Monday, May 27, 2013

Author + Character Word Associations: The Hazards of Skinny Dipping

To celebrate the release of The Hazards of Skinny Dipping, I've asked Alyssa Rose Ivy to give me the first thing that comes to mind for the words/phrases I threw at her for herself... and for Reed and Juliet.

Alyssa: Dog
Reed: Fight
Juliet: Shorts

Kentucky Derby
Alyssa: Horse
Reed: Race
Juliet: Hats

Toe jam
Alyssa: Ick
Reed: Video game
Juliet: Eww

Alyssa: Such a great movie
Reed: I want a golden ticket
Juliet: Candy

Banana hammock
Alyssa: Please not in public
Reed: Not a chance I’d wear one
Juliet: No thanks

Alyssa: Sonic
Reed: Spiky
Juliet: Not a good pet

Alyssa: Time
Reed: Life is short
Juliet: Figure

Cookie cutter
Alyssa: Holidays
Reed: Childhood
Juliet: Boring

Severus Snape
Alyssa: Awesome character
Reed: Teacher
Juliet: My brothers

Alyssa: Surgery
Reed: Tag
Juliet: Tag

Alyssa: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Reed: Movie
Juliet: Loner

Running of the Bulls
Alyssa: Spain
Reed: Sounds cool
Juliet: Red

X Marks the Spot
Alyssa: Pirates
Reed: Map
Juliet: Adventure

Alyssa: Dams
Reed: No Comment (My mother taught me to keep my mouth shut in moments like these).
Juliet: Furry creature

Hand cuffs
Alyssa: Dylan
Juliet: Hell no
Reed: Who’s getting arrested?

Thank you, Alyssa, for playing along and congrats on the release!

Want your chance to win this book? Of course you do. Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the book: This isn't a deep book about first loves or self-discovery. If you want a book like that, I'd be happy to recommend one, but I don't have that kind of story to tell. Instead my story is about rash decisions and finding out that your dream guy is bad in bed. It's the story of when I finally went skinny dipping, and how my life was never the same again. Oh, and it's also the story of my freshman year of college and realizing Mr. Right might have been there all along.

Goodreads, Amazon, B&N

Monday, May 20, 2013

This or That with Chris from Trophy Husband

Newly released is Lauren Blakely's Trophy Husband, a hot and fun book! To celebrate the release, I've got a this or that list with Chris, the sexy hero of this book. Trust me when I say he's about as lickable as they come, and had me totally melting and swooning!

Xbox or PlayStation?

Xbox, of course.

Boxers or Briefs?

Boxer briefs. When I wear anything...

Red Velvet or Strawberry?


Shower or Bathtub?

Shower. What would I do in a bathtub?

Skirt or Shorts?

Skirt. Easy access.

Convertible or Hard top?

Convertible. Who doesn’t want a convertible? I want the sun on my back.

Rocket launcher or Grenade?

Rocket launcher. A grenade is only as good as your toss. Rocket launchers are much more powerful.

Top or Bottom?

Bottom, because of the potential for the reverse cowboy.

Star Wars or Star Trek

Star Wars. Because Han Solo didn’t have to wear a uniform.

Gryffindor or Slytherin

Seriously? Gryffindor.
Pizza or Wings?

Pizza. Out of the oven, cold, for breakfast, after hours, anytime.

Bare Leg or Stockings?

Stockings, because you wonder what comes after the stocking. Is there matching underwear? Is it attached to a garter? Is there that little snap on the back? So many questions to ponder and explore.

Drive or Fly?

Fly. But I don’t sleep on planes because I don’t want to get incepted.

Red or Green?


Dog or Cat?


Baby Doll or Corset?


As if that doesn't make you want to get a pare of stockings...


For you romance lovers, I completely recommend this book! I devoured it in one sitting, and couldn't get enough of these characters. Not to mention, the dog is adorable and awesome.

For your chance to win a copy of the book, enter below! And don't forget to check out all the tour stops!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Book:

Sometimes you can't help falling in love, even when you try to do the opposite...

Successful fashion blogger McKenna Bell has spent far too long protecting herself after the way her ex-fiancĂ© left her at the altar for a college chick he met the night of his bachelor party. Loving again, trusting again, well, that's just not in the cards. Especially now that her ex is back in town with his new woman, demanding custody of McKenna's favorite creature in the whole world--her dog. No effing way. McKenna's had enough of him, and she decides to even the score by finding her own hot young thing -- a Trophy Husband. Sure, she's only twenty-seven, but doesn't that make it even more fun -- and infuriating to her ex -- to pursue a younger man? When she declares her intentions on her daily blog, her quest quickly skyrockets in popularity, and that's when Chris enters the picture, and he’s got all the assets. He's handsome, successful, and turns her inside out with a kiss to end all kisses, the kind that makes you feel like a shooting star. But loving again could mean losing again, and it's so much easier to focus on getting even, isn't it? Unless, you just can't help falling in love. Which means McKenna will have to come face to face with what she really wants in life -- protecting her heart from hurt, or letting go of her fears of a new beginning.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Review: Golden by Jessi Kirby

SUMMARY: Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a clue in her lap—one that might be the key to unraveling a town mystery—she decides to take a chance.

Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz are remembered as the golden couple of Summit Lakes High—perfect in every way, meant to be together forever. But Julianna’s journal tells a different story—one of doubts about Shane and a forbidden romance with an older, artistic guy. These are the secrets that were swept away with her the night that Shane’s jeep plunged into an icy river, leaving behind a grieving town and no bodies to bury.

Reading Julianna’s journal gives Parker the courage to start to really live—and it also gives her reasons to question what really happened the night of the accident. Armed with clues from the past, Parker enlists the help of her best friend, Kat, and Trevor, her longtime crush, to track down some leads. The mystery ends up taking Parker places that she never could have imagined. And she soon finds that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference.

OPINION: Beautiful, tragic, emotional and memorable, Golden is the perfect blend of coming of age, romance, mystery and friendship. This is everything I love in a “what the heck am I doing with my life?” and finding myself book. With both Parker’s story, and that of Julianna and Shane’s through the journal, mixing together and overlapping, Kirby’s talent truly shines in this stunning book.

Parker is an amazingly well done character, a girl who goes through such tremendous changes. Some of her bigger shifts, though, come in stages, and though the overall timing of them is relatively close together, she still takes a breather between each incident. This is something I truly loved in this book, and in her. There is so much that is relatable with her, yet she stands on her own in this great way. Her mother is overbearing, the kind of mom who has such high standards and expectations for her daughter, anything else is not really an option. It’s also the sort of blind expectation, where she doesn’t see the impact it’s having on Parker. Parker didn’t just instantly become spontaneous, and though she had a few fly by the seat of her pants decisions, there was a bigger sense to it too, like she was looking at everything ahead of her now in a different way.

The story with Julianna and Shane is one of my favorite elements of this book, rapt with emotions and pain. I cared as deeply about these characters, despite already knowing they were dead, as I did Parker, Trevor and Kat. I loved the fact the town pitched them as this golden couple, yet the journal told a different sort of story. Julianna was a girl who forged her path alongside Shane, rather than in spite of him, and without giving anything away, I completely loved the things that started to make her realize and question that. It wasn’t that she didn’t want Shane anymore, but things did come up that certainly tested her. The parallels of that, to Parker, also, was woven between the lines in this great way that kept me so hooked.

Then there’s Trevor, charming, endearing, flirty, and solid. He’s done a few things I lifted a brow at, yet he’s just so there for Parker. He has this obvious thing for her, yet because of his flirtatious ways and his tendency to mess around with a lot of girls, Parker keeps her distance in that regard. He was far from a doormat despite his feelings for Parker, but he didn’t walk away over little things either. He was that perfect blend of friendship and waiting to be more, and this boy completely melted me.

I loved the plot of this one, and though it had some great twists in it, most notable for me was Parker’s character arc and journey. She goes through some big things, both personally and in the things she experiences, and Kirby utterly nailed everything about it. In truth, much of what got to me about this book is impossible to explain without spoiling, but it's a book that has stuck with me. With Parker’s mom so easy to point fingers at, yet something stronger thrumming beneath her, and a great sense of self arising in Parker, this is exactly what I love in a contemporary book. Add in the stunning writing and Kirby’s knack for voice and luring readers right in, and Golden is a brilliant, aching must read of a book.

Source: ARC received from publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Age Range: 12 and up
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 14, 2013

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Author Interview + Giveaway: Terra Elan McVoy

Hitting shelves today is Terra Elan McVoy's newest release Criminal. Though I've always been a huge fan of Terra's, I have to admit, this is my favorite book of hers. So to celebrate the release, I've got an awesome interview with Terra plus a chance for one of you guys to win a signed copy of of the book!

Criminal is your fifth book to date, but is very different from your prior works. What about this one makes it special for you, compared to the others?

The most special part of Criminal for me is largely that it’s so different from the others! Each book I write is its own version of scary; there’s usually a place in the middle where I think, “Oh gosh I can’t do this,” but for Criminal that feeling was magnified times ten. I’d never written characters so clearly out of my own comfort zone before—people with much fewer resources, living lifestyles very different from my own or anyone else’s I know personally— so I was relying even more heavily on my imagination and powers of observation than usual. I also had to do a ton of research, and trying to work all that in in an honest way was really a challenge. What was difficult for me about the book though, is also what makes it a special one.

Nikki is a character who makes plenty of mistakes, but who also has a pretty incredible strength to her. What was the hardest part about developing her character? What surprised you the most?

The hardest part about developing Nikki was getting over my negative judgment of her. A lot of this book came from something my mentor at Florida State University, Mark Winegardner, said once: “Write what you most want to understand.” This phrase got in my head when I heard about a murder case, wherein a guy was accused of killing his girlfriend’s parent, and maybe had an accomplice with whom he was romantically involved, too. Immediately of course I was judging everyone in the situation, but especially this possible accomplice girl. I was thinking, “What kind of a crazy idiot would you have to be to do such a thing?” But because I couldn’t stop thinking about the situation, I realized really what I wanted to do was to try not to judge this girl, but instead understand what might’ve caused her to participate, and how doing so would affect her after the fact. Storytelling helps us empathize with others (as John Green and others have said many times), so I used this project as a way to try and really get Nikki, instead of merely looking down on her for her life and her choices.

What was your revision process like for Criminal?

Thanks to a lot of outlining at the beginning, and a ton of fantastic help from the people I interviewed in the research process, I had a solid sense of what this story was and where it was going to go, so the draft came out fairly clean, which made the revision process easier. There were some things my editor suggested I add in to force Nikki into action, and a few extra bits here and there that needed to come out (I always write too much), but there was nothing like the extensive cutting and revising that both The Summer of Firsts and Lasts and Being Friends With Boys had to go through!

What's your favorite thing about writing realistic fiction?

This parade of human drama that we’re all in is just fascinatingly wonderful to me. Though I do love a well-done fantasy, sci-fi, or horror book from time to time, I’m always more intrigued by —in reading and in my life—relationships, emotive setting, the challenges and rewards that make up real life, and how all of that gets conveyed in good writing.

I just love when I read something and the author is able to describe a real moment, or a feeling, in the most perfect way: a way, maybe you never knew was true, or how to articulate, until you read it. There are so many books I’ve read where the sentences have reached out and made me feel, “Yes. That is exactly how this is.” I love that. The art of using words and symbols to create real-feeling people and places and moods that will be conveyed to another real person you may never see or meet: that’s what I find so rewardingly challenging about this work, and is what I’m constantly endeavoring to get better at.

If you could pair Nikki with any character from any book, who would you pick for her?

Well, if you mean romantically, I think maybe I’d hook Nikki up with Ponyboy from S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. By the end of both their books, Nikki and Ponyboy have seen a lot of hard stuff, and gone through some pretty awful things—things that permanently change them. I like to think they’d have this sort of wise understanding of each other, and would be tender with one another in ways other people maybe couldn’t.

Friendship-wise (because Nikki definitely needs some good friends), I’d pair Nikki with Pippi Longstocking. Pippi doesn’t have a terrific family base either, or any real resources (she lives in a tree!), but she has a lot of fun, and a lot of confidence, and I think Nikki could really benefit from a quirky, tough little role model like that: someone who could show her you don’t have to be down-and-out just because you’re down-and-out.

Out of all the characters you've written to date, which one did you connect to the most?

This question is as tough to answer as the “which of your books is your favorite” one, because of course there is a little kernel of me somehow in all of my characters. (Just like, you know, people say that every person in your own dream is a manifestation of yourself somehow.) If you are forcing me to make a decision though, I’ll say that I think I connect most, so far, to Charlotte from Being Friends with Boys. Like her, I had (and still have) a lot of vital friendships (yes, several of them with guys), and like her it was important to me to try and hold them all together, even when things were changing or falling apart. I also didn’t fit in with any one particular crowd or group in high school—but rather several different ones in different ways—and though that was fun, it also made it a little bit harder for me to figure out what that meant about who I really was. Like Charlotte, it took me awhile to embrace my own identity, I think.

What kind of sea creature would you describe yourself as?

What an interesting question! Immediately I want to say “Orca whale,” because in high school I was crazy about them and wanted to be a marine mammologist, so that I could study the way they communicate, and then work at Sea World. In reality though I need to be something less flashy and aggressive: maybe a humpback whale instead, because they travel in pods and have complex relationships, as well as their own highly-intelligent language system, but are a little bit slower, and are of course vegetarians. (Which I’m not, but I also can’t picture myself feasting on a baby seal.)

Thank you, Terra, for the interview... rereading your answers makes me want to reread Criminal all over again!

Now for your chance to win a signed copy of Criminal, just fill out THIS form!

This contest is US/Canada only, and ends May 21.

No entries will be accepted through the comments, but you should totally leave one anyhow.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Book Review: Game. Set. Match. by Jennifer Iacopelli

SUMMARY: Nestled along the North Carolina coast, the Outer Banks Tennis Academy is the world's most elite training facility. In this pressure-cooker environment, futures are forged in blood and sweat, and dreams are shattered in an instant.

Penny Harrison, a rising female star, is determined to win the French Open and beat her archrival, Zina Lutrova. But when her coach imports British bad boy Alex Russell as her new training partner, will Penny be able to keep her laser-like focus?

Tennis is all Jasmine Randazzo has ever known. The daughter of two Grand Slam champions, she's hell-bent on extending her family’s legacy and writing her own happily-ever-after...until her chosen Prince Charming gives her the just-friends speech right before the biggest junior tournament of the year, the Outer Banks Classic.

With a powerful serve and killer forehand, newcomer Indiana Gaffney is turning heads. She’s thrilled by all of the attention, especially from Jack Harrison, Penny’s agent and hot older brother, except he keeps backing off every time things start heating up.

With so much at stake, dreams—and hearts—are bound to break. Welcome to OBX: Where LOVE is a four-letter word, on and off the court.

OPINION: Game. Set. Match. is a cute, fun read with great tension. I loved the interplay between the characters, both as people and as competitors, along with their own personal issues to work through. Though the ending was too abrupt for my tastes, this is still a book with plenty of appeal to both tennis lovers and general readers.

Indiana was my favorite character of the three, a girl with plenty in her past to keep her down but who is determined, now, to be the best. With her mother now dead from cancer, and a father who is beyond absent, the only person to encourage and push her is herself, and she stands up to the challenge beautifully. She’s the kind of girl who keeps her head down less out of weakness and more because overall, she has her mind in the right places. She’s not impervious, though, and certainly gets rattled in some respects, but there’s still this great strength to her that I totally admired.

Then there’s Jasmine, a girl who can easily be called selfish at the start, but who goes through some great growth and change. She has some hard realizations to come to, and I think she handles them perfectly for her character. She’s the kind of character you don’t like so much to start, but come to love by the end. Finally there’s Penny, who I liked overall, though I admit, in regards to things with Alex, I had a hard time stomaching everything that played out there. They aren’t my favorite couple, but with sequels in the works, I’m hopeful for some redemption on that front.

The overall story of this one is great, though a little too bogged down at times in technical details for my tastes, there is still a palpable air of desire and competition in regards to the tennis stuff. The tension both on the court and off is carried throughout the book in a strong way, and it wasn’t always easy to figure out which girl to root for in a match. The ending happens pretty abruptly, leaving me without a strong sense of closure, and though I would’ve liked a bit more before this installment ended, I’m definitely intrigued and on board for more.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Cover Reveal + Contest: Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

I am bouncing in my seat excited to bring you guys the cover for (the amazing) Sophie Jordan's next YA, Uninvited!!

So let's get straight to the gorgeousness:

Holy. Crap. The DNA strands in the hair! The colors! The simplicity! I. Am. In. Love.

And if you don't know what this one is about, here's a summary:

You can’t change your DNA…even when it says you’re a murderer.

When Davy tests positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome, aka “the kill gene,” she loses everything. Once the perfect high school senior, she is uninvited from her prep school and abandoned by her friends and boyfriend. Even her parents are now afraid of her—although she’s never hurt a fly. Davy doesn’t feel any differently, but genes don’t lie. One day she will kill someone.

Without any say in the matter, Davy is thrown into a special class for HTS carriers. She has no doubt the predictions are right about them, especially Sean, who already bears the “H” tattoo as proof of his violence. Yet when the world turns on the carriers, Sean is the only one she can trust. Maybe he’s not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

WHEW. I so cannot wait for this book! And fun fact, I totally helped name Sean! I haven't met him yet... but I helped name him. So, you know. You guy should all add this to your Goodreads for that, and beacuse hello, it's Sophie Jordan.

And to make this even more awesome, I've got a chance for TWO of you to win a signed Uninvited bookmark, something you can't get anywhere else for a good while! Just leave a comment with a way to contact you. US Only.

Soooo what do you guys think of this gorgeous cover??

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Author Interview: Nichole Chase

Dropping in today is Nichole Chase to celebrate her new release Suddenly Royal!! So let's get to it, and stare at this adorable cover.

What influenced your decision to have Samantha study wildlife biology, rather than something else?

I grew up in a family where animals were a normal part of our day. We love them. I have some kind of animal in a lot of my books. My Flukes series has a great deal of marine life and even my Christmas short story has dogs and reindeer! Birds were a logical step for me. My sister is currently working on her doctorate in wildlife biology with an emphasis on birds. She was a very handy research tool! I wanted something that I could sneak real life facts into the story, without overburdening the reader, to ground the fiction in a bit of reality. Plus, the research was fun. Birds are amazing creatures!

I love your cover! It's so adorable and cute. Did you come up with the concept, or was it all your designer?

Thank you! I found the cover model photo and fell in love. She reminded me of Sam so much! I sent the image to Sarah Hansen at Okay Creations and she created the magic you see now!

If you were in Samantha's position, what would you do: follow your feelings for the boy, despite what it means, or resist and keep to your "normal" life?

That’s a really hard question. Each situation is different—not every man is Alex! I think that with the right people in your corner, all things are bearable. So, I guess that I would have followed my heart, but maybe with a safety net and try to figure out a way to still keep hold of my dream.

What is one of your favorite lines from the book?

I have two.

“You’re the least normal person I know and yet you’re the only person that makes me feel grounded.”

The next one is a little naughty, but it’s so Alex.

He brought his mouth to my ear. “Alex. My name is Alex, not God. I want to hear you say my name.”

Which character was harder for you to write and develop: Sam or Alex?

Both had their challenges. I had to learn a lot about royal protocol for Alex, which took time, but he was always fairly certain of what he wanted. Sam on the other hand? She was a shifty minx! I think I fought with her more than any of my other characters. She’s stubborn and I just wanted her to be happy! I really felt the story along with her; the fear, the excitement.

If you could pair Samantha and Alex with any character from any book, who would you pick for them?

I can’t. I can’t imagine them with anyone other than what happens in my book.

What kind of cookie would you describe yourself as?

White chocolate macadamia nut. Ha. Figure that one out!

And now for your chance to win a signed copy, just fill out the Rafflecopter!

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About the Book:

Samantha Rousseau is used to getting her hands dirty. Working toward a master’s degree in wildlife biology while helping take care of her sick father, she has no time for celebrity gossip, designer clothes, or lazy vacations. So when a duchess from the small country of Lilaria invites her to dinner, Samantha assumes it’s to discuss a donation for the program. The truth will change the course of her life in ways she never dreamed.

Alex D’Lynsal is trying to keep his name clean. As crown prince of Lilaria, he’s had his share of scandalous headlines, but the latest pictures have sent him packing to America and forced him to swear off women—especially women in the public eye. That is, until he meets Samantha Rousseau. She’s stubborn, feisty, and incredibly sexy. Not to mention heiress to an estate in his country, which makes her everyone’s front-page news.

While Sam tries to navigate the new world of politics and wealth, she will also have to dodge her growing feelings for Alex. Giving in to them means more than just falling in love; it would mean accepting the weight of an entire country on her shoulders.