Friday, March 31, 2017

A Ring of Truth by Michelle Cox

A Ring of Truth
by Michelle Cox

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads
Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter

Release date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: She Writes Press
Genre: Historical, Mystery
Paperback: 320 pages
Rating: 5

Henrietta and Inspector Clive series:
A Girl Like You
A Ring of Truth

First sentence(s):
Henrietta shifted uncomfortably as she stood next to Clive outside the massive oak double doors of the Howard family home—Highbury, he called it—in Winnetka.

In this second book of the series, Henrietta and Clive delightfully rewrite Pride and Prejudice―with a hint of mystery!

Newly engaged, Clive and Henrietta now begin the difficult task of meeting each other’s family. “Difficult” because Clive has neglected to tell Henrietta that he is in fact the heir to the Howard estate and fortune, and Henrietta has just discovered that her mother has been hiding secrets about her past as well. When Clive brings Henrietta to the family estate to meet his parents, they are less than enthused about his impoverished intended. Left alone in this extravagant new world when Clive returns to the city, Henrietta finds herself more at home with the servants than his family, much to the disapproval of Mrs. Howard―and soon gets caught up in the disappearance of an elderly servant’s ring, not realizing that in doing so she has become part of a bigger, darker plot.

As Clive and Henrietta attempt to discover the truth in the two very different worlds unraveling around them, they both begin to wonder: Are they meant for each other after all?


My two-bits:

Such a delightful cozy read at the get go!

The trappings of wedding preparations, family drama and classism (and of course, romance) with a mystery thrown in makes for good-time reading set in 1930s Chicago.

I got pulled into the story with the daily living aspects and details of this world.

This is the second book in a series, but works as a standalone.

~*~

* review copy courtesy of tour

* part of Cloak & Dagger Challenge (here)




Thursday, March 30, 2017

Wonder Women by Sam Maggs

Wonder Women:
25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History
by Sam Maggs
illustrated by Sophia Foster-Dimino

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads
BookExcerpt
Website
Blog
Facebook
Instagram
Tumblr
Twitter
YouTube

Published: 2016
Publisher: Quirk Books
Genre: Biography, Feminism
Hardback: 240 pages
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
Representation is important.

You may think you know women’s history pretty well. But have you ever heard of. . .

· Alice Ball, the chemist who developed an effective treatment for leprosy—only to have the credit taken by a man?
· Mary Sherman Morgan, the rocket scientist whose liquid fuel compounds blasted the first U.S. satellite into orbit?
· Huang Daopo, the inventor whose weaving technology revolutionized textile production in China—centuries before the cotton gin?

Smart women have always been able to achieve amazing things, even when the odds were stacked against them. In Wonder Women, author Sam Maggs tells the stories of the brilliant, brainy, and totally rad women in history who broke barriers as scientists, engineers, mathematicians, adventurers, and inventors. Plus, interviews with real-life women in STEM careers, an extensive bibliography, and a guide to women-centric science and technology organizations—all to show the many ways the geeky girls of today can help to build the future.

Table of Contents:
Women of Science
Women of Medicine
Women of Espionage
Women of Innovation
Women of Adventure


My two-bits:

Another wonderfully illustrated book, perfect to read during Women's History month!

Learned about a lot of women pioneers of their fields that I had never heard of which comprised most of this book.

The essays are short, but packed with enough info and details to get to know the person.

Great fodder for filmmakers (ahem).


~*~

* review copy courtesy of publisher



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Dystopia Reading Challenge

Dystopia Reading Challenge
January 1, 2017 - December 31, 2017
hosted by Corner Folds and My Soul-Called Life
(details & signup)

~*~

Because I want to finally get a move on and work on my dystopia pile, I decided to give this reading challenge a go.

I was also taken by the Bingo feature ;-)

~*~

Update schedule:
» March 16th - First Quarter Update
» June 15th - Second Quarter Update & Giveaway
» September 14th - Third Quarter Update
» December 14th - Challenge Wrap-Up & Giveaway

I will work towards earning a Recruit badge - Read and review 1-5 dystopian books.

NOTE: I plan to start this list in September.

All Our Wrong Todays
by Elan Mastai
-SciFi, Time Travel
Amazon | Goodreads | my review-coming

Battle Royale
by Koushun Takami
-Dystopia, YA, Japan
Amazon | Goodreads | my review -coming


The Book of the Unnamed Midwife
by Meg Elison
-Sci-Fi, Post Apocalyptic
Amazon | Goodreads | my review -coming


The Book of Etta
by Meg Elison
-Sci-Fi, Post Apocalyptic
Amazon | Goodreads | my review -coming

The Book of Joan
by Lidia Yuknavitch
-Dystopia
Amazon | Goodreads | my review-coming

The Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood
-Feminism, Dystopia
Amazon | Goodreads | my review-coming

The Natural Way of Things
by Charlotte Wood
-Dystopia, Feminism
Amazon | Goodreads

Oryx and Crake
by Margaret Atwood
-Dystopia
Amazon | Goodreads | my review -coming

The Year of the Flood
by Margaret Atwood
-Dystopia
Amazon | Goodreads | my review -coming

MaddAddam
by Margaret Atwood
-Dystopia
Amazon | Goodreads | my review -coming

The Vestige
by Caroline George
-Dystopia, YA
Amazon | Goodreads | my review


~*~

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Happy release: Amy's Story by Anna Lawton

Amy's Story
by Anna Lawton
-Historical, Women's Fiction
Release date: March 28, 2017
Amazon | Publisher

Amy’s Story unfolds on the background of American history, from the late 60’s up until 2011, and takes us through the timeline of how Italian-native Amy (full name, America) creates her success story.

Amy experiences love, heartbreak, friendship, obstacles, success, and more as she moves from Italy to New York City to live by her American father. Following in her father’s footsteps, Amy becomes a successful publisher. Her story intertwines with the story of Stella, her childhood friend, whose unfinished memoir she intends to publish. As Amy edits the manuscript, it is Stella’s story that readers follow as she leaves Italy with her American lover, Jim, a heartthrob who conceals his sensitive nature under a bravado façade, and goes through career achievements and setbacks, and a heartbreaking love story.

Her journey runs parallel to major American historical events―the Vietnam War, student protests and the Kent State shooting, the birth of radicalism and feminism, presidential elections and assassinations, immigration, the Watergate scandal, up to the 9/11 attack and beyond― providing an interesting commentary on the facts that influenced the development of American society over the past 40 years and brought about the current outcome.

Other minor, but captivating, characters complete the picture and sustain the action: Steve, Stella’s husband, conformist and uninspiring; Nik, a passionate and extravagant Russian intellectual; Rosa, once a maid at Amy’s grandmother’s country estate and now married to the owner of a New York pizzeria; and others.

Stella's memoir never gets published, because Amy transforms it into a very successful novel.
This twist will have readers reimagining the entire story and Amy and Stella’s tale will remain with them for a long time.


Excerpt: Chapter 1
New York, September 2001

“Mulberry and Canal, please.”

The cabbie looks at her in the rearview mirror while the car pulls off into the Broadway traffic.

“Are you a tourist?”

“No, I’m a New Yorker.”

“But you were not born in New York?”

This puts her off. This really puts her off. Thirty plus years in this country and they still pick up traces of her Italian accent.

Traces, mind you. It’s practically all gone.

“Were you?” she asks, staring at the prayer beads dangling from the mirror. There is a note of irritation in her voice. The mirror sends back to her the liquid gaze of two dark eyes, now slightly sweetened with the hint of a smile.

“None of my business, miss. Just trying to make conversation.”

Okay, he wants to be friendly. Let’s be friendly.

“So, where are you from?”

“Afghanistan.”

Image association. Amy sees flashes of Soviet tanks roaming the country, ambushes on mountain passes, destroyed cities and villages—the footage she used to see in the news twenty years ago. Then, she recalls recent humanitarian appeals for women executed in sport fields, their burkas looking like the hoods of witches burnt at the stake in medieval times.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Rise of Miss Notley by Rachael Anderson

The Rise of Miss Notley
by Rachael Anderson

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads
BookExcerpt
Website
Facebook
Twitter

Just released: February 2, 2017
Publisher: HEA Publishing
Genre: Historical, Romance (clean)
Paperback: 270 pages
Rating: 5

Tanglewood series:
The Fall of Lord Drayson
The Rise of Miss Notley
The Splash of Lady Harriett - release date: August 7, 2017

First sentence(s):
Miss Coralynn Notley stood on the steps of Langtry Park, directing a pleading glance at the stately butler.

When Miss Coralynn Notley’s father barters her off to the first titled gentleman to come along, she realizes she must flee her home or be forced to wed a despicable man. Driven by desperation, she applies for the position of housekeeper at Tanglewood Manor, the home of the handsome Mr. Jonathan Ludlow. The moment Jonathan sees Miss Notley, he is intrigued. She is far too young and inexperienced, yet there is something about her that that inspires a certain hope within him. Does he dare offer her the position of housekeeper or will doing so result in catastrophe?

My two-bits:

The setting and cast of characters does well in telling the tale of a (clean) romance during the regency period. Got a sense of the fashion and daily living which created a cozy ambiance to spend time in.

There was a good dose of classism and social etiquette of the time presented. The dilemma that young ladies of upper society must contend with of an arranged marriage is the focus. In this scenario, the protagonist, Cora, opts to do otherwise. We get to see how that goes.

Loved how Cora is feisty, bright, cheery and independent.

Learning about running a household as a housekeeper and some "downstairs" perspectives were entertaining to experience with Cora. However because Cora is from a wealthy upbringing, the upper class world and its restrained and difficult issues for a unmarried young woman is exposed in this story as well.

A touch of the Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice vibe comes through which is something I always enjoy.

~*~

* book tour sponsored by I Am A Reader Not A Writer



Saturday, March 25, 2017

Stacking the Shelves & Sunday Post - 3.25.17

Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews (details)
AND
Sunday Post hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer (details)

~*~

Slow reading week. But, the mailbox had some goodies.

~*~

For Review:

California
by Edan Lepucki
-Dystopia
courtesy of BookShout -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

Always and Forever, Lara Jean
(To All the Boys I've Loved Before #3)
by Jenny Han
-Romance, YA
courtesy of publisher -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

Get It Together, Delilah!
by Erin Gough
-LGBTQ, YA
courtesy of publisher -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads


UNBOXING:

From Owlcrate package (details & signup):
OwlCrate is a subscription service that sends you magical monthly boxes tailored to a chosen theme. Each OwlCrate will contain one new Young Adult novel, as well as 3-5 other bookish treats to help you get your nerd on. @owlcrate


March Box includes:
theme: Sailors, Ships & Seas
- Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
- Signed bookplate, letter and temporary tattoo from author
- Sea theme pendant necklace from The Geeky Cauldron
- Octopus notepad from Boygirlparty
- Mermaid scales washi tape from Simply Gilded
- Sea theme tea towel from Kitch Studios
- Owlcrate pin

Daughter of the Pirate King
(Daughter of the Pirate King #1)
by Tricia Levenseller
-Fantasy, Historical, Pirates, YA
Amazon | Goodreads

There will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I’ve gotten what I came for.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.



OTHER things: kinda book-related


Win a Signed Copy of Puck for Shakespeare's Birthday (April 23)!
from Twisted Lit (here)

Puck
by Kim Askew, Amy Helmes
-Retelling, Shakespeare, YA
Amazon | Goodreads

Life isn’t always fair, and no one knows that better than fifteen-year-old Puck. When she’s unceremoniously booted from yet another foster home, this city kid lands at DreamRoads, a rehabilitation wilderness camp. Her fellow juvenile delinquents include a famous pop star with a diva attitude, a geeky, “fish out of water” math whiz, and a surly gang-banger with a chip on his shoulder. The program’s steely director aims to break Puck, but she knows that every adult has a breaking point, too. Determined to defy this realm of agonizing nature hikes and soul-sucking psychobabble — even if that means manipulating four lovestruck camp counselors and the director’s dim-witted second-in-command — Puck ultimately gets much more than she bargains for in this “wondrous strange” outdoor odyssey inspired by Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."


AND watched: in theatre

Song to Song (2017)
Director/Writer: Terrence Malick
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman
-Drama, Music, Romance | imdb | my rating: 4

Two intersecting love triangles. Obsession and betrayal set against the music scene in Austin, Texas.

MUST remind myself for next time that I am not crazy about this director's style. However, it does well in taking you into the music scene in an artsy way. You will love the soundtrack if you are into this type of music. Loved the cast and all the cameos of musicians. When Ryan was at the piano I was wanting to hear him start singing City of Stars - but that is another music genre.

The Tenor (2014)
Director/Writer: Sang Man Kim
Starring: Ji-tae Yu, Yûsuke Iseya, Ye-ryeon Cha
-Biography, Drama, Music, Korea | imdb | my rating: 4

The talented Korean tenor, Bae, who penetrate the audience's hears through his delicate and powerful singing, is on the rise to stardom at the European opera scene. Sawada, a Japanese music producer, is searching for a new tenor for an upcoming performance. He watches a performance of Bae and invites him to Japan, which marks the beginning of friendship. But, the thyroid cancer strikes Bae. During an operation, the nerves of his vocal cords has be cut due to the widely spread cancer. Unfortunately, Bae ends up losing his voice at the peak of his career. Sawada cant's stand to watch Bae's miserable so he starts to look for a solution.

PART of CAAMFest 2017 (Celebrating Asian American Film, Music and Food - here)
Based on a true amazing and inspiring story. The power of the human spirit and passion (for whatever) as a driving force can create magic.

As this film was part of a film festival a special thank you recording was made for the San Francisco audience from the actual tenor, Bae Jae-chul.


AND watched: on DVD

Bad Moms (2016)
Director/Writer: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Starring: Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Bell
-Comedy | imdb | my rating: 4

When three overworked and under-appreciated moms are pushed beyond their limits, they ditch their conventional responsibilities for a jolt of long overdue freedom, fun, and comedic self-indulgence.

FUN and funny. Loved the interviews with the actresses and their moms in the Extras section.

~*~

* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

Friday, March 24, 2017

Frida Kahlo: An Illustrated Biography by Zena Alkayat

Library of Luminaries:
Frida Kahlo: An Illustrated Biography

by Zena Alkayat
illustrated by Nina Cosford

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads

Published: 2016
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Genre: Biography, Art
Hardback: 128 pages
Rating: 5

Library of Luminaries series:
Jane Austen
Coco Chanel
Frida Kahlo
Virginia Woolf

First sentence(s):
"i paint myself because i am so often alone, because i am the subject i know best." -Frida Kahlo

Step into the world of one of history's most celebrated artists and feminist icons: Frida Kahlo. This beautifully illustrated biography is full of colorful details that illuminate the woman behind the artwork, including excerpts from Kahlo's personal letters and diaries on her childhood dreams of becoming a doctor, the accident that changed the course of her life, and her love affairs with famous artists. Featuring handwritten text alongside lovely illustrations in a charming case with foil stamping and debossed details, Library of Luminaries: Frida Kahlo provides a captivating window into the vibrant life, work, and creative vision of the beloved Mexican artist.

PeekAbook:


My two-bits:

This is a gem of a book with colorful whimsical illustrations presenting Frida Kahlo's life. The text is brief and basic which was a great quick way to learn about Frida.

Not really a part of the baby book or children's genre.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

The Vegetarian
by Han Kang

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads
BookExcerpt

Published: 2016
Publisher: Hogarth
Genre: Literary
Hardback: 192 pages
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
Before my wife turned vegetarian, I'd always thought of her as completely unremarkable in every way.

A beautiful, unsettling novel about rebellion and taboo, violence and eroticism, and the twisting metamorphosis of a soul

Before the nightmares began, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary, controlled life. But the dreams—invasive images of blood and brutality—torture her, driving Yeong-hye to purge her mind and renounce eating meat altogether. It’s a small act of independence, but it interrupts her marriage and sets into motion an increasingly grotesque chain of events at home. As her husband, her brother-in-law and sister each fight to reassert their control, Yeong-hye obsessively defends the choice that’s become sacred to her. Soon their attempts turn desperate, subjecting first her mind, and then her body, to ever more intrusive and perverse violations, sending Yeong-hye spiraling into a dangerous, bizarre estrangement, not only from those closest to her, but also from herself.

Celebrated by critics around the world, The Vegetarian is a darkly allegorical, Kafka-esque tale of power, obsession, and one woman’s struggle to break free from the violence both without and within her.


My two-bits:

I found this to be a surreal read with some colorful artsy scenes and stark medical depicted images.

Themes of body image, oppression of women, dreams and freedom run throughout.

One of those books where I am not quite sure I like it but agree that it is written well.

~*~

* part of Tournament of Books 2017 (here)

* part of Korean Book Challenge (here)

* part of Book Passage Literary Prize Book Group (here)

WINNER of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • Publisher's Weekly • Buzzfeed • Entertainment Weekly • Time • Wall Street Journal • Bustle • Elle • The Economist • Slate • The Huffington Post • The St. Louis Dispatch • Electric Literature

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday - 3.22.17

Waiting on Wednesday
hosted by Breaking the Spine
Spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

~*~

I'm waiting for...

A Ring of Truth
(A Henrietta and Inspector Clive Novel, #2)
by Michelle Cox
-Historical, Mystery
Release date: April 4, 2017
Amazon | Goodreads

In this second book of the series, Henrietta and Clive delightfully rewrite Pride and Prejudice―with a hint of mystery!

Newly engaged, Clive and Henrietta now begin the difficult task of meeting each other’s family. “Difficult” because Clive has neglected to tell Henrietta that he is in fact the heir to the Howard estate and fortune, and Henrietta has just discovered that her mother has been hiding secrets about her past as well. When Clive brings Henrietta to the family estate to meet his parents, they are less than enthused about his impoverished intended. Left alone in this extravagant new world when Clive returns to the city, Henrietta finds herself more at home with the servants than his family, much to the disapproval of Mrs. Howard―and soon gets caught up in the disappearance of an elderly servant’s ring, not realizing that in doing so she has become part of a bigger, darker plot.

As Clive and Henrietta attempt to discover the truth in the two very different worlds unraveling around them, they both begin to wonder: Are they meant for each other after all?



Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Winners for March


Here are the winners for giveaways that
ended March 19, 2017

Thanks to all contestants!

~*~

Piper Perish
by Kayla Cagan
Amazon | Goodreads | Giveaway

Winner: Danielle

AND as I have two review copies, I decided to give them to the runner-up contestants:

Winner: Sophia Rose

Winner: Midnight Cowgirl


~*~

* I will email winners for mailing addresses within two weeks.
Winners, feel free to contact me with your info if you don't get my email
or if you are just too darn excited and want to let me know -- like NOW ;-D

* contest policy

* if not this time, maybe next time

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Stacking the Shelves & Sunday Post - 3.18.17

Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews (details)
AND
Sunday Post hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer (details)

~*~

Author event and Bought:


Book Passage of San Francisco hosted an author event with Mohsin Hamid to celebrate the release of his latest, Exit West, which is a timely story of immigrants. Loved the readings (more than one passage) and the Q&A was enlightening on thoughts of migration and the world of fiction vs. reality.

Exit West
by Mohsin Hamid
-Literary
Amazon | Goodreads

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through.

Exit West follows these characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.



For Review:

Fighting to Breathe
(Shooting Stars #1)
by Aurora Rose Reynolds
-New Adult, Romance
courtesy of Romance Read-of-the-Month Club -Thanks!
BarnesNoble | Goodreads


UNBOXING:


THANKS to MAD of MAD Writes (and Reads) for sending me a surprise package of goodies! A couple of these are perfect for my Foodie Read challenge ;-)

Mrs. Lee & Mrs. Gray by Dorothy Love - Amazon | Goodreads
Bread of the Dead by Ann Myers Amazon | Goodreads
Cinco de Mayhem by Ann Myers Amazon | Goodreads
Museum postcards and notebook (tea party theme)


AND watched: in theatre

Bad Rap (2016)
Director: Salima Koroma
Starring: Dumbfounded (Jonathan Park), Awkwafina (Nora Lum), Rekstizzy (David Lee), Lyricks (Richard Lee)
-Documentary | imdb | my rating: 5

Four Asian-American rappers run into tough obstacles as they try to make it big in Hip Hop, a genre rooted in black culture.

PART of CAAMFest 2017 (Celebrating Asian American Film, Music and Food - here) I was treated to a Q&A with Salima Koroma (Director), Jaeki Cho (Co-producer), Awkwafina, Rekstizzy and Lyricks after the film showing. AND there were live performances from the three rappers present.

The film did well in presenting the Asian American experience in the Hip Hop world. Unfortunately, there is a small audience for these performers and they remain unknown to the mainstream. It's films like these that help introduce these artists to the world.

Meet Awkwafina...



Current Giveaway Offers

Block & Tackle by Elise Faber, Stephanie Fournet & Kristin Vayden
(signup here)

Piper Perish by Kayla Cagan
(signup here)

~*~

* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day with Sally Rooney and Karl Geary


CELEBRATE today with Irish authors!

These two are from Dublin.

Conversations with Friends: A Novel
by Sally Rooney
-Literary
Release date: July 11, 2017
Amazon | Goodreads

A sharply intelligent novel about two college students and the strange, unexpected connection they forge with a married couple.

Frances is twenty-one years old, cool-headed, and darkly observant. A college student and aspiring writer, she devotes herself to a life of the mind--and to the beautiful and endlessly self-possessed Bobbi, her best friend and comrade-in-arms. Lovers at school, the two young women now perform spoken-word poetry together in Dublin, where a journalist named Melissa spots their potential. Drawn into Melissa's orbit, Frances is reluctantly impressed by the older woman's sophisticated home and tall, handsome husband. Private property, Frances believes, is a cultural evil--and Nick, a bored actor who never quite lived up to his potential, looks like patriarchy made flesh. But however amusing their flirtation seems at first, it gives way to a strange intimacy neither of them expect.As Frances tries to keep her life in check, her relationships increasingly resist her control: with Nick, with her difficult and unhappy father, and finally even with Bobbi. Desperate to reconcile herself to the desires and vulnerabilities of her body, Frances's intellectual certainties begin to yield to something new: a painful and disorienting way of living from moment to moment.

Written with gem-like precision and probing intelligence, Conversations With Friends is wonderfully alive to the pleasures and dangers of youth."


~*~

Montpelier Parade
by Karl Geary
Just published: January 2017
Amazon | Goodreads

The house is on Montpelier Parade: just across town, but it might as well be a different world. Working on the garden with his father one Saturday, Sonny is full of curiosity. Then the back door eases open and she comes down the path toward him. Vera.

Chance meetings become shy arrangements, and soon Sonny is in love for the first time. Casting off his lonely life of dreams and quiet violence for this new, intoxicating encounter, he longs to know Vera, even to save her. But what is that Vera isn’t telling him?

Unfolding in the sea-bright, rain-soaked Dublin of early spring, Montpelier Parade is a beautiful, cinematic novel about desire, longing, grief, hope and the things that remain unspoken. It is about how deeply we can connect with one another, and the choices we must also make alone.



~*~

* found these authors amongst a The Guardian's list of new faces in fiction 2017 (here)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Happy release: Block & Tackle by Elise Faber, Stephanie Fournet & Kristin Vayden


Football, hockey, and everything in between! Things are about to heat up on the ice and between the sheets. Each book is a fully fledged, standalone novel about forbidden love. What happens when you get your dream job and temptation is your ex-hockey-star boss? Or when the league’s top wide receiver has his eyes on you and he’s supposed to be just a client? Perhaps you find yourself in enemy territory because the woman you love is your best friend’s sister? Find out all the dirt in Block & Tackle, from Elise Faber, Kristin Vayden, and Stephanie Fournet.

Block & Tackle
by Elise Faber, Stephanie Fournet, Kristin Vayden
-Contemporary Romance/Sports Romance
Release date: March 12, 2017
Publisher: Blue Tulip Publishing
Amazon | Goodreads
Amazon UK | Amazon AU Amazon CA
iBooks | B&N


Find out all the dirt in Block & Tackle!

Offsides by Elise Faber

Job title:
Executive Assistant for CEO of Prestige Media Group

Job description:
(1) Deal with a massive amount of emails.
(2) Schedule conference calls and meetings with top athletes and other hugely important people.
(3) Pick up dry cleaning and food, consult on tie selection, make dinner reservations, and book flights . . . basically act as a wife-on-steroids.
(4) THE IMPORTANT ONE: Do not, under any circumstances, fall in love with Devon Scott—demanding boss, former NHL player, and all-around gorgeous specimen of the male persuasion.

Job performance:
Failing.

Absolutely failing at number four.

Excerpt:
If ever a time existed for a curse word, this was it.

Becca was five minutes late. Five entire minutes late, and the little screen on the printer was flashing at her with a paper jam.

“Becca! Those files need to be on my desk now.”

Devon Scott. CEO of Prestige Media Group and her boss. Her very demanding boss.

Hence, curse words. Particularly the four-letter one Becca saved for only very special occasions.

The one that began with “f” and ended with a perfectly timed and heartfelt “uck.”

Yeah. The word pretty much summed up her day. No — her week. Heck, if she was already cursing, it might as well sum up her month.

She yanked the tray from the printer, cleared the jam, and shoved it back in. The printer whirred to life, spitting out pages in a flurry.

“Becca!”

“Coming,” she called before dropping her voice and muttering, “Hurry up. Hurry up.”

“Becca. So help me—”

The last page dropped into the tray. She snatched it up, fit it into the proper place of the file, and all but sprinted through the doorway of her boss’s office.

“The printer—” she began.

Devon’s eyes locked with hers, and Becca shivered. Not for the same reason that most people did when they met Mr. Scott. Not because his cool, businesslike expression was attributed to icicles or frozen seawater.

She shivered because of chocolate ice cream.

His eyes conjured thoughts of delicious, rich, melt-on-her-tongue sweetness that made her insides go all squirmy.

And along came that four-letter word again, blaring across her mind.

One winged brow arched, dark brown and perfectly formed. It made a crease on Devon’s forehead, a rainbow of little lines leading up, up, up almost to his hairline.

Which was the precise moment Becca realized she’d said that curse word aloud.

She clamped a hand over her mouth, smacking herself in the face with the manila cardstock in the process and dropping every single paper she’d so painstakingly fought the printer over.

This was not happening. Devon didn’t allow mistakes and… she sighed. She really needed this job.

The phone rang, and Becca lowered the folder, reaching out a hand to grab the receiver.

Devon beat her to it, snatching the phone up and snapping a terse “Hello” into it. But his eyes didn’t leave hers as the conversation went on. They sharpened, holding her in place as effectively as handcuffs—

And oh God. Now her cheeks were burning.

Trust her mind to take her straight on a journey to FSOG.

She bent, hurriedly collecting and ordering the papers before gingerly setting the file on his desk and beginning to back from the room.

Warm fingers on her wrist stopped her.

Becca’s eyes flashed down, and she shivered again. Tanned skin against porcelain. Thick, strong fingers dwarfing hers.

Devon Scott was a former hockey player, and it was easy to see why. He was every inch an athlete.

Every. Inch.

Oh good Lord.

About the author: ELISE FABER
Aside from writing romance, Elise’s passions are chocolate, Star Wars, and hockey (the order depending on the day and how well her team — the Sharks! — are playing). She and her husband also play as much hockey as they can squeeze into their schedules, so much so that their typical date night is spent on the ice. Elise is the mom to two exuberant boys and is thoroughly addicted to Dancing With the Stars.
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Off Guard by Stephanie Fournet

Life couldn’t be better for Charlie Woodruff.

After a year of holding out, she’s finally landed the job she’s always wanted in the city of her dreams. An apartment she can afford and new friends at work make the transition easy.

When she meets a gorgeous stranger who makes her laugh and steals her breath, it seems like the icing on the cake…

Until Charlie discovers he’s a client.

Hutch Barlow — newly drafted wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders — looks like an avenging angel, hangs on her every word, and is completely off-limits. The trouble is he also refuses to take “no” for an answer.

And if she’s being honest, Charlie doesn’t want him to.

But seeing him means she could lose everything — including her heart.

Excerpt:
She sounded much more composed than she felt. His presence, his attention, his eyes, everything about him weakened her resolve, and Charlie found herself wanting to reach for him.

That could not happen.

Hutch gently set her fork down on her abandoned plate and then leaned into the back of her couch. He watched her for a long moment. So long the silence grew awkward. The look in his eyes was completely unreadable.

“Are you wishing I hadn’t come?”

The question shocked the truth out of her. “No. Not at all.”

His elegant brow rose just a fraction. “But you want me to leave.” It wasn’t a question, but he sought her face for an answer, and, again, Charlie felt compelled to speak the truth.

“I don’t want you to leave. I need you to leave.” Saying it aloud filled her with regret, so much so she nearly panicked. Please don’t leave, she wanted to tell him.

The light in his eyes changed. “You don’t want me to leave?” She watched him fight a smile. Seeing that made her happy in a way she couldn’t explain. And at the same time, the happiness stung in a way that almost made her eyes water.

She took a measured breath. “You heard me,” she said, unwilling to give away anything else.

Hutch brought his elbow to the back of her couch and leaned his head against his knuckles. He looked at her. No one in her whole life had ever looked at her so openly.

“I don’t want to leave.” His voice was soft, deep, and it penetrated her skin and buried itself deep into her bones. She felt like she’d carry its resonance in her ribs and her sternum and her spine for the rest of her days.

Charlie swallowed and leaned against the back of her couch, matching his posture almost exactly. It was comfortable like this, resting her head against her hand and staring at an impossibly beautiful man. “What do you want?” she heard herself whisper.

“I want permission,” he whispered back.

Her breath tripped, stopped, and started again. “Permission for what?”

“To kiss you.”

About the author: STEPHANIE FOURNET
Stephanie Fournet, author of five novels including Leave a Mark and You First, lives in Lafayette, Louisiana — not far from the Saint Streets where her novels are set. She shares her home with her husband John and their needy dogs Gladys and Mabel, and sometimes their daughter Hannah even comes home from college to visit them. When she isn’t writing romance novels, Stephanie is usually helping students get into college or running. She loves hearing from fans.
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Off Limits by Kristin Vayden

Everything about Ava screams off limits.

To want her is to invite disaster.

To pursue her is to risk my job.

To kiss her might cost me my best friend.

But all those risks seem small in light of the first problem.

She hates me.

To her I’m a sell out, choosing to advance my career rather than protect my biggest client.

Her brother.

And my best friend.

She hasn’t spoken to me in over a year, but that ends now.

Because I’m done with holding back.

To hell with the consequences.

Wish me luck . . .

Excerpt:
This would do nothing but boost Bryce’s ability to market his brand. With any luck, he’d clench the Sprite deal we’d been working on. It was all about name recognition, and tonight’s game had given his a huge boost.

“I swear if you turn around, and I see dollar signs where your eyes should be, I’m not going to be held responsible for my actions.” Her tone was acidic, grating on my final nerve. “That’s my brother. Don’t forget that.”

“What the hell is your problem?” I turned, wishing I could take the words back as soon as they filled the room. Because it wasn’t going to help anything — not her, not Bryce. Sure as hell not me.

“You!” She gave a sarcastic neck twist, eyes blazing.

“Really? Because I’ve never had a problem with you, Ava. Ever.”

Her gaze flickered to the ground then back to me, just enough hesitation in her expression to tempt me to push my luck. “And maybe… maybe if you’d stop focusing on your own assumptions, you might see that I’m not your enemy. But I get it. It’s easier to be pissed at me than Bryce. And I’m good with that. I’ll pretend with you because he did make the choice to play when you asked him to quit. I’ll take the heat for that every damn day.” I started to walk toward her, each step slow and measured as her caramel-colored eyes studied me, but she didn’t back away.

“Just don’t delude yourself into thinking that I have anything against you, Ava. I never have. Never will. So… deal with it.” I shrugged, stopping just before her, yet close enough for her floral perfume to assault me with lethal force.

“As if you see anything past his bank account.” She gave a cold glare.

“You really have no clue, do you?” I shook my head, intense frustration warring against the insane ideas that kept popping into my mind. “Everything — everything — that Bryce does is for you. And even if he didn’t take every step with you in mind, I would.” The words were soft, but the heavy nature filled the room, weighing it down. I was pushing my luck to the limit.

Ava tilted her chin lightly, her expression shifting. The light from the kitchen illuminated her lips as her pink tongue darted out to lick them. “What do you mean that you would?”

I shook my head, a slight smile teasing my lips. “And you say that I’m dense.” Without giving her a chance to respond, I gently nipped her lower lip, breathing in her small gasp at the contact before meeting her lips once more before pulling away. Part of me was tense, waiting for the slap that would inevitably come, but rather than a hard smack, her hand reached up and cupped my chin, pulling me in tighter. And my body reacted like a match to the flame.

About the author: KRISTIN VAYDEN
Kristin’s inspiration for the romance she writes comes from her tall, dark and handsome husband with killer blue eyes. With five children to chase, she is never at a loss for someone to kiss, something to cook or some mess to clean but she loves every moment of it! Life is full — of blessings and adventure! Needless to say she’s a big fan of coffee and wine… and living in Washington she’s within walking distance of both!
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What made you want to write this anthology?
Elise: Well, it’s selfish really! Stephanie and Kristin are fantastic writers and I wanted the opportunity to work with them! Also, I love sports but wanted to do something that was a bit different than my Gold Hockey books. We decided to focus on the management side, which has been a blast to write!

Stephanie: When Elise Faber approached me and Kristen Vayden about doing the collection, I was definitely nervous because I’d never written a sports romance, and I haven’t written anything shorter than a full length novel in a long time. But it was because I was nervous that I knew I had to do it. When you push yourself out of your comfort zone, all kinds of cool, magical things happen.

Kristin: I wish I could take credit for such a great idea, but I can’t! It was a concept developed by our publisher and spear headed by Elise Faber—sexy librarian extrodianare( and Bad ass Hockey player!)

What is this anthology about? Are the stories related/interconnected?
Elise: Hot alpha athletes, inter-office complications, forbidden love. We’ve got a taste of it all! The stories all take place within the largest athlete management firm in the states, Prestige Media Group.

Stephanie: The anthology is made up of three, sexy sports romances. Characters from each story work at Prestige Media Group, a west coast sports agency with offices in Seattle and San Francisco. In all three stories, love is off limits because of either professional boundaries or personal ties.

Kristin: Love! Wait, you meant more specific. Got it. It’s about guys who are on top of their game in life, and how love tackles them, and the women that dominate these alpha males by winning their hearts.
All these guys work in the same agency or are with the same agency.

Did you guys write the stories independently? Or discuss them with each other?
Elise: We discussed theme and our story basics before writing, then off we went. I can say that I LOVED the way Kristin and Stephanie’s stories turned out! They’re awesome!

Stephanie: After we hashed out the particulars about Prestige, we each chose a basic plot premises for our stories, and we got to work. Early on, we shared our initial chapters to make sure we all felt like our stories would work together, and then we went from there.

Kristin: We correlated on specific themes, but each story is very original and different from the others. We all have different voices, and I think the great part about anthologies is that you can hear that difference in voice as you read.

How different was it for you to write a sports romance? What do you typically write?
Elise: I write hockey romance (Blocked and Backhand Gold Hockey #1 and #2, out and releasing 4/4/17, respectively) but those are more team based. It was fun to focus on the business side! And I’ve always wanted to write a hot boss-secretary romance (my story in this is Offsides). Kristin and Stephanie threw me a bone and let me explore that!

Stephanie: For me, writing a sports romance was completely new territory. All of my other novels are contemporary or new adult, standalone romances that are set in the Saint Streets, a quirky neighborhood in my hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana. My heroes run the gamut from angsty college professors (Fall Semester), to lovesick landscapers (Butterfly Ginger), to drop-dead gorgeous doctors (Leave a Mark). But just like Hutch, they are sweet to the core and will do anything to capture the hearts of the women they love. Writing a sports romance meant that I had to do some research about sports agencies, the football draft process, summer training camps, and the like, but I learned a lot and it was fun!

Kristin: It was a different genre for me, but not a stretch. I write both contemporary romance ( The ONE) and historical romance ( What the Duke Wants). Writing a sports anthology was fun, and I really enjoyed it! I plan on writing more in this genre later—right now I’m finishing up a story about a sexy cowboy. Life’s hard 😉 😉

What is your favorite sport/team? Did you ever play sports growing up? Do you play now?
Elise: HOCKEY! (sense the enthusiasm there?) San Jose Sharks! I played a ton of sports growing (soccer, basketball, volleyball, hockey) and I still play hockey. It’s a blast!

Stephanie: Personally, I’m not very sporty. My theory is that Super Bowl Sunday is a great day to go to the movies because nobody is there. If I had to pick a favorite sport, it would be running because I am a runner. I definitely tune in to the track and long distance events during the summer Olympics, so I guess I’d have to say my favorite team is Team USA.

Kristin: My favorite sport — Cheerleading and Yes. IT IS A SPORT! Team — Seahawks 12th MAN! Did I play — Yes! Though my hubby teases me about not being coordinated enough to play! While there is some truth to that—ok a lot of truth to that—I did play softball and I cheered both in high school and college. Love cheerleading!

What genre/trope can you currently not stay away from?
Elise: I’m devouring contemporary and historical romance! I love it so much!

Kristin: Right now I’m reading Cheater by Rachel Van Dyken. Dear Lord. Anything contemporary is my poison at the moment.

What is YOUR story about?
Elise: My story follows Becca and Devon. Becca is Devon’s executive assistant on a short-term contract while his normal assistant is on maternity leave. They’re both attracted to each other but can’t risk acting on anything, not when it breaks all the HR rules out there. Unfortunately, or really fortunately for them, the heart (and body) sometimes don’t listen to the best intentions of your brain!

Stephanie: Off Guard is about Charlie Woodruff, who has just landed the PR job of her dreams at Prestige Media Group in San Francisco. She’s found a decent apartment and made friends at work, so when she meets a gorgeous stranger who makes her laugh and steals her breath, it seems like icing on the cake — until Charlie discovers he’s a client. Hutch Barlow Hutch Barlow — newly drafted wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders — looks like an avenging angel, hangs on her every word, and is completely off-limits. The trouble is he also refuses to take “no” for an answer. And if she’s being honest, Charlie doesn’t want him to. But seeing him means she could lose everything — including her heart.

Kristin: Markus is fully aware that Ava is off limits. Not only is she his best friend, and biggest client’s twin sister. But she also hates him—ever since her brother, Bryce, chose to play football again after his injury. Ava blames Markus, going as far as calling him a sell out to all his colleagues. But that doesn’t stop him from kissing her, even when it might cost him his best friend. It doesn’t’ stop him from pursuing her, even when it might cost his career. And it certainly doesn’t stop him from stopping at nothing to win her over, because life’s all about risks, And she’s the biggest risk he’ll ever take.

Do you write in silence or to music?
Elise: To music! My hockey playlist is (here).

Stephanie: While music features pretty heavily in most of my work, I write in silence because I’m easily distracted. My current WIP is about a rising rock star and super-shy bookworm, and I listen to songs that crop up in the novel in between writing scenes, like while I drive to work or cook dinner. That playlist is going to be a doozy!

Kristin: Both. I have little ones that tend to flit in and out of my work space needing juice, snacks, etc so I tend to have more than enough noise to keep me busy, but when I have a block that’s just my time to write, I like to have a spotify play list on, especially if its in a particularly emotional, or steamy part of the book.

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