Thursday, October 16, 2014

Less Than Nothing by R.E. Blake (4 stars)

About Less Than Nothing
(from GoodReads)

Sage’s life as a teenage runaway in San Francisco is simple: Snatch a few hours of sleep on park benches and bus stops; dodge perverts, predators, and cops; and make enough as a street musician to eat. But her world flips upside down when she meets Derek – hot, tattooed, and charming, a singer from Seattle whose looks and talent take her breath away.

What begins as a reluctant partnership quickly develops into a cross-country race against time - and awakens a hunger in Sage that’s unfamiliar and exciting.

As they travel from coast to coast, Sage and Derek pursue their dream, only to discover that they can never run far enough to escape the demons from their pasts.

Less Than Nothing is the breakout debut NA novel from USA Today bestseller R.E. Blake that critics are buzzing about and readers can’t put down. Sage & Derek's story continues in More Than Anything (book 2) and Best of Everything (book 3).


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Review

Sage is facing a struggle few teens experience: life on the streets. Derek is in the same predicament. All they have is whatever their voices can earn. Sage inherited a good corner, and her voice has managed to keep some food in her belly. 

When Derek proposes they work together, she's dubious at first but gives in. Then, he reveals his dreams are even bigger. Suddenly, they are heading cross-country for a one in a million chance. 

Sage quickly won my heart. She's alone at a very young age, but she's a fighter. As if it wasn't enough what she'd been through with an addict mom, absent father, and abusive stepfather, she had to navigate the dangers of life on the streets. Then, Derek came along. No longer alone, she opened herself up to the pain of finally letting someone in.

What an interesting spin on young love, too. Most of us don't think of two teenagers falling in love on the streets and finding a way to follow their dreams. It's an interesting journey, and I found myself quite caught up in it. As a first of a series, it's a strong start, and I'm eager to see what happens with these characters. 

If you want to invest in great characters for a series, take a chance on Less than Nothing

Rating: 4 stars

About the Author

R.E. Blake is the pseudonym of the NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of over 30 novels, featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Times, and The Chicago Tribune.

Find out more at his website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Naliyah by Shauna Kelley (5 stars)

About Naliyah
(from Goodreads)

Lenora Scheid can tell you much of human nature. After more than a century of traveling from warzone to warzone, she has experienced more than she can handle of mankind’s thirst for blood and power…she cannot, however, tell you what she is.

Not exactly human, but not precisely vampire either, Lenora’s whole life has been spent under the watchful eye of her father. With only her dreams of a mysterious blue‐eyed man as company, she has little choice but to follow her father across the world despite his refusal to help her understand her true nature.

As Lenora reaches the end of her tolerance with their life of travel and death, she comes face to face with her blue‐eyed man and everything changes. Can this man save her from a life of brutality? Or will the secrets kept from her for so long destroy them both?


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Review

Lenora Scheid has spent most of her life on the move and struggling to remember details. Her father isn't much help, and they seem to up and move every time she gets close to figuring out who--or what--she is.

Still, he's all she's every had, and she has to trust him. Then, she makes a friend. Someone who wants Lenora to break free. But Lenora's attempts at a life lead to tragedy. In answer, her father uproots them again. Finally, she crosses paths with a man she's known only in her dreams. Are the answers she craves far behind? Will she be able to live with what she learns.

I love Shauna Kelley's work! She crafts amazing characters with deep flaws but great strength. 

Lenora is one of those great characters. She is more mature than a normal young person, thanks to life events and extinuating circumstances, but she clutches to youthful beliefs--like trusting her father and following him past her own gut. Yet, she grows and begins to question. When faced with uncertain influences on her journey to answers, she continues to become stronger--putting more emphasis on her gut than her past. 

And she's not the only great character. There are several, including her father, who were captivating, but I could never quite decide whose side they were on. Was the father protecting her or using her for his own purposes? What about the blue-eyed man? Since this is the first book in a series, I was left with more questions than answers, but I couldn't put it down.

Plus, the spin on what Lenora is really appealed to me. Her gifts are unlike any I've ever read before, and I'm quite intrigued to see where this story goes.

Highly imaginative, captivating, and rich in characters and story. A must read!

Ratings: 5 stars

Please check out my reviews of two of Shauna Kelley's other books: Don't Wake Up and Max and Menna.

About the Author
(from Amazon Author Central)

Shauna Kelley lives near Baltimore, Maryland with her husband and beloved mutts. Dedicated aunt, adventurous baker, and action movie fanatic, she spends her days writing, teaching, and crocheting.

Kelley's first novel, Max and Menna, was a ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award finalist for Young Adult Fiction in 2010. Naliyah is her third novel.

Kelley delights in the opportunity to interact with readers. Find her online at her blog or on Facebook.

Note: I was a beta reader for this novel (lucky me!). A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Age of Opportunity by Laurence Steinberg, Ph.D. (4 stars)

About Age of Opportunity

Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (September 9, 2014)


Adolescence now lasts longer than ever before. And as world-renowned expert on adolescent psychology Dr. Laurence Steinberg argues, this makes these years the key period in determining individuals’ life outcomes, demanding that we change the way we parent, educate, and understand young people.

In Age of Opportunity, Steinberg leads readers through a host of new findings — including groundbreaking original research — that reveal what the new timetable of adolescence means for parenting 13-year-olds (who may look more mature than they really are) versus 20-somethings (who may not be floundering even when it looks like they are). He also explains how the plasticity of the adolescent brain, rivaling that of years 0 through 3, suggests new strategies for instilling self-control during the teenage years. Packed with useful knowledge, Age of Opportunity is a sweeping book in the tradition of Reviving Ophelia, and an essential guide for parents and educators of teenagers.

Praise for Age of Opportunity

“As a mother of two boys and an educator, I am so grateful Laurence Steinberg has written this amazing book. He not only clearly and elegantly communicates the newest insights into understanding teenagers’ brains but also shows how adults can manage ourselves when we get frustrated with teens’ behavior.” — Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabes and Masterminds and Wingmen

“Steinberg explains how ‘abnormal’ adolescent behavior is actually ‘normal.’ This book belongs on the shelf of every parent, teacher, youth worker, counselor, judge — heck, anyone interested in pre-teens and teenagers.” — David Walsh, Ph.D., author of Why Do They Act That Way?

“If you need to understand adolescents — whether your own or anyone else’s — you must read this book. Steinberg explains why most of our presumptions about adolescence are dead wrong and reveals the truth about this exciting and unnerving stage of life. Written with warmth, lucidity, and passion, Age of Opportunity will fill parents with relief by demystifying their children. Educators and policy-makers should study it carefully.” — Jennifer Senior, author of All Joy and No Fun


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Review

As the mom of three girls ages 14, 12, and 9, I am just beginning to see the ebbs and flows of the adolescent years. I am also the oldest of three girls, so I remember those years as well. Just in one generation, I am shocked by the new averages being thrown at me about when girls entered puberty. One pediatrician told me the average was getting closer to 9 than 10. 

Age of Opportunity supports the idea that the adolescent phase of life is getting longer. The author states, "The brain is radically transformed by stress hormones like testosterone and estrogen." This is certainly not new information, but when coupled with data supporting an elongated adolescence, it's significant.  I also found it interesting that while parents try to delay adolescence, society seems bent on a delayed adulthood.

Further studies show, and are illustrated in this book, that our brain is heightened during these years and captures the corresponding memories with vivid detail. In addition to all the brain studies, the book provides worrisome data comparing our teens to those in other industrialized countries.

At this point, I was convinced and craving solutions. After all, my kids are there and depending on me. I loved his basic principles: Be Warm, Be Firm, Be Supportive. It's the gray area that gets confusing. When is warm too warm (we create kids who go on American Idol and can't handle any critique and think they can sing even when faced with the reality that they can't) and firm too firm (although he does address that the punishment shouldn't be extreme and to be consistent and fair)? 

As a parent, we know what we should do in a perfect, calm environment. Unfortunately, too often the chaos and expectations of our time take center stage: pressure to perform in sports and academics, an overload of technology, and constantly changing education focuses (hello, Common Core). 

Overall, two-thirds of the book convinced me about a problem I suspected, while only one-third focused on possible solutions. I would have rather seen that flip-flopped.

If you are looking for a kick in the pants to search out parenting solutions to benefit your children, this is a great starting point. It's a book I'd love to see followed up by a manual with more specific solutions and examples for parents craving to make that difference.

Rating: 4 stars

About the Author

LAURENCE STEINBERG, a professor of psychology at Temple University, is the author of the leading textbook on adolescence, as well as over 350 scholarly articles and a dozen books. He has written for numerous publications, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Psychology Today and is a regular guest on NPR.



Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.

Please visit other stops on the Age of Opportunity blog tour page.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Unless You Can Be A Unicorn by Delphina Henley Release Day Blitz & Giveaway

Unless You Can Be A Unicorn Banner  
Happy Release Week Sale!!!  Only $.99 for one week only!
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Always be yourself... that was the last advice Scout's Grandma Nora gave her before she died. Scout has spent her life trying to be anything but, but she has a chance to start anew as she moves several states away to college. She had always thought the glowing aura she saw around some people was a childhood fancy, but when it starts coming back just as she's starting her new life, she learns there was much hidden about who she truly is.

Thankfully, she has a motley crew to help her along the way: a spunky bookseller, a trustworthy pub owner, a commanding grandmother, a possible best friend, and a hot rocker boy who only has eyes for her.

Unless You Can Be A Unicorn is a New Adult Paranormal Romance with content appropriate for a Young Adult audience.
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Giveaway: Be sure to enter to win a Ginormous Gift Pack of Awesome including a GC, Books, swag and more :You can check out the prize pack on the FB Release Day Extravaganza page and join the fun!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

On Paper Wings by Magan Vernon Cover Reveal

Today we're revealing the cover in the highly anticipated sequel to My Paper Heart! 

This is the second book in this southern romance novel and you get your chance to go back to Louisiana and spend some time with Libby, Blaine, and turn up the southern heat!


Title:  On Paper Wings (My Paper Heart #2)
Genre:  New Adult Contemporary
Release Date:  November, 2014
Cover Designer:  Elizabeth Sharp with Sharp Designs

About On Paper Wings

Taking a leap of faith is one thing, but learning to get up when you fall is a whole other story.

 After a summer spent with her Aunt Dee in tiny Elsbury, Louisiana, former Chicago princess Libby Gentry traded in her old life for a new one with the southern Casanova, Blaine Crabtree.

But just when she thinks things are changing for the better, old girlfriends of Blaine's start coming back into the picture, and not a single one of them are friendly or bad on the eyes. Combine the worry of passing her first semester at St. Joseph Community College and sponsoring her tomboy cousin in Cotillion and Libby can barely keep up.

It's hard to learn to fly on paper wings. They're flimsy and can easily break. But if Libby can mend a broken heart, hopefully she can learn to fly.

Add it to your GoodReads now.

About the Author

Magan Vernon is a Young Adult and New Adult writer who lives with her family in the suburbs of Charlotte, NC. When not writing she spends her time fighting over fake boyfriends via social media. You can find her online on

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Charming by Krystal Wade (4.5 stars) -- Review & Giveaway


About Charming

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and that’s great . . . as long as you don’t die.

Sixteen-year-old Haley Tremaine had it all: top-notch school, fantastic family, and a bright future, but all of that changed when an accident tore her family apart. Now, an alcoholic father, a bitter younger sister, and a cold headstone bearing her mother’s name are all she has left.


Chris Charming has it all: a powerful CEO for a father, a prestigious school, and a fortune at his fingertips, but none of that matters when he lands a reputation as a troublemaker. Struggling to follow in his father’s footsteps, he reaches out to the one person he believes truly sees him, the one person he wants: Haley.

Little do they know someone’s determined to bring the two together, even if it means murder.

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Review

At sixteen, a girl's biggest concern should be what color dress to wear to prom and what courses to take for her future. Not for Haley Tremaine. After a terrible accident, she struggles to cope with her mother's death and a father spiraling into his own demons. Plus, she has a younger sister to protect.

When the handsome Chris Charming, a boy who seems to have everything, starts to show interest, it's not the best timing. Even worse, there's someone who is determined to bring down Chris's family while teaching Haley's a lesson. Chris and Haley get caught in the middle. Will they be able to save those they love?

I'm all about strong female characters. Haley faces abuse and loss at a very young age. There are no easy answers, but she finds a way to protect her sister and keep her father as stable as possible. That is until a madman gets involved. Even when she is scared, she fights to do the right thing; she knows how to dig deep. 

In addition to packing intense emotional moments, this story has many creepy twists and turns. There were moments I was literally holding my breath as I waited for the story to play out. 

Charming is a modern, and wicked, spin on the classic Cinderella story. It engages your heart and mind, while also keeping you on the edge of your seat. I highly recommend it to readers looking for something unique, but with the added benefit of being familiar.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Giveaway


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About the Author

Krystal Wade is happily married to the love of her life (don’t gag) and raising three beautiful children in the gorgeous state of Virginia. They live just outside Washington, D.C., and every day she wakes up to find herself stuck in traffic trying to get there.

The horrid commute gives Krystal plenty of time to zone out and think about her characters in full, brilliant details (she’s a safe driver; don’t worry). Stories give her a way to forget about the sometimes smelly strangers sitting next to her on the fifty mile trek into town (she picks up hitchhikers every day. True story. Check out www.slug-lines.com if you don’t believe us).

Krystal has been a part of organized hitchhiking for nearly fifteen years, but that’s just one small aspect of her oh-so-large life. When she’s not working, commuting, or chasing after her three children (four if you count the man), you can usually find Krystal outside talking to her chickens like they’re the cutest things in the world (they are), or training her amazing dogs how to herd said chickens (which they love), or curled up on the sofa with a good book (why can’t that be 100% of the time?).

Find out more


Check out more stops on the Charming tour blog page.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Beyond Coincidence by Jacquie Underdown (5 stars)

About Beyond Coincidence

Publisher: Escape Publishing – Harlequin Enterprises, Australia Pty Ltd (Sept 1, 2014)
ebook, 220 pages

Beyond Coincidence:  Mixing romance, history, and a touch of the unexplained comes a new novel from Jacquie Underdown about love that needs to cross oceans and time before finding a place to come true.

In 2008, 250 Australian and British soldiers are uncovered in a mass grave in Fromelles, France, lost since the Great War. One soldier, bearing the wounds of war so deep it has scarred his soul, cannot be laid to rest just yet.

When Lucy bumps into the achingly sad soldier during a trip to France, she doesn’t, at first glance, realise what he is – a ghost who desperately needs her help. Lucy can’t turn away from someone who needs her, even someone non-corporeal, and they travel back together to Australia in search of answers and, hopefully, some peace.

This chance meeting and unexplainable relationship sets into motion a chain-reaction of delicate coincidences that affect the intertwined lives of family, friends, and lovers in unexpected, beautiful ways.

Previous praise for Jacquie Underdown:

‘Underdown offers interesting coincidences and unexplained end rather realistic and tender. The romantic in me appreciated that love is stronger than anything!’— New Books On My Shelves on Beautiful Illusion

‘Underdown has penned an enchanting, fantastic tale of a love that shouldn’t exist but somehow does.’ — Penny Dreadful on Beautiful Illusion

‘This novel’s message of humanity’s need for compassion, connection and togetherness will resonate with those travellers and seekers amongst us who have explored the world and come home forever changed… There is passion and lust, a blossoming relationship, and obstacles to overcome.’— Healing Scribe on The Paler Shade of Autumn


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Review

Lucy has run to France to try and heal a broken heart. There she meets a man (Freddy) looking for his, but there's one problem... he's been dead over a hundred years. Together, they go on a journey to put his soul to rest. 

To help Freddy, they must find his next of kin. Nate isn't interested at first, but Lucy convinces him to give it a go. Along the journey, they fall for each other. Will they find happiness and can they lay Freddy to rest?

I loved this charming love story. Lucy is tender-hearted, yet strong. Seeing her connect to Freddy made her ultimate love for Nate even sweeter. For a quick read, it's packed with emotional depth and interesting story. In addition to finding out Freddy's background, the couple has their own interesting path to discover--big life changes for both of them.


*** added after original posting ***

The more I thought about this book, and after posting the review, the more I loved the idea that life is a lot about simply being open to the possibilities. Lucy doesn't walk away when a ghost asks for help or when her first encounter with Nate is a huge turnoff. She doesn't make rash judgments, and her heart is ready to accept love even when pain is a short-term consequence. 

She's a character that will stay with me, and I look forward to reading more books by this author.


*** 

If you love to emotionally connect to a story and fall in love with the characters, definitely pick this one up. A real winner.

Rating: 5 stars

About the Author
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Jacquie resides in hot and steamy Central Queensland, Australia, with her husband and two sons. On permanent hiatus from a profession she doesn’t love, she now spends her time wrapped up in her imagination creating characters and exploring alternative realities.

Jacquie is an author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories that are emotionally driven and possess unique themes beyond the constraints of the physical universe. She strives to offer romance, but with complexity; spirituality, without the religion; and love, with a tantalising splash of spice.

Her novels express a purpose and offer subtle messages about life, the spirit and, of course, love.
Connect with Jacquie
Jacquie’s Blog | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway
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Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.

Please visit other stops on the Beyond Coincidence blog tour page