Monday, April 24, 2017

Blog Tour: Incense and Peppermints by Cathrina Constantine @cathconstantine


Incense and Peppermints
Cathrina Constantine
Publication date: March 10th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Peace demonstrations, sit-ins, and burning the U.S. flag following the escalation of the Vietnam War are leading to a catalyst known to the world as the Sixties, and a musical revolution, flower power, hippies, marijuana, and drugs are carrying the generations—young and old—into a new decade. All the while sixteen-year-old Mary Monroe is caught between being an innocent good girl and an autumn of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.
When her brother offers a solution to her dilemma in the form of a little pill, Mary ignores the rumba in her brain and takes a walk on the wild side. Plunged into popularity and a life she’s only imagined, she meets Michael Covington, the hot newcomer, and she’s instantly drawn in by his less than flawless exterior and bad boy sex appeal. Caught up in the danger and excitement as they drift from party to party, into underground fight clubs, and through a series of drug and alcohol fueled adventures, Mary follows her new crush into a world where young girls are never truly safe from the predators lurking in the shadows and young men are hiding from the harsh reality of war.
Feeling buzzed and as if her life is spinning out of control, Mary is assaulted by an unknown man at a party, and she’s left questioning if the enigmatic Michael is truly her hero or if he is the face behind the terrible attack. With every piece of information Mary learns about Michael, her doubts grow deeper, but with every minute she spends in his presence, so does her love.
With the war and her fear threatening to separate Mary and Michael forever, only the death of a friend, a crushing confession, and her own sensibilities can carry her over the threshold between adolescence and adulthood.

Excerpt:
“My name is Mary.”
Perceptive eyes smiled at me beneath a layer of lashes.
“Not Bambi.” My disloyal vocal chords warbled.
A breeze ruffled his ebony hair, making him appear like a model posing for Seventeen Magazine. His aristocratic nose led to full lips and a squared, bristly chin. He more than adequately filled out a sleeveless T-shirt detailed with the Steppenwolf band logo “Born to be Wild.” Michael lifted his arms, propping them behind his head. In doing so, he exposed a hint of a flat stomach over his beltline. I tried not to stare. No luck. The guy was visibly out of my league.
Mary…” he said, his voice buttery sweet. “You look young, like a fawn in headlights with those big eyes and freckles.”
“I’ll be sixteen next week.” Is he being rude?
“Well, then.” His mouth stretched into a charming smirk. “I guess you’re ready for just about anything. Right, Bambi?”

I wanted to slap the smirk off his gorgeous face.


Author Bio:
Cathrina Constantine is the Best Selling author of Don’t Forget To Breathe. Her book won Readers’ Favorite International Book Award for 2015 and The Literary Classics Seal of Approval and Literary Classics Gold Award. Her Paranormal Fantasy, Wickedly They Come has been awarded the 5 Star Seal from Reader’s Favorite. Tallas from her dystopian series received Literary Classics Silver Award and Literary Classics Seal of Approval.
Cathrina resides in Western New York with her husband, five children, two Labrador Retrievers and her cat, Bones. Author @chbbpublishing. Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly. When not attached to her computer, she likes to take long walks in the woods with her dogs, drink way too much coffee, and is an avid movie watcher. She loves music and doesn’t need a dance floor to shake a leg.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Book Blast: Serenade by Heather McKenzie @heather_mckenzi


Serenade
Heather McKenzie
(The Nightmusic Trilogy #1)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: April 17th 2017
Genres: Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Young Adult
Kidnapped and held hostage in the Rockies, a teenage heiress falls for her abductor while her corrupt father and devoted bodyguard fight to get her back. The discovery of true love and dark family secrets turns deadly in this epic coming of age adventure.
Kaya Lowen dreams of living like a normal eighteen-year old, but being heiress to a billion-dollar company has put her life in constant danger. Fiercely guarded by her powerful and corrupt father, she develops close bonds with those who protect her, especially Oliver – a bodyguard who has proven his devotion to her time and again. He wins her heart – until a chance encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning everything she believes in. Haunted by true love and reeling from a guilty conscience, Kaya’s world unravels when she’s kidnapped.
Held captive in a rugged wilderness fraught with raging storms, mystical caves and deadly predators, Kaya’s father scours the forest and her bodyguard fights to get her back. But, the discovery of a dark family secret makes Kaya wonder if staying in the arms of her blue-eyed abductor—a captivating stranger with dark secrets of his own – is a safer place to be. At least, that’s what her heart is telling her, her head is saying run…
An epic adventure centered on a smoldering love-triangle, Serenade sings a timeless tale of courage, self-discovery, and life-or-death love that will leave you breathless.
EXCERPT:
This was it, now or never.
I gathered every single ounce of energy I had and steadied my mind to ignore the pain in my foot and the dizziness in my head. Then, with everything I had, I turned and bolted toward the dense forest. The darkness instantly enveloped me. I could see well enough not to run into tree trunks, but branches caught me at every turn. My head felt as if it was spinning like a top, but I forced my legs to keep going. I could hear the men’s voices yelling at each other in an organized manner.
I tripped and found myself on all fours. Get up, girl. There’s nothing wrong with you—get up…
I made it a few more steps before my head connected with a blue spruce, and then I collapsed in a pathetic heap. My arms were so wobbly I could barely wipe at the gash across my forehead. My body was completely failing me. I prayed to God that the dog would just snap my neck and get it over with quickly…
Human footsteps approached. I gulped in some air and tried to push myself up, but the world tipped on its side and I fell with it. Within moments, large hands had my wrists pinned to the ground. I struggled and fought with everything I had left, which wasn’t much.
“Stop fighting,” he said.
His voice created such confusion inside me. I kicked harder.
“Stop… please,” he begged.
His body pinned mine to the ground. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes.
“Please, Kaya, trust me. I won’t let anyone hurt you, I promise.” He leaned forward and pressed his sleeve to my bleeding forehead, dabbing and inspecting it closely while I had no choice but to gaze up him. How could this beautiful man be a kidnapper? It just didn’t fit.
“It’s just a scratch; no stitches required,” he said, voice trailing off as his eyes met mine.
We stayed like that for a while: me on the ground, him kneeling over me, and our line of sight only on each other—until an unmistakable sound broke through the tree tops.
“They’ll find me,” I said softly, wondering if Oliver was in the helicopter circling over our heads.
He positioned his arms under my body, and, in one graceful motion, he picked me up and into his arms. “Just don’t run. Promise me that, please. I’ll keep you safe. You have my word. Okay?”
He held me tightly—protectively—waiting eagerly for my reply with turmoil in his blue eyes. My whole body hurt, and admittedly, I couldn’t have walked another inch. The wolves or that beast would have got to me long before Oliver would have. I was at my kidnapper’s mercy, laying helplessly in his arms and falling harder for him by the second.
“I promise,” I said.


Author Bio:
Heather McKenzie is a Canadian author and Serenade is her first novel. A professional singer/songwriter with five albums to date, she has been telling stories through music for years and pulls from her extraordinary experiences as a musician to fuel her passion for creating Young Adult fiction. A rocker at heart, a mom of three, an aspiring painter, and a lover of animals, she is kept grounded by her husband at their home in Edmonton.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Blog Tour: The Hot Shot by Kristen Callihan @Kris10Callihan @InkSlingerPR

the hot shot AN        

TheHotShot Amazon-2First we were friends. Then we were roommates. Now I want more…

What can I say about Chess Copper? The woman is capable of bringing me to my knees. I know this about five minutes after getting naked for her.

No one is more surprised than me. The prickly photographer my team hired to shoot our annual charity calendar isn’t my usual type. She’s defense to my offense, a challenge at every turn. But when I’m with her, all the regrets and darkness goes away. She makes life fun.

I want to know Chess, be close to her. Which is a bad idea.

Chess is looking for a relationship. I’ve never given a woman more than one night. But when fate leaves Chess without a home, I step up and offer her mine. We’re roommates now. Friends without benefits. But it’s getting harder to keep our hands off each other. And the longer we live together the more I realize she’s becoming my everything.

Trick is… Now that I’ve made her believe I’m a bad bet, how do I convince her to give this player a true shot at forever?

   

AMAZON | iBooks | B&N | KOBO | Paperback

Brooke's Review:
        I've been a fan of this series from the get go. I love watching all the characters grow and interact. It's great to see so many personalities come together and make a story come alive. And Callihan really gave herself so much to work with. The possibilities are endless. So when I heard this would be Finn's story I was ecstatic. The glimpses of him we had gotten were not enough for me but also only showed me the rough exterior of this guy who had so much more underneath. I'm so glad she took his story to a deeper level!

This is one you can definitely read alone. As with most of the books in this series, there is some overlap, mostly with characters. But for this one, you really just get Chess and Finn's story (which is happening at the same time as Dex's story). 

The introduction really starts with a bang. Callihan goes no holds barred with how she introduces Finn and Chess. It's full on, in your face, "here we are," attraction. And I love this because to both characters it's completely unexpected. I adore when characters are not looking for things that get thrown right in their face. Yes, build up is nice, and this book has that, don't get me wrong, but Callihan makes it clear from the beginning that physical attraction is definitely a key player. And there's nothing wrong with that. After all, you have to be attracted to the one you love, even if unexpected!

Chess is an amazing character. She's gruff and bold. She has no problem holding back who she is, at least when it comes to her work. In love, on the other hand, she's got some issues. No shocker there as most characters in these types of stories have some kind of secret that needs to come out at some point. And hers is a big one that takes a while to be revealed.

Finn, oh Finn. I think he might actually turn out to be my favorite character in this series. I wasn't planning that at all. I really thought he was going to be this big headed jerk. I wasn't expecting this big, tender, gentle, giant. Callihan really knows how to show a different interior from what you see outside, believe me! Emotionally, he's so well put together, I was surprised. Even with his background and the one big hurdle he's had to endure, he's so amazing. He knows exactly how to get under Chess's skin and he knows exactly how to make her feel special. He does it without thought for the most part, it's just who he is. Momma raised him right!

Of course there's tons of funny scenes in the book that keep you laughing. Finn's interactions with his teammates are no different from what you've seen in the past books of this series. These guys are the best of friends and have such brotherly love you know they would do anything for each other. His assistant, Charles, is great, and a bit unexpected. When you read the description of the guy and find out a bit about him, it's surprising, and kind of fun! And Chess's best friend James, he is another amazing addition to this story. He's fun and funny and totally quirky. At first, I wasn't sure what to make of him, but then I let him just be in my mind and he was absolutely perfect as her side kick. I want him for my own!

Overall this book was a total hit for me. Am I sad this series has come to an end? Oh yes! There are so many characters that need their stories told (though Callihan has promised a spin off which I'm sure won't disappoint). If you've had fun with any books in this series, you'll certainly enjoy this one just as much. The story, the pace, the laughter, the tears, they are all worth the read! Thank you for providing me with this book to read and give an honest review!

CHESS

  Grumbling, I toss on some black lounge pants and my oversized Tulane t-shirt and head to the drugstore. My head throbs by the time I get there, and my insides are writhing. I rest my hand against my lower stomach and grab a basket before calling James to complain. “I swear,” I tell him as I grab a bottle of painkillers. “It’s like this entire day has been cursed.” He snickers. “Curse. Get it? Curse?” I roll my eyes, even though he can’t see me. “Laugh it up. Meanwhile, it feels as if someone is playing Battleship in my uterus.” “Poor Chessie bear. At least we know why you were in such a foul mood.” A flush washes over my cheeks. “Yeah.” Lie. Lie. Lie. A tub of salted caramel gelato makes its way into the basket. “Tell me you’re getting some gelato,” James says. I smile. “Just grabbed it.” “Salted caramel?” “You know it.” I find the feminine products aisle and search for my brand. “I’m going to go home, take a long bath with my gelato, and forget this fucking day.” Forget Finn. “And then I’m going to go on Amazon and buying a freaking year’s supply of tampons so I don’t have to make these kinds of emergency runs anymore.” A low, deep chuckle rumbles from behind me, and all the tiny hairs lift on my arms. “But you’ll still need your gelato,” a familiar—fuck me, seriously?—voice points out. My insides swoop even as my cheeks burn. “Who is that?” James asks in my ear. I slowly turn on one heel. “The plague,” I say, glaring up at Finn Mannus’s smiling face. “From asshat to plague.” Finn scrunches up his brow. “I’m not sure if that’s a step down or a tie.” “Who is that?” James nearly yells now. I don’t take my eyes off Finn. “I’ll call you back.” James’s squawks of protest cut off as I hit the end button. “Are you stalking me, Mannus?” Finn a rests his hands low on his lean hips. “Having a healthy amount of conceit myself, I have to admire yours, but no, buttercup. My buddy Woodson lives a few blocks away. It’s poker night. I’m stocking up on beer.” It’s only then I notice a twelve pack tucked under his other arm. “And tampons?” I ask, with a pointed look around the aisle we’re standing in. “Not tonight,” he says easily. “Though we used to keep a pack of them back in college. Light flows were perfect for stopping up bloody noses.” A snort escapes me. “Now there’s a visual.” Somehow, I’ve taken a step closer to him. He’s freshly showered, the golden brown strands of his hair still damp at his temples. And I wonder if he’s just come from the gym or practice. “So back in college you went and bought these tampons?” “Nah,” he says with a cheeky smile. “I’d ask one of the girls hanging around to get me some.” “Of course you did.” My nose wrinkles with annoyance. “Give me a little credit, Chess. I’d buy them now if I had to.” “Hmm…” I eye him, trying not to return his smile. If only because it’s more fun when he teases. “So why are you in this aisle now, if not for potential nosebleed needs?” “That’s easy.” He steps closer, a warm wall of muscle and clean scent. “I heard your voice.” For a second I just blink. “You recognized my voice?” His gaze darts over my face as if he’s trying to get a read on why I’m gaping at him. “Not to be…ah…rude, but you’re loud when you talk on the phone.” “Yeah, but… You recognized it.” We’d only just met. It occurs to me that I’d recognized his both times he’d snuck up on me. Then again, his voice is distinctive, flowing like hot honey when he’s relaxed or hammering down like iron to rock when he’s taking command of a situation. A soft flush of pink tints the tips of his ears. If I wasn’t staring at him, I might have missed it. He shifts his weight. “Was I not supposed to?” “No. Yes.” I shake my head and laugh. “I don’t know.” He grins then. “You’re cute when you’re flustered.” “I’m not flustered.” I am. 
        THS1 
  
KCauthorKristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewer’s Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book FIRELIGHT received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal , best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.

WEBSITE / FACEBOOK / TWITTER / AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Book Blast: Forgotten by Kristin Smith @SwordsStilettos


Forgotten
Kristin Smith
(The Deception Game #2)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: April 25th 2017
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
The epic tale of Sienna Preston continues in this second installment of the exhilarating Deception Game series.
Seventeen-year-old Sienna is no stranger to heartache and loss. But this time, it’s different; someone―or something―has tampered with a loved one’s memories, and she’s determined to get answers.
The trail leads her to the glittering skyscrapers and modern luxuries of Rubex, the Capital of Pacifica, where she infiltrates the government’s Agency for Intelligence and Genetics. But answers are not always easy to come by, especially when her own memories may have been altered. Luckily, Zane Ryder is there to help her put the pieces back together, his devotion and concern muddying the waters between friendship and something more.
When Sienna gets too close to uncovering dark Agency secrets, she’s framed for the murder of a prominent government official, sending her on the run. Sienna’s heart may be torn about who she loves, but none of that really matters anymore―because the only thing that awaits her now is a death sentence.
Grab book 1 for only 99¢!
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo
EXCERPT:
“How do you know so much about motorcycles? Did your dad ride?”
She laughs outright at my question. “My dad on a motorcycle? No way. Dad was a mixture of leather, coffee, and books. Not oil, sweat, and grease.”
After lying down on her back, she scoots up next to the bike, checking the rims and spokes to make sure there’s no damage. “It kind of became a hobby of mine after my dad died. Do you know the junkyard off Chantilly? Never mind, of course you don’t. Anyway, I found Harley there when I was looking for some old furniture to decorate our trailer with.” She looks up at me. “We didn’t always live in a trailer, you know.”
I try to hide my surprise. I assumed the opposite. “What happened?”
“After Dad died, Mom became sick. We couldn’t afford to live in our house in the suburbs anymore, so we sold it and everything in it, and found the trailer on the outskirts of town. That’s when I dropped out of school and started taking on odd jobs.”
She says it all with such a matter-of-fact tone, but I sense the truth. It was hard for her. It was more than any teenage girl should have to deal with. But she’s too strong to admit it.
“I don’t know how you did it,” I say.
She sits up, wiping her hands on her shorts. Unconsciously, I find my eyes shifting to her bare legs.
“I didn’t have a choice,” she says. She rises to her feet, straddles the bike, and bounces up and down a little. I can only assume she’s checking the chassis to make sure everything is working properly.
“Anyway,” she says. “When I found Harley, I took her home, researched antique motorcycles, and fixed her up. There’s a shop near the Hollow that sells parts, so that’s where I headed after I got my first paycheck.” She pats her bike fondly. “Never regretted it.”
I watch as she turns the key and the engine roars to life, bringing a brilliant smile to her face. I want to tell her all the ways I think she’s amazing, how she’s unlike any girl I’ve ever met, how I find her beautiful, resourceful, intelligent, and intriguing, but she doesn’t want to hear those things. Not from me anyway.


Author Bio:
Kristin Smith writes young adult contemporary and science fiction novels. When she’s not writing, you can find her dreaming about the beach, beating her boys at Just Dance, or belting out karaoke (from the comfort of her own home). Kristin currently resides in the middle-of-nowhere North Carolina with her husband and five incredibly loud but extremely cute boys. To read more about her obsession with YA novels or her addiction to chocolate, you can visit her at kristinsmithbooks.com.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Blog Tour: Meg & Linus by Hanna Nowinski @lang_witch


Meg & Linus
Hanna Nowinski
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: April 18th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Young Adult
Can friendship, Star Trek, drama club, and a whole lot of coffee get two nerdy best friends through the beginning of their senior year of high school?
Meg and Linus are best friends bound by a shared love of school, a coffee obsession, and being queer. It’s not always easy to be the nerdy lesbian or gay kid in a suburban town. But they have each other. And a few Star Trek boxed sets. They’re pretty happy.
But then Sophia, Meg’s longtime girlfriend, breaks up with Meg. Linus starts tutoring the totally dreamy new kid, Danny—and Meg thinks setting them up is the perfect project to distract herself from her own heartbreak. But Linus isn’t so sure Danny even likes guys, and maybe Sophia isn’t quite as out of the picture as Meg thought she was. . . .
From crowdsourced young adult imprint Swoon Reads comes Meg & Linus by Hanna Nowinski, a fun friendship story about two quirky teens who must learn to get out of their comfort zones and take risks—even if that means joining the drama club, making new friends, and learning how to stand on your own.

Your trapped in an episode of Star Trek, which one is it and why? what character are you? Would you do anything differently?

One of my favorite episodes is the first episode of Voyager. The ship is flung across the galaxy into the Delta Quadrant, facing a 75-year journey home. They find this array which they determine has caused the displacement wave, and it should also be able to get them home again. However, the Caretaker, the single life form on the array, can’t help them because he’s running out of time – he’s dying. His actions had caused irreparable damage to a planet a long time ago and he’s used the array to protect the inhabitants of that planet ever since. Before his death, he needs to make sure to supply them with everything they need in the future, and then he has to destroy the array so it can’t fall into the hands of the planet’s enemy and be used against them. 

Just before his death, the self-destruct is damaged and Captain Janeway is now faced with an impossible choice: to use the array to send her ship home and let the planet’s enemies get a hold of the technology, or to destroy it and leave her crew stranded, facing a decades-long journey home.

Janeway decides to destroy the array, which is the only thing that could ever happen on Star Trek, of course. But also true to Star Trek, the episode focuses more on the crew members and their lives than on special effects and heroics. You get to know each and every one of them and you get to understand and feel what it is they’re giving up by making that choice. You learn about their families. Their children and partners back home, who they will most likely never see again. It’s deeply personal, and while choosing to protect an innocent species over finding a way home is undeniably the right choice, it’s also heartbreaking to watch.

However, I’d trap myself in this episode because you also get to see the building of a new community, the very start of a new family. There’s conflict among the crew, but there’s also the sense of belonging to something bigger, and of friendship and support.

I hope I wouldn’t do anything differently. Captain Janeway is always an inspiration to me, but in this episode, torn between her obligation to her crew and her obligation as a person to cause no harm to anyone, she is amazing. This episode, in my opinion, emphasizes the point that you can’t find your own happiness at the expense of another’s. Which is one of the central messages of Star Trek in general. But I really hope that if I were in her shoes, I’d be as strong as Captain Janeway.


Author Bio:
Hanna Nowinski is a language enthusiast and trained translator for German and English who lives in the middle of nowhere, Germany. She has wanted to be a writer since she learned that books were made by real people. As a kid, she made up her own bedtime stories, mostly sending her stuffed animals on adventures around the world. She loves books, music, coffee, and getting way too emotionally invested in TV shows. Meg & Linus is her debut novel.

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Blog Tour: Legacy of the Mind by H.R. Moore @hr_moore


Lux and Legacy of the Mind
H.R. Moore
(The Legacy Trilogy #1)
Publication date: January 2nd 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Anita has never been ordinary, she’s stuck out like a sore thumb her entire life; not only can she see the energy of others, a rare skill, but she’s won every Body challenge she’s ever entered. So when the powerful, good looking Descendants, Marcus and Alexander, mysteriously arrive in Empire, her difference attracts and keeps their attention.
Once in Empire, the sudden death of ruling Body Descendant, Christiana, sets in motion a number of events; a quest for the treacherous Austin to find the girl Christiana had been looking for; a challenge where Anita stands out more vibrantly than ever before; a perilous dip in the world’s energy; and a dangerous belief among the people that they will never truly be free. Powerful factions soon form within the ruling elite and when a trusted friend and mentor reaches out to ask for Anita’s help, she has to make a choice; help her friend and betray the one she loves, or do nothing and watch the people starve.

1. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you want to be something else? 
I’ve always been a big reader and have always loved writing, but I never thought about it seriously as a career option, I’m not sure why, maybe because English was never my favourite subject at school.
Like a lot of people, I’m not sure I’ve ever had a clear idea about what I want to be, but somehow ended up as a Project Manager.  To be good at this, you have to be organized, good at making things happen, and disciplined, which are all helpful traits in an author too, so maybe my subconscious was preparing me for what it really wanted to do all along!
2. How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
About a year, but I think I could do it more quickly if I had more of a deadline.  The problem with self-publishing is that it’s only you (and your readers) you have to answer to, so there’s no scary authority pushing you and no hard deadline looming ahead.
3. How do you come up with themes for your stories?
I take a lot of inspiration from the world around us.  For The Legacy Trilogy, there are a lot of parallels with our world, such as the obsession with celebrity and royalty, fighting over natural resources, depleting energy supplies, and lies and corruption within those who lead us.  Aside from that, there always needs to be a bit of fantasy and a good dose of romance!
4. Do you have a schedule of when you write? 
I don’t have a set schedule, but I have a toddler, so I have to work around her.  As a result, I only have her afternoon nap time to write in (or sometimes I write in the evening if I’m feeling particularly disciplined or if my husband is away).  Nap time is variable, but generally it’s about an hour and a half or two hours.  This is great for focus, as I know if I don’t write then, then I won’t write at all that day, so it really helps make me get stuff done.
5. How are you able to balance other aspects of your life with your writing?
It’s really tricky.  As I mentioned above, I’ve got a toddler, and up until recently had a part time job with a long commute to London (the kind where you have to stand up, packed in like sardines – I tried to write on the train a couple of times but it just doesn’t work for me – hats off to EL James who did this all the time!).
I think it’s just about being determined and being really careful to prioritize stuff.  For example, I always try to make sure I’m at home for nap time as this is the only time I can write.  This might mean bailing on a play date early, or arranging my day differently to how I’d like to, but it’s the only way to get the writing done.  That said, I don’t write in the evenings as I want to spend time with my family, so again, it’s all just a case of priorities.  Although, I’m about to have another baby, so I have no idea what will happen then!
6. What elements do you think make a great story line? 
A fast pace, genuine intrigue, cliff hangers, romance, something a bit fantastical (or at least a bit different to normal, everyday life), and people having to do things they’re not really comfortable with.
7. What was the hardest thing about writing a book?
Putting it out into the world once it was finished.  To begin with, I felt a bit ridiculous and was really nervous to tell anyone that I’d written a book, including my husband.  I was embarrassed in case it was rubbish, and was terrified about how the rest of the world would judge it.  Luckily I’ve had a great reception, but it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
8. How many books have you written so far? Do you have a favorite? 
I’ve written three so far, the three books in The Legacy Trilogy.  I don’t think I have a favourite.  I like them all for different reasons and they all mark different stages in the plot and characters’ development.
9. Do you have a favorite character?
I don’t think so.  All my characters are purposely flawed in some way, to make them more human, which means there’s something I do and don’t like about them all.  Although, having said that, I think Bas is underrated – he’s pretty great.
10. Where do you write?  
On the sofa or in bed.  I just don’t seem to be able to write at a desk.  When I was at school, I would do all my homework on my bed or on the floor.  When I was at University I would write essays in bed, under the covers (partly because it was so freezing cold in Scotland and we couldn’t afford to have the heating on!).  And now I write my books on the sofa.  Maybe I need the comfy environment to get my creativity going…
11. When deciding on how to publish, what directed you to the route you took? 
I really didn’t know anything about the publishing industry before I wrote my first book and was very na├»ve.  I had the terrible preconception (as I’m sure lots of people do) that self-publishing was only for people who couldn’t get a ‘proper’ publishing deal.  When I looked into it, I realized how wrong this was.
I think the thing that really pushed me to self-publish was the amount of time it takes to both get a traditional publishing contract (if indeed this ever happens), and the creative control you lose down this route.  Self-publishing, on the other hand, you can put your book out there as soon as you think it’s ready, without having to make wholesale changes to your storyline and characters because your publisher has told you this is what you have to do.
Having said that, I think both routes have pros and cons, and the support and publicity offered by an agent and publisher is, I’m sure, invaluable, so it really just depends what’s most important to the author at the time they want to publish.
12. Have you gotten feedback from family about your book(s)? What do they think?
My younger sister has been amazingly supportive the whole way along.  She’s great for bouncing ideas, discussing plot lines, and giving positive feedback, which is really helpful if you’re an insecure author.  I think she’s my biggest fan!  My older sister enjoyed the books too, but doesn’t really read this genre.  This means she gives more critical and objective feedback, which is priceless.
Other than that, I was surprised to see that my Aunt left a really nice review on Amazon saying how much she enjoyed it, so that was a nice surprise too! 
13. What kinds of things do you like to do outside of writing?
Horse riding, walking, gardening (especially growing vegetables), cooking (and eating!), cycling and spending time with my family.
14. What kinds of advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing? 
Stop putting it off and just give it a go – what have you got to lose?  And make a plan so you know where your story is going.
15. What is your favorite book? favorite author? Do you have an author that inspired/inspires you to write? 
I don’t have an absolute favourite.  Maybe Game of Thrones at the moment because the books are just so brilliant at keeping the reader turning the pages.
I love JK Rowling’s story and I think she’s inspired a lot of people to get writing.  It’s also so refreshing how open she’s been about the rejection she faced from the publishing industry.
16. Do you have any go to people when writing a book that help you with your story lines as well as editing, beta reading and such? 
I discuss it with friends who have read the books and with my sisters.  I don’t like to go too wide as I think sometimes too many opinions can make things more cloudy, but it’s definitely important to get a solid external view.
17. Are you working on anything now? 
Now I’ve finished The Legacy Trilogy, I’m starting to work on a new and totally different idea set in our world but slightly in the future.  There’s so much change coming our way in the next couple of decades, I think it will be a fascinating time.  But with the new baby, I’m not putting any pressure on myself in terms of timelines!
18. Tell us 5 things that make you smile
My daughter, Spring, food, exhilarating sports, great songs.
19. Tell us 5 things that make you sad
The way the media portrays politics and politicians, photo shopping models, celebrity obsession, ridiculous dieting, people who are unwilling to accept change.
20. If you could travel anywhere in the world to visit a place so you could use it as a background for a book, where would it be?
That’s a really hard one as I’ve found the best places for book backgrounds have been ones I didn’t necessarily expect to provide the best inspiration, so, by that measure, it would probably be somewhere seemingly terrible!  But I’d love to go somewhere like Scandinavia, or Iceland, as the scenery is amazing, I have images of staying in treetop hotels, and there’s a chance of seeing the Northern Lights.

Thanks so much for being here today, Harriet!


Author Bio:
Harriet was born in Germany in 1987, the family returning to the UK, to Dorset shortly afterwards. She lived there until she was 5, her grandfather teaching her the basics of cheating at cards and swindling chocolate, her mother starting to instil a (some would argue) unhealthy relationship with cake, and the neighbours demonstrating that some people don’t understand cherry blossom is there to be picked, mixed with mint and water and sold as perfume.
Then there was Scotland; stealthy guinea pig breeding, riding horses, advanced cards, more cake, then to Devon and school in Exeter. She loved maths in the early years, but by the time she got to A Level, Sociology was her favourite subject, opening her eyes to things she’d never before considered, namely, nobody is really right, nobody is really normal and primary socialisation has a lot to answer for.
At the age of about 12, Harriet started rowing for Exeter Rowing Club. This quickly took over her life and before too long she was clad in lycra, training 6 days a week and competing at events around the country.
After finishing her A Levels, Harriet went to university in St Andrews, studying Philosophy for two years, then switching to Management. She was particularly interested in the ‘people’ elements of her course and especially the areas concerning how people create and react to change. After four very civilised years by the sea, she ventured to London, to foray into the strange world of insurance (surprisingly, more interesting than you might think), where she currently works as a Project Manager.
Harriet has recently moved to Hertfordshire with her husband Chris and baby Atia. When she isn’t doing DIY, writing, editing, eating, taking photos, or imagining how much better life would be with the addition of a springer spaniel, she occasionally finds the time to make hats.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Book Blast: Dating the It Guy by Krysten Lindsay Hager @KrystenLindsay


Dating the It Guy
Krysten Lindsay Hager
Publication date: March 21st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Emme is a sophomore in high school who starts dating, Brendon Agretti, the popular senior who happens to be a senator’s son and well-known for his good looks. Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon’s world and it doesn’t help that his picture perfect ex, Lauren, seems determined to get back into his life, along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti. Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend cheated on her and her whole world is off kilter with her family issues. Life suddenly seems easier keeping Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her. Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses. Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work? Life sure is complicated when you’re dating the it guy.
EXCERPT:
“By the way, did you hear Lauren got into Senator Agretti’s old school?”
“Seriously? I wonder if she applied there because Brendon did,” I said.
Margaux snorted. “Duh, of course. Seriously, she might as well just pee on him to mark her territory.”
“Margaux, shut up,” Kylie said.
“Whatever. Anyway, the important thing is if Brendon knew she was applying there,” Margaux said. “Em, do you think he knew?”
I hoped Lauren was just trying to follow Brendon, but what if they had planned this whole thing while they were dating? What if he convinced her to apply there so they could go to college together, wear matching American flag sweaters with big scarves while drinking hot chocolate, and jump into leaf piles just like a preppy clothing catalog. At least now I didn’t have to worry about them reciting poetry to one another in South Bend, but still, what if they had made plans to go to school together?
“Don’t worry about it,” Kylie said. “She was probably trying to follow him—like she always does. She’s so pathetic.”
Kylie was trying to make me feel better, but Lauren was far from pathetic. After all, she was pretty much the “Most Likely to Succeed” poster girl. While she was out overachieving and saving the world without messing up her perfect, bouncy hair, I was trying to get through each day. I tried to push away the image of Lauren and Brendon holding hands and drinking hot chocolate under a stadium blanket.


Author Bio:
Besides mining her teen years and humiliating moments for her novels, Krysten is also a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. Krysten writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends...Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, and Competing with the Star (The Star Series: Book 2). Her debut novel, True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book. Krysten's work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times and on Living Dayton.

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Excerpt Release: Bang by Barry Lyga


 photo cover102706-small_zpspkurmkcw.pngAbout the book

A chunk of old memory, adrift in a pool of blood.

Sebastian Cody did something horrible, something no one--not even Sebastian himself--can forgive. At the age of four, he accidentally shot and killed his infant sister with his father's gun.

Now, ten years later, Sebastian has lived with the guilt and horror for his entire life. With his best friend away for the summer, Sebastian has only a new friend--Aneesa--to distract him from his darkest thoughts. But even this relationship cannot blunt the pain of his past. Because Sebastian knows exactly how to rectify his childhood crime and sanctify his past. It took a gun to get him into this.

Now he needs a gun to get out.

Unflinching and honest, Bang is the story of one boy and one moment in time that cannot be reclaimed, as true and as relevant as tomorrow's headlines. Readers of This is Where It EndsThe Hate List, and Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock will appreciate this extraordinary novel.

''Heartbreaking and brutally compelling.'' --Kirkus Reviews, starred review

''[A] raw exploration of persistent social stigmas, a beautiful study of forgiveness, and an unflinching portrait of a parent's worst nightmare.'' -Publishers Weekly, starred review

''Lyga tackles a number of relevant issues in this heartbreaking novel, including gun control, suicide, and religious and racial prejudice. The pain and anguish Sebastian feels every day are raw and chafing, and the chemistry between Sebastian and Aneesa is tender and realistic.'' -School Library Journal, starred review

''Lyga manages his intensely emotional material well, creating in Sebastian a highly empathetic character....'' -Booklist

Excerpt:
Aneesa has snatched one of her own marshmallows and tucked it between her lips. Her mouth is comically distended around the whitish-brown plug of sugar and her throat works for a moment. Then, slowly, the marshmallow splits down the middle and melted goo plops onto the grass at her feet. Her tongue, coated in marshmallow, wags for a moment. 

She inhales the remains and laughs in good-natured frustration. “I thought that was going to look cool!” 

“It looked way cool,” I deadpan. 

“I don’t know what I expected.” 

“So, what did your mom whisper to you?”

Aneesa rolls her eyes. “She said, ‘Remember that we trust you.’ Which is totally some passive-aggressive parenting tactic they learned on the Internet. Please.” 

Trust. Does that mean they think there’s a chance— Just then, the first firework splits the sky to the east, just above the tree line. It’s red and white, tracers falling out of the night sky like the despondent branches of a weeping willow. 

Aneesa oohs, and an instant later, the bang comes, the explosion of the cannon that launched the firework. She startles. 

“Light moves faster than sound,” I tell her. “We’re just barely far enough away that you can see the colors before you hear the noise.” 

“It’s like watching a badly dubbed movie.” She chuckles. 

“I’m sorry. I could get my mom to take us to—” 

“I like badly dubbed movies, you idiot.” She pops her other marshmallow in her mouth and scampers up the wooden stairs to the deck. “Come on!” 

There’s a lounger and an old beach chair on the deck. Aneesa drags them next to each other and, still chewing her marshmallow, slips onto the lounger. She fiddles with her phone and soon the 1812 Overture is playing. I settle into the chair, and we stare up and out together. 

“Did you know he hated this piece?” she asks. 

“Who, Tchaikovsky?” 

“Yeah. He thought it was just a lot of noise and no art.”

“That’s crazy.” 

“We played it in band at my old school.” She grins. “Is it terminally geeky if I tell you I play a mean oboe?” 

“Don’t they have a vaccine for that yet?” 

“They should. All of those old, classical composers . . . Honestly, I can’t stand them.” 

“Then why play this?” 

“Because I have to admit—it just doesn’t seem like fireworks without it.” 

I mull that over for a moment. “Why the oboe, then?” I’ve never heard an oboe without one of those old, classical composers

“Because the oboe is awesome.” 

“I’ll take your word for it.” 

On overcast Fourths, all you can see of the fireworks is their pulsing glow behind the scrim of clouds with undersides gone briefly red, blue, green, and yellow in staccato bursts. But this is a clear night, and we have perfect seats to a panoply of rings and fish and spiders and peonies and all the rest, the whole gamut of fireworks in scarlet and sapphire and brilliant silver and dazzling gold. With Tchaikovsky pulsating from Aneesa’s phone, we don’t even notice the mismatched cannon blasts from a mile away. It’s a private concert, a private light show, and my hand is achingly close to hers, resting on the arm of the chair, a gap of inches separating us. 

It’s the sort of time when a boy kisses a girl, I suppose. 

Not that Independence Day is a romantic holiday, but there is something about a warm night, a clear sky, a full belly, and the sweet burnt smell of sugar. And maybe it’s cool to touch her hand now, at least. She helped me up; she bandaged my knee. Maybe that much is all right. 

And it might be. I don’t know, but it might be. 

But with the night sky alight with pop and crimson, I can only swallow hard, the taste of charred marshmallow skin still on my tongue, and the overture builds to the part where the cannons come in. 

Bang, they say. 

Bang. And bang. And bang. 

I pull my hand into my lap, lest my acid touch sear her. 

Bang. 

Guns. Big guns. 

Yes, I’ve fired one once. Yes, I’ll do it again. But maybe. 

I look over at Aneesa. 

Maybe not just yet. 

Maybe not right away.

I don’t touch her. Not until it’s time for me to leave and we fist-bump our farewell, she lightly tapping my knuckles with hers after a moment’s pause. 

On the walk home, I think, I can do this. I think I can do this. I think I can make it through the summer. One last summer. That’s not so bad, right? 

In bed, the voice says nothing, but its silence tells me everything.

Excerpted from BANG © Copyright 2017 by Barry Lyga. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Pre-order a copy of BANG

 photo Barry Lyga Devon John Photography_zpsjm2h2tth.jpgAbout the author
Called a “YA rebel-author” by Kirkus ReviewsBarry Lyga has published seventeen novels in various genres in his eleven-year career, including the New York Times bestselling I Hunt Killers. His books have been or are slated to be published in more than a dozen different languages in North America, Australia, Europe, and Asia.

After graduating from Yale with a degree in English, Lyga worked in the comic book industry before quitting to pursue his lifelong love of writing. In 2006, his first young adult novel, The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, was published to rave reviews, including starred reviews from Booklist and School Library Journal. Publishers Weekly named Lyga a “Flying Start” in December 2006 on the strength of the debut.

His second young adult novel, Boy Toy, received starred reviews in SLJPublishers Weekly, and KirkusVOYA gave it its highest critical rating, and the Chicago Tribune called it “…an astounding portrayal of what it is like to be the young male victim.” His third novel, Hero-Type, according to VOYA “proves that there are still fresh ideas and new, interesting story lines to be explored in young adult literature.”

Since then, he has also written Goth Girl Rising (the sequel to his first novel), as well as the Archvillain series for middle-grade readers and the graphic novel Mangaman (with art by Colleen Doran).

His latest series is I Hunt Killers, called by the LA Times “one of the more daring concepts in recent years by a young-adult author” and an “extreme and utterly alluring narrative about nature versus nurture.” The first book landed on both the New York Times and USA Today bestsellers lists.

Lyga lives and podcasts near New York City with his wife, Morgan Baden, and their nigh-omnipotent daughter. His comic book collection is a lot smaller than it used to be, but is still way too big.
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