September 30, 2013


I'm so pleased to help Grand Central Publishing roll out one of its newest, hottest new adult books in paperback - FACADE by Nyrae Dawn. Read on for an excerpt, then check out the ah-mazeballs giveaway!

Facade (Games #2), by Nyrae Dawn
Published September 24, 2013
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing/Forever Romance
Format: paperback
Genre:  new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

(From Goodreads) No one knows who twenty-one year-old Adrian Westfall is behind his façade. After what he's done, he deserves to live alone with his pain, even if he'd do anything to forget. Anything for a moment of quiet without his past haunting him.

Eighteen year-old Delaney Cross wants nothing more than to absolve her family from her father's sins. To keep her suicidal mom off that ledge, and help her brother Maddox get the light back in his eyes. She thinks their road to freedom is through Adrian.

Adrian and Delaney are bound together by tragedy... Only Adrian doesn't know it.  As their lives intertwine, they find a solace in each other they never knew existed. Laney knows she needs to tell him-to come out from behind her smoke screen, but to say the words could mean losing him.

Two people. Two disguises. True love. Will it be enough to save them when all secrets are bared?


    When I see my sister, Angel, walk over to Ash’s grave I don’t get out of the car. When some guy walks up and grabs her hand, I don’t know who he is and yet, I don’t bother finding out. They hug and I don’t walk over and do the same thing to her. It’s not our thing to stand around having some group, mourning session over the two year-old boy who died too soon. 

    Nope. This is real life. Not like all the stupid fucking books I read or the movies people watch or the reality shows that couldn’t be farther away from reality. 

    Without moving an inch, I watch her. Watch as she sets flowers on Ashton’s grave. As the guy pulls her into a hug. As they kneel on the ground, probably talking to him in a way I’ll never have the balls to do. 

    The guy says something to her and then gets up and walks away. I duck further down in my seat, but no one is paying attention to me. He heads back to a little car and waits. 

    Angel’s hands go to her face and I know she’s crying in them. Know she’s mourning the loss of Ash, the boy she loved so much. The boy she took care of better than any mom could. I know she sent the guy away because she’s like me and needs to handle shit on her own. Only unlike me, she’ll never run.

    She cries out there for probably thirty minutes. The whole time my chest is tight. Aching. It’s hard to breathe and I want to turn away, but I don’t. I deserve to feel this way and deserve to see this. 

    A fist squeezes tighter and tighter around my heart. My face is wet, but I don’t bother to wipe away the tears, either. Real men don’t fucking cry. That’s what dad always said before he hit me in a series of body shots, until I couldn’t stop myself from doing just what he said I shouldn’t do. 

    Then he’d beat me harder for being weak. 

    Angel’s shoulders are shaking. I can tell from this far away. 

    I’m not an idiot. Never have been. I know it wouldn’t make me weak to walk over there and hug her. To hold her and tell her it’ll be okay, but I still won’t do it. What right do I have to try and console her, when I’m the one who destroyed everything?

    When I’m the one who let Ash die?

    So I sit here and watch her, just so I’ll never forget the pain I caused. 

About the Author

Writing has always been Nyrae Dawn's passion. Nyrae gravitates toward character-driven stories. She loves going on emotional journeys with characters whether it be reading or writing. And yes, she's a total romantic at heart and proud.

Nyrae resides in sunny Southern California with her husband (who still makes her swoon) and her two awesome kids.

When she's not with her family, you can be pretty sure you'll find her with a book in her hand or her laptop and an open document in front of her. Nyrae also writes adult romance under the name Kelley Vitollo.

Learn more about Nyrae Dawn --> Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads


1  WINNER: $25 gift card to the  e-retailer of your choice, plus a print copy of FAÇADE
5 WINNERS: Forever New Adult Prizepack including print copies of: FAÇADE, THE COINCIDENCE OF CALLIE & KAYDEN (Jessica Sorensen), THE EDGE OF NEVER (J.A Redmerski), and ELITE (Rachel Van Dyken).  

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September 27, 2013


Welcome to my stop on the Tragically Flawed blog tour, hosted by Inkslinger PR. Check out my review, then read a gues post by A.M. Hargrove on how she chose the title, TRAGICALLY FLAWED. Don't forget about the amazing giveaway at the end! Then, check out the other tour stops.

Tragically Flawed, by A.M. Hargrove
Published September 19, 2013
Publisher: self-published
Format: e-book, obtained from the author and Inkslinger PR in exchange for an honest review
Genre: new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  3 STARS

(From Goodreads) Riviera Benson’s past has been nothing but horrific. It’s filled with secrets that she intends to keep tightly locked away...terrifying secrets that keep her awake at night...that prevent her from getting close to anyone...anyone that is, until her work as a muralist drives her into the arms of the hot and sexy Shan.

Benjamin Shandon, owner of Shandon Homes, works like a thousand demons are chasing him...because perhaps they are. His business has boomed, ever since the forest fire swept through the canyon and destroyed hundreds of million dollar homes. He demands excellence in everything...from his employees to his women. He slows down for nothing, keeping a schedule that no sane person would want. But Riviera interrupts everything, twisting his guts inside out, and wedging her way into his heart, destroying a promise he made to himself.

Will they let their pasts control their future, or will they decide to let go and allow their hearts to discover each other’s?

The premise of Tragically Flawed interested me - a muralist (what a unique and fun job, BTW!) and a home builder fall in love on the job. The muralist is meek and afraid due to her tragic past. The home builder is gruff and grumpy due to his tragic past. Together they find a way to heal.

I'll tell you what - Tragically Flawed started off with a bang. We meet Riviera as she is painting in a home. She witnesses something while there that shocks and amazes her. As the reader, it was a bit confusing for me, as I didn't think she knew who Shan was yet. Once I realized that we were joining their story already in progress, it made a bit more sense. Even moreso when the next chapter backs things up by six months so that we could see how Riviera came to be in Colorado in the first place.

I really liked Shan. He was everything I love in a hero - strong, independent, a family man and slightly flawed. I loved his super protective instinct and how he tried to take care of Riviera (once he got over himself, that is). The protective guys suck me in every single time.

Riviera - honestly I had a problem with her. The poor thing had a horrific life up to this point. And, I mean the worst of the worst. Abusive parents. Abusive boyfriend. I get that the author was trying to present us with a girl who needed to find some real love for the first time in her life. But, it was all a little bit over the top. Pretty much anything you can think of that could've happened to a tragic figure, happened to Riviera. Just one of those things would've been enough for me to believe her. But, all of it seems almost impossible.

One would think with all that stuff happening in her life that she would barely be functioning, let alone strong enough to uproot, move hundreds of miles away, and within weeks start a new relationship with a strange man. I'd love to think it was her strength of character and will that propelled her to this place in her life, but I just had a hard time believing her.

The pace of Tragically Flawed was a little off for me. Once the past caught up with the events in the first chapter, things stalled a bit. It seemed like Shan and Riviera were caught in a loop, doing the same thing and not really moving anywhere. the dialog was the same. I counted 35 times when the term (or a slight variation of it) "I'm scared" was used.

However, the ending was pretty explosive and exciting. I enjoyed seeing the resolution of the conflicts and seeing Shan and Riviera finally get their HEA.And, on the heat scale, I give Tragically Flawed high marks. The story might be between two young twenty-somethings, but it reads like an adult novel.

Over all, that were a lot of things I liked about Tragically Flawed. And some things I didn't. But, I got through this quickly, it held my interest and I was really rooting for these two to figure it all out in the end. And, that's definitely saying something.

Guest Post... by A.M. Hargrove

Choosing a Title

This is one of the things that cause me the most angst (other than writing the blurb). Choosing the title for a book can be so difficult and frustrating because I want it to speak to the characters and the plot and finding the exact wording can sometimes be next to impossible.

So for Tragically Flawed, I ran through several different options. Both Shan and Riviera have been through some difficult times and carry some pretty deep battle scars. I shied away from the word scar because to me it represented something physical and theirs were deeper than that. So lots of times I’ll just pull out the old thesaurus and start hunting words similar to scar, but I still wasn’t seeing what I liked. Nothing was speaking to me.

Then I thought of Beautiful Scars, but the word beautiful is used in so many titles now that I want to be more original than that. So I’m back to the drawing board and pull out the thesaurus again. Now I’m scratching my head and pulling my hair out, because nothing is calling to me. 

This is the frustrating part. I like to have my books titles pretty close to when I start writing the book. I don’t want my frustration to turn into anger because then I’ll end up with a title that’ll be awful and won’t work at all. So at this point I have to walk away from it and just continue to write and pray the clouds will part and the light will suddenly shine through.

So one day, as I’m writing a scene, there’s dialogue taking place between Riviera and Shan. She’s telling him about her flaws. And then it happens… the clouds parting thing.

Words start pouring through my head and I’m instantly filled with several phrases. Now my thing about titles is short and sweet. I’d love to stick to single words and did that for my Guardians of Vesturon series. But sometimes that doesn’t always work out. And I’m not a fan of titles that go something like this: The Girl Who Had So Many Flaws She Didn’t Know What To Do So She Decided To Become A Muralist. I’m more of a two to three word title fan. I know Flawed isn’t enough so I’m back to my thesaurus and I land on tragic and voila.

But that’s only the beginning. I won’t use a title that’s already been used. I run it through Amazon, right until the final cover is completed. I want the title of my book to be the only one with that title. Now after it’s published, there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. But beforehand, I do all my homework to make sure there are no other books with that same title.

I do have a funny story about that though. When I titled my book, Kissing Fire, I did the same search on Amazon that I always do and nothing showed up.  I searched it repeatedly right until the cover was made. Then about a month after it was published, I met my now good friend, Rebecca Ethington, who is the amazing author of the Imdalind series, of which Kiss of Fire is book one in that series. We laugh about it but I learned after that about searching all word derivatives too.

So, I came up with Tragically Flawed, found there were no titles by that name and here I am. And that’s how I title my books. By the way, if you think you have some good title suggestions, send them my way. I’m always looking for new ideas.

About the Author

One day, on her way home from work as a sales manager, A. M. Hargrove, realized her life was on fast forward and if she didn't do something soon, it would quickly be too late to write that work of fiction she had been dreaming of her whole life.  So, she rolled down the passenger window of her fabulous (not) company car and tossed out her leather briefcase.  Luckily, the pedestrian in the direct line of fire was a dodge ball pro and had über quick reflexes enabling him to avoid getting bashed in the head.  Feeling a tad guilty about the near miss, A. M. made a speedy turn down a deserted side street before tossing her crummy, outdated piece-of-you-know-what laptop out the window.  She breathed a liberating sigh of relief, picked up her cell phone, called her boss and quit her job.  Grinning, she made another call to her hubs and told him of her new adventure (after making sure his heart was beating properly again).

So began A. M. Hargrove's career as a YA/NA and Adult Romance writer. Her books include the following: Edge of Disaster, Shattered Edge and Kissing Fire (The Edge Series); The Guardians of Vesturon series (Survival, Resurrection, Determinant, reEmergent and Beginnings); Dark Waltz and Tragically Flawed.

Other than being in love with writing about being in love, she loves chocolate, ice cream and coffee and is positive they should be added as part of the USDA food groups.

Learn more about A.M. Hargrove --> Website / Facebook / Twitter


One lucky winner will walk away with an iPad Mini and a necklace that was designed by Kim at Nair & Bjorn after the one that Shan gave Riviera in Tragically Flawed. The necklace is open for US and Canada residents only. In the event the winner is from outside the US, an Amazon Gift Card of comparable value to the iPad will be given and the 2nd place winner will receive the necklace.

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September 26, 2013

REVIEW: Shade (Shade #1)

Shade (Shade #1), by Jeri Smith-Ready
Published May 4, 2010
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: audiobook, borrowed from the library
Genre:  young adult paranormal romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  5 STARS

(From Goodreads) Love ties them together. Death can't tear them apart.

Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With Logan's band playing a critical gig and Aura's plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend's life. She never thought it would be his last.

Logan's sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He's gone.

Well, sort of.

Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan’s violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever. Almost.

It doesn't help that Aura’s new friend Zachary is so understanding—and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.

As Aura's relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura's heart…and clues to the secret of the Shift.

Yeah - ghost books usually aren't my thing. Let's face it - relationships with non-corporeal beings are doomed for failure. No kissing, no touching, no sharing a dessert... it takes all the fun out of it, right? So, I approached Shade with a measure of trepidation. 

As it turns out, I really had nothing to worry about. Not only does Shade include a heroine with tons of moxie (my favorite kind), but it also includes a hot... SCOTTISH... boy. Who is completely alive. And, did I mention hot? Bottom line - I freaking loved this ghost book!

Honestly though, hot Scottish boy aside, one of the best parts of Shade is the paranormal mythology that is all Jeri Smith-Ready. This is some completely unique stuff here, and the way she explained it was so perfect. See, people couldn't see or talk to ghosts until one second... they could. The people born before that second (which has come to be known as "the shift") can't see the ghosts, and the people born after that second can. Aura was born on that second - she was the first. Zachary was born one second before Aura. He was the last. 

I loved how Jeri Smith-Ready created a world around the idea that some people (in this case, no one older than 17) can see ghosts and some can't. Ghosts can testify in their own murder cases. They can be waitresses and rock stars. There's a policing agency designed to keep them in line. And, if ghosts go bad - or, shade - they go to a prison of sorts. This was an amazing concept, and Jeri Smith-Ready sold it marvelously. 

Aura is so cool. She's fun and funny and totally in love with her boyfriend Logan, a local rock band front man. And, when Logan accidentally dies, she understandably struggles. Her devastation is confused by two things - first, she can still see and speak to Logan. And, she does frequently. Second, she befriends Zachary and finds many things to love about him, not least of which is, she can actually touch him. Can you imagine mourning a loss like that when you still can see the person you're mourning? For a teenager, she handles things like a grown-up. 

Zachary is, obviously, my favorite part. He's sweet, charming, smart and he has a really sexy accent. Better than all that, he really cares about Aura and wants to help her, even if that means letting her go. That right there is a keeper. Aura should take note. 

The mystery is so great. Although we know there's a connection between Zachary and Aura - being that they're the last and the first - we don't know what it is, exactly, yet .We also think it has something to do with Zachary's dad and Aura's dead mother. But, we don't know what that is yet, either. And, we know that Zachary and Aura both have some extra powers, but we don't understand the extent of them all yet or the implications on the rest of the world because of them. So, there's plenty of fodder for the next book, which I cannot wait to get into. 

I listened to the audio version of Shade, and the narrator, Khristine Hvam, did a fantastic job. Her accents were spot on, and her reading made the story absolutely come to life. She was wonderful!

I'm so excited to see Jeri Smith-Ready at the Celebrate the Book festival in Carlisle, Pennsylvania on October 19. I can't wait to talk to her about the Shade series and pick her brain. She's an incredible author. 

September 25, 2013

REVIEW: Stir Me Up

Stir Me Up, by Sabrina Elkins
To Be Published October 1, 2013
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Format: e-ARC, provided by Kismet Book Tours and the author in exchange for an honest review
Genre:  young adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  4 STARS

(From Goodreads) Cami Broussard has her future all figured out. She'll finish her senior year of high school, then go to work full-time as an apprentice chef in her father's French restaurant, alongside her boyfriend, Luke. But then twenty-year-old ex-Marine Julian Wyatt comes to live with Cami's family while recovering from serious injuries. And suddenly Cami finds herself questioning everything she thought she wanted.

Julian's all attitude, challenges and intense green-brown eyes. But beneath that abrasive exterior is a man who just might be as lost as Cami's starting to feel. And Cami can't stop thinking about him. Talking to him. Wanting to kiss him. He's got her seriously stirred up. Her senior year has just gotten a lot more complicated….

Foodies, you guys will love Stir Me Up twice as much as I did. Which is saying a lot, because I really loved Sabrina Elkins' debut novel about a teenage girl with a French chef for a father, her overly-dramatic BFF who likes to text IN ALL CAPS and her hot step-cousin (is that even a real thing?) who returns home from Afghanistan minus one leg and plus one major attitude. If you actually know the difference between a roux and a consomme, all the better. 

Julian, Cami's step-mother's nephew, comes to live with them after getting hurt in the war. And, that dude is NOT nice. Honestly, you can't blame him. I didn't. I get it - he's an independent guy who is now dependent upon everyone for most everything. In addition to the PTSD, he's dealing with a loss of dignity. 

But, Cami - gosh, I loved that girl.While everyone was walking on eggshells and coddling this big strong guy, she's tossing muffins and f-bombs at him. Which turns out to be the best thing for him. He starts to open up to her and she starts to think of her future as something other than this black hole of non-possibilities. 

The romance between Cami and Julian is my favorite kind. It's a slow burn - they sort of hate each other at first. And, then there's a mild tolerance. Then friendship. Then, holy hell - it's like the flood gates open when they finally admit there's something more between them than mild tolerance or friendship. 

The underlying theme here is about finding out who you are and going for it. Julian thought he knew who he was. Then, he was forced to change some things. Cami had no clue who she was or what she wanted to do. Then, she was forced to figure it out. And, in the end, it seems like they both are on their way toward finding out more about themselves both individually and together as a couple. 

I'm pretty sure this is a stand-alone (for a change). Given that, there were a few ends that I felt were still swaying in the breeze still at the end. I kept waiting for more of a resolution to Julian's PTSD. It was very barely touched on, and then nothing. Also, there was a text convo between Cami's BFF and her ex-boyfriend that I was sure was going to morph into something more, and it didn't. It was just so random - I didn't quite get it. 

Those are two very minor things - Stir Me Up really is a fantastic book. I read it very quickly. All the foodie talk was really cool, even though I had no idea what most of it was. And, how cool is it that Sabrina Elkins put a few significant recipes in the back of the book? Whether you're a wanna-be chef or barely know how to hard boil an egg, I guarantee if you like sweet romances, then you will love Stir Me Up.

About the Author

SABRINA ELKINS, author of STIR ME UP, has also worked as a journalist, movie copywriter and prep cook. She grew up in Vermont, graduated from USC, and now lives in Southern California with her husband and three kids.

Sabrina loves hearing from fans and encourages you to visit her website, and find her on Twitter, Facebook, and at Goodreads.

September 24, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This is one meme I can get on board with - I LOVE lists! I'll show you mine if you show me yours!

Top Ten Best Sequels

1. Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2), by Tahereh Mafi
Shatter Me was really excellent. Thankfully, Unravel me was too. Tahereh Mafi doesn't know the meaning of the words "sophomore slump."

2. Catching Fire (Hunger Games #2), by Suzanne Collins
Hunger Games was an absolutely incredible book, and although Catching Fire wasn't quite as good, it was still a fantastic book in its own right.

3. Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky #2), by Veronica Rossi
As with most dystopians, there's a lot of backstory to be told in the first book. Once that's all out of the way, it's all story and characters. And Perry, Roar and Aria are some of my most favorite characters ever.

4. Clockwork Princess (Infernal Devices #3), by Cassandra Clare
In my opinion, this is one of the best series enders EVER. Loose ends were tied up, twists and turns abounded, and the most most epic love story ever was at the core.

5. Lover Awakened (Black Dagger Brotherhood #3), by J.R. Ward
Dark Lover was really good. Wrath is really hot. Beth is an awesome heroine. But, Zsadist's and Bella's -
their story was the best of them all.

6. Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), by Sarah J. Maas
I really loved Throne of Glass. Celaena Sardothian is my kind of bad ass assassin. But, sadly, in book one, there weren't many... well, assassinations. That problem was rectified in Crown of Midnight - in a big way.

7. Fifth Grave Past the Light (Charley Davidson #5), by Darynda Jones
How weird is it that I thought the fifth - THE FIFTH - book in this series is actually the best? Usually by this time, the story and characters have started getting stale. Not so here - Charley, Cookie and Reyes are at their best.

8. Twice Bitten (Chicagoland Vampires #3), by Chloe Neill
The third book in this series remains my absolute favorite. Why? The presence of one Gabriel Keene, a super hot werewolf, and the resolution of some of the ridiculously off the charts sexual tension between Merit and Ethan. Ahhhh.....

9. Spirit (Elemental #3), by Brigid Kemmerer
With each book in the Elemental series, the suspense, the intrigue, the intense feels all are ramped up more and more. By the time you get to Spirit, you're laughing out loud in public and crying real buckets of tears.

10. Faking It (Losing It #2), by Cora Carmack
Losing It was amazing - I absolutely loved Garrick. But, there was something about Cade and Max that really got me.

September 23, 2013

NEW ADULT MONDAYS: Courage (Mark of Nexus #2)

The New Adult genre - their bad boys and big problems and epic loves make them engrossing tales that are so easy to lose yourself in. What's not to love about that? And, now, thanks to the cool chicks at Bewitched Bookworms, we can show these books the love they deserve in a weekly feature - New Adult Mondays.

Courage (Mark of Nexus #2), by Carrie A. Butler
To Be Published October 15, 2013
e-ARC, provided by the author in exchange for an honest review
new adult paranormal romance

Rating:  5 STARS

(From Goodreads)
Making a deal with the bad guys wasn’t the highlight of Rena Collins’ semester, but, hey, it saved her boyfriend. Now, in order to appease the human-altering organization known as ERA, she’ll crawl under their microscope while they study the Mark of Nexus and plot their eye-glazed version of the future--until she realizes that’s not all they’re plotting.

Wallace Blake has always known his girlfriend is unlike most girls. But now that information has surfaced regarding the two bloodlines that balance his supernatural race, he finally understands why. Rena belongs to one of them. She’s been augmenting his power, all along...

Enter: Corynn Catley. Brought into the country under the guise of an internship, she’s intended to become ERA’s secret weapon. Kind of. Her abilities cancel out Wallace’s, rendering him powerless, but that’s exactly what he’s always wanted. Too bad it only works when his girlfriend’s not around.

All the while, Rena fails to notice the crush her geeky best friend, Aiden Ross, is nursing. He’d give anything for her to see him in a new light--even reinvent himself through questionable means--but there’s a reason people are told to be careful what they wish for. Finding the courage to tell her could put everyone’s lives in danger.

Stand up and take notice - Carrie A. Butler is a force to be reckoned with. In a new adult world of sameness, she has managed to create something truly unique in her Mark of Nexus series. There is literally something for everyone here. You need a good love story? It's here wrapped up in a kick ass paranormal package and tied with a new adult bow.

When we last saw Wallace and Rena at the end of Strength (Mark of Nexus #1), their battle with the nasty Faye and her minions had left them branded with matching arm band tattoos that allow them to sort of sense each other all the time. Not really a bad thing since these two kids are crazy in love. But, they're still trying to work around Wallace's super strength and all its implications, so it's definitely not easy street. Meanwhile, Faye has moved on to stage 2 in her master plan for creating a utopia. And, she doesn't care who she needs to sacrifice in order to do it.

Courage (Mark of Nexus #2) is told from four different POVs. Yes, you read that right. Four. Initially, I was afraid that would prove to be extra confusing - hell, sometimes TWO POVs are confusing, much less four. The thing is, when you see where the story is headed, the reasoning behind Butler's decision to do it this way becomes more apparent. There are a few things going on at once, all related to the overall master plan. The four POVs are a unique way to let the reader in, a little at a time, on where the story is headed. And, despite being in four heads, I was still surprised by the twists and turns. 

Rena is absolutely my kind of heroine. She is ballsy and brash and strong. She has integrity and a slight martyr-complex. She loves wholly and completely and despite her bad assery, she is not afraid to show emotion. Some secrets are revealed about her and her connection to Wallace, and after a momentary freak-out, she takes it in stride and moves on.

Wallace has grown and changed since the beginning of Strength. He was so alone and quiet, He internalized everything. In Courage, Wallace has found his voice. Funny thing is, he's not always good with words. But, he knows where his power lies and he's not afraid to use it anymore. For such a big, strong guy, his moments with Rena are tender and sweet.

One thing that Courage had in spades was some off the chart feels. I was getting the sideways glances from my husband as my throat closed, my eyes burned and I brought the tissue box closer to my seat. Rena and Wallace go through some tough stuff together, and the bad guys are even worse in this second go-round. Between the sadness and the frustration, the tears were falling. Thank goodness for Cole, Wallace's twin brother. He provides some much needed frequent comic relief.

The paranormal part of this story is, really, the best part. The Dynari - what Wallace and Cole are - are super cool. Like X-men. They all have different powers like super strength, super speed, ability to control the weather - and the other two either augment or neutralize those powers. Which means they can be used as tools for either side of the line of right. Once again, I LOVED what Carrie Butler did with the Mark of Nexus tattoos that Rena and Wallace have. There's something special about them that bonds those two together in tangible and intangible ways.

In this new adult series, the sex takes a back seat. Well, maybe a ride in the trunk, really. There's hardly any sexy times (there's a reason for this that has to do with the story, though). So, the feelings and the emotion have to come to the forefront since the physicality between Rena and Wallace is almost non-existant. If you require romance in your stories like I do, never fear. I never once felt it was lacking in that way.

The Mark of Nexus series is the best of my favorite genres married together.The characters are intricate and compelling. The romance is sweet and permeates throughout the entire story. And the paranormal parts are off the hook. One things's for sure - Loyalty (Mark of Nexus #3) is going to be one of my must-reads in early 2014.  

About the Author

Carrie Butler daydreamed her way through college—until they thrust a marketing degree into her hands, slapped a summa cum laude seal on the corner, and booted her out into a less-than-stellar job market. Instead of panicking at the prospect of unemployment, she used her Midwestern logic to steer into the skid and point her life in the direction she really wanted to go: writing out those daydreams.

Her passion for New Adult fiction led her to co-found NA Alley—one of the first websites dedicated to the category. She is the author of Strength (Mark of Nexus #1) and Courage (Mark of Nexus #2).

Learn more about Carrie --> Facebook / Twitter / Blog / Goodreads

September 20, 2013


Welcome to my stop on the Deceived blog tour hosted by YA Bound Blog Tours! Check out my review, then hop down to the bottom for a fantastic giveaway. Don't forget to visit the other stops on the tour!

Deceived, by Julie Anne Lindsey
Published September 18, 2013
Publisher:  Merit Press
Format: e-ARC, provided by YA Bound Blog Tours and the author in exchange for an honest review
Genre:  young adult suspense, romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Book Depository

Rating:  3.5 STARS

(From Goodreads) When Elle's father, a single parent and a big shot in corporate insurance, moves her to yet another boarding school for senior year, Elle is disgusted when nothing changes. Her night terrors don't go away, and, soon, despite her father's caring calls and visits, Elle starts to believe she's losing her mind. She knows she's being followed; a ribbon is tied around her doorknob, and there are those cigarette butts that keep turning up on the doormat, in violation of a strict smoking ban on campus. Then there's Bryan, an intriguing boy Elle meets at a flea market and later finds out is a student at her school. Yet on campus, he pretends he doesn't recognize her - until the day he divulges just how much danger she's in. In her search for an answer to all the madness, Elle unravels the truth about her dad's real identity, why someone has lied to her all her life, and the terrifying truth that she may be the only one who can save her from the one who's following her now.

I've always been a big fan of the "whodunit" kind of mysteries. I like the suspense of not knowing everything that's going on. Of not being quite sure who the good guys and the bad guys are. Any book that can wrap that kind of suspense up with the romance that I really need to keep me sucked it is definitely one that I want to read. Deceived has all those elements, so naturally, I was excited. 

Elle doesn't have all her memories from when she was a child, but she knows something scary must've happened because of her dreams. And, now she is away at school with the opportunity to finally shake her fears, except they seem to have followed her. Signs that she's being watched are all over. But, who's doing the watching? No doubt Brian is, but there's something different about him. His presence actually makes her feel safer, and she may need his protection if the real watcher has his or her way.

I loved not knowing what was going on. I love to be surprised. Deceived surprised me, and that's hard to do these days. The mystery in Deceived was a really good one. There were plenty of twists and turns wrapped up in a little bit of cloak and dagger and sealed with a kiss. 

The romance was a sweet one, albeit a tad unbelievable. Brian has his own secrets that come out relatively quickly, so thank goodness we don't have to wait until the end for that. He's a bit older than Elle, but the age difference never bothered me. I was never overly aware of it. I think Brian was my favorite character. He was aloof and slightly creepy in the beginning, and then brave and strong when he needed to be. He was the perfect compliment to Elle. 

Elle was the weaker character, I thought. She was very fearful and timid. I prefer my female characters to be strong and bold. Elle was mousy almost to the point of ridiculousness. Sometimes I just wanted to shake her and tell her to man up. She did have her moments, including a big one, where she does reach deep down to find the strength the situation calls for, so I did appreciate that. 

Many times, I felt like some of the things that were going on were just not plausible. I can't say too much without giving major plot points away. But, there are definitely some events and some plot elements that seemed a little far fetched. I feel like stories should be seamless - they should reflect real life and I should feel like I could take a trip to where the story is happening and really find the characters there. I didn't feel that way with Deceived. 

Overall though, Deceived was a really good book. I remained engaged and interested. I really wanted to find out which of the possible baddies was the real one. And I wanted to find out if Elle and Brian found a way to be together. The suspense was killing me - and that's a good thing. 

About the Author

Julie Anne Lindsey is a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. In 2013, Julie welcomes five new releases in three genres including her newest title, DECEIVED, a YA suspense from Merit Press, and her first cozy mystery, MURDER BY THE SEASIDE, book one in the Patience Price, Counselor at Large series from Carina Press (a digital imprint of Harlequin). 

Julie is a self-proclaimed word nerd who would rather read than almost anything else. She started writing to make people smile. Someday she plans to change the world. Most days you'll find her online, amped up on caffeine and wielding a book.

Julie is a member of the International Thriller Writers (ITW), Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI), Sisters in Crime (SinC) and the Canton Writer’s Guild.

Learn more about Julie Anne Lindsey --> Twitter / Goodreads / Facebook / Blog / Pintrest / Tumblr


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Stuck in a Good Book Giveaway Hop

When was the last time you were Stuck in a Good Book? If it's been awhile, maybe I can help. This giveaway hop, hosted by I Am A Reader and Stuck in Books, gives we bloggers a chance to bestow upon you a book or books that held on to us and did not let go. Books that kept us up WAAAY past our bedtimes. Books that caused us to neglect our chores and ignore our families.

For me, there is no better author than Abbi Glines when I want to absolutely lose myself in a book. So, for this hop, I'm giving away one of any of her books (that is already published). Perhaps you're in the mood to snuggle up to a pair of good ole boys in tight jeans.

Or, maybe you prefer to take a sick day in order to spend time with a bunch of hot rich kids in the seaside town of Rosemary.

You could find a nice park and see what's doing with Jax, Marcus, Cage and Preston.

My personal favorite time passer is pure perfection in my book.

And, maybe you need that paranormal edge to hold your interest into the wee hours of the morning.

These are your choices for the Stuck in a Good Book Giveaway Hop. Personally, I think that any of these books is a sure thing if you need to lose yourself in a good story for awhile. So, what are you waiting for? As long as the Book Depository delivers to you, fill out the Rafflecopter and keep on hopping!

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September 19, 2013

A to Z Book Survey

I saw the A to Z Book Survey on Jamie's blog, The Perpetual Pageturner, awhile ago and was saving it for just the right moment (in other words, for when I didn't have another review all ready to go :D). So, let's get to it, shall we?

Author You've Read the Most Books From

This is a tie between J.R. Ward and Jennifer L. Armentrout with 13 books each. 

Best Sequel Ever

WOW. Hard question. It's a toss-up between Dragonfly In Amber (Outlanter #2), Voyager (Outlander #3) and Clockwork Princess (Infernal Devices #3). It's been years since I've read either Outlander book, but I think there are details in each that will stick with me forever. And, Clockwork Princess and Dragonfly In Amber probably tie for the most emotional ending ever. I bawled buckets over both books. BUCKETS, people. That's good stuff there. 

Currently Reading

Reading:  Tragically Flawed by A.M. Hargrove
Listening to:  Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

Drink of Choice While Reading

Coffee. It's my drink of choice when I'm doing pretty much anything.

E-reader or Physical Book?

Both have their place. I love my e-reader for the ease of use, convenience for traveling, and accessibility to ARCs through NetGalley and Edelweiss. Also, since I'm a huge new adult fan, and many NA books are only available in digital format, an e-reader is a must. But, there's just something about a physical book that can never be replaced. That, and they look so pretty on my shelves. 

Fictional Character You Would've Actually Dated in High School

Tough one - they are all so gorgeous and interesting, it feels like none of them would've looked twice at me. But, if I had to pick one, I'd say Etienne St. Clair from Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. He's smart, has goals, isn't pretentious and is shorter than me. That's pretty much par for the course. If only I could've dated a guy with his accent, though...

Glad You Gave This Book a Chance

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1) by Patricia Briggs. I hadn't had much luck with urban fantasy up until this point, so it was with great reluctance that I gave it a go. I am completely in love with this series now.

Hidden Gem Book

Waterfall (River of Time #1) by Lisa Tawn Bergren. It's listed as "christian fiction," and I think that scares most people away before they even give it a try. To be honest with you, I didn't even realize it was classified as that until AFTER I had read it, and it's sequel, Cascade. This is an AMAZING series full of action, adventure, a little sci-fi and tons of delicious romance. It is very light on the Christian aspect - mostly reflective and never in your face. 

Important Moment In Your Reading Life

Reading Outlander in 2005. It was recommended by some friends, and up until that point, I hadn't been reading much (although I read a lot in high school). Once I read Outlander, though, I tore through the series, and then immediately started the Harry Potter series to fill the hole that was left in my life afterwards. From there, the rest is history. 

Just Finished

Deceived by Julie Anne Lindsey

Kinds of Books You Won't Read

horror, self-help, "women's lit"

Longest Book You've Read

In my recent reading history, it is Breaking Dawn (Twilight #4) at 756 pages. If we're talking EVER, it is The Fiery Cross (Outlander #5) at 1,443 pages (mass market).

Major Book Hangover Because of

My biggest book hangover came after I finished Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows. I had read all seven Harry Potter books all in a row, and I was so, so sad that it was finally all over. 

Number of Bookcases You Own


One Book You Have Read Multiple Times

I've read both Obsidian (Lux #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout and Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon four times each. That's the most so far. 

Preferred Place to Read

On my couch. 

Quote That Inspires You/Gives You All The Feels From A Book You've Read

Quote that inspires me: "Courage is not the absence of fear, but the decision that something is more important than fear." - from Waterfall by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Quote that gave me tons of feels: “My name is Ashallyn'darkmyr Tallyn, third son of the Unseelie Court...Let it be known--from this day forth, I vow to protect Meghan Chase, daughter of the Summer King, with my sword, my honor, and my life. Her desires are mine. Her wishes are mine. Should even the world stand against her, my blade will be at her side. And should it fail to protect her, let my own existence be forfeit. This I swear, on my honor, my True Name, and my life. From this day on..." His voice went even softer, but I still heard it as though he whispered it into my ear. "I am yours." - from The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

Reading Regret

Not sticking with it through college. I was an angsty, emo mess in college at times. Books would've helped remind me that I wasn't alone in that. 

Series You Started And Need To Finish

The Soul Screamer series by Rachel Vincent. I've read the first two. 

Three of Your All-time Favorite Books

Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
Obsidian, by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead

Unapologetic Fangirl For

Honestly, I don't fangirl too often. Maybe it's my age talking (I'm 37). But, I'm not all about the ZOMGs and SQUEALs. I will gush, however, about any book that captures me and doesn't let me go. There are a bunch of those. Some of the 5-star books I've gushed about so far in 2013 include:

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi
Halfway To The Grave by Jeaniene Frost
Origin by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Spirit by Brigid Kemmerer
Twisted Perfection by Abbi Glines

(There were more, but I picked five of my favorites from five of my favorite authors.)

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others

Another one I just can't possibly narrow down. I can think of three 2014 releases that I am DYING to read:

Worst Bookish Habit

Peeking at the back of the book to see what happens. 

X Marks The Spot - Start at the Top Left of Your Shelf and Pick the 27th Book

 Reached (Matched #3) by Ally Condie - hardback

Your Latest Book Purchase

Unchained (Nephilim Rising #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Zzz-snatcher Book - The Last Book That Kept You Up Way Late

Lost and Found by Nicole Williams
So, there you have it. What do you think? You want to scream at me for admitting that I peek at the back of the book from time to time, don't you?

September 18, 2013

NOVELLA REVIEW: Homecoming (Vampire Academy #6.5)

Homecoming (Vampire Academy #6.5), by Richelle Mead
(Part of the anthology, Foretold, edited by Carrie Ryan)
Published August 28, 2012
Publisher:  Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Format: hardback, borrowed from the library
Genre:  paranormal romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  5 STARS

(From Goodreads) Homecoming is about Rose and Dimitri, the couple from Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series.They are going back to Russia to see Dimitir's family, something that both of them sorely need. Dimitri had finally been restored into a dhampir, after being forcibly changed into strigoi. his family needs to see him for themselves, and Rose needs to go back to Russia and face her trauma from the trip she made before.

So, I was on Richelle Mead's blog a little while ago reading a post about the new Vampire Academy movie and the books, and she happened to post this little tidbit:

And, I was like, "What the WHAT?" A Vampire Academy novella that takes place after the last book? How is it that I didn't know about this sooner? Here I thought I was a crazy VA/BL fangirl who knew it all. So, what did I do? I immediately went to my library and checked it out. I couldn't wait another day knowing there was a piece of Rose and Dimitri's story out there that I had missed. 

Homecoming is included in the anthology, Foretold, 14 Tales of Prophecy and Prediction. It's rather short, even as far as novellas go, at only 40 pages. In it, Rose and Dimitri travel to see his family in Russia. You might remember that he never had a chance to go see them after the events in Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy #5). Rose had a chance to meet them all while she was there during Blood Promise (Vampire Academy #4), though. While there, Rose and Dimitri are called upon to rid the area of a nasty strigoi. 

Honestly, it doesn't get much better than this. The way that Rose and Dimitri are together now that they're officially together is just so satisfying and sigh-inducing. They still bicker and snark at each other. Rose jokes around with him. Dimitri chastises her. It's them and yet... it's not. In addition to what we've come to expect, Dimitri is tender and romantic. There's talk of marriage and forever stuff. There's concern for each others' safety. It's exactly how I pictured they would be together once they really got used to being in a relationship. 

And, of course there's some kick ass action. Rose and Dimitri have always fought well together, perfectly complementing each others' moves. It was like a bit of nostalgia reading about them battling a bad guy together again. They're joined by Mark, who Rose met in Blood Promise, and is also a former Guardian. 

If you are a Vampire Academy fan, you really need to read this novella. It won't take you long, but the payoff is totally worth it. Now, we all need to ban together and convince Richelle to write about a certain wedding...