Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Wanderlost by Jen Malone

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Review by Suze
 
Aubree loves being at home. She's comfortable living with her parents and has chosen to go to college close to her hometown so she can stay. She doesn't need to see anything of the world and is perfectly happy with the idea of spending a relaxing summer on their living room sofa. Her sister Elizabeth is the complete opposite, she's going away as often as she can. She is four years older than Aubree and she's striving to be perfect. She has a degree in politics and has carefully planned her future. When Elizabeth gets in trouble Aubree is the one who needs to save her. Elizabeth is supposed to be a tour guide for a small group of seniors. They will travel through several European countries by bus. She needs the job for her career that's supposed to start after the summer, but she isn't allowed to leave the country. Aubree has to step in and pretend to be her.
 
Aubree has never been abroad, she doesn't think she has leadership qualities and she messes up. Her sister is the successful one who thinks Aubree's just clumsy and she doesn't trust her. Aubree knows she can't fail, because her sister needs her. When she arrives in Amsterdam she loses her phone and binder with tour information even before she starts working. Aubree needs to be creative and she can only count on herself. She's abroad on her own and she's responsible for several seniors. Plus there's Sam, who's the son of the tour operator. His grandmother is on the tour as well. Aubree has to impress them for her sister's sake, but maybe she also wants to do something for herself. Being adventurous isn't so bad, especially not when it's with a cute guy. Only what will happen if her secret is no longer safe? Aubree wants Sam to know the real her, but she doesn't want to let her sister down. Who will she choose?
 
Wanderlost is a sweet romantic story. Aubree is adorable, she's kindhearted, a bit clumsy, creative and fun to be with. I love Jen Malone's sense of humor and laughed out loud quite a few times when I was reading this story. Aubree is brave, she tries to prepare herself as well as she can, she manages to get out of plenty uncomfortable situations and she discovers that she's actually good at things. She might not be her sister, but being herself is more than good enough. I loved that message and think it made the book really special.
 
Wanderlost is an easy and cheerful read. Sam has a warm personality, which makes everyone around him feel comfortable. From the moment he starts talking to Aubree he knows exactly what to say to her and I loved the lighthearted banter between them. Aubree manages to form a connection with everyone she meets and that is part of her charm. She's naïve and innocent, but she's smart and eager to learn as well. She's also resilient and manages to adapt quickly. That makes the story fast-paced and dynamic.
 
 Every main character in this story is wonderful. The seniors are eccentric and they all have their own compelling stories and character traits. There's one couple that's absolutely hilarious for example. Two other people on the tour are so nice you'd want to adopt them as grandparents straight away. I loved the mix of old and young. It works very well and it gives the story a unique quality. The trip isn't without incidents and I couldn't wait to find out if Aubree would succeed. The ending is both sad and happy and I liked it a lot. Wanderlost is a fantastic sparkling summer read.

Kiss Me That Way by Laura Trentham - Book Review & Giveaway


About Laura Trentham
 

An award-winning author, Laura Trentham was born and raised in a small town in Tennessee. Although, she loved English and reading in high school, she was convinced an English degree equated to starvation. She chose the next most logical major—Chemical Engineering—and worked in a hard hat and steel toed boots for several years.

She writes sexy, small town contemporaries and smoking hot Regency historicals. The first two books of her Falcon Football series were named Top Picks by RT Book Reviews magazine. When not lost in a cozy Southern town or Regency England, she's shuttling kids to soccer, helping with homework, and avoiding the Mt. Everest-sized pile of laundry that is almost as large as the to-be- read pile of books on her nightstand.

Website: http://www.lauratrentham.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLauraTrentham
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LauraTrentham
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9802779.Laura_Trentham

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Review by Suze
 
Cottonbloom has two sides that are divided by a river. There's an upscale and a downscale part and there's some competition between the two. Monroe was born in the richer part of town. When she was a teenager she lived alone with an alcoholic mother who didn't always make the smartest choices. Monroe found safety with Cade, who's from the poorer side of town. He also didn't have an easy childhood because his parents died and he had to take care of his brother and sister. When they were old enough to lead their own lives he left Cottonbloom and Monroe and made something of himself. Now he's back after being injured to stay with is brother and sister for a while.
 
Monroe is a physical therapist and she's helping Cade with his injuries. He didn't expect seeing her again would release so many feelings inside him, both old and new. It's scary and he is surprised by the intensity. Monroe is a lot tougher than she was back then, but her softer side remains. She loved Cade when she was younger and she never found someone who came even close to him. Cade is passionate, loyal and fiercely protective. He works in Seattle though and isn't in Cottonbloom to stay. He doesn't really want to leave, but there's a flourishing business for him to go back to. Will he and Monroe get the chance to discover if there's something special between them or will Monroe's heart be broken all over again?
 
Kiss Me That Way is a wonderful romantic story about two people who come from different backgrounds, but found each other because of their difficult childhoods. Monroe and Cade needed friendship and someone to confide in and they were lucky to have such a special connection. Now that Cade is back in Cottonbloom they meet again and there's a lot of chemistry between them. They have a great and deep connection that's more than friendship and love alone. Laura Trentham describes that bond in a beautiful way. There's so much tenderness and understanding and the tension between them only intensifies that. It's all about trust and daring to be vulnerable, which results in a strong story.
 
 Cottonbloom is a fantastic setting. I loved Laura Trentham's descriptions of the colorful town, the two rivaling sides and the beauty of the place. I liked the history of the people mixed with the fantastic small town atmosphere. It made me fall in love with this story straight away. I enjoyed reading this book very much and am happy it's the first part of a series as I can't wait to read more about the inhabitants of this lovely town.
 
Giveaway

Enter the giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon or B&N gift card. Good luck!


Take Me to the Willow by Shelly Brimley


About Shelly Brimley


Shelly Brimley was born in Flagstaff, AZ, where she lived most of her life until moving to Mexico to study abroad. After graduation, Shelly did some volunteer work in Africa and completed her graduate degree while working in an adolescent drug treatment center. After acquiring her Master’s degree, she worked as a counselor at a residential shelter for children who had been smuggled and trafficked into the USA from different countries around the world. She also taught English to adult refugees before resigning to raise her children. Shelly wanted to use her experience working with others as a source of inspiration in her writing, offering a voice for those who are not typically heard or considered.

Find out more at

Website
Author Facebook
Goodreads

Review

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Review by Anniek

In Take me to the Willow you'll get to meet Will and his family. Living in the early 1900's Will is writing in his journal about his life. After reading his mother's journal he decided to also write his own so he can give this to his children in the future. Will lives on a farm with his father, mother and sister. His best friend Charlie and his father Lawrence are close friends and also work at the farm. Charlie and Lawrence are colored and not all of the townspeople have lived past the times of slavery.

Will has a wonderful family. They are honest people who work hard to provide for everyone in the family. When Will is 18 years old he meets Hannah. From the very first time he sees her he knows he wants to marry her. On their wedding day he writes her a letter so she can always remember how much he loves and appreciates her. Throughout the years you will learn how Will's life continues.
It has happy stories, but also very sad ones as there are in everybody's life.

On a very bad day a selfish young woman, Maryanne,  accuses Charlie of a crime he didn't commit.
She is white and comes from a respected family. Charlie is colored and this accusation is what some people in town were waiting for. The following events will take you to one of the darkest days of Will's life. It had me crying full out and I kept on wishing that this day wasn't happening.

Will, his family, Charlie and his father are all such good people. They work hard, are honest and don't have a bad bone in their body. I loved to read about the strong bonds and the fact that no one cared about the color of someone's skin.  All of them were friends until the very end and this warmed my heart and brought tears to my eyes.

Every time I read a book about this subject I can't help but to think about a song by Meghan Trainor. In this song she sings:

"Everybody's born to be different. That's the one thing that makes us the same."

This line says it all for me. We are all unique in our own way and it appalls me that some people are so shallow.

Take me to the Willow is a beautiful and emotional novel. Shelly Brimley has done a great job telling her story from Will's point of view. She was also brave enough to leave in the bad parts. The result is a compelling read that will get under your skin. I know I will keep thinking about this story for a very long time.

Giveaway

One randomly chosen winner will receive a $50 Amazon/BN gift card. Good Luck!
 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

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Review by Suze
 
Bad things are happening to Maguire. Her uncle, father and brother died in a car crash and she was the only one who came out of it alive. She also survived a roller coaster accident and when a third incident happened and then a fourth people started to talk. Maguire thinks she causes the bad luck and does everything she can to keep the people around her safe. Her mother remarried and had two more children and the family is now moving to a new place. Maguire has the chance to start over, but she thinks she's still responsible for other people's misery and a new home and school don't change that. That's why her mother sends her to a therapist.
 
Maguire meets Jordy at her therapist's office. She's surprised when she sees him again at the school's tennis practice. Jordy is assisting her coach. He's a young tennis star and wants to become a professional. Their therapist has given both of them goals to achieve and Jordy and Maguire decide to help each other with their quests. For the first time in her teenage life Maguire has a friend, but she doesn't know if it's safe. Shouldn't she stay away from Jordy, so he can avoid the trouble she brings with her?
 
Girl Against the Universe is a beautiful heartwarming story about a traumatized girl who develops mental health problems because of everything that happened to her. Paula Stokes writes about this topic in a sensitive and truthful way and I can't praise the way she's handles her topic enough. She's done such a fantastic job. I loved Maguire, she's a sweet and talented girl. Unfortunately the universe has dealt her a bad hand. She tries to cope, but it isn't easy. She needs help and she's doing her very best to get better. She's incredibly strong and I admired that about her. Jordy is kindhearted and they are great together. I kept hoping they would both overcome their fears enough to enjoy life again. I loved the ending of the book. It's not all sunshine and roses, but it's lovely and fitting instead, which was a wonderful surprise.
 
Paula Stokes has an easy flowing writing style. I read this book in one sitting and couldn't put it down. I love her vivid descriptions of both the thought processes of the main characters and their movements. That makes them complete people and I could picture them without any difficulties which enabled me to focus on the story itself even more. I think good books about main characters who struggle with mental health issues are really important and this is definitely one of my favorites. I enjoyed the loving way in which Paula Stokes writes about Maguire and Jordy. She is such a good writer and her stories are all unique and absolutely brilliant.

Beauty and the Recluse by Ellie Gray - Book Review & Giveaway


About Ellie Gray


Ellie lives in the beautiful East Riding of Yorkshire with her partner, David, and two children, Joe and Abbie.

Ellie is a contemporary romance author, published with the lovely Tirgearr Publishing, and is a proud member of the Romantic Novelist Association.

Her debut novel, Beauty and the Recluse, was published in February 2016 and her second novel, Love on the Nile, is due to be released in the Summer of 2016. Inbetween working full-time in public services and studying for an MSc in Public Management, Ellie is currently working on her third novel.

A few random pieces of information about Ellie:
 
Favourite TV shows – The Walking Dead, The X-Files, Nashville, Dr. Who, The Great British Bake-off!
 
Favourite Music – I’m an 80’s girl!, country, sixties, Elvis, classical (when I’m writing)
 
Favourite Food – Indian, tapas, crisps, cheese
 
Favourite Drink – black coffee – copious amounts when I’m writing, Sauvignon blanc when I’m not.

Find out more at
 
Twitter: @elliegray58

Book review

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Review by Anniek

Kiya has lost both of her parents to a terminal illness. After the death of her father she doesn't feel like going back to university and pick up her Law studies. Now an orphan with no place to call home Kiya has to find a job as soon as possible. She spots an ad in a store and decides to call in to see of the job is still available. Kiya gets the job as a housekeeper and is amazed by the enormous and beautiful house she gets to live and work in. She immediately falls in love with the property and the surroundings.

Kiya's employer is a little weird. He has left her a note to welcome her and has also written down instructions. Kiya can't use the kitchen at certain hours and a few rooms are off limits. She finds these rules odd but does her best to meet all the expectations. Ever since she started working she hasn't seen or spoken to her employer until one day she forgets to check the time and barges into the kitchen.

St. John lives all alone in his very big house and he prefers to keep it that way. A few years ago he was in a car accident that scarred his face. His fiancée left him while he was still in the hospital. These events made him believe he is hideous and he pulls back from physical contact with other people altogether, only a handful of people get to see him and he keeps everyone else at a safe distance.

Meeting Kiya was not what St. John had in mind but he can't seem to stop thinking about her. She doesn't pull back from him because of his ugly scar and she is also not afraid to confront him head-on when he's being unreasonable. Unfortunately he isn't the only one who has been captivated by her good looks and wonderful character. Will St. John be able to put his past behind him and start letting people in again?

Kiya and St. John are made for each other, but they were so frustrating at times. They are both thinking about the other, but they are never speaking about what they feel, which results into a lot of misunderstandings. The only thing I wanted as a reader was to finally get to that stage where they would let their walls down, because they both deserved so much more in life.

Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder and this story shows that ugliness can also be on the inside. His physical scar only shows how loving St. John is, because he got it protecting someone else. I wanted him to find some good things in life again after all he went through and I kept my fingers crossed that he would live happily ever after with Kiya. I love a lovely romantic story and Beauty and the Recluse is really sweet.
  
Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive a $20/£20 Amazon gift card.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Somewhere Inside of Happy by Anna McPartlin

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Review by Suze
 
Maisie met an awful man who found a way to stay in her life for many years. Her two wonderful children are the only good thing she's got out of the relationship. Jeremey is sensitive, responsible and kind and Valerie is smart and outspoken. When her husband went too far Maisie finally left him and moved in with her mother. They had some really good years until Maisie's mother started to forget things. The dementia is now taking over her life and she needs constant care. Maisie works two jobs, she looks after her mother and she's there for her children. She can manage, because she loves them all dearly.
 
Maisie finally dares to go out with someone again. Not all men are like her ex-husband and maybe it's time to let someone good into her world. His name is Fred and he works for the police. Maisie thinks she's finally found some happiness, but it doesn't last. Jeremey goes missing and that isn't like him at all. Something must have happened to him. Where did he go and will they be able to find him again?
 
Somewhere Inside of Happy is a beautiful impressive story. Maisie is a strong woman who's survived domestic violence and who does everything she can to keep her children safe. Unfortunately she can't be with them all the time, they're teenagers and they also have their own lives. Only does she know exactly what they're going through or do they keep secrets from her? When Jeremey disappears she's beside herself with worry, but she remains in control and she's unbelievably courageous. I loved her character. Maisie is a great example. She's so brave, especially at the end of the story. The final chapters are incredibly moving and made me cry my eyes out. Maisie has so much love to give and she gives it unconditionally.
 
Anna McPartlin has written a fantastic emotional story with a strong and important message. Everyone should have a chance at happiness and people should be able to be themselves. There are multiple points of view, so the reader has the chance to get to know every character and to witness the same story from different angles. I loved that choice. It made me feel close to Maisie's family and friends. Anna McPartlin's vivid descriptions make it easy to picture them. They all have their struggles and life can be extremely unfair sometimes, but even though there's sadness in this story there's also so much beauty. It's a definite must-read. This book is special and I can't praise it enough.

The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris by Evie Gaughan - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

About Evie Gaughan


Hi, my name is Evie Gaughan and I am the author of The Cross Of Santiago, a fusion of historical and contemporary fiction set in Ireland and The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris, a magical story about a French boulangerie.
 
Living on the West Coast of Ireland, which is not renowned for its sunny climate, I escape from the inclement weather into my converted attic, to write stories and dream about underfloor heating. Growing up in a walled medieval city, I developed a love of storytelling and all things historical. With a taste for the magical in everyday life, my stories are full of ordinary characters with extraordinary tales to tell.

When not writing, I also work as an artist, creating stories on canvas. I am currently working on my third novel.

Interview

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

I’m a bit of a dreamer really. From a very young age, I used to bore my family and any visitors that came to the house senseless with long meandering stories. I would take a stool and place it in the middle of the room and proceed to tell them fantastical tales (as least they were to my ears!) that poured out of my head without any kind of filter. Despite years of trying to find ‘proper jobs’, I’ve always been drawn to creative expression. I love to laugh – that’s my secret weapon in life, trying to find the funny side to everything.

2. If you could go back in time which era would you like to visit?

All of them! Writing historical fiction definitely gives you a hankering for the past. The pre-industrial age was so much simpler. Sometimes I think our progress has come at a price – opportunity has turned into expectation, so you feel guilty if you’re not doing a million things at once and posting about it on Facebook. I would like to go back to the Medieval Times, when Ireland was ruled by chieftains and we lived by Brehon laws. I come from the O’Malley clan on my mother’s side – descendants of the great Grainuaile (Grace O’Malley) or the pirate queen as she was known. Women had greater freedom, independence and rights to property than any other European societies of the time. I sometimes wonder if we were closer to gender equality then than we are now!

3. I can read on your website that you are also an artist. What kind of stories do you create on canvas?

Oh yes, my other love! The artist Renoir once said, “There are enough ugly things in life for us not to add to them.” He was from a working class background and his world view was an ideal one, a mythic reality. I suppose I share that outlook and so I paint the world the way I choose to see it. For me, it’s all about bright, vivid colours. I paint scenes that are vibrant and warm and hopefully give the viewer the same feeling of warmth I feel while painting. Art is a lot like writing – the germination of an idea, preparing rough sketches and first drafts. Then you have to walk away, step back and look at the whole before getting back in and creating light and shade, definition. I couldn’t see my life without one or the other.

4. Where do you get your inspiration?

Usually it’s just a snippet of an idea, something I’ll have read or heard about that just strikes a chord with me. My first novel, The Cross Of Santiago, was all about past lives and the idea for that came from a book by a psychologist whose patient started having visions from other lives. The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris was inspired by a French cookery show on TV! The presenter mentioned a bakery that was very secretive and no-one knew who was baking the bread. These little ideas just take root and everything else flows from that.

5. What do you do for fun if you are not writing?

Or if I’m not painting?! I just enjoy simple things, being in nature, having picnics, swimming in the Atlantic, being with family. Good food, good books, good music.

6. Could you tell us about some of your own favorite authors?

The list is changing all of the time. I don’t like to stick too closely to any author or genre, because I think you need to grow as a reader. I am a fan of Joanne Harris, a writer who defies genre and she’s just so damn intelligent! I just finished ‘All The Light We Cannot See’ by Anthony Doerr and would highly recommend it. Anne Enright is another fantastic writer and I’m currently reading ‘The Little Paris Bookshop’ by Nina George, which is right up my street – magical, touching and bibliotherapy for the human condition.

7. How do you do your research for your stories?

I always start off by going to the library – a seriously underrated resource these days! When writing historical fiction, it’s very important to get the facts right, but that’s only the beginning. After doing all that research, it’s so tempting to impress/bore the reader with all of the amazing facts you’ve unearthed, so you’ve got to hold back and find interesting ways to weave your knowledge into the story. Research is like an iceberg – you might have to learn an encyclopedic amount, but the reader will only ever see what’s visible above the waterline.

8. Can you tell us something that's typically Irish?

Gift of the gab – it’s not just about talking the face off someone, but charming them too ;)

9. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Keep reading, keep writing, keep going! If you don’t tell the story, no-one else will.

10. What can we expect from you in the future?

I’m very excited about my third novel, which I am currently in the process of editing. It’s set in Ireland and is also inspired by an historical figure who came here in the early 1900’s and wrote a beautiful book about his ‘unusual’ experiences. I don’t have a publication date as yet, so I won’t say too much more about it, but it is full of charm and magic ;)

Book review
 
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Review by Tanya

35 year-old single Edith Lane is in the middle of a mid life crisis after the death of her mother and she makes a massive change in her life. She leaves Dublin and flies to Paris to take up the role of manager in a little bakery in Paris, or at least she thinks it is in Paris. The bakery is artisan, where the baker makes everything from scratch, but there is a mystery to be discovered about the bakery and a past to uncover. There are friendship bonds to make and love to dispute along with some great music and history.

I can say that I really enjoyed this book, it was a breath of fresh air and I actually learnt a few things about interesting subjects. You find yourself wanting to laugh at the antics of Edith and how she lands herself in a place she was not expecting. At the same time I respected her for making the change. I really like how Edith’s character was shown to get stronger and more independent as the book continued. You can see that the friendships she forms mean a lot to her and that they are the start of great network of people who believe and support her.

The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris has parts where you want to cry. At first I did not like Madam Moreau, Edith's boss, but I really warmed to her as the story continued. When I learnt more about her background I began to understand her attitude. In the end I could see her as a mother figure to Edith. Her story is intriguing and very well researched. The knowledge the Evie Gaughan has about the area and French lifestyle shows in the information that is given and it made me want to visit the area. Although I have to say it was not good to read this when trying not to eat bread and cakes, as wow the descriptions are fantastic. 

I did worry that the French language which occasionally appeared in the book would put me off, but you find that the phrases are explained in the responses and I liked that I started to understand it a little. The French added to the book makes you appreciate how it would feel to suddenly live in another country.

I have a request for Evie Gaughan, please write a follow-up to the book as I want to see more of the characters. I think Edith’s dad should move over and bake the cakes and there could be some sort of celebration about the events in the area along with of course a scandal. This book sparked my imagination and I absolutely loved it.

Giveaway
 
3 very lucky winners will receive a digital copy of The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris.
 

The Sound of Us by Ashley Poston

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Review by Suze
 
Junie isn't a fan of the band Roman Holiday, but her best friend Maggie absolutely loves them. Because of the death of one of the members Roman Holiday won't be performing anymore. Maggie is devastated and she's keeping a close eye on all the developments. Roman and Holly used to be best friends and they were fantastic on stage, together with the third band member Boaz. Holly is the one who died and Roman doesn't want to let anyone know where he was on the night she passed away, which makes him a suspect in the eyes of many people. Junie doesn't like their music and she wouldn't mind for the hype to be over, but Maggie can't stop talking about what happened and is sure Roman didn't do anything wrong.
 
Junie's trying to keep her father's bar going. She's struggling with her grief about his death and wants to keep as many of the good memories alive as she can. The bar isn't doing well and Junie worries if it will still be there after her holiday with her mother and her stepfather. When she arrives at their destination she meets a guy who seems familiar. Junie doesn't notice straight away that it's Roman. She actually kind of likes him, also when she eventually does find out who he is. They're trying to stay under the radar to keep the press at a safe distance. Only when they find out about Junie they're offering her a lot of money to tell her story. Will she choose to protect the boy she's only just met but likes a lot or will she save her father's legacy?
 
The Sound of Us is a great story about music, being yourself, grief and living. I loved how Ashley Poston writes about a dark topic in a light and easy way. Both Junie and Roman have been through something difficult and that's maybe also why they have an instant connection, they understand one another. I loved how they connect through music. Hanging out with a celebrity, especially one who isn't on everyone's favorite list, is never boring. There are problems, but Roman also shows Junie what it is to be alive, to enjoy herself and have fun. I liked that very much. Through the sadness there's also happiness and hope.
 
The Sound of Us is a sweet romantic story with a lovely ending. Junie has to make some tough choices and that isn't easy for her. She's brave, she has fabulous pink hair and she's a good friend, it's time for people to start noticing her. What I liked most about this book is the individuality of the main characters. They have a particular taste in music, they have their own style and they aren't afraid to stand out. They're people who are a bit different and dare to be original, which is fabulous. I love creative stories about bands and music and really enjoyed reading The Sound of Us.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

200,000 Views Giveaway - Backpack, 7 Paperbacks & The Versions of Us Signed Hardback

 
 
We want to thank you very much for visiting our blog, it really means the world to us. We love featuring as many good books as we can and are very happy we started this blog. To celebrate we have a special prize for one of our readers. The winner of this giveaway will receive a backpack filled with 7 paperbacks and a The Versions of Us signed hardback. Good luck!
 

 
All of our giveaways are international. Please add withloveforbooks@gmail.com to your list of approved email addresses. The winner will be notified via email and has 3 days to respond.

Like A Virgin by Paige Nick

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Review by Suze
 
Natalie has always taken care of Grace and now Grace has a chance to do something back for her sister. Natalie has a broken leg and she can't go to Amsterdam to perform. Natalie is a Rihanna impersonator. Because Grace looks very much like her she asks her sister to cover for her. She badly needs the money and Grace doesn't want to let her sister down. Only when she arrives in Amsterdam she discovers that the nightclub that's supposed to be her workplace is a strip club instead. She has no money and she owes the owners as soon as she stays a night under their roof. She shares an apartment with several other strippers who all resemble celebrities and she has only got a short amount of time to learn how to be one of them.
 
Grace used to live an uneventful life. She studied to become a teacher and she's engaged to Lucas. He doesn't know she's in Amsterdam to take her sister's place, he thinks she's there to teach. Grace has to lie to her fiancé, she has to overcome her stage fright, she has to deal with nudity in front of strangers, customers who want more than she's prepared to give and hostile coworkers. She also makes friends, she learns how to dance, she gains confidence and she has some fun. Will she be able to fake it until she makes it and will she succeed in keeping her sister's secrets or will she be found out?
 
Like A Virgin is an original story. Grace has to become a stripper if she ever wants to get out of Amsterdam again and if she wants to help her sister. She doesn't know how to perform, she's doesn't fit into her sister's clothes very well and she has to find a way to overcome her fears very quickly because she has to get on that stage to be able to escape it as soon as she'll be able to. She's in a tricky situation, but she's strong and she makes the most of it, often with a little bit of help. After every failure she gets up again and starts over. I loved that about her character. She makes friends with some of the other strippers and it was wonderful to read their advice and their fantastic one-liners. Grace does what she has to do and she stumbles through it while making money for her sister. There are plenty of funny scenes and I laughed quite a lot while I was reading this story. The idea of accidental stripping is pretty absurd and it really works.
 
Paige Nick has written a terrific story. Like A Virgin is a quick and easy read and I really enjoyed it. I liked the descriptions of the setting, the clothes and especially the dancing. I could easily picture Grace's impossible situation. Because all of the main characters look like celebrities it felt like I already knew them, which was a surreal experience. Paige Nick has a great sense of humor and her story is amusing and different. I really liked Like A Virgin, it's a fabulous read.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop

 
Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a summer read worth $14. Good luck!
 
 
The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. Please add withloveforbooks@gmail.com to your list of approved email addresses. All of our giveaways are international.


The Right Design by Isabella Louise Anderson


About Isabella Louise Anderson

 

Isabella Louise Anderson grew up with a book in her hand, and to this day nothing has changed. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and has been featured on several blogs. Isabella lives in Dallas with her husband.

Her short story, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, was featured in Simon & Fig's Christmas anthology, Merry & Bright, in November 2013. The Right Design is her first novel.

Find out more at

Facebook || Twitter || Blog || Amazon || Goodreads || Google+ || Pinterest

Book review

Amazon USA Amazon UK

Review by Anniek

Carrie is an interior designer and she's living the perfect life. She is very good at her job and well respected by her employer and customers. Carrie is close to her family and friends and has had a long lasting relationship with her (hopefully) soon to be fiancé. When she comes home early on their anniversary to surprise her boyfriend she ends up being the one getting a surprise. Devastated Carrie needs to start her life all over again. The only way she can do that is to pack up her stuff and move across the country.

Carrie ends up in Palm Beach and her house turns out to be more than she expected. Things start out great when she also manages to get a good job at a fantastic interior design company. Her first assignment is to design a house for Brad Larson. Carrie has no intentions of starting a new relationship and she sets clear boundaries for the town playboy.

Brad has a successful business in buying and selling houses. Before he sells the houses he always lets them be designed first and then he will live in them for a while. Brad has never been a one woman kind of guy. He usually hooks up with someone for a little while and then he goes his own way again. When he meets Carrie he is instantly drawn to her. He wants nothing more than to get to know her but she's keeping him at a distance.

Is Carrie ready to take another chance on love when old memories are resurfacing? Will she choose the man she thought she wanted to marry or will she be brave enough to stay on the new path she's chosen for herself?

The Right Design is a sweet romantic story. Carrie is a successful woman, but she isn't snobby or arrogant and I liked her character very much. She is strong and even during the pain she's going through she isn't afraid to look beyond what happened and stay true to herself. Carrie knows her worth and I am very happy that Isabella Louise Anderson chose a strong female main character.

Brad fits the description of a playboy, but that's just on the outside. On the inside he's actually caring and loving. He needs a woman like Carrie to keep him grounded and she can help him change his ways. If you're looking for romance that will make you be on cloud 9 in no time The Right Design will be perfect for you. It's a light and fun read. I absolutely recommend this book for a nice day at the beach.

Sale
Get this book while it's just 99 pennies! For a limited time, you can get your copy of The Right Design for just 99 cents from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

People Who Knew Me by Kim Hooper

Amazon USA Amazon UK
 
Review by Suze
 
Emily and Drew married young. Emily was sure about her feelings for him from the moment she met him and he felt exactly the same way. They love each other very much and think they're soul mates. After graduation they find a small apartment. They are living a good life in New York City. They don't have much money, but they have everything they want. A difficult situation threatens what they have together though and Emily can't handle the stress and constant pressure they are under. Things are rapidly going downhill until Emily falls pregnant. She didn't plan it, but her pregnancy is something that makes her feel whole again. Only then tragedy strikes once more and Emily makes a risky and difficult decision.
 
Emily's name is now Connie and she lives in California together with her daughter Claire. She is a single mother and she's happy with her daughter. Claire is an easy child, she's cheerful, smart and kind to everyone she meets. When something threatens to disrupt their peaceful life Emily doesn't know if she's made the right choice all those years ago. Should she tell her daughter the truth and let her know about the time she lived in New York City?
 
People Who Knew Me is a beautiful story about a woman who's made some drastic decisions to save herself from a life she couldn't live any longer. Emily isn't perfect, she knows she has her flaws and that's something I liked about her. I kept asking myself the question what I would have done if I'd been in her shoes. Kim Hooper has written a story that will make her readers think about some very essential things in life. Nothing is black or white or good or bad in this novel, every situation is always somewhere in between. I enjoyed reading the story very much and one of the main reasons I liked it is this refreshing approach.
 
Kim Hooper's writing is easy to read. When I picked up this book I couldn't put it down. I didn't notice the time, I just kept on reading until I finished the story. I love stories about secrets and this is a good one with an original angle. It's clear from the beginning that Emily started over and the reader knows what's wrong with her health. It's the why and how she left New York that's the mystery and I couldn't wait to find out the whole story. I loved this book from beginning to end. People Who Knew Me is interesting, emotional and gripping, it's a fantastic novel.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Map of Stars by Catherine Law

Amazon USA Amazon UK
 
Review by Suze
 
Eliza and Nicholas have been best friends since their childhood. It's a natural step for them to get married, so their families can be joined. When Eliza is about to move in with her in-laws she and Nicholas are involved in a car accident. They're being rescued by Lewis, a charismatic man who greatly impresses Eliza and who will cross her path many more times in the future.
 
When the Second World War breaks out Eliza and Nicholas are growing apart. Nicholas can't join the army because of their accident and in his family home important war strategies are being planned while he's making beer in his family's brewery. Eliza is part of the intellectual side of the secret missions that are being planned from their home. When Lewis is being stationed there Eliza finds herself in a difficult position. Will she give in to her feelings or will she resist the man of her dreams? When the war takes her brother from her she sets something in motion that will change her life forever.
 
Map of Stars is a fantastic book about a strong woman who's married to her best friend. He isn't the man of her dreams though, there's no passion between Eliza and Nicholas. During the war things are different, nothing is certain and there's danger everywhere. Eliza manages to stay strong, but inside she's being torn apart. She and Nicholas have so many secrets. When she starts hiding things from her friends and family Eliza can't stop what she started and has to live with the consequences. Catherine Law tells her story in such a beautiful, moving way. I couldn't stop reading. Her vivid descriptions of the main characters, the war, the tension between people and the countryside of Kent make the story come to life incredibly well. Because of the war there's so much going on and each day is different. I loved the unexpected twists and turns and Catherine Law managed to surprise me plenty of times.
 
Map of Stars is an emotional story about what it feels like to lose, to love and to hold on no matter what happens. Catherine Law's fabulous writing style and choice of words are making this book very special. I absolutely loved this novel and highly recommend it. It's a true gem and it's one of the best books I've read in a long time.

Book Necklace and Book of Choice Giveaway

 
Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a book necklace and a book of choice. Good luck!
 

 
The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. Please add withloveforbooks@gmail.com to your list of safe email addresses. All of our giveaways are international.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Lost in Wonderland by Nicky Peacock


About Nicky Peacock

Nicky is a published author of both YA and adult urban fantasy, paranormal romance and horror fiction. She lives in the heart of the UK, where she has run a writers' group for over 4 years to help new writers find their feet on the path to publication. A member of both the Society of Authors and the British Fantasy Society, Nicky has had over 30 stories published in various anthologies. She loves to talk to readers, so please feel free to either get in touch with her through her blog, or on any of the social media below.

Find out more at

Blog: http://nickypeacockauthor.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/nickyp_author
Face Book Page: https://www.facebook.com/nicky.peacock.10
YA Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/NickyPeacockYaBooks

Guest Post

Research that has stayed with me...

Writers do a lot of research. We can’t really help it, when you write any book there is always a certain amount that needs to be done to ensure your facts are shiny and your words ring true. And with Lost in Wonderland, I needed to look into the minds of psychopathic killers. Now, I’ve always been fascinated by those who can kill for fun. It’s such a heinous act, that anyone who can do this (in my opinion) must have an essential part of their soul missing, but the more I looked into them, the more complicated everything became. Okay, I’m not a psychologist or criminologist (in a world where a college education is free, I might have been one) but still I’m a curious person and I ask a lot of questions. I talked to people who work with violent offenders and the mentally unstable. I looked up cases online and watched documentaries. I listened to podcasts of real cases that left me wondering if the guilty were innocent and if the innocent were really guilty. I spent an interesting evening watching Psychopath Night on Channel 4 (UK channel) that pushed the boundaries on the psychopath and actually gave instances where society needs these types of people (when they’ve not turned to killing the innocent that is) and the deeper I went into the subject the harder it was not to worry.

Even now, as I write this, I’m sitting in a local coffee house, drinking my tea and glancing around at the chatting crowds. One of them could be a psychopathic killer. One of them could be sat plotting their next murder. And they could have seen me looking at them! Okay, I’m just going to put my head down and get on with writing this guest post right now.

Psychopaths come in all shapes and sizes and that is their most worrying trait. They don’t wear big black silk capes, Halloween masks and continually clutch a blood dripping knife in their hand. They look just like everyone else. The only time you realize that you’re with one is when it’s too late. Whilst doing my research I asked friends and family about local crimes and stories that they had heard and discovered something quite terrible. Information that proves that these types of crimes are not just something that happens to ‘other people’...a friend of a friend I spoke to had had a family member murdered by a serial killer. I won’t say who and when, but just knowing this makes me shudder. It makes everything I’ve learnt less fascinating and more...real.

Okay, I’m not saying that you’re odds on going to come across a psychopath killer yourself and that you need to be alert to this every moment of the day, but curbing naivety certainly will help. Also, don’t hitch-hike, take car rides with people you don’t know, or jog alone with head phones on early in the morning/ late at night – although, to be fair, this is generally good advice all around.

Thank you for having me on your blog. Nicx.

Book review

Amazon USA Amazon UK

Review by Anniek

When Kayla and her brother Shilo were kids they saw how a monster took their mother. Shilo ran so hard to keep up and try to save his mother that he failed to protect Kayla. Their dad couldn't take the pain after his wife died and he chose to end his own life. Leaving Kayla and Shilo behind as orphans. Kayla found a new place with her foster parents in Wonderland. Shilo has been in an asylum ever since.

In Wonderland there are no rules. Everyone is trained to take down murderers and Kayla (in her new life known as Mouse) is very good at her job. Together with her foster siblings Cheshire and Rabbit they take down serial killers when the normal police department fails. Mouse looks young even though she is already nineteen years old. With the right clothes she still looks like a little girl. Once she was vulnerable, but now she is a force to be reckoned with.

Shilo has forgotten how life used to be outside the asylum. Because of his fear of the monster he is in no hurry to leave. He also has an imaginary friend who helps him through the days and also encourages him to find a way to get back to the outside world. The monster has tasted Kayla's blood and the time has come for him to collect his prize. Shilo knows that he has to step up to protect her and to finish what he failed to do in the past.

Lost in Wonderland is dark, intense and twisted. I really liked all the references to Alice in Wonderland. Because of that it made me feel like I was reading a fairytale which crossed over to the dark side. The characters all have their own strengths and weaknesses. Because of the fact that Nicky Peacock includes both they feel real.

I have read other books written by Nicky Peacock and she never fails to amaze me with her way of telling a story. She keeps me interested until the very last lines. She's leaving little clues within every chapter and because of them I didn't want to stop reading. If you have never read anything by Nicky Peacock you should give her stories a try. If you liked her previous books you should definitely pick up this one as well. I highly recommend any of her books and advise you to read them when the sun goes down. I think the cover of Lost In Wonderland is just as fantastic as the story.

Giveaway

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Dollar for a Dream - Interview with Catherine Evans & Giveaway


About Catherine Evans
 
 
Catherine Evans is a city-born throwback to country genes. After completing an environmental biology degree, she desperately needed to move to the country. A job in agriculture was the perfect escape. After spending eighteen years in agricultural research and gaining a Masters degree in Agriculture, Cath has a passion for rural life.

Now living on the south coast of NSW, Australia, a large part of her heart belongs across the mountain ranges in the red dust.

If you want to know more, please visit Catherine's website www.catherineevansauthor.com
Email: catherine@catherineevansauthor.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CatherineEvansAuthor/
Twitter: @CathEvansAuthor

Interview
 
1) Could you tell a bit about yourself?
 
I’m Australian, born in Sydney but I left as soon as I finished university. My dream was to move to the country and own a horse, which I did. I lived in Wagga Wagga, a regional centre in southern NSW with about 45 000 people. Then I moved to Condobolin, which is in the centre of NSW and has about 3 000 people. Now we live in a small coastal village on the south coast of NSW which also has about 3 000 people. I’m married and child-free.
 
2) The A Dollar for a Dream series is a project you’ve done with two other authors, how did this work?
 
It worked fantastically!! (There’s a bit of information in this blog post: https://australianromancereaders.wordpress.com/2016/04/03/guest-blogger-catherine-evans/)
 
Lisa Ireland, Jennie Jones and I had known each other for a while because we’re all part of Romance Writers of Australia. Lisa and I met face-to-face at a workshop, we met Jennie at a conference, although we’d all communicated online before the face-to-face meetings. We live in different parts of Australia, so meeting in person is rare.
 
We have the same publisher and I asked if they were interested in working together on something. We got pretty excited and threw around a lot of ideas before we came up with the A Dollar For A Dream project. Then we emailed our editor to see what she thought. She loved it, and we went off to make our ideas happen.
 
We’ve become good friends through this project, even though we’ve only met up face-to-face a couple of times!

3) Where does the idea of the town of Dulili come from?

Lisa picked the location of central-western NSW doing Google and Pinterest searches. It wasn’t too far from where we’d lived, so I was somewhat familiar with the area. I also did a few drives through the area and took heaps of photos (often from the car window as my husband drove) so Jennie and Lisa could see the area.
 
We didn’t want to use an existing town, so we invented our own. We wanted an Aboriginal word for the town name, and it had to have some significant meaning. We came up with lists of ideas and narrowed it down. We ended up with Dulili, which means ‘together’, which we thought was perfect.

4) What do you like best about small town romance?
 
I love small towns. I like that people care, they work together to achieve things, and they’re often passionate about their town.
 
Romance gives you all the feels. It’s happy, anticipatory, exciting, fraught, tense, exhilarating and the guarantee is a happy ending. Sometimes you need that guarantee.
 
Small town romances can give you the best (and worst) of both. You’ve got a lot of people and stories to draw on, a lot of activities that can help with propelling a story onwards, and there can be a lot go wrong in small towns which can help with conflict in the story. Readers can get to know and love not just the hero and heroine, but other people in the town. It can give a richer story.

5) What’s so wonderful about rural life?
 
Wow. This is a great question. I love rural life, but working out why isn’t as easy as I thought. Let me see if I can explain what I love.
 
You’re close to nature. There’s space. Animals abound. There are down to earth people. There’s a freedom to try things because there’s a bit of a “live and let live” attitude. In tough times, people pull together in a way that inspires. There’s some sort of resilience needed for living in rural areas that not only challenges you, but it inspires, strengthens and deepens you.
 
6) What are your 3 favorite Australian romances?
 
Such a hard question to answer. Narrowing it down to 3 and only romance is so tough! I’m going to leave out Jennie Jones and Lisa Ireland only because I don’t want you to think I’m biased!

In my teenage years, a neighbour gave me a Lucy Walker romance called Gamma’s Girl. I loved that book at the time. It sent me on a Lucy Walker binge.
 
Marion Lennox writes beautiful Aussie romances. Christmas at Waratah Bay (published by Tule Publishing as book 1 in their Christmas Around the World series) is a recent favourite.
 
Fiona Palmer writes rural stories that have a lot of the aspects of rural life that I love. The Saddler Boys is her most recent one.

7) You have a degree in environmental biology, which is quite different from your career as a writer. How did you discover you like writing stories as well?

Enid Blyton was the person I most wanted to be when I was a kid. I’ve always written stories, mostly for myself, but I didn’t ever think of publication. So writing came first, really.
 
When I was at Wagga Wagga, I met another agriculture student who wrote screenplays as a hobby (and directed, filmed and edited them). We talked a lot about writing and he really encouraged me to seek publication, which I didn’t do for ages.
 
I got sick in 2005 and that’s when my writing took off. Another friend challenged me to write a romance, and around that time Condobolin hosted a writing festival where I was roped into helping. Things seemed to snowball from there and I was hooked. I worked towards publication.
 
I’d always written for work, so it was a matter of unlearning my ‘science’ writing and allowing my creative writing to develop to a marketable standard (which makes it sound so easy!).
 
8) Where do you find inspiration?
 
Everywhere. A sunset can spark a story, or a stretch of paddock. Watching people interact, or seeing someone staring off in the distance. A horse ride. A town event. Anything and everything inspires me.
 
I have so many ideas I find it quite difficult to limit myself to one or two themes per book. Sometimes it’s things I’ve done or seen or experienced. Sometimes it’s things I’ve heard about or that have touched me.
 
I scribble so many little snippets, keeping them in case I need them for something. My notebook collection is rather horrifying!
 
9) Animals are an important part of your life, what is so special about them? And do you have a favorite animal themed book?

Animals expect nothing but give you so much, I think that’s what I love most. Then there’s the challenge to earn their trust, to understand them, to work together with them. In return you get unconditional love and a bond that so special it’s almost magical. When an animal greets me with pure joy, that’s the best experience in the world.

When I was a kid, I won a book called, A Dog Called Debbie by Lyla Stevens, after watching a Lassie movie. It was about a dog who acted as a surrogate to all sorts of animals. I was probably only 9 or 10, yet that story has stayed with me all this time.
 
I’ve kept Ride A Wild Pony by James Aldridge, Silver Brumby books (Elyne Mitchell) and a Golden Library of Animal Stories book since childhood. They’re all important to me.
 
As an adult, Louis de Bernières’ Red Dog has been a favourite, even if it’s heart breaking.
 
10) What can we expect from you in the future?
 
Jennie, Lisa and I have talked about another set of Dulili-based stories. A few readers seem to have wanted them too, which is great.
 
I have a story about drought and families, a horse-mad girl and the boy-next-door who had to grow up too quickly. That will probably be next.
 
I love rural stories, so agriculture and the environment will always feature in my writing.
 
Giveaway
 

One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive kindle copies of all three A Dollar for a Dream books.
 

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. Please make sure withloveforbooks@gmail.com is in your approved contacts list. All of our giveaways are international.