Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Day I Lost You by Fionnuala Kearney

Amazon USA Amazon UK
 
Review by Suze
 
Jess receives the most terrible news a mother can get, her daughter Anna is reported missing after an avalanche when she's on a ski trip. Even though she's heartbroken Jess has Anna's daughter Rose to take care of and she has to keep going. While waiting for more news about her daughter Jess has to start looking into Anna's life. She had a lot of secrets and Jess has to uncover the truth, she has to look into the past to be able to go forward.
 
The Day I Lost You is a beautiful book about a mother who gets the most devastating news you can think of. Jess is a sweet lady who lives for her family. Her daughter and granddaughter are everything to her. The news is terrible, but she has to be brave for Rose. Anna's disappearance also raises questions and Jess has to find the answers. The Day I lost you is sad, but it's also a gripping page-turner, it's a fascinating story that made me bite my nails.  
 
I couldn't put The Day I Lost You away, I had to keep reading until I knew all of Anna's secrets. Of course I had my suspicions and I couldn't wait to find out if they were true. The ending is emotional and really good. I shed a few tears while reading this book. Fionnuala Kearney makes her readers feel so much. She makes the story come to life extremely well. Anna has a voice through her blog posts which makes the reader feel closer to her. I felt conflicted many times, which made me even more interested to know the truth.
 
The Day I Lost You has wonderful main characters. Jess is a strong woman who needs her friends and family very much. Rose is an adorable little girl and she has a lot of personality. Her role is very important and I liked how loveable and inquisitive Fionnuala Kearney has made her. Every part of this story is well thought through and even though the characters all have their flaws the story itself is perfect. I think this is a definite winner and I absolutely loved it.

Girl Last Seen by Heather Anastasiu and Anne Greenwood Brown

Amazon USA Amazon UK
 
Review by Suze
 
Kadence and Lauren used to be best friends. They also formed a duo together and were a big success on YouTube. Unfortunately Lauren can't sing anymore due to an infection that affected her vocal cords. Kadence went solo and left her friend behind. Music wasn't the only reason they aren't hanging out any longer though. They had a fight about Kadence's boyfriend. Many things went wrong between them and now Lauren is working in a coffee shop while Kadence is becoming a star on her own.
 
 When Kadence disappears people assume Lauren's got something to do with it. All of a sudden she's no longer the talented YouTube star, but a girl who can't be trusted. She's a suspect in a strange case. Where is Kadence and what happened to her? Lauren has to find out the truth so she can clear her name, but evidence piles against her. Help comes from an unexpected source, Jude, the best friend she had before Kadence took his place. Can she trust him to actually help her just like that and can he trust her?
 
Girl Last Seen is a gripping read about two girls who have a complicated history together. They used to be a big hit on YouTube, but when Lauren loses her voice everything changes between them. They both have an opinion about the situation and the reader doesn't know who to trust. That was the best part of the book for me. I liked that the truth is being revealed bit by bit, clue by clue. It was like following a trace and that was fun, even though most of the topics are really serious.
 
I loved the easy flow and the different voices. They're all equally strong and interesting. The ending is fantastic and surprising. I think this book is absolutely fantastic. I enjoyed how the main characters all changed at some point, how they can reinvent themselves because they either want to or have to. I loved this book from the first sentence. It starts with a song, which is a strong and original opening. If you're looking for an amazing, fast-paced and thrilling YA story, get this book immediately. I'm one hundred percent sure you're going to love it.



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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Change of Plans by Mila Rossi

Amazon USA Amazon UK

Review by Anniek
 
Sarah is a hardworking student. She never dates because she spends all of her time on her research. Ever since she was a young girl her mother taught her that Sarah needed to grow up as a respected young woman to find a good husband with enough money. Sarah has done everything in her power to show her mother that she wants to make something of herself. Leading the life she has Sarah finds herself a virgin at the age of 25.
 
When her friend takes her to an office party Sarah has one goal, find a one night stand and lose her virginity. As soon as Jason walks into the room Sarah knows she has found the one who is going to help her. Jason has no idea that Sarah has never been with a guy before. He is very attracted to Sarah and he already booked a room in the hotel. He wanted to be prepared for a potential hookup.
He gets the shock of his life when he finds out Sarah's secret. Jason drops her off at the party as soon as he can and leaves immediately.
 
When their paths cross again Jason has to admit that he cannot forget her. He thinks about her all the time. Jason has been an MMA fighter and after hurting his knee he now trains other fighters. He is badass, an alpha male who has never been worried about a girl before. How come he finds himself following Sarah around and trying to convince her to give their one-night stand another try?
 
Mila Rossi has written a great story and I liked Sarah right away. She's a researcher all the way and that is exactly how she approaches losing her virginity and having sex. She is driving Jason insane with her down-to-earth statements and I laughed out loud about how confused he was because of her. Change of Plans is refreshing and different. I loved this angle of a romantic story and was flying through the pages. Mila Rossi is definitely an author I will keep following.  

Sisters and Lies by Bernice Barrington

Amazon USA Amazon UK
 
Review by Suze
 
Rachel and Evie grew up in Ireland, but Evie is now living in London. When Rachel gets a phone call from the police she travels there straight away. Evie crashed her boyfriend's car and is now in a coma. Only Evie doesn't drive and Rachel thought she was single. Slowly she starts to retrace her sister's steps. She tries to find out more about her sister's life, so she can discover the cause of the crash. Evie had a lot of secrets and Rachel wonders how well she actually knows her sister. What happened to Evie and will she ever wake up to tell the story?
 
Sisters and Lies is a gripping story about two sisters who are very different. Rachel is the pretty, confident sister who knows what she's doing. Evie is insecure about her looks, about her talents and about relationships. They are beautiful women, inside and out. I loved how Bernice Barrington gives both of them a distinct and equally compelling voice. I'm a big fan of stories about sisters and this is a really good one. Rachel and Evie are intriguing main characters. Their relationship is interesting, they have plenty of secrets, but they've also got a close connection. Their thoughts and feelings are being described in a vivid way. There's a lot of depth and I loved peeling off the numerous fascinating layers.
 
Sisters and Lies is a thrilling story. I felt like I needed to be on my guard the whole time I was reading. I didn't want to miss one single detail and I kept having the feeling that something was about to happen. There are many fabulous twists and turns and Bernice Barrington managed to surprise me plenty of times. The story is fast-paced and it kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. The ending is great and fitting. I enjoyed reading this fantastic and fascinating thriller very much and highly recommend it.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Charm Bracelet by Viola Shipman

Amazon USA Amazon UK
 
Review by Suze
 
Lolly's family has a charm bracelet tradition. Her mother used to give her charms for special occasions, for example on her birthday or other important days in her life. Lolly didn't get to keep her mother for a very long time, but she continues the family tradition. Both her daughter Arden and granddaughter Lauren have charm bracelets. To let them know Lolly hasn't forgotten them she sends them charms. When they decide to pay her a surprise visit Lolly is over the moon. They get a chance to reconnect, to share old and new stories and to find themselves.
 
I love charm bracelets, they are very special. That's why I couldn't wait to read The Charm bracelet. It's a wonderful book about family history. The connection between Lolly, Arden and Lauren is strong. Even though Arden and Lauren haven't visited in a while they really enjoy being at Lolly's romantic cabin at the lake and they realize how time flies when you're busy chasing a career that will bring in money, but not fulfillment. Both Arden and Lauren are creative, but they don't follow their hearts and that's exactly what Lolly thinks they should learn how to do. I liked the life lessons in this book very much. Doing what makes you happy and living is important. The positive attitude is one of the best things of the story for me, it put a big smile on my face.
 
The Charm bracelet is a beautiful story. The writing flows easily and I read this book in one sitting. I fell in love with it as soon as I started reading. I think Lolly is a sweet woman and I like how she celebrates life even when things are hard. The charms of the bracelets all stand for an important message and moment and I enjoyed reading about them, the charms are fantastic. The Charm Bracelet is a heartwarming read, I absolutely loved this book.

Ideal Girl by Jenny O'Brien

 
Amazon USA Amazon UK

Review by Anniek
 
Research states that Liddy is the ideal girl. Liddy is an Irish nurse. She is passionate about her work and is loving and kind. Her best friend is actively searching for her mister Right, but ever since Liddy's dad left Liddy and her mother she's only focused on her job. When she literally knocks over a professor at the hospital, Mitch Merrien, her luck might be changing. Mitch works hard at the hospital. He's a professor and he has also set up a recovery centre where people can stay until they are fit to go home again. Liddy is not his type of girl at all, but he can't seem to shake off his need to see her and be with her.

When a patient dies and her cat needs saving Liddy and Mitch take over this responsibility. They are naming the cat Lucky because that is exactly what he is, being found just in time. Mitch takes Lucky home and hopes he can persuade Liddy to see him in a different light as well.

After a horrific accident Liddy falls back into old habits and shuts down from the people around her. What will it take to get her back on her feet again? Her best friend Sorcha is not taking no for an answer and is determined to bring Liddy home.

I love to read about romance so it was an easy choice for me to pick up Ideal Girl. The characters are all believable and they just take over your heart while you are reading. Liddy is such a sweetheart, but she is so insecure. She puts thoughts in her head that are not true and therefore makes wrong decisions. I felt for her when she was fighting to get herself sorted out.

Jenny O'Brien did a great job creating a story that will let you go through all sorts of emotions. You will laugh and be shocked but you will also feel the love. This book is an easy read and it's perfect to read during your holiday or on a beautiful sunny day. If you love the genre you will fly through the pages.
 

The Dating Tutor: Sasha's Story by Melissa Frost


About Melissa Frost

Melissa Frost grew up loving young adult novels and continues to immerse herself in the current authors on the market. In the fifth grade, she won a writing competition to work with children’s author Colleen O'Shaughnessy Mckenna, and it inspired her to write stories of her own. She never looked back.

Find out more at

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Review

Amazon USA Amazon UK Evernight Teen

Review by Anniek

Sasha has been single ever since she broke up with her boyfriend Derek. She has been burned with love and is not willing to try it again anytime soon. When her cousin Alec blackmails her into a non-date with Matt she is up for the challenge.

Matt has a reputation of being a womanizer. He has never been in a serious relationship and has the idea that every woman is the same. Sasha has promised Alec that she will show Matt differently. It is up to her to teach him how to become friends with a woman without always expecting that more will happen.

Spending time together teaches them both different things. Maybe Sasha is ready to trust again and maybe going out of the friend zone isn't always a bad idea. Will Matt be ready to leave his bachelor days behind and go for his perfect match?

This book is a perfect romance story about love and finding it right around the corner. I read it in one sitting and smiled throughout the whole story. Some of the situations are hilarious and I really liked the way Melissa Frost builds up the story.

If you have some spare time and are looking for an easy read that will fill your heart with love, then this is the perfect book for you.
 
Giveaway
 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Wanting More by Jessica Ruddick

Amazon USA Amazon UK
 
Review by Suze
 
For Bri life is all about safety. She never does anything she hasn't thought through entirely, she studies hard, she doesn't party and she has a wall around her heart, so she won't get hurt. She works as an academic counsellor and she's studying hard for her degree. Josh is one of the students on probation and Bri has to help him with his grades. He doesn't know which major he wants to take, he likes to be free and to live. He's impulsive and doesn't think things through at all. They're each other's opposites and maybe that's exactly what they need...
 
Josh and Bri both don't have the easiest background and they deserve some love and attention. I immediately liked them very much, both as individuals and for each other. Wanting More is such a sweet love story. Bri is the model student and Josh is the exact opposite. Bri is reserved and doesn't know how to have a good time and Josh does. They bring out the best in each other. The question is if they will see it that way as well. I couldn't wait to find out what would happen to them.
 
Jessica Ruddick has a great writing style. It flows easily and she has no problem bringing her stories to life. I could picture everything that happened very well and it's one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much. It's cute, it's fun and it's flirty while there's also some depth in Bri and Josh's lives. They connect on many different levels and have great chemistry. It was great to read about them and about their friends. I like this series a lot and highly recommend it to anyone who's looking for a good campus romance.

Jessie Kasper by Bradon Nave


About the Author


I live in Piedmont, Oklahoma with my wife and our two children. I have always loved writing, and finally decided to go for it. With the amazing resources available for emerging authors, it only makes sense to take advantage of them.

Find out more at

Website
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Goodreads

Review

Amazon USA Amazon UK

Review by Anniek

Jessie Kasper is a cute and sweet teenager. Ever since he lost his mother and his brother to cancer he has developed an irrational fear of getting this disease himself. Whenever he thinks that he has found a lump or when he has pain anywhere he gets severe anxiety attacks. With the help the doctor he sees every month and his psychiatrist he's trying to overcome his grief and his fears.

Kacey is a girl who has to deal with her own loss. She lost her father in a car accident and still has to work through her pain and sadness. To get away from a toxic environment she and her mother move, so that they can be closer to family. Kacey is the new girl at school but she quickly makes friends with Jessie and his group.

 Jessie and Kacey are both fractured, but can they be whole together?

I loved the dynamics in this book. Jessie and his father are really close. After everything that happened they find peace and security with each other. They stand by one another no matter what. It broke my heart to read about Jessie’s struggles. This story is so raw and pure. The emotions found their way to my heart and made me read this story almost in one sitting.

Even though Bradon Nave writes about dark and sad events this story is fast-paced and is really hard to put down. The ending left me speechless, I didn't see it coming at all. Bradon Nave is an author who everyone should be watching. I personally can’t wait for the next book to come out, so I can find out how the story will continue.

Giveaway


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Sunday, March 27, 2016

It Had To Be You by Barbara Hannay and Nikki Logan

Amazon USA Amazon UK Amazon Au
 
Review by Suze
 
The cover of It Had To Be You is the result of The Man of the Year campaign by Mills & Boon. The book itself consists of two stories:
 
Molly Cooper's Dream Date by Barbara Hannay
 
Molly and Patrick have swapped houses. Molly's dream is to spend some time in London and Patrick wants to write a book, so Molly's home on a beautiful Australian island is exactly what he needs. They're both happy with the swap and are keeping in touch. They send each other long emails about everything they're going through. Even though they've never met they really like each other...
 
Molly Cooper's Dream Date is a story that mostly consists of messages between Patrick and Molly. I liked that idea very much. It was fun to read their messages which have an easy flow. The story is fast-paced. Both Molly and Patrick are happy with the swap. They have the chance to learn more about themselves. Plus Molly wants to meet her dream man, an English gentleman, which is perfect romantic story material. I really liked this story and read it in one sitting. I couldn't put it away. It's fun, it's flirty and it's sweet.
 
Shipwrecked with Mr Wrong by Nikki Logan
 
Honor works on a secluded island on her own. She loves being by herself and observes nature for a living. Everything is perfect until Rob arrives. He's having trouble with his boat and it will take some time to get it fixed, so Honor will have to share her space. She doesn't want a man in her life and isn't looking for company, but Rob is quite persistent. Maybe she can actually like someone again?
 
Shipwrecked with Mr Wrong has an amazing setting. There's an island without any other people than the two main characters. Honor has been through a lot and after surviving a nightmare she doesn't want to get close to someone again. She tolerates Rob, but that's it. Every time he tries to get closer she pushes him away. There's nothing else to do, so Rob has the time to make her see that he's a nice guy and that there might be something good between them. I loved the idea and the setting is amazing. The story is really romantic and has a lovely ending.
 
Conclusion
 
For me reading these two different stories at once was quite an experience. Molly Cooper's Dream Date is a whirlwind and then Shipwrecked with Mr Wrong is much more slow and completely different. The first story is like a delicious main course with plenty of flavors and the second one is the tasty desert you slowly want to savor. I liked the stories very much and am happy that I had the chance to read both of them.


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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Lethal in Love: Episode 2 by Michelle Somers Interview & Review

 About Michelle Somers


Michelle Somers is a bookworm from way back. An ex-Kiwi who now calls Australia home, she’s a professional killer and matchmaker, a storyteller and a romantic. Words are her power and her passion. Her heroes and heroines always get their happy ever after, but she’ll put them through one hell of a journey to get there.

Michelle lives in Melbourne, Australia with her real life hero and three little heroes in the making.

She loves hearing from her readers, so please click on the contact button or visit her on her website, Twitter or Facebook.

Interview

1. Could you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

I’m a Kiwi, born and raised in Wellington, New Zealand, who now calls Australia home. Sounds very song-like, doesn’t it?

That, however, is where the song ends. I studied microbiology and genetics at Massey University, then after gaining my Bachelor of Science, I took off for overseas. After an amazing three years of travelling, I moved and settled in Melbourne, Australia, where I met an amazing man I am proud to call my husband. That was twenty years ago.

Now I live in this wonderful cosmopolitan city and I can’t imagine calling anywhere else home.

My writing career has been an incredible journey. I’m lucky to have four beautiful, loving and supportive men in my life.

They understand there are times I need to sit at my keyboard and write. But there are times when I close my laptop, mostly switch off my internal writer and enjoy some quality family time. That might be a movie night or one of our board-game bonanza nights. It might be watching the boys at piano, taekwondo, footy or cricket, or supporting them in their endeavors in Cubs and Scouts. Or maybe we just take time out one afternoon and go for a family run. Those down-times recharge me so that when I open my laptop once again I’m fresh and the words and ideas flow.

Danny has been my greatest champion, buffering me up in those downtimes and cheering me on through the highs.

My three boys, Josh, Nathan and Gabriel, have watched their Mummy put her heart and soul into her dream. I hope that through all of this I’ve been able to show them that dreams really do come true. All you need to do is believe and then go out there and make it happen.

It’s a lesson I wish I learned much earlier. If you’re passionate enough about something, success can’t help but come your way.

2. Of course I have visited your website. You speak about your boys with so much love. How old are they?

Danny and I are blessed with three beautiful boys: Joshua (11), Nathan (10) and Gabriel (8).

They are incredible kids – of course I’m not in the least bit biased! They are fun and loving and so very talented. I’m proud of the fearless way they embrace the world and put 110% of their heart into everything they do. They keep me grounded and sane, and well stocked with a never-ending supply of hugs and kisses.

Along with my husband, they are my greatest gift.

3. If your sons had a chance to describe their mother what would they say?

After receiving your email, rather than guessing, I decided to ask them your question.
I have to admit, their answers made me more than a little teary.
Nathan was the first and most eager to answer, and the other two pretty much echoed his sentiments.
These are Nathan’s words.

I’m really proud of Mummy for finding something that she really loves. She wanted to write books, so she did. And she kept on writing until her book got published. She worked hard and believed in herself, and it worked.

4. On your blog you have Words of Wisdom (which I absolutely love).
You use a quote from Walt Disney. What's your favorite Disney character and why?

I love Disney. He’s such an icon. A true inspiration. A man who had a vision and just went for it. It’s as simple as that.

Here’s that quote.

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."
—Walt Disney


Of all the things Disney has said in his lifetime, this quote especially moves me. It’s become my mantra and a mindset I try to follow, every single day.

As far as a favorite Disney character, I have so many, but if I were to pick one it would have to be Aladdin.

I love a story when the underdog rises up and realises a dream. I’m a great advocate of believing in oneself, of not listening to any voice other than the one that says you can do anything, be anything, as long as you believe.

"All you need is faith, trust and a little bit of fairy dust."
—Walt Disney


To the soldiers in the city of Agrabah, Aladdin was a street rat. But their opinion wasn’t what defined him. It was his belief that they were right.

He thought he needed the genie’s magic to be someone. What he didn’t realize was that all the magic he needed was inside him all along.

His journey to discovery was a heart-wrenching one, but in the end he dug deep and found the courage to release the genie. At this stage, he has no thought of failure, just the knowledge that he must succeed, to save the Princess. To save Agrabah. To save himself. By focusing on the positive, he achieves what no one else could. He defeats the evil Jafar, saves the city and wins the girl.

Aladdin may be a fictional character, but the principles driving his success are real.
I like to think that we all have that ability in us, to succeed in whatever we desire, if only we believe.

5. On your website it says you are a matchmaker. What is the best match you have ever made happen?

Haha! I wish my answer here was more interesting. I can’t claim credit for any real life matches, more’s the pity.

I am, however, very proud to have matched several unlikely characters in the pages of my books. To date, my favorites are Chase and Stacey – a homicide detective and a romantic suspense author. One lives amidst the horrors of the real world and one creates them for fun. I loved throwing these two very different people into the same mixing pot, stirring, and watching for their reaction.

Funny what we writers do for entertainment, isn’t it?

6. I loved your character Jayda. What inspired you to create her?

I had very little hand in creating Jayda. Consciously, that is.

Jayda and Seth’s story percolated in the back of my mind for years. I’d always dreamed of being a writer. I love a great romance and equal contenders for that love are crime and suspense. As my youngest baby toddled off to kinder five years ago, I was left with time and a sudden urge to put my lifelong dream into action.

I embarked on a writing journey that lead me to explore the idea of romantic suspense. As soon as I started typing, Jayda leapt onto my pages and I enjoyed every moment of getting to know her as the story of Lethal in Love developed.

I started with a photo as inspiration. Then, slowly, brick by brick, experience by experience, a two-dimensional image developed into the multi-dimensional character that became Jayda Thomasz.

I wanted a strong female heroine. Tough, sassy, but with an underlying softness and vulnerability that she hides from all but those she trusts. I’ve read countless stories where the hero wields the gun, so I thought it time to turn the tables and hand the weapon to a woman.

Enter Jayda Thomasz.

Jayda is a homicide detective foremost and a woman last. Then she enters a swinger’s club undercover and meets Seth. One kiss and he turns her every preconceived notion about sex and love to dust.

I love the thought of a sexy hero challenging everything she’s ever believed in.
Her only dilemma? What fuels Seth’s interest in her? Does he want her for the story or herself?

I love this conflict, and even more, I love deep, dark secrets of the past clawing their way into the present.

I often get asked the question, did I inject much of myself into Jayda?
The answer? Not even a little. She’s brave and courageous, a coffee snob and connoisseur. I drink my coffee weak and skinny and sweet. Jayda would be horrified.
One thing we do have in common though – we both searched for and found our own real life happy ever after.

7. You'll be introducing us to Chase's story. When will that be?

Chase’s story, working title Murder Most Unusual, is almost finished the first draft stage. I’m hoping this story will be released mid next year.

Here’s a little teaser of what to expect:

Author Stacey Holland lives in a fictitious world where the mortality of her characters is governed by a tap on her keyboard. Homicide detective Chase Durant’s cases are real and gritty, where one wrong move could be your last. When their two worlds collide, and fiction melds with fact, can they fight the attraction raging between them, all-the-while fighting the killer determined to destroy them both?

If you want to be kept up-to-date with any new releases, including updates on Murder Most Unusual, the best way to do this is to sign up for my newsletter. I only send one out when I have news, so I promise you won’t get inundated with emails.

Here’s the link: http://www.michelle-somers.com/

8. If you could introduce a new author to us who would that be?

Wow, that’s such a difficult task. I know so many wonderful new writers, but saying that, one person immediately springs to mind.

She’s a friend and inspiration, a fabulous new author and winner of AusRom Today’s Reader’s Choice Award 2015 – Tess Woods. Her debut novel, Love at First Flight, is a brave and honest look at infidelity. It’s a story of love, of betrayal, of growth and forgiveness. And it’s well worth a read.

Here’s a little rundown I grabbed from Tess’s website:

Looking back on it now, I can see it was instant. The second we locked eyes. Boom. Just like that. The me I had spent a lifetime perfecting began its disintegration from that moment. And despite the carnage it brought to all our lives, I still don’t regret it.

What would you risk to be with the love of your life? And what if your soul mate is the one who will destroy you?

Mel is living the dream. She’s a successful GP, married to a charming anesthetist and raising a beautiful family in their plush home in Perth. But when she boards a flight to Melbourne, she meets Matt and her picture perfect Stepford life unravels as she falls in love for the first time ever.

What begins as a flirty conversation between strangers quickly develops into a hot and obsessive affair with disastrous consequences neither Mel nor Matt could have ever seen coming. Mel’s dream life turns into her worst nightmare.

Love at First Flight will take everything you believe about what true love is and spin it on its head. Once I started reading, I just couldn’t stop.

9. Could you give us one thing that we should all do today?

Show gratitude.

It’s so easy to get caught up in life’s crazy hustle and bustle. Often we look around and see the things we don’t have, the things we want, and we often forget to take stock of all that we already have.

A couple of years ago I saw a post on Facebook about a lady who started up a gratitude box, and every or most days she’d acknowledge the good stuff that happened in her life by writing it on a piece of paper and then putting it into a little box. On New Year’s Eve, at the end of that year, she opened the box and relived all those wonderful things again. I thought it was such a great idea, I decided to try it out.

The five of us each found an old money box and I cut up a whole lot of paper. We didn’t end up writing every day, but we did write something every few days. The kids embraced the practice in a way that completely surprised me.

It’s amazing when you begin to change your mindset, how easy it becomes to find the positives in your life. And then, how many more positives tumble on in as a consequence.

This past year we didn’t do a gratitude box, but we’d often chat about the good stuff that happened that day or week. Just before Christmas this year, we sat down as a family and each listed 10 things we were grateful for in 2015 – 10 things that made us happy or proud or just plain grateful. Then we listed 5 things we are looking forward to doing or achieving in 2016.

I hope this is something the boys will do long after they leave home and create families of their own.

I am grateful for so many things. My family, my friends, the freedom to be able to live my life as I do and spend my days doing what I love. The writing that gives me so much pleasure, and hopefully gives just as much pleasure to my readers.

And you, Anniek, for giving me the opportunity to talk about one of my favorite topics. Writing. Once I start, I just don’t want to stop! ☺

10. What more do you have in store for your readers?

Lots.

After Murder Most Unusual, I have a totally new series that I can’t wait to share. A kind of Stephanie Plum meets James Bond scenario set in the US. It’s full of suspense and tension, and some weird, wacky and wonderful characters. And more than a few surprises.

I’ll be able to share a lot more in 2016. What I can tell you is it’s going to be a blast!

Review

Amazon USA Amazon UK Amazon AU

 Review by Anniek
 
LJayda struggles with her family tragedy and finds an ally in Seth who helps her with her quest to track down the Night Terror Killer.
 
Jayda is a detective and a feisty redhead. When the Night Terror Killer starts killing again after a period of 25 years he made things personal. He's determined to break Jayda and to hurt her as much as he can. Jayda's father was on the case many years ago, but his team failed to catch the murderer. Now that he is back he is still using his same MO. Will he slip up this time, so they can finally put this serial killer behind bars?
 
This series pulls you in from the very first page. After I finished episode 2 I was almost begging for just one more page so I could find out more. You can compare Lethal in Love with your favorite criminal TV show. When you put it on you'll end up watching the whole first season in one sitting. This series feels exactly the same, it's like you're reading real episodes. I am hooked and I won't stop reading until the very last episode. If there is one detective who can bring this brutal killer down I believe it will be Jayda.
 
When you get this series my advice to you will be to curl up on your favorite reading spot, make sure you won't be disturbed and have your snacks within arm's length because you don't want to stop reading until the very last line.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Siren's Song by Mary Weber - Book Review of The Storm Siren Trilogy & Giveaway

 
About Mary Weber
 

Mary Weber is a ridiculously uncoordinated girl plotting to take over make-believe worlds through books, handstands, and imaginary throwing knives. In her spare time, she feeds unicorns, sings 80’s hairband songs to her three muggle children, and ogles her husband who looks strikingly like Wolverine. They live in California, which is perfect for stalking L.A. bands, Joss Whedon, and the ocean. Her debut YA fantasy novel, Storm Siren and Siren Fury are available now in bookstores and online, and Siren's Song will be out March 2016 from TN HarperCollins.

Author Links

Website: http://www.maryweber.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7391763.Mary_Weber
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mchristineweber
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marychristineweber
 
Book reviews by Suze
 
Amazon USA Amazon UK
 
Seventeen-year-old Nym is a slave in the kingdom of Faelen which is part of the Hidden Lands. She's been sold many times already and is going from owner to owner. Nobody can contain her. She's an Elemental and one who shouldn't exist because she's female and not male. When a court advisor recognizes her power Nym finds herself in a completely different position all of a sudden. Instead of being a slave she's now a weapon in the war Faelen is fighting against their neighboring country Bron.
 
Finally there's someone to train Nym. His name is Eogan and he isn't like anyone Nym has ever met. He respects her and she feels at ease with him. Only he's supposed to prepare her to unleash her destructive power on a large scale. Will Nym be willing to take that risk?
 
Storm Siren is one big adrenaline rush. Nym has more power than she can handle and finally there's someone who can teach her to control it. Only that comes with a price as she will have to use it in a war. Nym is compassionate and loving and she doesn't take fighting lightly. I loved her fierce character and the way she stands up for herself and everyone she cares about. She has a lot of battles to fight, not only physical ones. She also has to learn many things in a short period of time which was fantastic to read about.
 
I love the way Mary Weber tells her story. She has a great writing style and I enjoyed reading her beautiful sentences. She makes her story come to life so well and even the smallest details have their own special meaning. I loved this book, it's a rollercoaster ride I didn't want to see the end of. It's such a treat that there are two more books in the series.
 
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Nym has given everything she had to give to win the final battle in the war against Bron. The war in the person of Draewulf has taken her friends and the person she loves. What's even worse is that he's also taken her powers. Being an Elemental is what Nym has always been able to count on when there was nothing else and without her powers to control the elements she feels empty. Which is why she starts looking for a way to regain what she has lost.
 
Nym travels to Bron in an airship to fight another big battle. She has to defeat Draewulf, but she needs some kind of power to do so. Lord Myles, who's traveling with her from Faelen, makes her an offer she can't refuse, but maybe it isn't the wisest decision to follow his plan. Having new powers will come with a price, something that makes the battle Nym has to fight a lot more difficult, because she can also lose herself in the process.
 
Dreawulf is a terrible opponent who has a lot of experience with power and magical experiments. Nym has to find a way to defeat him without endangering Eogan's life. I couldn't wait to find out if she'd be able to pull it off. She's feisty, she speaks her mind and she won't take no for an answer. She has to fight battles on so many different fronts and still she manages to keep it together. I couldn't wait to find out more about her powers and her origin.
 
Nym needs powerful allies. She can't defeat Draewulf on her own. I kept holding my breath each time he confronted her. I loved how much tension Mary Weber put into this book. I couldn't stop reading and moments to breathe were scarce. It's one action scene after another. They kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading which is exactly what I wanted.
 
Amazon USA Amazon UK
 
Draewulf has gained a lot of extra power. So much that Nym isn't sure how she can defeat him any longer. She has to find a large number of people who will be willing and able to help her fight her final battle against Draewfulf. He's an opponent who has such big and awful plans that it's almost unbelievable. She has to travel to the other kingdoms of the Hidden Lands to raise an army and to convince the leaders of Draewulf's power and intentions.
 
There's hardly time to regain strength and to prepare for the largest battle of all time. The Hidden Lands have to work together to defeat the monster who wants to destroy everything. Will Nym be able to defeat her opponent? She's willing to give everything she has, but what will be the price she has to pay in her quest to defeat Draewulf?
 
Siren's Song is the beautiful finale of a story about good and evil. Greed can be the most destructive thing there is and Mary Weber describes that in an amazing way. Her stories are absolutely fantastic. I loved the final battle, it's such a wonderful scene that brought tears to my eyes. There's a lot of built up tension which is being released in a unique, impressive and fitting final moment. I loved the ending of the story as much as the journey to get there.
 
Mary Weber has written a brilliant trilogy. I loved the fighting scenes, the political strategizing, the love, the friendship, the variety of abilities and the amazing main characters. Everything about this story is exactly as it should be. I highly recommend The Storm Siren Trilogy to anyone who loves a great YA fantasy story.
 
Giveaway
 
One very lucky reader of our blog will receive a hardback copy of Siren's Song or paperback copies of Storm Siren and Siren's Fury via The Bookdepository.
  

 
The winner will be notified by email and has three days to reply. All of our giveaways are international.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith

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Review by Suze
 
Eden is a happy fourteen-year-old girl. She's a bit nerdy and wears big glasses. She doesn't have many friends at school, but the ones she has are wonderful. She loves to read books and play music. She's comfortable with herself the way she is. That changes when her brother's best friend rapes her. Nobody knows Eden's secret. She can't talk about it and slowly she starts to fall apart. Everything she used to be and used to know is different now. There's a new Eden, a person who tries to live with the past, but who can't get over what happened to her.
 
The Way I Used to Be is an intense story about the effects of rape on a young girl's life. The story made me cry repeatedly. Amber Smith tells it in such a moving way. There's a lot of chaos in Eden's life. Everything she knows has changed and when she tries to cope things spiral out of control. I kept wishing I could step into the story to help her. She's confused, she's hurting and she has nowhere to go and nobody to talk to. I could feel her loneliness so well that it kept overwhelming me. I'm impressed by how much this book made me feel.
 
The Way I Used to Be is a story I won't easily forget. It's one of those stories you have to read even though you wish the topic wouldn't even exist. I think Amber Smith tells the story in a raw and honest way, but she remains sensitive and compassionate. I loved that balance. There's a strong message in the story and I think it's great that there are books like this. The way Eden tries to keep herself together is brave, but also absolutely awful. It's a story that tells people how horrible it is and how serious the consequences are when someone's being raped.
 
Eden is so young when her brother's best friend enters her room. The story focuses on all of her high school years. Amber Smith describes several years of Eden's life. I think that's a daring decision, which fortunately works very well. The reader witnesses Eden's struggle with what happened and the fact that her childhood is over in just a few minutes. The Way I Used to Be is a difficult story, but one nobody should stay away from. Amber Smith is a talented author and this book is both terrible and brilliant at the same time. It's a definite must-read.

Her One True Love by Rachel Brimble


About Rachel Brimble
 

Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Since 2013, she has had five books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and recently signed a contract for three more.

She also has four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical and hoping to sign a new contract for further historical romances shortly.

When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family.

Find out more at

Guest post

Rachel Brimble is giving Top 5 Tips For Writing Historical Romance

1. A sense of time

It’s important that the reader feels grounded in history as soon as they begin to read – or at least by the end of the first page…ideally, the first paragraph. How do authors do this? For me, it’s all about the language used in dialogue or the objects present in the scene. Using old English or adding an object rarely, or better still, never used today will go a long way to ‘showing’ the reader, the story is set in yesteryear.

2. A sense of place

Setting is vital in historical romance – it’s the author’s job to create as rich a setting as they possibly can. Buildings, horses, carriages, balls, lighting and even a cobbled street can bring the setting alive. The more the reader pictures in their mind, the quicker they will read. After all, it will be like watching a movie!

3. Costume

Another vital ingredient in historical romance – there is a reason why we call historical movies and TV shows, “costume dramas.” Clothes are vitally important to bring color and romance to a historical novel. The dresses, bustle and hoops, cravats, boots and jewelry are a simple way to transport a reader back in time.

4. Old-fashioned Romance

Historical romance gives the author and reader a chance to indulge in that old-fashioned gallantry that, if I’m honest, I still love to experience in today’s world. In my historical romances, I take full advantage of my male cast opening doors, pulling out chairs, kissing gloved hands and generally treating the females as genteelly as possible…without being sickly sweet, of course!

5. And finally…social conventions and restrictions

For me, this is what historical romance is all about – showing those conventions and restrictions that are no longer in society. I often use one or two as the premise for my novels and watch how my hero and heroine fight against them, or overcome them, in order to achieve their goals. I love writing about strong women who wish to expand their lives and change things for the female race…with the hero’s full approval and support. It’s often that support and encouragement that makes me fall head over heels in love with my hero.

Book Review of Her One True Love
 
Amazon USA Amazon UK B&N
Review by Anniek
 
Jane always had a secret crush on Matthew. He never knew and married another woman. Jane's heart has been crushed and to get over him she makes the decision to leave Biddestone. She will move to her house in the city and will try to make something of her life.

When Matthew is told that Jane is leaving town he's worried sick. He wants to make sure that she is safe and travels with her and her friend Jeannie to the city. He notices that Jane has changed and he likes the woman she has become very much. The only thing is he is still married to his estranged wife Elizabeth.
 
Both of them find out that they can no longer hide their feelings for each other. But what can they do? Jane refuses to lose her good reputation because she loves a married man. Matthew knows he will never be able to forget Jane and returns to Biddestone so he can settle things with his wife. Will he choose the life and love he wants or won't he be able to let go of the duties that came with his marriage?
 
Rachel Brimble has done such a good job creating the right atmosphere for this book and the language she uses is perfect for the story. It was like I was reading about people who actually existed a long time ago. The setting and the way the characters speak to each other took me back in time straight away.
 
There is one quote that really says it all for me:
 
"If there is one thing I have learned through my career in Bath and through my marriage thus far, it is that the path to true love and happiness never runs smoothly. You have to fight for it, live through the cracks in your heart, and be determined to find your happily-ever-after."
 
Her One True Love is a beautiful story about finding the love of your life and the obstacles that are sometimes standing in the way of happiness. This book is very well written and it's an enjoyable read about life in another era.

Giveaway
 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Hidden Twin by Adi Rule

Amazon USA Amazon UK
 
Review by Suze
 
Normally the Redwing (non-human) baby of twins conceived by a human and an Other is being drowned. The children don't get any names and they aren't supposed to live. But a Redwing has survived and her father is keeping her hidden. Her sister Jey has had the chance to live a normal life, pretending to be an only child. Redwings are supposed to be evil and the priests are doing everything they can to spread the word about how wicked they are and how they should never get a chance to live. They also execute possible Redwings. Only Jey's sister is just a regular girl. She maybe has a little bit of power, but she isn't very different from her sister and she has a big heart. Why should they execute someone who isn't evil at all?
 
When Jey asks her sister to switch places wit her she can finally come out of hiding. There's one difference though. Jey's eyes are brown and her sister's are blue, so she should avoid people who can recognize her. Jey's work is with plants and her sister loves that job. Her father has taught her everything he knows. When she meets the son of the Empress she flirts with him. This leads to more outside time, which is really dangerous. Redwings aren't safe and when she suddenly has nowhere to go Jey's sister needs allies. She finds out she has a mission to accomplish and it isn't an easy task to fulfill...
 
The Hidden Twin is an unusual story. There's nothing I can compare it to. The world building is strange. There's a city, with an Empress and the city is built on a volcano that has an identity. It's a lot to take in, but I decided to let every expectation go and see where the story would lead me. It's enjoyable and different and I liked that about it. The main character doesn't have a name at the beginning of the book. She does have a personality though. She's feisty and isn't afraid to speak up. She has a great sense of humor and she's brave. It's obvious from the start that the stories the priests tell about Redwings aren't true. She's looking for answers and constantly has to find out who's good and who's evil. I liked that it wasn't all black and white.
 
Adi Rule has a great writing style and I love her imagination. She showed me an original and creative new world and I enjoyed reading about it very much. The Hidden Twin isn't an easy story. It took me a while to wrap my head around everything I was reading, but once I let the feeling go that I had to understand it all completely I had fun reading this book. The reader will get some answers, but there's also the opportunity to let your own imagination fill in part of the story. I recommend it to anyone who loves to read a creative book.


Collide by Melissa J. Crispin



About Melissa J. Crispin

Melissa J. Crispin lives in Connecticut with her husband, two kids, and an adorable Siberian Husky. She spends her days in the corporate world, and pursues her passion for writing in the late nights and early mornings.

From micro-fiction to novels, Melissa loves to write stories in varying lengths. But, no matter the story, it's almost always about the romance.

Find out more at


Guest Post

Hi there! Thank you so much for having me on your blog. I’m very excited about the release of my debut novel, Collide, and wanted to share a little bit about the process I follow for writing a book. 

When I tell people I’m a writer, I’m often asked, how do you write a book? Before tackling the question, I always start with the caveat that everyone works differently, but I definitely do have a process. I’m a planner. Without a plan, I fall to pieces, and it just ain’t pretty. Trust me. 

The very first thing I do is write the book blurb. I didn’t do this with my earlier work, but I never start a new project without one now. I use it to establish in my mind who’s story it is, and what that person has at stake. It may evolve as the story progresses, and that’s perfectly okay, but I find it easier to move forward with the basic framework in place.

Armed with a good blurb, I then start working out the meat of the story using beat sheets to determine the major plot points and how to heighten the tension. I find the basic beat sheet that Jami Gold has on her blog to be really useful. It could take days for me to map this out, but I have learned (the hard way, of course) that trying to rush this piece only causes me grief later. So, it takes as long as it takes and I just roll with it.

After that, I move on to Scrivener, where I translate what I have in the beat sheet to a breakout of scenes with descriptions. Then, finally, yes finally, I start to right the first draft. If you’re thinking I do a lot of work upfront, you’re right. I do.

Once the draft is complete, I edit it to the best of my ability on my own, and then I send it out for critiques. Multiple rounds of editing occur as I get feedback from the critiques. Then, once I’ve tweaked the story a billion times, and feel like it is in a good place, I start to submit the work for publication.

There are a few things I wanted to mention. When I wrote Collide, I didn’t start with a blurb, and I didn’t know what a beat sheet even was. I did outline all the scenes in Scrivener and wrote the whole first draft in there, though. Having everything organized helped when it came time to edit, but I know I would have had less edits to work on if I had done some of the extra work beforehand. 

With each project, and each iteration, I try to examine what works well for me, and what will help make the next story better. I ask myself if I can be more efficient in getting to the finish line. How about you? Do you have a process that you follow?

Amazon USA Amazon UK Evernight Teen
Giveaway

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Competing With The Star by Krysten Lindsay Hager

Amazon USA Amazon UK
 
Review by Suze
 
Hadley's life seems to be a lot better now that she's living in Grand Haven. She has several great new friends, she can see her grandparents and favorite aunt as often as she likes and she also has a boyfriend, Nick. Nick is a great guy, he's handsome and he's sweet. He and Hadley are really good friends as well and they can talk about anything. Their relationship isn't perfect though, because Hadly isn't the only girl who likes Nick. There are several other girls who would love to date him. One of them is former TV star Simone Hendrickson. How can Hadley compete with someone who's famous, who looks perfect and who used to be Nick's biggest crush?
 
Krysten Lindsay Hager's stories are always realistic. Everything that happens could have actually happened in real life. Things are never over the top and they don't have to be. She writes about friendship, first boyfriends and the good and bad sides of life in a beautiful way. Hadley is kind and caring and the same goes for Nick. He loves his grandfather very much and there's an amazing scene in a retirement home that brought tears to my eyes. There's a good balance between happy and sad moments which keeps the story genuine. 
 
 Hadley is a little bit insecure and dealing with friend and boyfriend trouble is tough. Especially since she hasn't had much time to decide where her loyalties lie because she's just moved to a new town. Believing either the guy you like or the girl you look up to isn't an easy decision and it was interesting to see what she would do. Sometimes it's a struggle to grow up, especially when there are so many new impressions and people to connect with. I liked the subject and Krysten Lindsay Hager's vivid way of writing makes the story come to life really well.
 
Competing With The Star is the second book in a series. I advise you to read Next Door To A Star first. It isn't a must, but it makes you understand the story a little bit better. It was fun to read more about the same characters. I love this series and highly recommend it to both teenagers and adults. For me Krysten Lindsay Hager's books always mean a wonderful trip down memory lane.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Snowbound Seduction by Melissa Schroeder

Amazon USA Amazon UK
 
Review by Suze
 
Mick, Trevor and Elaine own a restaurant together. Trevor is the executive chef and Elaine the pastry chef. Unfortunately they don't get along. The atmosphere in the kitchen is horrible, so Mick comes up with a plan to fix that. He makes them go to a romantic cabin in the snow. They don't know that they will be there together. The weather is on Mick's side and Elaine and Trevor don't have a choice but to spend several days together. Will Mick's plan work and does their anger eventually turn into something else?
 
Snowbound Seduction is a fun and romantic novella about two people who initially aren't nice to one another at all. Trevor and Elaine both have their reasons. While being in the cabin together they have to get to know each other better. I liked that idea and they definitely have the right kind of chemistry. They're passionate people, in the kitchen and in other areas of their life as well. I liked the descriptions of their favorite foods and loved how they initally try to express their feelings through cooking. These things together are the perfect ingredients for a hot story.
 
Snowbound Seduction is a short and easy read, it has a good flow. It's a story to read in one sitting while you have an hour to spare. The telephone calls with Mick are a funny element and they made me smile. He's a main character who's very present while he isn't at the scene. Melissa Schroeder has thought of every little detail and she makes sure the reader gets to know her main characters well even though the story isn't very long. If you're looking for a great winter read, try this novella. It's amusing, sweet and sexy.