Archives for June 2013

Blog Tour: Passion and Pain by Kathy Petrakis (spotlight of books #1 & 2, giveaway)

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Passion and Pain final coverPassion and Pain (Dancers and Divas #1)
written by Kathy Petrakis
published by Antartis Publishers

find it here: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: Does passion and desire guarantee success? Can friends really be trusted? Can true love be found beneath lust and deceit?

These are questions tenacious street dancer Elena Martinez faces as she struggles to compete against the most talented students at New York’s top Performing Arts High School. Along with her best friend, the carefree and mischievous Sebastien Duval, they are determined to make center stage.

But the singing diva Letitia has other plans. Beautiful, talented and popular, her desire for revenge could ruin everything for Elena and Sebastien. Now, they must fight against prejudice, treachery and deceit as Letitia sets out to destroy Elena’s friendships, her romance, her dignity and her dreams. Can Elena win the battle for true love, happiness and success?

Kathy Petrakis - color

Find Ms. Petrakis here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, mailing list

 

And now for the GIVEAWAY!! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win!

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Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!

 

Review: Cooking Up A Storm by Sue Welfare (review)

Cooking Up A Storm
written by Sue Welfare
published by Lodge Publishing

find it here: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Goodreads

Why did I pick this book: I was asked by the author to review her book. I happily agreed. I love chick lit! (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book:
I did enjoy this book. It was typical chick lit – a woman newly on her own trying to make it, a seemingly helpless man, and a romance with some cooking thrown in for good measure. It was a good story.

Sarah is a good person who is doing the best she can given her current situation. I could not imagine going through what she was going through. Sarah is strong and knows when to give in to a situation – Magda and a job! – and when to walk away – Colin! She loves her kids and tries to do right for them given the difficult-ness of Colin. She even gives him more than she should in my opinion. Sarah is a great lead in a chick lit novel. I wanted the best for her.

My favorite character was Kit. He was fantastic. I fell in love with him from the beginning. He’s that big kid that hasn’t really grown up but can be grown up and very aware when the need arises. He’s lovable and kind and funny. The interaction and chemistry between he and Sarah was well-written. I could see them together acting out this script for his cookery show. I could see them together getting along, but not getting along while she is teaching him how to cook and while he is helping with her boys.

Colin is an ass, plain and simple. I cannot stand him and every time he came around I wanted to gauge my eyes out so I didn’t have to read his drivel. He was written wonderfully. All of his unbelievable-ness was believable. Peony was a trip, especially at the end. Shaun was a wonderful match as well. Magda was a hard-nosed boss who went after what she wanted, and she usually got it.

The recipes all sound delicious. I’ll have to try some soon! My only criticism with the recipes is that the author should have included a recipe after every chapter, not just some chapters, or just left them all at the end of the book. I would have preferred to have them all at the end of the book. I found the recipes at the end of most chapters was quite distracting and took away some of the flow.

Other minor issues with Cooking Up A Storm…some typos throughout the book. They weren’t plentiful but there were a few that stood out. And the ending wrapped up very quickly in the epilogue. I wanted more out of that. I wanted to know more. It was too quick of an ending for me. I almost didn’t get what happened with the characters.

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Would I recommend it: I would recommend this book if you like chick lit, and if you like British chick lit.

Will I read it again: I will not.

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About the book – from Goodreads:
When newly single Sarah Peterson rents a cottage on Kit Roseberry’s country estate and swops cooking supper for rent, she isn’t expecting TV producer, Magda Holmes, to fall for Kit and his culinary skills, or offer him a slot on her TV show.

Kit can’t boil water, but he’s got the look and needs the money. Magda is keen to go for a traditional feel, happy families, picnics on the beach and birthday teas, so Sarah – along with her two boys – finds herself as undercover cook, and an instant wife and family for Kit’s TV debut.

But what will that do to Sarah’s fresh start, her new man, ex-husband and the rest of her life? Is it a recipe for disaster or does it have all the ingredients for a great romance?

Cooking Up A Storm is a classic Rom-Com, and includes recipes for all the dishes cooked by Sarah and Kit.

 

Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!

 

Blog Tour: Paris Love Match by Nigel Blackwell (spotlight, giveaway)

ParisLoveMatch BN KoboParis Love Match
written by Nigel Blackwell
published by Bandit Publishing

find it here: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Goodreads

About the book: Getting a taxi in Paris can be hell.

Piers Chapman expected a boring business trip to Paris.
What he didn’t expect was to fight over a cab with a beautiful girl.

After a bad meeting, Sidney Roux just wanted to hail a cab, go home, and have a glass of wine.
She didn’t expect to fight over a cab with some pompous British tourist.

Neither of them expected another man to jump in their cab.
Or to be involved in a gun fight.
Or a car chase through the streets of Paris.
Or for the man to die.

But they’re thrust together when the mob demands they return what the dead man stole.

Will Piers and Sidney work together?
Will they find what he had stolen?
Will they stay alive?

And will they do the last thing they expected?
Will they fall in love?

nigelAbout the author: Nigel Blackwell was born in rural Oxfordshire in England. He has a love of books, a PhD in Physical Chemistry, and a black belt in pointing out the obvious. As a teenager he toured Europe and loved seeing the wonders of the world and the people in it. Since then he has been fortunate enough to travel across Europe, North America, the Middle East, and Japan, and hasn’t been anywhere that doesn’t have the potential for a story.

He now lives in Texas with his wife and daughter, where they enjoy the sunshine and listen to the coyotes howl at night.

Find Mr. Blackwell here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

 

And now for the GIVEAWAY!! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win!

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Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!

 

Book Blitz: Shine Not Burn by Elle Casey (spotlight, giveaway, interview)

SNBCoverShine Not Burn
written by Elle Casey
published by Elle Casey

find it here: Amazon, Goodreads

About the book: IT HAPPENED IN VEGAS. I can’t be held responsible. Things that happen there are supposed to stay there, right? Right? Yeeeah. Not so much. … Andie’s just days away from tying the knot, but there’s just ooooone little glitch. Apparently, she’s already married. Or someone with her name is married to a guy out in Oregon of all places, and the courthouse won’t issue her a marriage license until it’s all cleared up. Tripping her way through cow pies and country songs to meet up with a man who gets around places on horseback is her very last idea of how to have a good time, but if she’s going to get married, make partner at the firm, and have two point five kids before she’s thirty-five, she needs to get to the bottom of this snafu and fix it quick … before her fiance finds out and everything she’s been working toward goes up in flames.

Every Free Chance Book Reviews is pleased to welcome Elle Casey, author of Shine Not Burn, to the blog today. She has answered some questions for all of you.

You started out writing in YA.  What brought you over to New Adult?

I’ve been a reader of new adult titles even before they were called ‘new adult’.  And I love the age group it covers.  18-30 years old is such a great time in life, isn’t it?  I mean, it’s when you sow your wild oats, learn about yourself in the context of the whole world and not just your family and friends; it’s where you figure out who you’re going to be.  The adult-formative years I guess you could call it.  And the sex part is awesome too, I won’t lie.  You can only get so sexy with a YA book, so as a writer, I have to hold back.  In NA, I don’t have to do that.  It can be passionate, raw, sometimes awkward and full of bad decisions, but it can be REAL.  I guess that’s what I love about NA most … it’s raw and real.

How do you write so many books in such a short period of time?

Short and sweet:  I have a system for getting the work done, and I’m a helluva fast typer.  More details: I have a ton of stories always waiting in my head to be told, and when I sit down at the computer, the words just kind of spill out.  My stories are very character-driven, meaning I don’t make up the story.  I just find the characters wandering around in my head, put them in a situation, and let them run with it.  Now that I’m a full-time writer, I can dedicate more of my time to writing that I used to when I was also teaching at a university.  I treat writing as a business and try to be very disciplined about it.  After eighteen months of writing, I’ve published 20 novels, so I think my system is working.  🙂

What’s your favorite part of being a writer?

My readers.  Hands down, it’s the readers.  I get emails and messages every day from devoted fans, and I can’t express how much that means to me.  There are readers out there who’ve set up book blogs just because they were so excited about my books, people who make it a point to promote my books on their Facebook pages and Twitter just because they want to share the reader-love, and whole families who are reading my series and discussing them at dinner.  It just blows my mind that people would be so generous and so involved in my made-up worlds.  Recently I had a fan dress as one of my characters at a comic con event.  I also occasionally get a very heart-warming message about how my writing has changed someone’s life – caused them to finally start reading or to go to college.  To me, that’s the sign of a life well-lived – that I’ve somehow inspired another person to reach for something they want in life that they thought they didn’t have a chance at having before.

How long have you been writing?  What did you do before you were a writer?

I’ve been writing since January of 2012.  Before that I was a lot of things … most recently an attorney.  But you can add the following other jobs to the list:  retail sales clerk, air traffic controller (in the Air Force), waitress, restaurant owner, stock broker, insurance salesperson, professor, and CEO of a medical device company.  I’m one of those people who gets bored easily, so after being in a job for a few years, I need a change so I can be challenged again.  The beauty of being a writer is it’s never the same job twice, and it really doesn’t feel like work.  It’s the best job I’ve ever had, hands down.  It’s the only job in the world were you walk into work (in my case, open the computer) and your boss starts the day by telling you how amazing you are.  My readers are my bosses now, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  They really are great motivators. 🙂

ElleAbout the author: Elle Casey is a full-time writer of New Adult and Young Adult titles in several genres, including romance, urban fantasy, sci-fi dystopian, and action-adventure. She’s an American girl who’s been living in southern France with her husband and three children since 2010. She loves chatting with her readers, so feel free to drop her a line.


Find Ms. Casey here: 
WebsiteFacebook, TwitterGoodreads

 

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Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!

 

Review: Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter by Melissa Francis (review, guest post)

stage-mothers-daughterDiary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter
written by Melissa Francis
published by Weinstein Books

find it here: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book DepositoryGoodreads

Why did I pick this book: I was asked by the publicist to review this book. Plus, I’m on a search to find a child actors who grow up to be functional members of society. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book: I’ve never seen Little House on the Prairie, nor have I seen Ms. Francis on TV. I guess I’m a bit too young, so going in I had no reference point; it wasn’t like I was reading about Screech from Saved By the Bell.

I was expecting the typical stage mother crazy and I got it. I was expecting the typical mismanagement of finances, and I got it. I was expecting a downward spiral, and though it was in an unexpected place, I got that too. There were, though, a few things that surprised me.

I wasn’t expecting Francis’s strength. I wasn’t expecting her to talk so frankly about her sister, or to write about her mother without spite. I am proud of her though I’ve never met her; I’m certain the bitterness would have leaked out had this been my story. It’s easy to leave out the icky bits when you’re writing about yourself, and though I felt that Francis could have been a bit more honest about her own faults, I commend her for describing those icky bits without bitterness.

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Would I recommend it: Yeah! If you’re interested in an uplifting version of the traditional “Childhood Actor Grows Up” genre, you’ll enjoy it.

Will I read it again: Nah. I find it difficult to re-read this genre.

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About the book:
A dazzling honest and provocative family memoir by former child actress and current Fox Business Network anchor Melissa Francis — both a startling personal story and a cautionary tale for both parents in competitive times.

When Melissa Francis was eight years old, she won the role of lifetime: playing Cassandra Cooper Ingalls, the little girl who was adopted with her brother (played by young Jason Bateman) by the Ingalls family on the world’s most famous prime-time soap opera, Little House on the Prairie. Despite her age, she was already a veteran actress, living a charmed life, moving from one Hollywood set to the next. But behind the scenes, her success was fueled by the pride, pressure, and sometimes grinding cruelty of her stage mother.

While Melissa thrived under pressure, her older sister — who had tried her hand at acting and shrank from the limelight — was often ignored by their mother in a shadow of neglect and disappointment. Tiffany could do nothing to please her mother, but it wasn’t until after Melissa had graduated from Harvard University with a degree in economics, found love, and married that Tiffany’s personal problems culminated in a life-and-death crisis. When Melissa realized the role of her mother continued to play in her sister’s downward spiral, she resolved to end the manic, abusive cycle once and for all.

Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter is a fascinating account of life as a child star in the 1980’s, and also a disquieting tale of a family under the care of a highly neurotic, dangerously competitive “tiger mother.” But perhaps most importantly, now that Melissa has two sons of her own, it’s a meditation on motherhood. She asks the questions so many of us ask ourselves: how hard should you push a child to succeed, and at what point does your help turn into harm?

Every Free Chance Book Reviews is pleased to welcome Melissa Francis, author of Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter, to the blog today. She has prepared the following guest post for all of you.

Choose to be Happy
By Melissa Francis,
Author of Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter

As a journalist, I have built a career around asking other people questions. But answering them? That is another story altogether. When the topic turned to my life growing up, I was the master of skirting the issue. Even with my closest friends.

“Are your parents coming for Christmas?” someone would ask.
“Not this year,” I’d reply.
“Do you have brothers or sisters?” they’d wonder.
“It’s just me,” I would say.
I hadn’t lied, but I hadn’t told the truth either.

The fact that I grew up on dozens of Hollywood sets — the fictional daughter of Michael Landon, Martin Sheen, Ted Danson, Glenn Close and others, hawking baby shampoo, McDonald’s cheeseburgers, and Campbell’s soup — made the topic of my past even more attractive. And I didn’t mind talking about that part. But then diverting the conversation when it inevitably turned to my real family proved almost impossible. I didn’t want to share the fact that my flesh and blood family had exploded and disintegrated in spectacular fashion. That behind the scenes, my magical childhood was fueled by the Hollywood version of a Tiger Mom, a Stage Mother, whose wildly ambitious and often cruel ways ultimately destroyed my sister. Rather than explain, I preferred to just avoid the whole topic.

After years of skirting the issue it was my four year old who was the one person I could no longer hide my past from.

“Where’s your Mommy?” he asked. This was not the first time he’d gone down this road. After all, his other grandmother, my husband’s mother, is a vibrant character in our family portrait, constantly abounding with energy and creative ideas for how to spend the day. Next to her, the hole where my mother should be is even more gaping. I knew I had to come up with an answer that I could stand behind, not a diversionary technical-truth.

So I dared to put my history on paper, in Diary of Stage Mother’s Daughter. And finally, in putting words to my story and sharing my life with the world, I have relieved the pain, largely because of the support showered on me by complete strangers. Turns out, I was far from alone in having a troubled past. Judging from the letter, emails and even Tweets I have received, I now realize that nearly every family has a dramatic, heart wrenching story, that every person has suffered through their own trials. We could all write a book!

What counts is what we do now — how we move forward.

Rather than carrying past pain around and allowing it to paralyze us, I suggest that raw, aching memory can be harnessed as a richness of experience to draw upon. For me, I know how not to raise my sons. I took control of my history, stopped the cycle in its deadly tracks, and chose to take a different path into the future. I demanded a different relationship with my mother, and when she refused, I moved on to a new life. It was both a terrifying and a liberating choice. But it changed my life.

I’d love for anyone who reads the book to feel that they can learn from a challenged past and move forward positively towards a joyful future. You can choose to be happy — your very best person. It’s never too late.

Melissa Francis Final Author PhotoAbout the author: Melissa Francis, author of Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter, grew up in southern California. As a broadcast journalist, she has anchored CNBC’s Power Lunch, The Call, and On The Money, and served as a regular contributor to the Today show and Weekend Today. Currently she hosts two daily business shows on the Fox Business Network, including Money with Melissa Francis. Francis holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Harvard University. She lives in New York City with her husband and their two sons.

Melissa Francis enjoys discussing her book with her readers and is available for book club meetings as her schedule permits.

If your book club would like to schedule a phone or Skype interview with her, please direct your request here: http://www.melissafrancisofficial.com/contact.php

For more information please visit http://www.melissafrancisofficial.com, and follow the author on and

Find Ms. Francis here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

 

Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!

 

Book Blast: Matt Archer: Legend by Kendra C. Highley (spotlight, giveaway)

Matt Archer Legend 680x453Matt Archer: Legend (Matt Archer #3)
written by Kendra C. Highley
published by Kendra C. Highley

find it here: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Smashwords, GoodreadsKobo

About the book: When Matt Archer was fourteen, he was chosen—by a magic, spirit-inhabited knife—to hunt monsters with a special paranormal division of the Army. When he was fifteen, he was thrown into a global war the rest of the world didn’t know existed.

Now Matt’s sixteen and the war has cost him more than he ever thought it would. He’s also learned that the knife-spirits have an agenda he doesn’t totally agree with. The only problem? The spirits have the upper hand, and they plan to control the fight—and Matt.

Then things get worse: the next lunar eclipse cycle is starting, a prominent physicist has gone missing, and Matt’s best friend is thinking about quitting the team. If he loses Will—after everyone else he’s lost—Matt’s not sure how he’ll fight alone.

As the source of his nightmares starts to creep out of the shadows, Matt knows he’ll need all the help he can get…because being alone could prove deadly.

 

Matt Archer: Blade’s Edge (Matt Archer #2)

find it here: Barnes & NobleAmazoniBooksGoodreadsKoboSmashwords

See my review here.

About the book: When Matt Archer was fourteen, he discovered monsters are real. As if that wasn’t enough to go on for a few decades, Matt also found out that he’d been chosen to hunt those monsters–with a sentient, supernatural knife. Now fifteen, Matt has spent the last year working with a clandestine military unit, trying to rid the world of monsters, demons and other vicious creatures, all while keeping it a secret from nearly everyone he knows back home in Billings.

Including his mom.

Add in a new girlfriend, family secrets, sibling drama and enough homework to sink an aircraft carrier, and Matt’s life has become more complicated than he ever imagined. Worse, the knife has developed some very definite opinions about Matt’s personal life and it interferes in his business whenever it wants. More and more, Matt’s coming to realize that sharing brain-space with a spirit kind of sucks.

When stories of decimated towns and hordes of zombies start pouring into the Pentagon from Afghanistan, Matt knows he’ll be called up soon. Between the new mission and the knife’s increasing control over his mind, Matt wonders if he’ll survive long enough to take his driver’s exam.

 

Matt Archer: Monster Hunter (Matt Archer #1)
See my review here.

About the book: Fourteen-year-old Matt Archer spends his days studying Algebra, hanging out with his best friend and crushing on the Goddess of Greenhill High, Ella Mitchell. To be honest, he thinks his life is pretty lame until he discovers something terrifying on a weekend camping trip at the local state park.

Monsters are real. And living in his backyard.

But that’s not the half of it. After Matt is forced to kill a strange creature to save his uncle, he finds out that the weird knife he took from his uncle’s bag has a secret, one that will change Matt’s life. The knife was designed with one purpose: to hunt monsters. And it’s chosen Matt as its wielder.

Now Matt’s part of a world he didn’t know existed, working with a covert military unit dedicated to eliminating walking nightmares. Faced with a prophecy about a looming dark war, Matt soon realizes his upcoming Algebra test is the least of his worries.

His new double life leaves Matt wondering which is tougher: hunting monsters or asking Ella Mitchell for a date?

About the author: Kendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to two self-important and high-powered cats. This, according to the cats, is her most important job. She believes chocolate is a basic human right, running a 10k is harder than it sounds, and that everyone should learn to drive a stick-shift. She loves monsters, vacations, baking and listening to bad electronica.

Find Ms. Highley here: TwitterFacebookPinterestGoodreadsWebsite

 

And now for the Book Blast Giveaway! Enter to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash.

(Ends July 9, 2013)

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Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
 

Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!

Blog Tour: The Blasphemy Box by Mandy Behbehani (review, excerpt)

the blasphemy boxThe Blasphemy Box
written by Mandy Behbehani
published by Breedon Avenue Books

find it here: Amazon, Goodreads

Why did I pick this book: I participated in the blog tour hosted by CLP Blog Tours. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book:
I did enjoy this book. I read every free chance I had. It was a pretty quick read that grabbed me from the beginning.

Madeleine is going through an unwanted divorce and rediscovering herself at the same. She finds herself trying to get back into the workforce while raising three kids and starting a blog. Although she was reluctant at first, she finds some comfort in her blog and from the comments that it generates. I’m sure most of us bloggers can relate to that part right there. 😉

I liked Madeleine a lot. She is funny, sarcastic, and a good person who is trying to get back in shape both physically and emotionally. I was rooting for her. I wanted her to get in shape. I wanted her to get back to writing. I wanted her to fall for that perfect guy. I wanted her to move on from her husband. I wanted him to recognize the mistake he made.

Her husband, Steven, left her for a 25 year old and is fighting Madeleine for every penny and the house! He pulled a lot of the tricks that occur during divorce proceedings. Their interactions, and those with the lawyers, were well-written and pretty spot on for the most part. It was entertaining to read from the outside, and not be a part of them. I loved when she called him out on a financial issue. I laughed out loud at that one. It was classic. However, I did take a small amount of offense to the criticism and badmouthing of the attorneys (I know this happens all of the time! I’ve had to hear it.) in the blog comments and from Madeleine. But that offense comes from personal experience and I know that that is how most attorneys – especially family law attorneys – are viewed. (And a select few, rightly so viewed.) So, no big deal for me. But the people who complain about being charged a fee for speaking to their attorney or paralegal or secretary on the telephone or email…what do they expect? Of course, they will be charged. But I digress….

Mike was a great opposite of Steve. I wanted Madeleine to see him from the first time she met him. But I understand what had to happen. Mike was fun, kind, and a great guy. I really liked his game of pick a book and tell what was happening when you read it for the first time. That was fun. Well, the idea is a fun one. I also loved how he looked out for her and wanted to be a part of her life and that of her kids when the time was right. Mike was my favorite!

The book title, as well as the blog title refers to the “Blasphemy Box” that her husband established to curb Madeleine’s swearing. What a jerk! I enjoyed the fact that she named her blog after that box! That was funny. I also liked that in some of the blog posts she “charged” herself a quarter each time she swore. I loved when she mentioned the box at the end of the book. That made me laugh out loud. The name and how it was used was creative. There were a few typographical errors, not many but enough to notice because the errors were misspelled words that weren’t actually misspelled. ‘Think’ used instead of ‘thing’, ‘fine’ instead of ‘find’ — that sort of thing. The words aren’t misspelled but they aren’t correct either. I just had to reread a few lines to determine what was meant. However, this did not take away from my enjoyment of the book.

All-in-all, it was a good story that kept me interested. I was happy for Madeleine. I was upset for her. I laughed with her – and sometimes at her (especially at the gym!). I disliked her husband. I wanted to be her friend. The Blasphemy Box was a good read.

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Would I recommend it: I would recommend this book if you like chick lit. It was a good read.

Will I read it again: I probably won’t. But I will read more from this author.

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About the book – from Goodreads:
Wry, witty contemporary women’s fiction with romantic elements, Bridget Jones meets Nora Ephron.

Maddy Nelson has an idyllic existence: a handsome husband, great kids, a comfortable, affluent lifestyle. One morning soon after she turns fifty, however, she wakes up in her San Francisco home to find her husband Steven announcing that he’s leaving her for a woman half her age. And a third of her size.

Ouch!

Feeling totally unmoored and grieving for her married life and husband, Maddy finds herself thrust into an unfamiliar and uncomfortable world of middle-aged singledom. There, she must come to terms with her situation and embark on her new life: divorce proceedings, single parenting, internet dating, and trying to earn a living. It’s enough to drive her over the brink. To help her cope, she shares her struggles in a smart, wry blog named The Blasphemy Box, after her ex-husband’s obnoxious habit of having her drop a quarter into a wooden box every time she said something off color. Her madcap middle-aged adventures find her devoted readers who identify with her challenges.

In time, Maddy creates herself and finds happiness in the arms of a good man, and a fulfilling new career as a novelist.

Please enjoy the following excerpt from The Blasphemy Box.

CHAPTER 1

DAY 1 OF SEPARATION

Marriage is the chief cause of divorce

— Groucho Marx

You know that nightmare you’ve always had?

The one where you wake up one day to find yourself fat, frumpy, fifty, and alone?

I’m living it.

It’s barely nine on a frigid January morning. The three children have gone off to school, and I’m in the kitchen in my pajamas on my laptop working on my novel when Steven comes lumbering through, toward the front door of our Victorian house in San Francisco, dragging two of my large Louis Vuitton suitcases.

It’s been only a week since he said he was leaving. Not even a week. Six days. We’d only just celebrated the kids’ birthdays. After twenty years of marriage, I just didn’t believe it. I thought maybe he had a cold and was feeling out of sorts. Sure, we’d been bickering a lot lately, mostly about how he was working until all hours of the night with no convincing explanation. And about how he was sick and tired of seeing my nose in a book and that I should take it out and pay more attention to him. And about why he hadn’t touched me for several months. And about that wooden box with a slot on the top, which suddenly appeared on the kitchen table to remind me not to curse. Steven called it the Blasphemy Box, and I was to insert a quarter into it every time I swore. (I’m from England where cursing is the second language.)

He told me he was leaving while we were perusing the baking aisle at Whole Foods. It was the first time he had been grocery shopping with me in a long time. All I could see through my tears was a row of boxes of “No Pudge Fat-Free Fudge Brownie Mix.” I kept asking him if he was joking. He said it was no joke. I blinked the tears away and tried to maintain my British cool—public grief is just not done in England after all, where I come from. I babbled about needing bitter cocoa powder, mascarpone, and ladyfingers for tiramisu. I asked him if he wanted something other than tiramisu. But he just stood silently next to me, not looking at me, far away, already gone.

Had I seen this coming? No! (Well, not exactly.) I thought we were just used to each other, just comfortable with each other, the spark gone, the flame tamed, but still together as one. I guess not. We didn’t talk about it again in that intervening week. I couldn’t. It’s called denial. I thought if I didn’t talk about it, it wouldn’t be real. It wouldn’t happen. But it has. It is. Happening. Now.

As he lumbers toward our front door, I look up. “So, that’s it. You’re really leaving.”

“Maddy, don’t start…We’ve been through this. It’s over. ”

No matter how many times he says it, I still can’t believe it.

“Because of some bimbo half your age?”

“And half your size.”

Ouch.

“Her name is Gabriela, Madeleine.”

Gabriela. I want to skin her and wear her like last year’s Dior.

“Yeah, right,” I say, furious, then numb as I get up, pull my stomach in and try to stand straight. I am trying to hold back my tears. I really am. I dig my finger into my thigh, hoping the pain will distract me from the other pain and humiliation. Of course it doesn’t. I just feel the cellulite growing there like kudzu.

mandy behbehaniAbout the author: Mandy Behbehani grew up and was educated in England. Her first short story was published when she was twelve and she has been scribbling away ever since, as a journalist and now a novelist. She holds a degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and, over her career, served as West Coast correspondent for Women’s Wear Daily and W magazine, as an on-air reporter at KTVU-TV and, for a decade, as the fashion editor and features writer for the Hearst San Francisco Examiner where she won awards for feature writing. Her work has been published in a variety of publications including the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Town & County magazine, the San Jose Mercury News and Travel & Leisure magazine.

She lives in California, and, when she’s not in front of her computer, she can be found reading a good book, and hiking the open space that surrounds her home with her yellow Lab, Lalou.

Find Ms. Behbehani here: blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

 

Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!

 

Blog Tour: Running into the Darkness by D.A. Bale (review, giveaway)

running into the darkness coverRunning into the Darkness
written by D.A. Bale
published by D.A. Bale

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, Goodreads

Why did I pick this book: I participated in the blog tour hosted by Tribute Books and I’m a sucker for dark fantasy. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book: 
It’s dark.  It’s sexy.  It’s everything that’s wrong with the world.  I loved it.

I’m not sure who the good guys are; I’m not even sure there ARE any good guys.  I wasn’t sure I wanted Samantha to kill the President, but I wasn’t sure she shouldn’t, either.  I’m left with a sense of paralyzing ambivalence – one I think members of the Elite feel too (though if there was a gun to my head I’d likely overcome my paralysis just as they do).

Bale’s lack of delicacy will definitely scare away the faint-hearted, but in Running’s grayscale world, even a pinch of romance would feel disingenuous.  So.  Conspiracy?  Check.  Secret dark underworld?  Check.  Sad, confused characters who do sad, confusing things?  Check.  I’m pretty sure there’s never even a sunny day on Samantha’s earth.   Running into the Darkness is unsettling and addictive.  I can’t wait to see what Samantha does next.

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Would I recommend it: If you’re into dark, dystopian realities (and you’re not afraid of some seriously confusing sex), you’ll love it.  I don’t think my Mom would enjoy it, but I’m pretty sure r/conspiracy will devour it.

Will I read it again: Maybe, but I’ll certainly review it before the next book in the series comes out, and I’ll DEFINITELY read that!

melissasigAbout the book: Death follows Dr. Samantha Bartlett throughout her life until it claims everyone close to her. There’s one powerful man responsible on whom Samantha sets her sights for revenge. The price is her soul. For centuries, sex has been the weapon of men…now it’s her turn.

“I never intended to kill the President. As a doctor, I swore an oath to protect life – not take it. But that was before…”

Second year resident, Dr. Samantha Bartlett, is swept from the frigid New York winter to once again confront the sting of death back home – and face those she left behind. But she’s not alone. A strange man she dubs Shades haunts her every step as she seeks answers to the inferno which claimed her grandmother, an eerie reminder of her parents’ deaths. The secrets Samantha uncovers forever changes her image of those she only thought she knew.

Confronted by Shades, Samantha joins a secret underworld known only as the Elite, where a web of power and control is woven deep within governments worldwide. Their sights are set on the power structure of the United States, and Samantha becomes the unlikely key to infiltrating the White House at its most intimate levels.

The quest for blood threatens to destroy Samantha. From the darkness there is no escape.

DA Bale

About the author: Sometimes life emulates fiction.

Life is filled with tragedy and Ms. Bale’s writing reflects this reality. However, there is always a silver lining…even if one must spend their entire life searching for it.

In her previous career, Ms. Bale traveled the United States as a Government Relations Liaison, working closely with Congressional offices and various government agencies. This experience afforded her a glimpse into the sometimes “not so pretty” reality of the political sphere. Much of this reality and various locations throughout her travels make it into her writing.

She dreams of the day she can return to visit Alaska.

Find Ms. Bale here: blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

 

And now for the GIVEAWAY!! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash!

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Book Blitz: All In by Marta Brown (spotlight, giveaway, excerpt)

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AllInCoverAll In
written by Marta Brown
published by Marta Brown

find it here: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, Goodreads

About the book: On the picturesque island of Martha’s Vineyard, there are two kinds of residents. Locals and Stays.

Local boy, Lane McCarthy, plans on spending his summer working at the country club to save money for college in the fall, while summer stay, Ashley Whitmore, and her elite group of friends are only there to play.

As the summer heat goes up on the island, so does the ante, when both Lane and Ashley must decide what they’re willing to wager in order to follow their dreams… and their hearts.

With stakes as high as the surf, and hopes as high as the midday sun, will they risk everything and go all in?

Please enjoy the following excerpt from All In

Ashley

“You got a jacket in there too?” Lane asks as I pull off my heels and swap them with a pair of flip flops.

“I don’t, but I’m fine,” I say and then as if to contradict myself my skin explodes with goose bumps.

Lane laughs then walks to his car and pulls out the light blue zip up hooded sweatshirt he was wearing at the bluffs from his back seat. He holds it open so I can stick my arms in and when I do his intoxicating smell surrounds me. Sea salt, sunshine and boy.

“Better?” he asks, stepping in front of me again and rubbing his hands up and down my now covered arms to help warm me up.

“Perfect.”

Lane’s hands stop moving but stay wrapped around my arms, and the way he’s looking at me makes another shiver go through my body.

“So, where are we going?”

“Now that’s a surprise,” he says with a wink before he takes off his tie and tosses it in the back seat of his car. He un-tucks his crisp white dress shirt then undoes the first few buttons, revealing a baby blue tee shirt underneath that matches his eyes. After rolling up his sleeves he instantly looks more relaxed, and so hot I bite my lip.

He opens the passenger side door and helps me in before making his way around the front of the car and leaping into the driver’s side seat with a wink. I’m not sure if he’s trying to kill me, or impress me, but either way, he’s doing a fine job at both.

“Oh, and one last thing.” He leans forward and cups my face in his hands with a playful grin on his face. I suck in a breath as my heart hammers in my chest. Is he going to kiss me? I let my eyes flutter closed when I feel his breath touch my skin. His soft lips press against my cheek and linger for a moment before he pulls away.

“What was that for?” I ask quietly.

“For giving me a do-over,” he says with a boyish smile.

Yep. He’s trying to kill me

Marta Brown Author PhotoAbout the author: Marta Brown grew up in the Pacific Northwest and was a teenager when Doc Martens, Pearl Jam and flannel were the norm and Dylan loved Kelly forever (Beverly Hills, 90210 shout out).

She still lives just outside Seattle, now with her husband and cat, and loves the rain.

When she’s not writing about cute boys, first kisses and the magic and wonder of being seventeen, she’s watching The CW. And she sleeps in. Late.

Find Ms. Brown here: WebsiteGoodreadsTwitter

 

 

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Release Event: Killing Sarai by J.A. Redmerski (spotlight, guest post, giveaway)

Killing_Sarai_5resizedKilling Sarai
written by J.A. Redmerski
published by J.A. Redmerski via CreateSpace

find it here: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Goodreads

About the book: From the author of the New York Times, USA Today & Wall Street Journal bestselling novel, THE EDGE OF NEVER, comes a story of passion and survival…

Sarai was only fourteen when her mother uprooted her to live in Mexico with a notorious drug lord. Over time she forgot what it was like to live a normal life, but she never let go of her hope to escape the compound where she has been held for the past nine years.

Victor is a cold-blooded assassin who, like Sarai, has known only death and violence since he was a young boy. When Victor arrives at the compound to collect details and payment for a hit, Sarai sees him as her only opportunity for escape. But things don’t go as planned and instead of finding transport back to Tucson, she finds herself free from one dangerous man and caught in the clutches of another.

While on the run, Victor strays from his primal nature as he succumbs to his conscience and resolves to help Sarai. As they grow closer, he finds himself willing to risk everything to keep her alive; even his relationship with his devoted brother and liaison, Niklas, who now like everyone else wants Sarai dead.

As Victor and Sarai slowly build a trust, the differences between them seem to lessen, and an unlikely attraction intensifies. But Victor’s brutal skills and experience may not be enough in the end to save her, as the power she unknowingly holds over him may ultimately be what gets her killed.

This is their story…

Every Free Chance Book Reviews is pleased to welcome J.A. Redmerski, author of Killing Sarai and The Edge of Never, to the blog today. She is sharing some facts about Killing Sarai.

  • Victor Faust speaks seven languages fluently: German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Hungarian, Arabic and English
  • The book was partially inspired by my anger towards the movie Hitman when Agent 47 and Nika didn’t have a romantic relationship. I was so distraught over that! The woman and romance lover in me decided to take that secret love affair some of us have with deadly men and make it romantic.
  • The other part of my inspiration for writing KILLING SARAI came from the song Father Figure by George Michael.
  • While although Sarai didn’t get to finish school and had limited means of education while at the compound, she is very intelligent both book-wise and street-wise. And she is a fast learner.
  • Sarai has spit in Izel’s food so many times she lost count.
  • Victor and his younger brother, Niklas, are one in the same but entirely different. They are both fiercely loyal to each other and those they love and are both skilled killers, but Niklas is untamed and undisciplined, which creates a constant wedge between the two.
  • Victor has never been in love. Ever. Niklas, on the other hand, although he preaches to Victor about avoiding relationships and how falling in love will only get him killed, secretly loved a woman once.
  • The woman that Niklas once loved was secretly killed by none other than Victor.
  • Sarai pulled one of her own wisdom teeth out with a pair of pliers because she had no way of getting dental care while in Mexico. And even though Javier would’ve made sure she got the care, Sarai refused to tell him for fear of Izel finding out and trying to remove the tooth for her.
  • I molded Victor Faust’s character almost entirely from actor Michael Fassbender!

 

jredmerski12About the author: J.A. Redmerski, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Edge of Never lives in North Little Rock, Arkansas with her three children and a Maltese. She is a lover of television and books that push boundaries and is a huge fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead.

 

Find Ms. Redmerski here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

 

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And now for the GIVEAWAY!! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win an eBook copy of Killing Sarai! (Nook or Kindle format – Open INT)

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Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!