Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Teaser Reveal: "The Start of Something Good" by Jennifer Probst

Today we are sharing a teaser reveal for THE START OF SOMETHING GOOD by Jennifer Probst. This book kicks off a brand new series, Stay, and it releases on June 5th. Check out the pre-order links below to reserve your copy now.



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THE START OF SOMETHING GOOD (Stay, #1) by Jennifer Probst

Releasing June 5


  An enriching story of family ties, broken hearts, and second chances from New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Probst. When Ethan Bishop returns to the Hudson Valley, his body and spirit are a little worse for wear. As a former Special Forces paratrooper, he saw his fair share of conflict, and he came home with wounds, inside and out. At his sisters’ B & B and farm, he can keep all his pain at a safe distance. But quiet time isn’t easy when a fiery woman explodes into his life… It’s business—not pleasure—that brings Manhattan PR agent Mia Thrush reluctantly to the farm. Tightly wound and quick tempered, Mia clashes immediately with the brooding Ethan. Everything about him is irritating—from his lean muscles and piercing blue eyes to his scent of sweat and musk. But as the summer unfolds and temperatures rise, Ethan and Mia discover how much they have in common: their guarded histories, an uncontrollable desire, and a passion for the future that could heal two broken hearts. But will their pasts threaten their fragile chance at a brand-new future?

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Jennifer Probst Jennifer Probst - Bio: Jennifer Probst wrote her first book at twelve years old. She bound it in a folder, read it to her classmates, and hasn’t stopped writing since. She took a short hiatus to get married, get pregnant, buy a house, get pregnant again, pursue a master’s in English Literature, and rescue two shelter dogs. Now she is writing again. She makes her home in Upstate New York with the whole crew. Her sons keep her active, stressed, joyous, and sad her house will never be truly clean. She is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of sexy and erotic contemporary romance. She was thrilled her book, The Marriage Bargain, was ranked #6 on Amazon's Best Books for 2012. She loves hearing from readers. Visit her website for updates on new releases and her street team at www.jenniferprobst.com.


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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Release Day Blitz: "Bar Bites" by J. Kenner and Suzanne M. Johnson


Join Man of the Month creator, New York Times bestselling author J. Kenner, and USA Today bestselling Southern food expert Suzanne Johnson as they guide you through their favorite bar bite and drink recipes served at The Fix on Sixth. And don’t forget to spend some time learning a little bit more about the private lives of your favorite characters in all new snippets and short stories! Brought to you by 1,001 Dark Nights, BAR BITES is now available! Grab your copy today!


About BAR BITES: Before Austin’s hotspot, The Fix on Sixth, became known for its sexy and fun Man of the Month calendar contest, the fictional downtown bar had already developed a reputation for fabulous drinks and mouthwatering bar bites—exactly the kind of venue to take a date and strike up a romance. Now it’s your chance to see exactly what’s on the menu … and to get a peek at the private lives of the men and women who not only work at The Fix, but who’ve made it the place to be in Austin, Texas. Join Man of the Month creator, New York Times bestselling author J. Kenner, and USA Today bestselling Southern food expert Suzanne Johnson as they guide you through their favorite bar bite and drink recipes served at The Fix on Sixth. Learn how to make the delicious bar bites that Tyree’s bar has become famous for. Whip up your favorite cocktail with the same flare as Cameron or Eric. And don’t forget to spend some time learning a little bit more about the private lives of your favorite characters in all new snippets and short stories! Most of all, come share a drink, a bite, and a laugh with us! We’re so glad you’re here. So pull up a chair, raise a glass, and dig in with your favorite Man of the Month characters, and meet a few new ones, too! Cheers!


Grab your copy of BAR BITES today!

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    EXCERPT: “What’s with you?” Amanda asked as they settled in at one of the two-tops near the bar. “You’ve gone from perky to pensive. Something wrong? Or is it hormones? I know it’s not Reece.” At the mention of his name, Jenna’s mood lifted. “No,” she agreed. “Not a thing wrong there. Right, peanut? Your daddy’s pretty much perfect.” She smiled down at her belly, and when she looked up, a minor miracle took place. Not only did Eric deliver her drink that very second, but Reece stepped out of the back hallway and entered the bar at the far end of the room. He was yards and yards away from her, but it didn’t matter. Even across the cavernous bar—even despite the happy hour crowd that filled the room and kept blocking him from her sight—even then, she could feel him. Could sense him. The heat of him. The power. The strength…and the tenderness. With his shaved head, shadowy beard, broad shoulders, and rock hard muscles, Reece Walker was the kind of man who never lacked for attention. Add in the intricate tats that covered his chest, back, and arms—today only visible emerging from the short sleeves of his T-shirt—and he radiated a dangerous sex appeal, like a bad boy biker on a mission to ravage a woman. Her whole body tightened in response to that particular thought, and as she rubbed her hand over her belly, Technicolor memories of the reason she was in this particular state filled her mind, making her breasts ache and her sex throb with such an intense need that she squirmed on the chair, disguising the sudden, demanding sexual craving by reaching for another piece of candied bacon. The pregnancy hormones were doing a number on her; she was certain of that. She was ridiculously horny all the time. A little fact that really hadn’t bothered her husband one bit. But this wasn’t a hormone reaction. This was a Reece reaction. The man called to her without saying a word. Possessed her without using his hands. Captured her with only his eyes. They’d started out as best friends, and thank God they still fit that definition. But they were so much more. “Hey, Beautiful,” he said, reaching for her. With one hand, he pulled her to her feet. The other he spread wide over her belly. “I missed you both.” Warmth and love spread through her, and she laughed lightly. “I’ve only been gone a few hours.” She’d cut out that morning to go check on the various retailers stocking the calendar and to talk with the printer about a second print run since sales were so high. “That’s a few too long.”

About J. Kenner: Julie Kenner (aka J. Kenner and J.K. Beck) is the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of over forty novels, novellas and short stories in a variety of genres. Praised by Publishers Weekly as an author with a “flair for dialogue and eccentric characterizations,” J.K. writes a range of stories including super sexy romances, paranormal romance, chick lit suspense and paranormal mommy lit. Her foray into the latter, Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom by Julie Kenner, is in development as a feature film with 1492 Pictures. Her most recent trilogy of erotic romances, The Stark Trilogy (as J. Kenner), reached as high as #2 on the New York Times list and is published in over twenty countries. J.K. lives in Central Texas, with her husband, two daughters, and several cats.

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About Suzanne M. Johnson: USA Today bestselling author Suzanne Johnson is family trained, a south Georgia native who's been cooking all of her life, creating not only some really unique food, but precious memories that re-occur every time she smells something simmering in the oven. In all of her books, Suzanne shows that making a delicious meal doesn't have to be complicated--it just has to be made with love. So go ahead, don't be bashful, dive right in. Who knows? You might just make a few memories of your own.      

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Spotlight Tour: "Out of Left Field" by Kris Hui Lee

Out of Left Field
By Kris Hui Lee
May 1st, 2018; Trade paper, ISBN: 9781492663850

Book Info:
Title: Out of Left Field
Author: Kris Hui Lee
ISBN: 9781492663850
Release Date: May 1st, 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Praise for Out of Left Field
“The novel offers a nice look at girls in sports, with lots of detailed baseball scenes. Additionally, the story gains some depth as it incorporates the complications and confusion of growing up, namely new expectations and the changing nature of friendships. Lee’s debut rests comfortably with sports-themed novels such as Catherine Gilbert Murdock’s Dairy Queen (2006) and Miranda Kenneally’s Stealing Parker (2012).”  ̶ Booklist

“Debut author Lee has created a brash, conflicted character in Marnie. She’s not always likable, but her self-doubt is endearing and readers who are into sports fiction/ romance will breeze through this. VERDICT: an additional purchase where realistic fiction is popular. –School Library Journal

There’s no playing it safe in love or baseball in this sparkling debut, perfect for fans of Morgan Matson and Kasie West.

Marnie has never had a hard time fitting in with the guys. It would take a lot more than their goofy antics to keep her from joining them at the neighborhood sandlot to do what she loves best: play ball.

An added perk of hanging out at the sandlot? Spending time with Cody Kinski, their high school’s star pitcher and Marnie’s best friend. Sure, he can be stubborn and annoying. He also knows how to make her laugh and respects her skills on the mound. And when he gets nailed in the arm by a bone-fracturing pitch, Marnie becomes the team’s best chance at making it to the playoffs. Except no one told the guys they’re supposed to be on her side.

With her own team against her, Marnie begins questioning her abilities. And when fate throws her a curveball, can she play without losing the game, Cody, and her belief in herself?

Goodreads Link:

Buy Links:

About the Author:
Kris Hui Lee is a contemporary YA author who also doubles as a graphic designer. In 2015, she was a finalist in the Pitch Wars writing contest hosted by Brenda Drake. When not writing or designing, she can be found cuddling with a dog on the floor. Learn more at krishuilee.tumblr.com

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Excerpt from Out of Left Field:
SEVENTEEN YEARS OF EXISTENCE HAVE TAUGHT me many lessons—some relevant to survival, others not so much—but one that I have come to fully understand is that there are three kinds of idiocy.
The first is what I call Mundane Idiocy. This is the type of idiocy that happens when you, say, walk into a dark room thinking you can manage without the lights, and then you stub your toe on a table. It happens to the best of us.
The second kind is Voluntary Idiocy. Sticking your tongue to a frozen pole or prodding a beehive with a stick or eating fourteen brownies in one sitting would fall under this category. Discretion is advised.
And finally, the last level of idiocy has been achieved by only one person, and his name is Cody Kinski.
Here I am, in the bleachers of my high school baseball field on a brisk May night—crickets chirping in the darkness beyond the bright stadium lights, the scent of french fries hitching a ride on the gentle breeze. I’m on the tips of my toes, waiting in anticipation like all my fellow game goers. Usually the excitement at high school baseball games never gets higher than the occasional collective gasp after a great hit followed by an anticlimactic defensive play, but our team is far from what you’d call usual. And this particular game is miles from being typical.
It’s the bottom of the seventh. The last inning. There are two outs and two strikes. Kyle’s on first. Cody’s at bat. We’re down five to four, and even though, to me, it feels like our chances of turning it around are borderline zero, everyone else seems to have an ounce of belief left in them.
The pitcher’s given name is Santino Acardi, but in our neck of the woods, he is commonly known as Douche Face.
There are only two things you need to know about this olive-skinned, curly-haired, smarmy bastard: (1) no one on this planet knows how to wear a condescending, selfrighteous smirk like he does, and (2) every time he and Cody get within two hundred feet of each other, the apocalypse seems imminent. I mean, they’re two of the best pitchers in our entire region. They have both been playing on varsity since freshman year, on teams with a notorious rivalry. It’s the kind of clash that’s going to put an end to the world as we know it.
Basically every time Cody has been up at bat during this game, Santino has thrown at least one brushback pitch past Cody’s face. It is only thanks to Cody’s lightning-fast reflexes that he hasn’t been knocked unconscious. Santino has been pulling this stunt since freshman year. He suffers from an oversize ego. Jock stuff—you know the deal.
Standing behind home plate, bat raised over his shoulder, eyes focused on Santino, Cody looks beyond prepared. He’s ready for anything. And he should be, considering Santino’s brushbacks are consistent. Parents, classmates, and residents from around the neighborhood cheer for Cody all across the home-team bleachers. Iron-Arm Kinski, they call him. He was first dubbed that when he was eight by his Little League coach. His killer fastball got him that name, but Cody is one hell of a hitter too. He’s not a god, but sometimes he doesn’t seem to be entirely human.
On the mound, Santino winds up his pitch. Every part of his body, from his long legs to his muscular arms, displays his power.
Then it comes. The ball launches out of Santino’s hand at Major League speed.
Right toward Cody’s head.
But he must not be as prepared as he seemed.
Does he move out of the way?
He stands there like a moron, like there’s not some sadist on the mound. It’s only at the very last second that his left arm flies up to shield his head.
The ball smashes into Cody’s left forearm. His bat clatters to the ground, and it’s like everyone from here to the moon and beyond gasps. Cody clutches his arm to his chest as his face twists in pain. It’s a look I recognize to mean I’ve broken a bone, and I’m in some real fucking pain.
Fire from the pits of hell radiate from the glare Cody shoots Santino, and if I were Santino, I’d want to jump on the next flight out of the country. All of Cody’s fury and hatred—three years in the making—engulfs his face, his whole body. Cody has never been the kind of guy to be provoked by cheap shots, which I’ve learned in the eleven years I’ve known him, but right now, not even I can predict his next move.
But even though he might want to react, Cody doesn’t get the opportunity. Jack Chizz, our coach, runs out to home plate as the ump calls, “Time!”
Joey, our guy on deck and Cody’s best friend, follows Chizz. The three of them—Chizz, the ump, and Joey—gather around Cody, blocking my view of what’s happening.
Santino’s cronies in the outfield crowd together too, but unlike those huddled around home plate, they seem unconcerned about what their overlord Santino has done. And Santino, for all the emotion he’s showing, might as well be standing in line at a grocery store. I’m surprised he isn’t shooting off fireworks and confetti of triumph over his good aim.
The buzzing energy is gone, and it's replaced by silent anticipation. And then: “WOOOO! WAY TO GO, CODY!” This is Sara, who’s standing next to me. To everyone else, it probably sounds like a cheer of encouragement. But Sara is no overzealous cheerleader.
She’s teasing him.
“You’re an asshole,” I tell her, trying to keep a straight face. Under the florescent lights, her normally tawny skin seems lighter. Her grin widens as she claps loudly. “Bringin’ ’em to state!”
“Oh my gosh,” I mutter, but I can’t help but laugh a little. Sara, like me, has more than a decade of history with Cody, which entitles her to be a complete asshole to him in this very serious and stressful moment.
Cody, who has gotten some breathing room, takes off his batting helmet to reveal his disheveled dark brown hair. He then takes a moment out of the time-out to nonchalantly scratch his forehead with his middle finger in our direction. Those eleven years of friendship work in Cody’s favor too—he gets a pass on being nice.
Cody drops his hand and listens intently to what Chizz is saying. At first, they both seem rather calm, given what’s happened, but then Chizz says something else, and Cody goes ballistic. His eyes bulge in rage, and his uninjured arm flies in all directions. Cody points to first base. Chizz points a commanding finger toward the dugout.
“Don’t be an idiot, Cody,” I mutter. “Go to the hospital.”
As if he can hear me, Cody kicks his bat to the side and stalks toward first. Chizz objects, but Cody shrugs him off. The interaction looks dramatic from here, which is so unlike Cody. He has always been a quiet, modest guy, but being on the field changes him. Out there, he’s the confident jock everyone expects him to be.
Everyone cheers as Cody takes his base. I wonder if they can see him wince in pain with every step. Proud, stubborn bastard.
As the game resumes, so does the crowd’s excitement. They’re exhilarated by Cody’s perseverance (or, as I would call it, idiocy).
The count: two outs, zero strikes, with Kyle on second, Cody on first, and Joey at bat.
Tufts of Joey’s blond hair stick out from under his batting helmet as he steps up to the plate and takes a few practice swings. This is a guy who walks into closed glass doors and trips on perfectly tied shoelaces, but I swear he has magic powers when he’s on the field. He will move mountains to catch a foul ball and has been known to belt homers at the exact moment they’re needed. You’d never know it though, because he can be a real baby sometimes. A few months ago, he was reduced to an inconsolable teary mess after he found out his ex-girlfriend is a lesbian. No one would have guessed at the time that the crying weenie he was then is our best hope for bringing in a miraculous run to tie up the game now.
On the mound, Santino winds up again. One of his trademarks is his sidearm pitching style. That’s why he’s one of the best; he’s unique. I feel like a traitor, but I must admit that I admire his skill.
He throws the first pitch against Joey: foul tip. Strike one.
Second pitch: the ball and bat connect, and the crowd gasps. It’s a foul over the first baseline. There’s a collective sigh. Strike two.
The count: two outs, two strikes, five to four. The hopelessness settles in deeper.
On the third pitch, Joey smacks the ball with an echoing clink! and he runs. Screams of excitement follow him.
The ball soars toward the fence. It looks like it will be a home run between left and center field. Unfortunately, that’s the kind of luck you can only dream about.
The ball hits the back fence and bounces onto the grass where two fielders race to snatch it up.
Kyle’s past third, on his way to home, and Cody’s passing second.
The ball is traveling from the outfield to shortstop.
Kyle’s foot lands on home plate. It’s now five to five.
Cody’s foot hits third.
From the dugout, Chizz shouts at Cody to stop where he is.
The ball is at the shortstop. And Cody’s going home.
“Idiot!” Sara and I both shout.
But it’s no use. The ball and Cody race toward home.
The throw to the catcher is off by a foot. He steps away.
Cody dives, headfirst, arms outstretched.
He collides with home plate and becomes buried under a plume of sand and the catcher.
“Safe!” the ump shouts. “Safe!”
The shouting and cheering intensify as our team hops over the dugout wall and dog piles Joey, who brought in the runs. Santino and his team look like they’re about to commit fifteen different types of manslaughter.
And there, still on the ground in the fetal position clutching his arm, ladies and gentlemen, is the third and final category of idiocy: Cody Kinski.

2 Copies of Out of Left Field
Runs May 8 - May 31 (US & Canada only)

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Sunday, May 13, 2018

Spotlight Tour: "August and Everything After" by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

August and Everything After
By Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
May 1st, 2018; Trade paper, ISBN: 9781492657156

Book Info:
Title: August and Everything After
Author: Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
ISBN: 9781492657156
Release Date: May 1st, 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Praise for August and Everything After:
“A satisfying blend of family drama, romance, and music, staged in the aftermath of tragedy.” –Publishers Weekly

“I fell headfirst in love with this book. It has everything I love in a YA contemporary novel, and I inhaled it... an enticing story with so much feeling.” –Andrew King, University Book Store

One last summer to escape, to find herself, to figure out what comes next. Fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han will love this contemporary, coming-of-age romance.

Graduation was supposed to be a relief. Except Quinn can’t avoid the rumors that plagued her throughout high school or the barrage of well-intentioned questions about her college plans. How is she supposed to know what she wants to do for the next four years, let alone the rest of her life? And why does no one understand that it’s hard for her to think about the future—or feel as if she even deserves one—when her best friend is dead?

Spending the summer with her aunt on the Jersey shore may just be the fresh start Quinn so desperately needs. And when she meets Malcolm, a musician with his own haunted past, she starts to believe in second chances. Can Quinn find love while finding herself?

Goodreads Link:

Buy Links:

About the Author:
Jennifer Salvato Doktorski is the author of three YA novels and is a freelance nonfiction writer. Her first paid writing gig was atThe North Jersey Herald & News, where she wrote obituaries and began her lifelong love of news and coffee. She lives in New Jersey with her family. Visit jendoktorski.com.

Social Media Links:

Excerpt from August and Everything After:
I started wearing my grandmother’s old cat-­eye glasses in June, right after my latest crush nearly crushed me. The messy incident involved my band student teacher, a six-­pack of Blue Moon, and a freak thunderstorm. Connect the dots any way you want. I know it’s not pretty. Neither was I when I put on Grammy’s glasses. But that was kind of the point. When I fled my small town after graduation to spend the summer at my aunt’s beach house, I didn’t want to be the old Quinn Gallo anymore. Here at the Jersey shore, no one knows me as the half-­naked girl who had to be rescued from her band teacher’s Toyota Corolla by the Jaws of Life.
The glasses added a layer to my new anonymity. I found them tucked in the top drawer of the wicker dresser as I unpacked in the guest room, and something inside me shifted when I put on the black, bejeweled frames. Like the first time Bilbo slipped on the One Ring of Power.
I got the prescription adjusted to fit me and I’ve been wearing them ever since.
In fact, I’m wearing them tonight as I sit on a barstool at Keegan’s Cocktail Lounge, the old-­man bar turned indie rock club where I waitress on Friday nights. I’m reading The Awakening while the opening act—­a singer/songwriter dude with a backstory more tragic than my own—­sets up. It’s his first performance since his guitarist and drummer were killed in a tour bus accident two years ago. My coworker, Liam, told me all about it.
“Malcolm was really messed up. He blamed himself.” I told Liam I couldn’t imagine, but unfortunately, I could. My best friend, Lynn, died when we were fifteen.
So I’ve been avoiding Malcolm since he got here, knowing that if I’m not careful, I’ll get pulled into his orbit. Fuckups attract fuckups, I’m sure of it.
Apparently I’m ignoring him better than I thought, because he manages to sneak up behind me, lean down so that we’re almost cheek to cheek, and peek through my glasses. I startle and face him.
“What the hell are you doing?” I ask, louder than I intended.
“Sorry,” he says. “I had to know if those glasses were real or some hipster gimmick.”
Before I can stop myself, I reach up and tug his beard. “I was thinking the same thing about this.”
“Ouch. I usually get a girl’s name before she grabs my facial hair. Or anything else.”
He wishes.
I put down my book and hold out my hand.
“Quinn Gallo.”
He holds my gaze and hand longer than he needs to, swinging my arm a little like we’re about to twirl a jump rope.
“Malcolm Trent.”
I pull away.
“I know.” I flick my thumb toward the flyer taped to the mirror behind the bar. “I can read.”
He nods toward my book.
“I see. Is that the feminist lit talking or are you always like this?”
I twist the leather cuff bracelet I never take off and think of something nice to say. It’s not his fault he’s immune to Grammy’s glasses. “I’m looking forward to your set.”
“Yeah? But you brought backup entertainment just in case?”
“Reading is work, not entertainment. My aunt’s letting me live with her this summer on the condition that I read one book a week. Her picks.”
“What else have you read?”
I tick off my reading list thus far.
Jane EyreBelovedThe Bell Jar—­”
“It’s possible your aunt needs to lighten up.”
I shrug.
“Small price to pay for a summer away from home. I had to get away from my town.”
“Trouble with the law?”
“More like trouble with The Mom. I’m not her favorite daughter at the moment.”
My “poor judgment” regarding my unromantic evening with my band teacher coupled with my decision not to go to college this fall landed Mom and I on opposite sides of an enormous iceberg. We both needed time to thaw.
“Ha! I could write a book about being the prodigal son.”
“Can you make it a song instead? If you write a book, my aunt will make me read it.”
Malcolm’s reflexive laugh warms my body. He looks like he’s about to say something else, but before he has a chance, Caleb, the owner of Keegan’s, signals Malcolm that it’s time to take the stage.
“I gotta—­”
“Oh, yeah, of course. I’ve gotta get to work too.”
Neither of us moves.
I stare at him over the top of my glasses. He tilts his head like he’s deciding what to do next. Then, before I have time to register what’s happening, Malcolm reaches toward my face and gently pushes my glasses back up my nose.
“You have pretty eyes, Quinn. You shouldn’t hide them behind ugly glasses.”
For the first time in my life, someone looked me in the eyes and didn’t point out that they’re two different colors. The right one is brown, the left is blue. I want to say thank you, or have a good set, or something, but by the time I get my voice back, he’s gone.
I smooth my apron, pick up my book, and try to shake off the feeling that my defensive shield just failed me and allowed my next nobody to walk right through.

2 Copies of August and Everything After:
Runs May 8 - May 31 (US & Canada only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 11, 2018

Blog Tour and Review: "Spies, Lies, and Allies" by Lisa Brown Roberts

Summers are supposed to be fun, right? Not mine. I’ve got a job at my dad’s company, which is sponsoring a college scholarship competition. I just found out that, in addition to my job assisting the competing interns, I’m supposed to vote for the winner. Totally not what I signed up for.

My boss is running the competition like it’s an episode of Survivor. Then there’s Carlos, who is, well, very distracting––in a good way. But I can’t even think about him like that because fraternizing on the job means instant disqualification for the intern involved.

As if that’s not enough, an anonymous informant with insider intel is trying to sabotage my dad’s company on social media...and I’m afraid it's working.

Much as I’d love to quit, I can’t. Kristoffs Never Quit is our family motto. I just hope there’s more than one survivor by the end of this summer. 

About Lisa Brown Roberts:

Award-winning romance author Lisa Brown Roberts still hasn’t recovered from the teenage catastrophes of tweezing off both eyebrows, or that time she crashed her car into a tree while trying to impress a guy. It’s no wonder she loves to write romantic comedies.  
Lisa’s books have earned praise from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and the School Library Journal. She lives in Colorado with her family, in which pets outnumber people. Connect with Lisa at www.lisabrownroberts.com.

Author Links:

Excerpt from Spies, Lies, and Allies:
“Let’s see where helping me on my project falls on this list.” Carlos picks up a pen and clicks it, eyeing me from underneath ridiculously long lashes.
Cautiously, I take a tiny step toward his desk so I can read the list.
“Number three.” I point to the napkin. “Teamwork.”
He nods and underlines the word. I notice he’s added numbers six through ten. Nothing is written next to those numbers, except for ten, next to which he’s drawn a smiley face.
“What’s that for?” I point to the smiley face. He leans back in his desk chair and grins up at me.
“Not sure yet.”
My heart throbs in my chest and my imagination is off and running, fantasizing about number ten.
Carlos points to number five: nicknames. “I think this is where we left off at lunch.” He clicks his pen repeatedly and I resist the urge to snatch it out of his hand. “I’d prefer not to be nicknamed for a pasta, but I gave you a cereal nickname, so…” He shrugs but keeps his eyes on mine.
“I…pasta…what?” He’s not making sense.
He bites his bottom lip, and I have no trouble picturing what will make me “smiley face” if we ever make it to number ten. Also, I’m pretty sure he’s a mind reader because his gaze drifts down to my lips, then back up to my eyes.
“The Manicotti. Who is it?” He glances across the room. “Elijah? He can be sort of cheesy.”
My mind analyzes his words, sliding them around like one of those puzzles where you have to move a string through twisted metal. And then it clicks.
“You read my notebook! You’re the one who—” Panic zings through me as I remember what I wrote about him, Carlos is trouble, and his editorial comment, True. Is Carlos adorable?
Apparently I’m not the only spy around here.
“Why’d you pick this desk?” I’m desperate to change the subject.
“I like the view.”
“But it’s better by the windows.”
“Depends on which view we’re talking about.” He gives me a cryptic smile, one that makes my stomach dip. “Anyway, I saved your notebook. You’re lucky no one else read your notes.”
Mortified and defiant, I cross my arms over my chest. “You didn’t have to read it. You could’ve just returned it.”
“I was just checking to make sure you’d listed all of Mr. Mantoni’s rules.”
“Uh huh.”
Across the room, Elijah stands up and stretches. He glances at us, an amused smirk twisting his lips like he knows something I don’t.
Carlos writes on the napkin again. Number six: healthy disagreement.
“You’re kidding, right?”
His responding grin packs more heat than it should.
“I think we’ve gone off track.” I’m proud of how calm I sound, even though my nerve endings are exploding like firecrackers.

Signed copy of Spies, Lies, and Allies + some spy-related swag

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This was a pretty cute book! There were many things I enjoyed, but on the whole, I think it was just a bit "young" for me.

On the upside, there were some great relationships exhibited here. Usually, I'm all about the main couple in a YA contemporary - give me more! - but i the case of "Spies, Lies, and Allies", there were two, more secondary, relationships that I really enjoyed. The first was between Laurel and her father. It was obvious that Laurel adored her dad, even though he could be a bit scary sometimes. She bugged and nagged and bugged some more, until her dad let her work at his company for the summer, just so she could spend some more time with him. Really?! How sweet! What teenage girl do you know who would do the same?  They also had a lot of sci-fi geekdom going on between them. Good grief, the girl even calls her dad, "Dad Vader"! There were some fun moments between them throughout the book.

The other relationship that surprised me in its development was the one between Laurel and Trish. Trish was the daughter of Dad Vader's right hand man. She was portrayed as a real emo-goth-angry-girl. Eventually, though, Laurel was able to find some common ground with Trish, and it was rather nice to see.

As for Laurel's relationship with Carlos, I like how there was a gradual building up to friendship before continuing on to something more. There was plenty of banter and sarcasm between them that kept me giggling.

I did have some problems with this book, mainly the overuse of the sci-fi references and Laurel's constant need to over analyze every. Little. Thing. If you can disregard things like this, however, you will probably enjoy "Spies, Lies, and Allies".

My rating: 3 stars