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Saturday, March 31, 2018

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Prince Elian is a warrior, a pirate who feels more at home at sea than in the rich and prosperous kingdom he'll inherit one day. He can't stand being at home and only feels complete when he's on his ship. He is on a mission, he wants to stop the evil murders of his kind at sea and therefore kills sirens, he is trying to find a way to permanently stop them. Humans and sirens have been at war for many years and many of his fellow princes have found their early deaths because of the lure of a vicious siren. When he rescues a girl from the sea this complicates his plans, he isn't sure if he should give her a chance or lock her up. Elian might be a killer when he has to be, he also has a kind heart. Will this be his downfall?

The Sea Queen is vicious and has turned her daughter into a cruel killer. Lira is a dangerous murderer and princes are the ones who fear her the most, because she takes out and collects their hearts. Lira is almost ready to become the next queen, but when she disobeys her mother's orders the Sea Queen punishes her daughter in a terrible way. She turns Lira into a human and orders her daughter to kill prince Elian without her siren magic to fall back on. Prince Elian is planning a quest and it suits Lira's needs to join him. Will she be able to fulfill her mother's wishes, so she can return home and resume her old life or will Elian sense the danger Lira's presence puts him in before it's too late?

To Kill a Kingdom is an amazing magical story. Lira is dangerous and lethal, but she does have a conscience. She isn't as cold-hearted as her mother. However, she desperately want to please the Sea Queen and by becoming a ruthless killer she tries to avoid her mother's wrath as much as possible. The Sea Queen's punishments are harsh and severe, which is how Lira ends up on Elian's boat. Elian hunts her kind, so he's her archenemy. By being human she has the chance to get to know him and to find out more about the only person who can give her back her life as a siren. Elian lives for the water and his boat is his home. He's brave and daring and will do whatever it takes to complete his mission, making sure the sirens will stop killing his friends. I admired his courage and chivalry and was curious to see how that would influence Lira. Their connection fascinated me from the beginning and I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough to find out where their story would lead.

Alexandra Christo has an enchanting writing style. Her gorgeous descriptions of land and sea are making her story come to life in a terrific way. I loved the way she writes about magic and her worldbuilding skills are marvelous. To Kill a Kingdom is a gripping adventure filled with surprising twists and turns. There are many fabulous creatures and the combat scenes are fantastic. I really enjoyed reading To Kill a Kingdom, it's entertaining, mesmerizing and romantic.

Advice

If you love fairytales about handsome princes and sea creatures you will definitely like To Kill a Kingdom.

About Alexandra Christo


Alexandra Christo decided to write books when she was four and her teacher told her she couldn't be a fairy. She has a BA in Creative Writing and works as a copywriter in London, both of which make her sound more grown up than she feels. When she's not busy making up stories, she can be found buying far too many cushions and organizing food crawls all over the city.

Alexandra currently lives in Hertfordshire with an abundance of cacti (because they're the only plants she can keep alive).

Links

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest

Interview

1) Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

I’m a 20-something K-drama addict from (not-so-sunny) England who loves writing about characters with questionable morals. I studied Creative Writing at university and I definitely blame my professors for bringing out the dark side of my writing. I was a contemporary romance writer before I took their classes!

2) What’s the most fascinating thing about water creatures?

I love the thought of there being an entire world that we can’t see, right beneath the surface. It’s fascinating to think about how vast and unknown the ocean is, and the kind of monsters that could be lurking underneath, with their own customs and traditions. Their own kingdoms, ready to take us on.

3) To Kill a Kingdom has a lot of action and adventure, how do you write those gripping scenes?

Writing action can be really hard for me, because I’m most at home writing character interactions and dialogue. When I need to write a chapter with action, I actually watch a lot movies to help me figure out the semantics of what things should look like (movies definitely count as research in my world!). I’ll also read books which have great fight sequences or bloody battles I can draw inspiration from. For me, action scenes take the longest because I have to think about where every character is and how they’re moving and what the end result of each of those choices will be. And then I need to make it interesting – nobody wants to read a long list of actions. There needs to be emotion and intensity behind each blow to keep readers invested in the characters’ journey.

4) Can you describe the main characters of To Kill a Kingdom in seven words each?

Lira: killer siren who believes humanity is weakness

Elian: pirate prince whose home is the ocean

The Sea Queen: unrelenting evil who fears losing her crown

5) What’s your favourite fantasy story?

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor is the story that made me fall in love with fantasy, so it’ll always hold a special place in my heart. After reading that, I knew I’d found the type of story I wanted to write.

6) You like writing about characters with questionable morals, what’s the allure for you?

I think anti-heroes are more relatable. They make mistakes, they have flaws and things don’t always work out the way they want them to. That’s all of us. We can be selfish and get things wrong, but it doesn’t mean we’re bad people or that things won’t work out in the end. That’s what makes us root for anti-heroes: we want them to learn from their mistakes and grow, so they can make things right. It’s a lot more significant to follow a character whose journey starts out questionably, but who has the potential to make it right in the end. They also offer a lot more freedom; there’s less limits on what a character will or won’t do, which makes for a very gripping read!

7) How did your writing journey start?

I’ve always been writing, ever since I was a child. It’s the only thing I ever wanted to do. I knew if I couldn’t write books, I’d always be writing something. Luckily for me, my dream came true and I was able to get published. It’s something that still feels so surreal and I can’t believe that it was more than two years ago I got my first deal. Time flies!

8) If you could be a character in your own story who would you be and why?

I really like Yukiko. She’s not a murderer (sorry Lira & Elian!), but she is fierce and fearless, and not afraid to go after what she wants. She opportunistic and a force to be reckoned with, whether she has a blade or not. Plus she has a huge family of bad-asses who will always have her back!

9) You love food, where does that passion come from and what’s your favorite kind?

I’d definitely put it down to my Italian and Cypriot roots. My family are huge foodies, so I grew up surrounded by people who love cooking. Any get-together we have is food-filled and we all love trying new things and loading our plates to the very top. When I became vegan, that opened up a whole new arena of food and really encouraged me to have fun with cooking and hunt down awesome plant-based restaurants, which can be super experimental. I think my favourite food will always be gnocchi. My Nonna made the best. And tiramisu! Yuuuuum.

10) What are your plans for the future?

I’m working on my next book right now which I am so excited to share. It’s fantasy, but with a very different vibe than TO KILL A KINGDOM. It’s a lot grittier, with some steampunk vibes, and features a whole team of morally questionable characters that I love writing!

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a paperback copy of To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo.

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The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

Friday, March 30, 2018

The A–Z of Everything by Debbie Johnson - Book Review & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Andrea has two daughters, Rose and Poppy. They used to be best friends, but something awful happened and this heartbreaking event caused an irreparable rift between them. They haven't seen each other in years and don't even want to be in the same room for one minute. It breaks Andrea's heart that her daughters can't make amends. Andrea is an actress and now that she knows she's dying she uses her abilities for one last performance, she's going to bring her daughters back together. She leaves them the A-Z of Everything. Will Andrea be able to make her daughters see sense?

Rose and Poppy love their mother very much, but their fight has made it impossible for Andrea to spend time with her entire family. They used to have so much fun together and Andrea's last wish is for her daughters to have their closeness back, to be sisters again. With a little help she's trying to achieve something that seems almost impossible before she dies, so her daughters have a chance at happiness afterwards. She leaves them behind with a lot to think and talk about. Will Rose and Poppy make her last wish come true?

The A-Z of Everything is a beautiful emotional story. Andrea is a wonderful mother. She has a warm and loving personality and she is willing to do anything for her daughters. This special woman makes the story sparkle. Even while she's dying she's still vibrant and alluring, she shines until the very last moment, which is something I greatly admired about her. I loved how strong and gorgeous her character is. The same can't be said for her daughters, they let grief and jealousy ruin their lives. Rose is a kindhearted mother, but she's let herself go. She doesn't dream, she doesn't have any plans for the future and she doesn't care about her appearance. I felt sad because of everything she denies herself. Poppy leads an empty life filled with pretense. She's erased her personality and she might look sleek and put together, but she feels empty inside. Debbie Johnson describes their pain and their choices in a fantastic poignant and understanding way. Rose and Poppy are both amazing people, they've just lost sight of what's important. Because of Andrea's A-Z of Everything they are being put on the right track again, which is a fantastic topic for a story.

Debbie Johnson's heartwarming writing style made me love The A-Z of Everything from the start. I'm a big fan of stories about sisters and this is such a great one, she perfectly captures what makes family so important. Andrea and her daughters are hurt and damaged and it's time to heal, which is being done in an impressive and compelling way. I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough to find out if Andrea's plan would actually work and if Rose and Poppy would be able to forgive. Debbie Johnson writes about life, death and living with honesty and empathy. I had tears in my eyes, hope in my heart and a smile on my face while reading this book. The A-Z of Everything is a terrific moving story.

Advice

If you love moving stories about sisters The A-Z of Everything is an absolute must-read.

About Debbie Johnson


Debbie Johnson is an award-winning author who lives and works in Liverpool, where she divides her time between writing, caring for a small tribe of children and animals, and not doing the housework. She writes romance, fantasy and crime, which is as confusing as it sounds!

Her best-selling books for HarperCollins include The Birthday That Changed Everything, Summer at the Comfort Food Café, Christmas at the Comfort Food Café, Cold Feet at Christmas, and Pippa's Cornish Dream.

Debbie also writes urban fantasy, set in modern day Liverpool. Dark Vision and the follow-up Dark Touch are published by Del Rey UK, and earned her the title 'a Liverpudlian Charlaine Harris' from the Guardian.

Links

Website // Facebook // Twitter

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of With Love For Books will receive a paperback copy of The A–Z of Everything by Debbie Johnson.

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The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

Books of Choice Worth $50 Giveaway



Enter this giveaway for a chance to win books of choice worth $50. Good luck!


The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night is a collection of short stories with magical subjects. Hearts of animals can be placed in humans, hearts can be kept in a jar and each heart has a different effect on the person who carries it. A boy wonders if his sister has two souls and asks the weather woman about it, because she has so many answers. At Madame Honey’s Camp for children with names from the soil Lily didn’t return this summer, where did she go? A silent soldier walks in the house and eats dinner, after which he leaves without saying a word. Margaret’s parents are poor, so her mother encourages her to stop eating, finding an example in Mary, she then takes her daughter to the reverend who’s supposed to sort her out and Margaret ends up in a situation similar to Mary. Ghosts in jars are being sold on the market. Two people are each describing one of their beginnings. A kiss can make the misery of the world disappear for a while. Being close to death can be made possible in the Coffin Hotel. A girl is dreaming of the sea that will take her everywhere. What is the planet called The Hours? The colorful world of the sea experienced through the eyes of someone working in an aquarium. 

The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night is a fantastic variety of stories. Jen Campbell's poetic language and beautiful words enchanted me from the beginning. I loved the way she uses fairytales for her stories, she effortlessly captures their essence and that is an admirable skill. Some of her stories are gruesome, others are thought-provoking, a few are bizarre, but they always feel natural and exactly right. There’s a lot of variety in main characters, themes and length, which is something I really enjoyed. It kept me captivated and made me read all the stories in one sitting several times.

Jen Campbell's vivid writing makes her stories come to life in an incredible way. Her stories are true gems, they're perfectly written and each of them surprised me in a different way. She tells unique stories and the way she writes them is refreshing and unexpected. I fell in love with The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night straight away. I like that this is a book that can be read over and over again. Each time I read her stories I discover something new. I love how Jen Campbell's intelligent descriptions are making me think about all kinds of different topics and she achieves this while also mesmerizing me with the gorgeousness of the stories themselves. The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night is special. I absolutely love this terrific book and highly recommend it.

Advice

If you love fairytales and like unique short stories you don't want to miss The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night.

About Jen Campbell


Jen Campbell is an award-winning poet and short story writer. Her debut short story collection ‘The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night’ is published by Two Roads, and her first children’s book, ‘Franklin’s Flying Bookshop’ is published by Thames & Hudson. She is also the Sunday Times bestselling author of the ‘Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops’ series, and ‘The Bookshop Book.’ She is the recipient of an Eric Gregory Award and talks about books at www.youtube.com/jenvcampbell where she has a following of over 40,000.

Links


Interview


1) Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

My name’s Jen. I was a bookseller for ten years; I write books; I have a pet tortoise called Penny-Slow and a small dog with huge ears.

2) How did your love for fairytales start?

I think I first fell in love with fairy tales via Roald Dahl. I’ll never forget his lines about Red Riding Hood: ‘The small girl smiles. Her eyelid flickers. / She whips a pistol from her knickers.’ It showed me how you could play with convention, how you could subvert narratives.

3) Which key ingredients does a good fairytale have to have?

What I find fascinating is what we have romanticised these days, when it comes to fairy tales. Sleeping Beauty is not a love story. I prefer delving into the history of these tales - seeing their darker origins. I have a whole series about this on my channel over here, if you’d like to take a look. So, it’s not just the fairy tales themselves that I find interesting; it’s the context in which they came to be. A ‘good’ fairy tale is very subjective. I prefer tales like Sedna - an Inuit Fairy Tale - where Sedna, a girl punished for not marrying, gets to seek revenge.

4) What’s the most wonderful thing about writing short stories?

You can push the boundaries when it comes to short stories and ask your reader to believe in something bizarre for a short period of time, a world that - perhaps - they would struggle to believe in for an entire novel. You can also play with form and structure; be more experimental. I often think short stories are closer to poems than novels.

5) What does magical realism mean to you?

Magical realism, for me, allows me to comment on aspects of our society through a slightly different lens. For instance, in my short story Plum Pie. Zombie Green. Yellow Bee. Purple Monster, a group of teenagers who are sprouting plants from their bodies are sent to a summer camp, where scientists experiment on them. This is a story with a magical element, yes, but it’s also rooted in our world and is an exploration of disfigurement, and how those who look different are treated.

6) What do you like the most about your YouTube channel?

I set up my Booktube channel because I missed recommending new books. At the time, I’d moved from new bookselling to working in an antiquarian bookshop, and setting up my channel was a way to reach an audience and talk about the books I was reading. It’s still that, of course, but now I also make videos about writing and the publishing industry. Booktube is a great space where something solitary like reading has a community feel.

7) You’re passionate about representation in the media, can you tell a bit more about this?

It’s a difficult topic to condense but, in short, I’m passionate about advocating representation that is nuanced and is driven by those with lived experiences. All too often we see lazy tropes of villains having disfigurements; we see television shows that exploit people with bodily differences; we see actors ‘cripping up’ to portray a narrative that hasn’t been researched well. I want this to change.

8) You write haunting stories, do you find inspiration in everyday life and how do you use it?

When writing is your job, it’s more about motivation than inspiration. You have to force yourself to write - a lot of it will be bad, but if you write enough, something will shine through that you can pick out, dust off and work on. I actively search for inspiration by reading non-fiction on different topics, but the writing itself is a case of routine.

9) What is your favourite fairytale and why?

That changes all the time. I mentioned Sedna above, that is one of my favourite tales. I also love The Wild Swans and The Twelve Months. The latter is a Czech fairy tale that seems to be little known. You can find out more about that here.

10) What are your plans for the future?

To keep writing. My first children’s picture book ‘Franklin’s Flying Bookshop’ was published last year. The sequel will be out later this year, which is called ‘Franklin and Luna Go To The Moon.’ I’m about to start work on a novel for grown ups, too, which is a little daunting. Wish me luck!

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a hardcover copy of The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell.


The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Jane Austen Tea Box & Mr. Darcy Quote Necklace Giveaway


Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a Jane Austen Selection tea box with 8 flavors from Rosie Lea Tea and a Mr. Darcy quote necklace made by The Locket Library. Good luck!


The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

The Homecoming by Rosie Howard - Book Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Maddy left Havenbury Magna, where she used to be a student, without her degree with the plan never to return again. However, when Patrick, the main father figure in her life, has to be admitted to the hospital because of a heart attack she decides to push her fears aside and go back. Patrick runs the local pub and someone needs to take over to make sure he won't lose his income. Maddy thinks she can do it, but being in the place that gives her nightmares proves to be hard and confronting. Will she be able to support Patrick without falling apart before he returns?

Ben lives and works in Havenbury Magna. He's an ex-army psychologist specialized in traumas. When he meets Maddy she immediately piques his interest, both personally and professionally. Maddy has gone through something terrible and Ben wants to help her with the emotional turmoil she keeps finding herself in ever since her return. He's also struggling with the feelings he starts to develop for her. His profession, family secrets and wrong timing are standing in their way. What will happen when everything that has been hidden for many years comes to the surface, will Maddy leave Havenbury Magna behind again?

The Homecoming is a fantastic multilayered story. I was immediately intrigued by Maddy. She's a strong and intelligent woman. She's loving, caring and won't hesitate to help others. She doesn't mind paying a price and no matter what it costs her she will do it, if it means she can be there for someone else. I loved her big heart, her wonderful sweet personality and her ability to love unconditionally. She's an amazing woman with a complex past and this captivated me from beginning to end. I especially loved the development of the connection Maddy has with Ben. He's a kind and gentle man and his goodness radiates off the pages, which is something I really enjoyed. The Homecoming has incredibly special main characters and they are making the story a true joy to read.

Rosie Howard has a heartwarming descriptive writing style. She makes her setting and characters come to life in a terrific vivid way. I liked the cosyness of the pub and fell in love with the creativity of Maddy's friends. The Homecoming has plenty of fascinating twists and turns and Rosie Howard skillfully kept me on the edge of my seat because of the secrets she's writing about. I was anxious to find out as much as possible and couldn't stop reading. The Homecoming is mesmerizing, compelling and very romantic. I highly recommend this delightful book.

Advice

If you love romantic stories set in small towns about family, friendships and secrets you should definitely read The Homecoming.

About Rosie Howard


I wrote my first book when I was five. Of course it was abysmal. I vaguely remember something about a squirrel and a big red apple. If anybody’s interested I’m pretty sure my mum still has it in the attic somewhere.

There was a long gap in my writing career while I grew up, which took a long time and is arguably a work in progress. After studying classical music, for reasons that now escape me, I took up public relations, campaigning and political lobbying, with a bit of freelance journalism thrown in. This is brilliant because it all involves writing, although my favourite form of writing – making stuff up – is sadly frowned upon in public relations.

I take an anthropological interest in family, friends and life in our West Sussex village (think, The Archers crossed with Twin Peaks). This provides lots of entertaining material although any resemblance between my fictional characters and real life never ceases to amaze me – life imitating art, and all that… so, please don’t sue.

My first novel ‘Never Marry a Politician’ was shortlisted from 3,500 entries in the 2014 Good Housekeeping/Orion Novel Writing Competition and was awarded joint second place before being published by award winning independent publishers Choc Lit.

I am currently working on a series of books based in Sussex and am thrilled to be represented by Julia Silk at MBA Literary Agency.

Links

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest

My Havenbury World
Guest post by Rosie Howard

We all have our safe place, don’t we? The imaginary world in our heads where we retreat to when we want to escape for a while? No? Just me then…! Often, though, that is what books are for aren’t they? We rely on the writer to provide us with an engaging and absorbing world we can escape to and leave our own behind for a while.

The idea of creating the Havenbury series came out of a series of conversations I had with my agent Julia Silk at MBA Literary Agency. We were playing with ideas around the kind of material I wanted to write – something escapist, warm, witty and comforting - beautiful rural settings populated with amusing and attractive characters that readers would want to spend time with – and we realised that it made sense to link all the story ideas I had by locating them in the same place, so readers could lock on, and know what they were getting in subsequent books. I was going through a pretty tough period at the time; It was the usual sorts of things - illness, death, conflict, loss, teenagers… just the stuff life throws at you - but lots, and seemingly all at once.

We were joking that writing was keeping me sane because it allowed me to escape into my own ‘safe place’. Havenbury is a rural Sussex community remarkably like my own, where bad things happened, sure, but the goodies win, the baddies lose, and it is all okay in the end. My characters go through the mill alright – poor Maddy, in ‘The Homecoming’ has to face some difficult stuff, and so does her mother Helen - but I definitely don’t write misery memoirs and readers can be assured there will always be a properly realised and satisfying happy ending in all my stories. I promise that, faithfully.

Havenbury is extremely vivid in my mind; the Sussex Downs, the houses huddled around the village duck pond in Havenbury Green, the Manor House and the cricket pitch in Little Havenbury, the shops along the high street in Havenbury Magna, and even the pebbly beaches where the river Haven meets the sea… The communities and all the fabulous characters feel like they are just there, available to me, when I turn to write.

I live in a small village myself and the intrigue and high drama has to be seen to be believed so I don’t lack ideas for stories (although obviously I have to be discreet to protect the guilty). I enjoy living in a village community near a market-town and Havenbury is unashamedly drawn from my own life. Living in the countryside keeps me in close contact with nature too, and I believe writing the seasons into my books helps to ground them and add to the immersive experience of the reader.

My characters thread themselves into each other’s tales, taking turns to take centre stage, so if a reader likes a character in one book they may well see more of them either as protagonist or perhaps just carrying a secondary storyline in another. This works well for me as a writer because trying to create a real sense of place in a series of unconnected stories would – I imagine – be more difficult.

So, back in I go… I am happy in my Havenbury world. I hope your readers will join me and will let me know what they think of it too.

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a digital copy of The Homecoming by Rosie Howard.

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The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Chrissy and the Burroughs Boy by Cathryn Hein - Book Review & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Chrissy James is back in Levenham, her hometown, and she's happy she can spend time with her family and friends again. She's found her dream job, working as a marketer for a winery. Chrissy used to be madly in love with Nick Burroughs when they were both in high school, but he never seemed to notice her, no matter what she did. Now that she's all grown up she has his interest straight away. He even saves her from an aggressive man, someone who's had too much to drink and won't take no for an answer. Nick instantly falls in love. However, Chrissy isn't the naive lovesick school girl any longer and Nick has to work for it to make her notice him. Will he be able to win her heart?

Nick knows he's fallen head over heels in love with Chrissy soon after his heroic rescue. He needs a plan to make her realize that he's changed from an ignorant boy into a true gentleman. Nick will do anything to make Chrissy fall for him once more and that means their roles are now reversed. He doesn't mind if it makes him look foolish, as long as he has the opportunity to show the girl of his dreams how much she means to him. Will Chrissy give him a chance?

Chrissy and the Burroughs Boy is a wonderful romantic story. Nick is a kind and caring man. He genuinely feels bad about not paying more attention to Chrissy when they were in high school and I loved how he tries to make it up to her. Chrissy is a cute, innocent, good-natured and sensitive girl. She's smart and talented, but has been hurt in the past and doesn't easily let anyone in anymore. Nick has a difficult task to accomplish, but he's determined and willing to do whatever it takes. This is incredibly adorable and I enjoyed reading about every single one of his actions. It's clear from the start that Nick and Chrissy belong together and I loved the amazing chemistry between them. I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough to find out if they'd get their happily ever after.

Cathryn Hein has a great warm writing style that is laced with humor. I was immediately captivated by Chrissy and the Burroughs Boy. It's an entertaining and endearing story about true love and second chances. I really liked this charming feelgood story that put a big smile on my face. Cathryn Hein's vivid descriptions of her main characters and their feelings are making the story come to life in a fabulous way. Chrissy and the Burroughs Boy is funny, sweet and very romantic.

Advice

If you love heartwarming small-town romance you don't want to miss Chrissy and the Burroughs Boy.

About Cathryn Hein


A South Australian country girl by birth, Cathryn loves nothing more than a rugged rural hero who’s as good with his heart as he is with his hands, which is probably why she writes them! Her romances are warm and emotional, and feature themes that don’t flinch from the tougher side of life but are often happily tempered by the antics of naughty animals. Her aim is to make you smile, sigh, and perhaps sniffle a little, but most of all feel wonderful.

From debut release Cathryn has been a multiple finalist in the Australian Romance Readers Awards and the 2014 awards also saw her in contention for Favourite Australian Romance Author. April’s Rainbow is her seventh rural romance, with more to come. She also plans to add more romantic adventures in the vein of The French Prize to readers’ bookshelves.

Cathryn currently lives at the base of the Blue Mountains in Sydney’s far west with her partner of many years, Jim. When she’s not writing, she plays golf (ineptly), cooks (well), and in football season barracks (rowdily) for her beloved Sydney Swans AFL team.

Links

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Goodreads // Pinterest

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a paperback copy of Chrissy and the Burroughs Boy by Cathryn Hein.

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The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

Kindle Fire 7, Amazon Gift Card & Sass & Belle Parrot Paradise Notebooks, Tote Bag, Mug, Mirror & Pouch Giveaway




Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a Kindle Fire 7, a $10 (or equivalent) Amazon gift card and a Sass & Belle Parrot Paradise notebooks, mug, mirror, tote bag and pouch set. Good luck!


The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

The War Widow by Lorna Gray - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

It's 1947 and Kate is a single woman who divorced her husband shortly after the war. Kate is still recovering from a terrible incident that makes her feel scared and unsafe. She's being chased and because nobody seems to believe her, she decides to find some answers herself. She's staying at a hotel in Aberystwyth, near the place where her ex-husband recently committed suicide. Her arrogant and self centered ex-husband used to be a successful photographer and he didn't come across as unhappy at all. Why did he throw himself off a cliff?

While Kate is being seen as someone who has a problem with her nerves she doesn't get the protection she needs and she's constantly on the run. Someone wants something from her that she isn't able to give. She can't trust anyone. When she's staying at the hotel she meets a charismatic author, Adam, who seems to be concerned about her wellbeing, but as she has no idea who's after her Kate can't allow herself to let her guard down when she's with him. What should she do and how can she make the miserable situation she finds herself in stop, without becoming a victim?

The War Widow is a fantastic gripping story. Kate is a talented and smart woman. She's also confused, afraid and completely alone. That makes her story interesting from the start. I was curious to find out who's after her and couldn't turn the pages quickly enough to discover the truth. I loved how Lorna Gray slowly reveals the identities of the main players in her fabulous intricate plot and was captivated by her story from beginning to end. I was especially anxious to read more about Adam because of his riveting personality and profession. The marvellous main characters are all equally alluring, which made The War Widow a joy to read for me.

Lorna Gray combines an intriguing setting with a fascinating chaotic thrilling adventure and true love. I loved the natural and compelling way she does this. Her descriptions are filled with suspense. The War Widow kept surprising me and I enjoyed every single one of the many unexpected events that lead to a fabulous sensational finale. I really loved The War Widow and highly recommend this terrific story.

Advice

If you love a combination of historical fiction with a gripping mystery and wonderful romance The War Widow is an absolute must-read.

About Lorna Gray


I have a strong relationship with the past just like Eleanor, the heroine of debut novel In the Shadow of Winter. My inspiration to write about 1940s Britain comes from the traces that still live around us today. It comes from the tales that my elderly neighbours tell, and from the details and contradictions that have been recorded from a time we know so much about and yet no two people ever describe it in quite the same way.

This is what first inspired me to write In the Shadow of Winter and to set the intensely emotional adventure that unfolds within it, with all of its danger, romance and mystery, in the winter of 1947.

My exploration of the post-war period is continuing with The War Widow, with further releases planned for the coming months. I am published by Harper Impulse. I'm married and I live in the Cotswolds, UK.

Links

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Amazon

Silent film


Interview

1) Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?


Thanks so much for having me on your blog today. I keep goats and ponies, and love exploring castles and old country houses with my husband. And I really love writing post-WWII mysteries ...

2) You have a strong relationship with the past, have you always had this and how do you translate it into stories?

I have always been fascinated by history. I always find myself trying to empathise with the people who once lived in a place, be it one hundred years ago or a thousand. Now that I’ve fixed upon writing about a very specific point in history, the period just after the war, I’m very lucky that a lot of people can remember what it was like back then. And when I ask people for their memories, everyone has such a unique point of view. I think it is wonderful how the inspiration for each of my heroines has come from something someone has told me.

3) The War Widow is a gripping saga, what do you like the most about writing this genre?


Gripping? How lovely, thank you! But yes, this genre feels like the perfect balance for me between exploring the heroine Kate Ward’s emotional struggle to shake off her past, and a vintage mystery thoroughly grounded in 1940s Britain.

4) Your story is set just after WWII, what inspired you to write about this period?

The year is 1947 and Kate is facing the challenge of asserting who she thinks she is, set against the way other people perceive her. She is being haunted by a criminal’s last steps. Kate is also a divorcee and it is fascinating how modern the period is, in that Kate can make the choice to leave her husband, and yet she can still be awfully judged for it.

5) Can you describe the main characters of The War Widow in seven words each?

Kate: Determined, faithful, brave, afraid and profoundly underestimated

Adam: Shy, determined, steadfast and I love him

Rhys: selfish, confident, single-minded, driven and roguish

*Sorry, none of those are seven words. Creative licence, you know?

6) How do you handle the research for your stories and how do you capture the right atmosphere of the timeframe you’re writing about?

A lot of my inspiration comes from speaking to people who remember the time. Then I settle on the specific run of days for the story and begin researching from there. Both this novel and my debut In the Shadow of Winter unfold over a particular set of dates. In The War Widow, Kate’s life begins to unravel over the weekend of the original Royal Wedding - the one between Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten - and it was such an evocative time to write about.

7) How did your passion for historical fiction start?

In terms of reading historical fiction, I blame my mother. When I first stepped up as a child into reading grown-up books, it was her bookshelf I raided. The obsession stuck.

8) If you could travel back in time for a day, which area and period would you visit and why?


I’m fascinated by all sorts of points in history but sensibly, I think it would have to be the period after the war. Antibiotics were gradually coming into use so I probably wouldn’t immediately pop my clogs from some hideous disease we’ve barely heard of these days, and I could visit the Stockport area (near Manchester) where my family are from. It would feel like going home.

9) You write about strong women, what’s the inspiration behind these capable heroines?


My background is archaeology which means I’ve studied human activity through the ages. And the thing I’ve noticed most of all is that when it comes to the fundamentals of human nature, such as care and sheer grit and determination, nothing has changed at all. And it’s a good thing. All those choices women made long ago ultimately echo in the women I know today. I find the whole path from then to now wonderfully inspiring.

10) What are your plans for the future?


I’ve got a third book coming out later this year and I’m currently writing my fourth novel which is set in Christmastime. It’s going to be a busy few months!

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a signed paperback copy of The War Widow by Lorna Gray.

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The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi - Book Review & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Penny is glad to leave high school behind her. She doesn't have many friends and the boy she's dating might be handsome, but he doesn't give her warm and fuzzy feelings. It's time for a new chapter in her life and she can't wait to start university, where she'll learn how to become a better writer. On her first day Penny meets Jude, her new roommate. They instantly become friends and Jude introduces Penny to a family member, Sam. Sam works in a café and as soon as Penny meets him she feels a connection, but the handsome tattooed guy who's several years older is totally out of her league, or isn't he?

Sam wants to be a movie director, but due to financial difficulties he has a hard time making ends meet. He feels like he's all alone in the world. His ex-girlfriend constantly plays games with him and leaves him heartbroken in the process. He doesn't have a place to live that he can call his own and he's trying to figure out a way to make his dreams come true without having the money that's usually needed in his chosen profession. When he meets Penny something changes. He might have finally found a friend, someone who truly understands him. However, their relationship mainly consists of texts and an occasional phone call, they feel too embarrassed to actually spend time with each other. Is there any hope for them to form a solid bond when their complexities keep standing in their way?

Emergency Contact is a fantastic story. Mary H. K. Choi's amazing way to describe her main characters is making her story a true gem to read. Penny has plenty of fabulous quirks and I loved her straight away. She's smart, talented and outspoken. I especially loved how she always tries to be as prepared as she can be in any situation. She's a serious person and there isn't much lightness in the way she views the world, which gives her plenty of interesting layers and makes her intriguing to read about. I loved the easy way she can talk to Sam. Sam is an intelligent guy with plenty of talents, like baking delicious pies. He's struggling in so many ways and my heart often ached for him. Penny and Sam have a lot in common and reading their chats often made me smile. They've both been through so much already, especially for people their age, and that is something that makes them understand one another. I kept hoping they'd bring each other some much deserved happiness and was so curious to find out more about them that I read their story in one sitting.

Mary H. K. Choi has written an original multifaceted story about friendship, love and family. I was impressed by the way she explores the emotions of her main characters. She makes it possible for the reader to take a look inside of their minds and I felt honored I had the chance to get to know them through and through. Because of her detailed descriptions of frustrations, character traits, lifechanging events and insecurities she makes her story feel incredibly real. Emergency Contact is honest, raw and beautiful. It's a book that fits my heart exactly.

Advice

If you love beautiful emotional stories about love, friendship and family you don't want to miss Emergency Contact.

About Mary H. K. Choi


Hi pals. The big news is that MY BOOK IS COMING OUT ON MARCH 27, 2018 on Simon & Schuster. It's a YA novel called Emergency Contact.

Read an excerpt on EW.com.

Or read this super-righteous STARRED review on Publisher's Weekly. Meow. So cool.

The other news is that I have some appearances coming up.

I'm hanging out at Teen Book Con in Texas on March 24th.

Then OF COURSE my official book launch is at McNally Jackson in SoHo, in conversation with the G.O.A.T., my pal Jenna Wortham on March 27th.

*All the cartwheel emojis*

Pull up!

Then on April 20, 21 I'm at The North Texas Teen Book Festival.

Plus, some L.A. events!

Also, find me @choitotheworld for more updates! xo

Links

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a hardcover copy of Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi.

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The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

The Summer of New Beginnings by Bette Lee Crosby - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Meghan dreams of becoming a journalist and has already been approved by the university of her choice. When her father unexpectedly passes away she has a tough decision to make though. She will stay at home to rescue his business instead, it's the only thing she has left of him and she doesn't want someone else to take over. Meghan has always been the responsible sister and Tracy the outgoing one. Tracy doesn't have a plan for the future, she only wants to be with her boyfriend and when he finds a job elsewhere she doesn't hesitate and leaves home. Meghan is being left with her mother and together they're trying to find a way to deal with their grief.

Tracy's relationship isn't what she expected it to be. She hoped to get married eventually, but when she finds herself pregnant her boyfriend still isn't ready to start a family. When he proves to be a bad partner and an indifferent father over and over again, she and her baby move back home. Meghan loves dogs and is thrilled when she finds a puppy. She hopes nobody will claim him. All of a sudden their household is a lot busier. However, there's something wrong with Tracy's little boy and she needs all the help she can get to figure out what's the matter. Meanwhile Meghan finally starts to live her own life. Meghan and Tracy have a lot of obstacles to overcome, will the sisters both find happiness eventually?

The Summer of New Beginnings is a wonderful heartwarming story. Meghan and Tracy are sisters and friends. They are different from each other and for a while this makes things difficult between them, but their bond is indestructible. I loved that about their story. Meghan is serious, caring and incredibly kind. Tracy likes to party and she's good at having fun. She's a sweet person, but doesn't like to make plans and look at the future. This changes when she becomes a mother. I loved seeing this transformation in her character and it gives the relationship with her sister another fantastic layer. I love stories about sisters and The Summer of New Beginnings is definitely a great one.

Bette Lee Crosby has a fantastic warm writing style. Her gorgeous detailed descriptions are making her story come to life in an amazing way. She knows how to write about emotions and made it easy for me to feel everything that happened to the main characters. When they were sad I had tears in my eyes and when they were happy I had a big smile on my face, which is something I really liked about The Summer of New Beginnings. I also very much enjoyed the way Bette Lee Crosby writes about animals, she gives them adorable personalities that are fabulous to read about. The result is a beautiful charming and complete story that I highly recommend.

Advice

If you love stories about sisters combined with a beautiful setting and wonderful romance you should definitely read The Summer of New Beginnings.

About Bette Lee Crosby


USA Today Bestselling Author and Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby brings the wit and wisdom of her Southern Mama to works of fiction—the result is a delightful blend of humor, mystery and romance along with a cast of quirky charters who will steal your heart away.
A Note from Bette Lee…

First off, I’m a Southerner; and Southerners are born storytellers. In the South stories are handed down from one generation to the next, and often told while sitting on the front porch or gathered around a potluck picnic table. With every telling the characters grow bigger, braver and definitely more memorable. So it is with my characters—each one born of a tale that started long ago.

Every writer begins as a reader and this is also true of me. But ignoring the gift of storytelling that my mama passed down, I majored in art and started out as a graphic artist. Fate stepped in and when one of the salesmen said to make up some sell copy for the back of a pantyhose package, I did. Before long I realized my niche was creating images with words rather than pictures and a new career blossomed.

After two decades of writing for business—magazine articles, corporate reports, marketing plans and the like—that storytelling heritage kicked in and I began my first novel. I began writing the story in longhand using sticky notes, cross outs, and asterisks for editing and then handing my messy papers over to my secretary to be typed. (Remember, I studied art, not typing.) Several chapters later, I admitted defeat, bought my first laptop and taught myself to type.

I wrote two full-length novels (which will never see the light of day) before I wrote The Twelfth Child and entered it into the National Pen Women competition as an unpublished manuscript. It won and that tiny taste of success spurred me on to make this a full time career.

Now, I write almost every day and consider myself blessed to be doing this thing that I love so much. I look back and smile thinking if Mama were still here she’d recognize bits and pieces of the stories she once told.

Links

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest // Bookbub

Interview

1) Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

I am an avid reader and a sucker for happy endings. Although not a big TV watcher, I am totally hooked on This is Us. I love sunshine, palm trees, warm weather and dogs. In the morning I start with a three to four mile walk, then settle at my computer for the rest of the day. My office is teeny-tiny, but I love it because I am surrounded by things that bring me happiness—books, dog toys, pictures of friends and family and my fur-baby Sugar in my lap. My guilty pleasure is letting time fly by as I chat with friends and fans on Facebook.

2) The Summer of New Beginnings is a story about sisters, what’s the most wonderful thing about writing about his subject?

I am intrigued by all types of family relationships, but especially that of sisters. The two sisters in this story are a lot like my sister Donna and me. Donna was a fun-loving party girl, who married the wrong guy, but ended up with two wonderful children. And I, sadly enough, can be a bit like Meghan, letting the weight of responsibility rest on my shoulders. The fascinating thing about sister relationships is the powerful love that ties you together. Regardless of the fact that you are total opposites and argue about almost everything, you always know that she has your back and you have hers. It is a wonderful but sometimes unexplainable relationship.

3) You’re a Southerner, how does that influence your storytelling and where does that special warmth in your books come from?

I truly am a Southerner at heart, but you wouldn’t guess it to hear me talk. My ‘southernism’ comes from growing up with a Southern Mama, Daddy, aunts, uncles, etc. – it was the ‘voice’ I heard in my ear from the time I was a child and it’s the voice that sounds most natural and convincing to me. Southerners are born storytellers, it’s in our DNA. My mom was never a writer, but she could mesmerize a room full of kids with her stories. I’d like to believe I got lucky and inherited that gene.

The warmth of a story is often drawn from the experiences you carry in your heart. When asked for advice about writing, I always say write what you know. That may sound trite, but the truth is you can’t write about emotions you don’t understand. Honest emotion is what gives a story warmth. That doesn’t mean you have to have lost a loved one to write about it, but you do need to have an understanding of what deep down grief feels like. By internalizing what your characters feel, you can make them believable and vulnerable.

4) You love dogs and this love can also be found in your stories, what do you like the most about them and what’s so special about animals as characters?

I think having any kind of pet is a blessing. These furry little critters bring so much love into our lives. They continue to love us even if we are cranky, sick, or homeless. And, they make great characters, because they can be needy without being spineless. How can you not love a hero or heroine who saves a helpless little pup?

Over the years I have had several dogs, and I have loved each and every one of them. When I go out, Sugar sits at the window and waits for my return; and when I come back, she is so happy she dances around like she’s the happiest dog on earth. My husband is a great guy, but honestly, I doubt he’ll ever do that.

5) How did your writing journey start?

I started out as a artist and was asked to write some copy for the back of a pantyhose package I’d designed. I discovered a love of words, and went from there into marketing where I wrote business plans, ads, brochures and the like. After a good number of years, I decided to follow my heart. Since reading fiction was what I loved, it was a natural progression.

6) You write about family, what does family mean to you and why is it such a good subject for a story?

The significance of family is almost universal. We all need family, whether it is our parents, spouse, children, siblings or in some cases friends, we all need someone. Family may have different meanings for different people, but the bottom line is that your family is the person (or people) you return to at the end of a long hard day; it’s the person who will comfort you when you’re sick, encourage you when you’re down, and celebrate when you are successful. Without family, a victory seems hollow and a setback seems insurmountable. More often than not, those we consider family are what turns an ordinary life into something special.

7) You love candy and ice cream. What’s your favorite kind of ice cream and which candy flavor do you like the most?

Can I have ten favorites of each? In an ice cream shop I usually sample about six flavors before I finally settle on something that has chocolate, caramel or peanut butter chunks or swirls. If I can find a flavor with all three, so much the better. When it comes to candy, I love them all (truly ALL!) The only candy I don’t love is licorice. And since licorice doesn’t have any of the aforementioned ingredients, I think it should not be classified as candy. J

8) You’ve written a lot of series already, how do you get the ideas for those series and how do you handle the writing process of such a large project?

I never plan to write a series, it just seems to end up that way. Each time I’ve started out with the idea for a story but in the process of writing that story, so many interesting characters come into play that I start thinking…Well now, that’s another story! Then before I know it, one book becomes two and then a series. You can pick up any book I have written, even if it is in the middle of a series, and will find that it reads as a standalone. It’s as if one story simply opens the door for another.

9) What are your plans for the future?

How lovely that you’ve asked… I am currently working on the final edits for Book 2 of the Magnolia Grove Series. This one is titled A Year of Extraordinary Moments and is scheduled for publication in October of 2018.

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a signed paperback copy of The Summer of New Beginnings by Bette Lee Crosby.

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The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

Gorgeous Book One & Two by Lisa Shelby - Book Review & Giveaway

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Review by Anniek

Ronan's life changes instantly when he sees Olivia at a charity party. The moment he lays his eyes on her, his world becomes more colorful. He has to know who she is and he needs to be with her even more. Besides the fact that Olivia is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen, she's also a very skilled event planner. He tries to impress her with his wealth, but he's in for a shock when Olivia isn't easy to persuade at all. Ronan finds out that for Olivia less is more. Will he be able to show her his true colors?

Olivia has known how to take care of herself from the moment she was taken from her mother when she was just a young girl. She's been looking over her shoulder ever since. The man who made her watch when he killed her father promised to come back for her to finish the job. When Ronan offers her a job she can't refuse, she has issues with the spotlights that come with working for a million dollar company. She once changed her name, so she could hide in the shadows. Will this still be enough to keep herself one step ahead of trouble?

Ronan and Olivia are challenging each other constantly and I loved Olivia's sassy personality. When true love touches their hearts, there's no way to deny this overpowering feeling. Ronan is such a sweet and kind man, but he keeps being pulled into his family's mess. I loved to two of them together and their sparks fly off the pages. I was rooting for Ronan and Olivia to be strong enough to choose the only love in life that matters, the unconditional kind.

Gorgeous is a beautiful love story about two people who have been damaged by their pasts. I love to read stories about soul mates and I was hooked since the first page. Olivia is a proud woman and she has worked hard to become a successful event planner. I enjoy reading about strong female characters and thought she was a perfect match for Ronan. Lisa Shelby is a new author for me and she made an unforgettable first impression with Gorgeous. I loved the amazing chemistry between the main characters and think she has written a fantastic sexy book.

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Review by Anniek

Ronan and Olivia fought hard to keep the nightmares away, but they've lost that fight. Trouble is coming for them and it's going to hit them hard. Ronan has been blackmailed by his ex-girlfriend, London, and his only thought is to keep Olivia safe. London is a famous actress and is used to living life among the rich and famous. She and Ronan have always been pushed to get together by their families, so they can merge two powerful families. Ronan can't stand London and she's very angry about not getting her way. Even more secrets are hiding in the shadows. What will Ronan do when they inevitably come out?

Olivia has lost everything she worked so hard for. She gave herself room to grieve and now the time has come to pick up the pieces. She's noticed that someone on a motorcycle keeps driving by and she constantly sees the same faces when so goes through her daily routine. After a run in the park she knows without a doubt that someone has been following her and she's determined to find out who it is. Many years have gone by since she felt safe, but she's determined not to be scared off this time. Is Olivia ready to face the man who killed her father?

Ronan has been so scared for Olivia that he made some wrong choices. He often goes to the only place where he can fully be himself and has placed cameras near Olivia, because he needs to make sure that she's safe. She's his moon, his heart, his everything. Ronan is a sensitive man and I loved the fact that he doesn't feel the need to hide his true feelings. Olivia is such a sweetheart. She takes care of everybody, but doesn't look out for herself. She's feisty and is a force to be reckoned with. I loved to read about their individual journeys and was especially impressed by the way they overcome their greatest fears.

Gorgeous book two continues with Ronan and Olivia's story after the open ending of book one. Where the first book mostly concentrates on their love and past, the second book shows how true love changes a person. Their connection is magical and it's clear that Ronan and Olivia belong together. This story is a lot more action-packed than the first book and I couldn't read fast enough to find out what would happen in the end. The Gorgeous Duet books are definitely on my list of books of the year so far. I absolutely loved this series and Gorgeous book two is a deserving heartwarming ending of a beautiful duology. 

Advice

The Gorgeous Duet is a duology you shouldn't miss if you love stories about soul mates. Please take in consideration that you need to read both books in chronological order to understand the complete story.

About Lisa Shelby


It’s me, Lisa Shelby the ever-so hopeless romantic and self-professed love geek. I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and am proud to call Oregon home. It’s here that I reside with my husband, our son and our two fur baby dogs. I love to read. I read at home, at work (only on designated breaks, of course), in the car (come on now, only when I’m a passenger), during sporting events, waiting in the lobby at my doctor’s office, on my tablet, on my phone, you get it…

Reading has been my obsession and writing has been my secret passion. It was that passion that led me on my journey to write a book for my husband. What began as a gift turned into an inspiration of love and the desire to share that love with everyone. With the encouragement of my husband and the support of my family and friends, I began my journey and published my debut novel, “You & Me” September 2016.

I welcome you to join in my journey and look forward to engaging with you on Facebook takeovers; and better yet, meeting you in person at book signings!! Follow me on social media so we can ‘geek’ out over all our favorite books, authors and this amazing romance community that we are all a part of.

Cheers!!

Links


Giveaway



One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive Kindle copies of Gorgeous part one and two.


The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Owl Mug, Plush, Notebook, Pillow, Tote Bag and Pouch Giveaway



Enter this giveaway for a chance to win an owl mug, plush, notebook, pillow, tote bag and pouch. Good luck!


The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.