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Monday, April 30, 2018

Dreaming in Chocolate by Susan Bishop Crispell - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Penelope and her mother own a chocolate café. They sell all kinds of delicious treats and hot chocolate. There's something special about their shop, they have a magical apothecary table that gives them any recipe they could ever need. The inhabitants of Malarkey buy the chocolate for various reasons, but a lot of them want to find true love. Penelope used to love her business, but she's having doubts. The table hasn't granted her biggest wish and this breaks her heart. Can she still put her trust in magic while it doesn't bring her the happiness she craves?

Penelope has an eight-year-old daughter. Ella is cheerful and wise, but she's also the reason Penelope worries about the future. Together with Ella, Penelope is working on a bucket list. On this list there's one wish that proves to be difficult, finding Ella a dad. Noah, the love of Penelope's life, left her before she could tell him about her pregnancy. Nobody knows who Ella's father is and Penelope isn't ready for people to find out. When Noah's back in town, she goes through a rollercoaster of emotions. He would love to rekindle their friendship, but Penelope isn't ready for the man who deeply hurt her to be back in her life. However, Ella has different plans and can be very convincing. Will the magic of her shop guide Penelope through this tumultuous time?

Dreaming in Chocolate is a brilliant moving story. The combination of chocolate and magic is absolutely wonderful. It's a great idea that Susan Bishop Crispell combines with much creativity and a flawless execution that works incredibly well. I loved how magic can change lives. Penelope's constant battle with her beliefs, her grief and her hopes fascinated me from the beginning. Ella is such a cute little girl and she and Penelope have a special bond. Penelope would do anything for her daughter and her unconditional love and the pain of loving someone so much it hurts are radiating off the pages. Susan Bishop Crispell describes Penelope's feelings in a gorgeous open way. I liked the balance between sadness, cheerfulness and sweetness, it's absolutely amazing.

Dreaming in Chocolate is a delicious bittersweet story. I loved Susan Bishop Crispell's vivid descriptions of all the tasty treats that are being sold in the chocolate café. I enjoyed reading about every single customer, I loved the family aspect of the story and I really liked the romance as well. Together they're making Dreaming in Chocolate a true gem to read. It's such a beautiful enchanting story filled with magic and love. 

Advice

If you love beautiful emotional magical realism you should definitely read Dreaming in Chocolate.

About Susan Bishop Crispell


I’m not one of those writers who’s been scribbling down stories since I could hold a pencil. I didn’t read constantly growing up (blasphemy, I know!), and I can still be found in public without a book tucked into my purse (again with the blasphemy!).

I am, however, the kind of writer who lives for the imaginative spark that introduces me to a new character or story idea that pushes me to turn everyday life into something magical.

I am the author of the women’s fiction novels THE SECRET INGREDIENT OF WISHES (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Press, 2016), and DREAMING IN CHOCOLATE (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2018). I have a B.F.A. in creative writing from The University of North Carolina - Wilmington. I live and write near Wilmington, NC with my husband, Mark, and our literary-named cat.

Aside from writing, I obsess over swoony fictional boys and baked goods and watch quirky TV shows, most of which got canceled way before their time (and I have a wax lion to prove it!).

Proud member of the Tall Poppy Writers.

Links


Interview

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

I write southern magical fiction with a lot of heart and hopeful endings. Oh, and food. I love writing about magical food, like pie and hot chocolate! I live on the coast of North Carolina with my husband and our orange tabby cat, Pippin. When I'm not writing or working at my day job as a proposal manager, you can find me hanging out with my husband, either at the beach or one of our local breweries or a hard rock concert. 

2) What’s the inspiration behind Dreaming in Chocolate’s magical chocolate? 

I love chocolate. It's one of my rewards when writing for hitting my daily or weekly word count. So, writing about magical chocolate was a no-brainer for me. Then, during a visit with my family, my sister took me to The Hot Chocolatier in Chattanooga, TN. They have a spicy hot chocolate that is amazing. I knew immediately it needed to be in my book, so I created the Corazon hot chocolate that lets people dream of their soul mates and the story started falling into place. 

3) Can you describe the main characters of Dreaming in Chocolate in eight words each? 

Penelope: Strong, stubborn, protective, determined, big-hearted, devoted, magical 
Ella: Delightful, trusting, optimistic, courageous, willful, full of life 
Noah: Charming, regretful, hopeful, spontaneous, thrill-seeker, loyal, endearing 

4) What does magic mean to you? 

For me, magic is a part of nature. The magic I write about tends to have more to do with special abilities (like making wishes come true or making hot chocolate that can let people dream of their true love), but it all stems from the idea of fate and coincidence and how real life often set people on a specific path. I think the universe/God/whatever you believe in leads you to the place you need to be and introduces you to people you need to meet when you need them most. Which in itself is pretty darn magical. And the idea that there could be something more at play behind the scenes is so fascinating to me. 

5) You write stories about women who are dealing with the good and bad sides of a special gift, how did you get the idea for these main characters and their abilities? 

For The Secret Ingredient of Wishes, the very first thing I knew about Rachel was that she had the ability to makes wishes come true and it had ruined her life. The first few lines of the book popped into my head one day at work and while I didn't know how the magic worked yet or what had happened to her that was so tragic, I knew her story would be about her learning to trust in herself and her ability again. 

With Dreaming in Chocolate, it took me a little longer to figure out the connection between Penelope and the chocolate's magic. In the first not-quite-finished draft of the book, the chocolate didn't exist. 

6) What gift would you like to have in your life if you could have one? 

I love this question. I'm a huge music fan. I have music on in the house almost all day long while I work. So, I think I'd want the ability to hear music (like actual songs) in everyday sounds, like the wind through leaves and ocean waves. It would be like a soundtrack following me everywhere I went.

7) What’s your favorite kind of chocolate? 

Oh, I love chocolate in most forms! But dark chocolate salted caramels are my favorite. 

8) How did your writing journey start? 

I didn't realize I wanted to write until I was a sophomore in college. I planned to major in marine biology--that's why I picked the college I did! But realized halfway into my freshman year that I was never going to work with killer whales and needed to find a new path. I signed up for an Intro to Fiction class because I couldn't get into the art classes I wanted, and fell in love. 

9) You write about unconditional love, what makes this kind of love so special? 

The thing I find interesting about unconditional love is that it allows people to have flaws. Nobody's perfect, and a kind of love that expect people to be is not the kind I want to write about. I love the idea that you can love someone with your whole heart and still really not like them at times. When you love unconditionally, your relationships can withstand almost anything life throws at it. 

10) What are your plans for the future? 

I recently finished a draft and first big revision of a new women's fiction novel and I have two YA novels that are in various states of revision. So, basically, I'll be deep into edits for the rest of my life. ;) Seriously though, I'll be working on the WF until it's ready to go on submission to editors. It's a magical story about sisters and bourbon and finding your place in the world. 

Giveaway 

One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a signed paperback copy of Dreaming in Chocolate by Susan Bishop Crispell. 

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

Lords of St. Thomas by Jackson Ellis - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

It's the beginning of the 1930s and St. Thomas is a thriving small town. This changes when the government starts planning to build the Boulder Dam and buys out everyone who's interested in selling. Many of the inhabitants are leaving their homes and businesses behind. The Lord family is an exception though. Henry's grandfather doesn't want to take the government's money and thinks the water won't flood his house. He doesn't believe it will ever reach that far. He wants to stay where he is, because it's the home he's always known and is refusing to leave, accepting the consequences of his decision.

Henry's father would like to get out of St. Thomas, he does believe the water will eventually reach their house and there aren't many opportunities for young people in a town that's slowly becoming abandoned. Henry is growing up under the constant influence and threat of the water, what is the effect on his life? Who is right, his father or his grandfather, and what is the price the family will have to pay because of this new dam?

Lords of St. Thomas is a beautiful impressive story. Henry is used to living with family disagreements. The dam is a frequent topic of discussion in their home. Henry's grandfather doesn't want to move out of St. Thomas. Even though almost everyone moves away, he's determined to stay and won't leave his house. I found his stubbornness admirable and naive at the same time, which is a fabulous combination. Henry is a sweet boy, he loves his parents very much and would do anything for them. He's also wise and observant, which makes the story incredibly interesting. While the water is rising it takes away a lot and my heart ached for the small boy who has to deal with so much heartbreak. I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough to find out what would happen to Henry and his family and read his story in one sitting.

Jackson Ellis has a fantastic descriptive writing style. He makes his story come to life in an amazing vivid way. I was fascinated by the history of the dam, the vast implications of this project and the effect on everyone living near it. I could easily picture the emotional turmoil of the Lord family and I was captivated by the gripping storyline. I liked the multiple layers, the versatility and the inevitability of this book. Lords of St. Thomas is a gorgeous story. I fell in love with it straight from the beginning and highly recommend it.

Advice

If you love historical coming of age stories you shouldn't miss Lords of St. Thomas.

About Jackson Ellis


Jackson Ellis is a writer and editor from Vermont who has also spent time living in Nevada and Montana. His short fiction has appeared in The Vermont Literary Review, Sheepshead Review, Broken Pencil, The Birmingham Arts Journal, East Coast Literary Review, Midwest Literary Magazine, and The Journal of Microliterature. He is the co-publisher of VerbicideMagazine.com, which he founded as a print periodical in 1999. Lords of St. Thomas​ is his first novel.

Links

Website // Twitter // Instagram // Amazon

Interview

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

Sure. I'm Jackson, and I live in Vermont, which is where I was born and raised. I've also spent time living in numerous other states, including all-too-brief periods in Nevada (while my wife attended graduate school) and Montana (where I worked two summers as a ranger at Glacier National Park). In a way, my book is a love letter to those former homes, as the book is set in Nevada and the main character lives most of his life in Montana.

2) Can you describe the main characters of Lords of St. Thomas in seven words each?

Henry Lord: Stubborn but loving grandfather and auto mechanic.

"Little" Henry Lord: The narrator; studious, athletic, well-read, and adventurous.

Ellen Lord: Henry's mother; devoted but unlucky in life.

3) Lords of St. Thomas is a story about family, how did you get the idea to write about the Lord family?

The Lord family is fictional, but it is based on a real man. But a little back story first…

St. Thomas, Nevada, is a real place -- it was a town that existed from January 1865 until June 1938, when it was flooded by the water of Lake Mead, which was created by the construction of the Hoover Dam. The town site sat underwater for more than 60 years, until an ongoing drought exposed the ruins in 2002 (it remains exposed to this day).

When I visited the site for the first time in 2012, I was especially intrigued by the foundation of the Fenton Whitney home -- all that remains is an elevated concrete floor and a crawlspace, which you can enter.

An idea struck me: what would it have been like for someone who left St. Thomas as a child to return more than 60 years later? What would it be like to poke your head into this foundation if it were the sole remnant of your childhood home? Furthermore, what if you left something there as a child, only to retrieve it as an elderly person? What would that item be? That was what I set out to discover when I began writing this book.

I only intended it to be a short story, however, until I read about a real-life character named Hugh Lord, a lifelong, childless bachelor who ran the St. Thomas auto garage. Lord adamantly refused to believe that Lake Mead's waters would reach his home, and he refused all the buyout money offered to him by the federal government for his property.

Eventually, he was the last person living in St. Thomas, and in June of 1938, the water finally entered his home. In defiance, he set fire to his house and rowed away on a small boat.

Once I learned about Lord, I thought, Here is the perfect person to frame my story around. Only in my story, he becomes Henry Lord, and he has a son, daughter-in-law, and a grandson, "Little" Henry Lord, who is the narrator.

4) A dam is the reason St. Thomas slowly disappears, where did you get the inspiration to write about the constant threat of the water?

People who live in the desert always feel threatened by water in one way or another: either by a lack of it, or by flooding. Sometimes, months and months pass by without rain, and that scarcity really makes you appreciate water -- especially given that you need to consume so much of it to stay hydrated in such a blistering hot, dry climate. But when it does rain, it often comes down fiercely. The hardest rainstorms I've ever witnessed were in Las Vegas, which is thankfully crisscrossed by flood channels. Flash floods in the desert can be fatal, and they can sneak up on you.

I've always found the relationship between humans and water in the desert to be fascinating, and given that the flooding of St. Thomas was a real event, it was a place that captured my imagination. Plus, I've always been interested in ghost towns -- and the site of St. Thomas is both a ghost town and a "ghost lake."

5) Lords of St. Thomas has won the Howard Frank Mosher First Book Prize, how was that?

Howard Frank Mosher was one of my all-time favorite authors, and incidentally, a fellow Vermonter.

Back in September 2014, I wrote to a handful of writers I admired to see if anyone would be interested in reading my book and perhaps providing a blurb, criticism, etc. Howard was the only person who said he would read it. I had never met him or spoken to him previously, but within days of first contacting him he read my entire book, wrote a blurb, and provided enthusiastic feedback and encouragement. It meant the world to me to hear such nice things from an author I loved so much.

Howard also provided lots of encouragement and advice to Dede Cummings, who owns Green Writers Press, the publisher of my book. When Howard announced he had terminal cancer in January 2017, Dede told Howard that she would be awarding an annual "First Book Prize" named in his honor. Howard requested for me to be the first recipient, and he passed away about a week later, on January 29th.

6) How did your writing journey start?

In school, even from a young (elementary school) age, I was a decent essayist. In high school I began to keep a journal and write poems, and I delved into short story writing in my spare time in college -- though I was well past graduation by the time I finally wrote a short story I actually liked.

7) You wrote a lot of short stories before you started this novel, what’s the reason you’ve chosen to work on a longer project and do you still write short stories?

I originally intended for Lords of St. Thomas to be a short story -- it just got away from me! I didn't set out with any rough word count in mind; rather, I just typed until the story was done, and it wasn't done until I hit about 40,000 words. It was as simple as that.

I finished the first draft of Lords of St .Thomas in September of 2014. I wrote a piece of flash fiction the following spring, and I began to work on my second book, Sugar Shack, in September 2015. I finished that one on January 8, 2016 -- the same day my daughter, Sophie, was born.

Now I am a full-time dad. In the two-plus years since her birth I have only written half of a short story (about 4,000 words). Someday I will write again. But at the moment I just don't have the time or energy or space.

8) Where does your love for books come from?

Largely from my mom. She read to me a lot as a child and taught me to read when I was only three, and I've loved books ever since.

9) Can you tell us about Verbicide Magazine? How did it start and what kind of articles do you publish?

Verbicide was a print magazine I published from 1999 to 2009. It started as a cut-and-paste zine, and moved to newsprint by issue three (summer 2001). At its peak, probably around 2007, it was a full-color magazine with a glossy cover and a press run of 30,000 copies. But when print periodicals (and bookstores) started to die, Verbicide went out with a whimper after 25 issues.

We moved online in late 2009, and have been there ever since, though to be honest, we just don't update it very much anymore. It used to be a full-time hobby and serious endeavor; now it's just a part-time thing we update whenever we feel like ("we" meaning me, features and photography editor Heather Schofner, and co-publisher and website designer Nate Pollard -- who also created the cover art for "Lords").

Regarding content, we used to publish interviews with musicians, actors, and artists; music, movies, and book reviews; and comics and short fiction. Now we mostly sporadically publish photo galleries of live music and an occasional interview.

10) What are your plans for the future?

If you mean in general, in life, I hardly know what I'll be doing tomorrow. Professionally, though, I hope I can publish the second novel I have waiting in the wings, and I hope I can start writing again someday.

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a digital copy of Lords of St. Thomas by Jackson Ellis.

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

May Book of Choice Giveaway Hop



Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a May 2018 release of your choice worth $15. Good luck!


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


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Jilly Jilly Garden and Space Mugs & Notebooks Giveaway


Enter this giveaway for a chance to win Jilly Jilly Space and Garden mugs and notebooks. Good luck!


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

The Dylan Dilemma by Patricia B. Tighe - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Basketball is Kenzie's whole life. She trains hard and her plan is to get into college on a basketball scholarship. Unfortunately Kenzie's new coach is incredibly strict and her tough regime and snide remarks are making Kenzie lose her confidence completely. Kenzie wants to be left alone with her messed up feelings, but her summer boyfriend is having different plans. Dylan is now going to college in Kenzie's hometown and would love to make their relationship permanent while Kenzie can't even think about love and dating someone, what should she do?

Kenzie has always been the girl of Dylan's dreams and he's happy he's finally living near enough to see her as often as he can. However, Kenzie isn't ready for them to be anything but friends. Dylan takes what he can get, but makes sure he's in the picture the whole time, so Kenzie won't forget why she likes him. Being around Dylan confuses Kenzie and it soon becomes clear it's not the lack of love that makes her take her distance, it's something else. What is bothering Kenzie and can she and Dylan find a way to overcome it?

The Dylan Dilemma is a wonderful sweet story. Dylan is a kindhearted and gentle person. He has patience, he's chivalrous and he's absolutely adorable. Kenzie has quite a few issues. Her plans all seem to fail and she's lost. She's bright, talented and caring. She's a good friend, sister and daughter, but she doesn't easily let people in. I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough to find out if she could find a way to solve her problems and this made terrific interesting reading. Dylan is there for Kenzie when she needs him, he's perfect boyfriend material and his actions put a big smile on my face.

Patricia B. Tighe has written an endearing romantic story. Kenzie and Dylan are amazing together and I loved every single page of their journey. I liked that Patricia B. Tighe tells their story from both points of view and I equally loved their voices. They're both strong and well developed. I can't praise The Dylan Dilemma enough and loved its captivating charm. It's such an entertaining, cute and delightful book. I really liked this mesmerizing story about finding true love at a young age and highly recommend it.

Advice

If you love reading about teenage true love you don't want to miss The Dylan Dilemma.

About Patricia B. Tighe


The mother of two grown sons, Patricia B. Tighe lives in West Texas with her husband and dog. She eats way too much pizza, drinks way too much coffee, and watches way too much NFL football. On the bright side, she also reads and writes teen fiction. She promises to include as much romance, angst, and adventure as possible in her books.

Links

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Interview

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

Thank you so much for having me on your blog!

I’m married with two grown sons and a lovely daughter-in-law. My husband and I live in West Texas with our dogs, and we enjoy movies, books, and travel. Also, food. I’m a big fan of eating. When I’m not writing, or eating, I love to watch American football and basketball, and spend time with teens from our church. I think laughter is one of the best things God ever created.

2) Could you describe the main characters of The Dylan Dilemma in seven words each?

Kenzie Harper-Shea: Tall, athletic, determined, distrustful, mastermind, caring, extroverted

Dylan McCoy: Tall, athletic, optimistic, loving, faithful, charming, teacher

3) Kenzie is very much into basketball, how did you get the idea to write about an athletic main character?

I had already created Kenzie’s character for the first book in the series, About Last Summer. And since she was a basketball player, I decided that her story should have conflict centered around her sport.

4) Kenzie and Dylan were holiday sweethearts and now have a second chance at love, what’s the inspiration behind this wonderful subject?

I love second-chance love stories, don’t you? It’s so wonderful to bring two characters together who care about each other, but for various reasons have trouble committing to each other. I really enjoy helping them get over those obstacles.

5) You write about teenage insecurities, how do you prepare for the difficult scenes in your story?

I mostly try to put myself in the character’s head--What is she thinking or feeling? If the feelings are intense, how does she try to rationalize her way out of them? Because depending on the character, people will avoid painful emotions if they can.

6) If you could give your teenage self some good advice what would it be?

Don’t worry if things like love or success don’t happen immediately. Take your time. Enjoy being with friends and discovering who you are. Laugh often, and don’t take things too seriously, because in a few years they probably won’t matter.

7) How did your writing journey start?

It began way back when I was in college and earned a degree in journalism. I wrote some fiction over the years, but raising children took over my time. Then in 2006 I went to Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania for their master’s program in writing popular fiction. After graduating, I continued to write and submit my work.

8) You love to read, where does that love for books come from and what kind of books do you like to read?

I’m not sure where my love of books came from, but it started in childhood. All I know is that I’ve always loved escaping into a good story. I enjoy many different genres—YA, fantasy, historical romance, mystery. I’m currently going through a mystery reading phase.

9) You like writing romantic stories, what are the key ingredients of a good romance?

For me the key ingredients are two people who have opposite goals figuring out how to come together. Humor is an added spice. And, of course, swoony moments. You have to have those swoony moments.

10) What are your plans for the future?

I recently finished the third book in this series. It’s currently titled Amanda vs. the Universe, but I don’t have a release date yet. It’s a YA romance in which a girl who’s still getting over a broken heart comes to realize she doesn’t really need a boy in her life after all. Until she meets one who’d like to change her mind.

Beyond that, I’d like to write some fantasy or romantic mysteries.

Giveaway

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One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive digital copies of About Last Summer and The Dylan Dilemma by Patricia B. Tighe.

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

Rescuing the Royal Runaway Bride by Ally Blake - Book Review & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Will is on his way to a royal wedding. The groom is one of his best friends, but Will hasn't seen him in a long time due to traumas of the past. When he's close to his friend's palace he almost hits a woman and only just manages to stop his car before it's too late. Will has no idea who the woman is, but because of the way she's dressed he guesses she must be the bride. Sadie has run away from her wedding. Why has she done this?

Will takes Sadie to a hotel room to keep her away from the press. This messes up his plans considerably. For Will life is all about work. He's a famous astronomer and has a full agenda. Because of old friendships he clears his schedule. Spending time with Sadie makes Will think about his choices. Sadie is an attractive woman, but she was also about to get married to his friend. Can Will resist the temptation and should he?

 Rescuing the Royal Runaway Bride is a wonderful romantic story. Will is a serious man. Work is his number one priority and he's really good at what he does. This also means he's been living alone and out of a suitcase for a long time. There's no time for friends and love and Will doesn't have any family. Meeting Sadie and taking care of her while she's clearly in distress, is the best thing that could have happened to him. I loved seeing the transformation in this kindhearted sensitive man. Sadie is sweet, funny and intelligent. I loved the chemistry between them, but they're in a complicated situation, as Sadie was supposed to get married to Will's friend. I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough to find out where this would lead and if they'd find their happily ever after.

Ally Blake has written a fabulous entertaining story about discovering what it's like to fall in love. I loved the way she describes the emotions of her main characters. There's plenty of drama in this story, but there's also another more sensitive side. I liked the intrigues around the missed wedding, it gives the story a spectacular start. Ally Blake combines a terrific love story with a gorgeous setting and makes her story come to life in a great way. Rescuing the Royal Runaway Bride is charming, fun and adorable. I absolutely loved this amazing book.

Advice

If you love stories about finding true love Rescuing the Royal Runaway Bride would be the perfect choice.

About Ally Blake


Australian author Ally is a lover of steak dinners and red wine, the New York Yankees and the Collingwood Magpies, Ugh boots and yoga, gardenias and flamingos. She also loves writing romance novels.

An award-winning author, through Harlequin Mills and Boon, Entangled Publishing and Tule Publishing, she has had more than thirty fun, fresh, flirty novels published and sold over four million copies worldwide.

Alongside one husband, three gloriously rambunctious kids, and too many animal companions to count, Ally lives and writes in the leafy western suburbs of Brisbane.

Links

allyblake.com | The Organised Writer | ALLY OOP DESIGNS
Facebook | Instagram | | Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter

Giveaway

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One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a digital copy of Kiss Me Quick by Ally Blake.

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

The Cowgirl by Anthea Hodgson - Book Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Teddy is living a protected life on the family farm. She's taking care of most of the tasks together with her grandmother Deirdre. Their days are all the same, filled with taking care of the animals and the property. This suits them both, until Deirdre hires someone to dig up her old home. Her father buried it when Deirdre was a little girl and there's something Deirdre wants to have. That's why she hires Will, an archaeologist. Teddy is supposed to help him with the work. What will they uncover?

Teddy and Will are digging up the past and meanwhile they are sharing their secrets. Why is Teddy living with her grandmother instead of having a life of her own? What happened to Deirdre in the past and why does she want to have the house uncovered now? Will spending time with Will have a positive influence on Teddy and is it possible for her to start thinking about a future again, can she set herself free?

The Cowgirl is a beautiful moving story. The main characters are all incredibly interesting and their personalities have multiple layers, that are fascinating because of both their good sides and their flaws. Teddy is a sweet girl. She cares about others and is kind and shy. She leads a secluded life and isn't ready to face the world again. Finding out why made me really curious and I was eager to find out if Will would make a difference in her life. Teddy and Will have a lot in common and I loved their instant heartwarming connection. They each share their vulnerabilities, which made amazing reading. I kept hoping they'd both have a chance to find happiness and couldn't turn the pages quickly enough to see where their story would lead.

The Cowgirl alternates between the past and the present. Anthea Hodgson writes about Deirdre's younger years, the most influential time in her life, in a great gripping way. Deirdre is an old lady now, but she's still strong and determined. I loved those two parts of the story, they're equally valuable and I was anxious to read more about each time in her life. I loved the family aspect, the combination of the stories of a grandmother and her granddaughter works very well.

Anthea Hodgson's writing has a lovely easy flow. Her vivid descriptions of the farm made it come to life in a fantastic way. It wasn't difficult to picture the surroundings at all and I fell in love with the setting straight away. Discovering more about the hidden house kept me on the edge of my seat. The Cowgirl is a versatile story that has many fabulous angles. I really loved this wonderful captivating book and highly recommend it.

Advice

If you love stories about family, true love and secrets combined with a beautiful countryside setting, you should definitely read The Cowgirl.

About Anthea Hodgson


Anthea Hodgson is a country girl at heart, having grown up in the Western Australian wheatbelt. She has worked as a radio producer and semi-professional coffee drinker around Australia telling other people’s stories before having children and deciding it was time to tell some of her own.

She now lives and writes in Perth, Western Australia, with her writing partner (and labrador) Possum (and her lovely husband and delightful children).

Her debut novel, The Drifter, was published in 2016. The Cowgirl is her second novel.

Links

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My inspiration for The Cowgirl
Guest post by Anthea Hodgson

When I decided to write about my home it was because of the age-old advice – write what you know, and I knew my hometown in the Western Australian wheatbelt as well as I knew my own family. We have farmed wheat and sheep at Yealering for generations, next to other families who have been there for just as long. I find it easy to write about the landscape and the people I grew up with, and many of them inspired the characters in my debut rural, The Drifter. My mother’s friends, collectively nick-named the girls, quickly became the stars of the show. I loved writing about their loving and supportive friendships, their involvement in their community, as well as their talents and quirks.

When I set out to write the second novel set in my (not very) fictional town of Windstorm, I wanted to revisit a favourite character, Deirdre, a rather grim old woman who grumbled throughout Drifter and who, in Cowgirl, still likes nothing more than the opportunity to disapprove of most things in general, and laziness, untidiness and disrespect in particular. She was so much fun in Drifter I wanted to visit her again, to see how she became the character I loved so much.

The Cowgirl is Deirdre’s story really, although it also belongs to her granddaughter, Teddy, and a secret house buried near the shearing shed. When Will Hastings comes to dig it up, he uncovers pieces of Deirdre’s childhood and brings back memories of her past – but as he and Teddy grow closer, they both wonder what is it that Deirdre needs to see again before she dies?

Both women are stuck on the farm for their own reasons. The title comes from the cow Deirdre and Teddy milk twice a day, even though they could easily buy their milk from the shop like everyone else. Deirdre has lived on the farm all her life, but in Cowgirl we visit her as a young vivacious woman, going to country dances, falling in love, and dreaming of her future. For Teddy, the farm is security. She knows it’s rhythms and the farm chores that repeat season after season, but she wonders about the world and wishes she could leave. I wanted to visit both of these women, stuck where they are, and to look at what might be holding them back.

The Cowgirl is a romance, a treasure hunt, a family saga and a fairytale, but I also like to think Cowgirl is about duty and freedom. It’s often easy to overlook the contribution women make to family and community life, because so much of their work is invisible and becomes swallowed in the daily grind. I wanted to thank these women, particularly Deirdre’s generation, who were given so few opportunities in life, and who carried the weight of so many of us, so that we may have more. In doing so, their own aspirations were often put aside.

We are now lucky enough to live in a society where more people can live the life they choose, but Deirdre and the girls stayed with me and I dedicated The Cowgirl to these wonderful women, whose lives are so often overlooked and unnoticed, but remain incredibly valuable.

To all the girls who didn’t get to live their dreams, but who keep turning up anyway, with patience, kindness and loving hearts.

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a signed paperback copy of The Cowgirl by Anthea Hodgson.

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

Friday, April 27, 2018

Books of Choice Giveaway


Enter this giveaway for a chance to win books of choice worth $30. Good luck!


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

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Can Dreams Come True? by Krysten Lindsay Hager - Book Review & Giveaway

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Review by Anniek

Cecily is a seventeen-year-old girl who lives in a small town. Everybody knows everybody and it's very important to stay friendly at the small school Cecily is attending. She has been a big fan of Andrew Holiday for quite some time now and Cecily can't believe what she's hearing when she finds out that Andrew will be shooting his new video in their town. There will be open auditions and Cecily accompanies one of her friends in the hope she'll catch a glimpse of Andrew. When it turns out that they're looking for the girl next door, Cecily is being offered the opportunity to be an extra in the video. She's over the moon, but will all of her friends share the same enthusiasm?

Cecily has a boyfriend named Zach and he's her first serious love. Ever since Cecily got a part in Andrew's video he's acting strangely. Zach is hanging out with his ex-girlfriend and is not being the same sweet boyfriend he used to be. Cecily often feels insecure about herself. She thinks that she can't compete with some of the other girls when it comes to looks. Cecily isn't an outgoing person and she doesn't like big crowds, but with Andrew she instantly feels at ease. Being around a lot of people most of the time is part of Andrew's profession though. Can two people who live such different lives find common ground?

Can Dreams Come True? is a sweet love story. Cecily and her friends are normal teenagers with recognizable issues. I loved it that Cecily gets to meet the person she's crushing on. It reminded me of my own teenage years and I loved reminiscing about the artists I had a crush on. Wouldn't we all love to get the chance to meet our idols? Andrew is so kind and I loved how caring he is towards Cecily. He makes an effort to connect with her friends and that made my heart melt.

Krysten Lindsay Hager is an incredibly skilled writer and she's written another brilliant story. While I was reading Can Dreams Come True? I felt like I was an extra in the story, this is how real Cecily and her friends were for me. The story has a natural flow and this made it easy to connect with the characters. Krysten Lindsay Hager perfectly captures the essence of what it's like to be a teenager. I loved the cute and endearing romance between an ordinary girl and a famous artist. I've read several books written by Krysten Lindsay Hager and really enjoyed all of them, so I can't wait to find out what the next chapter will be for Cecily and Andrew.

Advice

If you love to read YA books about famous pop stars, finding yourself and first love, Can Dreams Come True? is a story you shouldn't miss.

About Krysten Lindsay Hager


Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends...Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, and Competing with the Star (The Star Series: Book 2). Her work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Bellbrook Times, and on Living Dayton.

Links

Website // Blog // Facebook // Twitter // Amazon

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a digital copy of Can Dreams Come True? by Krysten Lindsay Hager.

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

Forever at Conwenna Cove by Darcie Boleyn - Book Review & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

When Zoe's heart was broken she found a place to heal in Conwenna Cove. She opened her own diner and loves her business and small cottage. The local greyhound sanctuary plays an important part in Zoe's life. She loves dogs and fostered one as well, but isn't ready to take care of a new dog yet after her beloved furry friend passed away. That doesn't mean she can't spend time with as many greyhounds as possible though. Zoe leads a secluded life, but when Nate walks into her diner to ask Zoe to help with his greyhound fundraiser she immediately says yes. Zoe likes Nate, but he has a reputation when it comes to women. Should she believe what she's heard about him?

Nate is planning a big trip. He wants to travel and see something of the world. He isn't going to stay in Conwenna Cove and the last thing he expects is meeting a woman who makes his heart beat faster before he leaves. He'd love to spend more time with Zoe, but his days in Conwenna Cove are limited. Zoe doesn't easily trust people and it takes a while before she lets Nate in. Will Zoe and Nate have a chance together or are they doomed from the start because of their less than ideal circumstances?

Forever at Conwenna Cove is a heartwarming romantic story. Zoe is a gorgeous woman, both inside and out. She doesn't know how wonderful she is, which makes her a fascinating main character to read about. She has many insecurities and spreading her wings is difficult, but slowly she shows people previously hidden parts of herself and I loved finding out more about her personality bit by bit. She's the perfect woman for Nate. They're both caring, kind and vulnerable and they are careful to give their hearts to someone. Nate is a handsome surfer, but that's just the outside, there's much more going on beneath that good looking exterior and I loved each layer of his personality. Nate and Zoe have an interesting journey ahead of them. They are amazing main characters and I really enjoyed reading their story.

Darcie Boleyn's writing has a great flow and her stories are a joy to read. When I start one of her books I don't want to stop reading and I usually finish them in one sitting. Forever at Conwenna Cove is no exception, I couldn't put the story down and loved every single page. Conwenna Cove is a magical setting filled with possibilities and Darcie Boleyn makes it come to life in a fantastic vivid way. I like the way she writes about both animals and people. She knows her characters well and perfectly understands their emotions and reactions. The result is a terrific balanced story. Forever at Conwenna Cove is charming, captivating, moving and sweet. I highly recommend this enchanting book.

Advice

If you love romantic stories set in beautiful small towns you don't want to miss Forever at Conwenna Cove. It's the third Conwenna Cove story, but can easily be read as a standalone.

About Darcie Boleyn



Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night.

Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate.

Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.

Links

Website
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Twitter
Goodreads
Bookbub

 Giveaway


One very lucky reader of With Love For Books will receive a wonderful Conwenna Cove prize consisting of a mug featuring all the covers from the Conwenna Cove series, some postcards and bookmarks and a Cath Kidston hot air balloon fold up bag from Darcie Boleyn.

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

From Your Heart by Shannyn Schroeder - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Kathy doesn't like conflicts and she's afraid of getting hurt. When she dated Kevin five years earlier he broke her heart. Kathy cut him out of her life without an explanation. Kevin wasn't ready for something permanent at that time, but he's never forgotten Kathy. He's grown up in the meantime and when he meets her again at an engagement party he instantly knows she's the one. However, convincing the woman who's built many walls around her heart to protect herself to give him another chance isn't easy. What can Kevin do to make Kathy see he isn't as bad as she thinks he is?

Kevin will do anything to make Kathy like him again. He lost her trust, but is desperate to gain it back. Kathy isn't good at forgiving and forgetting, so he needs to take small steps with the woman he'd love to spend the rest of his life with. Kevin is a charming man, but Kathy isn't easily convinced. Will he be able to win her back?

From Your Heart is a wonderful romantic story. Kevin used to be a player, but he's changed. He is now a hardworking loyal man, ready for commitment. He knows what he wants, but getting it proves to be tough. Kathy is reluctant to let people in, especially when someone has hurt her in the past. They have to work on their issues if they want to make their relationship succeed. There's plenty of chemistry and sparks fly, but the emotional side of their bond is a struggle. Finding out if they'd get their happily ever after made me fly through their story.

 Shannyn Schroeder writes about family in a great heartwarming way. I loved her thorough descriptions of connections and feelings. It makes her story come to life in an amazing way. I like a good story about true love and From Your Heart definitely falls into that category. There's plenty of attraction between the main characters, but they also form a close bond on a deeper level. Shannyn Schroeder knows her main characters well and has written another gorgeous love story.

Advice

If you love second chance romances you don't want to miss From Your Heart. It's the fourth book in the For Your Love series, but can also be read as a standalone.

About Shannyn Schroeder


Shannyn is an occasional English teacher, who also works as a part-time editor while raising her three kids.

Even though she wrote from high school through college (mostly poetry), she’d never considered a career as an author. Writing fell by the wayside as she focused her energy on creating lesson plans and new and fabulous ways to torment her teen students. One group in particular dubbed her “The Torture Master,” a title she carried into motherhood.

After the birth of baby number two, Shannyn resigned from teaching and fell in love with reading romance novels. She read so many books so quickly that her husband teased, “If you’re going to read so many damn books, why don’t you just write one?”

So she did.

That first book is safely buried on her hard drive, but the process set Shannyn on the path to where she is today. The 6-book O’Leary series has wrapped up, as well as 2 Hot & Nerdy new adult trilogies. She’s currently working on her next series.

She is recovering from her Diet Coke addiction, fears putting her foot in her mouth on social media, and has a renewed appreciation for the bad girls of the world.

Links

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest

Interview

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

I am a mom of 3, sometimes English teacher and part-time editor, among other jobs. I am addicted to Diet Coke (especially fountain from McDonald’s) and I watch more TV than a person should. I have a foul mouth and am bluntly honest. What you see is pretty much what you get with me.

2) Where did your inspiration for the O’Malley brothers come from?

I grew up on the Northwest side of Chicago and I knew a lot of big Irish-American families. I don’t come from one, but I’ve always been fascinated by them. The first series I wrote for Kensington was the O’Learys and the O’Malley brothers popped up in book 4 (Catch Your Breath). As soon as they appeared on the page, I knew I needed to write their stories.

3) You love writing about relationships that are a challenge, what’s so interesting about this subject?

I think all relationships are challenging. (I’m not much of a people person.) So for me, it’s not about choosing to write about difficult relationships, but real relationships. Everyday people usually don’t have smooth sailing for everything. Shit happens and you have to choose how to deal with it. I want my readers to be able to relate to what my characters are going through.

4) What does real love mean to you?

Real love means having someone you can count on no matter what. Someone who’s in your corner even if they might not agree with you. Real love is accepting a person with all of their fucked-up flaws and loving them anyway.

5) Your stories are filled with heartwarming friendship and close family bonds, what makes friends and family so important and how do you use this for your stories?

As I said above, I’m not a people person. I don’t make friends easily. I have few friends, but those I do have are totally ride-or-die friends and that’s all you need in life. I grew up in a dysfunctional family, jealous of the people I saw with big families that seemed so connected. I wanted that, so I write about it.

6) Your husband inspired you to start writing, is that when your love for romance was born or was there already a wish to write it before that time?

I’ve always been a writer. When I was a pre-teen, I spent a summer walking around with a clipboard filled with paper as I wrote a story. When I got to high school, I discovered I preferred to write poetry. There’s something about the economy of language that I Ioved—plus, whenever I wrote dialogue, it always sounded stupid to me. Fast forward a number of years...I was a teacher and my writing consisted of creating lesson plans...then grad school (twice) where I wrote papers. It wasn’t until I had my second kid that I discovered romance. I read EVERYTHING. Then stories started popping up in my head. They haven’t stopped (thankfully).

7) You like to bake cookies, what’s your favorite kind of cookie?

Believe it or not, I bake way more than I actually eat. If I had to pick, I’d probably go with regular old chocolate chip cookies. I did create a recipe for Comfort Cookies, which appeared in my first published book (More Than This) that might be my favorite, but they require a bit more work than regular chocolate chip cookies.

8) How do you combine a busy family life with editing and writing stories?

It’s all about routine. Early on, I learned to write wherever, whenever I could. I mostly get my writing done while my kids are in some kind of activity. Both of my daughters are swimmers, so when I drop them off at practice, I go to McDonald’s and write for about an hour and a half. When my youngest has dance class, another hour to write. On Sundays, I have a group of friends I meet at Panera to write. I always joke that my books should be dedicated to McDonald’s and Panera because they never throw me out. Getting my words in while I’m out of the house means that when I’m home, I actually hang out with my family.

9) You love blue collar heroes, what makes them so special?

I grew up middle class (barely). My mom spent her life working behind a counter. We didn’t have extra money to splurge on stuff. Budgeting was a way of life. I married a carpenter, and we had nothing. Everything we have, we built. It’s mostly about writing what I know. However, there is nothing sexier than a man who is good with his hands, one who can fix things and build things.

10) What are your plans for the future?

I have a new 3-book series that will come out late this year/early next year with Entangled Publishing. The series is about a group of people who met and became friends at a divorce support group. Now they’re ready to move on and give love a second chance. I’m drafting the third book right now. After that, I have some ideas for other series, but I need to write things and then go out on submission, so who knows?

Giveaway

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One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive digital copies of Between Love and Loyalty & Meeting His Match by Shannyn Schroeder.

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

Alice in Wonderland Mugs and We're All Mad Here Necklace


Enter this giveaway for a chance to win two Alice in Wonderland mugs and a bookworm necklace made by Miss Bohemia. Good luck!


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

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Captain Amberton's Inherited Bride by Jenni Fletcher - Book Review & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Violet has never known any freedom. Her father dictated her life and made sure her world was very small. Unfortunately his death doesn't bring the release she seeks, her father still doesn't want her to make her own choices and has limited her options through his will. Violet is forced to either marry the man of his choosing or become entirely penniless and alone, which means she has to marry the insufferable Captain Lance Amberton. If they'd exchange vows he would gain plenty of money and Violet will have a title. However, there's a lot she has to give up if she'd say yes. What should she do?

Lance isn't as mean as Violet thinks he is. He doesn't particularly want to get married either, but his brother is missing and he has to step in. That's why he offers Violet as much space in their marriage as she desires. She can travel, will have her own money and can do whatever she pleases. They will sleep in separate rooms and he will give her everything she needs. Violet is tempted to accept this generous offer, even if it means she might not find love, but can she trust Lance and will he keep his promises? Does Violet actually want him to be this honorable or will spending time with Lance change her wishes?

Captain Amberton's Inherited Bride is a wonderful romantic story. Lance is the black sheep of the family. He has quite a reputation, but people can change. After his brother's disappearance Lance wants to do the right thing, only that doesn't always prove to be easy. He has a big challenge ahead of him. Violet might look adorable, but she's fierce, intelligent and determined. Her father forced her to be obedient, but she no longer tolerates being bossed around. I loved that about her character. She has a fantastic fiery spirit and she needs it when she's around the moody Lance. There are plenty of sparks between them and I couldn't wait to find out where their story would lead.

Jenni Fletcher has written a fantastic entertaining book. I loved the vivid descriptions of her main characters' personalities and their surroundings. She makes everything she writes about come to life in a delightful way and her story has the exact right atmosphere. There are plenty of fascinating twists and turns that kept me captivated from beginning to end and I read Captain Amberton's Inherited Bride in one sitting. It's an amazing heartwarming story that put a big smile on my face.

Advice

If you love historical romance you should definitely read Captain Amberton's Inherited Bride.

About Jenni Fletcher



Jenni Fletcher was born on the north coast of Scotland and now lives in Yorkshire, where she writes Medieval, Roman and Victorian romance novels.

She studied English at Cambridge University before doing an MA on Women and Literature in English and a PhD on Victorian & Edwardian literature at Hull University. After realising that she was better at writing than teaching, she worked in a number of administrative jobs whilst trying to finish her first book, which was rejected. Thinking there must have been some mistake, she then wrote another, which was fortunately accepted by Harlequin Mills&Boon.

She spends a large part of her day obsessing about things like the Oxford Comma and whether she uses exclamation marks too often (she does!) whilst getting distracted by Twitter. The rest of the time she drinks too much caffeine, eats too much chocolate, and tries not to drop crumbs into her keyboard.

When not writing, obsessing or cleaning up after her children, she likes mountain biking, hiking and watching period dramas (her husband joins her for two of those). She knows nothing about sport or crime fiction, but can talk with authority on Minecraft, Star Trek (mainly Next Generation) and the Lord of the Rings.

Her favourite Jane Austen novel is Persuasion and her favourite Brontë is Anne. If she had to choose a romantic hero it would be John Thornton, but maybe that’s just because she’s Northern.

Links

Website // Facebook // Twitter

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a paperback copy of Captain Amberton's Inherited Bride by Jenni Fletcher.

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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, Paradise Mug, Plate, Cookie Tin and Tote Bag and Chocolate Giveaway



Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a Kindle Fire 7, a $10 Amazon gift card, 6 chocolate bars and a Paradise mug, plate, cookie tin and large tote bag set. Good luck!


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

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody - Book Review & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Enne is a proper girl. She attends finishing school and has an unblemished reputation. This changes when her mother disappears. Enne starts a search that leads her to New Reynes, the City of Sin. Enne's values don't mean anything here and she has to adapt quickly. Survival means more in the city than a flawless reputation. Her mother left one lead, the name Levi. When Enne finds this person he isn't what she expected. Levi is a scheming street lord, a gambler. Levi also has a problem, he needs to pay off a huge debt and he sees Enne as a way to gather funds. Has Levi made the right decision to look after Enne?

Enne and Levi start looking for Enne's mother. Their search leads them to dangerous places where nothing is as it seems. Enne has to leave her innocence behind. She's being introduced into the world of dark secrets, shadowy casinos and risky jobs that require every single skill she possesses. Her mother was hiding a lot from Enne and slowly she uncovers the truth. What will she do with her new knowledge and what will happen when she and Levi end up as pawns in the most dangerous game that has ever been played in the City of Sin?

Ace of Shades is one amazing adrenaline rush. I absolutely loved this magical story. Enne has been raised with clear rules and ethics. She was well protected and never encountered anything sinister and sinful. Being in New Reynes is a steep learning curve. Enne has to adapt quickly to make it, she needs to be tough and resilient to stay alive and she has to find allies among strangers. Because of her mother she puts her faith in Levi, but working together has a price and Enne has no choice but to pay. This makes interesting reading. From the moment she sets foot in the city her life becomes a gripping whirlwind that kept me on the edge of my seat.

Amanda Foody's world building is fantastic. Her detailed descriptions of the City of Sin are making her setting come to life in a terrific energetic way. I was dazzled and amazed by New Reynes, something I really enjoyed. Ace of Shades is filled with surprising twists and turns and there's plenty of mesmerizing suspense. The story is enchanting and unusual, a combination that works very well. I liked every creative idea Amanda Foody presents. I highly recommend Ace of Shades, it's a marvelous dynamic adventure.

Advice

If you love gripping magical YA with a fabulous setting you should definitely read Ace of Shades.

About Amanda Foody


Amanda Foody has always considered imagination to be our best attempt at magic. After spending her childhood longing to attend Hogwarts, she now loves to write about immersive settings and characters grappling with insurmountable destinies. She holds a Masters in Accountancy from Villanova University, and a Bachelors of Arts in English Literature from the College of William and Mary. Currently, she works as a tax accountant in Philadelphia, PA, surrounded by her many siblings and many books.

Links

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

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a signed hardcover copy of Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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