Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Nightmarish Review: The Sleepwalker Tonic by Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller

*I received copies of both books from the publisher in exchange for honest reviews* 


Nightmares! (Nightmares! #1)

Author(s):

September 9th 2014 
Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Nightmares! (Nightmares!, #1)
A New York Times Bestseller!
Jason Segel, multitalented actor, writer, and musician, teams up with New York Times bestselling author Kirsten Miller for the hilariously frightening, middle-grade novel Nightmares!, the first book in a trilogy about a boy named Charlie and a group of kids who must face their fears to save their town.

Sleeping has never been so scary. And now waking up is even worse!

Charlie Laird has several problems.

1. His dad married a woman he is sure moonlights as a witch.
2. He had to move into her purple mansion, which is NOT a place you want to find yourself after dark.
3.He can’t remember the last time sleeping wasn’t a nightmarish prospect. Like even a nap.

What Charlie doesn’t know is that his problems are about to get a whole lot more real. Nightmares can ruin a good night’s sleep, but when they start slipping out of your dreams and into the waking world—that’s a line that should never be crossed.

And when your worst nightmares start to come true . . . well, that’s something only Charlie can face. And he’s going to need all the help he can get, or it might just be lights-out for Charlie Laird. For good.


~ 10 year old's Thoughts ~


Describe Nightmares in 5 words: Fun. Exciting. Adventures. Funny. Awesome.

Did you the like the book? Yeah! The guy who wrote it did a good job.

What I liked: The fact that Charlie and Jack are brothers. And the purple mansion they live in.

Was it scary? Only if you're Charlie. Regular kids who read it shouldn't be scared. 

What are some of the nightmares in the story? Clowns, cockroaches, the dark, grubs, man-eating rabbits, zombies, fitness exams (like, if you're not athletic at all), and failing regular tests.

Favorite character: Jack. He's Charlie's brother who always wears a Captain America costume. Their mom made for Charlie but then she died and he outgrew it so he gave it to Jack.

Did you learning anything? Not everything is as bad as we think. 

On a scale of 1-5, how many stars would give Nightmares? I would give it 7 stars and I'm excited for the next one! 






The Sleepwalker Tonic (Nightmares! #2)

Author(s):

September 8th 2015
Delacorte Books for Young Readers


The Sleepwalker Tonic (Nightmares!, #2)







Describe The Sleepwalker Tonic in 5 words: Awesome. Exciting. Funny. Thrilling. Fantastic.

What did you the like? It picks up where Nightmares left off. The characters get to eat ice cream and there are zombies.   

Was it scary? No. It's more silly than scary.

Was is the purpose of the tonic? People who don't want to have nightmares are told they can drink it and they'll get a good night's sleep. But that isn't what happens. They turn into Walkers who sleepwalk and end up feeling discouraged.

Favorite character: Jack, still. 

Did you learning anything? It's better to give people hope than to discourage them.

On a scale of 1-5, how many stars would give The Sleepwalker Tonic? 6 stars! 





Thursday, August 27, 2015

Audiobook Review: Travis Family Edition by Lisa Kleypas

*Thank you, Brilliance Audio for sending copies of these audiobooks in exchange for an honest review*



Author: Lisa Kleypas
Narrator:
Publication: June 30, 2015
By: Brilliance Audio

Sugar Daddy

She's from the wrong side of the tracks...

Liberty Jones has dreams and determination that will take her far away from Welcome, Texas—if she can keep her wild heart from ruling her mind. Hardy Cates sees Liberty as completely off-limits. His own ambitions are bigger than Welcome, and Liberty Jones is a complication he doesn’t need. But something magical and potent draws them to each other, in a dangerous attraction that is stronger than both of them.

He's the one man she can't have...

When Hardy leaves town to pursue his plans, Liberty finds herself alone with a young sister to raise. Soon Liberty finds herself under the spell of a billionaire tycoon—a Sugar Daddy, one might say. But the relationship goes deeper than people think, and Liberty begins to discover secrets about her own family’s past.

Will they find their hearts' desires or will heartbreak tear them apart?

Two men. One woman. A choice that can make her or break her. A woman you’ll root for every step of the way. A love story you’ll never forget.


Story: 4 Stars. I fell in love with Hardy, Liberty and Gage all over again.

Audio: 3 Stars. This narrator's voice is fairly high-pitched and works well for female characters, but not so much for male characters. As far as audios go, this was just okay for me. 




Author: Lisa Kleypas
Narrator:
Publication: June 30, 2015
By: Brilliance Audio
Blue-Eyed Devil: A Novel
Meet the Blue-Eyed Devil

His name is Hardy Cates. He’s a self-made millionaire who comes from the wrong side of the tracks. He’s made enemies in the rough-and-tumble ride to the top of Houston’s oil industry. He’s got hot blood in his veins. And vengeance on his mind.

Meet the Heiress

She’s Haven Travis. Despite her family’s money, she refuses to set out on the path they’ve chosen for her. But when Haven marries a man her family disapproves of, her life is set on a new and dangerous course. Two years later, Haven comes home, determined to guard her heart. And Hardy Cates, a family enemy, is the last person she needs darkening her door or setting her soul on fire.

Watch the Sparks Fly....

Filled with Lisa Kleypas’s trademark sensuality, filled with characters you love to hate and men you love to love, Blue-Eyed Devil will hold you captive in its storytelling power as the destiny of two people unfolds with every magical word.



Story: 5 Stars. The subject of domestic abuse is never an easy one to tackle but Lisa Kleypas has done so with honesty, heart, and Hardy. Hardy Cates is my jam, that is all. *swooning*

Audio: 2 Stars. This narrator has a low, husky, seductive voice that did not match (in my head) with Haven Travis. She also managed to make all of the Travis men, as well as Hardy Cates, sound like ignorant good 'ole boys which they are not. If not for the story, I would have DNFd this.




Author: Lisa Kleypas
Narrator:
Publication: June 30, 2015
By: Brilliance Audio

Smooth Talking Stranger

He answers to no one.…

No one has ever truly touched Jack Travis’s heart or soul...until Ella Varner comes along. She appears one day on his doorstep with fury in her eyes and a baby in her arms. Her troubled sister is the mother and, according to Ella, Jack Travis is the father. But when Ella demands that Jack take responsibility for the first time in his life, he ends up taking much more than that.…

She trusts no one.…

Ella Varner is responsible and controlled. Her childhood taught her that love is fleeting and best avoided. That is, until baby Luke appears on her doorstep after her reckless sister, Tara, abandons him. What Luke needs now is stability, and Ella’s determined to do what is best for him. As her bond with the helpless child grows stronger every day, Ella goes to Houston in search of the father. What she finds there will change her life forever.…

And when things heat up between these two, the time for talking is long gone.…

Lisa Kleypas lets the sparks fly once again in a novel featuring the larger-than-life Travis family. Full of sizzling sensuality and undeniable heart, her storytelling will grab hold of you from the very beginning.


Story: 5 Stars Watching Jack, Ella and Luke's story unfold was even better the second time around. (The epilogue made me cry--again.)

Audio: 2 Stars This was not my first audiobook by this narrator, and she generally does an okay job. However, 90% of the time, she sounded like she had something in her mouth which became increasingly distracting.





Author: Lisa Kleypas
Narrator:
Publication: June 30, 2015
By: Brilliance Audio
 Brown-Eyed Girl (Travis Family, #4)
Wedding planner Avery Crosslin may be a rising star in Houston society, but she doesn't believe in love—at least not for herself. When she meets wealthy bachelor Joe Travis and mistakes him for a wedding photographer, she has no intention of letting him sweep her off her feet. But Joe is a man who goes after what he wants, and Avery can't resist the temptation of a sexy southern charmer and a hot summer evening.

After a one night stand, however, Avery is determined to keep it from happening again. A man like Joe can only mean trouble for a woman like her, and she can't afford distractions. She's been hired to plan the wedding of the year—a make-or-break event.

But complications start piling up fast, putting the wedding in jeopardy, especially when shocking secrets of the bride come to light. And as Joe makes it clear that he's not going to give up easily, Avery is forced to confront the insecurities and beliefs that stem from a past she would do anything to forget.

The situation reaches a breaking point, and Avery faces the toughest choice of her life. Only by putting her career on the line and risking everything—including her well-guarded heart—will she find out what matters most.


Story: 3 Stars. A good story just wasn't the one I was expecting. Read my full review HERE.

Audio: 4 Stars. This was the first time I'd listened to an audio read by Brittany Pressley, and she did a great job. She captured the voice of the characters and brought them to life without going overboard on the Texan accent. It actually made the story more enjoyable for me. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins

Author:
Publication: August 25, 2105
By: HQN Books
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Sisterhood in all its drama, hilarity and tears is at the heart of New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins's thoroughly captivating new novel, featuring the wit and romance that readers have come to expect from the much-loved creator of the Blue Heron series...

Wedding-dress designer Jenny Tate understands the happily-ever-after business, yet somehow she's still involved in her ex-husband's life. In fact, Owen's new wife may—inexplicably—be Jenny's new best friend. Sensing this, well, relationship isn't helping her move on, Jenny trades the Manhattan skyline for her hometown up the Hudson, where she'll be able to bask in her sister Rachel's picture-perfect family life…and hopefully make one of her own.

Her timing couldn't be more perfect, since Rachel will need her younger sister. Her idyllic marriage has just fallen to pieces in spectacular fashion after she discovers her husband sexting with one of his colleagues. Second chances aren't in Rachel's nature, but the desire for an intact family has her rethinking her stance on adultery, much to Jenny's surprise. Rachel points to their parents' "perfect" marriage as a shining example, but to protect her sister Jenny may have to tarnish that memory—and their relationship­—and reveal a secret about their family she's been keeping since childhood.

During this summer of secrets and lies, temptation and revelation, Jenny and Rachel will rely on each other to find the humor in their personal catastrophes, the joy in their triumphs…and the strength to keep hanging on.



 *I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

 

~ My Thoughts ~ 

 

I love Kristan Higgins, she is my go-to author when I'm in the mood for a story that will make me laugh, and swoon while tugging at my heartstrings. Her series books, while different from the one before are always  entertaining and fun and I can count on that HEA I crave.

This one is a bit of a departure for her---more women's fiction a la Emily Giffin than contemporary romance---and it was good, but I really missed the comedic elements I've grown accustomed to in her books. The BLUE HERON series is one of my favorites and despite what the summary says, there is quite a bit of contrast between those books and this one. I enjoyed the alternating POVS, but the stories themselves were---well, more melancholy and sad than I was expecting.  


Spoiler Alert: (highlight text to read)

There is quite a bit of infidelity in this book which isn't my "thing". The big issues are resolved by books' end, but even still, it lacked a warm fuzzy feeling. If anything, it was more relief that the book was over. I HATE admitting that because like I said, I love Kristan Higgins, but this was my least favorite of all of her books.

I'm still holding out hope for Connor O'Rourke's (BLUE HERON) book!

 

 

~ About the Author ~ 

 

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author and two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award, Kristan lives with her family in a small Connecticut town that boasts a wonderful library, a great agricultural fair, a really good ice-cream stand and not much else. She is the mother of two lovely kids and the wife of a brave firefighter who is also (perhaps more important) a fantastic cook. 

Previously a copywriter, Kristan began writing fiction when her children graced her life with simultaneous afternoon naps. Writing, she found, was infinitely more satisfying than folding laundry, and so began her first novel. Kristan holds a B.A. in English from the College of the Holy Cross, which means she can identify dangling participles, quote many great novels and play a mean game of Scrabble.

Kristan is an award-winning baker, devoted fan of the New York Yankees and an avid reader. She and her crew spend as much time as possible at the family home on Cape Cod, where they shiver in the Atlantic, ride bikes, swat horseflies and don’t catch any fish.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Author Talk: Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting Susan Elizabeth Phillips before her signing for the HEROES ARE MY WEAKNESS tour stop in Sykesville, Maryland. We had an old-fashioned sit down chat where we talked about books, writing, and families while enjoying some delicious French coffee. I don't have the best track record when it comes to first impressions. In my nervousness, I usually say or do something embarrassing. This time, I only managed to drop my phone, my keys and my purse 4 times in the time it took me to climb out of my car and shake Susan's hand. That counts as winning. 

Susan was staying at a charming Bed and Breakfast that was within walking distance of the cafe we were headed to, so we decided to walk. We passed several old victorian homes, one in particular that reminded me of Theo's house in HEROES ARE MY WEAKENESS. Susan paused to snap a picture and said, "Paint it black and put it on a cliff and it you have Harp House." 


Photo credit: SEP via FB page.


One of the advantages to old-fashioned sit-down interviews is, having the chance to get to know the person beyond the book they're promoting. It was nice not to be a name behind a blog or a face in a profile picture for a change. Susan asked me as many questions as I did her, and was so gracious about letting me pick her writer's brain. 

Here are a few highlights....

As a writer, what's the best piece of advice you've been given? Or that you would give an aspiring author?

SEP: Figure out what works best for you. You go to conferences and listen to writers talk about how fast they can write a book and while it's meant to be encouraging, not everyone in the audience is going to be able to write as fast as those panelists do. A lot of successful writers take a long time to write a book. (Diana Gabaldon for example.)

If you're serious about writing, you have to treat it like a job. But you need to consider where you are in life, too. Do you have a family? Work a full-time job? When my boys were young, I would send them off to school and write until they came home. I didn't run errands, or make appointments. I spent that time writing. Now, I get up and write for a few hours but once 5p.m. hits, I'm done. My brain is mush. 

What is your daily writing routine like? Do you set daily word counts, page counts or aim for finishing a chapter?

SEP: I set a timer for 2, maybe 3 hours. If I start writing at 9a.m. and I get interrupted, I stop the timer. Some days I can get all of my writing finished before lunch. Other times, I'll start at 9a.m. and go until it's 5p.m. if there are too many interruptions.

Are you a plotter, outliner, or panster?

SEP: It takes me roughly 9 months to figure a character out. To really understand and know what their story is.

Me: Like being pregnant, except you're birthing a character.  

SEP: Exactly. I'll get an idea and start writing. If I write 3 chapters, I'll go back and edit them before writing the next chapter. And so on. 

What tropes do you enjoy most writing?

SEP: I love a good marriage of convenience story, but those are becoming harder to write, coming up with a good reason you would have to get married. I like to write stories where the MC is stripped of her support system forcing her to work to pull herself back up. Her strength is what the Hero is attracted to most. And I like to the man to be both Hero and Villain, it makes for more romantic tension.

This is going back a few years, but who was your inspiration for Dean Robillard in NATURAL BORN CHARMER? (My first SEP book, btw.)

SEP: No one, really. I never planned to write his story, but I had a vivid picture of what he looked like. While I was working on another book (where he is a minor character), he just kept pushing his way into the room. I knew then he had to have his own book. 

What are you working on now?

SEP: Another Chicago Stars book. I always say I'm not going to write another one, and then I'll get an idea.

Me: *internally freaking out* I'm looking forward to reading it. 

Thank you, Susan for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me. And thank you, Pam Jaffee for setting our meeting up!

 




 
 ~ About Susan Elizabeth Phillips  ~


The Huffington Post says the books of Susan Elizabeth Phillips provide a “gateway drug to the whole [romance] genre,” which she assumes is a good thing. Bookpage magazine calls her “the crown jewel of romantic comedy writers,” which is definitely a good thing. Since she wrote her first novel on a typewriter in her kitchen, her books have been published in over 30 languages and appear on bestseller lists all over the world.

In addition to being a New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, and USA Today bestseller, she is a hiker, lazy gardener, horrible singer, passable cook, passionate reader, wife, mother of two grown sons, and grandmother of two adorable little ones. Her newest book, THE GREAT ESCAPE, is now available in hardback and will be released in trade paperback in April 2013. You can visit Susan on Facebook or on her website, where she’s added a special Members Only Lounge. 







 ~ About the Book ~

Publication: (Paperback) July 28, 2015
By: Avon Romance

Heroes Are My Weakness


New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Elizabeth Phillips is back with a delightful novel filled with her sassy wit, dazzling charm, and a threat of danger—a modern Jane Eyre

It's going to be a long, hot winter.

He is a reclusive writer whose imagination creates chilling horror novels. She is a down-on-her-luck actress who's given up far too much. He knows a dozen ways to kill his characters with his bare hands. She knows a dozen ways to kill an audience with laughs. But she's not laughing now.

Annie Hewitt has been forced to return to an isolated island off the coast of Maine, a place she hasn't visited since a disastrous summer when she was a teen. She couldn't be more ill prepared for what she finds on the island—or for Theo Harp, the mysterious man who dwells in Harp House, the mansion hovering above her home in Moonraker Cottage.

When she was a teenager, Theo betrayed her in a way she can never forget or forgive. Now they're trapped together on a frozen island along with a lonely widow, a mute little girl, and townspeople who don't know how to mind their own business.

Is he the villain she remembers, or has he changed? Her head says no. Her heart says yes. The wrong decision could cost her everything.



Saturday, August 15, 2015

COVER REVEAL: Missing Dixie (Neon Dreams #3) by Caisey Quinn

Author: Caisey Quinn
Publication: October 27, 2015
By: William Morrow Paperbacks

Fighting for redemption…

I’ve lived most of my life in darkness, beneath the shadows of secrets and addictions. The last thing I ever wanted to do was hurt the only girl I’d ever loved—the one who brought me into the light. In my entire life I’d made one promise—a promise I’d intended to keep. I’ve broken that promise and now I have to live with the fallout. Dixie Lark hates me, and I have to tell her that I love her. I also have to tell her a truth that might destroy us forever.

Can she love me even if she can’t forgive me?


Learning to move on…

 
Gavin Garrison broke his promise to my brother and he broke my heart in the process. I
may never love anyone the way I’ve loved him, but at least I won’t spend my life wondering what if. We had our one night and he walked away. I’m finally beginning to move on when my brother’s wedding and a battle of the bands brings us back together.
 

Our band is getting a second chance, but I don’t know if I can give him one. How do you hand your heart back to the person who set it on fire once already?





~ About the Author ~

 

Caisey holds degrees in both Communications and Education from the Ohio State University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is a native of Birmingham, Alabama and has lived briefly in California, Ohio, France, and Germany before deciding that her heart would forever remain in the south. Thankfully you can go home again.

After teaching high school English, Theater, and Creative Writing for six years, Caisey decided to pursue her dream of song and novel writing more aggressively and is proud to announce that Avon/William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins, will publish her Neon Dreams series, a romance about an edgy country music trio, in 2015.


In 2013-14 both Keep Me Still and Girl in Love (Kylie Ryans #3) were Amazon Top 10 Bestsellers. The first novel in her Second Chance series, titled Last Second Chance hit #27 on Amazon and landed in the top 50 on iTunes and Barnes & Noble.

When Caisey isn’t writing or baking with her daughter, she can be found attending as many concerts as possible and spending entirely too much time on Twitter. She is an avid country music fan and supporter and spends copious amounts of time in Nashville, Tennessee and Austin, Texas.


 ~ GIVEAWAY ~ 

 

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Friday, August 14, 2015

COVER REVEAL: America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie


Tasty Book Tours is Pleased to Present...



AMERICA'S FIRST DAUGHTER
Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie
Releasing March 1st, 2016
William Morrow
Historical Fiction 


In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.

From her earliest days, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France. And it is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that she learns of her father’s liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age.

Patsy too has fallen in love—with her father’s protégé, William Short, a staunch abolitionist intent on a career in Europe. Heartbroken at having to decide between being William’s wife or a devoted daughter, she returns to Virginia with her father and marries a man of his choosing, raising eleven children of her own.

Yet as family secrets come to light during her father’s presidency, Patsy must again decide how much she will sacrifice to protect his reputation, in the process defining not just Jefferson’s political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.

Pre-Order Now
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Laura Kamoie has always been fascinated by the people, stories, and physical presence of the past, which led her to a lifetime of historical and archaeological study and training. She holds a doctoral degree in early American history from The College of William and Mary, published two non-fiction books on early America, and most recently held the position of Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy before transitioning to a full-time career writing genre fiction as the New York Times bestselling author of over twenty books, Laura Kaye. Her debut historical novel, America's First Daughter, co-authored with Stephanie Dray, allowed her the exciting opportunity to combine her love of history with her passion for storytelling. Laura lives among the colonial charm of Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and two daughters

As LAURA KAYE, she is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over a dozen titles in contemporary and paranormal romance. Her books have won numerous industry awards, including the EPIC eBook Award, the Golden Leaf award, the PRISM award, and the HOLT Medallion Award of Merit. She is a frequent panelist at national writing conferences and a frequent instructor of craft and social media workshops. Laura lives just outside the nation’s capital with her husband and two young daughters.

Find Laura Here




STEPHANIE DRAY is a bestselling and award-nominated author of historical women’s fiction. Her series about Cleopatra’s daughter has been translated into six different languages, was nominated for a RITA Award and won the Golden Leaf. As STEPHANIE DRAVEN, she is a national bestselling author of paranormal romance, contemporary romance, and American-set historical women’s fiction. She is a frequent panelist and presenter at national writing conventions and lives near the nation’s capital. Before she became a novelist, she was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the stories of women in history to inspire the young women of today.

Find Stephanie Here


For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards

For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible StandardsAuthor: Jen Hatmaker
Publication: August 18, 2015
By: Thomas Nelson
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads 

The popular writer, blogger, and television personality reveals with humor and style how Jesus' extravagant grace is the key to dealing with life's biggest challenge: people.

The majority of our joys, struggles, thrills, and heartbreaks relate to people, beginning first with ourselves and then the people we came from, married, birthed, live by, live for, go to church with, don't like, don't understand, fear, struggle with, compare ourselves to, and judge. People are the best and worst thing about the human life.

Jen Hatmaker knows this all too well, and so she reveals how to practice kindness, grace, truthfulness, vision, and love to ourselves and those around us. By doing this, For the Love leads our generation to reimagine Jesus' grace as a way of life, and it does it in a funny yet profound manner that Christian readers will love. Along the way, Hatmaker shows readers how to reclaim their prophetic voices and become Good News again to a hurting, polarized world.



*I received a copy of this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

I don't read a lot of non-fiction, let alone Christian non-fiction, even though I AM a Christ follower. Why? Because it tends to come across preachy and well---boring. Plus, I have the attention span of a fruit fly. I need fast, funny and filling.

This book is all that and a side of fries! Jen Hatmaker is the Amy Pohler/Tina Fey of Christian fiction.

Whether it be the "Thank-You Notes", the chapters on marriage, social media, toxic friendships, church people (Bless.) or the stories about motherhood, every woman alive can relate to SOMETHING within these pages.

I laughed so hard I nearly peed my pants. If Jen Hatmaker is taking applications for BFFs, sign me up! 




~ About the Author ~

Jen Hatmaker is the author of eight books and Bible studies, including A Modern Girl's Guide to Bible Study. With a heart for the women of her generation, she speaks at retreats and conferences around the country. Jen and her husband, Brandon, reside in Texas with their five children, and lead the ministry work at Austin New Church. Find out more at www.jenhatmaker.com.