Saturday, May 31, 2014

Julia's House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke

When Julia and her walking house come to town, she likes everything about her new neighborhood except how quiet it is! So Julia puts a sign up: "Julia's House for Lost Creatures." Soon she's hosting goblins, mermaids, fairies, and even a dragon. Quiet isn't a problem anymore for Julia...but getting her housemates to behave themselves is!

The simple, sweet text of this picture book by New York Times Best-Selling Zita the Spacegirl author/illustrator Ben Hatke is perfectly balanced by his lush, detailed, immersive watercolor illustrations.

In this house, we are, quite simply, Ben Hatke fans.  It's true.  It all started way back when the first Zita book came out.  I happened to win the book on a Goodreads giveaway and there was no going back.  Zita the Spacegirl is a graphic novel series for middle grade readers.  We love Zita and we have all the books.  I would say the series is fun for the whole family.

You can imagine how excited I am to be able to review this new children's book, "Julia's House for Lost Creatures".  Ben Hatke is one talented guy.  The creatures in this book are full of character and life.  The illustrations are beautifully done- there is so much to look at on every single page.  

My kids are all past the picture book stage now but this is a book I would have bought in a heartbeat for them when they were all younger and sitting on my lap to read books.  The pictures provide not only something fun to look at but things to talk about as well.  It's light hearted and fun with a great message about pitching in and helping so a home is better for all who live there.  I love this sweet book!

This book doesn't release until September but you can pre-order it at Amazon.

You can learn more about the author, Ben Hatke and his books HERE.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Missing Lily by Annette Larsen: Review + $25 Giveaway

  missing lily
Missing Lily “You don’t know who I am,” I whispered. He didn’t move—either away from me, or closer—and after an interminable moment, I stepped back and hurried out of the house. He didn’t follow me as I fled into the night. Lylin was not used to being alone—much less alone, hurt, and lost. So when she is separated from her guard and forced to abandon her horse, she counts herself lucky to stumble upon a manor house. Still frightened by those who chased her into the night, she keeps her identity a secret, calling herself Lily as she accepts the help of kind servants, and the compassion of Lord Fallon. When they fall into an easy friendship, she wonders if her secrecy was too hasty. However, as she gets to know the manor and its residents, Lylin discovers that she’s not the only one hiding secrets, and it may be a very good thing that her host doesn’t know her true identity as a member of the royal family.
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I was so excited to hear about this book coming out!  I loved Annette Larsen's first book, "Just Ella", and I just knew I was in for a fantastic read with Missing Lily.

This is a sweet, endearing tale of a princess and a young man who meet under not so ideal circumstances but become friends.  Princess Lylin arrives at Lord Fallon's home wet, hurt and alone.  He offers assistance and help when she so desperately needs it.

Lord Fallon is all things gentlemanly and kind.  As Lily recovers and heals, she and Lord Fallon begin a friendship.  Lily keeps her identity as a princess a secret not only to protect herself but also to keep the friendships she is forming with Lord Fallon and his household the same.  She knows if she told them the truth, everything would change.

Of course Lily has feelings for Lord Fallon.  How could she not?  He is handsome and honorable.  But eventually Lily must return to the palace and resume her duties there.

The road for Lily is bumpy and full of potholes.  Her tender feelings are bruised yet she almost always handles herself with decorum.  I love that she is kind and tries so hard to please her family.

This was just such a sweet story- enjoyable from beginning to end.  It was romantic and heart felt.  The characters really come alive and I felt like I could visualize every scene.  I fell in love with Lily and Lord Fallon.  They were perfect.  This is a book I can easily hand off to anyone,  young or old.  It is clean and it is endearing.  I love the way Annette Larsen writes!

Author Annette K. Larsen I was born in Utah, part of a crazy, fun family of nine. I grew up in Flagstaff, AZ and St. Louis, MO before striking out on my own college adventure in Virginia. I decided to try my hand at writing novels after I was married and living in Idaho. I write clean romance because it’s my favorite genre, but often difficult to find.

I have Charlotte Brontë to thank for the courage to write novels. After being bombarded with assigned reading about women who justified abandoning either their families or their principles in the name of love, I had the great fortune of reading Jane Eyre. And that was it: finally, a heroine who understood that being moral and making the right choice was hard, and sometimes it hurt, but it was still worth it. After rereading it several years later, I realized that if I wanted more books to exist with the kinds of heroines I admired, then I might as well write a few myself. My books are about women who face hard choices, who face pain and rejection and often have to face the reality of sacrificing what they want for what is right. The consequences are often difficult or unpleasant, but in the end, doing what’s right will always be worth it. I believe there is no substitute for good writing or good chocolate. Fortunately, one often leads to the other.

Not yet read Just Ella?
It is on sale for $3.99 for the duration of the blog tour.
Grab your copy on Amazon.

Blog Tour Giveaway $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 6/15/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Immersed: A Ripple Effect Romance by Jennifer Griffith + a $25 Giveaway

Immersed New
Immersed by Jennifer Griffith Lisette Pannebaker speaks five languages and has a brilliant business plan—personal language immersion. Clients can hire her to shadow them and speak all day in any language they need to learn for business or travel—whatever. But there’s a major hitch: she’s far too pretty. Clients with less than honorable intentions sign up just have Lisette at their side. Solution? A make-under. Way under.It works like a charm. None of her male clients show her the least bit of interest. Until… Erik. Erik Gunnarsson is charming, kind, and smart—everything she’s ever looked for. Even though he seems to have a secret and she swore she'd never date a client, Lisette is tempted to shed her disguise—even if it means jeopardizing her career.

Immersed is the last book in the Ripple Effect Romance Series and honestly, probably the most amusing of the bunch.  This has been such a fun series to review and I'm so glad I had the chance.

Lisette is a smart, talented girl.  All she wants is to use those smarts and talents to make a career for herself but things aren't going so well.  She is desperate to make it work, not just for her sake but for her mother's as well.  Desperation and determination are what drive Lisette to the whole "make-under" idea.  The whole thing is just so amusing.  It had me smiling practically the whole way through.

I love Erik.  I love how the relationship evolves between Erik and Lisette.  Lisette slowly begins to shed her protective layers (figuratively and literally) as she falls for Erik.  

I hope if you haven't already, you will pick up this series.  These are all quick, romantic books, completely clean and completely fun.  I hope there will be more to come from these authors with another series like this.  I have really enjoyed it.

Enjoy the following excerpt and don't forget to enter the giveaway!

“Plain and simple: you’re too pretty for this job.”

Lisette rolled her eyes and picked up her brush again, going at the high spots on the wall with vigor. “You’ve been talking to my mom again. Did she finally rub off on you?” Great. Now no one believed in her. Not even Aunt Corky. Just a pretty face.

“No, not in that way. What I’m saying is that your business has merit. It can totally work. But just not with you, the way you are.”

Aunt Corky probably didn’t mean to make Lisette want to cry, but the tears welled in her eyes all the same. This dream had taken every waking hour of the last eighteen months. She’d poured her heart and soul into making it grow, not to mention all the money she’d buried in it—advertising, the office, everything. And her time. Day and night. How entrepreneurs lived past age forty mystified her. She barely had time to keep an eye on her elderly next door neighbors. And when a girl was too busy to serve other people, she was too busy.

Aunt Corky reached over and grabbed Lisette’s hand. “What I’m saying is you need a makeover.”

Lisette raised an eyebrow.

“Don’t raise that eyebrow at me, Z. I’m serious about this.” Aunt Corky folded her arms across her chest. “Not a makeover in the traditional sense. More like a make-under. You know, to make you look less…gorgeous.”

Here it went again, with the appearance factor. Didn’t all the studies say that people who were good-looking had a better chance at success than those who were below average?

“You’re not buying it, I can tell. But think with me. Dark circles under the eyes. A greasy wig. Lines at the mouth. And right about here,” she pointed at her nostril, “a big wart.”

“A wart!”

“Okay, maybe not a wart. That might be over the top. But something that will keep all the pawing maniacs at a distance.” Aunt Corky shrugged and leaned against a dry wall like she’d made her case and the prosecution rested. “Think about it, Z. I mean, you want Immerse to succeed, right? All the years of language skills and business acumen you’ve amassed, they’re going to waste.”

Lisette sighed. Even though she wouldn’t admit it aloud to Aunt Corky, unless something changed at Immerse, things could go south pretty fast. However, she wasn’t convinced it was reason enough to subjugate her dignity and go into daily disguise just to ward off pretenders.

Aunt Corky resumed painting. “Just think about it. Don’t decide now. But if you want to do it, I know somebody. Samantha. A genius with bad makeup. She could absolutely transform you. No one would even recognize you.”

This was crossing over from ridiculous into the absurd.

Author Jennifer Griffith Jennifer Griffith studied French, German, Japanese, and a wee bit of Spanish in her school days. Her grandmother was Norwegian, and Jennifer grew up with lots of Scandinavian traditions floating around, including fabulous cardamom laced cookies called Krumkaker, made on a fancy waffle iron. However, she’d never dream of trying to teach someone any of those languages. And she might botch the cookies. Instead, she writes novels in English, drives her five kids a million places, and laughs with her husband, who came up with the plot for Immersed because he’s just a cool muse like that.

  Blog Tour Giveaway $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 6/9/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Heavenly Bites Collection now at Amazon for only $.99!

The Heavenly Bites Novellas Collection

At the Heavenly Bites Bakery, three very different women bake up delectable treats and find romance with some unexpected but equally delectable men.  Find out how in these three short and sweet novellas, finally available as a collection and in paperback form…

Pastels and Jingle Bells:  When Trish Ackerly crosses paths with Ian Rafferty, the former bully of her childhood years, her plans for a comeuppance fall by the wayside as she comes to realize that the man he is now is very different from the boy he used to be—and that a Christmas romance might just be in her future.

Love Lessons:  When bakery customer Mrs. Beasley guilts Nadia Normandy into mentoring unsuspecting accountant Benji Garner in the world of dating, Nadia soon discovers that this particular accountant has a charm all his own.  And with New Year’s Eve just around the corner, it may be time for Nadia to make a resolution to sweep her protégé off his feet before someone else beats her to it.

Playing Cupid:  Free-spirited Aimee Beasley’s plans to match her widowed grandmother up with a distinguished elderly gentleman hit a snag when she learns he’s the uncle of their downstairs neighbor, grim Doyle Berkely, a man with whom Aimee butts heads on a regular basis.  But in the process of nudging her grandmother’s romance along, Aimee uncovers a softer side to Doyle that may lead to a little romance of her own…

It's so exciting to see these three novellas all put together in one place.  Marked down to .99 cents from May 26th-June 2nd, this is a bargain deal.  I loved these clean romance books and had such a fun time reading them and reviewing them.  Now is the time to snatch them up!

Buy at Amazon

Enjoy the following excerpt from the opening of the first novella, Pastels and Jingle Bells.

It was probably inviting the worst kind of karma to be contemplating murder during the holiday season of all times, but that didn’t faze Trish Ackerly in the slightest as she stared through her bakery’s storefront window in shock.
It was him.  Ian Rafferty, bane of her junior high school existence.  She’d know that face anywhere, despite the changes in it.  Sure, he was a couple of feet taller now and certainly broader shouldered, but as he glanced away from the winter scene she had painted on the window only yesterday and at a passing car that whizzed by much too fast on the busy city street, the profile he presented to her confirmed it.  Yes, it was him.  That same nose, the odd little scar above his eye, the familiar way he quirked his lips…
Her eyes narrowed.  Ian Rafferty.  That miserable, mean-spirited little—

Then he turned his face back to the window, and Trish gasped and dropped to the floor before he could spot her staring at him.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Being Hartley by Allison Rushby

Fifteen-year-old Thea Wallis was born to entertain. Her mother, Oscar winning actress Cassie Hartley, thinks differently and has kept her daughter out of the spotlight since day one. Coming from showbiz royalty, it hasn't been easy to go unnoticed, but mismatched surnames, a family home in Tasmania and a low-key scriptwriter father has made this possible.

Just like her cousin Rory on the hugely popular TV show Saturday Morning Dance, Thea loves to dance. She learns the show's routines off by heart each week, despite her mother's attempts to convince her that dentistry would be a far more fulfilling career choice.

However, when Rory goes off the rails in LA, Thea's mother is suddenly left with no choice at all – Rory needs them and to LA they must go. Within forty-eight hours, Thea finds herself a long way from Tasmania and living her dream – on the road to Las Vegas with the Saturday Morning Dance team.

It doesn't take long before Thea's talents are discovered and she's offered everything she's ever wanted on a plate, including the dance partner she's had a crush on forever. But, as her mother has always told her, Hollywood dreams come at a price. Thea soon realizes she will have to work out just how much she's willing to pay. And, ultimately, discover her own way to be Hartley.

Being Hartley was something different than what I was expecting. It’s a YA book, but on the younger side of that spectrum.

Thea is 15 years old. She is part of a family of stars- the Hartley’s. Her mother is famous but determined to keep Thea out of the spotlight. While Thea’s cousin works on a popular dance show in L.A., living the dream (Thea’s dream), Thea studies dance moves at home.

I liked Thea. She is a typical teenager but perhaps more level headed than most. She has moments of brilliance and moments of, well, not so brilliance.  Thea is struggling to spread her wings while her mother is struggling to keep her under her thumb. Thea is a kind hearted person who loves her family but wants to become something herself. She feels she is ready to venture out into the world of fame.

The whole story is andante-at walking speed. There were no heart pounding scenes and no real climactic build up but there was plenty of depth to the characters.

This is a story of families, relationships and, for me, loyalty. When one member of the Hartley family is struggling the whole family swoops in to help. They rally, take care and support. That is what family is all about. I really liked that. Thea learns some valuable lessons and grows throughout the book.

This was a fun book set for the younger YA crowd. There were a few instances of mild swearing and profanity.

You can purchase Being Hartley at Amazon.

Allison Rushby is the Australian author of a whole lot of books. She is crazy about Mini Coopers, Devon Rex cats, Downton Abbey and corn chips. You can often find her procrastinating on Twitter at @Allison_Rushby or on Facebook. That is, when she’s not on eBay, or Etsy, or any other place she can shop in secret while looking like she’s writing…

Monday, May 26, 2014

A February Bride by Betsy St. Amant

Happily ever after guaranteed. Allie left the love of her life at the altar—to save him from a lifetime of heartbreak. When a Valentine’s Day wedding brings them back together, she struggles against her family’s destructive history. Can Allie ever realize that a marriage is so much more than a wedding dress? History repeats itself when Allie Andrews escapes the church on her wedding day—in the same dress passed down for generations and worn by all the women in her family—women with a long history of failed marriages. Allie loves Marcus, but fears she’s destined to repeat her family’s mistakes. She can’t bear to hurt Marcus worse. Marcus Hall never stopped loving Allie and can only think of one reason she left him at the altar—him. When the two are thrown together for his sister’s Valentine’s Day wedding, he discovers the truth and realizes their story might be far from over. Can Allie shuck expectation and discover who she is as a bride and in the Bride of Christ? And if she ever walks down the aisle, what dress will she wear?

I love that the first sentence of the blurb for this book is “Happily Ever After Guaranteed”.  That’s a hook for me if there ever was one!  Yeah, I love guarantees.

I am loving this Year of Weddings series.  The February bride is the third book in the series.  I sure hope I can read through the whole year of them!  They are short and sweet:  the perfect romantic distraction.

In this book, Allie calls off her wedding at the very last minute.  Like the minute she is supposed to be walking down the aisle.  And she doesn’t actually call it off, she just runs away with no word to anyone.  Poor Marcus is left, clueless as to what just happened and why.

Allie is sure that she is jinxed.  Cursed.  Doomed to a failed marriage because of her family.  She just cannot do that to Marcus.  She loves him too much to doom him to a failed marriage with her.  That is why she runs out on him.  It seems silly, right?  But Allie sure takes it very seriously.

Marcus is surely one patient, understanding man.  He never demanded a reason?  Never tracked her down and tried to get answers?  And then when Allie appears in his life again he just treats her with kindness.  Of course he still loves her but this guy is a saint.  Honest.  A saint.

It was good to see Allie work through her anxiety and weird notions.  Her inner struggle is a good one and it’s always good to see growth in characters.  It’s even better to get to the promised happily ever after.

As for content, this book is squeaky clean.  This is a Christian Fiction book so there are also religious elements. 

You can find this book at Amazon.

Book Source:  Publisher through NetGalley

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Little Blackmail by Helen Conrad + $40 and book Giveaways

On tour with Prism Book Tours

Welcome to my tour stop for the
A Little Blackmail
Destiny Bay Romances: Sweet Editions
by Helen Conrad

Special Price!
A Little Blackmail is only $0.99 for Kindle from now until Sunday, May 25th!

Destiny Bay Romances - Forever Yours
(Sweet Edition #2)
by Helen Conrad
Adult Romance
Paperback & Ebook, 172 pages
March 28th 2014 by Doorknock Publishing

Sometimes you have to break the rules to right a wrong.

Janet Cardona is usually a by-the-book good girlbut when Matt Carrington won't give her cat back, she sees red. Rules mean nothing when there's an animal to be saved. So when she's caught in a burglary and blackmailed for it, she finds she can't refuse. Matt only needs her to pretend to be his wife for a day or two so that he can run a scam he's involved in. But once the pretense gets going, he begins to yearn for the real thing. Now Janet has to decide if she can let herself fall for a con man.

Recipes for Crab Open-faced Sandwiches and Basic Asian Soup included.

Purchase from Amazon.

“A Little Blackmail” is the second book in a series of books by Helen Conrad that I am so happy to be reviewing.  Originally these books were published under different titles and with a lot more steam to them.  Here’s what the author has to say about them.  “The Sweet Editions cover the same stories, but with most expletives and all explicit sexual descriptions removed, rewritten and softened for those who prefer it that way.”  That would be me.  And I’m so glad to see this author do this.  It makes me so happy.  J

“A Little Blackmail” was such a fun read.  I loved the storyline and the interactions between Matt and Janet.  The pull between them is magnetic and sexy but this book keeps things PG. 

Janet is a girl who loves her cat.  She loves that cat so much that when it mistakenly ends up at the animal shelter and is adopted by someone else, she will go to any length to get him back.  Including breaking into a home in the middle of the night, dressed as a burglar, ready for the take back.  But, oops, she happens upon Matt instead, soaking in the hot tub and is caught.  Best oops ever.  haha

Matt comes off as the bad guy at first but as bits of the story come out, we learn right along with Janet what Matt is really up to.  Maybe he isn’t quite as bad as he first appeared to be.  He sure is attracted to Janet- her goodness and honesty as well as her looks.  The tension is always there between Matt and Janet.  It was good stuff as a reader.  I blew through this book so fast.  It was an awesome way to spend a lazy, rainy day at home.  (If I can’t get out and plant my garden, I might as well be reading!)

The end of the book takes us to the wedding of Reid and Jennifer from the previous book.  It was good to get a glimpse of the happily ever after for them.  I love happily ever after’s.  And I can’t wait to read the next book in this series, “Moving Too Fast”!  Look for my review next week.  Same time, same place.  J 

[Pin, share, or tweet this image for an extra entry in the giveaway.]

Image of Helen Conrad

Helen Conrad is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than 90 romances (over 15 million copies sold) published under various pseudonyms with Harlequin, Silhouette, Loveswept, and others. She is currently revamping and rewriting much of her backlist—mainly into the Destiny Bay Romances Series. The first six, the Forever Yours Series, are being rewritten as Sweet Editions.

Website - Facebook - Goodreads

A Little About the Destiny Bay Romances: Sweet Editions
From Author Helen Conrad

"The Destiny Bay Romances take place in the sort of beach town I've always loved--and now I live in one! But writing about beach towns came first and this series is centered on the rich, influential Carrington family living along the California Coast, and in Hawaii. These are good-looking, fast-driving, hard-hitting men and women whose impulses lead them into trouble every time--and inevitably to fall in love.

The original series includes language and love scenes that aren't, for the most part, especially harsh and explicit--but some of my readers from my years writing sweets for Harlequin as Raye Morgan have asked if we couldn't have sweet and clean versions--and I thought--what a good idea! 

These are basically the same stories...but with the conflicts softened a bit, the language cleaned up, and no explicit love scenes. There are still a few adult situations, but they're muted. Consider these the PG versions. 

I hope you enjoy them!"

Tour-Wide Giveaway

- US Grand Prize: $20 Amazon gift card and paperbacks of Run Run RunawayA Little Blackmail, and Moving Too Fast
- INT Grand Prize: $20 Amazon gift card and ebooks of Run Run RunawayA Little Blackmail, and Moving Too Fast
- 2 sets of ebooks of Run Run RunawayA Little Blackmail, and Moving Too Fast (INT)

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The other stops on this tour:

Run Run Runaway
May 12 - Book Intro

May 13

May 14

May 15

May 16

May 18

May 26 - Book Intro

May 27

May 28

May 29

May 30

Jun 1

June 2 - Grand Finale

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

A is for Abstinence $100 Book Blast

A if for Abstinence by Kelly Oram Six-time Grammy Award wining musician Kyle Hamilton has it all—money, fame, talent, good looks, and a job he loves. His only regret in life: walking away from a certain notorious virgin because he was too prideful, stubborn, and even afraid to give her the only thing she asked of him—his abstinence. Four years and a broken heart later, Kyle realizes that sex isn’t everything, and he suddenly can’t stop thinking about the girl that got away. Virgin Val Jensen got under is skin like no one else ever has. He wasn’t ready for her then, but things are different now. He’s grown up, he’s learned a few things, and he’s finally figured out exactly what he wants, or, rather, who he wants. Kyle Hamilton wants a do-over, and this time he’s willing to do—or not do—whatever it takes.
add to goodreads

Val studied me for a moment, and her nerves melted away. Giving her the chance to say no had apparently been what she needed to say yes. “It’s okay, Kyle, I don’t mind staying.”

She sounded much more confident, but I still asked, “You sure?”

“I’m sure,” she promised. A smile crept over her face, reaching all the way up into her eyes and she said, “I can’t let you go out there alone. Who knows what kinds of rumors you’d start. I’d probably wake up tomorrow and learn that I’d been hospitalized after going into severe shock when you kissed me backstage.”

Surprised, I burst into laughter. “That does sound like something you’d do,” I teased.

She laughed with me and we headed back to the main studio and our waiting fans. “It may have been four years, Kyle, but that doesn’t mean I don’t remember how you operate.”

I snatched her hand as she reached to open the door to the studio. I wasn’t ready to end this moment alone with her. “You don’t think I’ve learned a few things since then?”

She smirked and shook her head. “New tricks. Same dog.”

It was impossible not to take her words as a challenge. I pushed her back until she was pinned against the door and leaned in close enough that our breaths mingled. Her eyes snapped wide the same way they always had whenever I’d invaded her personal space, and I watched, satisfied, as she sucked in a lung full of air and held it.

“That mentality will be your downfall this time around, Val.” I leaned in, letting my lips linger at her jawline for a moment too long before bringing them to her ear. “Same old tricks,” I whispered. “New man.”

With that, I kissed her cheek and breezed past her into the studio, leaving her flustered and in need of another moment to collect herself all over again.

Author Kelly Oram
Kelly Oram wrote her first novel at age fifteen–a fan fiction about her favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which family and friends still tease her. She’s obsessed with reading, talks way too much, and loves to eat frosting by the spoonful. She lives outside of Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and four children.

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Blast Giveaway $100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 6/16/19 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 23, 2014

Discover America: From Sea to Shining Sea by Julie Olsen, Lyrics by Katharine Lee Bates

Size: 8½ x 11
Pages: 32
Publisher: Shadow Mountain 2014

More than a book. It's an online experience!

Follow the patriotic journey of a little red balloon as it makes its way from the West Coast to the East Coast of the United States.

Through delightful illustrations and the words of "America the Beautiful," one of America's most beloved anthems, children will discover the beauty and diversity of their country. At they can launch their own balloon while learning fun facts about all fifty states.

I love children's books.  I really miss the days when my kids were little and I could read books to them.  This would have been one I would have read to them over and over.  Well, actually I would sing this book to them.  One of my favorite kinds of children's books are the ones where songs are put to book form with pictures.  My kids loved those kinds of books too.  As stated in the above blurb, this book is set to the words of "America the Beautiful" (one of my favorite patriotic songs).  I love our country.  It is so beautiful and diverse and interesting.

In this book we follow a little red balloon as it journeys through some of America's beautiful places.  In the back is a map showing you where the balloon was in each picture so you  know for sure.  Then on the very last page is instructions on how to launch your own balloon online.  You can send the balloon to someone you know and they can send it on to someone they know.  The site will track your balloon so you know all the places across the country it visits.  How fun is that?!  Also on the website is a map where you can learn facts about each state in our country and print off coloring pages corresponding with each state.  It's like a geography lesson without even seeming like it.

If my kids were little, this is something I would be doing with them this summer.  This is such a fun idea and I love it.  Love it.

The illustrations are so pretty and interesting to look at.  I especially love the dedication in the front that reads:

"For all the men and women who have proudly served our country.  May God shed His grace on thee."

Love that.  

You can purchase this book at Deseret Book and Amazon.

About the Authors

Julie Olson was born in the East, grew up in the Midwest, and now lives in the West. She developed a deep love for all parts of America as she lived in and traveled through various places. Since graduating with a BFA degree in illustration from Brigham Young University, she strives through her work to uplift and encourage others to be better.

You can learn more about Julie and her other creations by visiting

Katharine Lee Bates (1859-1929) taught English at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Her most famous poem, “America the Beautiful,” was inspired by the view from Pike’s Peak, near Colorado Springs, Colorado. Published in 1893, it became the lyrics to the well-known anthem shortly thereafter.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

On Tour with Played by Liz Fichera + book giveaway!

Played (Hooked #2)

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: May 27th 2014

This Game Is Getting All Too Real

He said: I like to keep under the radar and mostly hang out with my friends from the rez. But when I saved Riley Berenger from falling off a mountain, that rich suburban princess decided to try to save me. 

She said: If I can help Sam Tracy win the heart of the girl he can't get over, I'll pay him back for helping me. I promised him I would, no matter what it takes.

I always have such mixed emotions when I read books like this. If I could just do some personal editing, I would love this book. Why? Because the characters are so life- like. The conversations and interactions are so real you might as well be standing right there with them, listening. This book is full on high school drama with all the crazy stuff you might expect to happen. Stress over relationships, grades, scholarships, friends and home life are all covered. I think teenagers everywhere will be able to relate to this book.

However, there were a few things in this book that bothered me. The swearing and profanity being the first things. I realize that many teenagers may talk this way, but there are many who do not. I just don’t think it is necessary to put in books. Personal opinion. Nothing more.

The other thing that always makes me cringe is the party scene. I hate reading detailed descriptions of teenage parties gone wild. Even though bad things happen at the party, it is still glamorized to some degree and it just makes me sad. Under-aged drinking is illegal. Drinking and driving is illegal. Getting so drunk you don’t remember you had sex is not okay. Or glamorous. Or cool. And I just don’t like reading about vomit.

This book was well written and engaging though. It had me interested and hoping that both Riley and Sam would figure things out. They were both great characters. I love how Riley starts to realize the mistakes she has made and goes out of her way to try to fix them. The realization that her family is behind her and wants the best for her is a good one and probably my favorite moment in the book. Aside from the awesome, chemistry charged, motorcycle ride, that is.

"The book stands out in its nicely realistic portraits of the teens." (Kirkus)

"The plot is the perfect mix of real-life scenarios and swoon-worthy romance, while the issues of race and class that Fichera interweaves into the story add substance. In an alternating first-person narration style similar to Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park, readers are given insight into the characters' thoughts and feelings. The tale sticks to the formula but the captivating ways in which the sequence of events plays out keep this take fresh and exciting." (School Library Journal)

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I'm an American author living in the American Southwest by way of Chicago.  

Born and raised in Park Ridge, Illinois, I moved to Phoenix, Arizona, after college, never expecting to live more than one year among cactus and people who’d never seen snow. I was wrong. It certainly didn't hurt that I met my future husband in Phoenix too. 

Most of my stories are set in the American Southwest because I think the desert is a cool place. Living in Phoenix, I'm surrounded by Native American culture and influences, not to mention intriguing Hohokam petroglyphs and centuries-old canals. There are over 20 tribes in Arizona and I'm lucky to be neighbors to the Gila River and the Salt River Indian Communities. 

When I'm not busy writing my next novel, I like to travel, visit museums, support local theater productions, hike, and pretend that I'm training for a triathlon. I post a lot of photos from my desert and mountain hikes on my Facebook and Twitter pages. In no particular order, I've been chased by javalinas, rattlesnakes, coyotes, and even one curious black bear.

#QoD Author Liz has been chased by all kinds of animals!  Have you ever been chased by an animal and if so, what?

Win (1) signed copy of PLAYED by Liz Fichera (INT)