Monday, February 29, 2016

Cover Reveal: Too Hot to Handle by Tessa Bailey


When Rita Clarkson's Suburban takes its last breath on a New Mexico roadside, rescue roars up on a Harley in the form of smooth-talking honkey tonk owner, Jasper Ellis, a man as mysterious as he is charming. Rita's cross-country journey to New York City--with her three estranged siblings in tow--is only beginning, but now that Jasper has found Rita, his plans do not include her leaving.

Amazon – http://amzn.to/1PWXTXl
B&N – http://bit.ly/24nRnR9
iBooks – http://apple.co/1T5bW0Z
Kobo – http://bit.ly/1SRy3YC
Google Play – http://bit.ly/1QedVxs


About the Author
Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans and laptop, driving cross-country to New York City in under four days.

Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees, a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband, best friend and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the work force as a journalist followed, but romance writing continued to demand her attention.

She now lives in Long Island, New York with her husband of eight years and four-year-old daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Book Review: Until You by Penelope Douglas

Until You (Fall Away #1.5)
By Penelope Douglas
Release Date: February 18, 2014
Source: Publisher
Have you ever been so angry that hitting things felt good? Or so numb that you actually felt high? The past few years have been like that for me. Traveling between fury and indifference with no stops in between.

Some people hate me for it, while others are scared of me. But none of them can hurt me, because I don't care about anything or anyone.

Except Tatum.

I love her so much that I hate her. We used to be friends, but I found out that I couldn't trust her or anyone else.

So I hurt her. I pushed her away.

But I still need her. The sight of her centers me, and I can pool all of my anger into her. Engaging her, challenging her, bullying her...they are my food, my air, and the last part of me that feels anything human.

But she left. She went to France for a year, and came back a different girl.

Now, when I push, she pushes back.
 




Before I read Bully, my sister asked me how the heck I could like a romance between a girl and her bully. How could someone ever forgive someone who could bully them so much? After reading Bully, I told her that you just couldn't understand until you met Jared. Reading his side of the story, though, made me fall in love with him even more than in Bully

Ever since his life crumbled apart one summer, Jared has only been able to find solace in bullying the only person he's ever loved: Tate. The only time he feels in control is when he's hurting Tate, but right before their senior year, Tate decides she's not going to put up with Jared's bullying anymore. Jared is shocked by Tate's feistiness and finds himself thinking about her even more than before. But as Tate starts to push Jared buttons right back, Jared finds it harder and harder to keep his facade and hide his true self from the girl next door. 

Holy moly, Jared. Oh, he is so broken and all I wanted to do was hug him and make him better. He goes through some serious crappy situations and I love that we finally got to see his side of things and what he actually went through. It's always tricky writing a book from anther character's point of view because you risk the chance of being repetitive and boring. For Until You, Penelope Douglas opened up a whole new world into the mind of Jared and showed us so many new things that made us fall for Jared so much more. 

Like in Bully, we got intense emotion and some serious chemistry in Jared's story. We got to see just how much he was attracted to Tate and how hard he had to hide how he felt just to protect his own emotions and broken heart. There were so many times I just wanted to hug Jared and tell him that everything was going to be okay. And also times where I wanted to shake Jared and tell him to stop being stupid and just be with Tate already! Oh, and seeing how bothered he was by Madoc's actions towards Tate was hilarious and you gotta love a best friend who knows just what you need to get your head out of your behind and go after what you really want. 

Until You was the perfect addition to the Fall Away series and Jared has easily become my favorite character. His story opened up his character so much to the reader and allowed me to see into his broken past and see how badly he just needed someone to fix him. If you haven't yet, you have to read the emotional and addicting story of Tate and Jared. You're missing out!



Saturday, February 27, 2016

Stacking the Shelves (183)

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where bloggers share what books they got throughout the week!

From OCTELA
This weekend, I was lucky enough to attend OCTELA (Ohio Conference for Teachers of ELA) for the second year in a row. This year, Rainbow Rowell was the keynote speaker and she also gave another talk during a session later in the day, so I got to see a lot of Rainbow on Friday! At the conference, Scholastic was there and all of their books were buy one get one free. The hardback of Firefight was marked down to $10, so I got these two wonderful books for only $10! 

From Publisher
Two books came in the mail for me this week and they definitely look intriguing! How could a book title I Woke Up Dead at the Mall not sound like a very interesting read? I can't wait to read these! 


That's all for me! What did you add to your shelves this week? 


Friday, February 26, 2016

Book Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Dark Places
By Gillian Flynn
Release Date: May 4, 2010
Source: Borrowed
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository
Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived–and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her. 

The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details–proof they hope may free Ben–Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club . . . and maybe she’ll admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all.

As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the narrative flashes back to January 2, 1985. The events of that day are relayed through the eyes of Libby’s doomed family members–including Ben, a loner whose rage over his shiftless father and their failing farm have driven him into a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started–on the run from a killer.




Words can't even begin to describe how hyped any book by Gillian Flynn is. One of my students told me that Dark Places was his favorite book ever and gave me his copy to read. After watching Gone Girl and really enjoying it, I couldn't wait to see if her books were as entertaining and engaging as the movie. 

Libby Day will forever be remembered as the little girl whose brother slaughtered their entire family. Twenty-five years later, Libby's brother Ben is still sitting in jail and Libby is running out of money from the tragedy. When a group reaches out to talk to LIbby about the murders, Libby accepts and starts to question her own memory of her brother and what really happened on that cold, deadly night. 

This book sounded so promising but ended up being just so….boring. It flashed between the present and the events leading up to the night of the murder. While it was really interesting seeing what actually happened when Libby was seven and didn't really understand what was going on, I didn't feel connected to any characters at all, especially Libby. I get that she was supposed to be an unreliable and unlikable character, but I just don't enjoy books where I don't even like the main character I'm reading about. 

I've got to say, I definitely didn't guess who committed the murders, but the moments leading up to the big reveal were anticlimactic and just boring. There was so much of Libby thinking and remembering and I was never scared or on the edge of my seat. There was so much crazy in Gone Girl that I guess I expected more wow factor from this book that I definitely didn't get. 

As my first Gillian Flynn novel, I was not impressed. At all. There was no suspense or intrigue and everything just went too slow for my liking. I think I still want to check out Gone Girl to see if maybe that one is the way to go, but I was severely disappointed in Dark Places.



Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (231)

This is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine where every Wednesday bloggers highlight a book that they are eagerly anticipating the release of!

The Summer of Supernovas
By Darcy Woods
Release Date: May 10, 2016
As the daughter of an expert astrologer, Wilamena Carlisle knows that the truth lies within the stars. So when she discovers a rare planetary alignment, she is forced to tackle her worst astrological fear – The Fifth House of Relationships and Love. But Wil must decide whether a cosmically doomed love is worth rejecting her mother’s legacy, when she falls for a sensitive guitar player hailing from the wrong side of the chart.

Debut author Darcy Woods explores love in all its complexities and how to best honor the loved ones who have passed before us, in a novel packed with both humor and heart.


-------------------------------------

This synopsis definitely had me at "sensitive guitar player." Who doesn't love a sensitive musician?? While the rest of the summary is a little confusing to me, it sounds like it's going to be a unique YA romance and I can't wait for the chance to read it! 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Book Blitz: Blocked by Jennifer Lane

Blocked
by Jennifer Lane
New adult sports romance

College freshman Lucia Ramirez has a secret crush on Dane Monroe. He’s a tall drink of water — blond, brash, and one hell of a volleyball player. ¡HĂ­jole! Lucia hopes her volleyball scholarship to his school will make him notice her. 

Too bad what’s noticeable is Dane’s obvious hatred for Lucia. Her family’s politics contradict everything he stands for. And politics are front and center in both their families. Dane’s mother is about to face Lucia’s father in the race for US President. 

When Secret Service throws them together, Dane can’t deny his frustrating attraction to Lucia’s athletic curves and sweet faith in the world. Amid the intense pressure of college athletics and presidential politics, can opposites not just attract, but overcome overwhelming odds to be together? Or do their differences block their match from the start? 


About the Author

Get psyched for romance with psychologist/author (psycho author) Jennifer Lane! By day she's a therapist, and by night she's a writer. She can't decide which is more fun.

Jen adores creating sporty heroines and hot heroes in her college sport romances. Volleyball wonder Lucia Ramirez found her love match in Blocked despite the glaring political spotlight aimed on her family. In Aced, the second book in the Blocked series, it's her brother Alejandro's turn to get lucky in love.

A swimmer and volleyball player in college, Jen writes swimming-based romances as well: Streamline, a military mystery, and the free New Adult novella Swim Recruit. Stories of redemption interest Jen the most, especially the healing power of love. She is also the author of The Conduct Series, a romantic-suspense trilogy that includes With Good Behavior, Bad Behavior, and On Best Behavior. Ultimately, whether writing or reading, Jen loves stories that make her laugh and cry. In her spare time she enjoys exercising, attending book club, and visiting her sisters in Chicago and Hilton Head.

Find the Author Here: Website * Blog * Facebook * Twitter * GoodReads * Instagram 
Buy Blocked: Amazon US * Amazon UK


Now that we were alone in the hallway, my eyes swept up Lucia’s firm body, and I decided to play with her a bit. “Did you hear what one of those reporters said?”

She studied me with nervous eyes, then shook her head.

“They asked if we slept in the same bedroom.”

Her lips parted as she drew a breath, and her face turned a delicious shade of pink. I watched one hand smooth down her thigh, then dart up to the back of her neck. The other hand fidgeted at her side. It looked like she had to force a swallow.

Sweet Jesus. Her embarrassment totally turned me on.

“So, um...what did you tell them?” she finally asked.

A sense of pressure below my belt pulled me toward her. Her eyes widened as I approached, but she seemed more excited than frightened.

Her breezy, floral scent mingled with the liquid courage in my veins, and before I knew it I was running my fingers into her thick, damp hair. What the hell am I doing? God, it felt good, and she tilted her ear toward me like she enjoyed it too. There was a cute little dimple on her right cheek that winked at me. I found myself leaning closer to her face, and considering her impressive height, I didn’t have far to go. Her shiny eyes turned back to me, and she gazed up with such yearning, such depth.

My heart thundered. Stop seducing me, Devil Spawn!

Those sensuous lips opened for me, their sweetness luring me forward. I held my face over hers, breathing in her smell, and her eyes fluttered shut as she surrendered to me. I stared at her soft features for too long, shocking myself with an insane desire to kiss those sweet lips. Before I totally freaked myself out, I shifted an inch to press a kiss onto her warm cheek, right on her dimple. I could feel her tremble beneath my touch.

My hand still tangled in her hair, I pulled back to gaze into her mesmerized eyes. “I told them I never kiss and tell.”

When I let her go, I heard a little squawk of protest. That adorable noise reminded me of the pressure down below — pressure I needed to do something about. I turned and took swift strides down the hall.

“Where are you going?” Her breathy voice was tinged with desperation.


I grinned. She was just too easy to mess with.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Book Spotlight + Giveaway: The Groom Wore Plaid by Gayle Callen

The Groom Wore Plaid
Highland Weddings Series
By Gayle Callen
Avon Romance
February 23, 2016
Mass-Market ISBN: 9780062268006 * $7.99
E-ISBN 9780062268013 * $5.99

Falling in love means tempting fate in this passionate new novel in USA Today bestselling author Gayle Callen’s Highland Wedding series.

Maggie McCallum’s dreams about her new fiancĂ© aren’t the romantic sort. It’s not just that she was bartered to Owen Duff like a piece of property to end a clan feud. She’s also haunted by premonitions of his death on their upcoming wedding day. Yet the exasperating Highlander won’t let her call it off, even though his life and his clan are both in jeopardy.

Owen has wanted Maggie in his bed since he first glimpsed her years ago. If their union restores peace between their clans, so much the better. But while lusting after another chief’s sister had its risks, growing to trust Maggie is far more dangerous. Owen is falling deeply in love with the one woman he cannot hope to claim…and survive.
Scotland, 1717

                  Maggie McCallum was only sixteen and Owen Duff eighteen the autumn their families spent in Edinburgh. Her mother had said she was too young for courtship, but Maggie secretly scoffed at that. Men looked at her now, and she was finally allowing herself to give a flirtatious look back.
                  And then at a dancing assembly, she saw Owen, Viscount Duncraggan, heir to the earldom of Aberfoyle. She’d met him only once before, at a dinner with their parents. She’d been twelve, he fourteen, and he’d ignored her. Now a friend giggled and pointed him out.
                  “He’s from the Duff clan,” the girl said. “Even I ken that the McCallums and the Duffs have always despised each other.”
                  Maggie nodded without really listening. She was staring at Owen with wide, curious eyes. He did not wear a belted plaid as so many of her family did, but an expensive tailored coat and waistcoat over knee breeches, and the polished sword at his hip sparkled in the candlelight when he strode across the dance floor to bow to a blushing girl. He had a thin face and bony shoulders that hinted at the broad strength of the man he would become. His sandy hair was gathered in a haphazard queue on his neck, loose strands brushing his cheeks as if he were too busy to be bothered fastening it more securely.
                  “Isn’t your brother to marry his sister? Ye’ll be practically family.”                                            
                  Family or not, Maggie knew better than to be the McCallum who approached a Duff in public, right in front of her mother. She thought of her brother’s misery at marrying a woman he didn’t know or love, the way he’d done foolish, reckless things in anger when he’d first discovered his fate at thirteen. Maggie had pitied him, and felt guilty that she was secretly glad it wasn’t she forced to marry a Duff.
                  Her next meeting with Owen wasn’t auspicious—she merely passed him on the stairs outside her flat on High Street, as dusk settled in dark waves on Edinburgh. The tall building with a dozen floors housed all manner of people, from the chimney sweep in the cellar to the dancing master in the garret. The best floors were reserved for noblemen, and though her father didn’t have a title, he was the chief of the Clan McCallum. Her mother had leased the flat to be near the earl’s family, since her son was marrying into them, but she did not want her daughter involved beyond what civility expected.
                  Upon seeing Maggie, Owen came to a stop on the stairs and grinned that grin that lived in her dreams for many years to come. His warm brown eyes made her think of the chocolate English ladies favored for their morning drink, and as they took her in, skimming her form, she felt as suitably overheated as that cup she’d only once clutched in her hands on a cold winter morning in the Highlands.
                  She wanted to scold him for his bold gaze but then she saw the round tube he carried.
                  “Is that a telescope?” she demanded.
                  Those eyes now brightened with more than warmth. “Aye, I’m heading out to gaze upon the stars. Have ye looked through one before?”
                  She shook her head. She’d done nothing more intellectual than read passages from the Bible—she hadn’t been allowed more, had no access to other books. Knowing there was a whole world of knowledge out there made her ache with regret and frustration.
                  He held out a hand. “I’m Owen. Do ye want to come?”
                  She hesitated, realizing he didn’t recognize her. In that long moment she thought of her grandparents already preparing for bed, the fact that she’d just seen her mother into a sedan chair to meet with friends, and that her brother lived in his own flat near the university. She was alone.
                  Owen stood a couple stairs below her, and that put them at just about the same height. She stared into his eyes again, and the admiration and curiosity made her unfurl like a blossom in springtime.
                  But she had to be honest. Taking a deep breath, she said, “I’m Maggie McCallum. ’Tis my brother who’s to marry your sister.”
                  He looked at her for a long moment, and the first feelings of regret and resignation washed through her.
                  But Owen didn’t rush away, only extended his hand closer to her. “Nice to meet ye, Maggie. Do ye still want to come with a dreaded Duff?”
                  She bit her lip to keep from giggling like a foolish girl. She was sixteen, a woman now. He obviously didn’t remember her from four years before. Maybe that was for the best. Putting her hand in his, she let him lead her out into the twilight.
                  During the next few weeks, Owen was the excitement in days that were once dreary and repetitive. Sneaking away to ride down to the shore at the Firth of Forth, boating, exploring the grounds of Edinburgh Castle, or even meandering through shops seemed like wild adventures when she was at Owen’s side.
                  Rather than deter her, the very forbiddance of a friendship between them caused her to be far too reckless. He was so very different from the men she knew. He discussed physics and chemistry and astronomy as if she was as smart as he. She saw his wonder in the world, but when she asked if he would be a scientist, his expression turned hard as he said his father had forbidden it. He was the heir to an earldom, and would be educated as such. If he didn’t study the classics, his father would refuse him attendance at university next year.
                  Maggie sympathized, and distracted him from his sad and angry thoughts, but she could not stop dwelling on her own confusion. Every moment she spent in his company, Owen seemed more and more familiar to her, as if they’d met much earlier in their childhood, though he swore they had not. Sometimes it was as if a ghost of a dream teased her from just beyond the shadows, and she shivered.
                  Her dreams were nothing to make light of. More than once, she’d dreamed something that eventually came true. The family of a little boy in her clan had thought him drowned and were about to give up the search, when a dream led her to the bedraggled boy huddled beneath a cliff. Another dream foretold the suicide of a young woman whom Maggie’s father had abused. Maggie hadn’t understood what she was seeing until it had actually come true, which was often the case. And then it had been too late to help the girl. Maggie’s mother had taken her away from Larig Castle and back to Edinburgh, to keep her safe from her father.
                  But Owen? Could he have been part of a dream she couldn’t remember? The puzzle of it flooded her mind when she was separated from him, but the hours they were together were full of happy laughter, insightful discussion, and endless moments where she stared into his face when he wasn’t looking and imagined herself married to him. Maybe her mind was simply trying to tell her that he was her destiny, that they were meant to be together. She wanted him to kiss her, but he was ever the gentleman—or maybe he assumed that the centuries-old feud between their clans meant they could never share a more intimate relationship. It seemed to be a forbidden topic between them.
                  But he touched her, and each time she could have surely melted with delight. He would take her hand running across a field, guide her by grasping her elbow, put his hand gently on her waist when they stood watching the sun set amid beautiful orange and pink clouds adorning it like trailing scarves.
                  Two weeks into their friendship, they were carrying a luncheon basket along the river, Water of Leith, on a particularly sunny autumn day, when Owen suggested they look for mussels and Scottish pearls. This was no mere meandering in ankle-deep water, and soon they were both dripping wet, pearl-less, shivering as they crawled back up the grassy bank, laughing.
                  Owen lay down in the sun, and feeling reckless, she did the same, eyeing him boldly since his own eyes were closed. His queue had come undone, and long strands of his hair, dark brown with water, covered his cheeks. Without thinking, she came up on her elbow and used a trembling finger to move the locks away from his face.
                  His eyes snapped open, and she expected him to laugh up at her, but he seemed to concentrate intently on her face just above his. Everything external seemed to go silent as they shared a hot, meaningful gaze. She was focused on the rough sound of her breathing, the moisture beaded on his skin, the way she could feel his heart pounding in his chest when she rested her trembling hand there.
                  And then he cupped her head and brought her down for a kiss. His lips were cool from the water, yet softer than she imagined a man’s would be. Such boldness made her dizzy—or was it simply nearness to Owen? Her hand still on his chest, she lifted her head and stared down at him uncertainly, but he only brought their mouths together again. He parted his lips, and the shock of his tongue sliding between hers made her start with surprise and wonder. Her cool, wet skin seemed to heat, the warmth spreading out from her mouth and down her chest. Her trembling was no longer from the cold, but she didn’t know why her limbs seemed so restless. She wanted to be touched—needed it with a desperation new to her. But she was afraid to do more than brace herself against his chest as he explored her mouth and taught her to explore his.
                  The world shifted as he rolled her onto her back. It was his turn to rise above her, his intense face framed by blue sky and towering autumn-hued trees. She had no time to think as he kissed her again and began to touch her. His hand on her body was a hot, welcome presence, and with each touch she felt more and more as if she couldn’t lie still. His caresses journeyed across her wet clothes from her hip and upward. And when at last he touched her breast, pushed upward by her stays, she moaned against his lips and shuddered with each delicate strum across her nipple, as if he made her an instrument of desire.
                  Their shared world of passion was suddenly overwhelming, and she pushed against him before it was too late to stop. Owen lifted his head and stared down at her, his breathing as erratic as hers.
                  “We cannot do this,” she said with a trembling voice. Not that she regretted any of it, she realized, staring at his mouth and wishing to feel again the pleasure he’d given her.
                  Owen was looking at her mouth, too, and he practically growled, “I knew ye’d find out. Forgive me. I didn’t ken how to tell ye.”
                  “Find out what?” she demanded.
                  He grimaced.
                  “Owen Duff, ye have to tell me now.”
                  “My father betrothed me some years ago to the daughter of a Lowland clan. Even now, they journey here for us to meet.”
                  The last warmth from their kiss deserted Maggie. Shivering, she sat up and scooted away from him, covering her chest as if it was bared to him.
                  “Why did ye never tell me this?” she demanded. She’d let herself get lost in the fairy tale of their friendship, and the romance she’d thought had been blossoming. Now she knew she was simply a fool.
                  Owen tucked his hair back into the queue, as if he needed something to do with his hands. He didn’t look at her, and his face was as red as hers felt, but she didn’t feel any sympathy for him.
                  His words came out slowly at first, before tumbling over each other as fast as the rippling water behind him. “At first, I thought we were simply friends, and to know ye were a McCallum made it daring. But the need to kiss ye has been dominating my thoughts more and more.”
                  He met her gaze at last, and she felt like she’d never forget the heat she saw there, the passion he was showing just for her. But he was betrothed, and a lump rose high up into her throat, shutting off any words. She scrambled to her feet and backed away from him before she would embarrass herself more by crying. “I—I have to go.”

Purchase Here:
THE GROOM WORE PLAID

THE GROOM WORE PLAID on Goodreads
HIGHLAND WEDDINGS series on Goodreads

About the Author
After a detour through fitness instructing and computer programming, GAYLE CALLEN found the life she’d always dreamed of as a romance writer. This USA Today bestselling author has written more than twenty historical romances for Avon Books, and her novels have won the Holt Medallion, the Laurel Wreath Award, the Booksellers’ Best Award, and been translated into eleven different languages. The mother of three grown children, an avid crafter, singer, and outdoor enthusiast, Gayle lives in Central New York with her dog Uma and her husband, Jim the Romance Hero. She also writes contemporary romances as Emma Cane.
Visit her website at www.gaylecallen.com.

Connect with Gayle Callen
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