Thursday, 30 July 2015

Book Blitz: Sun-Kissed Summer by Marta Brown | Excerpt + Giveaway

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Sun-Kissed Summer
Marta Brown

Published July 7th 2015

Purchase: Amazon | B&N
Summer can change everything.

For shy, bookish Katie Quinn, it just might after an accidental mix-up at the airport on the way to visit her grandparents for the summer leaves her stuck with the wrong suitcase. One full of short shorts, high heels, and absolutely nothing she would normally dare to wear. Until she realizes her newfound look has garnered the attention of Key West’s biggest hottie, Brad-freaking-Garrison, and might just give her the one thing she’s always dreamed of—an epic summer romance.

A romance her summertime best friend only wishes he could give her. But for Oliver, getting Katie to see him as more than just some dumb jock isn’t going to be easy after he agrees to compete against Brad in a kite-surfing competition. And if Brad has any say in it, the prize is Katie herself.

With more than just a contest on the line and a friendship at stake, will this be the summer Katie finds her footing, even if it is in someone else’s shoes? Will Oliver finally get the courage to tell Katie how he really feels and get out of the friend-zone for good? Or, like a kite in a hurricane, will everything they’ve ever hoped for be lost in the storm?

About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Twitter
Marta Brown grew up in the Pacific Northwest and was a teenager when Doc Martens, Pearl Jam and flannel were the norm and Dylan loved Kelly forever. (Beverly Hills, 90210 shout out!)

She still lives just outside Seattle, now with her husband and cat, and loves the rain.

When she's not writing about cute boys, first kisses and the magic and wonder of being seventeen, she's watching The CW. And she sleeps in. Late.

Excerpt

With a quick look at the clock on my nightstand, I let out a groan at the ridiculous hour, toss off the covers, and slip out of bed. Thankful for the pair of sleep shorts I found last night that actually manage to cover both cheeks, I stomp down the hall to the top of the stairs.

“So, when you said last night you’d pick me up at six…” I trail off with crossed arms, despite Oliver’s cheery morning smile and what looks to be two cups of coffee.

“DP, baby.” He lifts the steaming cup in my direction, giving it a small shake back and forth, like a taunt.

“DP? As in, date practice?” I ask, arching a brow as I trudge down the stairs and snatch the hot coffee from his grip. “You know, six pm would probably be a more fitting time to practice for say, a date. Don’t you think?”

Oliver takes a long sip of his drink while holding back a laugh. “Under normal circumstances, I would say yes, but we have nearly seventeen years to make up for in just one day.”

My cheeks catch fire at the reminder of how inexperienced I am, leaving me to wonder how in the world some silly, fake date is going to help when I’m so obviously beyond help at this point anyway.

“You know what? I change my mind. I’m going back to bed.” Turning, I manage to take a single step before Oliver’s large, muscular arms wrap around my waist and pull me back against his chest.

“Oh no, you don’t,” he says, humor lacing every word as he loosens his hold just enough so I’m able to twist around and face him—the small cups of coffee providing the only space between our two bodies. “I have big plans for us today. But, first things first. We have dawn patrol.”

Oh. DP stands for dawn patrol. Wait. What the heck is that?

The look on my face must tip him off to the fact I have no idea what he’s talking about because before I can ask, he shakes his head and laughs. “Dawn patrol is what we call an early morning kite-surfing session. And if we want a chance at winning the contest next week, we need practice. And you know what they say, don’t you?” Oliver grins as he lets the arm that is wrapped around my waist fall to his side before taking a small step back.

“Uh…no. What do they say?” I ask, slightly out of breath and strangely disappointed by the sudden amount of space between us.
“Easy.” He winks. “Practice makes perfect.”

Biting my lip, I don’t know if he’s talking about dating, kite surfing, or both. But by the way my heart is beating double time, I’m starting to think Oliver might just be the perfect guy to practice with either way.

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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Review: Uncovering Love by Kacey Shea

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Uncovering Love
Kacey Shea

Uncovering Love #1

Published June 30th 2015

Purchase: Amazon | B&N
Evelyn Harper lived the perfect life.
Until she was fired from her job.

After a ridiculous idea devised among friends comes to existence, Evelyn finds herself part owner in a private investigation firm specializing in matters of the heart. Throughout wild antics with her best friends Jonathan and Kate, Evelyn conducts relationship background checks for a wide variety of clients.

Soon it becomes clear that one case has moved beyond professional and Evelyn finds herself fighting an attraction she cannot resist.

Will Evelyn admit her feelings when she uncovers love in the most unexpected of places?

About the Author

Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter
Kacey Shea is a mom of three, wife, and part-time bookkeeper who resides in sunny Arizona. She enjoys reading and writing romance novels as much as her son loves unicorns, which is a lot.

When she's not writing you will find her playing taxi cab to her children while belting out her favorite tunes, meeting friends or family for food and to share some laughs, or sweating it out in the gym. Kacey finds that picking up heavy weights repeatedly is good for her mental health as much as it is for the physical.

She has an unhealthy obsession with firefighters. It could be the pants. It could be the fire. It's just hot. On occasion she has been known to include them, without their knowledge, in her selfies outside the grocery store.

Kacey one day aspires to be a woman hand model in a sexy photo shoot. You know, the woman's hand raking across the muscular back or six pack stomach of the male fitness model. Yep, that hand.

Until that day comes she will continue writing sexy, flirty romance novels in hopes to bring others joy!

My Review

Shea was kind enough to contact and offer me a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. Uncovering Love is her self-published debut novel. I tell you what, I absolutely love the cover! The colours also match my blog which is pretty cool. I think well all just need to take a moment of silence to truly appreciate the sexiness of the cover.... *bows head*

Right. Now, let's get down to business.

Though I found the story entertaining, I found that it couldn't completely immerse me in the story. Uncovering Love has a good plot, but I feel the writing style needs a little work. The dialog is a little clunky and doesn't feel natural at times, but most of what come out of the character's mouths is quite amusing. The overall writing style is rather formal which made it more apparent that I was reading a story, rather than feeling like I was living the story with the characters, which is a bit of a shame.

On the flip side, I absolutely love the characters in this novel! Kate is a delightful riot of fun and craziness. Tate and Jon fulfill the books dedicated man candy quota very well, though Tate seems just that little too perfect to be a real person - but what the Hell? This is fiction, after all. Then there is Evelyn. I found myself relating more strongly to her than the other characters with her dislike for lying and rather cynical attitude towards men. I like the way that the character development progressed, and I am looking forward to seeing where Shea takes the story next, in Jon and Kate's novel Uncovering Desire.

Overall, Uncovering Love is a relatively short and entertaining story that is a decent start to Shea's career as an author. Being a sweet and fluffy kind of read, I'd recommend it people who don't take books too seriously and don't mind a little 'cheese' factor.


3 out of 5
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Friday, 24 July 2015

Blogger Hacks: Introducing the Mini Series!

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I was reflecting back on blogging life that I've had with Blogger, and how I wished there were some things that someone had told or taught me in the beginning. It would've made my life a lot easier back then... What's that they say about hindsight?

Then I thought, Hey, maybe I can be that someone for somebody else!

So the plan is to post once a week a tip/trick that I have picked up along my journey as a blogger that will, not only make your life easier, but will give your blog that professional looking edge without the price tag. An added bonus in learning some computer based skills is that they are most definitely transferable!

I'm thinking Friday might be the best day to put these posts up so you'll have the weekend to try anything that takes your fancy. Good? Good.

Catch you guys this time next week
Don't forget your thinking caps!
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Monday, 20 July 2015

Holiday Reading | What's the Right Number of Books?

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So, tonight I am flying back to my hometown to visit my dad and brother before I disappear to the other half of the world for 6 months, and I was wondering what the acceptable amount of books to take with me is...

I mean, it's a 4.5 hour flight, so there's a minimum of two books when you consider the return trip. Then I am there for 2 weeks and this is where things get tricky.

I only have carry-on luggage with a max 7kg limit. Of this, I can probably ration off about 2kg for books since I'll only need to pack shorts, bathers, sunscreen, and my laptop. Yay for the tropics!

Here's the pickle:
Do I want to use my allotted book weight to bring a couple of paperbacks with me, OR use it for my iPad (which I only use as an e-reader)?

My iPad holds about a hundred or so unread books, verses 2 unread paperbacks plus whatever books are still kicking around in my childhood bedroom. Either way I feel like I'll have enough content to read for 2 weeks (whilst still socializing with family, of course), but, like always with me, it comes down to weighing the pros and cons of each...

iPad vs. Paperback
100+ unread vs. 2 unread
eBook vs. Physical
Unknown vs. Favourites
Quantity vs. Quality

Ugh! Why does life have to be filled with such hard choices?!
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Friday, 17 July 2015

Happy Blogoversary to Me! (But You Get the Gift)

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It has been 4 book filled years since I started my humble little blog, and I can't believe how far I have come and how much my blog and I have evolved over time.

My favourite part about doing what I do is the acceptance I get from the book blog community in, not only their willingness to accept my book ramblings and addiction, but the fact that you guys are right there with me. Also the way that it creates a platform where I can talk to authors and they can talk to me - it makes the world all that much smaller and way more amazing.

I really just want to thank everyone that has joined me on my journey of literary exploration - whether you've been with me from the beginning or are a newbie. Thank you for reading my ramblings. Thank you sicking around when I go on hiatus during my exam periods. Thank you be there for my blog and making what I do possible. You guys are the best!

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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Blog Tour: Unlikely Allies by C.C. Koen | Excerpt + Giveaway

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Unlikely Allies
C.C. Koen

Published June 13th 2015

Purchase: Amazon | B&N
What happens when a single mom’s four-year-old daughter falls in love with Mr. Right and she doesn’t?

Maggie Tyson’s rule: no bad boys. Her incarcerated ex-husband broke her of that attraction. Needing to escape his threats and the scrutiny of the people in her hometown, Maggie relocates to New York City. Determined to not make the same mistakes, she has a mile-long list of dos and don’ts. Unfortunately, her daughter, Cecily, doesn’t like to follow them. When Cecily wanders away from her and right into Rick Stone’s office, Maggie knows he’s the exact type she’s been trying to avoid. Can she resist him or will she succumb to his willful charm?

Rick Stone’s rule: bed them don’t wed them. Running a multibillion dollar business doesn’t leave him with much time to do anything else, particularly with an overbearing grandfather breathing down his neck. But when a man works hard, he needs to play even harder. Voted America’s most eligible bachelor, Rick doesn’t have any problems getting women into his bed—except one.
Two auburn beauties stumble into his life.
One will break his heart.
The other—heal it.
Will he love or leave them?

About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter
C.C. Koen writes contemporary romance with a twist. An avid reader who enjoys mystery and suspense, her stories will never be what you expect. Determined to find adventure in her dreams and life, she enjoys skydiving, sailing and any activity that challenges her. Teacher by day, romance writer at night produce an active imagination that comes to life in her writing.

Excerpt

“Cece, Cece, where are you?”

They both turned toward the door.

An adult version of the pint-sized girl appeared in the doorway. This variation, though, had hair on the cherry side of auburn with twists of milk chocolate streaming through the strands. A messy ponytail slung high on top of her head, and thick, curly waves fell over her shoulder, instead of bright, reddish-orange pigtails like Cece’s.

“Cece, come here.” The woman’s stern tone communicated there better not be any arguments. Cece marched across the room. “My daughter shouldn’t have run off. I’m sorry if she disturbed you.”

A company logo and name written in gold script in a circular pattern above her left breast caught his attention: Westlake Security Services. His best friend, Matt, owned the firm adjacent to his office. She’d have to pass his suite to get there, yet he’d never seen her before. He inspected her uniform, a gray polo shirt and black slacks. An outfit he’d seen many times before, but it never looked that good on anyone else. The fabric, tucked in at her waist, had a cut that hugged her handful-sized breasts, and slim pants accentuated her curvy hips.

He lifted his gaze and found the woman ushering Cece out the door. “Wait.”

Cece turned, beaming a huge smile at him. “I would a told ya bye.” And just as fast, her little face morphed from happy to perturbed, aimed at her mother, and with her arms crossed, Cece shook her head.

Without missing a beat, and as smooth as his mother would have, the woman redirected Cece. “Say good night to Mr.…”

“Stone, Rick Stone.”

She set a hand on Cece’s shoulder, nudging her and casting a do-what-your-mother-says stare. “I have to get back to work. Say goodbye to Mr. Stone.”

“What’s your name?” He couldn’t let her get away that fast.

“Maggie.”

“Margareta Cassidy Tyson,” Cece shouted with emphasis, a pause between each distinction. “My mama works here.” She pointed toward the hall. “She plays on a phone and ʼputer. It got lotsa buttons.” She shook her head, pigtails flinging back and forth over one shoulder then the other, followed by an overdrawn sigh. “She don’t let me push ʼem. Don’t ya think I should get to push ʼem? He let me push his.” Cece looked up at her mother and shot her arm toward him, her shrugging shoulders communicating, “See, everybody can do it. No big deal.”

Rick chuckled and then stopped when Maggie spun around, hands set on her hips. He rubbed his palm along the back of his neck and shifted from one foot to the other as an uncomfortable silence engulfed the room. “Let me explain.”

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Monday, 13 July 2015

The Pros and Cons of Pre-Ordering Books Months in Advance

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I don't think you can call yourself a true book geek/nerd/worm/lover until you've pre-ordered a book months in advance. It's like the unwritten rule. You try to one-up your fellow book lovers with how long before the release date you pre-ordered it: 'Oh, you pre-ordered Every Last Breath today? That's cute. I did it 3 months ago.' I don't know about you, but to me, it's like the trash talk of the book world.

But like any great idea, there are always two sides to the coin. Here are a few pros and cons I came up with when it comes to pre-ordering:

Pros
  •  You're that one step closer to having that book in your greedy little hands
  •  Means you won't have to fight anyone over the last copy at the bookshop
  •  If you buy online, you don't even have to leave the house - always a plus!
  •  Sometimes your book arrives early - queue evil laugh
  •  If you forget that you ordered it, it's like a surprise gift to yourself

Cons
  •  You may forget that you've ordered it, and order it again - I'm guilty!
  •  Waiting for them to arrive - the mailbox is checked several times daily
  •  The frustration when it doesn't magically appear at your door
  •  You still have to wait FOREVER for the book release date

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Saturday, 11 July 2015

Book Blitz: Corner of Ocean and Bay by Gina Azzi | Excerpt + Giveaway

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Corner of Ocean and Bay
Gina Azzi

Published June 15th 2015

Purchase: Amazon | B&N
Nessa Moore has sought reliable stability since her father’s death. Now, she’s over it. Tired of always being the mature adult, constantly worrying about her alcoholic mother, stressing about being able to afford college, she wants to have one normal, carefree, fun summer. And be more like her best friend Jacie.

Jacie Hayes is struggling to overcome the recent breakup with her first love. The one that ripped out her heart and left her devastated. Frustrated and bored with her own self pity, Jacie wants nothing more than to forget about Dylan, to go back to her old ways, her old self. To be the fun loving, live-in-the-moment girl who gossips about boys and sips mojitos.

Best friends since childhood, Nessa and Jacie have been through all their ups and downs together. No matter what. Now, the summer before their senior year of high school, they accept an invitation from Jacie’s aunt to join her in Lockwood Quay, New Jersey, a summer beach getaway.

Determined to make this their best, most memorable, summer yet, both girls push their own boundaries, accept new challenges, and find themselves keeping secrets from each other.

But sometimes, stepping out of your comfort zone has consequences.

And some secrets can’t be forgiven.

Or forgotten.

About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Email
Gina Azzi spent all of her childhood summers at the beach in New Jersey - it was magical! Gina is a passionate reader, frequent globetrotter, and coffee enthusiast. She currently resides in Dubai with her husband, Tony.

Gina loves meeting new people and would love to hear from you! Get in touch with her!

Excerpt

The unique scent of the ocean, a fusion of sea salt and secrets, blows into the open windows of Jacie’s Jeep Wrangler minutes after we pass the sign welcoming us to Lockwood Quay, New Jersey, population 2,700. The wind whips my hair around my face, tying it in knots, and I breathe in deep, holding the air in my lungs, committing its deliciousness to memory.

I ride shotgun, sitting next to Jacie, as she reaches over and turns up the volume to Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long.” We sing the chorus in unison, Jacie’s fingers tapping the beat on the steering wheel, as we near Aunt Beatrice’s beach house. Jacie throws her arms up, dancing to the music, shaking her head as her long, straight blonde hair snakes down her back. I immediately reach over and grab the steering wheel. We swerve slightly and the man in an oncoming car blares his horn, giving us the stink eye as he passes. Jacie giggles and waves to him. I join in her laughter as I try to squeeze the panic from my chest, reminding myself that this is my shot at a normal, carefree summer, my chance to have some Jacie kind of fun.

When we round the next corner Aunt Beatrice’s house unfolds before me. The house is sprawling, ranch style, transporting me back to my childhood when my father would rent a beach house for the summer. He always loved the Jersey shore.

Aunt Beatrice’s house is a pale gray, almost blue, with large bay windows and a wraparound porch. In one corner, a swing sways slightly in the breeze and white wicker chairs beckon. The path up to the house and the wide driveway are dotted with pale pink brick pavers; the front lawn isn’t a lawn at all but a stretch of various sized stones, broken seashells, and sandy pebbles; the flowers are in full bloom. Beautiful flowers are everywhere: hanging from the window boxes, falling to the porch in various shades of pink, purple, yellow, blue.

“Let the summer shenanigans commence,” Jacie says, shoving the gear stick into park and opening the Jeep door. She stretches her arms overhead and her T-shirt rides up, revealing a glimpse of the ink she had tattooed on her lower abdomen the night before she turned seventeen, precisely nine days ago. Her cousins even gifted her a fake ID.

“I seriously can’t believe we are going to live here!” I push my sunglasses up on top of my head, sweeping my side bangs off my forehead.

“I know, right. It’s going to be such an awesome summer!”

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Thursday, 9 July 2015

Blog Tour: Jesse's Girl by Miranda Kenneally | Review + Giveaway

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Jesse's Girl
Miranda Kenneally

Hundred Oaks

Published July 7th 2015

Purchase: Amazon | B&N
Practice Makes Perfect.

Everyone at Hundred Oaks High knows that career mentoring day is a joke. So when Maya Henry said she wanted to be a rock star, she never imagined she’d get to shadow *the* Jesse Scott, Nashville’s teen idol.

But spending the day with Jesse is far from a dream come true. He’s as gorgeous as his music, but seeing all that he’s accomplished is just a reminder of everything Maya’s lost: her trust, her boyfriend, their band, and any chance to play the music she craves. Not to mention that Jesse’s pushy and opinionated. He made it on his own, and he thinks Maya’s playing back up to other people’s dreams. Does she have what it takes to follow her heart—and go solo?

About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter
Growing up in Tennessee, Miranda Kenneally dreamed of becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer (cliché!), or a UN interpreter. Instead she writes, and works for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where George W. Bush once used her shoulder as an armrest. Miranda loves Twitter, Star Trek and her husband.

My Review

So this is the first addition to the Hundred Oaks series that doesn't revolve around a form of sport - I mean there was Things I Can't Forget, but that was set in a summer camp, so it sort of still counts... definitely more so than this book, centered around the music industry. I was a little hesitant going in for this book because of this. I was worried that this setting would be out of Kenneally's comfort zone, but I'm happy to report that this was not the case.

I have to say, as a big fan of country music, Jesse Scott kinda melted my heart - once he lost his cold exterior. He is funny and witty, a sexy cutie in a cowboy hat and boots, but my favourite part about this character is he attitude - go big or go home, all or nothing. That contrasts greatly with Maya Henry who, while has big dreams for herself, she only seems to half-arse her attempts to reach for them - until Jesse gives her a talking to.

Jesse's Girl brings us to 5 books deep in the Hundred Oaks series, and I got this strange nostalgic feeling when Maya goes to visit her brother - none other than the famous Sam Henry from the first book in the series, Catching Jordan (still my favourite of the series). It was fun to see how he and Jordan are doing - and by gosh their antics are still hilarious as they were at 18 as they are now at 24. It was nice of Kenneally to throw those of us that have been with her from the start a little bone for us to sink our teeth into.

As always, Kenneally delivers a cute and endearing story about young love in Jesse's Girl. I'd recommend this book to lovers of music based fiction and those that are just looking for something fluffy to read.  


3 out of 5

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Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Book Love: Every Last Breath by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Excerpt

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Every Last Breath
Jennifer L. Armentrout

Dark Elements #3

Coming July 28th 2015

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository
Some loves will last ’til your dying breath

Every choice has consequences—but seventeen-year-old Layla faces tougher choices than most. Light or darkness. Wickedly sexy demon prince Roth, or Zayne, the gorgeous, protective Warden she never thought could be hers. Hardest of all, Layla has to decide which side of herself to trust.

Layla has a new problem, too. A Lilin—the deadliest of demons—has been unleashed, wreaking havoc on those around her…including her best friend. To keep Sam from a fate much, much worse than death, Layla must strike a deal with the enemy while saving her city—and her race—from destruction.

Torn between two worlds and two different boys, Layla has no certainties, least of all survival, especially when an old bargain comes back to haunt them all. But sometimes, when secrets are everywhere and the truth seems unknowable, you have to listen to your heart, pick a side—and then fight like hell…

About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter
#1 New York Times and International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell, Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA.

She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

Excerpt

I found this excerpt on the Amazon page for Every Last Breath and thought I'd share it all with you to help tide over the wait for the release. Please note that if you haven't read White Hot Kiss or Stone Cold Touch, this excerpt is spoilery - read at your own risk!

I stood in Stcey's living room as my entire world crashed around me once more. Sam was the Lilin.

Acute horror held me immobile, seizing the air in my lungs as I stared at what used to be one of my closest friends in the whole world. Because of the demonic familiar, Bambi, and being unable to see souls while she'd bonded to me, I'd never seen what had been right in front of my face this entire time. None of us had, but it was Sam—he'd been the one to cause the mayhem at school and all the recent deaths. Instead of stripping souls with a single touch, as I'd known a Lilin could do, he'd taken his time, taking a little here and there, playing with his victims and playing with us.

Playing with me.

Except what was standing in Stacey's house was—was basically wearing Sam's skin, a perfectly crafted costume, because the real Sam… He was no more. The pain of knowing that my friend was dead, had been dead for a while without any of us knowing, cut deep into me, making misery of my bone and tissue.

I hadn't been able to save him. None of us had been able to, and now his soul…his soul had to be down below, where all souls that were taken by a Lilin would go. My stomach cramped.

"You cannot defeat me," the Lilin said, his voice identical to Sam's. "So join me."

"Or what?" My heart pounded like a jackhammer in my chest. "Or die? That's not incredibly cliché or anything."

The Lilin tilted its head to the side. "Actually, I wasn't going to say that to you. I need you to help free our mother. The rest of them can die, though."

Our mother. Before I could dwell on the ick factor of being related to the creature that had killed my friend and inflicted so much carnage, Zayne shifted into his true form, distracting me. His shirt ripped up the back as his wings unfurled and his skin deepened to the dark granite of the Wardens. Two horns sprouted, parting his wavy blond hair as they curled back, and his nostrils flattened. When he parted his lips to let out a low growl of warning, fangs appeared. He stepped toward Sam, his massive hands curling into fists.

"Don't!" I shouted. Zayne halted, his head swinging sharply toward me. "Do not get close to him. Your soul," I reminded him as my heart raced. Or what was left of Zayne's soul, considering I'd accidentally taken a nice little bite out of it not long ago.

Zayne backed off, his stance wary.

I turned my attention back to the evil masquerading as Sam. Whatever the thing was standing in front of us, we did share the same flesh and blood. Only recently had I learned exactly how I'd come to be part demon and part Warden. I was the daughter of Lilith and this…this thing truly was a part of me. It had been born out of Lilith's and my blood, and it was just as evil as Lilith. It wanted her freed? Impossible. If Lilith ever ended up topside, the world as we knew it would irrevocably change.

"I'm not going to help you free Lilith." I was so not referring to her as our mother. Yuck. "That's never going to happen."

The Lilin smiled as it watched me with dark, inky eyes. "Get as close as you want." It ignored my statement, taunting Zayne. Heck, taunting all of us. "She's not the only one in this room with a taste for a Warden's soul."

I sucked in a sharp, stinging breath as Stacey let out a whimper. In the space of a second, her relationship with Sam flashed before me. They'd been friends forever and only recently had she recognized that Sam had always, always been in love with her. But she hadn't started paying real attention to him until Sam had begun to change.

Oh God.

Stacey had to be breaking wide-open, seeing the boy she finally loved become worse than the monsters that prowled the streets at night, but I couldn't afford to take my focus off the Lilin. It could make a move at any moment, and three of us in this room were vulnerable to the worst kind of attack it could deliver.

"There's nothing like taking a pure soul, but you'd already know that, Layla. All that warmth and goodness goes down as smooth as the richest chocolate." The Lilin tipped its chin up and let out the kind of groan that normally would've caused my ears to burn. "But taking your time, savoring the taste is so much more decadent. You should try it, Layla, and stop being so greedy when you feed."

"And you should try shutting the Hell up." Heat rolled off the powerful demon standing beside me. Roth, the reigning Crown Prince of Hell, hadn't shifted yet, but I could tell he was close. Fury dripped from his words. "How about that?"

The Lilin didn't even spare a glance in Roth's direction. "I like you. I really do, prince. Too bad you're going to end up dead."

My fingers curled in, nails biting into my palms as anger flushed through my system, hot and bitter. My emotions were all over the place. On top of everything else that had gone wrong recently, I was standing here between Zayne and Roth, which was about a thousand times awkward on a normal day, but now, after Roth.

I couldn't focus on any of that right now. "You're very brave, making threats when we outnumber you."

One shoulder rose in a gesture so quintessentially Sam it sent a slice of pain through me. "How about I'm just intelligent?" it queried gamely. "And how about I know more than all of you about how this will end?"

"You talk a lot," Roth growled, stepping forward. "And I mean a lot. Why is it that the bad guys always have to give disgustingly long and boring monologues? Let's just get to the killing part, all right?"

The Lilin's mouth formed a lopsided grin. "So eager to die the final death, aren't you?"

"So eager to be done with you running your mouth, more like," Roth retorted, moving so that once again he stood directly beside me.

"It's been you this whole time?" Stacey's voice trembled under the weight of the pain she must be feeling. "You haven't been Sam? Not since."

"Not since Dean displayed his fists of fury. That was fun." The Lilin laughed as those dark eyes slid in her direction. "Sam hasn't been home in quite some time, but I can assure you, I enjoyed…our time together as much as I'm sure he would've. You know, if that's any consolation for you."

She clapped her hands over her mouth, muffling the words as tears streamed down her pale face. "Oh my God."

"Not quite," it murmured silkily.

I stepped closer to Stacey, drawing the Lilin's attention from her. I was sick for her, absolutely repulsed. "Why?" I demanded. "You've been around us for weeks. Why haven't you attacked any of us?"

The Lilin sighed heavily. "I'm not all about violence, death and gore. I discovered rather quickly that there are a lot of fun things to do topside, things I've thoroughly enjoyed." It winked at Stacey, and I saw red.

My skin tingled like a thousand fire ants were marching all over it. "Don't look at her. Don't talk to her or even breathe in her general direction, and don't even think about touching her ever again."

"Oh, I've done more than that," the Lilin replied. "Lots more. Everything your Sam wishes he could've had the balls to do. But you know, he's not really concerned about those things at the moment. You see, I consumed him—his soul in its entirety. No part of him remains on this plane. He's not a wraith like the others who crossed my path. I didn't play with my food when it came to him, taking tiny bits of him. No, he's gone. He's in—"

Several things happened all at once.

Stacey shot toward the Lilin, her hand rising as if she was about to knock the mocking smile off his face. The Lilin drifted toward her, and while it hadn't taken her soul yet for whatever reason, I now knew there were no guarantees. The Lilin was unpredictable. It had exposed what it truly was, and I sensed it was done playing around. It was within arms' reach of her and I—well, I sort of lost it. Rage lit me up from the inside.

The change came over me without even trying. Like shedding a sweater, I let go of the human form I'd worn for so long, and in a way, had desperately clung to. It had never been this easy before. Bones didn't break and reknit. Skin didn't stretch, but I felt mine harden, become resilient to most knives and bullets. The roof of my mouth tingled as my fangs dropped, teeth designed to cut through even a Warden's skin, and most definitely a Lilin's. Just below the base of my neck and on either side of my spine, my wings broke free and unfurled.

There was a sharp inhale from someone in the room, but I wasn't paying attention.

Moving as quick as a cobra striking, I grabbed Stacey's arm and shoved her behind me. I got between her and the Lilin. "I said, do not touch her. Do not look at her. Do not even breathe in her direction. You do so, and I will rip your head from your shoulders and punt-kick it out a window."

The Lilin jerked, dancing a step backward. Its pitch-black eyes widened. Shock splashed across its face and then its lips curled back. "That's not playing fair."

What in the world? Was that fear I saw in its face? "Do I look like I care?"

"Oh, you're going to." The Lilin backtracked, moving toward the door. "You're so going to care."

Then the Lilin was gone, spinning right around and exiting the house with a quickness that left me standing there, staring foolishly at the empty doorway. I didn't understand. The Lilin hadn't batted an eyelash at Zayne or Roth, but I'd shifted forms and it had tucked its tail and run away?

Uh.

"Well, that was…anticlimactic." I turned around slowly, tucking my wings back. The first one I saw was Zayne.

He'd returned to his human form. Zayne always, even when he appeared exhausted, could've stepped out of a Town and Country magazine. His good looks went beyond all-American and straight into swoonville, population every girl on the planet. He looked like I imagined angels would. Vibrant blue eyes and near-heavenly features, but he stared at me with his mouth hanging slightly open. His absolutely gorgeous face was pale, which made the unforgiving shadows under his eyes stand out starkly. He stared at me like he'd never seen me before, which was bizarre, because he'd grown up with me. I felt like some kind of specimen.

A trickle of unease ran down my spine as my gaze switched to the couch. At some point, Zayne had moved closer to where Stacey had landed. I expected to find her rocking in a ball, but she too gaped at me, her hands pressed against her cheeks, and any other time I would've laughed at that expression. Not now.

My heart rate kicked into overdrive as I swung toward the back of the room, where Roth was standing. My gaze collided with eyes the color of amber. His were wide, his pupils vertical. Even so, he was a sight to behold.

Roth was—well, there was no one that walked this earth that looked quite like him. Probably had to do with the fact that he was in no way human, but he was stunning. Always had been, even when he'd styled the black hair into spikes. I preferred the lesser look he rocked now with his hair falling over his forehead, brushing the tips of his ears and the arches of equally dark eyebrows. Golden eyes were slightly slanted at the outer corners. He had cheekbones and a jaw you could cut glass with, a face any artist would die to sketch—or touch. And those full, expressive lips were parted.

His tawny skin wasn't pale and he didn't gape at me like I belonged under a microscope, but he was watching me in astonishment just as Zayne had.

The unease turned into balls of dread, settling heavily in my stomach. "What?" I whispered, glancing around the room. "Why are you all staring at me like…like there's something wrong with me?"

It couldn't have been because I'd told the Lilin I'd rip his head off. Yeah, I was a little less violent on most days, but in the past week or so, I'd thought I was the Lilin, had been kissed by Zayne and nearly took his soul, was subsequently chained and held in captivity by the very clan that had raised me, was almost killed by that same clan—deep breath—was then healed thanks to Roth and a mystery brew provided by a coven of witches who worshipped Lilith, and now I'd just discovered that my best friend was dead, his soul was in Hell, and the Lilin had taken his place. You'd think a girl could be cut a little slack.

Roth cleared his throat. "Shortie, look…look at your hand."

Look at my hand? Why in the world would he be asking me to do that in the midst of all the cray?

"Do it," he said quietly and too gently.

The dread exploded in my gut like buckshot, and my gaze dropped to my left hand. I expected to see the weird marbling of black and gray, a mixture of the demon and Warden that existed inside of me and a combination I'd become almost familiar with by now. My nails had lengthened and sharpened, and I could tell they were hard enough to cut through steel, as hard as my skin, but my skin…it was still pink. Really pink.

"What the…?" My gaze traveled to my other hand. It was the same. Just pink. My wings twitched, reminding me that I had shifted.

Zayne swallowed. "Your…your wings…"

"What about my wings?" I almost screeched, reaching behind me. "Are they broken? Did they not come out—" The tips of my fingers came into contact with something as soft as silk. My hand jerked back. "What…"

Stacey's watery eyes had doubled in size. "Um, Layla, there's a mirror above the fireplace. I think you need to look in it."

I met Roth's gaze for a second before I spun around and all but ran to the fireplace I was sure Stacey's mom had never used. Clutching the white mantel, I stared at my reflection.

I looked normal, like I did before I shifted…like I was going to class or something. My eyes were the palest shade of gray, a watered-down blue. My hair was so blond it was almost white, and a mess of waves that went in every direction like usual. I looked like a colorless china doll, which was nothing new, except for the two fangs jutting out of my mouth. I wouldn't show them off at school, but that wasn't what caught my attention and held it.

It was my wings.

They were large, not as massive as Zayne's or Roth's, and normally they were almost leathery in texture, but now they were black…black and feathered. Like legit feathered. That soft, silky thing I'd felt? It had been tiny feathers.

Feathers.

"Oh my God," I whispered at my reflection. "I have feathers."

"Those are definitely feathered wings," Roth commented.

I whipped around, knocking over a lamp with my feathered right wing. "I have feathers on my wings!"

Roth cocked his head to the side. "Yeah, you do."
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Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Book Blitz: Fractured Memories by Jo Schneider | Interview + Giveaway

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Fractured Memories
Jo Schneider

Jagged Scars #1

Published May 20th 2015

Purchase: Amazon
Sixteen year old Wendy never knew the world before the Starvation. She’s learned to put her trust in her knives, and her confidence in her fighting ability. When the Skinnies attack her compound, she’s the lone survivor.

Injured and near death, Wendy is rescued and nursed back to health by mysterious strangers. Her saviors offer her a place among them, but trust has never been one of Wendy’s strengths, and suspicion soon leads to evidence that these people might be the group who killed her family.

The decision to get her revenge, and take the settlement down from the inside out is easy. Keeping her distance from those she must befriend in order to make it happen proves to be much more difficult.

About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter
Author of Babes in Spyland, New Sight-YA fantasy out April 2014, wearer of a black belt in Kempo and always in search of the next cool place to visit!

An Interview with Jo Schneider

How important are names in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any other name choosing resources you recommend?
Names are very important, and I'm sometimes horrible at finding just the right one. Ages ago, I bought a baby name book--a book that my fiance packed up when we got married and moved in together and was a little concerned about--and I often use that to find names. Sometimes I look at meanings. Often I will end up with names that all sound the same (one syllable for instance) or all start with the same letter. When that starts to happen, I find a letter I haven't used and I flip open the book. Sometimes I use the web too. Especially if I need, say, legitimate last name from Africa .

In my first novel, New Sight, I couldn't think of a name for the bad guys, so I named them the New until I came up with something better. By the time I got finished writing the book, the New had stuck. It's a dumb name, but now it's theirs.

When you walk into a book store, where do you head first?
Fantasy and Sci-Fi. Either adult or YA. Whichever I find first. Although if there is a cafe, I might get a snack before I start. Looking at books is both exhilarating and exhausting.

Where do you get your ideas? Where did the idea for this book come from?
My brain is a bizarre place. I've gotten book ideas while driving on the freeway, while in church (and not light, fluffy ideas, which is strange), while at dinner, while trying to work on something else (that's just mean, by the way) and in dreams.

The very first shadow of Fractured Memories that I had was while I was in college. Too many years ago to count. I had this dream. In it I woke up and found myself on a round bed in a cave. I had no idea where I was or who I was. There was a man sitting at a desk trying to do some paperwork by candle light. He looked like the guy who plays Goose in Top Gun. I said something and scared him half to death. When he turned to look at me, he asked if I was okay.

And that's when I woke up.

The scene isn't in the book. As a matter of fact, the only thing left of the dream in the story is Wendy (who is not me--I'm not nearly that cool or traumatized) waking up and not knowing where she is. The part that remains is the feel of the dream. It was dark and cold and felt so alone. Wendy gets all of that. Poor kid.

Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I'm an outliner. The more I wade through the story before I start, the less times I have to rewrite it. I have a whole list of things I go over as I plan, including plot points, a theme, the characters needs and desires, the main conflicts and as many other little things that I can think about before I actually begin writing.

However, things always, always, always change. It's taken me a few years to realize that it's okay to rewrite a story. Six times. It just takes a while. My process is getting better, but I suspect that I will always have a throwaway rough draft that ends up only getting about 20% of it into the final manuscript.

I've tried the "just write" approach, and for me it always ends in a spectacular temper tantrum by me and a shopping spree.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book? Why should anyone read it?
Fractured Memories is a kick a**, YA Post-Apocalyptic novel that 's one part action, one part horror, and one part fun.

I once heard an author say that when you tell people about your story, you should look and act as if you are telling them about the first time your baby said "ma ma.". I totally feel this way about Fractured Memories. Wendy is a character that's been rolling around in my head for a lot of years. Her friends have been lurking as well. They all have hopes, they all have dreams, they all have faced sorrows and horrors that hopefully none of us have to face. They're scarred, but they're still people, and they still care about others.

The world in the book has changed, but the ever-present need for friendship and trust will never die. That's what this book is about. Wendy is alone, on a mission to avenge her family at any cost, when these pesky teenagers befriend her. Hard to plot revenge when someone is trying to make you laugh.

Will you have a new book coming out soon?
Oh goodness, I hope so.

Right now I'm writing some short stories that go before my first novel, New Sight. (New Sight is not the same story as Fractured Memories) Those should be out this summer. I'm pretty excited about these, they're origin stories for the characters of that series. Then New Sight 2--oh how I hate finding just the right title--will be out in the fall. Barring a disaster in my life, the second book of Fractured Memories should be out early next year.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
Like all good stories, there's a character that's just a jerk. Think Malfory in Harry Potter. In FM, his name is Dennis. Wendy takes him down in a fight the first time they meet, and he's pissed about it. In the middle of the book, he tries to extract his revenge, and what he does to Wendy is pretty terrible. But what Wendy does in return is bad enough to make me both flinch and let out an evil laugh at the same time.

It wasn't in my original version of the story, but all of my beta readers felt as if Dennis had gotten off too easy. That is no longer the case. I honestly didn't know I would get as much glee out of Wendy hurting him as I did.

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Monday, 6 July 2015

I'm Pretty Sure Goodreads Thinks I'm a Idiot

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I am laughing so hard at myself right now - I just misspelt 'idiot' in the post title! Talk about irony.
Any who, the reason why I think Goodreads (not myself) thinks I'm an idiot is because of the emails they send me weekly. Now, I don't know about you guys, but I get a weekly email giving me updates about what my friends have been reading/want to read and so forth.

At the top of this email, it always starts out the same way:


Seriously, Goodreads?! You're going to tell me what I'm reading?

Since I'm the one reading the book, and I told you what I'm reading - I'M PRETTY SURE I KNOW WHAT I AM READING!

Good ole Goodreads, just strolling into my mailbox each week playing Captain Obvious:
Goodreads: 'Sup Renae? Just here to remind you that you're reading #Hater by Cambria Herbert, just in case you, you know, forgotten between telling us, reading the book, and now having to stop reading said book to check your email since we made your phone make a ding noise.

Me: *Facepalm*

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