Actress Carrie Murray’s films are a Christmas lover’s delight. Filled with twinkling lights, festive carols, and happy endings, they’re the perfect escape from reality. For her and the audience. Then Tinseltown calls.
Braxton Timothy is Hollywood’s biggest action star. Handsome and talented but decidedly on the naughty list, no one can fathom his sudden desire to produce a feel-good Christmas movie—least of all, his no-name co-star.
Alternating between scenes reminiscent of everyone’s favorite made-for-TV movies and unexpected, off-screen chemistry, Gingerbread Falls has surprises in store this holiday season. The question is, will there be enough Christmas magic to convince two imperfect people that they’re perfect for each other?
Katie Mettner writes small-town romantic tales filled with epic love stories and happily-ever-afters. She proudly wears the title of, ‘the only person to lose her leg after falling down the bunny hill,’ and loves decorating her prosthetic with the latest fashion trends. She lives in Northern Wisconsin with her own happily-ever-after and three mini-mes. Katie has a massive addiction to coffee and Twitter, and a lessening aversion to Pinterest — now that she’s quit trying to make the things she pins.
I love a good Christmas romance any time of year. Forever Winter is the perfect novella for dipping a summer toe in the holiday season.
I loved that this sweet Regency romance started off with the first of many disruptions to what was supposed to be a perfect winter wedding.
I loved the pacing of this story. With one catastrophe after another, I was excited to see what would happen next. Would this series of unfortunate events derail the wedding entirely?
I loved that, despite the fact this is a short story, each character managed to leap off the page with a vivid personality.
I loved waiting for Susanna’s secret to be revealed to those closest to her.
I loved that vivid details allowed me to become fully immersed in a story world set during the 1800s.
I love that I wasn’t ready for story to end. The characters would lend themselves well toward a sequel or a lengthier novel.
Forever Winter is the perfect novella for any season. This sweet Regency romance immediately hooks the reader with the first of many disruptions to what was supposed to be the perfect winter wedding. With one catastrophe after another, the momentum builds suspense as the reader is always waiting to see what will happen next and wondering when secrets will be revealed. Will the series of increasingly unfortunate events derail the wedding? Be prepared to be immersed in a story world where every character comes to life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amber Daulton is the author of the romantic-suspense series Arresting Onyx and several standalone novellas. Her books are published through The Wild Rose Press, Books to Go Now, and Daulton Publishing, and are available in ebook, print on demand, audio, and foreign language formats. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and demanding cats.
I am so excited that EDENHART’S RIVALRY by J.N. Tomczak is available now and that I get to share the news!
If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book, be sure to check out all the details below.
This blitz also includes a giveaway for some a $10 Amazon GC & a signed poster of the book cover courtesy of J.N. & Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, check out the giveaway info below.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Title: EDENHART’S RIVALRY (Kingdom of the Faeries #1) Author: J.N. Tomczak Pub. Date: May 1, 2021 Publisher: J.N. Tomczak Pages: 388 Formats: Paperback, eBook
AN ANCIENT CURSE. A KINGDOM IN PERIL. ONE FAERIE TO SAVE THEM ALL…
Darkness is spreading across the kingdoms—and one faerie stands between destruction and survival. Aurora’s peaceful existence is shattered by an unexpected tragedy that leaves her as the last surviving heir to the throne. But her reign is threatened before it can even begin.
Her court swells with spies and traitors. There are growing tales of a mysterious blight. Strange riders abroad are hunting for something—or someone.
On the day of her coronation, she and her loyal friend, Percy, the newly appointed Flight Captain, discover an ancient prophecy sealed away and guarded in a secret chamber beneath the castle. There they uncover a sinister plot that will spiral her people into a war they cannot win on their own. Her courage and wit will be her greatest weapons if she hopes to succeed where others have failed. She must ask herself just how far is she willing to go to save her kingdom and at what costs?
Julianne is a USA Today Bestselling Author and writes primarily YA/Epic Fantasy. Her favorite genres to read include epic fantasy, YA, and sci-fi.
Two friends. One pact. The performance of their lives.
Hannah Abbott is stuck in a dead-end relationship and at a job she loves but that barely pays the bills. The four walls of her tiny New York City apartment have never seemed so small. She’s barely toasted her thirtieth birthday when her old college friend Will knocks on her door with an unexpected proposal.
Will Thorne never forgot the marriage pact he made with Hannah, but he also never imagined he’d be the one to initiate it. One ex-fiancée and an almost-career-ending mistake later, however, he finds himself outside Hannah’s door, on bended knee, to collect on their graduation-night pinky promise.
With both of their futures at stake, Hannah and Will take a leap of faith.
Now, all they have to do is convince their friends and family that they’re madly in love. As long as they follow the list of rules they’ve drafted, everything should go smoothly. Except Will has never been good with rules, and Hannah can’t stop overthinking the sleeping arrangements. Turning thirty has never been so promising.
Casey Dembowski loves to write stories that focus on the intricacies of relationships–whether they be romantic, familial, or friendship. Her novels focus on the inner workings of women and how everything in their lives leads them to exactly where they are, whether they like it or not.
The first story Casey remembers writing was in the second grade, though it wasn’t until she turned twelve that she started carrying a battered composition notebook everywhere she went. Since then, there hasn’t been a time when she isn’t writing.
Casey lives in New Jersey with her husband, daughter, and their two cats. She has an MFA in Fiction from Adelphi University and currently works in corporate marketing communications. In her (limited) spare time, she enjoys reading, baking, and watching her favorite television shows on repeat.
Young nightspirit Willa discovers an ancient, powerful magic deep in the forest in the enchanting companion to Robert Beatty’s instant #1 New York Times best-seller, Willa of the Wood.
This enchanting companion to Robert Beatty’s instant #1 New York Times bestseller Willa of the Wood is perfect for any reader who cares deeply about the natural world.
Willa and her clan are the last of the Faeran, an ancient race of forest people who have lived in the Great Smoky Mountains for as long as the trees have grown there. But as crews of newly arrived humans start cutting down great swaths of the forest she loves, she is helpless to stop them. How can she fight the destroyers of the forest and their powerful machines?
When Willa discovers a mysterious dark hollow filled with strange and beautiful creatures, she comes to realize that it contains a terrifying force that seems to be hunting humans. Is unleashing these dangerous spirits the key to stopping the loggers? Willa must find a way to save the people and animals she loves and take a stand against a consuming darkness that threatens to destroy her world.Praise for Willa of the Wood: “Willa of the Wood will grip readers from its first page… Willa is… an admirable protagonist.”—Culturess
“A moving, atmospheric journey of hope.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Beatty conjures up a resourceful, compassionate heroine. Full of atmospheric details and richly described magic… this well-paced tale asks insightful questions about the relationship between nature and humans.”—Publishers Weekly
“The heroine is an appealing character… and her anguish is clear as she wavers between frightened self-preservation and her desire to help her friends.”—School Library Journal
“Willa is a strong and likable creature of the natural world, and seamlessly represents themes of loyalty, tradition, family, and stewardship of the Earth in this engaging story.”—School Library Connection
Willa pivoted toward the sound. The sharp, popping cracks of fracturing wood rolled like thunder through the forest air. Then came the rain-like noise of a thousand snapping branches and tearing leaves crashing down. When the massive trunk finally struck the ground, the earth shook beneath her bare feet. A gust of wind swept through the forest and blew through Willa’s long bark-and-moss-colored hair. And as the realization of what had just happened sank into her mind, her chest filled with pain. The human loggers had cut down the great hemlock tree that lived at the bend of the river.
She stood frozen like a young deer.
It was a tree she had sat beside on sunlit mornings, watching the river flow past its roots, a tree she and her twin sister had curled up in on misty nights, gazing up through its outstretched branches toward the Great Smoky Mountain and the moon above. The trees of the forest had shrouded and sheltered her all her life. They had consoled her when her sister was killed. They were her earth and her soil, her sunlight and her song.
But now she heard the axmen chopping and sawing and shouting to each other, their harsh, barking words circling through the treetops like quarreling ravens. The quills on the back of her neck went up and a burst of heat flashed through her body. She knew she should flee this killing ground or blend her green skin into the leaves of the undergrowth and disappear from the coming human eyes. She must run from their tromping feet and escape their cutting blades.
But how could she run away when her friends were dying? How could she just leave them?
She had to stop the loggers, but she had no sharp claws or long teeth. She had no weapons or ability to fight. She didn’t hurt living creatures, she helped them.
The human loggers had jagged metal saws, axes, knives, guns, animals in chains, vast metal contraptions for dragging murdered trees from the forest, and black, steaming beasts that rolled on long gleaming tracks. She was a lone thirteen-year-old Faeran girl without a clan. How could she fight the men of iron?
The crash of another tree broke like a wave through the forest, the wind of it brushing her cheek.
Her heart pounded in her chest.
She knew she couldn’t protect the trees the way they had protected her. She couldn’t shroud them or shelter them or hide them from the world.
But she couldn’t just abandon them, either.
She took a few uncertain steps, her legs trembling. Her eyes watered with burning tears.
And then she ran toward the sound of the falling trees.
Robert Beatty is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of the Serafina series and the Willa of the Wood series published by Disney Hyperion. Loved by young readers and adults alike, the Serafina and Willa books are being taught in over a thousand classrooms nationwide and have been translated into over 22 languages. Robert lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina with his wife and three daughters. He writes full-time now, but in his past lives, Robert was one of the early pioneers of cloud computing, the founder/CEO of Plex Systems, the co-founder of Beatty Robotics, and the chairman/CTO of Narrative magazine. In 2007, he was named an Entrepreneur of the Year. When asked about the inspiration for his books, Robert said, “The Serafina and Willa books grew out of my desire to write stories about unusual and heroic young girls for my three daughters.”
Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Graci Kim’s thrilling debut about an adopted Korean-American girl who discovers her heritage and her magic on a perilous journey to save her witch clan family.
“Graci Kim does such an amazing job of blending Korean mythology into the modern world, I am now wondering how I ever lived without knowing all this cool information.”–New York Times #1 best-selling author Rick Riordan
Riley Oh can’t wait to see her sister get initiated into the Gom clan, a powerful lineage of Korean healing witches their family has belonged to for generations. Her sister, Hattie, will earn her Gi bracelet and finally be able to cast spells without adult supervision. Although Riley is desperate to follow in her sister’s footsteps when she herself turns thirteen, she’s a saram–a person without magic. Riley was adopted, and despite having memorized every healing spell she’s ever heard, she often feels like the odd one out in her family and the gifted community.
Then Hattie gets an idea: what if the two of them could cast a spell that would allow Riley to share Hattie’s magic? Their sleuthing reveals a promising incantation in the family’s old spell book, and the sisters decide to perform it at Hattie’s initiation ceremony. If it works, no one will ever treat Riley as an outsider again. It’s a perfect plan!
Until it isn’t. When the sisters attempt to violate the laws of the Godrealm, Hattie’s life ends up hanging in the balance, and to save her Riley has to fulfill an impossible task: find the last fallen star. But what even is the star, and how can she find it?
As Riley embarks on her search, she finds herself meeting fantastic creatures and collaborating with her worst enemies. And when she uncovers secrets that challenge everything she has been taught to believe, Riley must decide what it means to be a witch, what it means to be family, and what it really means to belong.
Praise for The Last Fallen Star
“The Last Fallen Star folds Korean culture as well as diaspora feelings into a magical adventure. The way Graci Kim takes traditions and lore and incorporates them into an exciting contemporary fantasy setting makes my heart soar as a Korean reader. This fantastical story is filled with heart and humor. Readers who love magical adventures, complex family relationships, and sisterhood—not to mention food!—should pick up THE LAST FALLEN STAR immediately!”—Kat Cho, internationally best-selling author of Vicious Spirits
“Korean mythology gets a modern twist in this rollicking adventure by debut author Graci Kim. From entering a secret temple by way of the fried chicken counter at H-Mart to summoning a goddess at the Santa Monica Pier, every chapter of this novel delights and surprises. At times laugh-out-loud hilarious, at times heartwarming and poignant, The Last Fallen Star will capture the imaginations of readers for years to come!”—Axie Oh, author of Rebel Seoul and Rogue Heart
“Reading The Last Fallen Star is like taking a course in Korean mythology taught by your favorite teacher ever—while riding a gigantic roller coaster beneath a sky filled with shooting stars! I loved following Riley’s thrilling adventures, and pass the bulgogi tacos, please.”—Linda Sue Park, Newbery Medalist for A Single Shard
“Like a true magician, Graci Kim intertwines Korean mythology with an all-too-relatable sister story in her heart-stopping adventure that’s sure to capture the heart of anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider. You can’t help but root for plucky Riley Oh as she engages on a quest to find belonging and acceptance.” —Jessica Kim, author of Stand Up, Yumi Chung!
“I wish I could go back in time and hand this book to young Ellen. I would have loved it so much, because this was what I was missing in my life. Thank you, Graci, for writing it!”—Ellen Oh, author of TheDragon Egg Princess and the Spirit Hunters series
“The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim absolutely shines. Riley Oh’s positive voice is infectious and will have readers wanting to follow her adventures long after the last page is turned.” — Zoraida Córdova, award-winning author of the Brooklyn Brujas series
My Family of Healing Witches
So here’s the thing.
There are only two days left until my sister’s initiation ceremony. In two sleeps, Hattie will turn thirteen, and she will have to prove to the entire congregation of gifted clans in Los Angeles that she has what it takes to become a witch. A healing witch. A real Gom.
And she’s gonna be amazeballs, of course. I mean, it’s her birthright. Healing magic flows in her blood, as it flows through our parents’ blood, because we, the Gom clan, are descendants of the Cave Bear Goddess—the patron goddess of service and sacrifice.
Well, except me.
Sigh. Yep. My own thirteenth birthday is only a month away, but unlike my eomma (that’s my mom) or my appa (that’s my dad) or my sister, I’m a normal, non-gifted person without a lick of magic. I’m a saram.
I was adopted. And don’t get me wrong. My parents try super hard to make me feel part of the gifted community, and I love them so much for it. But the truth is, the harder they try, the more I realize how much of an outsider I really am. I’m different.
Hence why I’m here, sitting behind the reception desk of the Traditional Korean Medicine Clinic that my parents run, doing mind-numbing data entry instead of practicing healing spells like my sister.
The bells chime on the clinic’s door, and I jolt up in my chair as an old, dark-haired man limps in. He looks like he could be Korean, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him at temple.
“Welcome to the clinic!” I say. “How can I help you?”
“Good morning,” he says, wincing as he wobbles up to the desk. “My name is Robert Choi. I’ve just moved here from New York, and I was told to ask for a James or Eunha Oh. I think I’ve sprained my ankle.”
He slides his wrists together, and the water in his Gi—the cylindrical glass charm on his bracelet—sloshes a little as it rubs against his skin. An image of two suns and two moons appears on his right wrist with the motion, and the symbol glows green.
Ah, he’s a Tokki—an infusing witch. All witches get the same gifted mark on their wrists when they do magic, but it reveals itself in different colors depending on which clan they belong to. The mark is also how we can tell which patients are gifted and which are saram. If they’re saram, we have to make sure they don’t know we heal with magic. The infusers make special memory-erasing potions for that.
I know what you’re thinking: Why would you keep such an awesome skill secret from the world? Well, Appa says if
My Family of Healing Witches
the saram found out about the gifted clans, that would bring grave danger to our community. People don’t like what they can’t understand. It scares them, and scared people do foolish things. I guess that makes sense.
“You’ve come to the right place,” I say, smiling brightly. “James and Eunha are my parents. And sorry to hear about your foot, Mr. Choi. Appa has just finished up with a patient, and there’s a free slot for you now if you’d like it.”
“Ah, you must be Hattie.” He nods knowingly at me. “I hear you have an initiation ceremony coming up. I hope you are well prepared.”
I shake my head. “Hattie’s actually my sister. I’m not… Well, I can’t…” I trail off, and Mr. Choi frowns.
“That’s odd. They said the Ohs only had one daughter.”
Oof. The comment spears right through my chest, but I stay silent and put on a well-rehearsed fake smile. What I’d really like to do right now is take out my Gi bracelet (if I had one) and heal his ankle right here and now, to prove how much of an Oh I really am. Or at least stand up for myself and tell him I’m part of this family, too. That’s what Hattie would do if she were in my place.
But I’m not my sister. I’m not brave like she is. I prefer to keep my head down and stay out of trouble. Trust me, it’s easier this way.
A warm hand squeezes my shoulder, and I look back to see Appa standing behind me. I didn’t hear him come to reception. “This is Riley, most definitely our daughter, and the most dedicated Gom I know.” Appa beams at me, and then extends his hand to Mr. Choi. “Welcome to our humble clinic, Robert.
And welcome to LA. Come with me, and let’s get that ankle looked at.”
Appa leads the hobbling Mr. Choi down the hallway, and a stinging heat builds behind my eyes. Sigh. Yet another day in the life of Riley Oh—the wannabe witch living in an exclusive gifted world.
“Riley!” Hattie runs up to the reception desk, puts her elbows on it, and rests her chin on her palms. Her rounded cheeks are pink, and her hair is damp with sweat. “Please come save me. Eomma is driving me up the wall. She’s making me repeat the incantations a billion times, and I don’t know what they mean anymore. I mean, honestly, what are words even?”
“She just wants you to do well at the initiation.”
Hattie rolls her eyes, but she knows I’m right.
A successful initiation ceremony is the most important rite of passage in a witch’s life. She’s got to perform three spells that satisfy the elders in the gifted clans council, and then say her vows in front of the whole congregation at temple. That’s hundreds of people from five different clans, not to mention our patron goddess, who will be watching from the Godrealm.
Then, and only then, will Hattie get to wear her Gi around her wrist without adult supervision. Without it, she can’t do any magic. So yeah, basically, it’s a big deal. I mean, no pressure or anything.
Hattie fiddles with the earth-filled charm that’s attached to a gold chain around her wrist. Eomma usually keeps my sister’s Gi in her enchanted safe, and Hattie only gets to wear it when she’s practicing spells with our parents. “Okay, but can you come with me anyway? Eomma’s all cranky and flustered, and I need moral support. Please?”
I make a serious face and pretend to be preoccupied with the patient database. “I’m kinda busy.”
“Pretty pleeease?” She gets all up in my face and makes big puppy-dog eyes at me. “You can have my favorite sweater. And I’ll do all your chores for a week. Come on, Rye, have a heart!”
I hold off as long as I can before laughing. “Okay, okay, you twisted my arm.” I push her sweaty mug away. “Just wanted to see you beg. Looks good on you.”
“You’ll pay for that!” She slaps me on my shoulder but grins, and then drags me out of my chair and down the hallway to Eomma’s consultation room.
Eomma is inside, pacing back and forth while holding the family spellbook up to her nose. Her glasses are foggy, and her black perm is bouncing like a halo around her head. “Hattie, there you are! Now come back and practice the wound-closing incantation again.” She points her finger at a Korean word in her spellbook. “And remember this time that the p is aspirated, so don’t be shy—put your whole diaphragm into it. Puh! Puh! See? Like this—puh!”
Hattie drags her palms down her cheeks and gives me an exasperated look. I stifle a laugh. Eomma is in fine form today. She pulls off the plugged-into-a-power-socket and rest-is-for-the-weak! looks better than anyone I know.
As Hattie reluctantly follows Eomma’s lead to aspirate her puhs, I study their two faces. And, for the billionth time, I wish I looked more like them.
I’m told my biological parents were of Korean ethnicity, too. But that’s about where the similarities end. Where my Gom family are round, petite, and unblemished, I’m tall and freckled. I’m all pointy chin and high cheekbones, with more angles than curves. I’m the one people raise their eyebrows at when they look at our family photos.
Before I know it, my eyes are burning and I quickly wipe them, embarrassed. Ugh. Classic me. This is what my best friend, Emmett, calls my “leaky-bladder eyeball problem.” You see, I have a slight issue controlling my tears. When I’m sad, I cry. When I’m angry, I cry. When I’m frustrated, I cry. I’m basically really talented at crying.
Hattie says it’s a good thing—that I’m in touch with my feelings (more like drowning in them…). And Eomma and Appa say I’ll grow out of it. But let’s face it—compared to my confident-and-composed family, I’m flawed. It’s yet another piece of evidence that I’m not a true Oh. That I’m weak and don’t belong.
Eomma has now prompted Hattie to practice her vows, and my sister reluctantly obeys. “I vow on the name of Mago Halmi, mother of the three realms, mother of the six goddesses, mother of mortalkind and all creation”—Hattie’s lisp is making an appearance, which only happens when she’s tired or stressed—“to carry out my sacred duty to heal those in need. To uphold the Gom clan motto of service and sacrifice… and…and…”
She trails off, forgetting the words, and I finish the sentence for her. “And I understand that with my gift comes great responsibility—to my clan, to the gifted community, and to our ancestor, the Cave Bear Goddess, who blesses us with her divine power.” I might not have a Gi or magic running through my veins, but I know my stuff.
Hattie gives me a grateful look. Thanks, she mouths. She puts her hands on her hips. “See, Eomma? Riley is so much more ready for an initiation than I’ll ever be. Have you spoken to Auntie Okja about Rye being allowed to do one, too?”
I stick my hand in my pocket and squeeze my onyx stone to calm my nerves. It’s shaped like a curved teardrop, and it’s the only thing my biological parents left me. Hattie thinks it might be a family heirloom or something, but I just like how hard and real it feels in my hand. It’s only a stone (and not nearly as cool as a Gi), but sometimes I carry it with me, because touching it reminds me that I came from somewhere, too.
“Sorry, girls. Your appa and I have been trying to find a good time to tell you….” Eomma sighs. “Auntie Okja tried really hard, but the other elders just won’t budge.”
I lower my eyes, mostly to hide the new trickle of disappointment forming on my eye line. My stupid leaky-bladder eyeballs fail me again. “Oh… That’s okay,” I say, even though that’s far from the truth. “Thank you for trying.”
Hattie raises her eyebrows at me. “No, it’s not okay.” She turns to Eomma. “You and Appa are always pushing for more inclusivity in the gifted community. This is the perfect opportunity to make a statement, isn’t it?”
Eomma looks sheepish. “You’re absolutely right. But change takes time. Some of the clans aren’t as progressive as we are. They’re arguing that, without a Gi, Riley wouldn’t be able to cast the spells anyway. And if the council can’t witness the spells during the initiation, they can’t make a fair assessment.”
I shrink, but Hattie pushes back. “But that’s the whole point. Rye knows the words to all the healing spells, back to front. If the council just gave her a chance to prove herself, maybe the goddess would be convinced and grant Rye a Gi, too.” She rolls her eyes. “They’ve got it all backward.”
“I understand, sweetheart. You know I do. But the other elders think it’s asking too much of the Godrealm to bless a saram with magic. That it would be impertinent of us. Disrespectful, even. Your auntie is only one voice among five.”
Hattie raises her hands in exasperation, and I want to melt into the floor and disappear. I hate being the reason they argue. “Seriously, it’s okay, Hat—” I start, trying to calm my sister.
“What’s disrespectful is not even giving Riley a chance,” Hattie continues. “If she tanks the initiation and the Cave Bear Goddess doesn’t give her a Gi, then fine. Or if Riley doesn’t want to do it, then that’s also fine. But not giving her the freedom to choose? That’s wrong on so many levels.”
When Eomma doesn’t respond, Hattie squeezes my hand, and a determined look appears on her face. I call it her boss face, because no one in their right mind would mess with Hattie while she’s wearing that expression. “As soon as I’m old enough,” she says, “I’m gonna run for Gom elder. And when I do, mark my words, I’m going to shake up that place. The whole secret-society thing is so outdated.”
“I have no doubt you will achieve that, and so much more,” Eomma says, and I totally agree. I mean, why stop at council elder? Hattie for president! I can see the enamel pins already.
I squeeze Hattie’s hand back and feel a warmth spread through my chest. For everything I don’t have, I definitely won the jackpot as far as my sister goes. She is literally the Best. Sister. Ever.
“It’s a shame you can’t just do a spell to share your magic,” I joke, trying to lighten the mood. “One where the recipient doesn’t need a Gi. That would solve all our problems.”
A grin spreads over Hattie’s face. “Crowdsourced magic. Now that would jolt the clans into the twenty-first century, right, Eomma?”
We both look to Eomma, and she laughs nervously.
Hattie and I share a glance. Eomma only laughs like that when she’s hiding something.
“No. Way,” Hattie says. “There actually is a spell for sharing magic with a saram, isn’t there?”
My jaw falls to the ground. Impossible!
Eomma mumbles something under her breath but still avoids our eyes, and that is a dead giveaway. “It’s not that simple, girls,” she finally admits. “It’s dangerous, and even if it worked, it wouldn’t be permanent. The spell would have to be redone again and again—”
“What’s the name of the spell?” Hattie interrupts. “And where can we find it?”
And were you ever going to tell me about it? I silently ask, my gut rolling into a tight knot.
Eomma closes the spellbook in her hands with a decisive thud. “This conversation has gone on long enough.” She looks at the clock on the wall and gasps. “And we’re going to be late for temple! Quick, go get your appa. We’re leaving in two.”
She hurries us out of her consultation room, and I get my butt moving. I wouldn’t miss temple for anything.
“Rye!” Hattie stops me in my tracks and grabs my arm. “Did you see Eomma glance at the book when I asked where we could find the spell?”
I shake my head. I hadn’t noticed. I was too busy wondering why my parents had kept this from me when they knew how badly I wanted to become a witch.
“I know that book’s only supposed to have healing spells in it,” Hattie continues, “but maybe Eomma just told us that so we wouldn’t snoop. Maybe the magic-sharing spell is in there, too. In fact, I’m sure it is. Where else could it be?”
I frown. We’re not allowed to touch the family spellbook—not until Eomma and Appa deem us ready. And besides, breaking rules makes me erupt in hives.
“But, Hat,” I start, “you know I was joking before, right? Even if the spell is in there, I could never ask you to share your magic. Besides, Eomma said it was dangerous. She wouldn’t lie about something like that.”
She snorts. “Who said I wanted your permission? Didn’t you hear me drone on about choice before? If I want to share my magic with you, who are you to stop me?”
I stare at her, wondering what I ever did to deserve such a selfless and fearless sister.
Hattie lowers her voice, and there’s an excited twinkle in her eye. “Looks like we need to get our sticky hands on a certain spellbook, wouldn’t you say?”
As she drags me to Appa’s consultation room to fetch him, I hear a small voice in my head.
Could I actually become a healing witch—a real Gom? Could this be my chance to do my parents proud and prove to the gifted community that I belong?
I know I shouldn’t get my hopes up. It’d just be a recipe for disappointment.
But here’s the real crux of the problem, folks: I, Riley Oh, have a sweet tooth.
And hope? Well, hope tastes sweeter than candy.
Graci Kim is a Korean-Kiwi diplomat turned author who writes about the magic she wants to see in the world. The Last Fallen Star is her middle grade debut. In a previous life she used to be a cooking show host, and she once ran a business that turned children’s drawings into plushies. When she’s not lost in her imagination, you’ll find Graci drinking flat whites, eating ramyeon, and most likely hugging a dog (or ideally, many). She lives in New Zealand with her husband and daughter. Follow her on Twitter @gracikim and Instagram @gracikimwrites.
An original novel inspired by the hit Disney+ television series HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: THE MUSICAL, by the #1 New York Times best-selling author of the Descendants series, Melissa de la Cruz.
Join everyone’s favorite Wildcats from the Disney+ smash hit original series High school Musical: The Musical: The Series in this novel by New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz.
On the heels of their wildly successful run of High School Musical, the gang learns of a can’t-miss opportunity—a High School Musical convention in the next state. There’s something for everyone: panels about mounting your next hit show, cafeteria-tray-dance workshops, Wildcat cosplay, and even a special appearance from the pooch who played Sharpay’s dog (well, one of her puppies, that is).
Ready to hit the road, the crew immediately begins making plans. Nini can’t wait to use the weekend to show how much she cares for Ricky (especially since they just got back together). Kourtney debates signing up for a singing workshop (especially if she’s maybe, just maybe, considering auditioning for the next show), and Gina and Ashlyn decide it’ll be the perfect trial run for living together (especially because Gina has never actually had a friendship last this long). Carlos can’t wait to help Miss Jenn prep for the spring musical, even if Seb has to stay behind to help with the family farm. But car breakdowns, late starts, and a lost E.J. throw a wrench in their plans.
Will the East Highers get the weekend getaway of their dreams? Or will the bumps on the road get the better of them?
Praise For HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: THE ROAD TRIP:
A breezy and fun read, the book contains chapters that offer pithy first-person accounts from each character, including quirky Miss Jenn; Carlos and his boyfriend, Seb; recently reunited couple Nini and Ricky and their BFFs, Kourtney and Big Red; popular senior E.J. and his songwriter cousin, Ashlyn; and talented triple threat Gina. The plot includes references to the series and themes straight from the musical: nurturing your talent, showing others how much they matter, and acknowledging the importance of teamwork. Although race isn’t mentioned overtly, the characters are cued as racially diverse, following the casting of the TV show. Fans will appreciate the inside jokes, but explanations in the text make it accessible even to those unfamiliar with the program.
A lighthearted and charming read.—Kirkus Reviews.
Let me bring you up to speed.
High School Musical: The Musical—over. Huge success. HUGE. Kiss-and-cry backstage, then in the foyer with all our dumbstruck parents still waving their glitter signs and autographed programs, their hair crazy with Robotics Club confetti.
Cast-party time. Plan A is go crazy at Ashlyn’s—part deux—but cast + crew + hangers-on = way too many people. Wouldn’t want anything smashed, broken, or spilled. So Miss Jenn suggests we do what East High musical casts have always done: go to Denny’s on West 500th and pretend it’s a diner on the corner of Hollywood and Vine.
If we can make our school gym into a theater and a skateboarder into our star, then we can turn a Denny’s in Salt Lake City into Radio City Music Hall—especially when E.J.’s father is paying for all the milkshakes and onion rings.
We’re all there (in this together, right?) screeching and singing and making Miss Jenn do her Is that the last apple? line again when my phone dings. It’s not my sweet Seb, because he’s holding court nearby—still in his Sharpay makeup—reprising his big number with the help of some built-in plastic seating and E.J.’s knee.
It’s something much, much better. An HSM alert!
Picked out the colors for your dressing room yet?
One week till the HSM Convention in Jackson Hole!
What. The. Wildcats.
How did I miss this? I’ve been so consumed with our own show—choreography, drama, homecoming, Miss Jenn almost getting fired, the theater burning down, break-ups, make-ups, more drama, having to go on as a last-minute understudy and say things like bro—I haven’t been paying attention to my HSM alerts. I didn’t want to mess with the flow and now: Oh no!
“Miss Jenn.” I grab her arm and she twirls so fast she takes out half the basketball team with her mermaid waves. “We have to do this.”
She stares at my phone, her blue eyes wide.
“Next weekend?” she says, and pulls out her own phone. It has a green cover to remind her of when she was the understudy for Glinda in Wicked—I think it was in Peoria. Miss Jenn is pretty speedy with Google searches: You’d never guess she grew up in the old flip-phone days when people still used paper maps and never took pictures of their food.
“Panels,” she says, scrolling with one pink fingernail. “Vocal workshops. Choreography workshops. Cosplay. And . . . oh! Oh!”
“What is it, Miss Jenn?” She looks like she’s about to faint. That, or hyperventilate.
“Lucas Grabeel,” she whispers. “Lucas Grabeel is going to be there, in person. Not a dream, Carlos. Actually in person!”
“Um, a dream?” I ask, and Miss Jenn whips her phone away.
“I have to go.”
“Now?” There are more curly fries coming. Nobody leaves a party when curly fries are on the way.
“I mean, we have to go. To Jackson. Help me up.” Miss Jenn elbows Seb off his perch and waves her hands to get everyone’s attention. This doesn’t work.
“Hey! Everyone! Quiet!” E.J. shouts in his best captain-of-everything voice, but that also doesn’t work. Some of the chorus-line tap-dancing doesn’t work, though it does bring the manager out to ask us to “Mind the floors, kids.” And Gina leaping so high in the air she practically brushes the ceiling with her fingertips—no, that doesn’t work either.
Finally Kourtney clambers up next to Miss Jenn and starts singing “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” at the top of her voice. Everyone’s whooping and clapping and then Kourtney stops mid-line.
“Miss Jenn has something to say.”
“Not a speech,” says Miss Jenn. I haven’t seen her face this pale since the day the principal wanted to fire her. “An opportunity. You know how I always say to trust the process?”
More clapping and whooping. We have to shush everyone all over again.
“Well, sometimes you have to trust providence as well. You have to trust fate. You have to trust that the universe will provide.”
“Has she got a Broadway callback or something?” Seb mutters in my ear.
“You’re not leaving, Miss Jenn?” calls Nini. It’s the first time she’s taken her eyes off Ricky since we got here.
“Not leaving, Nini. Going. We’re all going.”
“To Disneyland?” asks Big Red, and everyone laughs.
“To Jackson Hole,” Miss Jenn announces, and no one’s laughing or whooping now.
“Skiing?” someone says, but no one looks too enthusiastic. They’re all thinking about the curly fries, which are—let’s face it—more exciting than Miss Jenn’s announcement. She’s selling it the wrong way.
“You guys, wait!” I shout. “It’s a High School Musical convention—in Jackson Hole. Next weekend!”
Now everyone’s talking. People are practically bouncing off the walls. I wish they’d put this amount of energy into their dance rehearsals.
“It would be the most amazing thing ever,” Ashlyn says. “Meet-and-greets with some of the original cast and crew? Wow.”
“But how would we get there?” Natalie asks. I hope she’s not planning to bring her emotional-support hamster. The last thing we need is for that thing to escape in another state.
“Yeah,” says Ashlyn. “I mean, E.J. can drive because he’s old, but—”
“I can drive the school van,” says Miss Jenn. “Mr. Mazzara gets it all the time for his robotics whatnots. I’ll send permission slips to all your parents. I mean, they have to say yes. After seeing you all on the stage tonight—”
“Well, the gym,” says Natalie. “Strictly speaking.”
“It’ll be a theater field trip,” Miss Jenn continues. “A celebration of our amazing show. Research and nourishment for our creative souls.”
She starts wobbling on her high heels with excitement, and Ricky helps her down from the chair. He’s beaming so wide, his face almost splits in two.
“We have to make it happen,” he tells her, and the dog tag around his neck glints in the fluorescent light. Since when does Ricky Bowen wear necklaces?
“Do you think Principal Gutierrez will agree?” Nini asks. Her face is still shining from the night’s success. I mean, we did kill out there tonight. “Will we have to take time off school?”
“We really can’t,” Natalie tells Miss Jenn. “We have tests, and after school we have to rehearse every day.”
Natalie’s a killjoy, but she’s right. We’ve promised to do a charity show on Christmas Eve to raise money; we have to help rebuild the school’s burnt-out theater, after the fire that was (whisper) caused by Miss Jenn and Mr. Mazzara.
“And it will take us so long to get there,” Natalie says.
“Five hours,” E.J. reads from his phone. “That’s the driving time. It’s nothing. I’ve driven farther for archery lessons.”
“Plus two hours when we get stuck in the snow,” says Ashlyn. “You know, after the blizzard rolls in.”
“We’re driving a few hours north,” I tell her, “not taking the Donner Pass.”
“So we leave right after school next Friday,” says Miss Jenn, eyes fixed on some distant spot, as though she’s about to begin a power ballad. “And if we limit ourselves to one rest stop, we’ll make it in time for some of the opening sessions that night.”
“It ends on Saturday night,” Kourtney says, scrolling down the site that practically every one of us is reading right now. “That’s a shame. The final session is a group sing-along.”
“We don’t need to sing it,” Ricky agrees, grinning at Nini. “We just lived it.”
For someone who totally missed the boat on the phenomenon that is HSM—i.e., did not grow up watching it with his mom, singing it in the car, and reenacting dance moves on the down-low in our high school cafeteria—Ricky is all about it now. I used to think his feet were glued to his skateboard. Maybe it’s because being in the musical brought him and Nini back together, and he’s already thinking about the spring musical and his next chance to stare into her eyes under the spotlight. He better watch out: E.J. may be over his selfless kick by then. Seniors in their last semester can get grabby with roles. They come over all sentimental about leaving school and this being their Last Chance Ever. Ricky should be on his guard. I mean, hasn’t he seen HSM3?
Miss Jenn mutters something about going back to work right away to e-mail all our parents and break into the admin office to book the van. I hope she’s joking about that last part. She’s out the door before we can stop her.
“There’s even a songwriting workshop,” Ashlyn says to no one in particular, smiling at her phone. “I have to do that. I have to.”
“I don’t see any stage-makeup workshops,” Kourtney says, and Nini mock-punches her.
“You need to go to one of the singing workshops,” she tells Kourtney. “People need to hear your voice. You know what Miss Jenn told you—she said you were the best singer in Utah.”
“Northern Utah.” Kourtney rolls her eyes. “And she didn’t say anything about southern Wyoming.”
“Gina, you can come?” Nini says, and hugs her close. Things are way more chill between the girls these days. That’s the magic of musicals, people! “You don’t have to go back to DC right away, do you?”
Gina does some weird thing with her head that makes her look like one of those fake head-bobbing dogs in the back of old people’s cars. She and Ashlyn exchange glances.
“Maybe,” she says. “I hope so.”
“Road trip!” shouts Big Red, and everyone starts leaping around and shouting again. At this rate they’ll have no voices for the convention next weekend, whether they want to join the sing-along or not.
It’s only then that I notice something strange. Seb hasn’t said a word, and he’s not looking at his phone.
“Can you go?” I ask him. Seb looks down at the floor.
“I don’t know,” he says. “It’s a really busy time on the farm now. We have the last stock sale of the year on Saturday. It was a big deal for so many of my family members to come see the show tonight. I don’t know if they can spare me that day.”
Just like that, my excitement disappears. Not even an HSM convention will be fun if Seb isn’t there to hang out with.
“Hey,” he says, and takes my hand. “Maybe something’ll work out. Remember what Miss Jenn always says.”
“ ‘Trust the process’?”
“Nope.” He shakes his head and smiles up at me. “ ‘Is that the last apple?’ ”
We both laugh, but what I think is this: How can all these Cinderellas go to the ball? We’ve got to make some magic happen, people. This isn’t a game. It’s High SchoolMusical.
Okay—it’s High School Musical: The Convention. We’re going to Wyoming, not a palace, and we need a van, not a pumpkin coach. A boy can dream, can’t he?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Melissa de la Cruz (www.melissa-delacruz.com) is the author of the #1 New York Times best-selling Descendants series, as well as many other best-selling novels, including all the books in the Blue Bloods series: Blue Bloods, Masquerade, Revelations, The Van Alen Legacy, Keys to the Repository, Misguided Angel,Bloody Valentine, Lost in Time, and Gates of Paradise. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and daughter.
When Emmy Russo returns to high school in Moncks Corner, South Carolina after summer break, she discovers some changes. First: Mom has a boyfriend. Second: the cute new student, Charlie Fields, is a Rockabilly greaser with a gang who obeys his every command. Third: attractive Keir Harper wants to be more than just her best friend. And fourth: a perplexed Emmy soon finds herself drawn to two extremely different boys. How do you choose between sweet and smoldering?
Then tragedy strikes on desolate Thunder Road. Strange things start happening, with Emmy in the middle of it all. Intent on finding the truth, she must fight for her heart, her life, maybe even her soul. Because someone wants to possess all of Emmy. And they will be together, no matter what the cost. For eternity.
Susan Antony is an IT by day, hip-shaker and writer by night, artist whenever possible, and an
internet addict. She lives in the sunny south with her teenage son and two Cairn Terriers. Cherokee Summer placed first in the Missouri Romance Writers of America “Gateway to the Best” contest, was a 2019 OKRWA finalist, was a 2020 Author Shout Recommended Read, took 1st in the 2020 Write Touch Readers Award, and took the bronze metal in the 2020 Readers Favorite Contest.
It Happened on Thunder Road placed 1st in The Southeastern Writers Association 2020 Contest.
Seymour, a down-and-out former teacher and semi-alcoholic who is haunted by the death of his girlfriend, tells the story of how he lifted himself out of grief and apathy. The catalyst is a mystery man – Raymond C. Dasher – who enters Seymour’s life via a chance encounter and persuades him to accept a job as a professional griever. A series of adventures follow, some macabre, some sinister, some extremely funny, as Seymour encounters an improbably diverse but highly credible set of characters united only by the fact that all are interacting in some way with death. Most complex is Milton Lasker, a former mobster whose relationship with Seymour is ambivalent, to say the least – even his overtures of help are terrifying. But then there’s Yvonne, who reminds Seymour what it’s like to feel alive. The Physics of Grief is a unique, quirky crime novel presenting the upside of funerals and a hopeful look at second chances – and at death.
Originally from Boston, Mickey J. Corrigan hides out in the lush ruins of South Florida to write pulp fiction, literary crime, and psychological thrillers. Her stories have been called “delightful pulp,” “oh so compulsive,” “dark and gritty,” and “bizarre but believable.”
Sixteen-year-old Niena wants nothing more than to attend an elite bardic college, but when the dragon that shattered the empire awakens again she finds herself on the run, through the fey realm of Fairhome, to the city where she was born. On her trail are her army veteran grandfather, thrown into a commander’s role he doesn’t want, the lord of the fairies, trying to steer her to his own ends, and the husband she won’t meet for fifteen years. If she kills the dragon, she’ll save everyone she holds dear. But if she kills the dragon, she’s cursed instead to become it.
Curses of Scale is the 2018 First Place Winner of Red City Review’s Young Adult Category, and an Official Selection of the 2018 New Apple Literary Awards. It also has the distinction of being a finalist in the following awards:
Chanticleer’s Ozma Fantasy Award
Readers’ Favorite General Fantasy
Wishing Shelf Young Adult
“★★★★ Curses of Scale is a coming of age tale with a lot to say about life and taking charge of one’s destiny in the search for independence. ” -Reader’s Favorite
“★★★★★ Curses of Scale is a Pandora’s box of world-building elements, and Reeves shows great skill at parceling out the pieces of lore and mystery that today’s fantasy readers crave. Readers will be sure to enjoy this crafty, utterly transportive novel.”
– Red City Review
Stephen Reeves was born in 1980 in Huntsville, Alabama. He currently resides in Switzerland with an undetermined number of cats greater than zero, and a propensity for nonsense. On those cold nights where the wind steams off snowbanks, he is known to write award-winning fantasy novels. And curse his wife’s cold feet.
Right off the top I would say the Hobbit. I remember first reading this book at the age of five, and I have loved it ever since. It would be a decade later until I found out there were other books by Tolkien.
After that we cross several years, an ocean, and a lot of bad wardrobe decisions to bring us to the second Earthsea book, the Tombs of Atuan. The nuance Ursula K Le Guin’s writing is just sublime. This is a staple of the coming-of-age fantasy dramas.
Crossing genres instead of continents gives us number three, Post Captain, the second book the Aubrey-Maturin series of series books by Patrick O’Brian, the series that Master and Commander the Far side of the World is based. This shelf-structural-integrity threatening series is responsible for my love of tall ships, and all the models carved out of solid blocks of wood (I never do anything the easy way) what threaten all table-top real estate in our house.
Naturally, there was going to be at least one classic in this set. Mostly, this one was impressed on me early. Partly because the author is from Alabama, and partly because it is just damned good. I am talking about Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, of course.
Back into fantasy now. Erin Morgenstern’s Night Circus is amazing. Plus, this book helped keep me on track; that third person-present tense books can be mainstream.
Last, we come full circle. You remember those other Tolkien books I mentioned? Well, they are back. It is hard to separate them out, but of those I would say I love the Fellowship of the Ring the most.
This was a surprisingly tough list to put together, but it was fun, and I hope it also tells you a little something about me and my writing as well!
It is my pleasure to be a part of the book tour for Against My Better Judgement by B.T Polcari. Thank you to Sara Slattery at YA Bound Book Tours for inviting me to participate.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Title: Against My Better Judgement
Author: B.T Polcari
Genre: Mystery, Cozy Mystery, Young Adult Fiction, New Adult Fiction
Publisher: the Wild Rose Press
Release Date: September 16, 2020
When freshman year at the University of Alabama draws to a close, Sara Donovan finds herself grappling with the same old question—listen to her head or follow her heart. What she ends up doing is purchasing an Egyptian souvenir funerary mask, and after a mysterious phone call, she’s certain a ring of antiquities smugglers are operating in Tuscaloosa.
With finals never far from her mind and her return to ‘Bama hanging in the balance, she should be studying. Instead she launches her own investigation to prove her mask is indeed a stolen artifact, and not a cheap trinket. When it comes time to snoop, Sara is more than ready, or at least she was until a hot new teaching assistant moves in next door.
Suddenly she learns things are never as they seem. Ever.
Sara is a freshman in college who thinks cell phones are disposable, snap decisions are brilliant, and that “snooping” is a rude term for being observant. Tie that with an over-active imagination and Sara often finds herself in a pickle. Character cast also includes a hot TA, a feisty best friend, and an octogenarian who can pump iron. Think of this as a cleaner version of Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, but replace Rex the Gerbil with Mauzzy the Dachshund, and 1990s Trenton, New Jersey with 2010s Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Ever wonder what retired business executives do after they have put in years of effort for society and decide it is time to hang up their hat? Perhaps strolling along the country club’s fairway, or lounging on a 50-foot yacht?
Alas, B. T. Polcari is unlike your typical retired executive. Empty nester and Scarlett Knights alum, Polcari is still learning the meaning of “retired” while feverishly typing away on the next new book idea, smashing the fuzz off the little green tennis ball, or blasting bowling pins for a perfect game. Yes there is a boat, but not one that comes with its own crew; this retiree prefers to bustle along a serene lake in a quaint single seat Sunfish sailboat.
Perhaps the only time BTP can be found in a quiet moment is while enjoying the morning company of two family dachshunds over a newspaper and cup of coffee. B. T. Polcari currently resides in Chattanooga, TN and is thrilled to be fulfilling a childhood dream of becoming a published author.
After a long career as a business executive, B.T. Polcari tried to retire. Spoiler alert: he’s really bad at retirement. Bowling, tennis, and sailing can only keep you busy for so long, so B.T. is now pursuing his childhood dream of becoming a published author.
I replaced the mask in the void, bolted the tire back in place, and activated the alarm. With a quick glance over each shoulder, I hustled back into the cottage. That was a great snap decision to hide it this morning before leaving for the gym. Normally, my snap decisions are not the best. Things were on the upswing. Although now I had a smuggling ring after me.
Stained Fashion Wear excerpt
With the sudden onslaught of authority blasting my senses, I jolted upward and fell into the rack of cute blouses. My hand lost its grip on the huge cup. The other hand instinctively shot out to catch the falling soda, at the same time ejecting my phone deep into clothes-rack oblivion. An unhealthy, protracted clatter indicated the landing didn’t go too well. I caught my balance halfway into the colorful summer collection of what appeared to be very fun tops. At least I saved the soda from making me the proud owner of a complete summer collection of stained fashion wear.
I nonchalantly edged my body around, fighting off multiple tendrils of fabric clutching and grabbing at my head and shoulders. I popped my head out of the blouses, and after clearing disheveled hair from my eyes, was confronted with the no-nonsense visage of—a mall cop. On a motorized two-wheeled scooter.
From within my inner sanctum of the clothes rack, I laid on him all the cool innocence and southern sweetness I could muster. “No, but thank you for asking. Everything is okay, officer.”
It’s Time to Go excerpt
I waited another ten seconds, straining to hear anything that would give away the intruder’s location.
I forged ahead, the snail’s pace turning my ankles into jelly.
One more step to go.
I stopped and crouched up against the inside wall of the staircase. Just earsplitting silence. Gathering myself, I summoned whatever semblance of courage remained in my trembling body.
A second later, my brain issued the command. Okay—it’s go time.
I lunged up toward the last stair, propelling myself into the loft.
At least that was the plan.
My leading foot caught the lip of the top stair, sending me crashing down. The pepper spray sailed across the room as the elbow of my outstretched arm slammed into the wood floor. I didn’t hear the dispenser hit anything, so either the killer caught it, or it landed in the pile of clean clothes on the floor. Either way, not good. Worse yet, the raised bat fell backward, its barrel cracking me on the back of the head before bouncing and rolling down the stairs.
Disarmed and face down, I lay sprawled between the top step and the floor of the room. Before the killer could react, I scrambled to my feet and hit the light switch.
Beatrice Walker thought she lived in a normal world—that is until she learned she’s a living hostel for an alien energy source, and apparently the answer to preventing extinction.
Bea has no memory of her last moments with her mother. The week they’d gone missing is a complete mystery. Suddenly moved back to her hometown with her father, Bea has rekindled her friendship with her two best friends—and seems to have caught the attention of an arrogant, yet gorgeous boy named Cash Kingston. But there’s more to Cash than his annoying attitude and good looks. Cash isn’t human, and he’s now in charge of protecting Bea from those who know what she keeps safe inside her: the energy source that once belonged to his murdered girlfriend.
Tensions mount as Bea learns her energy source must be paired with the one Cash holds to protect both their planets from an imminent threat. But what Bea doesn’t realize is there’s more to her than being human a host, that her feelings for Cash are not just a prophetic plan that will save their planets, and that the fate of everything lies in her choices.
When author Dana Claire had several poems published as an elementary school student, she was hooked and writing became her passion. A shared dream of hers and her mother’s, she promised her dying mother that she would become a published author and that dream has been realized with The Connection.
Dana believes that a good story is made through strong character development; when readers become attached to the characters’ emotional state and are invested in their objectives. She believes that the beauty of reading is that one can live a hundred lives within the stories of books. Her own stories come to her in her dreams, and she wakes up with book ideas.
Dana’s family is very supportive of her writing and the creativity and sentiment driving it. Enjoying bicoastal living between Los Angeles and New York, Dana says she “lives the best romance in the world being married to the most amazing man she could ever ask for.” The Connection was her debut YA novel, the first volume in the Blood-Light trilogy. The Reclaimed Kingdom is her second novel.
The stakes could not be higher in the epic conclusion of The Garden of Syn trilogy.
Synthia (Syn) Wade discovered a secret world known as the Garden, where illness and death do not exist. Because of the tragic events that occurred in the Garden, Syn vowed never to return, even as cystic fibrosis threatened her young life. But when Syn faces the ultimate betrayal and a malicious adversary closes in, she is forced to escape her world and reluctantly return to the Garden.
However, her ruthless foe is not easily thwarted. Flanked by a deadly army, this dark force manipulates its way into the Garden with the goal of ultimate destruction. Facing great adversity, Syn must risk her life to protect the Garden and all those living within its borders.
Will Syn save the Garden and those she holds dear from the storm cloud of evil? Or will she discover that no one is Too Young to Die in the Garden of Syn?
When Michael Seidelman was growing up, his passions were reading, watching movies, enjoying nature and creative writing. Not much has changed since then.
Working in Online Marketing for over ten years, Michael felt it was time to pursue his passion and began writing The Garden of Syn trilogy.
Michael is excited about the upcoming release of the third and final book in The Garden of Syn series and beyond the trilogy, he has more books in the works that he can’t wait to share with the world!
Michael was born in Vancouver, BC Canada where he continues to reside.
It is my pleasure to be a part of the book tour for Wallflower by Cookie O’Gorman. Thank you to Sara Slattery at YA Bound Book Tours for inviting me to participate.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Wallflower by: Cookie O’Gorman YA Romance Release Date: March 25, 2021
Wallflower (wohl-flou-erh): Identifier for someone who is shy and/or awkward. For reference, see Viola Kent.
Seventeen-year-old Viola Kent likes being invisible. Well, not literally, but she’s content being a loner, reading her books, and hanging out with the animals at the shelter. She just wants to keep her head down and get through her senior year at Durham High.
Driving Dare Frost to school every day wasn’t part of the plan.
And when Viola finds out her dad recruited Dare, his number one player, to be her friend?
Her inner Slytherin demands revenge.
The solution: Get Dare to be her fake boyfriend.
Convincing the star athlete to pretend is easier than she’d thought it would be. The hard part is protecting her heart. With every word, touch, and kiss, Viola’s feelings become more real.
The problem: Viola knows she’s falling for Dare—but he doesn’t believe in love.
This book features two sets of soulmates, one happy pooch named Hermione, so many sizzling kisses and answers the question:
Can a dork and a jock fake their way to true love?
Cookie O’Gorman writes YA & NA romance to give readers a taste of happily-ever-after. Small towns, quirky characters, and the awkward yet beautiful moments in life make up her books. Cookie also has a soft spot for nerds and ninjas. Her novels ADORKABLE, NINJA GIRL, The Unbelievable, Inconceivable, Unforeseeable Truth About Ethan Wilder, The Good Girl’s Guide to Being Bad and WALLFLOWER are out now! She is also the author of NA sports romance, The Best Mistake.
What inspired you to write this book? Hi there! I’m Cookie O’Gorman, and I write YA & NA romance. I was inspired to write WALLFLOWER because I loved the idea of this awkward, shy (until you talk to her 😊) girl having to drive Mr. Popular, the star jock, to school every day. And then, I wondered what would the girl do when she finds out her dad asked this guy to be her friend lol? It just seemed like a such a fun story idea, and my characters Viola and Dare won my heart, so of course, I had to write their happily-ever-after!
What is your favorite thing about Viola? What about Dare? I love Viola for her amazing heart and because she’s a hopeless romantic, Harry Potter fanatic and dog lover. And I love Dare because he is just…sigh. Dare is so charismatic, thoughtful, funny, kind, and such an awesome, perfectly imperfect guy. That’s definitely more than one thing for each of them, but I couldn’t pick just one lol!
Please describe your book, WALLFLOWER, in three words? Swoon-worthy. Fun. Romantic.
What was your favorite scene to write? I loved every scene with Viola & Dare. Though the kissing ones were particularly fun to write!
What do you hope readers gain from reading WALLFLOWER? I hope WALLFOWER makes readers laugh, sigh, and smile. I hope they finish Viola & Dare’s story with a feeling of giddiness and an undeniable case of the warm fuzzies. And I hope it makes everyone who reads it believe in happily-ever-after 😊.
Under the cruel ministrations of its Queen, the Kingdom of D’Land is in peril. With King Harrison away in foreign lands and neighboring Kingdoms unwilling to intervene, there is no one to protect the people from poverty, harsh punishment, and unreasonable rules of law – except for the Band of Brothers. Struggling with the death of her mother and the legendary Syphon powers she inherited, seventeen-year-old Dru wants nothing more than to escape her old life and join the motley crew of ruffians, pilfering from the rich to feed the poor and pay their taxes. She’s able to do just that disguised as a lad, and even when her nature is discovered, nothing changes – except for the way her friend Hawkin treats her. But Dru’s new world is overturned when she and the Brothers seize the treasures of a Prince who threatens to reveal her identity. Together, Dru and her chosen family must find a way to reclaim her destiny and bring balance to the Kingdom. If not, there may be no hope left for anyone. If you like Robin Hood, Snow White and the Huntsmen, From Blood and Ash, or Graceling, this book is for for you.
About Dana Claire:
When author Dana Claire had several poems published as an elementary school student, she was hooked and writing became her passion. A shared dream of hers and her mother’s, she promised her dying mother that she would become a published author and that dream has been realized with The Connection. Dana believes that a good story is made through strong character development; when readers become attached to the characters’ emotional state and are invested in their objectives. She believes that the beauty of reading is that one can live a hundred lives within the stories of books. Her own stories come to her in her dreams, and she wakes up with book ideas. Dana’s family is very supportive of her writing and the creativity and sentiment driving it. Enjoying bicoastal living between Los Angeles and New York, Dana says she “lives the best romance in the world being married to the most amazing man she could ever ask for.” The Connection was her debut YA novel, the first volume in the Blood-Light trilogy. The Reclaimed Kingdom is her second novel.
It is my pleasure to be a part of the book tour for Dog Girl by Gabi Justice. Thank you to Sara Slattery at YA Bound Book Tours for inviting me to participate.
Dog Girl by: Gabi Justice YA, Contemporary, Fiction
Dog Girl is Fangirl meets Pit Bulls and Parolees.
Saving the dogs who end up at Delray Dog Rescue is Kendall’s life. It’s the perfect job for a girl with severe social anxiety.
Delray Dog Rescue doesn’t just rescue dogs, it’s a second chance for felons, like her dad. Losing the rescue means losing Kendall’s home, her sanctuary, the dogs she loves, her identity and her dad, all over again.
But money’s tight, and soon, Kendall must decide between keeping a roof over her head and saving the rescue.
When a video of Kendall’s harrowing rescue of a pit bull from the path of an oncoming train goes viral. Suddenly, everyone wants a piece of Kendall, making her anxiety worse. But this is an opportunity to put the rescue in the spotlight and secure the donations needed to save it.
Can she overcome the social paralysis that’s plagued her all her life? Can she ignore negative comments on social media about her looks and smell? Can she accept help from a boy who really sees her, even though she can’t understand what he could possibly see in her?
DOG GIRL is the story of a teen girl who wants to save the world, and ends up saving herself in the process.
Gabi Justice is the author of Dog Girl, her teen and young adult contemporary romance debut set to publish in the fall of 2020. She is the mom to three dogs and one stray cat named Luna Buna. She lives in Florida with her husband and children. You’d be hard- pressed to find a tennis court in the state that she hasn’t visited, having three competitive junior players in the family. She spent most of her adult life writing editorial copy for local magazines after graduating from the University of South Florida. Florida provides the settings for all her coming-of-age stories that highlight bullying, misjudgment, acceptance, and teen anxiety. Her main characters are goal-oriented teenage girls with a drive that can be fierce and dangerous.
They walk amongst us pretending, but I can see them. I know what they are. I can hear you inside my head. I know what you are. Funny. I think you know what I am too.
Amelia Ricci remembers when being plain and nerdy was safe.
But everything changed the day she discovered that monsters disguised as teenagers attend her school. In fact, one befriends her, and her entire world is changed forever when he reveals what she really is; that she’s not just a mundane girl at school.
Now Amelia has the chance to solve the puzzle to the questions that have plagued her for years.
As she embraces her true identity, Amelia, along with her monster friends, are zapped into ancient worlds where butterflies talk, gnomes become spies, and allies turn into enemies as she seeks to discover the truth.
Debbie Copeland is a native New Yorker. She grew up on Hering Avenue in the North Bronx. Gifted as a child Debbie has been writing short stories, novellas, plays, and poems since the age of seven. Throughout her childhood, she wrote plays that she and her friends performed every summer for the entire neighborhood. She is the author of The Kids at Latimar High, which received great reviews, including one from Deborah Gregory, best-selling author of The Cheetah Girls.
Her new YA fantasy book, THE LEAFWING, is the first book in the Leafwing trilogy. She currently resides in Los Angeles where she is working on the second book in the LEAFWING trilogy. Debbie’s other loves are reading YA fantasy and historical novels, musical theater, vintage fashion, and arts & crafts.
It is my pleasure to be a part of the cover reveal for Elements of Power by Kate Stoessel. The cover is gorgeous. This looks like an intriguing read. Thank you to Sara Slattery at YA Bound Book Tours for inviting me to participate in this cover reveal.
Cover Designer: Lauria
Genre- YA Urban Fantasy
The Council of the Harvest Moon was established to maintain peace among the witches, fairies, vampires, and mermaids of the United States. However, old feuds die hard and as the powers of fairies wane with the destruction of natural environments, the witches rise with a rigid societal structure designed to assert their supremacy as the most powerful supernatural beings in the modern world.
As the descendant of two prominent New England witching families, Khlorie Lethestone’s life was destined to fit into the neat, color-coded boxes established by the American Continental Coven (ACC). When it is discovered that Khlorie has “extra elemental powers” beyond that of a typical witch, she is sent to Spindlewick College, a secret institution designed to help witches develop non-conforming gifts into tools for the greater good of witching society. Once there, she meets the attractive, but distant Perry Prentice, who is assigned to help her understand her gifts. But becoming one of the most powerful witches in the world means that you are watched closely, and Khlorie learns that there are secrets she must keep hidden to survive.
Kate Stoessel is a Middle Grades and Young Adult author specializing in Fantasy. She wrote her first novel, Erine Pershings and the Golden Lyre, because she could not find interesting and informative historical fiction that explored the daily lives of women and children in Ancient Athens. The Council of the Harvest moon series represents Kate’s first foray into Young Adult Fantasy, her favorite genre as a reader. She knows how transportive a fantasy story can be, and hopes to give her readers the same experience of wonder and escape. Whether Middle Grades or YA, Kate is committed to creating characters that feel as authentic and real as the students she works with everyday as a classroom teacher.
Valentine’s Day is almost here. It’s the perfect season to check out some new sweet romance titles. Happily Ever After Stories – Sweet Romance – Reader Group on Facebook is hosting a virtual Valentine’s Day party tonight from 7-11pm. Join the fun and be sure to enter for a chance to win a prize.
My fondest Valentine’s Day memories are those spent in Grades K-5 with a decorated paper bag full of valentines and candy from my peers. I think many adults would agree that the holiday loses its charm after elementary school. This year, the joy of an old-fashioned classroom valentine exchange will be eliminated in many schools due to the current pandemic. Perhaps a bit of that fun can be found between the pages of a book. Here are a few of my all-time favorite Valentine’s Day children’s books in no particular order. As a parent and teacher, I’ve never tired of reading these stories and the children continue to love them each year. Let me know if you feel I’m missing a title!
Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink, by Diane de Groat:Gilbert the Opossum must write valentine cards for everyone in his class – even the kids who are less then nice to him. When he writes a few unfriendly valentines, he needs to find a way to make up for the hurt feelings he’s caused.
Love Is, by Diane Adams: A little girl finds a duckling that has waddled away from the park and brings it home. She cares for her new pet until he grows into a duck and must return it to the pond. Children’s hearts will smile when the girl learns that she has not been forgotten.
In the first book in THE RISE AND FALL OF DANI TRUEHART series, RISING STAR, fifteen-year-old Dani Truehart is living a life that is not quite her own. Driven by her mother’s desire for fame and fortune, she has spent her childhood dutifully training for a career as a pop star. On the brink of discovery, doubts begin to creep into Dani’s mind as she questions her own desire for fame, and she wonders whether she can trust the motivations of the adults who are driving her forward.
Following a brilliant audition arranged by her vocal/dance coach and former ’80s pop icon Martin Fox, Dani is thrown full-force into the music industry. She leaves her friends, family and scheming mother behind to move with Martin, who has become her legal guardian, into the Malibu compound of her new manager, Jenner Redman. Jenner, the former swindling manager of Martin’s boy band, leverages what’s left of his depleted fortune to launch Dani’s career.
Isolated from her life at home and trying to stay apace with her demanding schedule, Dani struggles to keep in touch with those she loves, connect to her withholding mother and find her voice as an artist. With Martin and Jenner at odds over their rocky past and finding herself unprepared to handle the pressures of her future singing career, Dani’s debut album and future stardom are at risk of falling apart.
Michele Kwasniewski, is an entertainment industry insider who has seen what the Hollywood machine can do to people – having worked for many years in film and television production on such films and TV shows as Primal Fear, Independence Day, Evita, Face/Off, Big Brother, and many TCL,HGTV, and Discovery series including: Meet the Pandas, Adoption Story, Wedding Story, and Extra Yardage.
With her book, she shares the glamour and excitement of fame as well as the hard work it takes to achieve success and the price of living life in the public eye. Everyone wants to be famous, but most people have no idea what that really means. Michele has seen it firsthand. She is an active member of the Producers Guild of America.
Michele’s colorful experiences in the industry inspired her to write THE RISE AND FALL OF DANI TRUEHART series. Michele lives in San Clemente, California with her husband, their son, and their disobedient dachshund. RISING STAR is her first novel.
Thank you to Denise Devine for a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
Charlotte LeDoux is struggling to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Her late husband, Gus, has left her a lot to deal with–his sprawling business empire, his enemies and an ex-mistress who desperately needs a friend. It’s tough for a woman to compete in a man’s world and even though it’s a never-ending uphill battle, she is determined to succeed.
Char gets a new Model T and is excited when William Van Elsberg offers to give her a driving lesson. She’s attracted to the handsome private detective, who, in many ways, is the polar opposite of Gus. Will takes her out for a spin in the car and instructs her how to drive, but at the same time, teaches her how to love again. She’s never been so happy!
Meanwhile, Gus’ enemies are circling like vultures. An anonymous note threatening Char’s life forces Will to become her personal bodyguard. He’s highly qualified, but Char’s stubborn belief in her own independence makes it the most difficult job he’s ever taken. Can he keep her safe or will he lose her in the most dangerous fight of her life?
I loved that I was beyond excited to read the second book in the Moonshine Madness Series and it didn’t disappoint. Once again, I was immediately swept up into the glamour of the Roaring Twenties and an action packed love story.
I loved that, even though this is Book 2, it could also be read as a stand-alone. Details from Book 1 were expertly woven in at just the right moments to ensure that anyone who hadn’t read the first installment would be eager to do so.
I loved joining the rollercoaster ride of Charlotte’s life. Her fierce determination to succeed in legitimate business ventures is impeded by continuously finding one foot heavily entrenched in her late husband’s bootlegging world.
I loved seeing Charlotte in her roles as new mother, guardian for her teenage sister, and potential friend to her late husband’s mistress. Each role added a new layer to an already three-dimensional character.
I loved the highs and lows of Charlotte’s developing relationship with her bodyguard. Would he be willing to commit to her and her complicated life always fearing for her safety?
I loved that, once again, this book read like a movie I’d like to watch. This thoroughly entertaining story has it all: a heroine who continues to evolve as she learns exactly what she’s capable of and a romance hanging in the balance as she weighs one dangerous decision after another.
I love knowing that the next book in this series is forthcoming. I look forward to following Charlotte as she continues on her journey.
Book 2 in the Moonshine Madness Series is not to be missed. Whether meeting Charlotte LeDoux for the first time or picking up where she left off, readers will be swept up into the glamour of the Roaring Twenties and the rollercoaster ride that is Charlotte’s life. She leaps off the page with a fierce determination to succeed in legitimate business ventures while impeded by the one foot she continues to find heavily entrenched in her late husband’s bootlegging world. The highs and lows of Charlotte’s developing relationship with her bodyguard will keep readers guessing as to whether he will commit to her and her complicated life despite the constant fear for her safety.
This thoroughly entertaining story has it all: a heroine who continues to evolve as she learns exactly what she’s capable of and a romance hanging in the balance as she weighs one dangerous decision after another. The characters and setting are so well developed that the book reads like a movie playing out on the screen. As the story comes to an end, readers can delight in the fact that the next book in this series is forthcoming and look forward to following Charlotte as she continues on her journey.
Thank you to Pamela Q. Fernandes for a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
When Althea meets Morgan Hunter at Muldoon’s pub for the first time, she thinks he’s a handsome, ego tripping, prissy-pants executive. She quickly rebuffs him only to find him thundering at her in the operation theater, the very next day. He’s dogged in his censure of her, but not immune to her allure. Through a snowy December Morgan courts Althea and wins her heart but not her trust.
When she travels with him at his request for Christmas to his home in Finesse, a tumble in the snow leads to the discovery of Morgan’s missing ex-girlfriend. Dead. Morgan pushes Althea away and she doesn’t understand his reasons.
Althea returns to build the new rural clinic in Finesse. She discovers the truth about Morgan’s heritage, the murdered ex-girlfriend and the secrets about the Hunter clan.
Can she save the man she loved from going to prison?
I loved that this story felt like the perfect mashup of holiday romance and cozy mystery with a hint of medical drama sprinkled throughout.
I loved that this read like a modern-day gothic.
I loved that this book provided an entertaining diversion from the many Hallmark-esque reads I’ve been favoring this season.
I loved that, despite the mention of Christmas, this is a perfect read for any season.
I loved the wealthy family with secrets storyline. I was compelled to keep turning pages to find out what they were hiding.
I loved the well-rounded cast of characters consisting of co-workers, friends, and family. Each personality shined through and created a three-dimensional story world.
I loved the twists and turns that kept me guessing who murdered Morgan’s ex-girlfriend and that not one of my suspects was correct.
I loved that the pacing was well developed. Each chapter ended with me wanting to read on to find out what would happen next.
I loved that there were several times when I had to restrain myself from reading ahead. It all came together beautifully at the end and was worth waiting for.
This story is perfect for readers looking for a holiday/medical romance combined with a cozy mystery and elements of gothic fiction. It provides an entertaining diversion from the expected romances novels of the season. When Morgan invites Althea to his family’s home for Christmas, she finds herself entangled in a family’s web of lies and secrets. Readers will feel compelled to keep those pages turning until all is revealed. An intriguing cast of characters keeps the story moving at a fast pace and will have readers guessing up until the very end. Be prepared to want to read ahead!
Remote learning has meant hours and hours of screen time. Give the kids’ eyes a break from the Zoomiverse with some good old fashioned hand held books. No Wi-Fi necessary! Here are a few of my all-time holiday favorites in no particular order. As a parent and teacher, I’ve never tired of reading these stories and the children continue to love them each year. Let me know if you feel I’m missing a title!
The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg: A young boy is invited to join a magical train ride to the North Pole. This Caldecott Medal Winner evokes the spirit of Christmas with wishes and sleigh bells. A must read prior to viewing the delightful movie version.
The Snowy Day, By Ezra Jack Keats: Peter bundles up in his snowsuit to enjoy the wonder and joy children experience when stepping into a snow covered world. Another Caldecott Medal Winner that continues to charm from one generation of readers to the next.
A Charlie Brown Christmas, by Charles M. Shulz:The Peanuts characters must help Charlie Brown discover the true meaning of Christmas. This is a holiday book that has it all: ice skating, a Christmas pageant, and a tree that needs a bit of help.
How Murray Saved Christmas, by Mike Reiss: A story that will have the kids laughing out loud! Santa is knocked out by a Jack-in-the-Box. Murray, a deli owner, fills in for him. He doesn’t smell like gingerbread or fit the suit, but with help from an elf and a little boy, he doesn’t disappoint.
The Trees of the Dancing Goats, by Patricia Polacco:A young girl and her family find it challenging to enjoy their Hanukkah feast while their neighbors are plagued by scarlet fever. Her grandfather’s idea to deliver trees to their friends inspires Trisha to decorate them with the gifts he’d made for her and her brother. A beautiful story of giving and friendship.
Snowmen at Night, by Caralyn Buehner:A charming story for every child who ever wondered what their snowman did at night. The illustrations vividly detail the fun of drinking cold cocoa, playing baseball with snowballs, sledding, and several other wintery activities.
Thank you to Caroline Akervik for a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
Erik or “Erik the Wall” Engen, formerly one of the most feared and admired goalies in the International Hockey League, now an executive in his family’s holiday ornament company, has returned to his hometown of Noelle, Wisconsin during its annual Nutcracker Festival. It’s his job to evaluate the prospects of the Engen Nutcracker Factory, the company founded by his beloved grandfather.
After travelling the world creating murals, artist Stella Larson has returned to Noelle as well. Erik and Stella soon realize the old feelings between them linger, but she can’t seem to forget or forgive him for breaking her heart a decade before.
With a little hope and some Christmas magic, can Erik make his way back to the woman he always carried with him in his heart?
I loved that this story was set during a small-town Wisconsin Christmas. Perfect for a December read!
I loved the Hallmark movie feel. Sweet, romantic, uplifting. Every page was a delight.
I loved how the author’s vivid details brought the story to life. I felt enveloped by the Christmas season as the characters made their way through town from holiday festivities in school, to a ski lodge I’d love to visit, and finally to the Nutcracker Ball.
I loved that the characters were well developed. Stella’s career as an art teacher rang true for me. Erik’s past as a hockey goalie impacted the dedication and discipline required for his role as a business executive.
I loved that Stella didn’t immediately succumb to Erik’s attention despite their history. Her reluctance to dive back in was realistic.
I loved the concept of a high school romance ending to allow Erick and Stella to see the world and pursue their dreams until they finally met again with those experiences shaping who they became as adults. The flashbacks to their younger days allowed me to get to know them and the events that led to their current goals.
A wonderful holiday romance! Pour a cup of tea, curl up in front of a fire, and enter the Christmas season in the small town of Noelle, Wisconsin. This story has everything readers want this time of year: snow, lights, ice skating, parades, ski lodges, and even a Nutcracker Ball. Stella’s reluctance to take a second chance with Erik years after he ended their high school relationship will ring true for readers. But the time spent apart as they saw the world and pursued their dreams clearly shapes the adults they become. These fully formed characters come alive in this heartwarming story. Each page is a wintery, festive delight.
A huge thank you to Winter Lawrence for including Homemakers’ Christmas in her December Book Recommendations and for taking the time to interview me for her Author Spotlight this month. Be sure to drop by and check out the other books included on the recommendation list. Each one of them looks like a fantastic read for the season!
It’s that time of year when many of us would like to be spending our weekends hopping from one holiday party to the next. Don’t allow the pandemic to cancel the fun. Happily Ever After Stories is hosting a virtual holiday party for sweet romance readers and authors tomorrow night. Join the fun and be sure to enter for a chance to win a prize.
Thank you to Amber Daulton for a free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. This is the second book of Amber’s that I’ve had the pleasur e to read.
Out-of-work violinist Erica Timberly decides enough is enough. She leaves her abusive boyfriend and flees the big city, but then her car breaks down in the middle of the night. Though wary of men, she accepts help from Dylan Haynes, a stranger driving by on the road, and soon recognizes him as the sexy former drummer of her favorite indie rock band. Maybe, just maybe, her run of bad luck is finally turning around.
Music teacher Dylan Haynes knows Erica is in trouble, and her black eye is only the first clue. The stubborn yet vulnerable woman needs a friend, but he’s determined to give her everything she deserves.
Will Erica listen to the music in her heart and trust Dylan, or will her past always threaten her future?
I loved that this is part of a series. I had gotten to know Dylan and Erica briefly in “Harmony’s Embrace” and was excited to see how they came together. This is another entertaining story from the Deerbourne Inn series.
I loved the summertime Vermont setting. As the temperatures dropped in my neighborhood, I stepped into July sunshine. The close knit, small town added additional warmth.
I loved the backstory about Dylan being a once semi-famous rock star. There was just enough prior success to pique interest while also making his career change and new life believable.
I loved that Erica’s strength leapt off the pages. She forced herself to remain resolute in her choice to leave an abusive situation despite the trauma and fear that continued to haunt her.
I loved that I genuinely wanted to see Dylan and Erica find happiness at my first introduction to them. I need to care about the characters’ futures in order to finish a book. For that to happen, I need to forget that they are characters and begin to believe they are real people. The author accomplished this beautifully.
This is the perfect read for anyone who loves a small-town romance. Dylan’s backstory will pique readers’ interest as they learn why he left his band to return to his Vermont hometown and a new career as a music teacher. Erica’s strength leaps off the pages as she forces herself to remain resolute in her choice to leave an abusive situation despite the trauma and fear that continue to haunt her. Readers will root for her to allow Dylan and the warm welcome from his family and close-knit community to rebuild her trust in people. Dylan and Erica are three dimensional characters brought to life beautifully by the author. Be prepared to become invested in their journey to happiness, love, and a new path in life.
Amber Daulton is the author of the romantic-suspense series Arresting Onyx and several standalone novellas. Her books are published through The Wild Rose Press, Books to Go Now, and Daulton Publishing, and are available in ebook, print on demand, audio, and foreign language formats. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and demanding cats.
Thank you to Bobbi Groover for an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
Brayden Wakefield is quickly losing faith that hostilities between the states will end peaceably. He and his neighbors, Fletcher Stedman and Royce Carlyle, seems to be in the minority in their belief that a war would not end in a few months. They know any clash would be long and brutal. But their loyalty to one another supplants their reluctance, and they are drawn into the politics and atrocities of war to save their kidnapped comrade, Caleb Jenkins.
Nothing is as it seems, however. The gentlemen, turned raiders, squirrel behind enemy lines. Brayden uncovers lies and intrigue on both sides but as he and his fellow raiders execute their audacious plan, as they torch the layers of the conspiracy, Brayden finds love hidden among the ashes.
I loved that each character was fully developed. Each personality shined through with well written dialogue.
I loved that Brayden came from a place of hurt and regret and channeled those emotions into writing. Snippets from his journal allowed me to gain a truer sense of who he was.
I loved that the heroine was in disguise for a large part of the book. I read in anticipation waiting for one character after another to learn her true identity.
I loved that Kawley’s backstory wasn’t fully revealed immediately. This kept me wanting to learn more about her as the story progressed.
I loved that the action scenes were fast paced and brought each event to life.
I loved that unexpected secrets were revealed at varying intervals. The twists and turns held my attention.
I loved Kawley’s bravery. The idea of not wanting to become too dependent on someone else would resonate with many readers.
This read as a true saga. Every character was fully developed and will leave readers feeling like they know each personality inside and out. Brayden will break your heart with his hurt and regrettable loss. Kawley will have readers cheering her on as she tackles every obstacle and overcomes past trauma. Disguises are worn. Secrets are held. Friendships are made. At any given moment, anything can happen. This is a well told story of remorse, determination, surprises, friendship, and love.
I was raised on the East coast, enjoying many years wandering the fields and freedoms of a beautiful working farm. Been writing stories of all kinds as long as I can remember. Inside the Grey is my third romance with many of the favorite characters from Season of The Shadow and The Inn at Little Bend. I also have a ‘coming of age’ juvenile adventure, Fun In The Yellow Pages.
I’m excited to share a link to my guest post, “Social Media and the Introverted Author”, on Amber Daulton’s website.
Follow the link below for the post, but stick around to check out her books. You may have caught my recent review for Harmony’s Embrace. I’m looking forward to following up with some of her other titles. Amber’s site also includes book reviews that may point you in the direction of your next read.
Thank you to Denise Devine for a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
Charlotte LeDoux’s nine-year marriage to bootlegging kingpin, Gus “Lucky” LeDoux, is falling apart. The same day Char learns she’s pregnant, she catches Gus in the act of adultery and it’s clear he has no intention of ending the affair. Soon after, their night club is raided by Federal agents. As she flees from the chaos, Char becomes separated from Gus and she’s faced with a choice: search out her fugitive husband or change her identity and disappear. With her life in shambles and her future in doubt, she knows what she must do to protect her child.
Char alters her appearance and takes a job in domestic service for a private investigator. At first, living in Will Van Elsberg’s home is quiet, comfortable and safe, but everything changes the day Gus seeks out Will to find his missing wife. As Will’s investigation closes in on her, Char must once again make a decision. Should she run away again or face her violent husband and fight for her freedom? With her back to the wall, Char discovers she has more strength and determination than she ever thought possible.
I loved that this book takes place during the roaring twenties. The mention of any story from this era turns my head. The expertly detailed setting had me feeling like I’d immediately been transported back in time.
I loved that the first chapter was action packed and ended on a cliffhanger. There are few things greater for a book addict than knowing they need to read a book to the end.
I loved the disappearing and reinvention arc of Charlotte LeDoux.
I loved that every prediction I made about where the story would veer next was completely wrong.
I loved the pacing of this story. There was never a dull moment. When I had to put the story down, I could not wait to pick it up again. Every chapter ended with me wanting to read ahead.
I loved never being totally certain of Will’s intentions. Keep me guessing and I’ll keep reading.
I loved the bits of Charlotte’s backstory that were deftly woven in. It was just enough to make me hope for a prequel.
I loved that there were so many different elements to the story. There was heartbreak, hope, drive, and danger.
I loved that this book read like a movie I’d like to watch.
I loved that this is the first book in a series. Charlotte’s new life was just beginning and I wasn’t ready to say good-bye to her. Good storytelling is the art of creating characters the reader cares about. Denise Devine accomplished this beautifully.
This story starts off strong and will keep readers transfixed until the last page. The vivid details create an overwhelming sense of being transported back in time to 1925. There was never a dull moment. Every chapter will leave readers needing to know what will happen next. Throw your predictions out the window. Charlotte is full of surprises – right up until the end of the book. The pacing was excellent with twists and turns. This multi-faceted story offers a tale of heartbreak, hope, drive, and danger. As the story ends, Charlotte’s life is just beginning. Readers won’t be ready to say good-bye to her. Good storytelling is the art of creating characters the reader cares about. Denise Devine accomplished this beautifully. Thankfully, this is only the first in the Moonshine Madness Series.
Thank you to Amber Daulton for an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
Divorced dad Birley Haynes is raising two children and running his family’s music academy. This leaves little time for romance until his high school sweetheart, Harmony Holdich, returns home to Willow Springs, Vermont for Christmas.
After the death of her unfaithful husband, Harmony plans to move across the country for a fresh start once the holidays are over. Birley presents an unexpected complication to those plans.
As Birley tries to convince her to stay, an outside threat jeopardizes the safety of his family and business.
I loved that this story grabbed my attention immediately. Generally, if this doesn’t happen, I have difficulty finishing a book. Harmony’s Embrace held my full attention from the first page until the last.
I loved the instant familiarity between Birley and Harmony. Their prior history as high school sweethearts woven throughout left me with a sense that I knew them as teenagers as well as adults. Seeing their growth over the years gave me all the more reason to root for them as a couple.
I loved that the setting was a small Vermont town during the Christmas season. It’s a perfect read for this time of year.
I loved that, although this is a romance novel, there was also a focus on family. Birley’s roles as father, brother, and son brought him to life on the page. Readers will become invested in wanting to see Harmony fully immerse herself in his world.
I loved the element of danger infused throughout the story. It provided an extra dose of excitement and kept the pages turning.
I love that this book is part of a multi-author Deerbourne Inn series. It can be read as a stand-alone, but leaves the reader wanting to delve into the lives of other characters as well.
I love that the end of the book gifted me with a few deliciously appealing recipes.
This story will grab your attention immediately and hold it from the first page until the last. The familiarity between Birley and Harmony, stemming from their high school sweetheart history, will have you rooting for them from their first meeting on the page. The reader grows to know them as teenagers and adults, thereby gaining a true sense of their growth over the years. The element of danger infused throughout the story provides an additional dose of excitement as the pages keep turning. There’s nothing like setting a romance novel in a small Vermont town during the holiday season to evoke a festive spirit. This is a fantastic book to kick off your holiday reading list!
Amber Daulton is the author of the romantic-suspense series Arresting Onyx and several standalone novellas. Her books are published through The Wild Rose Press, Books to Go Now, and Daulton Publishing, and are available in ebook, print on demand, audio, and foreign language formats. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and demanding cats.
Looking for a heartwarming Christmas romance to get you in the holiday spirit? Grab a cup of tea and cozy up with the ladies of Lamplight Lane for an uplifting story of love with a sprinkle of secrets. They don’t favor day dresses and aprons, but they know how to make a house feel like home at Christmas.
I’m an avid fan of great children’s read alouds. Here are a few of my all-time seasonal favorites. Let me know if you feel I’m missing a title!
Happy Halloween Little Critter, by Mercer Mayer: Little Critter and Little Sister go to a Halloween party.
Trick or Treat Little Critter, by Mercer Mayer: Yes, there is a pattern here. I adore this series. Trick or treat surprises with Little Critter and Little Sister always delight.
Which Way to Witch School, by Scott Santoro: A school for witches whipping up lessons.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Charles, M. Shulz: Does this really need an introduction. One of the greatest Halloween stories ever told. At least, according to me. It never grows old.
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, by Linda Williams: Spooky sounds abound as the little old lady makes her way along a moonlit path.
Room on the Broom, by Julia Donaldson: A witch and her cat need some help retrieving the items they’ve dropped while flying around on their broomstick.
The Berenstain Bears Trick or Treat, by Stan Berenstain: A trick with the treats doesn’t go so well for Brother and Sister Bear. Another well-loved favorite!
Little Witch, by Anna Elizabeth Bennett: An oldie, but goodie tale of a little witch sneaking into a school with humans and all of the fun that ensues.
The Best Halloween Ever, by Barbara Robinson: Welcome to the third book in the Herdman series. As a child, I couldn’t get enough of their antics. Is Halloween truly cancelled because of the trouble they’ve caused in the past?
Junie B. Jones, Boo… and I Mean It, by Barbara Park: A hilarious tale of Junie B. trying to overcome her fear of trick-or-treating.
The Witches, by Roald Dahl: I look forward to reading this EVERY year. Grandmamma teaches her grandson how to spot real witches.
Every so often, a book read years ago (sometimes decades ago) calls me to return to its pages for a variety of reasons. The love list below includes multiple genres and is in no particular order. It is, most definitely, not finite.
A Woman of Substance, Barbara Taylor Bradford (1979): Emma Harte rises from poverty to immense wealth through sheer determination, strength, and sacrifice. Despite her success, she struggles to find love and must overcome devastating betrayals and revenge. I read this for the first time at eighteen and bought my daughter a copy for her eighteenth birthday. It must still be relevant today; she couldn’t put it down either. When she finished, I picked it back up.
The Stand, Stephen King (1978): A tale of good versus evil amid the apocalypse. In my humble opinion, no one has ever done it better. Given current circumstances, it might be time for a third read.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lisa See (2005): A moving story of friendship set in nineteenth-century China. I don’t know anyone who, after reading the book, didn’t declare a dear friend to be their “old same”. Snow Flower and Lily are paired at seven years old and share a lifetime of joy and sorrow until their relationship is shaken to its core.
Circle of Friends, Maeve Binchy (1991): Benny and Eve are inseparable as children. University in Dublin introduces Jack and beautiful Nan to round out their circle. Friendships are tested as betrayals are revealed.
Sarah’s Key, Tatiana de Rosnay (2008): It is July 1942 in Paris, France. Sarah, ten years old, hides her brother from the French police. It is sixty years later and an American journalist is researching the story. Everything that happens before, during, and after is told in haunting detail.
Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (2007): On the surface, Elizabeth had it all. Until she realized she didn’t want it at all. Her journey across Italy, India, and Bali is mesmerizing.
The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle (2004): As a psychology major, I had heard the word “ego” countless times. It wasn’t until I read this book that I understood there could be a separation from the ego. I still have yet to master the art of living in the “now”. The past continues to haunt and the future keeps calling. But, every once in a while, I’m able to remind myself that the present is all we have.
I’m an avid reader happy to review books from the following genres: Sweet Romance, Holiday Romance, Cozy Mystery, and Chick Lit. My review will include a brief description and a list of what I loved about your story. Please contact me if you would like me to consider your book for a review. A sample (snippet) review from one of my favorite novels can be on my Love List.
More than a century later, the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 is still America’s deadliest disaster. Lauren Tarshis’s story of one child surviving the horrible event churns with page-turning action and bold hope.
The city of Galveston, Texas, was booming. Perched on an island off the southern coast of Texas, Galveston had been founded in the 1830s. By 1900, it was Texas’s richest and most important city. Boats loaded up with American cotton and wheat steamed from Galveston to countries around the world. Arriving ships were crowded with immigrants. The streets, paved with crushed oyster shells, sparkled like they’d been sprinkled with diamonds.
True, this glittering city was prone to flooding. But just a few years before, a weather forecaster had said the idea of a hurricane striking Galveston was absurd.
So when a storm started brewing on September 8, 1900, no one believed it would be any worse than previous storms. They gathered on the beach to cheer on the wild waves. But what started as entertainment soon turned into a nightmare as those wild waves crashed into the city. By morning, hundreds of homes were destroyed. Eight thousand people were dead. The city had all but disappeared,
In this thrilling installment of Lauren Tarshis’s New York Times bestselling I Survived series, one child finds safety only to head back into the treacherous waters to make sure his neighbors are safe.
LAUREN TARSHIS’ New York Times bestselling I Survived series (which has over 34 million copies in print!) tells stories of young people and their resilience and strength in the midst of unimaginable disasters and times of turmoil. Lauren has brought her signature warmth and exhaustive research to topics such as the battle of D-Day, the American Revolution, Hurricane Katrina, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the attacks of September 11, 2001, and other world events.
Lauren is also the Senior Vice President and Editor-in-Chief/Publisher of Scholastic Classroom Magazines, where she oversees more than 25 classroom magazines. In her more than 25 years with Scholastic, Lauren has helped transform the company’s print magazines into the powerful learning tools they are today. In her current role, she is helping to expand the magazines’ deep connection to American classrooms and ensure their vital role in providing teachers and students with an understanding of the contemporary world. She lives in Connecticut with her family, and can be found online at laurentarshis.com.
There was a big overflow, even bigger than the one that he and Sarah had played in a few days ago. People were lined up on the sidewalk on the edge of the water. Excited voices rose up over the thunder
ing roar of the waves.
“Look at those huge rollers!” a man shouted, pointing at the waves.
“Incredible!” cried a woman.
“Mama!” a little boy squealed. “Take me closer!”
Each wave towered up — as tall as Charlie’s house — and then crashed down.
Kids weren’t splashing and floating in the street like last time. Today’s big game was to stand on the flooded beach, wait for the waves to rise up, and sprint away before a wave could crash down over you. Lots of kids were doing this, shrieking and laughing as they ran back and forth. A few bigger kids were at least half way down the beach.
It looked fun — but Charlie had to admit that the waves scared him a little. The entire Gulf looked different — churning, foaming, furious.
He thought of Lulu’s cloud monster. And what Sarah had said about how people once blamed storms on angry gods and goddesses.
Watching the crashing sea, it was easy for Charlie to imagine Poseidon standing above on a
cloud, his long beard whipping in the wind, rais ing his arms to create each wave.
Charlie’s stomach did a flip. Poseidon seemed very angry.
But no one else seemed worried. The whoops and claps of the excited crowd got louder with each enormous wave.
Charlie felt almost hypnotized by the waves — until he spotted a tall, beefy kid in the middle of the beach, one of the risk- takers closer to the Gulf. Even from the back, Charlie could tell his chest was puffed out.
Before he could lose his nerve, Charlie reached into his pocket. He plucked a cockroach from the box. He tucked the insect into his palm, locking it into place like he’d practiced. His hand was shaking — bad.
He waited for a lull between the waves — the big ones came every two minutes or so — then
he took his chance. His knees wobbled as he waded onto the beach, where the water came up to his thighs.
The wind pushed against his back like an invisible hand.
Go. Go. Go.
Before he knew it, he was standing behind Gordon Potts. He took a breath and tapped Gordon on the shoulder. Gordon looked at Charlie with surprise, and then his usual sneer.
“What do you want, twerp?” He practically spat the question.
Charlie opened his mouth. But the words he’d practiced were all gummed up on his tongue. “Did you know . . . ?” His voice was high and squeaky. “An ancient trick . . . cockroaches . . .” Charlie’s hand was suddenly slick with sweat. The cockroach slipped out and plopped into the water.
He looked up at Gordon, who seemed ready to pounce.
What had Charlie been thinking? He needed to get out of here. Now!
Some kids around them had the same idea. Most were laughing, but a few were shouting. “Look out!”
“It’s a big one!”
And then the sky seemed to disappear above Charlie as a giant wave towered up, bigger than any that had come before. It rose higher, higher, higher . . .
Charlie and Gordon turned to run. But this wave was too fast and too big. Charlie barely had enough time to take a breath before the wall of water curled over and swallowed him up.
The churning, gritty water was everywhere at once — over Charlie, under Charlie, up his nose, down his throat. The salt water stung his cut lip.
Luckily the twisting ride didn’t last long. The wave spat him off the beach. He rolled. He stopped just before he smacked into the edge of the raised sidewalk. He pulled himself up, amazed he wasn’t hurt. He’d torn the knee of his trousers, but that was it.
Three younger kids had also been swept here by the wave.
“Let’s do that again!” screamed the littlest one,
and they all took off back toward the beach. Charlie glanced nervously around — scanning for Gordon. But he didn’t spot him. Hopefully the wave had carried him all the way to Hawaii. But no. Gordon had to be somewhere close. A sickening feeling swirled in his stomach. He had to get out of here before Gordon found him. But first he had to catch his breath. Charlie climbed up onto the sidewalk and stood behind three young men. All around him, people were still cheering as the waves crashed down. These men screamed and clapped at each wave like they were at a baseball game.
But then an angry shout interrupted them. “What are you laughing at?”
Charlie turned as an old man in a green hat hobbled toward them. Charlie was surprised to see it was Mr. Early, Grandpa’s friend. He didn’t seem to notice Charlie.
“This is a hurricane!” he scolded the men. The word — hurricane. It jarred Charlie, as if Mr. Early had cursed.
The four men eyed one another.
“Don’t worry, sir,” said the loudest of the group. “Hurricanes can’t hit us here in Galveston.” He was talking to Mr. Early as if the old man were a toddler like Lulu.
“That’s dead wrong!” Mr. Early growled. He frowned, as if he’d argued about this before. “A hurricane nearly destroyed the whole island in 1837. That was before Galveston was even a city. But I was here back then. I was right here, and I remember it.”
He looked off into the distance.
“The wind tore houses apart. Water was every where, even where it had never gone before. And then the sea suddenly rose up, swallowed the entire island. So many lost . . .”
Mr. Early’s voice trailed off. A strong gust of wind lifted his hat off his head, but the old man didn’t notice. He seemed like he was far away from here in his mind. Charlie reached up and snatched the hat from the air before it blew away.
The men eyed Mr. Early impatiently — he’d
interrupted their fun. The loud man signaled to his two buddies, and they moved farther down the sidewalk.
Mr. Early didn’t notice that, either.
“That tree — that’s how I got through. I climbed up. Somehow I managed to hang on until the sun came up. And when the storm was done, there was nothing left. Nothing at all.”
He stood there, staring at the waves, his thin white hair blowing in the wind.
Charlie waited until he was sure Mr. Early was done with his story.
“Mr. Early,” Charlie said finally, speaking up over the gusts. “Here’s your hat.”
Mr. Early looked surprised. He took his hat, put it on, and smiled at Charlie.
“Do I know you, son?”
Charlie didn’t know what to say. Of course Charlie knew him. Charlie had joined him and Grandpa on a few fishing trips. But then Charlie understood — Mr. Early’s memory must be slip
ping away from him. The same had happened to Grandpa before he passed away.
I should help him get home, Charlie thought. But then Mr. Early tipped his hat and hobbled away. And before Charlie could go after him, a chorus of gasps rose up from the crowd.
“The Pagoda!” a woman shouted.
Charlie whipped around and stared out at the Pagoda . . . or what was left of it. Waves were attacking the building, clawing it, ripping it to pieces. The roof cracked apart. The long walk
way twisted and split in two.
Charlie remembered once seeing a pack of dogs fighting over the body of a squirrel. The terrible snarls and growls. The swiping claws and bared teeth. The hunks of fur that flew through the air.
That’s what the ocean looked like now — a pack of wild beasts, devouring a carcass. Soon nothing would be left of the Pagoda but its scat tered bones.
A chill slowly rose through Charlie’s body. Mr. Early’s story . . . could it be true?
The cheering had stopped, and it had started to rain.
The wind gusted even harder.
A wave crashed.
Mr. Cline said that it was impossible for a hur ricane to hit Galveston. But Mr. Early said he’d lived through one. Charlie suddenly didn’t know what to think.