Posted in Blog tour, excerpt, Spotlight, women, Young Adult on January 21, 2015

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P.O.W.ER 2

 

Title: P.O.W.ER
Author: Lisa A. Kremer
Publisher: Word Hermit Press
Pages: 291
Genre: YA Speculative Feminist Fiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Synopsis

What would happen if women and girls joined their unique abilities together to change the world? In a world where access to the written word is reserved to men, Andra BetScrivener has been able to read and write ever since she was a little girl without anyone teaching her. She must keep her abilities a secret in the country of New North, or she could lose her hands, her eyes or her life. In fact, the only paths offered to her–and all young women–are to either marry or enter the government-run Women’s Training Program, where she’ll be taught “feminine” arts like drawing, painting, and homemaking.

On her seventeenth birthday, Andra discovers that her abilities extend beyond reading. She can write events to life. As she begins to explore her new ability, she must take care not to jeopardize her father’s job as head scrivener at the Ministry. Despite her efforts to keep her powers hidden, she comes to the attention of both the government and a rebel group, who each desire to use Andra for their own goals. At the same time, she begins to meet other gifted women who have never dared use their unique powers. With the help of her friends Brian and Lauren—who has the ability to read minds—Andra must find a way to unite the power of women to create change.

When one side manipulates Andra’s words into killing someone, and the other threatens her father’s life and her own freedom, Andra decides to use her writing to empower others to stop governmental oppression. But in a society ruled by lies, cruelty, and inequality her journey will not be easy or safe. For each book sold, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to causes that support women and children around the world.  

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Excerpt

My stomach dropped as soon as Dad entered the kitchen scowling at a thick card embossed with the government seal. My hand started to shake so much that I had to put down my mug of tea. I knew this day was coming. After all, it was my seventeenth birthday, the first day of the last year of my life.

“That’s the letter, isn’t it?”

Dad looked at me with one of his half smiles, the one that never reached his eyes. I hadn’t seen him smile with genuine happiness for years, not since Mother died. This smile made no effort to cover the sadness and defeat in his face. “Pour me some cocoa, please.” He lowered himself into his customary chair next to me, “I’ll do my civic duty and read this to you.”

“I could always read it myself,” I said. I waited for him to respond the way he always did. I hoped that provoking him a little would reawaken the Dad who let me believe I could do anything, while still protecting me from the cruelty of our society. That Dad had disappeared over recent years.

“Andra!” he said, “You know I don’t like you to say that out loud. You never know if someone might be listening. If I could let you read everywhere, I would. We can’t let your secret get out.”

“I’m sorry.” I handed Dad his cocoa and watched as he took several sips. For a moment he closed his eyes and his face relaxed. The secret to giving him those brief moments was in the cocoa. I make it just like Mother used to. She left us too soon to teach me all her cooking secrets, but she taught me a few. She was a woman who turned everything she touched into something beautiful, warm and comforting. She could make people calm even in the most terrifying circumstances. Mother and Dad both made me believe that my future wasn’t set in the same stone used to build the giant walls that separated New North from the outside world. Mother believed that somehow they would find a way to return to some of the freedoms of the past and make a better future for all women. She never got the chance to do that. She died and Dad grew afraid.

“Ah, perfect as always. Now, to do my duty.” Dad put his mug down and brought my attention back to the thick card, or the envelope of doom, as I thought of it. The government seal—the Eye of the Lord—gleamed with a hint of gold ink as it caught the light from the sun shining through the window. It sent a shiver down my spine, as if the eye was really watching me.

 

About the Author

Lisa KramerLisa A. Kramer has spent her life learning, creating, and exploring the world through theatre, writing, traveling and collaborating as an educator. She has lived in nine states and two countries (including Japan). She holds a PhD in Theatre for Youth, an MFA in Theatre Directing, and a BA in English Language & Literature and Theatre. She has published non-fiction articles in journals specializing on Theatre for Young Audiences, as well articles aimed at young people for Listen Magazine. In addition to young adult novels, she has ventured into the world of short stories, and has stories for adults in several of the Theme-Thology series published by HDWPBooks.com and available on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo. When not writing, Lisa shares her love of the arts and the power of story as co-founder of heArtful Theatre Company and as adjunct faculty at various colleges and universities. She also spends time enjoying New England with her husband, daughter, and two dogs from her home base in central Massachusetts.

Her latest book is the YA speculative feminist fiction, P.O.W.ER.

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Posted in Blog tour, excerpt, romance, Spotlight, Western on January 20, 2015

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Colorado Hope 2

Title: Colorado Hope
Author: Charlene Whitman
Publisher: Ubiquitous Press
Pages: 412
Genre: Sweet Western Historical Romance
Format: Kindle

Synopsis

1875 ~ Beset by a sudden spring storm on the Front Range, newlywed Grace Cunningham watches in horror as her husband, Monty, is swept downriver. Pregnant and despairing, she stumbles into Fort Collins and tries to make a life for herself, praying that one day the man she loves will walk into town and back into her life.

A year after Grace’s tragic loss, Monty enters the dress shop where she works—with a beautiful woman on his arm. Shocked that he has no recollection of her, Grace is determined to win back his heart. Somehow she must help him regain his memories and his buried love for her—and not just for her sake but for the sake of their infant son, Ben.

Monty, miserable in his marriage to a woman he hardly knows, is inexplicably drawn to Grace. Every time he’s near her, memories surface, but they are hazy and troubling. He’s torn between his vows and the desires of his heart, for he cannot stay away from Grace.

Grace’s hope is sparked when Monty starts recalling glimpses of his past. But when murderous outlaws come to town, she is thrust into grave danger. Monty risks his life to rescue her, only to face even greater perils in the treacherous mountains. Can she truly hang on to hope when she is about to lose all she loves?

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Excerpt

May 16, 1875

A fierce wind whipped Grace Ann Cunningham’s hair, yanking at the long strands and pulling them free from their pins. She squinted through the haze of the blustery day and stroked her bulging belly, trying to comfort her baby, who seemed just as agitated by the sudden storm.

Her back ached from sitting on the hard buckboard bench all these miles—much less comfortable than the plush sleeper car they’d enjoyed last week on the train from Illinois to Cheyenne.

She frowned at the dark roiling clouds that had moved in and quickly blotted out the sun.

What had been a pleasant uneventful morning was now turning into an ominous and unsettling afternoon on the open prairie.

Grace sucked in a breath as the baby again kicked her ribs in protest. Her sweet husband’s sun-browned face tightened in concern as he caught her gesture. He pulled on the reins of the two draft horses—sturdy ones they’d bought yesterday in Cheyenne. Surefooted, the seller had told them. And Monty knew his horses, so she trusted his purchase and assurance that they’d

haul them without incident to Fort Collins. But looking at her husband’s face now, seeing the subtle telltale signs indicating that he hadn’t expected this squall nor felt at ease about it, gave her pause. And her normally talkative husband had been too quiet this last hour, eyeing the sky and listening to the roar of the nearby river, as if hearing their complaints and trying to suss out nature’s intentions.

“The baby all right, darlin’?” He scooted over on the buckboard seat to look her over, then took her hands in his.

Warmth from his gentle grip comforted her, but not as much as the love streaming from his adoring gaze.

“I think so,” she told him, then smiled as he laid his hand firmly on her belly.

Grace thanked the Lord in a silent prayer for this wonderful man who’d married her in a simple ceremony last September. All those years she’d lived with her doting aunt Eloisa in the boardinghouse back in Bloomington, she never imagined she’d be blessed with such happiness.

When Montgomery Cunningham had first stepped into the parlor to take a room before starting college at Wesleyan University, she’d been a shy, giggling girl of ten. Neither of them foresawthe love that would spark six years later when he showed up again unexpectedly, about to head west to explore and survey lands unknown.

Monty closed his eyes, his hand still on the baby in her womb. She imagined him communing with their baby, speaking to it the way he spoke to rivers, to trees, to the land he traversed by boat and on horseback and on foot. Something had happened to him when he returned from the Hayden Yellowstone Expedition. He had changed from boy to man, yes—but it was more than that. He had fallen in love with the West, and with rivers in particular. Although he’d studied geology in college with John Powell, water captured his heart, and he sought out trips that had him navigating whitewater. Nothing made his eyes sparkle more than talking about the way water moved and sang as it cascaded and carved the face of mountains and spilled into waiting valleys. Well, except the way he looked at her.

Monty may have loved rivers, but Grace knew he loved her more. So much more, for he gladly gave up his exploring to settle down and marry and start a family. Although, Grace thought moving to the new town of Fort Collins, Colorado, was adventure enough. She hoped he’d come to see it that way as well and not be into the wild.

About the Author

Charlene WhitmanCharlene Whitman spent many years living on Colorado’s Front Range. She grew up riding and raising horses, and loves to read, write, and hike the mountains. She attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins as an English major. She has two daughters and is married to George “Dix” Whitman, her love of thirty years. Colorado Hope is the second sweet Historical Western Romance novel in her Front Range series.

Her latest book is the sweet western historical romance, Colorado Hope.

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Posted in 5 paws, excerpt, fiction, Giveaway, Historical, Review on January 15, 2015

Passing Through Perfect

Passing through Perfect by Bette Lee Crosby

It’s 1946. The war is over. Millions of American soldiers are coming home and Benjamin Church is one of them. After four years of being away he thought things in Alabama would have changed, but they haven’t. Grinder’s Corner is as it’s always been—a hardscrabble burp in the road. It’s not much, but it’s home.

When Benjamin attends a harvest festival in Twin Pines, he catches sight of Delia. Before their first dance ends, he knows for certain she’s the one. They fall madly in love; happily, impatiently, imprudently, in love. It doesn’t matter that her daddy is staunchly opposed to the thought of his daughter marrying a cotton farmer, never mind a poor one.

It’s true Benjamin has little to offer; he’s a sharecropper who will spend his whole life sweating and slaving to do little more than put food on the table. But that’s how things are in Alabama. Benjamin is better off than most; he has a wife, a boy he adores, and a house that doesn’t leak rain. Yes, Benjamin considers himself a lucky man until the fateful night that changes everything.

Reviewer Praise

“Passing Through Perfect is not the kind of novel that excels in pat answers, simple characters, and calm progressive events – and this is evident from the first paragraph, which opens with a punch and keeps on emotionally slugging… Southern fiction writing at its best: spiritually infused, warm, and family-oriented…” Midwest Book Review, Diane Donovan’s Shelf

“A heartwarming tale that shows both the good and bad found in mankind… Highly Recommended to those who enjoy historical fiction.” Inspired Kathy, I am a Reader

“Author Bette Lee Crosby’s characters take on heartbreak and oppression with dignity, courage, and a shaken but strong faith in a better tomorrow” Indie Reader

An uplifting story of family, love, kindness and hope, despite some people’s less than commendable behavior and attitudes.” Between the Lines

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Excerpt

“When the heart of a man gets pulled loose he starts dying. I started dying a year ago, and I’m still working on it. I ain’t going all at once; I’m going piece by piece.”

“The sheriff recognized Benjamin. He’d done work for Missus Haledon, and he’d done a good job. He painted their back fence and repaired a broken window in the storage shed. He was blacker than most but known for being polite, unlike the smart-mouthed coloreds who lived on the far side of Bakerstown.”

“As he sat at the kitchen table and drank a glass of sweet tea with his daddy, her ghost slid in alongside of them. It was a sadness neither of them wanted to speak of.”

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I have loved everything I have ever read by Bette and this one is no exception! This is the 3rd in a series but you don’t have to read the first two to read this book. There are just characters that tie the books together and Bette does a great job of giving you some of their history in case you haven’t read the previous books.

The storyline of this book touched on issues between whites and blacks in the early to mid 1900’s. It is also a story of love, loss, faith and trust. Benjamin is a pivotal character and endures a lot in his lifetime including desegregation and learning that not all people will judge his based on his skin. I was amazed at his strength and character despite what was thrown at him in his lifetime.

This is a touching story and well told.  We give it 5 paws up!

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BetteAuthor Bette Lee Crosby

Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby shares the storytelling charm of her Southern Mama in tales that are both heartrending and heartwarming. She is best known for her creation of characters that readers find unforgettable.

Passing through Perfect is Crosby’s tenth novel and the third book in the Wyattsville Series that began with the USA Today Bestseller Spare Change. Her work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. Since then, she has gone on to win another twenty literary awards, including the Royal Palm Literary Award, the Reviewer’s Choice Award, the FPA President’s Book Award Gold Medal and the 2014 Reader’s Favorite Gold Medal.

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$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 2/6/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Posted in 5 paws, Blog tour, excerpt, Giveaway, mystery, Review on January 14, 2015

CranberryBlog Tour Schedule

 

Cranberry Bluff

Cranberry Bluff by Deborah Garner

Molly Elliott’s quiet life in Tallahassee, Florida, is disrupted when routine errands land her in the wrong place at the wrong time: the middle of a bank robbery. Accused and cleared of the crime, she flees both media attention and mysterious, threatening notes, to move across the country to Cranberry Cove, where she has inherited her Aunt Maggie’s bed and breakfast on the Northern California coast. Her new beginning is peaceful – that is, until five guests show up at the inn for a weekend, each with a hidden agenda.

Mix together one blushing honeymoon couple, one flamboyant boutique owner, a deadpan traveling salesman, and a charmingly handsome novelist, and there’s more than scones cooking at Cranberry Cottage Bed and Breakfast. As true motives become apparent, will Molly’s past come back to haunt her or will she finally be able to leave it behind?

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Excerpt

Molly dried the last of the breakfast dishes and put them away before sitting down to look over the inn’s schedule. No new arrivals were due that evening, or the next. But she had to do some shuffling to accommodate Bryce Winslow’s longer stay. She still couldn’t believe she hadn’t written down his departure date. That wasn’t like her. She always kept on top of the details in her reservation book. Had their phone conversation thrown her off-balance that much? Apparently it had.

She didn’t like feeling scattered, the way she’d felt when she left Tallahassee. Taking over Aunt Maggie’s bed and breakfast in Cranberry Cove had been a chance for her to reorganize her life, to start over. It was one of the main reasons she was there.

Molly shuddered, thinking about Florida. Her life there had been peaceful for so many years. She’d loved her job as an administrative assistant at a small advertising agency. Long work hours during the week were rewarded with free weekends. She didn’t have to put in the extra hours that the ad execs did. Saturdays and Sundays often found her enjoying the warm waters on a Gulf Coast beach or adventuring through swamp areas. She’d landed some impressive alligator pictures on one of those trips.

Her duties at the ad agency were basic, which suited her just fine. She handled incoming phone calls, made coffee, kept appointment calendars updated and ran errands when needed. Aside from the lack of romance in her life, it was a perfect existence. Until that day.

She hadn’t realized at the time that she’d walked into a bad situation. It was an ordinary morning. She’d stopped at FedEx to send out an overnight package, chatting about sports with the clerk, a college student. He was a Gators fan; she was a Seminoles fan. They had a long history of jovial teasing whenever she dropped off shipments.

From the FedEx office she’d stopped at a favorite coffee house, grabbing a decaf macchiato to go. Her next stop was a quick drive-through at the post office, where she dropped a batch of metered mailings in the driveway box. And then she went to the bank.

For the three years she’d worked for the ad agency, she’d taken a daily deposit to the bank. She was a stickler for accuracy, and the execs appreciated her efficient loyalty. She never thought twice about her quick jaunts in and out of the bank building. It was an errand, just like any other errand she had to run. At least it was, until the day a woman at the teller’s window next to her pulled out a gun. One minute Molly was thanking the teller for the ad agency’s deposit receipt. The next, she was sprawled out on the floor, like everyone else who had the misfortune to be in the bank at that moment.

It had all happened so quickly, though it didn’t seem like that at the time. The news reports later would say the robber was gone within six minutes. To Molly, face pressed against the bank’s cold, marble floor, it felt like hours.

That should have been the end of it. The whole episode should have gone down as a terrifying close call. She could have gone on with her life as it had been if not for a wild twist of fate. The robber had the same build, hair length and hair color as Molly, who had walked away quickly after the incident even before police arrived. She was shaken, but assumed the experience was over. Little did she know what was about to unfold.

Review

All seems quiet in California at the Cranberry Bluff B&B…until 5 different people check in, all on a similar mission but don’t realize it right away…and all of these people are not who they say they are!

I really enjoyed this book.  Lots of twists and turns tying back to a crime Molly witnessed in Florida and tried to escape.  Sadie is an older lady with a pension for shopping.  Susie is a “newlywed” that is also a shoplifter.  Bryce is a hunky man that catches the ladies eye and Charlie is just weird…could be that OCD of his.

Just when I thought I had some of the characters figured out, the author throws another curve ball at you.  I never would have guessed the truth behind these characters and I’m still wondering about one of them.

And of course since they are in a town named after the cranberry, there are a lot of recipes at the end of the book worth checking out.

We give this 5 paws up

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About the Author

Deborah Garner is an accomplished travel writer with a passion for back roads and secret hideaways. Born and raised in California, she studied in France before returning to the U.S. to attend UCLA. After stints in graduate school and teaching, she attempted to clone herself for decades by founding and running a dance and performing arts center, designing and manufacturing clothing and accessories, and tackling both spreadsheets and display racks for corporate retail management. Her passions include photography, hiking and animal rescue. She speaks five languages, some substantially better than others. She now divides her time between California and Wyoming, dragging one human and two canines along whenever possible.

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Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 1/19/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, Spotlight on January 12, 2015

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9780062325693 Fatal Act

Title: FATAL ACT: A Detective Geraldine Steel Mystery

Author: Leigh Russell

Release Date: December 23, 2014

Genre: Mystery/Detective

Publisher: Witness Impulse an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

 

 

 

 

~ Synopsis ~

After a glamorous young TV soap star dies in a car crash, all eyes are on the Detective Geraldine Steel to discover what caused the tragic accident. Another driver was involved in the collision yet seems to have miraculously walked away unscathed and has now vanished. The deceased had no obvious enemies and nothing to hide, so the investigation seems to be stalling. But when another young actress is found dead it becomes painfully clear that there is a murderer on the loose targeting beautiful, famous women. The only problem is that whoever is committing these crimes isn’t leaving any clues. With public pressure mounting, Geraldine Steel unwittingly risks her sergeant’s life in their search to track down a serial killer…

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 Excerpt

“The victim was a twenty-two year old white female called Anna Porter.”

He paused and the assembled officers looked appropriately subdued on hearing how young the victim was.

“Anna Porter?” one of the constables piped up suddenly, staring at the photo of the young woman’s bloody face. “I thought I recognized her. She’s Dorothy in Down and Out, isn’t she?”

“What’s Down and Out?”

“It’s a hit series on the TV. You must have heard of it.”

Reg gave a noncommittal grunt. Several of the younger officers muttered, recognizing the actress.

“The key task is to question the driver who parked the other vehicle involved in this accident,” Reg added.

“Bloody idiot,” someone muttered.

He nodded at a sergeant who had been researching the vehicles. Anna had been driving her own white Porsche when she had crashed into a black van registered to a man called Piers Trevelyan.

“Anna and Piers lived at the same address,” the sergeant added and a murmur of interest rippled around the room.

“It’s a crime of passion!” Sam whispered.

Geraldine smiled at her young colleague’s enthusiasm.

“So,” the sergeant resumed, “the victim was living with Piers. They’d been living together for about six months.”

“That seems to be fairly conclusive then,” Reg said complacently, “let’s go and pick up the boyfriend. See what he has to say for himself, and what his van was doing parked in Ashland Place just where Anna was driving.”

Geraldine scribbled down the address as the sergeant continued.

“Anna was an actress on the TV. Her boyfriend, Piers Trevelyan, is a big shot casting director, a well known figure in the film world by all accounts. He’s worked with quite a few well known film stars, according to his website anyway. And this year he won a lifetime award for services to the British film industry.”

Reg listened, one eyebrow raised, as though skeptical about the information.

“There’s one more thing. A business card was picked up from the floor of the car: Dinah Jedway, the victim’s agent.”

“I can’t believe that’s Anna Porter,” someone commented, and a faint murmur ran round the room.

“She was so beautiful,” another voice agreed.

“I wonder what they’re going to do on Down and Out now.”

“Come on then, let’s sort this out,” Reg said firmly.

He sounded slightly agitated. The significance of the victim’s identity wasn’t lost on anyone in the room. The media was bound to go into a frenzy at the tragic death of a glamorous young celebrity. The police investigation would be a target for critics if they didn’t wrap up the case quickly.

“We need to find out what Piers Trevelyan was doing, driving the wrong way along a one way street, and leaving his van parked there so dangerously,” Geraldine said.

Just look at that,’ a sergeant added, gesturing at a picture of the Porsche. “It looks like she drove into a tank!”

Reg interrupted. “The front of the van was smashed in. According to the traffic officers, there’s no way anyone could have survived that impact.” He paused, frowning. “But traffic can’t believe the damage was as severe as that, if the van was stationary and the Porsche was only traveling at about twenty. They reckon it must have been travelling at least three times as fast as the speedometer indicated. That’s what aroused their suspicion in the first place. They thought there might have been something odd about it, because the car had only just turned the corner.”

They all stared at the image of a smashed up black van displayed on the board, the front of the vehicle caved in.

“We need to find out what the hell happened,” Reg added.

It seemed he didn’t quite believe it was a simple accident either.

 

About the Author

Leigh RussellLEIGH RUSSELL is described as “a brilliant talent” by Jeffery Deaver. CUT SHORT (2009) was shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger Award for Best First Novel. Road Closed (2010) was listed as a Top Read on Eurocrime. With Dead End (2011) Leigh’s detective Geraldine Steel was Number 1 on amazon kindle’s bestseller chart for female sleuths. Leigh Russell is the award-winning author of the Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson mysteries. She is an English teacher who lives in the UK with her family.

 

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Posted in Book Blast, excerpt, fiction, Giveaway, romance, Time Travel on January 9, 2015

Mid Century Mayhem New Cover

Mid Century Mayhem by Bella Street

Modern day Nashville and 1950s Detroit clash worse than an IKEA futon and a plaid Barcalounger when a free-spirited interior designer and a strait-laced automotive engineer find themselves in another time. TOMS-wearing Olivia Haugen and Madras-shirted Kyle Daniels have no idea why they’ve ended up in 1954 Michigan, but it’s probably not because of all the swank mid-century furnishings. Discovering the reason might have something to do with a wily salvage warehouse owner and her not-so-little shop of secrets.

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Praise for the book

“Wow this book just drew me right into it from the start.”–Diana K.

“Loved it. Details of the past were so real, you felt you were there!” –Amy B.

“This book was amazing. It was funny, harrowing, nerve-racking, and just plain awesome!!!” –Tiffany T.

 

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Excerpt

“It’s about to storm,” Constance said, dutifully changing the subject. As if manifested by her words, the sunlight disappeared and a rumble of thunder could be heard in the distance. She pursed her lips. “So I guess you’re heading home to that feckless man-friend of yours. Clayton, wasn’t it?”

“It’s Troy.” Olivia tilted her head. “Clayton was last month.”

Constance rolled her eyes. “I’m going to start making a list so I can keep track.”

“It’s not that bad,” Olivia protested. “Don’t be dramatic.”

“If it’s a lack of drama you want, you should lay off artists and musicians.” The shop owner sniffed. “You should be looking into more mature men like—”

“Your nephew Kyle—that pinnacle of malehood and maturity, or so I’ve heard.”

“It wouldn’t kill you to at least meet the man one of these times.”

“And disappoint you when he fails to pique my interest?”

“You can’t know that,” Constance said, exasperation in her tone.

Olivia arched a brow. “You said he’s an engineer. And thirty years old. Could he sound any more exciting?”

“He’s level-headed, has a great career—”

“And is such a catch that he’s still single at his advanced age.”

“Don’t get smart with me.”

Smirking, Olivia shrugged. “I’ve heard this before. It’s all a retread.”

“That’s what you get here in spades. Retro retread.”

Olivia patted her lightly on her head. “Let’s keep the retro to home décor, shall we?”

Constance crossed her ample arms over her chest, her expression mulish. “I’m not kidding about the demand of mid-century inventory. You’re going to have to find another access point if you want the good stuff. And grab one of those umbrellas by the door or you’ll get yourself soaked to the skin.”

***

Kyle Daniels pressed himself against the brick storefront behind him, his body just inches out of the sudden downpour. The slight overhang of the building, however, failed to stop the rain from splashing onto his shoes. He frowned. The shoes were new—as were his pressed trousers, which were becoming speckled with moisture.

That ridiculous door jingle sounded and he peered through the sheet of rain to see a customer leaving the salvage shop, umbrella poised high over her head.

Not just any customer. He’d seen that white-blond hair and lithe figure before.

Olivia Haugen—the answer to all his dreams, according to Great Aunt Constance.

Kyle had caught a glimpse of her a few times—usually leaving the shop—and every time he saw her, his impression was the same. She was artsy, high-strung, and flighty.

And he hadn’t even met the woman.

Just the way her pale hair floated around her face vexed him. How could she stand it getting in her eyes all the time? She drifted down the sidewalk in a vague, dreamy way—even in the rain. Didn’t she realize she could trip on the broken sidewalk? Or get mugged by a stray criminal? She seemed completely unaware of her surroundings.

And when he saw her climb into a yellow and blue Mini Cooper, painted with the bold lettering of House Whisperer Inc., he had all the information he needed to come to a reasoned, logical conclusion.

She was a nonstarter.

A pointless pursuit.

Besides that, he knew in his gut that she’d never give him the time of day. He’d come in contact with females of her ilk before, and knew a meeting with her would be accompanied by an amused yet dismissive look coupled with the usual disdain for his attire. Madras shirts and Dockers apparently provoked rolled eyes and barely suppressed snickers. Kyle figured she’d go for the type of guy in skinny jeans and V-neck T-shirts that revealed a bony sternum.

And there would be hair gel. Lots of it.

Sorry, Aunt Constance. This dream of yours will just have to crawl into a corner somewhere and die.

 

Bella StreetAbout the Author

#1 Amazon Bestselling author in Time Travel & Gothic Romance!

Living so close to Nashville has provoked Bella to take up fiddle lessons. Until her tunes no longer sound like amorous alley cats, she writes weird romance (which includes Gothic romance, science fiction romance, apocalypse, time travel, paranormal, fantasy romance, New Adult–and possibly sasquatch).

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest * Blog

 

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$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 1/31/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

 

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Posted in 4 paws, Blog tour, excerpt, Giveaway, Review, Young Adult on January 8, 2015

Lexis

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Lexi's Pathetic Fictional Love Life

Lexi’s Pathetic Fictional Love Life

Lexi Middleton has been socially invisible to her classmates, but starting her junior year, that’s going to change. First, she’s determined to hook a boyfriend, ensuring dates with flowers and possible kisses on the doorstep. Second, she wants to be a writer for the school paper, even though it freaks her out to think of everyone judging her by her punctuation and metaphors.

High school is difficult enough—keeping up her grades, dealing with increasing sibling rivalry, and trying to stay out of the way of her personal nemesis, Amberlee—but when Lexi catches the eye of her long-time crush, she also becomes the focus of mean-girl tactics.

Caught between who she was and who she wants to be, Lexi must decide how to confront a bully, and choose who to let into her heart.

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Review

What happens when you focus all of your teen years on classwork and getting good grades? You end up like Lexi – bullied by the “popular” kids, or maybe just a few of them, and writing a story based on what you wish you had in your life.

This is a well written book, although Lexi’s whining gets old after a bit. Sure life isn’t “fair” but what has she done to change her surroundings? Not much. However, about 2/3 of the way through she finally does grow a backbone and start taking charge of her life. It is good to see Lexi realizing that only she can control her life and her destiny.

I thought the story that Lexi was writing as part of her creative writing class was well written for a teenager and how it was a reflection of her own life.

An easy, enjoyable read and we give it 4 paws up.

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Excerpt

At eight o’clock on Saturday morning, I shimmy into a swimsuit then pull on a new sleeveless cover-up, very cute, with a lace hoodie on back. It’s not unusual for people here to throw on swimwear any time of the year. Still, I’m more of a “let’s-swim-all-summer-to-stay-cool” sort of person, not a “play-in-the-water-all-year” type like Gabe. But, it’s going to be ninety-five degrees today, and it’s nice to be out of the house and not looking at homework.

The parched brown hills divide as we wind around their edge on Lakeshore Drive, revealing the blue-green water of Lake Mead. Gabe’s mom is staying on shore to set up the brunch and party at Boulder Beach while his dad drives the boat for us. Gabe and his dad are putting the boat into the water while the rest of us play on the water trampoline.

Riker’s aggressive today. He jumps next to our feet, and if we don’t lose our balance and fall into the lake, he pushes us. Asha makes the most of it, curling into a cannon ball before she hits the surface of the lake. Tillie hides behind me until Riker is close, then she darts away as he strikes. Although I see it coming, I can’t help but fall backward. When Riker goes for Tillie she fakes that she’s going to try to dodge him. At the last moment she grabs him around the neck and pulls him in with her. We splash around for a while, then climb back on the trampoline. This time we girls gang up on Riker.

When the boat arrives, Gabe dives out to join the fun before we get to some serious boarding.

The water’s warm, and the sun is hot. We clamber to the back of the boat and squish into the bench and seats so we can watch each other ride. Asha sits to my left and Tillie is on her other side, pulling her hair over her shoulder into a twist, water running off the end when she throws the twist behind her. Even in kindergarten she had long wavy hair down to her waist, like if you pushed her into a pool you would find she was really a mermaid.

The boys take the other bench. I pop my legs over the girls’ knees and lean against the corner of the boat. “ ‘cuse me. I really need some sun.”

“Yeah, you do.” Riker flinches as Tillie swipes a slap on his leg, but their faces reveal amusement.

“Me too,” says Asha, twisting her legs from under mine and plopping them on top.

“Says the sun goddess.” Asha rolls her eyes with exaggeration, but I continue covetously, “Your skin is the color I try all summer to get. Yeah, never make it.”

“You have some tan this year,” she replies, flicking my ponytail.

“I so should have put my hair up today.” Tillie combs her fingers though her wet hair again and twists it in the back. “I’ve nailed the albino drowned-rat look.”

As the boat picks up speed, Gabe’s dad lets the rope out far enough for the wakes to be small and far apart for us novices. When it’s my turn, I make it to my feet on my first try. Often, I try to stand too quickly and catch the front edge, face-planting. Not today. I move out wide and flatten out the board. The boat tugs me forward, and I edge into the wake for a small jump. Success. I’m still on my feet.

Riker’s turn lasts all of three minutes before he face-plants from trying a back roll without enough air. He ducks his head under the water again just before he climbs into the boat. I’m sitting nearest the back of the boat and try to crawl across the tangle of legs and feet in the well of the boat before Riker begins flipping his hair like a wet poodle.

Everyone takes several turns going out. I don’t know if it’s more fun to sit in the boat and talk with my friends or to be on the board. Soon my muscles burn: my legs, my forearms, my butt. I sit out my next turn, and so do Asha and Tillie. Gabe’s up next. He shortens the rope by fifteen feet, and I’m glad I’ve abdicated my place in line. The wake will be big at that distance.

“How does he do that?” I gasp as Gabe’s board flies over his head, his body twisting before he lands backward. Then he jumps to switch directions, curving out on the board to approach the wake again.

“Oh! A 720. Awesome!” Riker yells as Gabe completes the second turn. He lands with grace, but I can see the muscles in his arm tighten as only one hand holds the bar.

“Watching this explains the muscles in his arms, doesn’t it, Lexi?” Tillie observes, her eyes twinkling mischievously. She enjoys a beautiful body, describing them the way an artist draws attention to a sculpture.

“And chest. And shoulders. And back,” Asha adds slowly. Asha usually doesn’t notice, so when she mentions some guy looks hot, she gets a lot of attention from us.

I don’t have time to gape at Asha for her unexpected comment because I’m staring too. “Uuuuuh-huh.” His muscles flex and ripple as he moves with and against the board and rope, completely in control. Although I know he’s concentrating, his face shows only the delight he feels. “He makes it look easy. Strong legs.”

“Oh, Lexi, you’re a legs-girl?” Tillie asks, throwing her arm around me and leaning in.

“No. Well, right now, yes.” I take another look. “Yes,” I answer with a breathy grin.

“Ripped.” Tillie bites her bottom lip just a bit. “Uh-huh. He’s ripped. Mm. Every part of him is working it.” We all smile—at least, we girls do. Riker shakes his head and looks toward the front of the boat.

“Nothing like a day at the lake to enjoy beautiful sights.” I wave my finger, gazing toward Gabe.

“I hope you talk about me like this when I’m out riding,” Riker says, trying to sound light, but I suspect he really does.

“Oh, we do.” Tillie’s voice climbs an octave. “Hey, girls, look at Riker. Ooh-ooh, that must have hur-r-r-t.” She covers her eyes in mock horror.

“Riker, it’s all about technique. Get some,” I tease, slapping his knee.

“Hey, don’t be so mean.” Asha abandons our bench and slides in next to Riker, throwing her arm protectively around his shoulder and leaning her head on his as she speaks. “He can’t help it if he’s the like-a-brother sort of friend instead of the sexy one.”

“Thanks. I feel better now.” Riker nudges her with his shoulder. He seems aware that he’s not going to win this roasting with the odds three to one.

Tillie jumps into the conversation again. “I’m just helping Lexi out. She’s checking out Gabe’s body and needs my second opinion.”

“Yeah, done here. I’m going back out.” Riker taps Gabe’s dad on the shoulder and the boat slows.

Riker does a couple of tricks and we clap and cheer in his direction to make up for our harassment earlier.

Gabe hands us some water bottles.

“You did some amazing tricks, Gabe. Didn’t he Lexi?”

What? Why is Tillie saying that? I nod his direction, taking a bigger-than-needed drink, but Tillie continues. “What was it you were saying?” She looks at me, and Gabe turns to look at me too.

Oh no. What do I say, can I say? I pick something from the conversation I think will be safe. Thankfully I’m already wet, or I might be perspiring. “Yeah. I’ve never seen a 720 before. Awesome.”

Tillie shakes her head at me. “No, that’s what Riker said. What was it you were saying? You know, about his legs. And his arms.” She taps her backhand on the side of my knee.

Gabe blushes a bit.

She’s not going to drop this. I might as well get it over with. “Your legs and arms have to be strong to do this sport, don’t they?” There that gives us both a way out, especially me. There’s no way I’m going to tell Gabe I was lusting after his legs. And arms. And well, all the rest of him too. Maybe I could say that I thought he looked amazing doing those tricks, but before I do he interrupts my thoughts, saving me from potential disgrace.

“Yeah, the more you do it the easier it becomes.”

Tillie looks comically disappointed. “I don’t remember the conversation being quite so clinical or even sports-related per se. Do you, Asha?”

 

Jo NoelleAbout the Author

Jo Noelle grew up in Colorado and Utah but also spent time in Idaho and California. She has two adult children and three small kids. She teaches teachers and students about reading and writing, grows freakishly large tomatoes, enjoys cooking especially for desserts, builds furniture, sews beautiful dresses, and likes to go hiking in the nearby mountains. Oh, and by the way, she’s two people—

Canda Mortensen and Deanna Henderson, a mother/daughter writing team.

They began writing separately several years ago but found the process much more fun when they started collaborating. They are debut authors, with Lexi’s Pathetic Fictional Love Life as their first completed work. Other titles include Newbie and Damnation.

Deanna attended college before marrying and starting her family.

Canda received a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a Reading Specialist endorsement, and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership. Her day job focuses on teaching teachers and children about literacy.

Website * Twitter

 

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Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 1/29/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Posted in 5 paws, Blog tour, excerpt, Giveaway, suspense, Thriller, Young Adult on January 7, 2015

who are you (1)

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who are you

Who R U Really? by Margo Kelly

Thea’s overprotective parents are driving her insane. They invade her privacy, ask too many questions, and restrict her online time so severely that Thea feels she has no life at all. When she discovers a new role-playing game online, Thea breaks the rules by staying up late to play. She’s living a double life: on one hand, the obedient daughter; on the other, a girl slipping deeper into darkness. In the world of the game, Thea falls under the spell of Kit, an older boy whose smarts and savvy can’t defeat his loneliness and near-suicidal despair. As Kit draws soft-hearted Thea into his drama, she creates a full plate of cover stories for her parents and then even her friends.

Soon, Thea is all alone in the dark world with Kit, who worries her more and more, but also seems to be the only person who really “gets” her. Is he frightening, the way he seems sometimes, or only terribly sad? Should Thea fear Kit, or pity him? And now, Kit wants to come out of the screen and bring Thea into his real-life world. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit’s allure, and hurtles toward the same dark fate her parents feared most. Ripped from a true-life story of Internet stalking, Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea’s life spins out of control.

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The Book Depository * Merit Press

Excerpt

When Tim’s eyes, bluer than an Idaho sky, met mine, my mind turned to mush. He towered above everyone else at the bus stop, and on this cold January morning he looked cuter than ever
with his bomber hat and rosy cheeks. He shoved his sidekick, Josh, jokingly, and a cloud of white air escaped Tim’s mouth.
My best friend, Janie, whacked me on the hip. “Omigosh, Thea. Here they come. Smile.”
Her words bounced in rhythm with her black ringlets. She adjusted her new fluffy snow white parka, and even though it had a hood, she would never smash her perfect curls simply to stay
warm. The crisp air made the tip of her nose red, but the rest of her face remained alabaster white. We’d been best friends for years, and at fourteen, having a friend made the ninth grade
bearable.
Janie hoped Josh and Tim would ask us to the Winter Solstice dance, but I just hoped to speak to Tim without sounding like a complete idiot. Tim walked in our direction with Josh right
on his heels. They stopped in front of us, and everyone else hovered to watch the show.
“Thea,” Tim said. I wanted to reply, but no words came.
Josh approached Janie, and I fidgeted with my favorite fuzzy pink scarf.
“Jan-eee,” Josh said, dragging out the last syllable of her name. He eyed her up and down. “You look like a giant fat marshmallow.”

Review

I’m not sure if I can think of the appropriate words for this book other than WOW! We hear all the time about internet predators and how they manipulate young children online to think they are their friend and then they abuse, kidnap and even kill them. This book brings that situation to life and I could not put this book down. It is one of those books that you know isn’t going to end well and you don’t want to keep reading because of that, but at the same time can’t put the book down because it has drawn you in to the story.

There are a few other story lines, including one about eating disorders.

I thought this was a powerful story and can’t recommend it more…and if you have children, read this book and watch what they are doing on the internet and with their cell phones. It is a shame that the world is this way, but we have to protect the innocent.

We give this 5 paws up…a must read!

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Praise

“Kelly’s first novel is a suspenseful page-turner with multiple suspects, a little bit of romance, and a strong but not overbearing message.” –Kirkus Reviews

“Suspenseful novel that’s guaranteed to give readers goosebumps–particularly as events heat up toward the end. A good choice for families to read together.” –School Library Journal

“Who R U Really? is a fantastically creepy book that is surprisingly realistic and totally engrossing…. Once I opened it, I couldn’t close it. Who R U Really is a satisfyingly unique YA thriller that left me guessing up until almost the very last page…. This book is very realistic and I really enjoyed the writing style.” –Tempest Books

“Based on actual events, the story should be required reading for all teens.” –VOYA Magazine

 

About the Author

margo kellyMargo Kelly is a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, she is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Who R U Really? is her first novel. Margo welcomes the opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book clubs.

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Posted in Book Blast, excerpt, Giveaway, romance, Spotlight, women on January 6, 2015

 

Thirty Three going on girlfriend

Thirty-Three Going on Girlfriend

***The highly anticipated sequel to Becky Monson’s bestseller – Thirty-Two Going on Spinster that I reviewed here!***

Synopsis

Julia Dorning thought she would die a lonely spinster. That was until nine months ago, when her world was turned upside down. Now she’s got a dream career as a bakery owner, and a relationship with handsome Jared Moody—a life she never thought possible.

Just as she’s starting to feel comfortable in her new life, Julia is invited to battle it out on national television making cupcakes. An amazing opportunity, if she can muster up the confidence to do it, that is. Then, out of the blue, Jared goes and throws a rather large wrench in their relationship causing Julia to have to make some big decisions. With her two trusted confidants off in wedding la la land, Julia is on her own to figure everything out.

Left to her own devices, will Julia be able to work things out for herself? Or will she make a disaster of it all? Find out in Becky Monson’s sequel to Thirty-Two Going on Spinster!

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Kobo * iTunes

Praise

“After reading the first book, I have been waiting impatiently for this one. I was not disappointed. I laughed so hard, it was a fun read that left me with a good feeling.” -Amazon Reader

“Get ready for another crazy ride with Julia Dorning. This sequel not only lives up to expectations of the first, but surpasses it!” – Author Kathryn Biel

“After what seemed like an age of (impatient) waiting, I finally got my hands on the next instalment of Julia Dorning’s life. And it was worth every single finger drumming minute.” -BestChickLit.com

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Excerpt

I can’t believe I am here.

I can’t believe I’m standing here, gazing lovingly at Jared, surrounded by our friends and family, on this amazing beach with this marvelous sunset, as we make these vows—these incredible, sure-to-make-you-cry vows—to each other.

The colors are all muted, antique tones of pink, yellow, gold. My bouquet is practically bursting with soft pink roses.

My makeup is not whorish, as my sister, Anna, would have preferred, and my hair is done in perfect, long curls, half pulled up with a small, antique jeweled clip. Simple. Understated. Exactly what I wanted.

And then there’s my dress. My dress is spectacular. It’s timeless, really, just slightly off-white, an off-the-shoulder bodice with details of stunning Chantilly lace and a sweeping train. I heart it. I heart it all. Especially Jared. In his classic suit—none of that penguin stuff for him—he looks like something out of a style magazine. His pants and jacket are perfectly tailored, and he wears the antique pink tie just because I want him to.

I glance over at my bridesmaids—my baby sister Anna and my dearest friend, Betsy Brown—gazing at us with bright smiles. Anna’s has an ever-so-slight look of jealousy, but I beam at them. This is the perfect day. My perfect day with Jared.

“Do you, Jared Nathan Moody, take Julia Warner Dorning to be your lawfully wedded wife? To have and to hold from this day forward, until death do you part?” the officiant, dressed in white, asks Jared.

“I do,” he says simply.

“And do you, Julia Warner Dorning, take Jared Nathan Moody to be your lawfully wedded husband? To have and to hold from this day forward, until death do you part?” the priest asks.

“I do,” I say as I stare into Jared’s eyes. His are filling up with tears, and I begin to well up too.

“Then by the power that is vested in me, I now pronounce you man and wi—”
“JULIA! What the hell? What are you doing in my dress?” Anna’s screeching pulls me out of my fantasy. “Geez, I leave you alone in here for ten minutes, and you think it’s okay to put my wedding dress on? Mom! Tell her to take my dress off!” Anna stomps her foot in a ridiculous, childlike manner.

My mom comes in the room just after Anna and puts her hand to her mouth. “Oh, Julia dear, what are you doing?”

“Nothing! Geez, I was just seeing how it felt, that’s all. Stop pouting like you’re ten,” I say to Anna, who is practically throwing an adult version of a temper tantrum.

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Becky MonsonAuthor Becky Monson

By day, Becky Monson is a mother to three young children, and a wife. By night, she escapes with reading books and writing. In her debut novel, Becky uses humor and true-life experiences to bring her characters to life. She loves all things chick-lit (movies, books, etc.), and wishes she had a British accent. She has recently given up Diet Coke for the fiftieth time and is hopeful this time will last… but it probably won’t.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest

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Book Blast Giveaway

$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 1/28/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Romantic Suspense, Spotlight, Young Adult on January 5, 2015

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Sudden Secrets

C. Lee McKenzie

YA Romantic Suspense, 62k words
Released Dec. 19, Evernight Teen

Synopsis

One Secret 

Cleo has struggled to heal after her baby sister’s death, but the flashbacks to the accident won’t go away. With the move, she vows to keep her tragedy a secret and avoid pitying looks.

One Mystery 

Something’s strange about the abandoned house across the street—flashes of light late at night and small flickers of movement that only someone looking for them would see. Everyone says the house is deserted, but Cleo is sure it isn’t, and she’s sure whoever
is inside is watching her.

Another Secret 

In one night, Belleza’s life changes forever. So famous, her only choice is to hide her secret from the world so she can silence small town bigotry.Then Cleo happens.

14+ due to adult situations

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Evernight Teen * Amazon * Buy in Print

Excerpt

It had been a terrible and very long journey from that tragic Christmas to now, and I couldn’t think about losing another one of us. We’d each done all we could to live without Aziza.

Dad went as far away as possible from where the accident happened. Mom sold our    house and moved us to a new town. Still, we weren’t over that December day.

Mom buried herself in her work for long hours.

Grandpa pulled into himself, wearing that glazed look he’d adopted before the funeral.

I was almost sure he’d wear that look for the rest of his life. He loved Aziza. And what wasn’t there to love? Beautiful golden girl, my mom called her, forever poking her four-year-old nose around the corner daring any of us to chase her. Teasing, begging for attention, which we gave because we couldn’t resist her…

Grandpa loved my sister a lot. I was afraid he loved me very little now.

I wasn’t so fond of myself, either. I shut out all of my Buena Vista friends and started running alone.

From the window over the kitchen sink I watched Nefertiti as she sat on the step, preening in a sunny spot around the back of the house. I went out to sit with her, stroking her fur and surveying the weedy backyard that Mom hadn’t had time to think about. She kept saying she planned to hire a gardener, but there was always something that derailed that plan. In September, it was the new show at the museum that she had to set up by October. She was in charge of staging the Egyptian pieces coming on loan, but she was shorthanded and putting in extra time to make up for only having two assistants. It was going to be a while before the toilet and other debris disappeared.

It was all too depressing to look at, so I walked around to the front and for a minute glanced at the windows of the house across the street. I almost expected to see someone staring out at me. I couldn’t shake the creeped out feeling I got every time I looked at that place.

I knelt to check my laces, and then I was racing down the street, hoping to shed old fears, old thoughts . . . at least for a while. I was at the end of the block, deciding which way to turn, when I spotted Grandpa. I went in the opposite direction, so neither one of us had to pretend that everything was all right since that letter from Dad.

The high school was only four blocks away––one of the reasons, Mom said, she chose this location. It also had one of the best academic ratings in the valley. Another reason she told me she zeroed in on our cozy cul-de-sac.

When I reached the school, I stared up at the two-storied building where I’d spend my last two years of high school. Then what? Junior college, or a job at K-Mart? I worried that I’d bomb on my SAT’s.  I’d bombed on almost everything, hadn’t I? My grades, my friends––being a sister.

I walked up the stone path, leading to the main doors, imagining that first day here, my stomach balling up with worry just on the edge of dread. That first day was going to be the worst.

Off to my right, a thick oak sheltered tables with benches, so I jogged across the lawn and sat on the wooden slats and thought about how it was going to be when school started. Everything new. Everything different. The stares all newbies get. Nobody would know who I was or why I was here. They wouldn’t know my mom was famous for her books on Egypt, or that my dad was an archeologist—the one people called when they dug up important ancientanything in the Middle East. But they’d know something was different about me the minute they heard my name. Cleopatra wasn’t on any baby name list they’d ever read. Neither was Aziza, but she was too little for her name to embarrass her. She’d only just learned what it meant. Precious. And she was that. She was.

A breeze brushed my cheek and I shivered. I thought I’d gotten over feeling that chill, but the healing process wasn’t just slow, it was uneven, too. Sometimes Aziza was only a whisper inside me, and then her image would spring from around the corner just like she used to, full of mischief and giggles. Then there would be that moment when the memory of the chilled air of our old entryway blasted across my face.

Stop it.

I jumped to my feet and jogged to the track behind the high school as fast as I could. I didn’t have a devil at my back, but I had a tiny ghost that shadowed me when I stayed still for very long.

About the Author

C. Lee McKenzie is a native Californian who grew up in a lot of different places; then landed in the Santa Cruz Mountains where she lives with her family and miscellaneous pets—usually strays that find her rather than the other way around. She writes most of the time, gardens and hikes and does yoga a lot, and then travels whenever she can. Her favorite destinations are Turkey and Nicaragua, but because she had family in England, Switzerland, and Spain she goes there when she can. She takes on modern issues that today’s teens face in their daily lives. Her first young adult novel, Sliding on the Edge, which dealt with cutting and suicide was published in 2009. Her second, titled The Princess of Las Pulgas, dealing with a family who loses everything and must rebuild their lives came out in 2010. She just published her first middle grade novel titled Alligators Overhead.


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