Wednesday, April 26, 2017

With Love For Reviews - Guest Post by Amy McNulty

 
 Love (Hate or Even Just Like) a Book? Leave a Review
Guest post by Amy McNulty

If you spend any time following social media or reading newsletters from authors, you’re probably no stranger to their calls for readers to leave a review. Maybe you’d like to help, but you have no idea what to say. Perhaps you’ve left a review or two before, but it takes up a lot of your time. Maybe you figure enough other readers will leave a review, so your thoughts on a book don’t really need to be said.

However, I’ll be one more author to ask that you please reconsider—and always leave a review. Amazon reviews are still the most beneficial for authors, although Goodreads, your blog and social media profiles, and any other retailer of your choice are good places to leave reviews as well. However, the reason why authors value those Amazon reviews so much is because so much of our marketing strategies still rely on the number of ratings (and average rating) on our books’ Amazon pages.

Amazon itself is more likely to highlight books with lots of ratings and books with a high average score. These free promotions can lead to hundreds or even thousands of sales in the course of a week. Book bargain newsletters—some of which may be familiar to you, such as BookBub, Ereader News Today, Book Gorilla, Book Barbarian, Fussy Librarian, etc.—oftentimes only allow books with a certain number of ratings and a certain average score to be featured in their newsletters, which can lead to dozens or hundreds of sales in a day. A high Amazon score also just helps the casual shopper decide whether or not to buy a book that’s been recommended to them based on their interests. These shoppers are less likely to stop by Goodreads to read reviews before they buy.

The best way you can thank an author for writing a book you love (especially if you got a free review copy) is to follow through and leave a review in as many places as possible. That said, I hope you’ll consider leaving a review even if you just thought it was okay—even if you hated it. A book that has nothing but 4- and 5-star reviews may have indeed been that universally beloved, but many shoppers view those books with suspicion. It can actually help an author to have a few 1-, 2-, or 3-star reviews if that’s how the readers genuinely feel about the book so casual shoppers know people are sharing their honest opinions.

What do you leave in a review? You can write as much or as little as you like. Goodreads users especially seem to enjoy long reviews, even complete with images and GIFs, but there’s no need to spend hours on your review if that doesn’t interest you. On Amazon especially, a simple “I liked/loved/didn’t like this book” is genuinely all you need to help an author out. If you want to go into more detail, you might discuss your favorite and least liked characters or things in the plot you liked or didn’t like (be careful to warn about spoilers), but you don’t need to feel daunted by writing a detailed review. You might even focus on how quickly (or slowly) you felt compelled to read the book or just the feelings it left you with.

While not all authors read their reviews, those who do find positive reviews especially bolstering. It’s nice to see that our characters and worlds connected with readers, that you love the result of a lot of hard work and time spent on writing and polishing our books. That said, you’re free to write negative

reviews as well, but if you loved a book especially, please consider letting other people know via a review. Sometimes an author needs that boost to keep working hard on the next project.

Leaving a review needn’t be as time-consuming or daunting a prospect as you might think. It’s really one of the key ways to give back to an author, after buying their books (or getting them from a library) and sharing your recommendations with friends. Thank you to every one of you who has ever taken the time to write a review!

About Amy McNulty

 
Bio: Amy McNulty is a freelance writer and editor from Wisconsin with an honors degree in English. She was first published in a national scholarly journal (The Concord Review) while in high school and currently writes professionally about everything from business marketing to anime. In her down time, you can find her crafting stories with dastardly villains and antiheroes set in fantastical medieval settings.

Author links
 

Books by Amy

Amazon USA Amazon UK Goodreads
 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Ride Rough by Laura Kaye - Book Review, Excerpt & Giveaway


Book review
By Suze
 
Maverick is the vice-president of the Raven Riders Motorcycle Club. The club protects vulnerable people who are having a hard time and one of the women Maverick is keeping an eye on is his ex girlfriend and the love of his life, Alexa. Her fiancĂ©, Grant, is a rich businessman who's all about control. Alexa doesn't see what kind of man she's living with until she's about to marry him. Grant made sure she had everything she dreamed off, but his unpredictable behavior starts to scare her. Fortunately Maverick is there to help her out and Alexa discovers that she still has feelings for the man she left behind.

Grant doesn't want to let Alexa go and he will do everything in his power to make sure she will come back to him and become his wife, he wants to own her and isn't giving up. It doesn't mean anything to him that Alexa has broken up with him. Will Maverick be able to keep her safe and while doing so, does he have a second chance to convince her he loves her with all his heart and is the man she should be with?

Ride Rough is a gripping story about abuse, power games and true love. Alexa is a sweetheart. She lovingly cares for her mentally ill mother, she makes sure everyone around her is happy and she works hard for her future. I immediately liked her and it saddened me that she was engaged to such an awful calculated man. Grant is cruel and Alexa only discovers his true nature just before their wedding. Maverick has always kept an eye on her. He's kind to her, even though she broke his heart, and helps her to escape. Alexa never stopped loving him, but she went through something traumatic that made her leave him. She finally opens her eyes and realizes that Maverick is the man she should be with, but Grant isn't giving up. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to see where that would lead and read Ride Rough in one sitting because I couldn't put it down.

Laura Kaye writes about abuse in a raw and honest way. She doesn't spare her main characters and her stories are very emotional. I love how deep she's willing to dig into the personalities she's writing about. The Raven Riders might be rough men, but they all have big hearts. They care about each other and about their women, but also about complete strangers in need of help. That's an admirable mentality and I love the Raven Riders series because of it.

Laura Kaye's vivid writing makes her story come to life very well. Her stories are sexy, romantic and emotional, which is a great combination. The Raven Riders regularly get into trouble. They're good men, but doing what they do doesn't make them popular with everyone and they have quite a few dangerous enemies. Grant is one of them and reading about their conflicts and his willingness to go far to bring them down kept me on the edge of my seat. Ride Rough is a terrific captivating story with an amazing scary ending.

Advice

If you love gripping, sexy and romantic stories about motorcycle gangs you will definitely like Ride Rough. It's the second book in the Raven Riders series and can be read as a standalone.
 
Raven Riders Series Trailer


About Laura Kaye


Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty books in contemporary romance and romantic suspense, including the Hard Ink and Raven Riders series. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and monster puppy, Schuyler, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

Author links


Excerpt

It was one of Maverick’s favorite dreams.

He and Alexa had gone up to Swallow Falls in Western Maryland for a weekend getaway and were staying in one of the mini cabins at the state park. After a day of hiking and swimming and picnicking outside, they’d come back to their cabin tired and ready to crash, but getting naked for showers had sidetracked them for hours. And even once they finally fell asleep, Maverick was hard and ready every time he woke up, and he took her again and again, falling asleep still buried inside her . . .

And fuck if he wasn’t ready right now.

He burrowed his face in Alexa’s soft hair and banded his arm around her stomach. His hand filled with the soft mound of her breast. He pulled her back against his chest and ground his erection against the swell of her ass.

“Maverick,” she moaned.

Hell, yeah. He nuzzled her neck, kissed her there, tasting and nipping and sucking. God, he needed in her. “Fuck, Alexa,” he whispered.

Her hand gripped his. “Maverick.”

He rolled her under him and crawled on top of her, his body falling into the cradle of her spread thighs.

“Uh, Maverick.”

He frowned and kissed her jaw, her cheek, her mouth. It was the kiss that did it. Something wasn’t right. The memory playing out in his sleep-fogged mind didn’t feel like the reality confronting his physical senses. His eyes blinked open. And he found himself lying on top of Alexa. Not in the cabin at Swallow Falls years before. In the gray morning light of his house. Her wide hazel eyes stared up at him.

He reared off of her in an instant. “Fuck,” he said, coming to stand by the couch. Alexa looked stunned—and so fucking sexy that Maverick barely resisted crawling back on top of her. She lay on her back in his clothes, on his couch, her knees drawn up and falling out, her hair sleep-mussed and sexy. Jesus. He adjusted himself, unable to hide his raging hard-on, and scrubbed at his face. “Goddamn dream. I’m sorry, Alexa. I didn’t mean to do that.”

“You . . . you were dreaming. Of me?” she whispered.

His gaze narrowed. “Don’t ask a question you don’t want the answer to.”

Giveaway


Three very lucky winners will receive a Ride Rough & #ReadHard mini-tote with signed copies of Hard As Steel, Ride Hard and Ride Rough plus swag.



Caught Looking by Jody Holford - Book Review, Excerpt & Giveaway


Book review
By Suze
 

Ryan used to be a major league baseball player, but he lost everything. He's suspended, he's being falsely accused of drug possession and his wife betrayed him in the worst possible way. He fled to Minnesota where he lives in a remote country home. He's a broken man, but maybe spending time with his new neighbor Frankie can heal him. Frankie has inherited the dilapidated house next door to Ryan and discovers the house comes with three children. They apparently stayed there before Frankie's aunt passed away and left it to her and now Frankie has to decide what to do with the three boys. Will they be able to stay with her and what role will Ryan be able to play in their lives? Will his past make it more difficult for Frankie to be allowed to adopt them? Should he choose to stay away, even though this means he would be giving up the happiness he finally found?

Caught Looking is a beautiful story about a very special woman. Frankie is kind and generous. When she finds three orphan boys in her home she does everything she can to care for them and to make them feel at home. She even wants to adopt them, but being allowed to do so proves to be difficult. Especially since she's in a relationship with a man who's being charged for drug possession. Ryan might be falsely accused, but there are people who believe what they read in the papers. He's heartbroken because of everything that happened to him, but being with Frankie and spending time with the boys heals the worst part of his emotional wounds. It's clear from the start that Ryan and Frankie are soul mates, but being together isn't easy, especially since there are so many things that can go wrong because of it. Ryan's had such a difficult time and I had tears in my eyes when I read about everything he went through. He deserves all the love and attention he can get and I read the book in one sitting because I couldn't wait to find out if he and Frankie would find their happily ever after.

Caught Looking is an amazing story with an impressive and surprising ending. Jody Holford writes about difficult subjects in a wonderful sympathetic way. I immediately loved her main characters. They have such good hearts and warm personalities. While her story is romantic, it also has quite a bit of depth. Frankie's fighting for the boys with everything she has and her determination is admirable. While Ryan is trying to get over everything that happened when his career ended in an unfair way he's also there for Frankie. I loved that aspect of the story and I liked the vivid and honest way Jody Holford writes about all the obstacles in their way. Caught Looking is a book that put a smile on my face and brought tears to my eyes at the same time, it's a great, captivating bittersweet story and I highly recommend it.

Advice

If you love reading romantic stories about people with good hearts you will definitely like Caught Looking.
 
About Jody Holford


Jody Holford is a multi-published author who has a soft spot for happily ever after. So much so, she tattooed the words on her arm. She’s a mom and a wife, a friend, sister, daughter, teacher, and book-lover. Her stories have a little bit of heat and a lot of heart. And maybe, some swoon-worthy moments that will make you smile.

Author links


Excerpt

As he edged near the property line, he caught sight of toned, shapely legs swinging from the branch of a tree. His neighbor was doing pull-ups. On a tree.

“What the hell are you doing?” Ryan said the words to himself, his finger sliding off of the trigger. Frankie hadn’t heard him. Her earbuds’ cord was connected to the iPod strapped to her arm. He repeated his question, louder, and she startled, dropping from the limb she’d been holding. Pulling her earphones out, she smiled and gave a surprised laugh. Lust curled tight in his stomach at the sound. Which pissed him off since he didn’t need more complications in his life.

“Hey. Didn’t see you there, neighbor.” 

She wiped the sweat off her brow with the back of her hand. Strands of hair were escaping the ponytail sitting high on her head. She put her hands on her hips, gulping in air, still smiling. His eyes roamed over the tone and definition of her arms. Arms weren’t supposed to be a turn on. They were just something to have wrapped around you. Along with legs. But legs were a turn on. Still, he couldn’t take his eyes off of her arms. They led up to sleek shoulders and a graceful collarbone. When his eyes met hers, she was grinning and he knew he’d been caught looking. 

“You’re doing pull-ups on a goddamn tree?”

“Um, it’s my tree,” she said, looking back and forth between him and the tree. Small as she was, the tree didn’t look like it could hold its own branches, never mind a person’s weight.

“Actually, it’s smack in the middle of our property line. So stay the hell off it and get a pull-up bar.”

She rested a hand on the bark and smiled at him with something like fire flashing in those blue eyes. Her breath was a bit uneven, but firm. “I’ve never shared a tree with anyone. It feels like a big step.”

He bit back a smile. “Funny. This tree needs to be cut down. It’s rotted.” He kicked at the trunk to show her what he meant.

“Don’t kick our tree,” she said, not even trying to hide her smirk.

“It’s not safe.” Jesus. She was hard to be irritated with. Which, oddly, only irritated him more.

“And as much as I appreciate your neighborly concern, Ryan, I can take care of myself. And our tree. See, my home gym isn’t quite set up yet so I’m using what’s available. If you want, we can work out a schedule for tree use.” 

There was as much sarcasm in her stance as in her tone. This time, the grin spread before he could stop it.

“You’re feisty.”

“You’re a jerk.”

“Yeah. But it’s still not safe. I have an extra pull-up bar in my garage. You put it in the frame of a doorway. I’ll grab it and bring it over,” he said, hoping the gesture served as an apology. 

Which he was man enough to admit she deserved from him.

Frankie’s eyes widened and she took a step back, wariness overshadowing her amusement.

“No thanks. I’m not ready for visitors.”

He arched an eyebrow. “I wasn’t planning on coming for tea.”

She gave a rough laugh. “I don’t need anything from you, Ryan. I’ll pick another tree. Or do push-ups.”

She backed away, the unease in her eyes fascinating the hell out of him. She didn’t want him over. And not because he was a jerk. She waved one perfectly shaped arm over her head as she went back to her house. 

He turned the weed trimmer back on, purposely turning his body in the other direction. He wasn’t going to stand around and watch her go, even across her yard. He’d never watch a woman leave again. Once was enough.

Giveaway

One very lucky winner will receive a $15 Amazon gift card and a digital copy from Jody Holford's backlist.



Book Review & Excerpt - Lost Rider by Harper Sloan


Book review
By Suze
 
Amazon USA Amazon UK Goodreads

Maverick was a successful rodeo star until he injured his head so badly it ended his career. After ten years he has to return home, to his brother Clay and sister Quinn and to the girl he never allowed himself to love, Leighton. Maverick only has bad memories of the past. His father was a cold and abusive man and Maverick was forced to leave Pine Oak before the situation would have gotten completely out of hand. He never told Leighton how he felt, instead he hurt her feelings, so she wouldn't think about him anymore. Did that really work or is Leighton still in love with him? Will being in Pine Oak be as awful for Maverick as it used to be or will he have a future in his hometown together with his siblings and the girl he never forgot?
 
Lost Rider is a sexy romantic story with plenty of moving layers. Maverick built a huge wall around his heart and he constantly tries to push the people who love him away, so they won't be able to hurt him. Being back in Pine Oak is difficult for him, but Maverick wants to make up for the hurt he's caused by leaving his siblings and Leighton behind. His rodeo career left him with enough money, but he has to find something new to fill his time with. My heart ached for both Maverick and Leighton, they went through so much pain because of everything that was done to Maverick when he was a child. He treated Leighton badly, but she can't resist him and when she finally finds out the truth she has no reason to anymore either. I loved their chemistry, their deep emotional connection and the sweet way they treat each other. Their relationship is both hot and tender, which is a great combination.

Leighton is a strong, determined woman. She used to be an insecure teenager and Maverick didn't make her feel better about herself, but she's now a stunning grown woman with a successful business. She has a wonderful caring personality and her generosity and kindness are heartwarming. She's always there for Clay and Quinn and when Maverick returns she shows the warm and forgiving side of her character and acknowledges his pain. She's a beautiful person inside and out and I liked her from the start. She gives Lost Rider a lovely spark and makes the story extra charming.

Harper Sloan's sentences have an easy flow. I love reading small town romance and Lost Rider is definitely a good one. The setting is stunning and I liked how Harper Sloan's writing style perfectly suits the surroundings. The amazing dialogue kept putting a smile on my face. Harper Sloan knows what she's writing about and her main characters are interesting and real. She writes about their struggles with plenty of empathy and honesty, which makes them come to life incredibly well. Lost Rider is a terrific story with an endearing ending. I enjoyed reading this gorgeous compelling story very much.

Advice

If you love small town romance with plenty of depth and sexy scenes Lost Rider will be a great choice.


About Harper Sloan


Harper is a NEW YORK TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL and USA TODAY bestselling author residing in Georgia with her husband and three daughters. She has a borderline unhealthy obsession with books, hibachi, tattoos and Game of Thrones. When she isn't writing you can almost always find her with a book in hand.
 
Author links


 
Excerpt
 
I should tell Quinn and Clay that he’s here. But one look at him and it’s like the last ten years have never passed and I’m back at the bonfire, the awkward high schooler uncomfortable in her own skin. Marching away from him in the woods. It was the last time I saw him. How is it possible that he can affect me this much after all this time?

He hasn’t noticed me, not with his head bowed, so I quickly turn around and focus on Pastor John as he finishes up his prayer. Him being here means nothing. I should be happy that I remember the pain from that night so well, it will make keeping my walls up around him so much easier.

“On behalf of the Davis family, I want to thank everyone for coming today. At this time, the family has asked for some time alone as they say their good-byes. They wanted me to remind everyone that the PieHole will be opening up for a few hours tonight starting at five for anyone that wishes to join them.”

I keep my arm around Quinn, not looking back to where I saw Maverick. I can hear the church slowly emptying and I feel a frown pull at my lips. I had hoped that when everyone started to leave that he would have come up front to be with his family, but so far, the pew we’re in is still empty save for the three of us. We sit and wait for everyone to leave, something that Clay had asked Pastor John to make arrangements for in place of the customary recessional, knowing that no one in this town would really mean a word of it anyway. Plus, I know Quinn is having a hard time. Regardless of the fact that she wasn’t the closest with her father, she was really counting on this—Maverick home. She’s still shaking in my arms, but when I look over at Clay I realize his silence isn’t because of the heaviness of Buford’s death, but instead anger over his brother’s absence that has started to build to a boil. I fear that he’s seconds away from tipping over the edge.

I stand when Clay and Quinn do, but hang back at the edge of the row we had been sitting in as they meet Pastor John and gather their father’s ashes. I can’t wait to get out of these heels. If it would have been acceptable to wear my boots, I would have, but Quinn would have killed me. As it is, I feel like I can’t take a deep breath with how tight my dress is against my chest. I never wear tight shirts. I haven’t since my boobs became beasts of their own right. I’m too busy fiddling with the straps of my dress, trying desperately to get some of the pressure against my chest to ease up so I could take a deep breath, when I heard Quinn gasp.

“Mav!” Next thing I know she’s running past where I’m standing, her black hair streaming in the air behind her as she speeds forward right into her brother’s arms. Clay moves to stand next to me and I look up to meet his green eyes, the questions he isn’t vocalizing dancing in their emerald depths. He’s not stupid and I’m doing a crappy job at hiding the memories haunting me right now. He gives me a small smile, shifting his hold on the urn to wrap his free arm around me and pulls me into a strong hold.

“You’re shakin’,” he says against my temple and I just nod.

“I’m good, Clay. Go see your brother.”

“I’m fine right where I am, sugar.”

I keep my eyes to the ground, focusing on his worn boots instead of looking up, hating myself for making this moment about me when I should be focused on them. Like it or not, I can’t fight the feelings that being near him bring me. I’m that stupid, naive sixteen-year-old all over again. “Let’s get out of here,” he says after a few silent seconds. I look up and give him a smile, hoping that it looks a hell of a lot braver than I feel. Inside I feel like I might puke.

“You think I could have a second with my family?”

My head shoots up at the coldness I hadn’t anticipated in Maverick’s voice. He’s not focused on me, though, instead looking at his brother with a hard expression and one brow raised upward. 

“Mav!” Quinn gasps and he moves his attention from his brother to her.

“Sorry, Quinn, but I’m thinkin’ that Clay’s lady friend would understand that this should be a moment for our family and give us time alone.”

“I’ll just—”

“Don’t you dare finish that sentence, sugar,” Clay all but spits through clenched teeth and drops his arm to take a step forward. “You’ve got something to say, Mav, then say it.”

“Nothing to say, Clayton, I just think it would be nice for your girlfriend to give us some space.”

“My girlfriend,” he parrots sarcastically, his deep voice vibrating in anger.

“Mav.” Quinn attempts to butt in, but stops when Maverick leaves her side and turns to stalk out of the church. I should find it comical that he obviously didn’t recognize me, or hell, maybe he did and he’s just picking up where he left off ten years ago in the middle of the dark woods. I take a deep breath. “It’s okay. He’s right. Y’all need some time as a family. I’ll head over to the PieHole and start settin’ up for tonight.”

Quinn brushes a tear from her cheek and just shakes her head. I look at Clay to see him staring in the direction that his brother just left.

“You’re family,” he finally says, not looking in my direction.

“Clay, really, it’s okay. It’s been a long time since y’all were back together and I don’t need to be there for that reunion. It sucks that it takes all of this to finally bring him home, but he’s here and y’all need to make up for a lot of time lost.”

“Shut up, Leighton.”

“Don’t, Clay.”

“Don’t what? You’ve got every right to be here. You’re just as much a part of our family as he is. Hell, maybe even more so than he is at this point. So just shut up, come with us, and ignore him.”

I shake my head, the fight instantly leaving my sails, knowing I would be arguing until the end of time if I

pressed this issue.

“I can’t believe he doesn’t even recognize you,” Quinn whispers.