Sunday, November 22, 2015

Review: "One of the Guys" by Lisa Aldin

Tomboy to the core, Toni Valentine understands guys. She'll take horror movies, monster hunts and burping contests over manicures. So Toni is horrified when she's sent to the Winston Academy for Girls, where she has to wear a skirt and learn to be a lady while the guys move on without her. Then Toni meets Emma Elizabeth, a girl at school with boy troubles, and she volunteers one of her friends as a pretend date. Word spreads of Toni’s connections with boys, and she discovers that her new wealthy female classmates will pay big money for fake dates. Looking for a way to connect her old best friends with her new life at school, Toni and Emma start up Toni Valentine’s Rent-A-Gent Service. But the business meets a scandal when Toni falls for one of her friends--the same guy who happens to be the most sought-after date. With everything she's built on the line, Toni has to decide if she wants to save the business and her old life, or let go of being one of the guys for a chance at love.

Thanks to Spencer Hill Contemporary via Netgalley for the free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Did I like this book?

Although I did enjoy my time with this one, I think with better writing and/or better editing and a lot more depth, it could have been soooooo much better.  The characters were good, but it felt a lot of the time like the author was just skimming the surface.  I wanted to feel like these characters were real people, I wanted to know more of Toni's history with the boys.  Heck, I even wanted to know what Toni's mom and stepdad did for a living! 

I found Toni easy to relate to - although I would never consider myself a tomboy, there was a time in my life when I was the same age as Toni and was "one of the guys" as well.  It was so much fun to hang out with my high school guy pals - we were always going somewhere new or doing something cool.  Mud bogging in someone's jacked up truck?  Check!  Rock climbing (without any harnesses or ropes because none of us knew what we were doing)?  Check!  Speed walk tag through the centre of town?  Check!  Man, even going to the video store to rent a movie with those guys was an adventure!  But even though we were having the time of our lives, there was no way it could stay the same forever.  I could absolutely understand why Toni wanted to hang onto her guys as tight and as long as possible, because I remember feeling exactly the same!

I really enjoyed watching Toni adjust to her new school and attempt to make new friends.  I also enjoyed watching her struggle with the moral implications of starting her "business ".  I thought the author did a good job of showing Toni's personal growth, as well as in exploring Toni's changing feelings for one of her best friends.  The romance was well done, with more than a bit of angst thrown in, but I have to admit I was disappointed in the ending.  Everything wrapped up way too quickly and tidily for my liking.  

Will you like this book?

It's hard to say.  I guess it depends on how picky you are about those little details.  Toni is certainly an enjoyable character, and so are her boys, but like I said, they all need a bit more...meat, I guess.  The story has potential, but that probably won't be enough to win over the masses.

Will I read more by this author? 

I'd definitely be open to reading more by this author.  With a debut like "One of the Guys", I think the future holds great things for Lisa Aldin!

My rating:

Monday, November 16, 2015

Cora Carmack's "Muse" Series - Cover Reveal!!!

We are absolutely thrilled to bring you the dual cover reveal for Cora Carmack’s Muse Series! INSPIRE and INFLICT are New Adult Paranormal Romance novels and are book 1 and 2 in the Muse Series. INFLICT is due to be released in January 2016! These beautiful covers were designed by Regina Wamba of Mae I Design. Be sure to grab your copy of INSPIRE today!

  Inspire - cover

Amazon eBook ** Amazon Paperback

INSPIRE (Book 1):

Kalliope lives with one purpose. To inspire. As an immortal muse, she doesn’t have any other choice. It’s part of how she was made. Musicians, artists, actors—they use her to advance their art, and she uses them to survive. She moves from one artist to the next, never staying long enough to get attached. But all she wants is a different life— a normal one. She’s spent thousands of years living lie after lie, and now she’s ready for something real. Sweet, sexy, and steady, Wilder Bell feels more real than anything else in her long existence. And most importantly… he’s not an artist. He doesn’t want her for her ability. But she can’t turn off the way she influences people, not even to save a man she might love. Because in small doses, she can help make something beautiful, but her ability has just as much capacity to destroy as it does to create. The longer she stays, the more obsessed Wilder will become. It’s happened before, and it never turns out well for the mortal. Her presence may inspire genius. But it breeds madness, too.  

Inspire - full cover wrap

 And check out the gorgeous cover for INFLICT, coming January 2016!

  Inflict -cover  

About INFLICT (Book 2):

Wilder Bell made a dangerous bargain... For a chance at love, he gave up his life. History knew Kalliope as an ancient Greek muse, but to Wilder, she was simply the woman he wanted to fall asleep with every night and wake up next to every morning. He made a deal with Hades, but the only thing the Lord of the Underworld deals in is death. Now Wilder is wasting away in a cold and wretched afterlife, waiting for Kalli to come for him. She will come. He has to believe that. Because the alternative is worse than death. Kalliope lived her entire existence knowing that she was both a blessing and a curse to anyone she encountered. Wilder was no different. She loved him, and she got him killed. Now to get him back, she’ll have to face a scheming god, a perilous task, and death itself. But before it’s done, the Underworld will take more from her than she ever thought possible. To be made whole, all must first be lost.  

  Inflict - full cover wrap   

Cora Carmack - author pic   About Cora Carmack: Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She’s done a multitude of things in her life– boring jobs (like working retail), fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). Raised in a small Texas town, she now lives in New York City and spends her time writing, traveling, and marathoning various television shows on Netflix. In her books, you can expect to find humor, heart, and a whole lot of awkward. Because let’s face it . . . awkward people need love, too. Her first book, LOSING IT, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.      

Website ** Twitter ** Facebook **Newsletter **Author Goodreads**

INSPIRE Goodreads ** INFLICT Goodreads

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Blog Tour: Excerpt from "Until We Break" by Jamie Howard

Until We Break

By Jamie Howard
St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: November 10, 2015
eBook: 9781250085511
Price: $3.99
Goodreads Page

When Sloane Avery stops to help a stranded driver, she finds more than a broken down car on the side of the road. Twenty-year-old Luke Evans is faster and sexier than her Maserati, but she's not interested in taking him for a test drive. Despite their differences and Sloane's dislike for his Jack and Coke fueled lifestyle, feelings grown between the two. But, when the loss of his little brother sends Luke spiraling, he seeks comfort in Sloane's arms and ends up between her sheets. The morning after, Sloane's ready to confess she loves Luke, until she walks in on him getting serviced-by her sister. That was five years ago, practically a different lifetime and definitely a different Sloane. Before she's been hardened by booze, sex, and as much distance as she could get from the past. Now, called home by a family emergency, she's determined to hold onto her heart the next time she sees Luke. But Sloane's not the only one who's changed. With a successful business and a near-perfect girlfriend, Luke's turned his life around. Only the reappearance of Sloane and the reminder of his biggest mistake can put a dent in his plans. Luke is set on fixing what he's broken, even if it might cost him more than the comfortable life he's built himself, but Sloane is having none of it. She'll do anything to be sure he doesn't get close enough to find out the truth-she's still in love with him.


Debut author Jamie Howard spends her days as a legal and compliance specialist. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Art from Ramapo College. When she's not tapping away at the keyboard, you can find her devouring books and perfecting her gaming skills. She lives with her husband, son, and three dogs in New Jersey, and is almost always awake early enough to see the sun rise, even on the weekends.





UNTIL WE BREAK by Jamie Howard.  Copyright © 2015 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.

“You’re late!” Gran calls out, not even bothering to lift her eyes from the register.

I bustle through the dining room into the kitchen, nearly colliding with Blaire in the process. Reflexively, she readjusts the plates balanced on her arm and bumps back through the door.

“You’re late!” she yells back at me.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m late,” I grumble under my breath. I wouldn’t have been if I’d followed my better instincts and blown right past the disabled Wrangler, but just as I decided to keep right on going, my foot eased off the gas and I slammed on the brakes. I’ve always been a sucker. One day it’s going to get me in trouble.

I’m tying my apron on when the door swings back open and Blaire reappears. Her brown hair is pulled back in a loose ponytail and her green eyes are glittering. “Do you know how many tables I’ve had to juggle by myself while you were moseying your ass in today?”

I roll my eyes at her and give the apron strings a final tug. “I wasn’t moseying. Some guy was stranded on the side of the road, so I stopped to help.”

“Please tell me you’re joking.”

When I just stare at her, she gives me a harder stare back. “You don’t just stop to help random people. The guy could have been an ax murderer or a serial killer.”

I scoff and wave a dismissive hand her way as I turn to roll some silverware. “He wasn’t an ax murderer, he was just a guy whose car broke down and who didn’t have his phone.”

She peeks through the window in the door, surveying the tables. “Convenient.”

I stack the rolled sets of silverware in a pile next to me, glad to see the routine of it is coming back to me quickly. It’s been years since I helped out around Gran’s Diner, but it’s almost like I never left.

“Yes, Blaire, it was very convenient for him that his car broke down and he had no phone. He must have known I’d be driving down that stretch of road and staged the whole thing.”

Her footsteps echo as she walks across the room, and I turn just in time to catch the rag that’s flying at my face. “You’ve got crap on your leg.”

I wipe at the smeared grease stain, scrubbing to get it off until my skin is red. “Is that grease?”

I laugh. “Actually, yes. I offered to take a peek under the hood of the car.” The dangerous glint to her eyes dims a fraction. “Seriously? Why?”

“Honestly, I thought it would be kind of funny. Although, come to think of it, he didn’t look all that amused.”

Her eyes narrow as she looks at me, and she takes another peek out front. “The next table is yours, by the way.” Her first sentence nearly collides with the second. “Who was the guy?”

I find another smudge of grease on my hand and get to work on that. “Luke . . . I don’t know. I didn’t get his last name.”

“Luke Evans?” she asks, her hands finding their way down to her bossy hips.

Didn’t I just say that I didn’t get his last name? I throw the rag back at her, which catches her on the shoulder before plopping down onto the tile floor. “He could be Luke Skywalker for all I know.”

She toes the towel and kicks it into the sink. “Really tall?”

I nod.

“Killer blue eyes, long-ish brown hair, fucking gorgeous?” Her voice rises as she speaks, like someone is accidentally leaning on the volume button of the remote.

“Um, I guess? He had sunglasses on, so I couldn’t really see his eyes. He was at that party last night. The one who wiped out at my feet? You know, the guy who was letting that girl fondle him in front of everyone?” Gross. There’s no bigger turnoff than a guy who thinks the world lives and dies in his pants.

She bursts out laughing. “Did you just say ‘fondle’? God, Sloane.” While she continues cackling, I start stacking clean dishes on the shelf.

“Well, let me add a last name to the first one you got. That is Luke Evans, and he is definitely the guy who lets girls fondle him in public. Hell, I’d definitely let him—”

I throw up a hand to cut her off. “Please, don’t.” “Don’t say it or don’t do it?”

I shudder. “Either. With how many holes he’s probably stuck that thing in, I bet it’s about to shrivel up and die.”

She hops onto the counter next to me, swinging her legs back and forth so that her heels drum against the metal cabinets. “Can I at least talk to him, Miss Prude? I hear he’s quite the charmer.”

“You’re joking, right?” I give her an incredulous look as a plate dangles from my hand. Her perfectly plucked eyebrows draw together. “No, are you?”

I slide the last plate into the cabinet and shut it. “He barely managed to string together a multisyllabic sentence, and I had to repeat my name for him. Twice. I’m pretty sure the guy took the short bus to school.”

Blaire’s mouth drops open. “You did not just say that.”

I already want to take it back. I’m not a mean person. Ever. But guys like that—I can’t stand them. Especially not after . . . Nope. Grabbing that intrusive thought around the throat, I shove it back into the box of things I never want to think about again.

She chews on her lip as she studies me, seeing straight through me like she always does. At least I have the same power over her. It must be a sister thing. That or the fact that we grew up in each other’s back pocket with less than a year separating the two of us in age.

Hopping down off the counter, she takes another glance through the window. When she turns back around, her eyes are glittering again. “Gran sat table seven; it’s all yours.”

I bump through the door and fumble in my apron for my pen, not really paying attention. “Good morning, my name is—”


My eyes snap up as I finally find the pen and stare straight into the prettiest blue eyes I’ve ever seen. They’re nicer than mine, which is saying something, since I really love my eyes. These eyes are such a pale blue, like Winterfresh gum, and so unexpected when they’re surrounded by that overly sun-kissed skin and dark brown hair.

“You again.” The words slip out from between my lips before I even realize I’ve said them.
He looks slightly taken aback, and his smile slips a notch. He gestures across the table. “This is Archer.”

I hold out my hand to him, but I’m still holding the pen. I shuffle it back into my other hand  and  try again.  “Nice  to  meet  you.”  He shakes my hand, trying to keep the look of amusement from his face but failing.

“What can I get you guys?”

“French toast and coffee for me, please,” Archer says, handing me back his plastic-coated menu.

“I’ll have coffee too, French fries, banana pancakes, and a chocolate milkshake.” Luke offers up his menu and waits for me to comment on his order. That combination of food plus the way his eyes are squinting at me are leading me to believe he’s nursing quite the hangover.

“Coming right up.”

I can feel his eyes on my ass the entire way back to the kitchen. Pig.

Saturday, November 7, 2015


The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever
Author: Jeff Strand
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Jeff Strand gives readers a sneak peek at his latest novel The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever, and shares his five favorite zombie movies:

Jeff Strand’s Five Favorite Zombie Movies:
My five favorite zombie movies are very similar to many other people’s five favorite zombie movies. I could’ve gone the condescending click-bait route and written about “The Five Best Zombie Movies You’ve Never Seen!” but, no, I’m going with my five real favorites….
 #5: DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004 version). I was one of the many people bellowing, “You can’t remake DAWN OF THE DEAD! This is blasphemy! Blasphemy!!!” But somehow this remake to a sequel (but not a sequel to the remake) turned out to be awesome. Not quite as good as the original (SPOILER ALERT: That’s #3 on this list) but one of my all-time favorites. 
 #4: RE-ANIMATOR. I’ve now seen plenty of movies that are more over-the-top insane than RE-ANIMATOR, but this was the first movie where I simply couldn’t believe what I was watching. It was hard to believe that a movie so dark and gruesome could be so funny. 
 #3: DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978 version). Shameful confession: When I first saw this in high school I thought it was stupid and boring. Fortunately, I matured and accepted that it’s one of the high points of zombie cinema. It’s the reason I know to duck before walking toward spinning helicopter blades. 
 #2: RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. Fast zombies long before 28 DAYS LATER! The first time zombies ate brains! It doesn’t often get the credit it deserves, but this is one of the most influential zombie movies ever.
 #1: SHAUN OF THE DEAD. The greatest zombie comedy ever. The greatest zombie movie ever. The greatest MOVIE ever. 
After producing three horror movies that went mostly ignored on YouTube, Justin and his filmmaking buddies decide it’s time they create something noteworthy, something epic. They’re going to film the Greatest Zombie Movie Ever. They may not have money or a script, but they have passion. And, after a rash text message, they also have the beautiful Alicia Howtz—Justin’s crush—as the lead.

With only one month to complete their movie, a script that can’t possibly get worse, and the hopes and dreams of Alicia on the line, Justin is feeling the pressure. Add to that a cast of uncooperative extras and incompetent production assistants, and Justin must face the sad, sad truth. He may actually be producing The Worst Zombie Movie Ever…

About Jeff Strand:
Jeff Strand has written more than twenty books, and is a four-time nominee (and four-time non-winner) of the Bram Stoker Award. Two of his young adult novels, A Bad Day For Voodoo and I Have A Bad Feeling About This, were Junior Library Guild picks. Publishers Weekly called his work “wickedly funny.” He lives in Tampa, Florida.

Excerpt from The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever:
The vampire, whose fangs were too big for his mouth, turned to the camera and hissed.
"Don't look at the camera," said Justin Hollow, the director.
"I keep poking my lip on these things," said Harold, spitting the plastic fangs out onto the ground. He hadn't been a very frightening example of the undead before, and he was even less scary with no fangs and a thick line of drool running down his chin.
"Cut!" shouted Justin, loud enough to be sure that the command was heard by his production crew of two. "C'mon, Harold. Stay in character. We're three hours behind schedule."
"I don't care. I hate this. You promised that I'd get all the girls I wanted. So where are all of the girls I want?"
Justin let out his thirty-ninth exasperated sigh of the night. "The movie has to come out first."
"It's not even a real movie."
Justin bristled. It was a full body bristle, head to toe, which he hadn't even realized was physically possible. Bobby, who handled sound recording, and Gabe, who handled everything else, both stepped back a couple of feet. Neither of them truly believed that they were about to witness a murder, but they wanted to get out of the splash zone, just in case.
Had this been one of Justin's movies, he would have very slowly lowered his camera, stared directly into Harold's eyes with a steel gaze, and then after an extremely dramatic pause asked ""
His actual response, delivered in a squeakier voice than he would have allowed from his actors, was: "Huh?"
"I said it's not a real movie." Harold started to wipe the fake blood off his mouth. It didn't come off, and probably wouldn't for several days. Justin had planned to feel guilty about this later, but now he wouldn't bother. "Nobody's ever going to see it. You probably won't even finish it."
"I finished my last three movies!" Justin insisted. "I got hundreds of hits on YouTube!"
That statement was technically accurate, though it was the lowest possible number of hits you could get and still use "hundred" in its plural form. The only comment anybody posted about his latest film had been "This twelve year-old filmmaker sort of shows promise," which really frustrated Justin since he was fifteen.
Harold shrugged. "This is a waste of time. I've got better things to do on a Friday night."
"Nobody ever said this was going to be easy," said Justin, who had indeed said that it was going to be easy when luring Harold into the role. "You can quit now, but what are you going to think about your decision ten years from now?"
"I'm going to think, wow, it sure is nice to be such a well-paid dentist."
Harold walked off the set. It wasn't an actual set, but rather a small park near Justin's home, where they were filming without a permit. Justin knew he should shout something after his ex-actor. Something vicious. Something devastating. He thought about shouting "You'll never work in this town again!" but, no, it had to be something that Harold would consider a bad thing.
"Fine!" Justin shouted. "But when we record the audio commentary track for the Blu-Ray, I'm going to talk about how you abandoned us, and how much happier everybody was with the new actor who took your role, and how we all agreed that he should have been cast in the first place, and how he had so many girlfriends that he couldn't even keep track of them, and how they all found out about each other and had a great big awesome catfight in his front yard! And I'll pronounce your name wrong!"
Harold continued walking, apparently not heartbroken.

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Review: "Worth the Risk" by Claudia Connor

When a McKinney brother falls in love, powerful emotion and overwhelming desire are never far behind. Two hearts locked away . . . Hannah Walker spends her days coaching children through injury and trauma, one therapeutic horseback ride at a time. She knows all too well how violence can change a child and leave scars that never heal. It’s easy for her to relate to the kids; what isn’t easy is the thought of facing her own harrowing past. Millionaire playboy Stephen McKinney could use a little coaching himself. Five years ago he encountered his most horrible nightmare—and the nightmare won. No matter what he achieves, nothing can make up for that awful night . . . or so he believes. Both desperate for a second chance . . . Stephen is used to getting what he wants. And he wants Hannah. So when she turns him down, he’s intrigued. What he doesn’t know is that her secrets will lead him to a place he never wanted to go again . . . to a side of himself he’s tried to forget . . . a side that would scare Hannah away from ever loving him. Now his only chance to win her trust is to bare his soul, risking everything he tried so hard to protect. Includes a special message from the editor, as well as an excerpt from another Loveswept title.
Thanks to Random House Publishing - Loveswept via Netgalley for the free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Did I like this book?

It's been a while since I read this one, and I should have written a review earlier (smacks hand, bad blogger!) but I remember really enjoying "Worth the Risk"...except for one thing, which reeeeeally irked me, and unfortunately it would spoil the plot for prospective readers if I said what it is, so I'll just have to leave it at that.  

But yeah, I did like this book, quite a lot, and more than "Worth the Fall", the first book in this series, which I also enjoyed.  The characters are probably what drew me in the most - I liked both main characters, and there were many great moments between the two of them.  There was also a bit of mystery surrounding each of their backstories, which was something that kept me flipping the pages.  
Will you like this book? 

If you're looking for a steamy contemporary romance with fabulous characters and a fast-paced plot, then look no further than this series!  I think most romance readers will really enjoy it.

Will I read more by this author?

I really like Claudia Connor's writing style, and although I had that one (significant) issue with the book, it seems like she's only getting better with each subsequent read.  I'll definitely be keeping her on my radar!

My rating:  3.5 stars

Monday, November 2, 2015

Review: "Golden Son" by Pierce Brown

With shades of The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, and Game of Thrones, debut author Pierce Brown’s genre-defying epic Red Rising hit the ground running and wasted no time becoming a sensation. Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom from the overlords of a brutal elitist future built on lies. Now fully embedded among the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his work to bring down Society from within. A life-or-death tale of vengeance with an unforgettable hero at its heart, Golden Son guarantees Pierce Brown’s continuing status as one of fiction’s most exciting new voices.

This review could also be titled: "Three Reasons Why I Didn't Like 'Golden Son' by Pierce Brown".  My heart is broken by this book, it really is, to the point where I think maybe I was delusional when I gave "Red Rising" three and a half stars.  Was RR really that much better than GS?  Or was my judgment clouded by all the hype and five star ratings surrounding RR?  Whatever, it doesn't even matter, because my love affair with this series and this author is now over. 

So let's keep it short and sweet, three reasons, aaaaand go:

1.  Little to no character development.
Yeah, I said it.  Darrow was flat as a pancake here.  I felt like I got to know him in RR, and I liked him and wanted him to succeed, but in GS, I just didn't care about him like I should have.  Likewise the secondary characters.  I was pretty excited when Sevro showed up, but I wasn't given enough of him for me to be pulled further into the story.  Mustang was given a couple of good moments, but other than that, snore!  And anytime someone died, which was fairly often, I hardly felt any regret because I wasn't made to especially care about any of them.  I was actually bored by almost everyone in this book!

2.  Nonstop action that lost me and made no sense.

I wanted to skim the action scenes or read the Cliff's Notes version, because they were very difficult to follow.  I definitely was not pulled into the action, and in fact felt like a very distant observer.  So many words, and so little...anything!  Just tell me who dies and who betrays whom, and skip all the rest of the filler, because that's all it is - filler!

3.  Cheap tricks by the author.

This happened a few times and totally pissed me off!  The author would lead me to believe that Darrow was in peril, and then it was like, "Psych!  Just kidding, Roxy!  I already planned ahead for that exact eventuality, so what would normally happen in this situation is not really going to happen because I'm such a genius.  Doesn't that make you love me even more?"  Guess what, Darrow?  No, no it doesn't.  It makes me mad at your creator for not developing you enough for me to believe that any of that could actually happen.  

I could go on, there are so many more reasons why I didn't like this book, but suffice it to say that I won't be recommending this one to anybody and I won't be continuing the series. 

My rating: