Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











From Goodreads : A thrilling tale of secretaries turned spies, of love and duty, and of sacrifice—inspired by the true story of the CIA plot to infiltrate the hearts and minds of Soviet Russia, not with propaganda, but with the greatest love story of the twentieth century: Doctor Zhivago.

At the height of the Cold War, two secretaries are pulled out of the typing pool at the CIA and given the assignment of a lifetime. Their mission: to smuggle Doctor Zhivago out of the USSR, where no one dare publish it, and help Pasternak’s magnum opus make its way into print around the world. Glamorous and sophisticated Sally Forrester is a seasoned spy who has honed her gift for deceit all over the world–using her magnetism and charm to pry secrets out of powerful men. Irina is a complete novice, and under Sally’s tutelage quickly learns how to blend in, make drops, and invisibly ferry classified documents.

The Secrets We Kept combines a legendary literary love story—the decades-long affair between Pasternak and his mistress and muse, Olga Ivinskaya, who was sent to the Gulag and inspired Zhivago’s heroine, Lara—with a narrative about two women empowered to lead lives of extraordinary intrigue and risk. From Pasternak’s country estate outside Moscow to the brutalities of the Gulag, from Washington, D.C. to Paris and Milan, The Secrets We Kept captures a watershed moment in the history of literature—told with soaring emotional intensity and captivating historical detail. And at the center of this unforgettable debut is the powerful belief that a piece of art can change the world.

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I’m not usually a historical fiction reader, but The Secrets We Kept was an absolutely phenomenal read that had me glued to the pages from the very beginning. Told from the viewpoint of multiple people during the height of the Cold War, readers embark into the world of spies, revolutionaries, double agents, and their secretaries. A mix of love stories and spy work, Lara Prescott fills readers in on the true story of how the CIA smuggled Dr. Zhivago back into Russia as a way to bring down the Communists from the inside. Though the dialog is imagined, especially the Typists sections — those brave woman back from WWII delegated to secretarial work instead of the field where they belong, now that the men are home from the war — the people and events are real.

Prescott is a very talented writer, and I loved the flow of the novel, jumping from character to character as the novel unfolds, allowing the reader to get to know all the key players, from the spies, Sally and Irina, to the Russian lovers, Olga and Boris, to even the secretaries, seamlessly tying the story together as each character shares their take on events. The Audible version actually employs multiple narrators in order to keep each person’s story separate, and I loved have male and female narrators accordingly. They expertly read their parts, and I easily got lost in their tales as they shared the story with me. If you have Audible, I highly suggest listening to this novel that way; it made it that much more real and compelling for me.

I haven’t fully read Dr. Zhivago, though I tried immediately after finishing this novel, as I wanted to see what all the hype was about back in the late 1950s, however, that story wasn’t for me. Yet, whether or not you’ve read Dr. Zhivago has no baring on your ability to keep up with this whirlwind of espionage that Prescott so masterfully fleshes out for the reader. I spent a good few hours after completing this novel looking up the characters and learning just how well Prescott did mirroring the situations and adding dialogue that perfectly matches events, and yet captivates readers at the same time.

Truth be told, the synopsis above tells it best. This is a powerful novel, and I highly suggest you move it up the reading pile so it’s next on your list. Five stars.

I purchased this novel from Audible.

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Synopsis: Stoneybridge is a small town on the west coast of Ireland where all the families know each other. When Chicky Starr decides to take an old, decaying mansion set high on the cliffs overlooking the windswept Atlantic Ocean and turn it into a restful place for a holiday by the sea, everyone thinks she is crazy. Helped by Rigger (a bad boy turned good who is handy around the house) and Orla, her niece (a whiz at business), Stone House is finally ready to welcome its first guests to the big warm kitchen, log fires, and understated elegant bedrooms. Laugh and cry with this unlikely group as they share their secrets and—maybe—even see some of their dreams come true. Full of Maeve’s trademark warmth and humor, once again, she embraces us with her grand storytelling.

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I’m not going to lie; I didn’t want to have anything to do with this book, but I’m so very glad I picked it up! I recently moved, and my new neighborhood has a book club, which I was eager to join to hopefully begin making friends in the area. That being said, the current novel they were reading and about to meet to discuss was A Week in Winter, published post-humanously after the death of Maeve Binchy. Having been out of the book world for so long, I’d never heard of this well-established author, and in checking her covers and synopsis, I feared this was a hallmark novel trap–that I was going to have to read something so vastly different from my tastes and walk into my first book club meeting less than pleased with the book. However, we’ve all heard not to judge a book by its cover, and I was absolutely pleasantly surprised by how much I adored this novel!

Chicky Starr is a vivid character that the reader can’t help but love. We meet her as a whimsical young woman, swept off her feet by an American and whisked off to the USA, where, of course, years pass, and things don’t go as planned. Armed with a plan, she finally returns to Ireland and takes over Stone House, slowly putting everything together in order to open to her first guests. From there, Binchy expertly weaves the tales of the rest of the people involved with, and staying at, Stone House, dedicating one long chapter to each of the 9 remaining people in the novel.

I think, by far, my favorite chapter was that of Rigger, a young boy born out of wedlock and hidden from his extended family. Although it’s the latter half of the 20th century, we quickly learn that Rigger’s mother cannot bare what she feels is shame for having a child without a father, so she hides him away. Doing her best to raise Rigger in Dublin, working many jobs just to put food on the table, Rigger soon finds himself wrapped up with the wrong type of folk, and after a stint in juvie and a robbery gone wrong, ends up at Stone House with Chicky. I loved his story of redemption, and how realistic Rigger is. And while it is true that many of the characters within the novel do find a type of redemption, or solace, making this into a definite hallmark feel-good novel, I loved it!

I thought it was especially intriguing how Binchy chose to weave all the character’s stories together, and she ordered them so perfectly that each character builds off the next in some way, without overdoing it, or rehashing too much. Each character, from the movie star John to the psychic Frida, has a role to play in this story, and how they all arrive at Stone House, and their previous plights are all nicely wrapped with a bow at the very end… all save one character, who I tend to believe couldn’t have a happy ending without making the novel too touchy-feely, and for which I give kudos to the author.

For me, this definitely classifies as a beach read, or better yet, a Christmas read, one where you can sit leisurely and read, or as in my case, listen in chapter increments. Rosalyn Landor was a phenomenal narrator, and her voices and accents really helped me visualize and dive deep into the stories; I found it quite uncanny how well she did male voices versus female, and Irish accents versus American. I definitely recommend this novel, which you can get on Kindle for just $3.99 at the time of this review release, though I recommend the Audible even more.  Five stars.

I purchased this novel from Audible.

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Synopsis: A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

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This is another novel that I’d heard so much about over the years, and regret putting off reading for so long! It’s an absolutely spectacular novel, which I had the opportunity to listen to through Audible, narrated by George Newbern. Between Backman’s wit and Newbern’s matter-of-fact narration style, I found myself snickering and chuckling to myself as I listened while easily falling in love with Ove and his story of love, loss, heartbreak, and redemption. This poor man wants nothing more than to die and join his wife, and while suicide is no laughing matter, Backman is able to take this story and show how the simple act of paying attention and caring for those around us can have a profound effect on those around us who need it most.

I love how Backman intertwines the present with the past, slowly revealing how Ove came to be the sour, angry old man that he is, but also chipping away at his hard shell exterior in order to show the true Ove inside, as he attempts time and again to join his wife, and is comically interrupted due to his strict rules and beliefs about how his residents’ association should be run, time and time again.  Ove has his set of rules, and he doesn’t break them for anyone, leading to a kind of comedy-of-errors as the residents around him live their lives free of strict rules and instead choose camaraderie.

The one aspect of the novel that I struggled to fully grasp was that of the “white shirts,” and what their role is in Sweden. Are they real, or fictional? In the novel, it seems that the government can come in and boss around citizens whenever they please, going as far as taking away their homes and rights to freedoms, and while I’m sure that’s not the exact right interpretation, I haven’t been able to find much corroborating who or what they represent in Sweden online, aside from a poke at government and corporations, however, I’m not sure if an entity of the white shirts is real or made up for this novel; I’d love an answer, if you happen to know.

I see a little bit of myself in Ove, as I’m sure we all do in one way or another, and Backman’s heartwarming unraveling of Ove allows him to finally find everything he didn’t realize he was missing in life. It was such a moving story; I laughed and I cried on many occasions because of the wonderful connections I made with the characters and their plights as I read, and I really can’t say enough good things about this amazing novel. I highly recommend it, especially as the Kindle version is only $5.99 at the time of this initial posting! Five stars.

I purchased this novel from Audible.

Did you know that you can try a FREE TRIAL of Audible for 30 days? Try it today!

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Synopsis: When Dr. Louis Creed takes a new job and moves his family to the idyllic rural town of Ludlow, Maine, this new beginning seems too good to be true. Despite Ludlow’s tranquility, an undercurrent of danger exists here. Those trucks on the road outside the Creed’s beautiful old home travel by just a little too quickly, for one thing…as is evidenced by the makeshift graveyard in the nearby woods where generations of children have buried their beloved pets.

Then there are the warnings to Louis both real and from the depths of his nightmares that he should not venture beyond the borders of this little graveyard where another burial ground lures with seductive promises and ungodly temptations. A blood-chilling truth is hidden there—one more terrifying than death itself, and hideously more powerful. As Louis is about to discover for himself sometimes, dead is better

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King once self-proclaimed his novel, Pet Sematary, to be the scariest, darkest of all his books, a statement I expected to hold true for the king of horror, however, I found that this novel was not in fact scary in the sense that I expected, but rather more so disturbing, and then only near the end, after tragedy befalls the Creeds.

Truth be told, I spent a majority of this novel just waiting for something to happen. It’s a long story, and King spends much of the novel fleshing out the main character, Louis Creed, until he feels like an old friend that we’ve known all our lives. The character development is phenomenal, if painstakingly slow, and Louis and his actions throughout were quite believable, especially to someone who has felt the pangs of grief as he does. However, I never quite got over his treatment of the cat, Church, which actually made me quite mad.

It’s no secret that this novel touches upon a cemetery, and the title itself states it deals with pets, so it is safe to assume that you’ve already figured out that animals, such as Church, come back from the dead in this novel. But what I wasn’t ready for was the absolute abysmal treatment of the reanimated cat by Louis, who is the worst offender, and then the rest of his family, who are none the wiser to the fact that Church was brought back to life by the Indian Burial Ground located not in the Pet Sematary itself, but beyond, deep in the woods full of danger and strange sounds.

I love cats, and poor Church never asked for anything, nor did he ask to be reanimated, but once he is, his poor coordination, constant smell of decaying dirt, and his uncanny ability to be wherever Louis doesn’t want him is not his fault, and I literally spent over half the novel feeling sorry for this poor animal who is really only a precursor for what is to come much later in the novel, the darker twist that readers see coming from a long ways off, one they hope won’t come true, but know ultimately will.

And how that all unfolds is the portion that is disturbing. I wouldn’t say it is scary by any means, but rather just awful to think about, and a hard pill for many to swallow, especially adults with children in their lives. Luckily, King doesn’t seem to want to dwell on it much either, and this portion, the part that is really what Pet Sematary is all about, is the shortest portion of the novel, moving along quite quickly and then, like so many others of Kings novels, leave readers on a cliffhanger of sorts. One where we must write the rest of the story; one that might keep us up late at night just thinking, what if?

I think, had I the proper information going into this novel (I’ve never watched the movies, nor looked up the premise, save what I heard in “Broken Fingernails,” episode 17 of the hit podcast LORE by Aaron Mahnke, which is what made me pick up Pet Sematary in the first place), I wouldn’t have been as disappointed as I was with the lack of scares I felt as I slogged through the novel, and in this vein, I am very happy that I listened to this novel via audiobook.com, as Michael C. Hall did a great job narrating and switching voices, adding depth to the story that I feel I would have completely missed had I read this in the traditional sense.

All in all, I was looking for a few more scares in this novel, and thus, it’s a 3.5 star read for me.

I received this audio book as part of a free trial for audiobooks.com.

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Synopsis: “What do you want from me?” he asks. What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him. More.

Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn’t a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all.

In this absorbing story by Melina Marchetta, nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her, Hannah finding her then and her sudden departure now, a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear, a boy in her dreams, five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago, and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.

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“My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die. I counted.”

— Jellicoe Road opening lines.

I wish I’d read this book sooner. I wish I’d read this way back in 2011, when I first learned about it, and everyone told me how wonderful it is. I wish I’d read it in 2014 when I finally purchased a copy based on the rave reviews, but alas, I did not, and I feel like I wasted eight years of my life having not read it until this moment–eight years in which I could have had Taylor, Jonah, Chaz, and Narnie besides me and in my heart, eight years in which I could have recommended this novel to others as a must read, just as it was recommended to me… I’ve been away from the reviewing world for about four years, and this is literally the first book I’ve read in nearly five years that’s wrapped me so tightly that I read it in one sitting; it kept me up into the wee hours of the morning turning the pages, wanting to know more, but not wanting the story to end, and I finished it in a whirlwind of feelings just five short hours after I began.

When I first began this novel, I’ll admit I was confused. But Marchetta immediately drew me in with those two opening sentences I mentioned above. How could she not? Marchetta tells two stories that intertwine throughout and paint a beautiful tale of mystery, identity, and finding oneself, but in the beginning, that isn’t as obvious, and it might tempt you to put the book down and check it off as just “not for you.” DON’T DO THAT! Trust me on this one, you need to keep reading. It will all come together in the most perfect, beautiful way, but you’ll have to wait for it, which is part of what makes this novel so good. The prologue begins in the past–and thankfully Marchetta chooses to tell the past in italics to help the reader get their bearings as the novel progresses and switches between the two narratives, one in the present, and the other 18 years in the past. The story in the present of course takes the forefront, focusing on a boarding school and a semi-violent turf war between the Cadets, Townies, and the Jellicoe School Students as they battle it out for territory for six weeks each year, and the territory wars are extremely serious. Between a coup, running dorms, hiding the “war” from teachers and adults, and trying to negotiate for territory, the main character, Taylor, is introduced and solidified as a young woman hell bent on keeping her head down and just trying to make it through unscathed. Abandoned at 11 by her mother, she doesn’t know much about her parents nor her identity, having pushed her life prior to Jellicoe from her mind soon after Hannah picks her up from the 7-11 in town and brings her to the school. Taylor’s story is heartbreaking, but at the same time, it is majestic and healing as well, and as Marchetta unveils new information about events that happened 18 years prior through her expert sprinkling of foreshadowing, savvy readers will begin to piece together who and how each person from the past and the present intertwines with one another so seamlessly.

This is a wonderful story that builds realistic characters that jump off the page and enter the reader’s soul. I cannot say enough about how perfect this story truly is, and I highly, highly recommend you pick up a copy and start reading TODAY! Five stars!

I purchased this novel from Amazon.

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Synopsis: For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl.

But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

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This novel absolutely wrapped me up and blew me away. It’s a very poignant tale of a young woman attempting to survive in an inhospitable world, running first from the abuse of her father, and then from that of the townsfolk, finding solace only in the silence of nature. Virtually alone in the world from the young age of six, Kya’s story is one of sorrow that will run the reader through a whole gamut of emotions, and yet, it is also so very empowering. Whereas I would probably lay down and die if abandoned by the world, Kya flourishes into a beautiful young woman, expertly blending into the Marsh around her and learning to not only survive, but thrive.

Although this novel was released in August of 2018, I only recently heard of it through an AP Literature page I follow on Facebook (I’ve been away from the book world and writing reviews for quite some time). Many, many teachers have fallen in love with Where the Crawdads Sing, and the fact than many are also teaching it in AP Literature this year roused my curiosity. And since I just joined my neighborhood book club, I chose this as our upcoming November read. However, I just couldn’t wait that long to read it, and due to the nature of my new commute to work, I decided to purchase it through audible and start immediately, and I am quite glad I did!

While I’ll admit I wasn’t pulled in by the story immediately, I found that, as the murder mystery of the story began to intertwine with that of Kya’s fight for survival, I became hooked. There are many layers to this story, creating true-to-life characters and many aspects for analysis, and because of this, I can see why so many teachers have chosen to teach this novel in AP Lit this year. There is so much to this beautiful novel that makes it a spectacular read!

The novel begins with Kya at six years old, watching her mother walk down the lane away from the shack, as Kya slowly begins to recount how everyone leaves her. We’re introduced to the Marsh, her brother Jodie, and Kya’s plights to avoid her abusive father, find food, feed herself, and stay away from the truancy officers who come to take her to school. And as Kya grows, so does her ability to care for herself; the love stories within this novel add many layers to Kya that show how human she really is, despite what the townsfolk say. While much of Kya’s life is a struggle, this story is not bogged down by sadness by any means, and the way that Owens structures her novel allows the reader to seamlessly experience the highs and lows, as well as the mystery surrounding the death of Chase Andrews, calling into question, “did Kya really do it?”

Living in the Marsh her whole life has made Kya different, but the events taking place are believable and majestically told, especially with the Southern voice of Cassandra Campbell. If you get the change to listen via audible, I highly suggest it, though traditional reading of this story will leave you in love with it just as well. Five stars.

I purchased this novel from Audible.

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Ready Player One.pngFrom Goodreads: In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

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Ernest Cline’s bestseller, Ready Player One, packs a serious punch that any gamer in our Galaxy can easily get behind. But what about non-gamers? No worries, you’ll still be drawn in as the characters are fleshed out and their story between the real world and the virtual OASIS intertwines. I’m not an avid gamer; I haven’t played video games in probably ten years, but the idea behind a society where people are jacked into a virtual game, where they can live their entire lives, going to school, working a job, etc., and at the same time, immerse themselves in the past, mainly the 1980s, well, that kind of tickles my fancy. Especially because for us, right now, the 1980s isn’t that far in the past, and for me, it’s still fresh in my memories, so traveling down memory lane, focusing on movies and other fun 80s mementos makes for a fun background to the story.

I really liked how Cline began his novel, stating the ending outright, and then circling around to explain how everything came to be. Yet, even though I was aware of how it all would end, the novel was still fraught with suspense as Wade fights his way through both the game and the real world as well. With many friends and foes, this novel is really a non-stop ride, one I highly enjoyed and hope that you’ll give a try, especially as this novel is slated to hit the big screen in 2018. This is one I’ll be watching on release night, but just remember, the book is always better than the movie! Five stars.

5 stars

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The Reflective CauseFrom Goodreads: Could you find your soul mate in thirteen worlds… would you survive long enough to claim them?

Beth Jasper, a rare female warrior Reflective, has been momentarily freed from the brutality of Sector One, only to discover her home world of Papilio has been reshaped into chaos by Reflective Ryan. A flesh trade has ruined the female Reflectives who were unprotected while their male counterparts were held on One under Slaver Dimitri.

Her soulmate has been revealed, yet another fills her mind. Beth cannot forget Slade, the prince of the bloodlings. Their tie is undeniable. Can Beth forsake The Cause and her home planet’s ruination to forge answers to the questions raised during her brief stay on One?

Will the dissenting Reflectives find a way to exterminate the one threat to their plans of absolute control over the thirteen sectors? Can Beth, along with Jeb Merrick, save their world and uphold The Cause. Or will ancient blood ties rule Beth’s destiny.

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This amazing sequel to The Reflective, by Tamara Rose Blodgett, is indeed just as spell-binding as the first novel in the series.

I love the continuing characterization throughout this novel; Beth is a strong character, as is Maddie, and I loved watching them further come into themselves as the story progressed. Though our beloved female lead, Beth, is pulled in two directions as she wars with her feelings concerning Merrick and Slade, creating an almost triangular effect, Blodgett puts her own personal spin on it, making this relationship trope fresh and exciting as she shows that not all is fair in love and war. Filled with many trials and tribulations bordering on betrayal, the extent of deception others go to procure what is deemed theirs has no bounds. I thoroughly enjoyed the tug of war on Beth’s heartstrings throughout the novel, though I already know where my true allegiance lies.

The vast world building Blodgett has created is absolutely mind-blowing, and as the characters jump from one world to the next, it never ceases to amaze me just how realistic and complete each world is in its own right. Of course, fraught with males with abusive tendencies on what seems to be every world Beth and her companions encounter, the reader is once again left on the pinnacles of a harrowing cliffhanger; The Reflective Cause will leave readers’ with their hearts in their throats at the conclusion, dying for more, as is Blodgett’s way. I cannot wait for more. Five stars.

5 starsI received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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PC070040About Tamara Rose Blodgett:
 
Tamara Rose Blodgett is the author of over fifty titles, including her NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling novel, A Terrible Love, and the international bestselling TOKEN serial, written under the pen name Marata Eros. Tamara writes a variety of dark fiction in the genres of erotica, fantasy, romance, sci-fi and suspense. She lives in South Dakota with her family and enjoys interacting with her readers.
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Werewolves of ShadeFrom Goodreads:

When the entire population of Shade go missing, investigative reporter Mila Watson knows this could be the big break she has been waiting for. Setting off into the mountains to the village of Shade, Mila soon learns that the village isn’t as deserted as she first believed it to be and that creatures lurk in the shades…

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WoS OneIt’s no secret that I LOVE Tim O’Rourke’s writing. Every single piece, be it novel or novella (and there are a ton–over 50 currently, I believe), has captured my attention from the very first page, and I’ve been drawn into the seamless, heart-pounding stories where the characters and landscape come alive before my very eyes.  And so is the case with O’Rourke’s latest serial, Werewolves of Shade, a 6 part story that is absolutely mind blowing.

Part 1:

Opening in the creepy, dismal town of Maze, we meet Mila, a young woman hell bent on finding out what happened to her parents when they disappeared so long ago, traveling to Shade, a town where everyone seems to have vanished.

Her uncle has been less than forthcoming, and as the first installment takes off, readers learn that a war between Werewolves and Vampires once plagued the lands, but since the ONE came, they have all disappeared.  But, have they?

The first novella, approximately 70 pages give or take, chronicles Mila’s abhorrence as the truth about her parents emerges, and I loved her characterization.  She is definitely the heroine of the story, but knowing O’Rourke, some terrible events are bound to take place for this young adventurer.  While her lover, Flint, seems to be another main character in this series, I am interested to see how their relationship pans out in the next few installments.  I like him, but I’m not sold on him yet.

And of course, there are O’Rourke’s sprinkle of creepy moments when the possibility of tragedy, horror, and death take the forefront.  I love how he keeps me on my toes, nervous for the characters, but always dying to know what happens next.

Five Stars for Part 1

5 starsGrab part 1 now for just 99 cents: Amazon


WoS TwoPart 2:

I made the mistake of starting the second installment in the Werewolves of Shade Serial late at night. I know better, I really do; I’ve read nearly all of O’Rourke’s work, and I know that the suspense and horror he places in his books means I should never, ever, pick these up at night–I have a rather active dreamscape fraught with nightmares–but I just couldn’t help myself. The first installment ends on an enticing cliffhanger, and I just HAD TO KNOW what happens next. So I started the second portion immediately, and I was not disappointed.

Mila has made it to her destination, the town of Shade, but something lurks in the darkness, and the few people she finds in the town are… less than forthcoming. I can’t decide who I like more: the sweet and sexy Rush or the frustrating and sardonic Calix. For those who’ve read O’Rourke’s Kiera Hudson series (and if you haven’t, please do!), I’d almost liken Calix to a younger version of Potter, and I just love Potter… so I’m torn between the characters.  But neither seem to be very truthful, and their sudden appearance, almost out of thin air, has me suspecting that they aren’t all that they seem… making me wonder just who they truly are, and whether they’re for or against Mila.

And, I am about to pick up the third installment right now, because once again there is a lovely cliffhanger, and I am dying to know what happens next. Especially as some events in this novel, such as a lack of blood where there should be blood, and that penetrating glare from what seems to be distant eyes–but are they?–has me on pins and needles.

Five Stars for Part 2

5 starsGrab part 2 now for just 99 cents: Amazon


WoS ThreePart 3:

The story just keeps getting better and better as the plot thickens.  Every time I think that I know what’s happening, or who these characters really are, O’Rourke throws another wrench into the story, and I find myself derailed yet again.  Truthfully, this is part of the allure of O’Rourke’s books for me–I love that he always keeps me guessing.

As I previously mentioned in my review of Part 2 of this series, Calix is indeed very much like Potter from the Kiera Hudson Series.  The similarities continue to abound, and I find myself falling in love with his cocky mannerisms, especially when it comes to Mila and his interactions. Do I trust him? Not as far as I can throw him, but as I get to know him, I’m really enjoying the banter and his overall self-importance.

Of course, the already eerie series is beginning to take on a more gruesome feel as there is a death of a minor character, yet it’s jarring all the same, especially when the reader gets to the cliffhanger and realizes that not everything, or every DEATH, it what it seems…  I had chills as I read the final paragraph, and I am so excited to start part four right now.  This is just too good to put down.

Five Stars for Part 3

5 starsGrab part 3 now for just 99 cents: Amazon


WoS FourPart 4:

I’ve been reading each part of this series faster and faster through all the plot twists and turns, and I just can’t get enough.  The people of Shade are strange yet alluring, and while Mila seems to be second guessing herself and making some terrible decisions, I just can’t look away, even though I’m finding myself constantly yelling at her through the pages.  I’ve said, “don’t do that!” at least five times in this installment alone, and I can only imagine it’s going to continue and O’Rourke works up to the climax of the series.

O’Rourke always hits the ground running and completely takes me by surprise; in each of the installments so far, he’s left readers with a cliffhanger that has made me, personally, dying to read the next installment, and I love how he’s able to create suspense and terror in each one of these short novellas.  At approximately 70 pages, one would think that the story would grow stale, but such is not the case with the Werewolves of Shade series. I’ve been on pins and needles as Mila uncovers eerie truth after eerie truth, and while it doesn’t all make sense yet, I know it eventually will… though I’m seriously beginning to wonder if any of what Mila’s uncovered is real, or if she’s just imagining it all, like Calix and Rush keep asserting.

I feel I have a good handle on who, or what, the people of Shade are, but there are so many different directions this series is going that I’m just not sure anymore. On to part 5.

Five Stars for Part 4

5 starsGrab part 4 now for just 99 cents: Amazon


WoS FivePart 5:

Things are starting to get really out of hand in the town of Shade–who to trust and what’s real versus what’s fantasy have me, and Mila, scratching our heads as this roller coaster of a story unfolds.  But I’m loving it.  What I thought I knew has been thwarted by a few intense events that have happened in this specific installment, and I have to admit that at one point I was so confused that I was afraid to continue… but I know O’Rourke will bring it together for me in the end, because he always does, and when I look back at all the crazy that happened in this installment after I finish the 6th and final portion of this amazing serial, I just know it’s going to come together like a perfect puzzle.

Who are the people of Shade?  Where did they come from?  What’s with the strange writing in the textbooks and on Calix’s body? Who was this Julia they speak of, and why is there a werewolf stalking Mila–is there a werewolf stalking Mila? Why aren’t the dead in the grave? What of Magic? These are just some of the questions that have arisen for me while I’m reading, and though I know O’Rourke will eventually answer them all for me, the wait is killing me!  But the ride makes it so much fun.

I love the characters, the bit of sassy romance, the strange, sensual dreams, and trying to decipher fact versus fiction in order to understand the strangeness of the townsfolk in Shade… it’s just amazing. Part 6 is going to floor me, I just know it.

Five Stars for Part 5

5 starsGrab part 5 now for just 99 cents: Amazon


WoS SixPart 6:

This final installment of the Werewolves of Shade completes the Beautiful Immortals Series One, but it’s not technically the end of the story. It does answer many questions, but also leave readers with a jarring cliffhanger, one that they might have figured out through context clues given in parts 1-6 (I didn’t, though), but I guarantee there are still questions. And since there’s so much more of the story to tell, O’Rourke has thankfully begun work on the next series, Beautiful Immortals Series Two, which is aptly titled Vampires of Maze, again written in serial parts just like Werewolves of Shade. Part one is slated to release on September 8, 2015.

And I can’t wait!

O’Rourke’s Werewolves of Shade has been an amazing ride, and while I did figure out a few of the plot twists, O’Rourke kept them coming, and the revelation at the end nicely tied together a ton of my questions that arose in parts 4 and 5, but as I already said, there is so much more to tell; so much more I need to know.

Overall, the characters in this series are very well written.  While some are more of a static character, like Rush, Mila has definitely flourished.  She’s been at war within herself over the duration of the serial, and she’s really matured and come into herself.  She extremely real, as is Calix, and I’m excited to note that one of the characters from Part 1, Flint, makes another appearance in this portion, which ties together a few loose ties concerning romance while also throwing some wrenches into the entire story.  Full of suspense, horror, mystery, and intrigue, this is a series that you simply must read; fall in love with Mila, Rush, Calix, and Flint.  Come on, September 8!  I need more!

Five Stars for Part 6

5 starsGrab part 6 now for just 99 cents: Amazon




SweetFrom Goodreads:

He’s the love of her life, but he doesn’t know it.
She’s his one moment of sacrifice in a lifetime of survival.

He was damaged and wild, but resilient.
She’s always been obedient. Now she’s restless.

Home for the summer between college and med school, Pearl Torres Frank knows two things: Boyce Wynn is the embodiment of everything she should run from, and everything she wants to run to. Rebellious and loud. Unconcerned with society’s opinion of him. Passionate. Strong. Dangerous.

And one more trait he hides from everyone but her:
Sweet.

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If there’s one thing I know, it’s that Tammara Webber’s novels are going to take my breath away, and her latest treasure, Sweet, definitely delivers in more ways than one. Boyce Wynn is the epitome of dreamy, sexy, and sensual; a bad boy with a soft spot for none aside from Pearl, his long-time crush, the one he let get away. Living life on the edge has always been his motto, and dealing with more than his fair share of bad, he’s hardened himself against the world. Rightfully so; with an abusive father, a mother who abandoned him long ago, and very few prospects in the world, he’s thrown himself into his father’s car repair shop. And now, Pearl’s back.

Boyce Wynn, for all intents and purposes, is my new book boyfriend. Extremely gritty and real, I felt a connection with him from the get-go. Webber has always been a master at fleshing out her fictional characters, and Wynn is no exception. His emotions and reactions are fluid and tangible, and watching him struggle with his inner self as he begins a relationship with Pearl made me feel like he was a real person in the next room. I love when I feel I’ve become part of the story, that the characters are real, and Webber definitely does this with Wynn.

Pearl is also a loveable character, sweet and caring, ready to take on the world, if her mother lets her. Her assertion over her life had me rallying behind her, and as she struggled to come to terms with her feelings for Boyce, I cheered. This novel is told is dual perspectives, a narrative style I just adore, and as Pearl reveals her thoughts both past and present, as does Boyce, the reader is given full access to their thoughts and feelings, connecting the dots of their childhood and love for one another before either of the characters. At times, I was bursting with joy and anticipation, knowing the two loved one another, waiting, just waiting for them to realize their relationship was written in the stars.

Perhaps my favorite part of the novel actually comes near the end when a person from Pearl’s past comes to wreak havoc in her life, and I was definitely shocked by the twist the novel took as I had chalked it up to a beautiful contemporary NA romance. It’s more than that, though, with a bit of mystery and some heart-pounding action that had me on pins and needles as the novel began its climax.

Although this novel is the third in the Contours of the Heart series, it is indeed a stand-alone, as are all the others. Boyce Wynn and Pearl Frank are characters from the same world as those in the other books, but this is the first novel where they are the main focus, and I loved getting to know them as much as I loved getting to know Lucas and Jacqueline in the first two books. Sweet is undeniably a novel you need to read, though it’s definitely for a more mature audience as it gets a bit hot and heavy at times. Five stars.

5 stars

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About the Author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of EASY and BREAKABLE (Contours of the Heart series – NA), as well BETWEEN THE LINES, WHERE YOU ARE, GOOD FOR YOU and HERE WITHOUT YOU (Between the Lines series – YA/NA).

I’m a hopeful romantic who adores novels with happy endings, because there are enough sad endings in real life. Before writing full-time, I was an undergraduate academic advisor, economics tutor, planetarium office manager, radiology call center rep, and the palest person to ever work at a tanning salon.

I married my high school sweetheart, and I’m Mom to three adult kids and four very immature cats.

tammarawebber.com

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God's FormulaFrom Goodreads: It is 1939. The scourge that is Nazi Germany is trampling Europe as its scientists vie to deliver ever-increasing destructive power. Now physicist Walter Friedeman – a friend of Albert Einstein’s since childhood – has found a formula to enrich uranium in three months rather than the previously expected five years. Such a formula could deliver Germany the first atomic arsenal. But Friedeman does not believe in the Nazi cause. Friedeman wants the formula in the hands of America, but getting it to them himself will be nearly impossible. He sets into motion a plan to use his teenaged son, a Hitler Youth, to unwittingly do the job using a message Friedeman has encoded in the Elvish language created by J.R.R. Tolkien in his novel The Hobbit.

What follows is a quest across continents as Einstein, Tolkien, and MI-6 officer Ian Fleming work together to find Friedeman’s son, decode the message, and wrest control of the nuclear future before Hitler can steal it for himself.

Reuniting Tolkien and Fleming after their adventure in No Dawn for Men, God’s Formula is a heart-pounding thriller filled with history both real and imagined.

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James LePore and Carlos Davis are back with another riveting tale of espionage surrounding Nazi Germany and Tolkien’s famous novel, The Hobbit. If you’ve read No Dawn for Men, then you already know God’s Formula is going to be a riveting read. And riveting it is—told in chapter format specific to date and time, readers are whisked away to Germany, the United States, England, and beyond as we follow multiple characters through the pages, intertwining with their stories until they collide, leaving us breathless in anticipation as the plot thickens.

I truly love how this story builds suspense; jumping from character to character, situation to situation always leaves me on pins and needles, and I thought it was extremely easy to keep track of all the characters, since LePore and Davis do such a wonderful job fleshing them all out and making them realistic in my mind. The fact that the novel is peppered with real people—real famous people—such as Einstein, Tolkien, and Fleming also adds a bit of fun to it all, dire circumstances and all.

And while God’s Formula does bring together some old favorites from No Dawn for Men, God’s Formula is more of a companion novel, and not a sequel; it can definitely be read as a standalone if you so choose. Though I really do suggest reading both novels because they’re both absolutely intriguing, especially as they combine fact with fiction, leaving readers pondering the aged old question, “what if…” As the final chapter in The Hobbit saga readies for release in the theatric world, now is the perfect time to pick up God’s Formula and see how masterfully LePore and Davis weave fact and fiction together. Four stars.

4 starsI received this novel from the author and publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This title releases today, December 2, 2014

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

Read my review of No Dawn For Men HERE.

No Dawn for Men



Silver VengeanceFrom Goodreads: Were-witches. These hybrid creatures stalk the earth with the raw, primal power of the werewolf and the cunning, dark magic of the witch. They’re deadly hunters with the capability for both bloodthirsty vengeance and an unwavering loyalty to their own.

Gabrielle Gayle is an ambitious chef in one of New Haven’s trendiest restaurants. Her concerns consist of getting ahead in her career, dodging barbed insults from her sharp-tongued mother, and dealing with the nagging certainty that she has always had powers. However, when the Clan of were-witches seeks revenge for her mother murdering one of their own, she and her sister are brutally attacked. With nowhere else to go, she turns to Nick, a Hunter of witches, werewolves, demons, and any combination thereof.

However, Gabrielle learns that she has much more in common with the Clan than she ever imagined. And, in order to save herself and her family from being destroyed, she must embrace her powers and become the very creature she fears the most.

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If you’re looking for something completely different in the paranormal world, or urban fantasy, for that matter, then look no further than Kasey Shoemaker’s enticing novel, Silver Vengeance. Filled with mystery and mayhem, readers are introduced to Gabrielle Gayle, a kick-butt heroine who must seek the truth about her own heritage in order to survive a deadly game of cat and mouse.

The characterization within this novel is a wonderful testament to Shoemaker’s writing capabilities. All the characters, both good and evil, are exceptionally real, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them as the novel unfolded. Nick reminds me very much of Dean Winchester from Supernatural, out to take down those who shouldn’t exist, and as Gabrielle and her family team up with him to fight against the were-witches, a coven/pack dead set on ripping apart the Gayle family, sparks and blood fly.

I really enjoyed the combination of werewolves with witches, an ingenious idea that has me wondering what other hybrid concoctions would produce in the paranormal world… being a lover of all things strange, I find it absolutely fascinating, and I loved how Shoemaker brought the two together, creating a unique backdrop to this awesome story. All around, this novel is a ton of fun, and if you’re a fan of Supernatural or Grimm, then I highly suggest you check it out. Four stars.

4 starsI received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon | Kindle (.99 cents) | Nook



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2014-10-21_2011From Goodreads:  When Mac Faraday decides to do something, there’s no stopping him … even murder!

Not wanting to wait until their big day to start their life of wedded bliss, Mac Faraday and his lady love, Archie Monday, decide to elope to the little church where his ancestors had all married—along the tranquil shore of Deep Creek Lake. However, before they can say, “I do,” the sanctuary erupts into chaos when Gnarly finds a dead body in the church office.

As they dive into the investigation, Mac and his team discover more questions than answers. What kind of person walks into a church and shoots a man for no apparent reason? How do you solve the murder of a man who has no enemies in the world? Which of the seemingly kind-hearted church members is really a cold-blooded killer?

Then, there is the all-important question, how long do Mac Faraday and his lady love have to wait to get married?

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Lauren Carr’s mystery novels are indeed one of my go-tos when I’m looking for a good whodunit.  Her characters, especially Mac Faraday and Archie, really make for an amazing read.  I love how vivid they are, and I especially love how far they’ve come in this series.  The best part is, each one of the novels in the Mac Faraday mysteries is actually a standalone–you don’t have to read the previous novels to understand what’s going on, and I find that absolutely enthralling!  Of course, I have read all the previous titles in the series, and I must say that they’re beyond awesome!

Carr’s latest novel, A Wedding and a Killing, finally has our beloved couple about to tie the knot, but of course, nothing goes as planned for Mac Faraday.  With two different crimes running the gamut, one years old and one fresh, the characters are whisked off on a sleuthing mission that has me entertained from the get go.  With Gnarly’s antics and Mac Faraday’s wit, the novel takes on a life of its own.  I will say that I was able to figure out the culprit of each murder mystery fairly early on, but even so, the novel is still a great read, and I loved watching the characters slowly begin to uncover the truth.  If you love a good mystery and are looking for a fresh read, definitely give A Wedding and a Killing a chance.  Fours stars.

4 stars

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

For More Information

A Wedding and a Killing is available at Amazon.

Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

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laurenAbout the Author

Lauren Carr is the best-selling author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. A Wedding and a Killing is the eighth installment in the Mac Faraday Mystery series.

In addition to her series set on Deep Creek Lake, Lauren Carr has also written the Lovers in Crime Mysteries, which features prosecutor Joshua Thornton with homicide detective Cameron Gates, who were introduced in Shades of Murder, the third book in the Mac Faraday Mysteries. They also make an appearance in The Lady Who Cried Murder. Dead on Ice (A Lovers in Crime Mystery) was released September 2012. The second installment, Real Murder was released to rave reviews in June 2014.

The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This year, several books, over a variety of genre, written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services, which is currently accepting submissions. Visit Acorn Book Services website for more information.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.

She lives with her husband, son, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

For More Information

  • Visit Lauren Carr’s website.
  • Connect with Holly on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Visit Lauren’s blog.
  • Is your group looking for a speaker for your next event? Click here.
  • Contact Lauren.

 



SCT RDL Banner Final

 

I am thrilled to bring you the Release Day Launch for Jennifer L. Armentrout’s STONE COLD TOUCH!

STONE COLD TOUCH is the second full-length novel in Jennifer’s The Dark Elements Series, a young adult paranormal romance being published by Harlequin Teen!!

 

Stone Cold Touch

 

Amazon ** Barnes and Noble ** Kobo ** iTunes

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 STONE COLD TOUCH Synopsis:

Every touch has its price

Layla Shaw is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life—no easy task for a seventeen-year-old who’s pretty sure things can’t get worse. Her impossibly gorgeous best friend, Zayne, is forever off-limits thanks to the mysterious powers of her soul-stealing kiss. The Warden clan that has always protected her is suddenly keeping dangerous secrets. And she can barely think about Roth, the wickedly hot demon prince who understood her in ways no one else could.

But sometimes rock bottom is only the beginning. Because suddenly Layla’s powers begin to evolve, and she’s offered a tantalizing taste of what has always been forbidden. Then, when she least expects it, Roth returns, bringing news that could change her world forever. She’s finally getting what she always wanted, but with hell literally breaking loose and the body count adding up, the price may be higher than Layla is willing to pay…

SCT available now________________________________________________________________________________

EXCERPT:

I’d remained in bed after that, trying to sort through the odd tingling in my chest. There was a slight smile on my lips, because Zayne…well, he’d made my day, but then I’d remember what Roth had said to me the night before and the smile would wash away as if it had never been there.

I probably needed to get used to the whiplash mood swings.

It wasn’t until after dinner that I decided to scrub a day’s worth of gunk off myself. Gingerly, I peeled the bandage off, happy to find that the cut in my arm was healing as expected. I didn’t need to cover it anymore. The arm was still tender, but the Warden blood in me was quickly undoing the damage from the iron.

After changing into fresh pj’s, like a total hermit, I padded over to my desk, where I’d left my cell phone. It had been on silent all day and when I tapped the screen, I wasn’t surprised to see a slew of texts from Stacey.

Where r u?

R u skipping, u ho?

A minute later: Your locker misses u. Guess u sick with the herp?

Oh my God. I laughed out loud, grinning as I thumbed through her texts. Our bio sub is still hot. U r missing this.

Bio is lonely.

My boobs miss u. How weird is that?

That was notably weird and yet not surprising.

If I get my cell taken from me, it’s ur fault.

Holy shit, Layla, where r u?!?

Air punched out of my lungs as I read the next text and the several following them.

U have no idea who just walked into bio!!!

Roth is here!

Holy Canola oil, why aren’t u here to witness this?

Ok. He says he had mono. Srlsy? Do people still get mono? And who in the duck was he kissing? A second later—Duck? I didn’t mean duck. That’s SO not what I meant, autocorrect.

Another text had come in about fifteen minutes after the last one. He asked where u were. I told him u joined a cult. I laughed. He didn’t.

Finally, the last text was to call her if I wasn’t dead.

“What in the Hell?” I tossed my cell onto the bed, mouth hanging open.

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StoneColdTouch-YouDecideSharable

And don’t forget! The choice is yours…

Beginning today you’ll have 3 weeks to visit the series website, www.thedarkelementsseries.com, to take a poll and decide which guy Layla should ultimately choose in the final book in the trilogy, Every Last Breath.

At the end of 3 weeks, we will tally all the votes, and that’s when Jennifer L. Armentrout will start writing Every Last Breath. The guy who gets the most votes is the one Layla will pick.

To prevent early spoilers, we’re not going to reveal who won the poll in advance…you’ll have to wait until Every Last Breath goes on sale on July 28th, 2015 to find out whether Zayne or Roth wins Layla in the end. We promise the book will be epic and definitely worth the wait!

Who do you want Layla to end up with? Go to www.thedarkelementsseries.com and vote for your choice!

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Author PhotoAbout Jennifer L. Armentrout:

# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY 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, working out, 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.

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

 

Series Website | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Jennifer L. Armentrout Goodreads | STONE COLD TOUCH Goodreads



For 5 days only, you can pick up the FIRST TWO novels in the Blood Series for FREE!

Blood Bundle

Available here Oct. 8-12:

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Wednesday's ChildFrom Goodreads: Dylan Brice is living his days out of order, but it hasn’t always been that way. One Tuesday evening in July, he went to sleep expecting tomorrow to be Wednesday, but when he woke up the next morning it was Thursday instead. A frightening and confusing day ensued with Dylan trying to figure out whether he was losing his mind or the victim of some cosmic prank.

If struggling to come to terms with his new reality on his surreal Thursday wasn’t enough of an ordeal, late in the afternoon, just as his anxiety was finally beginning to subside, a voice from the past he’d hoped never to hear again added a terrifying new dimension to his situation. Dylan had once been a warrior in the battle against nuclear terrorism. A sleeper since the months following nine-eleven, he has suddenly been activated to help combat a new, deadly threat. His nerves in a shambles, he finally drops off to sleep hoping he’ll wake up to find Thursday was a dream.

When, after his harrowing Thursday, he awakens on the Wednesday morning he thought he’d missed, he doesn’t know what to believe. He cannot believe Thursday’s events were coincidental. He must be living his days out of order for a reason — some powerful, unknown entity has cast him in a role he never asked for, and everything he holds dear may be at stake. He “knows” he will continue to live Thursdays before Wednesdays until he figures out how to use the unique perspective that gives him to avert a disaster that may be global in scope.

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Imagine if Thursday came before Wednesday, followed by Friday. But only for you… giving you the ability to learn the future and change events. I would have so much fun with that. Of course, I’m certainly not as hardcore as Dylan Brice, so I would probably only use it for selfish gain. Luckily, Dylan is trained to deal with terrorism, able to call in the big dogs and assess violent and potentially deadly situations, which is a huge plus, especially since nuclear terror is on his doorstep.

This is a really cool time-travelish novel set in present day America. Though I admit that I wasn’t really sure what was happening in the beginning, and it took me a little while to warm up to the characters and the situations, I eventually found myself completely wrapped up in the story. It’s a thriller with a bit of mystery thrown in, taking readers on an awesome ride as it all unfolds. If you’re looking for something a bit different with a strong male lead, then this is definitely a novel for you. Four stars.

4 starsI received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Kindle | Nook



A Matter of Grave ConcernFrom Goodreads: Bestselling author Brenda Novak unearths love in the darkest of places.

When Maximillian Wilder hides his noble identity and joins the notorious body snatchers known as the London Supply Company, the last thing on his mind is love. He’s worried about Madeline, his vanished half sister, who was last seen in the company of Jack Hurtsill, the gang’s conscienceless leader. Raiding graveyards, stealing corpses, and selling them to medical colleges as dissection material is dirty work, but Max knows he must gain Jack’s trust. He’s determined to find out what happened to Madeline—and to bring Jack to justice if she was murdered for the coin her body could earn.

Beautiful, spirited Abigail Hale, daughter of the surgeon at Aldersgate School of Medicine, detests the challenging, hard-bargaining Max almost as much as Jack. But she must procure the necessary specimens if she is to save the college and her father’s career. She believes she is going to be successful—until Jack double-crosses her. Then she’s swept into a plot of danger and intrigue, one where Max must intervene to protect her, no matter the risk to his plan…or his heart.

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Brenda Novak’s latest novel, A Matter of Grave Concern, is a gem that lovers of romance and all things historical absolutely must read. Filled with enticing characters, harrowing grave robbery, and a relationship so tense it will melt your heart, this novel is sure to leave you yearning for more. I absolutely adored Abigail and Max, and as their journey towards the truth brings them closer to danger, the intensity of the novel and its swoonworthiness make it hard to put down.

Though I wouldn’t have thought that historical fiction was a genre that I crave, I have found that I truly enjoy Novak’s style and am indeed growing to truly love it. This is my second Novak novel, and it certainly won’t be the last. Complete with grave robbery, close encounters with the law, fear of death, betrayal, and of course, a steamy romance, this novel caught my attention from the get go, and I highly recommend you give it a read.  Four stars.

4 stars

I received this novel from the publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

This title releases tomorrow.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble



{September 30, 2014}   {ARC Review} Schizo by Nic Sheff

SchizoFrom Goodreads: Miles is the ultimate unreliable narrator—a teen recovering from a schizophrenic breakdown who believes he is getting better . . . when in reality he is growing worse.

Driven to the point of obsession to find his missing younger brother, Teddy, and wrapped up in a romance that may or may not be the real thing, Miles is forever chasing shadows. As Miles feels his world closing around him, he struggles to keep it open, but what you think you know about his world is actually a blur of gray, and the sharp focus of reality proves startling.

Written by the New York Times bestselling author of Tweak, Schizo is the fascinating, and ultimately quite hopeful, story of one teen’s downward spiral into mental illness as he chases the clues to a missing brother.

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I’m sorry to say this novel didn’t really speak to me. It’s a fairly quick read, but Miles and I never really connected. Going in, I knew that this is a book about a schizophrenic young man, I knew he probably wasn’t going to be a reliable character, but truthfully, I found the story sad more than anything else. Watching him go through his episodes, listening to him and his thought process, knowing that others were afraid of him–was just so sad. And knowing that he knew he wasn’t reliable was difficult to watch. He worries, he’s upset, he wants to fix everything, but his illness won’t allow him peace, and watching him go through everything, only to realize that some of his most prominent wants in the world would never be realized, were never real, well, that was rather difficult for me as a reader. I can’t imagine living with this illness, and Miles really wore me down. His last ditch efforts at the end had me in tears, and all to find out the truth, well. It was difficult. I just wanted him to get better.

The writing is good, but the reality of the story was too heavy for me, so while I liked it overall, I can’t say I really enjoyed it.

3 stars

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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SacrificeFrom Goodreads: Earth. Fire. Air. Water.

One misstep and they lose it all. For the last time.

Michael Merrick understands pressure. He’s the only parent his three brothers have had for years. His power to control Earth could kill someone if he miscalculates. Now an Elemental Guide has it in for his family, and he’s all that stands in the way.

His girlfriend, Hannah, understands pressure too. She’s got a child of her own, and a job as a firefighter that could put her life in danger at any moment.

But there are people who have had enough of Michael’s defiance, his family’s ‘bad luck’. Before he knows it, Michael’s enemies have turned into the Merricks’ enemies, and they’re armed for war.

They’re not interested in surrender. But Michael isn’t the white flag type anyway. Everything is set for the final showdown.

Four elements, one family. Will they hold together, or be torn apart?

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Kemmerer’s Elemental series has been my guilty pleasure for a few years now. And with this novel, Kemmerer has technically closed the story with this final chapter of the Merrick brothers, giving readers Michael’s story as it all comes to a head. And yet… I’m not certain it’s really over.

Let me explain.  Kemmerer has always woven a tale that pulls readers in from the get go.  Sacrifice is no different.  By this point in the series, the Merrick brothers and their friends are like a part of my family.  I know them so well because Kemmerer really knows how to create realistic, beautiful characters, and Sacrifice is no different on this end.  The brothers, who I’ve come to love, are again faced with hardship–perhaps the worst yet, and it tore my heart in two as I read.  The emotions are real, and I just adored everything about it.  Everything, except the ending.  The ending, while a resolution that works, comes on quite fast, leaving readers with questions. Truthfully, I wasn’t expecting the antagonist to be who it was, and I liked how Kemmerer threw me for a loop with the big reveal, but I didn’t understand all the aspects that went in to it. I reread it twice, but in all honestly, the ending was too neat; everything wrapped up much too quickly once all is said and done. And I still have questions. I have questions about the bad guy, about newcomer Irish, Hunter’s grandparents, the guides reactions to it all, and what’s going to happen next for the Merricks. Yes, a resolution is there, and I loved it, even though it happened a touch too fast for me and not everyone gets out unscathed, but even so, the potential for more chaos is there, too, and I’m waiting for more–for the other shoe to drop. This is a wonderful novel, and I truly enjoyed it… but I need a spinoff series…

Of course, Kemmerer did leave me stunned with one aspect that I knew was coming from the title, SACRIFICE, but still didn’t expect. I spent the next few pages hoping it’d be undone, but alas, it’s not. You might want some tissues. I think I was stunned enough that I didn’t even blink. No tears for me, it just… can’t be. Right? And it happens so fast that if you do blink, you’ll miss it. I really have no words. Except that you must read it. If this is really the end, then you just have to read it, but I’m still waiting. For more. I need more. The Merricks are a part of me now, and… I just need more. Four stars.

 

4 stars

I received this novel from Kensington Books, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

This title releases on September 30, 2014.

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Brigid Kemmerer HeadshotBrigid Kemmerer was born in Omaha, Nebraska, though her parents quickly moved her all over the United States, from the desert in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to the lakeside in Cleveland, Ohio, and several stops in between, eventually settling near Annapolis, Maryland. Brigid started writing in high school, and her first real “novel” was about four vampire brothers causing a ruckus in the suburbs. Those four brothers are the same boys living in the pages of The Elemental Series, so Brigid likes to say she’s had four teenage boys taking up space in her head for the last seventeen years. (Though sometimes that just makes her sound nuts.)

Brigid writes anywhere she can find a place to sit down (and she’s embarrassed to say a great many pages of The Elemental Series were written while sitting on the floor in the basement of a hotel while she was attending a writers’ conference). Most writers enjoy peace and quiet while writing, but Brigid prefers pandemonium. A good thing, considering she has three boys in the house, ranging in age from an toddler to a teenager. You can learn more about Brigid and the Elemental boys at www.brigidkemmerer.com.

Follow Brigid:

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

Kemmerers Books____________________________________________

READ THEM ALL (I’ve given 5 stars to nearly every one)

Elemental Kindle | Nook (Book #0.5)
Storm Kindle | Paperback | Nook (Book #1)
Fearless Kindle | Nook (Book #1.5)
Spark Kindle | Paperback | Nook (Book #2)
Breathless Kindle | Nook (Book #2.5)
Spirit Kindle | Paperback | Nook (Book #3)
Secret Kindle | Paperback | Nook
(Book #4)
Sacrifice Kindle | Paperback (Book #5)

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Book Depository | iBooks | IndieBound

Pre-order your copy of Sacrifice today!

Klovers



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Review:Neurotica

From Goodreads: If you find yourself talking to Jayne Dandy, keep the conversation on Star Wars and rubber ducks—best not to mention men, dating, or S-E-X. Because Jayne is fine with the way things are: writer of obituaries and garage sale ads by day, secret scribe of adventures in distant galaxies by night. But her crippling fear of intimacy has made her the butt of jokes since forever, and hiding behind her laptop isn’t going to get her lightsaber lit.

After her therapist recommends that she write erotica as a form of exposure therapy, Jayne joins forces with pen and paper to combat the demons that won’t let her kiss and tell. Unexpectedly downsized at work, she adopts a pseudonym and secretly self-publishes one of her naughty books to make ends meet. When her adorable, long-time friend Luke, co-owner of the popular Portland food truck Luke Piewalker’s, hears she’s been demoted, he insists on hiring her to sling éclairs and turnovers at his side. Her secret must be kept, but sparks ignite between them, sending Jayne and her X-Wing into a tailspin that will either make her face down her neuroses or trigger a meltdown of Death Star proportions.

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This novel is absolutely amazing, giving readers an in-depth look at the indie publishing world through the eyes of Jayne, a young woman who struggles with intimacy.  Jayne, better known to her readers as Jaina Jacen, is an intriguing character who innocently enough begins a maelstrom when her erotica books take off in the ebook world–a feat Jayne never imagined, nor wanted.  Published under a pseudonym and only in hopes of making ends meet, Jayne’s world is turned upside down when the demand for more, including public appearances and signings, become a reality she cannot ignore.  But these books were never supposed to hit it big, and no one is supposed to know her true identity, especially not her family nor Luke, the friend who is really interested in so much more.  This conundrum adds much humor to the novel as it takes off, and Gordon’s writing style kept me captivated from the very beginning.  Jayne is such a sweet, shy character, and watching her try to dodge all romance, while in the throes of writing and publishing erotica behind closed doors, makes for a great read, perhaps more so because it’s 100% clean.

Though I am indeed a prude and dislike heavy sex in my novels, I have to admit that Gordon MADE me WANT to read Jayne’s fictional books just to know what all the hubbub was about throughout this enticing story.  Gordon really does an amazing job keeping readers on edge, snickering, and in love with all the characters as this humorous story unfolds, making it a must read. Especially as Luke is such a great guy.  And perhaps my favorite part is that it’s completely clean. While Jayne does write erotica, Gorgon keeps this NA novel PG, which is exactly where it needs to be to get the point across.

If you’re looking for a hilarious, clean, introspective read, then look no further that Neurotica.  Five stars.

5 stars
I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.
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Top Ten Movie Scores for Jayne (aka. Jaina Jacen) While Writing:

One way Jayne Dandy deals with the complexities of Life and Related Topics is through her love of writing. (What a *novel* idea!) Though she starts out penning stories in the sci-fi/fantasy realm, her therapist encourages her to try a little erotica to help her work through her intimacy issues. Think of it as exposure therapy, as in, write us a story about naked bits and the people attached to them! But when circumstances of the unemployed type dictate that Jayne find a new way to pay the rent, she decides that sending her naughty stories out into the Big Bad World to earn their keep just might work.

Like many writers, Jayne relies on auditory inspiration—music! What would her playlist look like? Well, if Jayne is anything like me (and I dare say she might be, at least atiny bit), she listens to movie scores. Because lyrics, while awesome, make a writer stop and sing and possibly dance. (I’ve been known to dance while writing. Which means no writing gets done. Just a lot of embarrassment, especially if the windows are open and the neighbors can see in.Although last time I put an open guitar case on the lawn and made $4.85. Groove on, baby!)

The following is a list of five fantastic movie scores with romantic overtones that Jayne—or, I mean, Jaina Jacen—might have listened to while breathing life into her erotic novels:

Pride and Prejudice, Jean-Yves Thibaudet

Leap Year, Randy Edelman

Winter’s Tale, Hans Zimmer and Rupert Gregson-Williams

Romeo and Juliet, Abel Korzeniowski

Twilight Saga: New Moon, Alexandre Desplat

And what about when she’s writing her sci-fi stuff? This list could go on and on. Here are Jayne’s ten favorites:

Man of Steel, Hans Zimmer

Guardians of the Galaxy, Tyler Bates

Godzilla, Alexandre Desplat

Inception, Hans Zimmer

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Jesper Kyd and Lorne Balfe(Never underestimate the awesomeness of video game scores!)

Divergent, Junkie XL

Captain America: Winter Soldier, Henry Jackman

Thor: The Dark World, Brian Tyler

The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, Howard Shore

The Hunger Games and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, James Newton Howard

I LOVE movie scores because they are already a story all their own. Often I purchase movie scores without seeing the films they belong to as then the music molds to whatever I have going on in my own head, in my own fantasy worlds—I dare say Miss Jayne thinks along those same lines. There’s nothing like a heart-slamming chase scene or face-melting love scene done in music to really get those creative juices flowing. And when writing her erotica, Jayne Dandy needs all the creative juices she can get.

Happy reading!

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Eliza Gordon

About the Author:

A purveyor of fictions, Eliza Gordon has excellent taste in books, shoes, movies, and friends, and questionable sanity in the realm of love. Best leave that one alone. www.elizagordon.com

Connect:

Website |  Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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