little bit, but then I totally understood her actions.  And when a story can do that, I know I've found a good one.

Miles from Kara was exactly the right book for me at the right time.  It takes a controversial subject and creates a story that is emotional without being judgy or preachy.  I laughed, I cringed, I wanted to comfort...the balance is real with this one.

Please do yourself an favor and check out this series.  I can't wait to read more myself.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Miles From Kara by Melissa West -- Release Information and Giveaway

The Charleston Haven Series (stand - alone)
New Adult Contemporary
Release: December 2, 2014
Published by Penguin/ InterMix

Kara Marcus is desperate to forget the past and move on. But she can’t escape her choices—especially when she finds herself falling in love...
Since the first day she stepped into her childhood Southern Baptist church, two truths have been engrained in Kara Marcus’s head: sex before marriage is bad and murder is a sin. And that’s why Kara can never forgive herself for what she did at the age of sixteen.

Now, as second semester of freshman year comes to a close, Kara has stood by her high school boyfriend, Ethan. But as they seem to grow further and further apart every day, Kara realizes that she has feelings for someone else: Ethan’s roommate Colt.

Suddenly, Kara’s clear-cut world shifts out of focus, and she’s torn between what her head tells her is right and what her heart is desperately pushing her to do—even if it means committing another undeniable sin...

About the Author

Melissa West writes young adult and new adult novels for Entangled Teen and Embrace and Penguin/InterMix. She lives outside of Atlanta, GA with her husband and two daughters and spends most of her time writing, reading, or fueling her coffee addiction.
She holds a B.A. in Communication Studies and a M.S. in Graphic Communication, both from Clemson University. Yeah, her blood runs orange.


The author is giving away (1) Copy of PIECES OF OLIVIA and (1) $10 Amazon Gift Card - International

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

2014 Debut Authors Blog Hop

It has been almost 10 months since I've participated in a Blog Hop.  TEN MONTHS.  Which is crazy because they are so much fun and I've enjoyed the hops I have participated in.  I mean, the whole point of doing this blog was to talk about the books I love with people that love reading - and if I could GIVE away the books I love in a fun way, even better!

When I saw the email that let me know that the lovelies from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Bookhounds were hosting a giveaway hop to celebrate Debut Authors I knew that I had found my next hop!

What am I giving away, you ask?

Charlie Hanson.

Because for real, I love him.  I do. 

And okay, so I'm not REALLY giving him away because he doesn't belong to me **sigh**, but I do have an extra copy of Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander. 

You can find my review here.

AND I have some goodies to go along with it...including tissues.

This hop runs from December 4th through the 11th (though I started a bit early.  Shhhhh).  It is open to US residents only -- though I promise to do an International giveaway soon.  Shipping costs are just to prohibitive right now.   I will post the name of the winner on the 12th and also email -- if there is no response in 48 hours, I will let Rafflecopter choose another name.

Easy peasy, right?

So go enter - and then see the list below of other blogs participating in the hop.  There are lots of great giveaways out there!

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Review: Broken Course by Aly Martinez


Seven years ago, my life changed forever. One accident and the person I saw in the mirror no longer resembled the woman I used to be. I was lost and confused inside my own body. I felt alone and disconnected from the world, carrying the incredible weight of guilt and loss that wasn't even mine to harbor.

Then fate led me to Leo James. He taught me that crazy could be perfectly normal and it shouldn't hurt to breathe. Don't get me wrong. Leo isn't perfect. He has his own cross to bear, and the truth is, that might be why I fell for him in the first place. But despite everything he does for me, learning to forgive myself is infinitely harder than overlooking the flaws of another.

Now, the secrets and lies of our past have begun to dictate our future—threatening to ruin us before we get the chance to try. Perhaps we were cursed from the start. Or maybe, just maybe, the remnants of our fractured lives will fit together to form one whole, where love isn’t questioned and being happy is…well, easy.

Can a second broken soul be enough to fill the voids of my own? Or will such scarred pasts prove too much for our love alone to overcome?

5 out of 5 stars

Before I get officially started with my review, I need to put this out there:

Dear Aly birthday is in February and I want Leo.  Or Christmas.  Christmas would also work.  Or tomorrow.  I have no issue with tomorrow.  You just let me know when.

I'm not even joking.  It is like when you were creating Leo, you crawled inside my head and picked every single one of my weaknesses.  I'm pretty sure you have ruined me for any other contemporary romance heroes.  Dark, dirty and flawed...I mean, hellllllo Leo.

Ahem.  So back to the review of the story.

There MAY have been a bit of trepidation on my part going into this see, I have a tendency to hold grudges longer than is probably healthy and I loathed Sarah in Changing Course.  And yes, I know that Stolen Course sheds light on her situation, but still.  I haven't hated a character like I hate Sarah since reading Gone Girl.  There may have been a few WTFs uttered when finishing Among the Echoes.  Okay, so maybe more than a few.

BUT...I love Aly and I have faith in Aly and then Celeste from The Book Hookup tweeted me about Leo and I knew I couldn't put it off any longer.

My plan was to simply pretend Sarah was somebody else.

Y'all...this may be my favorite book of the series.  If you haven't read the first books in this series, I'm not going to rehash what brings Sarah and Leo together, but once they are together their chemistry is undeniable.  But it isn't just the intense attaction between Sarah and Leo that makes their relationship work, it is the fact that they are both broken.  Yes, I say "are" because what the two of them had experienced in their separate lives are events nobody could ever let go.  The scars are long.  The scars are deep.  And the scars are permanent.

That being said, that doesn't mean that Sarah and Leo have to let the scars define them.

And I think that is what I love most about this book.  Aly Martinez doesn't write a story that erases the past simply because the future happens.  She writes a story that allows a future in that happens because of the past.  What Sarah did and what Leo experienced doesn't just go away because they are in love.  Actually, their emotions bring everything closer to the surface and it isn't sunshine and rainbows.

I loved this story.  It had everything I look for -- intensity, emotions, unf, humor and an ending that fits the characters.  This whole series and Beyond the Echoes have a permanent place on my Kindle because I know I will be rereading them...I refuse to say goodbye to these characters.  And I can't read what Aly Martinez gives us next.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Review: Love Me to Death by Marissa Clarke

Medical research scientist Elena Arcos has always lived her life under the radar, which is not easy to do when you live with the craziest woman in the world. But eccentric Aunt Uza is a picnic compared to the other people who enter her orderly life after she is shot in a convenience store robbery.

Elena finds herself rocketed from comfortable predictability to supernatural insanity courtesy of her own private angel of death who happens to have the sexiest accent on earth and a body to match. Her death angel is convinced she’s some kind of freaky half vampire thing and that her deceased dad was the real deal: a blood sucking monster.

Yeah, right. She’ll play along, but then she doesn’t have much choice seeing how as the guy claims to be some immortal law enforcer and has taken her prisoner.

* * *

Nikolai Itzov had expected to fight the urge to torture the progeny of his father’s murderer, but he’d never anticipated battling the urge to kiss her her.

As a Slayer, an elite law enforcer descended from Azrael himself, his charge from the Underveil General is clear: Kill her or die. He has been told she is one of them--an Undead. Nothing but a parasite to be destroyed. But he has been told wrong.

Nikolai and Elena find themselves in a life and death battle to stop a plot designed to lift the Underveil and enslave humans.

With her analytical mind and his centuries of training and experience, they might be able to foil the plot with their lives and maybe their hearts intact. But in order to succeed, he must help her become the very thing he hates the most: an Undead.


4 out of 5 stars

I used to read PNR's like they were air I needed to breathe.  For every title I started, I had at least four waiting for me to finish.  Have you seen the book igloo on Pinterest...yeah, I could probably build it with the books I've accumulated.

And then, just like that, I dropped the genre completely.  Because sometimes you just need to read something different...and then you discover all the books in your new favorite genre and the cycle starts over again.  Hence my stack of YA and NA and Fantasy books that I can use to build neighboring igloos.

There was something about this book though, that made me want to read it NOW.  Even though I wasn't looking for a PNR, I NEEDED to read it.  (And ok, yes I'll admit it...the cover wasn't hard to look at).  So when I was flying to attend a conference a couple of weeks ago, I had it all set on my Kindle ready to go -- 2 flights and a 3 hour layover in between...perfect!

Thrown headfirst into a world she didn't know existed, Elena Arcos has quite the situation on her hands.  Vampires, hunters, elves, shifters, new powers...welcome to life underneath the veil.  Oh, and Nikolai - can't forget him.  Especially once they are joined together by magic that doesn't break easily.

Oh, and there is the tiny little bit about a prophecy.  So that also complicates things a bit.

I have to confess that I was a bit confused with the story at the beginning -- granted my PNR wheels were a bit rusty, but it took me a few chapters to visualize the different worlds and beings that exist "beneath the veil".  But once I did, I was hooked.  I found the story to be funny, attention-grabbing, and...well, lets just say that all the elements that I look for in a paranormal romance book were there.

As a reader with an overwhelming number of books on my to-read list, I sometimes feel like starting a new unknown series can be a bit of a risk - especially when it is an genre that has been off my radar for a while.  No risk, no reward though, right?  While this book is primarily the story of Elena and Nikolai, the world that has been built and the other characters introduced are intriguing and I look forward to reading more in this series and more from Marissa Clarke. 

Thank you to Entangled Publishing for allowing me a chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Release Blitz: Broken Course by Aly Martinez

Broken Banner

Title: Broken Course (Wrecked and Ruined, #3)
Author: Aly Martinez
Release Date: November 10, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance

I had the chance to read this one over the weekend and I can not wait to get my review up in a few days! 
Seven years ago, my life changed forever. One accident and the person I saw in the mirror no longer resembled the woman I used to be. I was lost and confused inside my own body. I felt alone and disconnected from the world, carrying the incredible weight of guilt and loss that wasn't even mine to harbor.  

Then fate led me to Leo James. He taught me that crazy could be perfectly normal and it shouldn't hurt to breathe. Don't get me wrong. Leo isn't perfect. He has his own cross to bear, and the truth is, that might be why I fell for him in the first place. But despite everything he does for me, learning to forgive myself is infinitely harder than overlooking the flaws of another. 

Now, the secrets and lies of our past have begun to dictate our future—threatening to ruin us before we get the chance to try. Perhaps we were cursed from the start. Or maybe, just maybe, the remnants of our fractured lives will fit together to form one whole, where love isn’t questioned and being happy is…well, easy. Can a second broken soul be enough to fill the voids of my own? Or will such scarred pasts prove too much for our love alone to overcome?

**Each book in this series can be read as a stand alone.**

Wrecked and Ruined
wrecked and 


Changing Course (Wrecked and Ruined, #1)
Stolen Course (Wrecked and Ruined, #2)
Broken Course (Wrecked and Ruined, #3)
About the Author
Aly Martinez

Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Aly Martinez is a stay-at-home mom to four crazy kids under the age of five, including a set of twins. Currently living in Chicago, she passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a glass of wine at her side. After some encouragement from her friends, Aly decided to add “Author” to her ever-growing list of job titles. So grab a glass of Chardonnay, or a bottle if you’re hanging out with Aly, and join her aboard the crazy train she calls life.  
Enter to win a $50.00 Amazon Gift Card or a Signed Paperback set!
love 2

Monday, November 3, 2014

Cover Reveal: The Law of Moses by Amy Harmon


If I tell you right up front, right in the beginning that I lost him, it will be easier for you to bear. You will know it’s coming, and it will hurt. But you’ll be able to prepare.

Someone found him in a laundry basket at the Quick Wash, wrapped in a towel, a few hours old and close to death. They called him Baby Moses when they shared his story on the ten o’clock news – the little baby left in a basket at a dingy Laundromat, born to a crack addict and expected to have all sorts of problems. I imagined the crack baby, Moses, having a giant crack that ran down his body, like he’d been broken at birth. I knew that wasn’t what the term meant, but the image stuck in my mind. Maybe the fact that he was broken drew me to him from the start.

It all happened before I was born, and by the time I met Moses and my mom told me all about him, the story was old news and nobody wanted anything to do with him. People love babies, even sick babies. Even crack babies. But babies grow up to be kids, and kids grow up to be teenagers. Nobody wants a messed up teenager.

And Moses was messed up. Moses was a law unto himself. But he was also strange and exotic and beautiful. To be with him would change my life in ways I could never have imagined. Maybe I should have stayed away. Maybe I should have listened. My mother warned me. Even Moses warned me. But I didn’t stay away.

And so begins a story of pain and promise, of heartache and healing, of life and death. A story of before and after, of new beginnings and never-endings. But most of all...a love story.


Amy Harmon knew at an early age that writing was something she wanted to do, and she divided her time between writing songs and stories as she grew. Having grown up in the middle of wheat fields without a television, with only her books and her siblings to entertain her, she developed a strong sense of what made a good story.

Amy Harmon has been a motivational speaker, a grade school teacher, a junior high teacher, a home school mom, and a member of the Grammy Award winning Saints Unified Voices Choir, directed by Gladys Knight. She released a Christian Blues CD in 2007 called “What I Know” – also available on Amazon and wherever digital music is sold. She has written five novels, Running Barefoot, Slow Dance in Purgatory, Prom Night in Purgatory, the New York Times Bestseller, A Different Blue, Making Faces and most recently, Infinity + One.

Her newest book, The Law of Moses releases November 27, 2014.



Amy is giving away a $100 Amazon gift card, this is an international giveaway.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Review: Twelve by T. M. Franklin


Ava Michaels is gifted, powerful, and — whether she likes it or not — part of a plot to take over the world.

It’s only been a few months since Ava Michaels discovered she has ties to an ancient people living in the shadows of the human world, despite their superior gifts and abilities. A select few don’t like hiding, however, and think it’s time to take control.

Now Ava’s caught up in a conspiracy in the works before she was even born. In fact, her birth was an integral part of the plan. She’s one of the Twelve, the most powerful Race ever created, and they were created for a purpose.

Turns out, Ava doesn’t like being told what to do.

All she wants is to start a new life with her boyfriend, Caleb Foster, but before they can even think about that, they must join forces with former enemies, seek out some powerful new friends, and figure out what exactly the Twelve, and their power-hungry leader, are up to.

Then, they have to find a way to stop them.


4 out of 5 stars

I have wanted to read this book for over a year now.  Since the moment I finished the The Guardians, the second book in the trilogy. 
I hate waiting.  I really really hate waiting.  But when the moment comes when you can finally get the rest of the story, you realize that the wait was worth it.  

Ava and Caleb have quite a task in front of them.  On a broader scale, they are out to bring the Guardians and the Council together for the good of their people.  On a more personal scale, Ava is still continuing the process of figuring out who she is.  Not only is she not human, she is more than just Race.  

She is one of the twelve.  

One of twelve children of Elias Borre, a man determined to bring the Race to power, whatever the cost.  While Ava is quite determined to reject her biological father's wishes and plans, he does have one card up his sleeve that makes her choice to fight him a bit of a conundrum.  

If she doesn't join him, won't end well.

Like the other two books in the series, Twelve had my attention from the beginning and I didn't want to put it down.  It was fast-paced and exciting, new characters introduced and adventure at every turn, but without feeling frantic or like the author was trying to cram everything in before the end.  It made sense and the pace just added to the excitement that culminated in a resolution that left me completely satisfied (and a little sad that it was time to say goodbye.  Sigh.  I hate goodbyes).

All in all, I found Twelve to be a solid ending to a solid series.  I look forward to reading more from T. M. Franklin and she has a solid spot on my authors to watch list.  


T.M. Franklin started out her career writing nonfiction in a television newsroom. Graduating with a BA in Communications specializing in broadcast journalism and production, she worked for nine years as a major market television news producer, and garnered two regional Emmy Awards, before she resigned to be a full-time mom and part-time freelance writer. Her first published novel, MORE, was born out of a challenge to write a novel in thirty days issued during National Novel Writing month. MORE was well received, selected as a finalist in the 2013 Kindle Book Review Best Indie Book Awards, and won the Suspense/Thriller division of the Blogger Book Fair Reader’s Choice Awards.   In addition to MORE and its sequels, The Guardians and TWELVE, Franklin has penned the Amazon best-selling short stories, Window and A Piece of Cake. Her new YA romance How to Get Ainsley Bishop to Fall in Love with You is Franklin’s first love story without traditionally recognized paranormal or fantasy elements. Although . . . T. M. is the first to argue that love is the best kind of magic.


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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Review: Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander


Charlie Hanson has a clear vision of his future. A senior at Brighton School of Mathematics and Science, he knows he’ll graduate, go to MIT, and inevitably discover solutions to the universe’s greatest unanswered questions. He’s that smart. But Charlie’s future blurs the moment he reaches out to touch the tattoo on a beautiful girl’s neck.

The future has never seemed very kind to Charlotte Finch, so she’s counting on the present. She’s not impressed by the strange boy at the donut shop—until she learns he’s a student at Brighton where her sister has just taken a job as the English teacher. With her encouragement, Charlie orchestrates the most effective prank campaign in Brighton history. But, in doing so, he puts his own future in jeopardy.

By the time he learns she's ill—and that the pranks were a way to distract Ms. Finch from Charlotte’s illness—Charlotte’s gravitational pull is too great to overcome. Soon he must choose between the familiar formulas he’s always relied on or the girl he’s falling for (at far more than 32 feet per second squared).


5 out of 5 stars

23ish years ago, I sat in my 10th grade English class and listened to a friend read a story she had written for some assignment that I don't remember.  

Two thoughts ran through my mind that day.  First, that her story was really really good.  And second, that crap, I was going to go have to rewrite mine because my story really really wasn't.

Today, I'm reviewing her first book on my blog.  A concept that excites me now just as much as it terrified me at first -- because what if things didn't end well?  I mean, what if it wasn't good?  What if I didn't like it?  That might make things a bit awkward.  Keep in mind too, that there is a LOT of math in this book and I consider math to be the academic equivalent of Voldemort.  WHO WRITES A BOOK ABOUT MATH???

Still, there was no way I was going to pass up a chance to read her words and from the first page, it was quite obvious that I had made the right decision.   

I absolutely fell in love with this story.  

Charlie Hanson is my book soul mate.  Quirky and nerdy and obsessed with plans and rules...holy crow, I adore him.  I want him to be my best friend.  And Charlotte...she is who I want to be when I grow up.  Brave and ballsy and knowing exactly who she is.   Opposites on paper, together they make total sense and make my heart want to dance with happiness.  And laughter.  Y'all these characters are witty and snarky and so very funny.

Until.  And you know there is always an "until."

Yup, there I was floating along on a bliss cloud and BAM.  Things started to happen and though you probably know what they are, you also know I don't do spoilers -- you'll just have to be content with "things happen".  I emailed Shannon in tears and said "YOU DIDN'T WARN ME!"  Because I totally did cry.  

 A lot.

All that being said, you should know by now that I crave books that evoke intense feelings, so I didn't consider this to be a bad thing.  Not at all.  In fact, as a reader who reads for the emotional journey,  I quite often consider those books to be the best books.  

Here's the thing, though.  Yes, there were tears.  Lots of tears, actually.  But while sadness was definitely the obvious "in your face" emotion, it wasn't what stayed with me after I finished the book.  It was the light, the hope, that Charlotte brought to Charlie's life that still resonates with me today.  

Months after my first reading, weeks after the second...there are three words that stick with me.  Three words that I have highlighted on page 304 that Charlie says to Charlotte that go on the very top of my "if I ever get a tattoo" list.  I've wrapped them up so very tight and keep them close to me and think of them every day.  

Three words. 

So, yeah.   

I've been sitting here for a while now trying to figure out how to finish writing my review.  Do I pretend that I have some sort of well though out critical analysis of writing style and character development when that is not at all what I do? Ever.  Do I gush about how so very proud I am of my friend and how thankful I am that this book has brought us back together?  Do I talk about how I've been in a YA slump lately and how this book reminded me how much I love the genre?  Do I link you all to the picture she just put in a blog post of us from when we were 13?

Or do I just admit that nothing I can say about Love and Other Unknown Variables will sum up my thoughts in the way that I want to express them.  Just take my advice and let Charlie tell his story. 

**I have to confess that I had my original review ending with the words "absolute zero"...and I was all kinds of proud of myself.  Until I googled it just for confirmation and realized that it was a chemistry term and not a math term.  You can lead an English major to water, but you can't make her like math.  I'll leave the numbers to Charlie.     



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Release Day Event: Every Time I Think of You by Tracey Garvis-Graves

We're celebrating the release of Every Time I Think of You by best selling Author Tracey Garvis-Graves! Check out how Tracey came up with the idea for the book and take a peek at the excerpt below. Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Title: Every Time I Think of You
Author: Tracey Garvis-Graves
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Thirty-year-old Daisy DiStefano has two people she holds dear: the grandmother who raised her, and her three-year-old son, Elliott. But when Daisy’s grandmother is killed in a seemingly random act of violence, Daisy must take steps to protect herself and her child.

Despite a thriving career in San Francisco, thirty-six-year-old Brooks McClain has returned home to spend what little time his mother has left before she succumbs to the deadly disease that is ravaging her. The seasoned investigative reporter has taken a position with the local newspaper and been on the job less than twenty-four hours when he’s summoned to cover the death of Pauline Thorpe.

Brooks is all business, but the more time he spends with Daisy DiStefano, the more invested he becomes; there’s something about a single mother, a defenseless child, and an unsolved crime that has stirred Brooks’s protective instincts like nothing ever has before.

And when the unthinkable happens, Brooks will do whatever it takes to clear the name of the woman he’s fallen for and the child he’ll protect at any cost.

Romantic and suspenseful, Every Time I Think of You shows how far two people will go to fight for the ones they love, and the life they’ve always imagined.

An idea was born. 
One of the questions I’m often asked is, “How did you come up with the idea for this book?” My books are fairly plot-driven, and Every Time I Think of You was no different. I could see the opening scene in my head like a movie so I knew what the inciting incident – in other words, the event that would send the main characters’ lives in another direction – would be. But in this case, my opening scene was the result of not only plot, but also a character. I have wanted to write a book where the main character was a crime reporter for a while now. I tend to gravitate toward heroes who are regular guys, and I wanted to see what would happen when I put this particular hero into various situations (and a little hot water). What would he do? How would he react? What, exactly, was he made of?

However, if main character Brooks McClain was going to be a crime reporter, that meant I had to come up with a crime (which ultimately, I’d have to solve). I’ve never written a book with a mystery or suspense element before, but I wasn’t going to let a little thing like that get in the way of telling this story. I’ve said time and time again that I never want to be an author who writes the same book over and over, but with that motto comes challenges. I have to deal with the discomfort that comes from tackling something different than I’ve done before, and often this means learning new things.

I have a love/hate relationship with research. I keep telling myself I’m going to write a book that doesn’t require as much research, and then I write a book that requires extensive research. I should really start listening to myself! Some of the things I did in the name of research for Every Time I Think of You included taking a four-hour firearms safety course and learning how to load and shoot a gun, which was something I didn’t have any experience with.

I also studied ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, by reading memoirs and poring over countless websites dedicated to the disease. Although the timing of the recent ALS ice bucket challenge is merely a coincidence, it makes me happy to know that this devastating illness is receiving such an outpouring of support from the general public. 

I studied addiction, specifically methamphetamine addiction. What I learned was heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and often tragic. In total, I read six memoirs about addiction and read countless online articles. I watched a fascinating Frontline documentary from PBS about methamphetamine addiction and its effects on law enforcement and the community.    

I reached out to a criminal defense attorney in California so that I could gain an understanding of that state’s legal processes, and I spent several hours in person and on the phone with my cousin Jack, who is a detective with the Des Moines Police Department. Jack was instrumental in explaining the outcomes of all the different scenarios I proposed (naturally, I named the detective character after him). I interviewed three different crime reporters (who all told me slightly different things), and one of them saved me from a potentially embarrassing gaffe. In Every Time I Think of You, I include an actual newspaper article written by Brooks McClain. Newspaper reporters use the Associated Press Stylebook to ensure that their articles are written correctly whereas The Chicago Manual of Style is the go-to guide for fiction writers. The crime reporter who proofed my article had me make a small tweak so that it was correct in form.

I spoke to a nurse, to make sure I got the details of Daisy’s DiStefano’s work schedule correct. There were less significant things I needed the answers to, such as what kind of jewelry a nurse would be permitted to wear to work and what floor she might work on if she were involved with a particular patient. 

In addition to the factual research necessary to write this story, I also had to choose the path I’d take to solve the crime. I learned that there were a few different ways I could handle this: One, I could write the story in such a way that the reader would probably not know who committed the crime until the very end. Two, I could choose the slightly-less-suspenseful route and let the reader be privy to clues that would allow them to guess the identity of the perpetrator much earlier. That way, I could let the focus of the story rest on how the person would be brought to justice. I chose option two because I felt it would lend emotional resonance and depth to the story.

Now that I knew how I’d tell the story, I needed to concentrate on the characters. I usually have a pretty good outline in place before I sit down to start writing. This method doesn’t work for everyone, but for me it helps to have a roadmap of sorts so that I don’t waste too much time writing myself into corners. This is not a spoiler because you know from the blurb that the book deals with the aftermath of the death of Daisy’s beloved grandmother. However, once I was about a fourth of the way through the first draft, I realized that the character I’d chosen to commit the crime didn’t actually do it.

I fought it for a while, but the more I got to know these characters, the more I realized my inner muse was right. This person couldn’t have done it.
Delete, delete, delete, delete. Sigh.
The real perpetrator had a motive, but it was subtle and at first I couldn’t see it. And the person who I’d originally intended to commit the crime was actually somewhat responsible. But it will be up to the reader to draw their own conclusions about what transpired that evening in Daisy’s grandmother’s apartment, because the opening chapter of the book is narrated by Daisy’s three-year-old son, who has a very limited ability to explain it. I actually first wrote this opening chapter from the point-of-view of Daisy’s grandmother, Pauline. It gave the book a much darker tone than I wanted so I scrapped it and decided to let Elliott take the reins.

There is also one final plot thread that I chose not to tie up with a big red ribbon. Initially I wrote a paragraph that would have explained why a certain character made the choice that he did, but then I realized it wasn’t necessary. Readers are smart and book discussions are extra fun when there’s a bit of speculation involved.

I’m not an especially fast or prolific writer, and that’s fine with me. Between the research and the actual writing time, this book took fourteen months to complete, and there were times I wanted to pull my hair out. I’d told my husband there were a couple of twists I was hoping to pull off, but wasn’t sure I knew how to accomplish them. I told several people that writing this book made my brain hurt (but one of the readers who received an advance copy told me she kept saying to herself as she read it, “This book is so smart!”). When I hear feedback like that, it tells me that everything I did in the name of Every Time I Think of You was worth it.

I hope you enjoy Brooks and Daisy’s story. 

I glanced at my watch. “I need to get going.” I stood and Daisy followed me toward the door. “Don’t hesitate to call the police for any reason. Pay close attention to your surroundings. Keep your door locked. Don’t ever open it without the chain on.” I paused, once again struck by how alone she seemed. Was anyone watching out for her? “Listen, I don’t mean for this to sound as sexist as it’s going to, but is there a guy around?” 

Rarely did I ask such a personal question, especially when the answer was absolutely none of my business.

And I’ll admit to being more than just professionally curious as I waited for her answer.

“There was, but not anymore,” she said. “It’s just Elliott and me. We’ll be okay. When someone knocks, I look through the peephole. If I don’t recognize the person, I leave the chain on when I open the door. I also bought a gun.”
She said that last part with such nonchalance that it took me a second to process it. 
“You what?” I probably said it with a little more force than I should have.  

She looked taken aback. “Shane helped me pick it out.” 

I was speechless. “I’m sorry, but you don’t—”

“Look like the type of person who would own a gun?”

It was hard to argue with that statement when it was exactly what I was going to say. “Yes.”

“I didn’t buy the gun because I wanted to. Frankly, I would rather not own one. They scare me,” she said. “But I bought one anyway because the thought of looking something evil right in the eye and knowing that I’m more than likely going to come out on the losing end of it terrifies me. The fear that I’ll be assaulted, or raped and left for dead, or worse yet, that someone will try to harm my child, is the reason I have this gun. That’s the type I am.”

I saw her then, really saw her. Five foot seven, maybe, but small-boned. She was wearing a fitted V-neck T-shirt that emphasized her slight build. I could see the prominent ridge of her collarbone and the deep hollow at the base of her throat that I suddenly couldn’t stop looking at. She’d be no match for anyone. If she wanted a gun, I was hardly in a position to tell her she couldn’t have one.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I was out of line. It’s really none of my business what you do.”

“It’s okay. Pam reacted the same way you did. But I’m doing everything I can to be a responsible gun owner. I’ve signed up for the safety class so I can learn how to handle the gun. How to shoot it. I’ll apply for the permit as soon as I have my certificate. I’ll go to the shooting range, and I’ll practice.”  

Taking her to the shooting range was something I could do to help her. It would also give me a chance to spend time with her, which was something that was becoming more appealing by the minute. I could feel the boundary between witness and reporter starting to blur, but I really didn’t care. It had been a while since a woman had sparked my interest the way Daisy had. “You don’t have to justify anything to me. It sounds like you’re doing everything right,” I said. “I’ll let you know if I hear anything on the case.”

“I would really appreciate that.”

Elliott put down his coloring book and ambled across the room.

Daisy lifted him into her arms. “You look tired, buddy. Are you ready for your nap?”

“I’m not tired,” Elliott said, yawning and rubbing his eyes.

“Oh, my mistake,” Daisy said, smiling at him. “I think we’ll try a nap anyway, just in case.” She looked at me. “Thanks for stopping by.”

“It was no problem. I’ll see you soon.”

As I stepped into the hallway she said, “Brooks?”

I turned around. “Yes?”

“Maybe I’m reading this wrong, but you seem to genuinely care about my safety, and I want you to know that I appreciate it. I need all the help I can get.”

I met her gaze and held it for a moment. “You aren’t reading it wrong at all. Take care, Daisy.”

She smiled and it illuminated her face, making every feature even prettier. She closed the door, and I made my way down the hall.

It was true that I cared about Daisy’s safety. Maybe Scott DiStefano had never abused or neglected Elliott, but Daisy’s decision to arm herself made me wonder what he’d done to her.


ONE signed copy of On the Island, Covet, and ETITOY. Also included, a $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Also, the winner will receive an ARC of Tracey's next work-in-progress, The Girl He Used to Know (an adult contemporary second-chance romance novel). And finally, Tracey will either use the winner's name in The Girl He Used to Know (first name or last name only, or the actual real name if comfortable) OR the winner can suggest a name for a character.
**The restrictions to this are that it will not be the name of a main character. It will be a supporting or minor character. Also, this is a fictional character. It is not a character based on the winner. 
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About the Author:

Tracey Garvis Graves is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author.  Her debut novel, On the Island, spent 9 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has been translated into twenty-seven languages and is in development with MGM and Temple Hill Productions for a feature film.  She is also the author of Uncharted, Covet, Every Time I Think of You, and Cherish.  She is hard at work on her sixth book.

Tracey loves to interact with her readers and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.