Dark Places

Finished Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars.

Since then, she had been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben’s innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her brother’s? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back?

She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day… especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find.

Who did massacre the Day family?”

I read Gillian Flynn’s first novel (Sharp Objects) and obviously read (and loved) Gone Girl, but somehow I had managed to completely miss this one.  Fortunately, I had to read it for my online book club.

I think most people would agree that Gone Girl is her masterpiece (at least so far) but there are a lot of similarities between the two.  Both feature protagonists that are not at all likable and both have a lot of twists and turns (A LOT) and both are nearly impossible to put down.

I admired Amy almost against my will, but I didn’t feel drawn to Libby as much.  (Which is definitely interesting, because there are obviously reasons for Libby to be an unlikable mess; there are no such handicaps for Amy.)

I absolutely love Gillian Flynn’s novels and the way they always catch me off guard.  I don’t think there’s another author who does what she does as well as she does it.

Highly recommended.

Tiny Beautiful Things

Finished Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Life can be hard: your lover cheats on you; you lose a family member; you can’t pay the bills—and it can be great: you’ve had the hottest sex of your life; you get that plum job; you muster the courage to write your novel. Sugar—the once-anonymous online columnist at The Rumpus, now revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild—is the person thousands turn to for advice.

Tiny Beautiful Things brings the best of Dear Sugar in one place and includes never-before-published columns and a new introduction by Steve Almond.  Rich with humor, insight, compassion—and absolute honesty—this book is a balm for everything life throws our way.

As you know, I don’t read very much nonfiction and I don’t read books that tend toward self-help at all—I’m not sure if you can count a collection of advice columns as self-help, but if you can, know that I generally don’t read them.  But a friend suggested I read this, and as it is a friend whose literary taste I trust, I thought, well, fine.

And then I started reading this.  Holy crap, you guys.  THIS BOOK.

Even if the questions didn’t apply to me, odds were that the answer would in some ways.  Her answers were always full of love and honesty and compassion.  She’s basically the kind of person I would like to be friends with.  (As I said on Facebook, I would pay good money to get periodic emails of advice and assurances that things would work out.  And, as she said in a column after I posted that—and I’m paraphrasing—chances are that things will end up all right because we pretty much all end up all right in the end anyway.)

Odds are really high that this book is going to become a Christmas present for a lot of people.

Highly recommended.

The Burning Room

Finished The Burning Room by Michael Connelly.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Detective Harry Bosch tackles a cold case unlike any he’s ever worked, in the new thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly.

In the LAPD’s Open-Unsolved Unit, not many murder victims die almost a decade after the crime. So when a man succumbs to complications from being shot by a stray bullet nine years earlier, Bosch catches a case in which the body is still fresh, but any other evidence is virtually nonexistent.

Now Bosch and his new partner, rookie Detective Lucia Soto, are tasked with solving what turns out to be a highly charged, politically sensitive case. Starting with the bullet that’s been lodged for years in the victim’s spine, they must pull new leads from years-old information, which soon reveals that this shooting may have been anything but random.

In this gripping new thriller, Michael Connelly shows once again why Harry Bosch is “one of the greats of crime fiction” (New York Daily News).“

I don’t read many mysteries anymore, but Michael Connelly is always a must-buy for me.  I have enjoyed all his books, but the Harry Bosch ones are my favorite.  (I feel a little guilty, actually, because whenever I read a Mickey Haller installment, I always love them but I also always think, “I’d rather it were Harry Bosch instead…”)

I also know that these books are drawing to a close (Harry is approaching retirement) and I know that will be a sad, sad day for me.

But we don’t have to think about that yet.

So anyway, Harry has a new partner: Lucia Sota, who’s new and is a bit of a media superstar.  (Her last partner died in a shootout and she was able to hold the gunmen at bay until reinforcements arrived.)  I wasn’t completely sold on her at first, but I ended up really liking her, and I hope that she will show up in more books.  I’m not ready to lose Harry, but more books with Lucy in them would be really good.

This is a cold case and Harry quickly gets sucked into it.  He even uses his current catchphrase (“Everybody counts or nobody counts”), which is basically every value I have distilled into one sentence.  The best part is that a politician overhears and appropriates it and Harry is just completely horrified (because he actually means it and it’s so obvious that the politician is trying to score votes.

If you’re a fan of police procedurals, you owe it to yourself to read Harry Bosch.

Highly recommended.

Lies We Tell Ourselves

Finished Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.”

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.”

It’s probably not a spoiler to say that integration doesn’t work well for the African-American students who begin attending the formerly all white high school.  I think pretty much everyone who’s ever heard of integration would say that those people who were the first to integrate the schools were incredibly brave souls.  I understood that going in.

What I didn’t understand was just how awful that experience was.  I thought it was mostly just yelling—which would be horrific enough—but this book broke my heart.  (And apparently some schools were even worse…although, to be fair, some were better.  Not many, but some.)

This book would be enough of a trailblazer if it focused on integration and a burgeoning friendship between an African-American student and the white daughter of a very, VERY pro-segregationist man who was, not surprisingly, more than a little prejudiced.  But there was a lot more to it than to that.

This book is the kind of book that really opened my eyes and, like I said, broke my heart.  Sarah was this incredibly brave person and so was Linda, but in a different way.  It takes a lot of courage to be who you are and to go against how you were raised in order to do what’s right.

I can’t recommend this book enough.  Please read it; please get other people to read it.

Highly, highly recommended.

Party Games

Finished Party Games by RL Stine.  This is a Fear Street novel.  (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Summary (from Goodreads):

Her friends warn her not to go to Brendan Fear’s birthday party at his family’s estate on mysterious Fear Island. But Rachel Martin has a crush on Brendan and is excited to be invited. Brendan has a lot of party games planned. But one game no one planned intrudes on his party—the game of murder. As the guests start dying one by one, Rachel realizes to her horror that she and the other teenagers are trapped on the tiny island with someone who may want to kill them all. How to escape this deadly game? Rachel doesn’t know whom she can trust. She should have realized that nothing is as it seems… on Fear Island.

R.L. Stine makes his triumphant return to Shadyside, a town of nightmares, shadows, and genuine terror, and to the bestselling series that began his career writing horror for the juvenile market, in the new Fear Street book Party Games.”

I can’t even explain how excited I’ve been ever since they announced that R.L. Stine was going to write more Fear Street books.  He’s been writing Goosebumps pretty much this whole time, but I was always too old for those.  But I read the Fear Street books in elementary school, as part of my gateway to Stephen King, and I have a lot of nostalgia for them.

So I’m going to be honest, this book was almost guaranteed to get a good rating from me just because FEAR STREET.  And while it was more of an action thriller than a scary read, it was still an incredible bit of fun.  I liked the premise (birthday party at the world’s most haunted house) but I wish they had gone with the supernatural setup instead of the game-changing plot twist.  (I know, vague.)

Even though this wasn’t a perfect read, I enjoyed it a great deal.  I’m very happy to point out that there will be a new Fear Street book next year AND it comes out right after my birthday.  Perfect planning and timing.  I’m hoping it will be more supernatural and less human-based evil.

Sing Sweet Nightingale Deleted Scene Blog Tour

SingSweetNightingale

Title: Sing Sweet Nightingale

Author: Erica Cameron

Release Date: March 4, 2014

Publisher: Spencer Hill Press

Synopsis: Mariella Teagen hasn’t spoken a word in four years.

She pledged her voice to Orane, the man she loves—someone she only sees in her dreams. Each night, she escapes to Paradise, the world Orane created for her, and she sings for him. Mariella never believed she could stay in Paradise longer than a night, but two weeks before her eighteenth birthday, Orane hints that she may be able to stay forever.

Hudson Vincent made a pledge to never fight again.

Calease, the creature who created his dream world, swore that giving up violence would protect Hudson. But when his vow caused the death of his little brother, Hudson turned his grief on Calease and destroyed the dream world. The battle left him with new abilities and disturbing visions of a silent girl in grave danger—Mariella.

Now, Hudson is fighting to save Mariella’s life while she fights to give it away. And he must find a way to show her Orane’s true intentions before she is lost to Paradise forever.

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16044329-sing-sweet-nightingale?from_search=true

Dream War Saga Website: http://thedreamwarsaga.com

Dream War Saga Tumblr: http://thedreamwarsaga.tumblr.com/

BUY LINKS:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sing-Sweet-Nightingale-Dream-Saga-ebook/dp/B00I8JCOOA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414864018&sr=8-1&keywords=Erica+Cameron

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sing-sweet-nightingale-erica-cameron/1116551195?ean=9781937053963

The Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Sing-Sweet-Nightingale-Erica-Cameron/9781937053963

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Sing-Sweet-Nightingale/book-a7SbsLjHRkaPmsC1Dd9k2Q/page1.html?s=ofMIdqmttESoKYCc1nwbNQ&r=1
Author Bio and social media links:

Erica Cameron Author Photo 

Author Bio:

After a lifelong obsession with books, Erica Cameron spent her college years getting credit for reading and learning how to make stories of her own. Erica graduated with a double major in psychology and creative writing from Florida State University and began pursuing a career as an author.

Erica is many things but most notably the following: writer, reader, editor, dance fan, choreographer, singer, lover of musical theater, movie obsessed, sucker for romance, ex-Florida resident, and quasi-recluse. She loves the beach but hates the heat, has equal passion for the art of Salvador Dali and Venetian Carnival masks, has a penchant for unique jewelry and sun/moon décor pieces, and a desire to travel the entire world on a cruise ship. Or a private yacht. You know, whatever works.

Her debut novel, Sing Sweet Nightingale, released March 2014 and it was the first volume of The Dream War Saga, a four-book young adult series.

Author Social Media Links:

Website: http://byericacameron.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/byericacameron

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/byericacameron

 YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZrPtwJ9LGOWgrK1B6ZBVGQ/feed

Tumblr: http://byericacameron.tumblr.com/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/byericacameron/

And there’s a giveaway! Click here to enter; here is what you could win:

First-Place Prize: Signed copy of Sing Sweet Nightingale, bracelet, two book cover pendants
Second-Place Prize: Bracelet and two pendants
Third-Place Prize:Two pendants 

Good luck!

Here’s my deleted scene:

“Since I remember overhearing K.T. whisper about a meeting to set up the new Visual Arts Club, I have a good idea where to start looking. Luckily, the Arts Club is something I can add to my list of extracurriculars, so even if I can’t get KT to spill her guts, the afternoon won’t be a complete waste.

“I know there aren’t many of us yet, but it’s important for the school to have a club like this since our arts programs are practically nonexistent,” she’s saying as I open the door and slide into the room. Her eyes widen and then narrow as she sees me, but she nods her head toward the empty seats and continues. “My goals for the first year are to give you all a place to work if you don’t have one at home and to help you get some recognition for your art in different state sponsored contests you have to enter under the aegis of a school.”

“My parents can’t really afford any of the high-quality paints,” a girl with curly black hair sitting at the front of the class says. “Is there any way we can buy supplies as a group or through the school to save money?”

“Exactly,” KT says. She starts outlining a plan for purchasing communal supplies that will be kept in the office and distributed only to club members, but warns us the school doesn’t have much, if any, budget. “It’s all going to have to be personal contributions, donations, and fundraising.”

The meeting only lasts a few more minutes, long enough for us all to introduce ourselves and say a little bit about the kind of art we do. I’m the last to go, but when I tell them I dabble in a little bit of everything, the number of raised brows and narrow eyes tells me that proof might be required. All I have to do is unzip my backpack and pull out the sketchbook that lives there. Their eyes widen and everyone crowds around as I place the book on the desk and flip it open.

The first page is a colored pencil sketch of Horace’s house, a bright burst of color and warmth in a very gray neighborhood.

“Wow,” one of the freshman boys, Henry, says. “That’s really good. Look at the cat on the roof.”

I flip the page and there’s a watercolor of Van Sciver Lake. Another page and there’s a charcoal sketch of the two librarians I got to know well during my homeless years. I practically lived at the library from open to close back then. On the next page I glued a photo I took of Horace.

KT keeps her eyes trained on the sketchbook, but her lips are pursed and her arms locked tight across her chest. I can’t get a read on her. She could fall anywhere on the scale between confused and annoyed.

“Those really are fantastic, Hudson,” she says when I close the book. Her eyes meet mine and hold for a second before she turns to the rest of the group. “So, next week, same time same place? We’ll come up with a solid strategy for raising money and sharing supplies.”

Everyone agrees and wanders off to collect their bags before walking off in ones and twos. I pack up slowly, waiting until the room is clear before I say anything. KT beats me to the punch.

“There’s a lot more to you than meets the eye, huh?”

I look up at her and shrug. “Could say the same about you.”

She smiles, but it doesn’t quite reach her eyes. It seems a little sad. “Maybe some, but this is a small town and it’s hard to keep anything to yourself for long.”

She touches that bracelet again and looks out the window. After a minute, she asks, “You wouldn’t be able to give me a ride home, would you? It’s out of the way of everything in this town, just forewarning you.”

“Sure.”

KT stares out the window for a little while longer before nodding and moving to pick up her bag. “Thanks. I would have had to walk today otherwise.”

Curiosity almost makes me ask why, when I’d bet half her friends would have stayed, she’s left without a ride, but I don’t push my luck yet. From the sounds of it, there’s quite a drive ahead and I don’t want to piss her off too early. I rub at the spot on my chest despite knowing it won’t make the ache go away. Even touching my tiger iron pendant doesn’t ease the pinch much, not even as much as it did at lunch. We walk out to the parking lot in silence, which is only broken when she stops short at the sight of my car.

“Wow. Is that a ’69 SS?”

I glance back at her as I unlock the passenger door. “Yeah. You know cars?”

Her eyes are wide as she shakes her head. “No, just this one.” She swallows hard and takes a hesitant step forward. She places her bag gently on the floor of the front seat, but reverently runs her hand along the top of the car before climbing in. She reaches across the car to unlock my door as I walk around, so I open the door, slide in, and start the engine.

“Where to?”

She points off to the right. “That way. And then straight for a few miles.”

We fall into silence again, but I can feel something building. It’s in the way her right thumb is rubbing the plaque on her bracelet and the way she stares around the interior of the car as though it’s a work of art.

“My sister always wanted a car just like this one,” she says at last.

“You have a sister?” JR’s face pops into my mind and I have to force myself to concentrate on KT. “Older or younger?”

She clears her throat. “Older. Her name is Emily.”

“She in college nearby?”

After a minute of silence, I start wondering what was wrong with that question. Just before I take it back, KT takes a deep breath and says, “No. She’s in a coma.”

My hands tighten on the wheel and my heart starts racing. No. KT can’t be heading where I think she is.

“That sucks,” I say while silently telling myself to remain calm. Remain calm. Remain calm. Remain calm. She might not mean what you think. “How long?”

“Four years.” KT takes a deep breath and turns toward me, her eyes intent on my face. “She fell asleep the night of her eighteenth birthday and never woke up.”

She waits, still watching my face, but my brain has seized. Words can’t form. I’m not even sure if I’m capable of speaking anymore. What are the chances of someone falling into a coma on their eighteenth birthday who isn’t a victim of the dream demons? I haven’t really researched the statistics yet, but I’m guessing the odds aren’t good.

What is it about this town? What are the odds that two people in this tiny population attracted the attention of these demons? Not for the first time, I wonder how many of them there are scouring the planet for humans to destroy.

“Emily used to paint,” she says, finally looking away from me and out the windshield. “That’s why I decided to start a visual arts club before I graduate. Em always complained about the lack of a good support system for artists. She was really talented. Brilliant. It didn’t matter what she decided to create, she could work with anything. Paints, sculpture, photography, mixed media, even embroidery.” She hesitates, her gaze locking on my face again. I can feel its weight like a hand pressing against my skin. She takes a shuddering breath and asks, “Do you know how scary it is to watch someone you love disappear before your eyes?”

“Yes.” Just not in the way she does. I wonder though, which is worse: losing someone entirely or having to watch as years pass by without knowing if the person you love will ever recover? God. It would be like having this pinch turn into a metal rod shoved through the middle of my chest. And knowing I’d never get rid of it.

KT nods slowly as though I’ve confirmed something for her. “Only I noticed at first because it started with little things no one else paid any attention to. She was just different. Not herself.”

Yeah, I know that feeling. I remember that feeling well. They convince you they can make you better, turn you into something extraordinary if you just do what they say. They’re trying to help you, they promise. The thing is the demon actually did help me. I never felt in control of my anger until it taught me how to manage it, lock it down, and make sense of it. The more KT talks the more convinced I am her sister met the fate I missed by days.

“This was Em’s.” KT fingers the bracelet, spinning it around on her wrist. “I can still remember the morning she told me there’s another world only a few people can see. I was still pretty young, so I thought we were playing make believe. She never talked about it again, even when I tried to bring it up, but I could see it in her eyes after that, the way she looked at everything around her as though she had lost interest in it all. As if everything had lost its color.”

Everything does lose its color. They wrap you in their sickening light and you can’t see the world for what it is anymore. It’s like an addiction and only they have the drugs to keep you floating. They do everything they can to make sure you need them more desperately than you need your next breath. And they are very, very good at what they do.

How did KT know I’d believe her? I suspected she knew something about Mariella’s past, but I never would have guessed she had her own connection to the dream demons.

As though she can hear my thoughts, KT says, “I’m telling you this, because you see Mari. Actually see her instead of writing her off like everyone else.”

Just hearing her name sends shivers down my spine and sets the ache in my chest throbbing in time with my pounding heart. I’m already involved in this so much more than I want to be. And I’m only getting deeper.

“Somehow, you know she needs help,” KT says. “I think you know exactly what’s happening to her. I think you can keep what happened to Emily from happening to Mari.”

KT takes a deep breath and holds it. Willing to wait me out unless I’m going to bodily pick her up and toss her out of my car, I bet.

“Even if you are right,” I tell her after a minute, “you don’t want to know what I know. Trust me.”

This time, there’s no hesitation in her response. “I don’t want to know, but I need to know. I’ve been looking for answers for almost eight years and I’m not going to let a chance like this escape. You have those answers. I know you do. Please.”

“You don’t know what you’re asking,” I tell her. “Knowing the truth is like hanging a target around your neck. I don’t know if they can tell who knows, but I don’t sleep much anymore. When I do it’s knowing I might not live through the experience.”

KT opens her mouth, but pauses and closes it again. She sits back against the seat and looks out the window. “Take the next right.”

I take the turn and wait for her to consider all the unknown implications of this decision. At least she’s taking me seriously. Before she says anything, I know what her answer is going to be. It’s written in the squaring of her shoulders and the deliberate placement of her palms against her thighs as though willing herself to be still.

“I need to know.”

We’re in a heavily wooded area on a two-lane road, but I see a track that looks like it’s used for u-turns. I pull off and park between the two tree lines, hiding the car from view.

“I can’t be responsible for anything that happens because of this. I barely know how to protect myself, let alone someone else. I’ll give you a list of things it might be useful for you to have, just in case, but you have to know going in that I’m not gonna have the answers you want. I have absolutely no idea how to help your sister or even if she can be helped.” I hold her eyes, letting the words sink in. “Do you understand?”

She closes her eyes for a second, her hands tightening on her thighs. But then she opens her eyes and nods. “I understand.”

I tell her everything. I include every single gory, graphic, depressing, disturbing detail to make sure she really does understand what she’s up against. What Mariella is up against. After a while she gives up the pretense of control and sits crying quietly in the passenger seat, but she doesn’t stop me. I fill her in on everything except why I decided to leave Trenton. That has nothing to do with the demons and nothing to do with her sister. She doesn’t need to know.

Once I finally shut up, I realize I haven’t talked that much at one time in years. Possibly ever. I force myself to take deep breaths, focusing my mind into the calm center I learned to create. My heart slows and I can finally unwrap my fingers from the steering wheel one by one. Looking out the window in an attempt to give KT some privacy, I think about the emotional roller coaster this day has been. For someone used to the serenity of neutrality, it’s exhausting.

“How did you end up here?” KT asks, her voice soft and low. I turn toward her and try to pretend I don’t see her red-rimmed eyes and quivering lips.

“Temporary insanity.” So temporary I’m considering calling Horace, saying I changed my mind, and moving back to Trenton. Or maybe I should build myself a hut in the middle of the woods and avoid human contact entirely. After today, that is looking highly appealing. But KT disagrees.

“It’s fate,” she breathes. “You’re supposed to come here. You’re supposed to help Mari. Why else did you survive unless you’re supposed to use what you learned to stop other people from making the same mistake Emily did?”

Even though I don’t usually believe in fate, KT’s theory is actually plausible. First, my dreams, next, the momentary symptoms of alien hand syndrome that lead me to Swallow’s Grove, and then, the random coincidence of Mariella out of all possible candidates being chosen as my guide. There’s not believing in signs and then there’s ignoring the obvious, and I don’t like living in denial. Plus, what would JR think of me if he knew I saw someone on the brink of jumping off a cliff and didn’t pull them back? What would I think of myself? Walking away is the easier option, sure, but when have I ever gone for the easier option?

I take a deep breath and notice the ache in my chest has eased by half. Because I’ve decided to stay and risk my neck for a girl I dreamed about night after night before I met her? Guess it makes as much sense as anything else in my life. I almost smile.

Facing KT, I attempt to make her realize fighting this battle is going to be harder than climbing up an avalanche. “There is the very real possibility I will fail miserably.”

But KT smiles with still-shaking lips. “I’d only consider it a failure if we didn’t try.”

I was also lucky enough to get an interview:

  • KT believes in fate. Do you?

The theory that everything happens for a reason is incredibly comforting sometimes, especially when life gets incredibly crappy and you can’t seem to find your way out of the hole you’ve fallen into. Holding on to the certainty that what’s happening has a purpose and a plan makes it easier to face suffering and hardship with forbearance and I certainly have done this in the past. Do I have K.T.’s faith in god or life’s grand plan? Not so much.

Several characters are in a visual arts club. Do you have any artistic ability? If not, which would you like to have?

Unfortunately, I don’t! Not in painting or sketching, at least. I do make jewelry (which I sell on my Square Market shop), but that’s as artsy as I get. Oh! Except for this one time when I hand-drew a ridiculously large, over-detailed map for a fantasy world that I may or may not ever write books in. That was fun and it turned out really well, actually. I kind of surprised myself with that one.

  • What are you reading?

Sitting on my nightstand right now are Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce, The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd, and Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs. These books are my reward for when I finish the projects I’m working on and oh my wow are they tempting! I can’t wait to read them. Or reread in the case of Sarah’s book. But now I have a signed hardcover and so that deserves a second read!

  • If you could make one book mandatory, what would you pick?

I don’t think that I would! Not everyone is a reader and not all books are going to be right for all readers. I do have a lot of books that I absolutely adore, though, books that have held on to a piece of my brain even years after I’ve read them though some I’ve only read once. Here are some of them (a really small portion of my list) because I am absolutely AWFUL at picking favorites. Even narrowing it down this much is difficult!

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Everything ever written by Tamora Pierce

Matilda by Roald Dahl

The Color of Water by James McBride

Evil Genius and Genius Squad by Catherine Jinks

Colin Fischer by Zack Stentz and Ashley Edward Miller

Hollow City by Dan Wells

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Other stops on the tour:

November 3 – A Backwards Story

November 4 – Kissed by Ink

November 5 – Queekie Girl Reads

November 6 – Chasm of Books

November 7 – Bumbles and Fairy-Tales

November 10 – Books Complete Me

November 11 – KellyVision

November 12 – Falling For YA

November 13 – WhoRU Blog

November 14 – A Wonderland of Reading

 

 

 

Nights With Him

We are so excited to bring you the Release Day Launch for NIGHTS WITH HIM by Lauren Blakely! NIGHTS WITH HIM is the fourth full-length novel from her first Erotic Romance Series, The Seductive Nights Series! A full-length, standalone erotic romance novel that follows the love affair of a new couple, Jack and Michelle, NIGHTS WITH HIM does not have a cliffhanger. It’s ONLY $3.99 during the preorder period and release day, but this price will go up to $4.99 during release week. And as a special treat Lauren has released a FREE prequel novella, ONE NIGHT WITH HER!!

Nights With Him Cover for Aug 13 reveal

 

Lauren Blakely is well known for writing sexy, heartfelt and humorous contemporary romance as well as deeply emotional new adult stories –one commonality in all her books is the scorching hot sexy times. And these new books are absolutely no different! Jack Sullivan and Michelle Milo’s story is told in 2 books – the free prequel novella ONE NIGHT WITH HER and the novel NIGHTS WITH HIM. However, the prequel novella is included in the copy of NIGHTS WITH HIM to make it easier for the reader.

Author Photo

Message from Lauren:

The Seductive Nights erotic romance series continues with a new installment starring a new couple! While the first four books in the series followed Julia and Clay, the next two will be about Michelle and Jack, and can be read without having read the earlier books. (Though, why wouldn’t you want to read about Clay and Julia?!)

I can’t wait to introduce readers to Jack Sullivan. He’s sexy, broody, witty, smart, and a little bit damaged and he’s also my favorite kind of hero – the kind who wears a suit! Jack Sullivan is a sex toy mogul and is the CEO of a high-end line of pleasure products – he’ll bring all that experience to the bedroom as he sweeps Michelle Milo off her feet – expect many steamy encounters between these two! Michelle needs some good loving after all – readers know her already as Clay’s friend from Night After Night who loved him unrequitedly from afar. Now it’s finally her turn in the romance arena, and Jack will make sure she gets it good!!

ABOUT NIGHTS WITH HIM:

A sensual, sexy, standalone romance novel in the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Seductive Nights Series by Lauren Blakely…

Jack Sullivan is a Sex Toy Mogul.

An extremely eligible bachelor in New York, he’s the full package,right down to his full package. Hell, this man could be the model for one of the toys his company, Joy Delivered, peddles. Instead, he’s the powerful and successful CEO and he’s got commitment issues a mile-long after the tragic way his relationship with his fiancée ended.

He’s looking for a way to erase the pain and that arrives in the form of Michelle Milo. From her pencil skirts to her high heels, she’s his perfect fantasy, especially since she has no idea who he is the night they meet at a hotel bar. He doesn’t have a clue either that she’s the brilliant psychologist his sister has arranged for him to see to help him get over his past. She’s simply the stunning woman he takes to bed that night and delivers many Os of joy too.

His touch helps her forget that other man.

When he shows up at her office door the next day, there’s no way in hell she’s going to treat him after they’ve slept together. Jack isn’t willing to let go of the first woman he’s felt anything for in years so he proposes a deal – share her nights with him for thirty days. At the end of one month of exquisite pleasure, they walk away, having helped each other move on from their haunted pasts.

But soon, all those nights threaten to turn into days as the lines between lust and matters of the heart start to blur. Can two people so terribly afraid of love truly fall head over heels?

**NIGHTS WITH HIM is a standalone full-length novel in the bestselling SEDUCTIVE NIGHTS series following the love affair of a new couple.**

Lauren Blakely does it again and brings readers more smoldering, sexy nights in her Seductive Nights Series with her newest novel, NIGHTS WITH HIM.

In Lauren Blakely’s newest Seductive Nights novel, Jack Sullivan convinces Michelle Milo that he can “show her worlds of pleasure.” And judging from the number of Os he gives her, the man delivers on that promise! Lauren wants to deliver with worlds of pleasure for her readers too — so she’s offering an extra special giveaway with this novel!

Have you ever wanted to spend the night at a Ritz Carlton Hotel? Then you’ll want to take the Be Seduced quiz to enter to win a night at a Ritz Carlton and discover worlds of pleasure on your own! To celebrate the launch of the book, Lauren is giving away a $500 gift card for a stay at the Ritz nearest you!* Readers can access the quiz in the eBook version of NIGHTS WITH HIM, and will have until November 15th to enter the quiz. To be clear, the back of the NIGHTS WITH HIM eBook is the ONLY location with the link to the quiz. The grand prize winner will also receive a $100 gift card for Lelo, makers of premium sex toys, just like the one Jack uses on Michelle in this scene.

* If there is no Ritz Carlton near the winner, the winner may opt to receive a $500 gift card to any Marriott property, or Marriott-owned hotel.

 

Court Promo Week!

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Title: Court

Author: Cat Patrick

Date of Publication: October 23rd 2014

EXCERPT:

It was supposed to be study time. Every Sunday evening between five and eight o’clock, the halls of the boarding school known as Eurus Academy were silent, the common spaces deserted. Students were either in their rooms or at the library—where all that could be heard was the rustling of pages, the clacking of keyboards, and the gurgle of bodily noises that only seemed to present themselves during the quietest of moments.

It was a time for students to feed their minds.

Instead, Gwendolyn Rose, first daughter of the Duke of Coal, was preparing to sneak out and feed her soul.

Right after she addressed the knock on the tower door.

“Just a second!” Gwen called in a voice some people said sounded like her mother’s, buttoning her generic uniform cardigan. She made sure the backpack on the bed was zipped and the trunk by the footboard was locked. She smoothed her raven hair and opened the door.

“Margaret’s back,” her longtime friend Hope blurted out, going up on her toes like a child, making her blond waves bounce and her glasses slide down her freckled nose. “We’re meeting at the library and she’s going to tell me all about Boston. I still can’t believe she went to the Democracy. Her parents must have had to pay a fortune!”

Citizens were allowed out of the Realm, but only after paying the king a leave tax determined by social standing and other unknown factors. It was much harder for a commoner to leave than a courtier—and even courtiers couldn’t cross the borders into one of the Democracy’s states more than a few times per year without very special permission.

“Would you like to come hear about her trip?” Hope continued. “How was your weekend, by the way?”

Since kindergarten, Hope had spoken like she thought you’d stop paying attention if she didn’t get it all out quickly enough.

“My weekend was fine, thank you,” Gwen said calmly, playing a part. “It was nice to see my parents,” she lied. “I read, spent some time with my sister, and helped around the house.”

“It sounds fulfilling,” Hope said.

If your idea of fun is hanging out with your family.

“It was.”

“So, the library?” Hope pushed up her glasses and looked at Gwen expectantly.

“I’m meeting my cousin in Stuart.” It felt strange to articulate the excuse that Gwen had been rehearsing for an hour in her head. “I did my work earlier.”

Ever trusting, Hope didn’t waste energy trying to figure out which cousin Gwen was planning to meet—or why. She just told her to have a nice evening and left.

Backpack slung over her shoulders, Gwen stepped into the corridor and shut the door behind her. As with many things in Eurus, there were silent reminders of hierarchy here.

The sleeping floors of Eurus Academy had regular dorm rooms lining the hallways, but at the corners, there were four, single-occupancy tower rooms. Larger, with ornate rugs covering the wood flooring and special heating units to warm the stone walls, the tower rooms were for the oldest from the five, non-royal families: Coal, Wind, Tourism, and Oil.

Since the inception of the Realm, when the Democracy still hadn’t discovered it, Natural Gas had been the king’s resource. Sons and daughters of the king slept in the castle—not on campus—so there was no tower room for the Natural Gas family.

The oldest girls from the Families slept on the sixth floor; boys on the fifth.

Gwen tapped down three Italian marble steps to the plush carpeting, the Medieval feel of the secluded corner tower giving way to a modern-baroque hallway with cream-colored walls papered from chair height up with sweeping blooms in varying shades of light blue, metallic on matte.

She looked right toward the northwest tower, which belonged to the Brevard family. Specifically, it belonged to Josephine Brevard. Haakon had no idea, but Gwen had seen him leaving that room recently. She hadn’t minded: Gwen had no interest in Haakon. The time to worry about that was many years down the road.

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23377533-court

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About Court:

 

For more than 300 years, a secret monarchy has survived and thrived within the borders of the US, hiding in plain sight as the state known as Wyoming. But when the king is shot and his seventeen-year-old son, Haakon McHale, is told he will take the throne, becoming the eleventh ruler of the Kingdom of Eurus, the community that’s survived for centuries is pushed to the limit. Told through four perspectives, Court transplants us to a world that looks like ours, but isn’t. Gwendolyn Rose, daughter of the Duke of Coal, is grudgingly betrothed to Haakon — and just wants a way out. Alexander Oxendine, son of the Duke of Wind and Haakon’s lifelong best friend, already grapples with internal struggles when he’s assigned to guard Haakon after the king dies. And commoner Mary Doyle finds whispers in the woods that may solve — or destroy — everything, depending on your bloodline.

 

Money. Love. Power. Community. What’s your motivation?

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00O3D37QE/

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About Cat Patrick:

Raised in a house that was struck by lightning–twice–Cat Patrick is the author of young adult books ForgottenRevived, and The Originals, and the co-author of Just Like Fate.

As a child, Cat could be found making up stories like her first book, Dolly the Purple Spotted Dolphin; growing corn in the backyard; or performing with a traveling sign-language troupe. She earned a journalism degree from the University of Wyoming and a master’s degree from Boston University, and worked in public relations for fifteen years. She lives outside of Seattle with her husband and twin daughters, and is on Twitter @seecatwrite, or Facebook at authorcatpatrick.

Cat once…

  • Interrupted Warren Beatty’s lunch to snap a picture with him.
    • Appeared on a game show, but not as a competitor.
    • Climbed a 50 foot tower and rappelled back down. (At least she thinks it was 50 feet.)
    • Met Muhammad Ali.
    • Was on the high school golf team.
    • Got a tattoo.
    • Was pooped on by a dolphin.
    • Performed a high kick routine to Personal Jesus.
    • Interviewed Carmen Electra.
    • Worked as a “concessionist” at a movie theater.
    • Met the guy who created Sonic the Hedgehog.

Cat likes… Crunchy snacks, decaf nonfat lattes, mint chip ice cream, Alan Rickman, zombies from afar, traveling, reading, easy hikes, challenging plotlines, stargazing, silly hats, and boots.

Cat dislikes… Talking on the phone, socks with holes, zombies close up, the flu, mean people, touching ice, copyedits, flying, spiders, squeaky windshield wipers, black licorice, and salmon.

Website: http://catpatrick.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/seecatwrite

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorcatpatrick

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4254441.Cat_Patrick

Giveaway:

Click here to enter a set of all of Cat Patrick’s books—signed!  Good luck.

Kiss Of Broken Glass

Finished Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Madeleine Kuderick’s gripping debut is a darkly beautiful and lyrical novel in verse, perfect for fans of Sonya Sones and Laurie Halse Anderson. Kiss of Broken Glass pulses with emotion and lingers long after the last page.

In the next seventy-two hours, Kenna may lose everything—her friends, her freedom, and maybe even herself. One kiss of the blade was all it took to get her sent to the psych ward for seventy-two hours. There she will face her addiction to cutting, though the outcome is far from certain.

When fifteen-year-old Kenna is found cutting herself in the school bathroom, she is sent to a facility for mandatory psychiatric watch. There, Kenna meets other kids like her—her roommate, Donya, who’s there for her fifth time; the birdlike Skylar; and Jag, a boy cute enough to make her forget her problems . . . for a moment.“

In the author’s note, it explains that this is based on a true story.  Apparently this happened to her daughter, as well.

Apparently in Florida, the law is that if you are found cutting, you will be placed under a mandatory psychiatric hold for 72 hours.  This may seem like a good law on the surface, but it’s not necessarily true.  (Obviously, cutting is a big clue that something is wrong, but putting someone in a psychiatric clinic is maybe not the best way to handle it—for example, instead of learning ways to deal with stress better, you could also be learning ways to hide the cuts better.)

The thing I loved best about the story is the ambiguity of the ending.  72 hours isn’t a very long time (although I bet it seems like forever when you’re in that situation) and it’s not very likely that Kenna’s entire outlook will have changed and that she will be miraculously cured.  The book acknowledges that, although it definitely helps that Kenna is more aware of herself and why she cuts.  There is hope for her, but it’s by no means a sure thing.

Recommended.

Tape

Finished Tape by Steven Camden.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Record a voice and it lasts forever…

In 1993, Ryan records a diary on an old tape. He talks about his mother’s death, about his dreams, about his love for a new girl at school who doesn’t even know he exists.

In 2013, Ameliah moves in with her grandmother after her parents die. There, she finds a tape in the spare room. A tape with a boy’s voice on it – a voice she can’t quite hear, but which seems to be speaking to her.

Ryan and Ameliah are connected by more than just a tape.

This is their story. “

This book was not what I expected.  I was expecting it to be a Lake House-type love story and it’s not that.  (Which is good because technically, Ryan is 20 years older than Ameliah is, and that’s kind of creepy when Ameliah is just a teenager.)  There also isn’t even all that much interaction between them.  Instead, it’s broken down into Ryan’s story and Ameliah’s story, not THEIR story together.

I’m explaining this because this is a really good book and I think you may enjoy it more if you go in without the misconceptions I had, based on the synopsis and also on the conclusions I drew. :)

Generally with two narrators, I tend to prefer one of the storylines.  That wasn’t the case in this.  I was a fan of both and equally invested in both.

It didn’t hurt that both of them are dealing with grief (Ryan’s mom has died and both of Ameliah’s parents have) and I tend to appreciate those stories.  In this case, it was also interesting to be in Ryan’s time (20 years ago) just in terms of thinking of just how far we’ve come in terms of technology.

Recommended.