Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Review: The Housemaid's Daughter by Barbara Mutch

Title: The Housemaid's Daughter
Author: Barbara Mutch
Source: Amazon Vine
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: December 10, 2013
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

Barbara Mutch's stunning first novel tells a story of love and duty colliding on the arid plains of Apartheid-era South Africa

When Cathleen Harrington leaves her home in Ireland in 1919 to travel to South Africa, she knows that she does not love the man she is to marry there —her fiance Edward, whom she has not seen for five years. Isolated and estranged in a small town in the harsh Karoo desert, her only real companions are her diary and her housemaid, and later the housemaid's daughter, Ada. When Ada is born, Cathleen recognizes in her someone she can love and respond to in a way that she cannot with her own family.Under Cathleen’s tutelage, Ada grows into an accomplished pianist and a reader who cannot resist turning the pages of the diary, discovering the secrets Cathleen sought to hide. As they grow closer, Ada sees new possibilities in front of her—a new horizon. But in one night, everything changes, and Cathleen comes home from a trip to find that Ada has disappeared, scorned by her own community. Cathleen must make a choice: should she conform to society, or search for the girl who has become closer to her than her own daughter?

Set against the backdrop of a beautiful, yet divided land, The Housemaid's Daughter is a startling and thought-provoking novel that intricately portrays the drama and heartbreak of two women who rise above cruelty to find love, hope, and redemption.

The Housemaid's Daughter flew far beyond any of my expectations.  Set during the heart of apartheid in South Africa, so much happened that I'm not sure how to begin.  Ada, the housemaid's daughter, was born and raised in the white household that her mother worked for - living in a small hut in the back.  As she grew, it was apparent that she was a bright girl, and the Madam of the house, Cathleen, wanted to give her the best opportunites she could.  The Master of the house, Edward, who grew up in South Africa and understood the racial diferences better, would hear none of it - Ada could not go to the best school - blacks just didn't do that sort of thing.  So Cathleen begins to teach Ada herself.  Ada grows up as a part of Cathleen's family alongside Cathleen's son Phil and Rose.

Without giving too much away - we get get to see Ada's journey from a pampered black maid, to an outcast in both black and white society - to being a rallying cry for change.  Cathleen will have many difficult choices to make.  Theirs is a house divided along political and racial lines, with half supporting equality and half thinking the separation is best.  

Watching the struggles South Aftrica saw through this point of view made it a lot more personal.  The love of a family - even if they were not all blood - was all that held this group together at times.  While the story is told from Ada's side, Cathleen takes a very major role and is, at times, the strong character holding it all together.  "Startling and thought-provoking" isn't strong enough to describe the story in these pages.  This is one that will remain on my best of the best shelf, read over and over again through the years.  There are messages in the words that the world still needs to hear today.

*This book was received in exchange for an honest review*

Monday, December 30, 2013

Review: The Perimeter by Shalini Boland

Title: The Perimeter (Outside #3)
Author: Shalini Boland
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Release Date: November 18, 2013
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

The Perimeter is a darkly captivating dystopian tale of adventure, danger, love and redemption that will have you on the edge of your seat and up at night turning the pages to find out what happens in the end.

In this fractured world, a sinister force is coming for Riley, and the only things keeping her safe are a perimeter fence and the people she loves. As her life is threatened, she must make impossible choices. But help comes from the most unlikely of places, and all Riley needs to know is: who can she really trust?

Meanwhile, a repentant killer searches for peace and salvation, but what he gets is the exact opposite. Now he’ll have to make the hardest decision of his life.

My Review of Book One: Outside
My Review of Book Two: The Clearing

Riley is still as adventurous as ever in book three.  One would think that she might be a little more hesitant after her previous experiences.  But her fear nothing attitude comes in handy once again.  I loved the addition of the gypsies in this book.  A group of people that live on their own outside the walls, with their own rules and laws - but instead of behaving poorly (like raiders), they take care of their own and keep their heads down - for the most part.

The strange religious cult that Riley and Luc have run into in both book one and two have decided that she must pay for her crimes against them with her life - and they have an army at their disposal to get the job done.  Book three follows Riley's current timeline as her perimeter prepares to defend itself.  It also follows a story from the past - a story that you will recognize if you have read book one.  At the end Shalini Boland merges the two timelines together seamlessly to create another great book.

This seems to be the last in the series and it takes every little loose end out there and wraps them up in one fell swoop - everything tying together in an amazing way.  There wasn't as much development character-wise from Riley and her group in this one, but the other timeline was truly a study in developing a complex and dynamic character - the kind I love.  A great conclusion to the series.

*This book was received in exchange for an honest review*

Entangled Edge December Release Day Blast

Edge, a digital-first single-title romance line from Entangled Publishing, takes its lead from their popular Select imprint but gives its novels an edge in the marketplace by bringing great stories to readers at reasonable prices in a quick-and-easy way. Whether sexy or sweet, traditional romance or love and lust with a women’s fiction bent, at the center of every Edge book is heart. From Urban Fantasy to Contemporary Romance to Science Fiction Romance, Edge has a book for all romance readers—and right at their fingertips! As they say, all’s fair in love and war. To find out more about their titles, chat with authors, participate in special events, and to find out what books are coming next, visit the Entangled website, follow them on Twitter, and like their Facebook page.

Today I'm happy to be featuring Edge's December releases!!

Break Out by Nina Croft

Blood Hunter #1

Special $0.99 Promo Limited Time Only!

The year is 3048, Earth is no longer habitable, and man has fled to the stars where they've discovered the secret of immortality—Meridian. Unfortunately, the radioactive mineral is exorbitantly expensive and only available to a select few. A new class comprised of the super rich and immortal soon evolves. The Collective, as they're called, rule the universe.

Two-thousand-year-old Ricardo Sanchez, vampire and rogue pilot of the space cruiser, El Cazador, can't resist two things: gorgeous women and impossible jobs. When beautiful Skylar Rossaria approaches him to break a prisoner out of the Collective's maximum security prison on Trakis One, Rico jumps at the chance. Being hunted by the Collective has never been so dangerous—or so fun.

Heart of the Incubus by Rosalie Lario

Biochemist Cresso Taylor lives the sort of lifestyle most men would envy—he has wealth, natural incubus charm, and more women than he can handle. But it’s not enough anymore. Not after meeting Genevieve Russell, the sexy scientist who works with him at Elcorp Laboratory. And she wants absolutely nothing to do with him.

After her fiancĂ© broke her heart, Genevieve has had enough of womanizers. She’s determined to steer clear of sexy-as-sin Dr. Taylor, despite the fact that his incubus allure makes her want to rip his clothes off. But when a secret admirer’s affection turns to the macabre with threatening notes and grisly gifts, Cresso appoints himself her protector. As she and Cresso hunt her stalker, she discovers there’s a lot more to the sensual incubus than she ever imagined.

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Entangled Covet December Release Day Blast

Covets have all the sexiness, emotion, and happily ever after that readers have come to expect and love from Entangled. They are firmly grounded in the contemporary world, but each novel brings in supernatural twists, breaking the contemporary and paranormal rules, alike. To find out more about their titles, chat with authors, participate in special events, and to find out what books you’ll be coveting next, visit the Entangled website, follow them on Twitter, LIKE their Facebook page, and join the Book Club.

Today I'm happy to be featuring Covet's December releases:

Beg Me to Slay by Lisa Kessler

He’ll slay her demons, but it may cost her heart…

Four years ago Tegan Ashton was attacked. Determined never to be a victim again, she devotes her life to martial arts and self-defense. When her assailant returns to finish what he started, only one person can help her.

Gabe is a private investigator by day and demon slayer by night. After losing loved ones, he vows to defend people from a threat they don’t realize exists.

The relationship is supposed to be strictly business, but fighting demons together stirs up emotions they never expected. Turns out demon slaying is a breeze compared to facing their scarred pasts and even worse - hearts.

Ashes by Sarah Gilman

Journalist Ambrosia Pellerin accepts an assignment involving the legendary phoenix, expecting, if nothing else, a little entertainment. Instead, she winds up pregnant—by a surprisingly human-looking firebird, Reece Bennu.

As the Phoenix prince, Reece is next in line to the throne and expected to marry a purebred royal. A common human such as Ambrosia is not in the cards. He swears, though, he’ll never be an absentee father.

As Ambrosia’s due date grows closer, so do the soon-to-be parents. But will their tentative love survive the prejudice of Reece’s grandmother, who will stop at nothing to tear the two apart?

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Friday, December 27, 2013

Review: Erasing: Shadows by K.D. Rose

Title: Erasing: Shadows (Erasing #1)
Author: K.D. Rose
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Release Date: December 18, 2013
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

What if to save the ones you love, you had to unlock the key to a different reality?

Generations of mystery smash together when a seemingly traditional family must shatter their illusions of normality to confront themselves and their friends, leaving no possibility unexplored in order to rescue- well, who exactly? Watch the Ross family, the High Five Gang, and multiple generations dig into an innovative explosion of imagination where they must confront numerous realities, real-world danger, and worst of all—their own teenage hormones!

In a place where nothing is as it seems and shocks are around every corner, even the people you thought you knew may find themselves strangers in this moving and provocative reality-bender. With breathless pacing and psychological intrigue, Erasing: Shadows and the High Five Gang will keep you guessing until the very end.

Imagine traveling to an alternate reality that is controlled by your mind and emotions.  Imagine getting stuck there, regressing to a point that you don't realize you're not in your real world.  What would your friends and family do to help you get back?  This is what Erasing: Shadows is all about.  When Mira disappears into the astral and forgets everything - her husband and childhood friends need to figure out how to bring her back before it's too late.

The Astral is a world with so many rules there are none - it is what you make of it with some very strict exceptions.  It doesn't seem to make sense outside of the story, but the rules and non-rules are explained very nicely as they are needed to a little at a time as the story progresses.  Out main characters don't even know all the rules at the beginning and need to figure a few of them out in order to resue Mira.

The story is quite exciting and fast paced - at times a little too fast.  Problems arise and are solved within the blink of an eye.  The one that particularly bothered me was at the very end with Mira's husband - don't want to say too much since it is the ending of the story.  I think this would be a very fun read for most young adult/middle grade readers - boy or girl.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Review: Last Day of Love by Lauren Kate

Title: Last Day of Love (Teardrop #.05)
Author: Lauren Kate
Source: Self-Purchased
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Release Date: December 10, 2013
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

Don't miss this beautiful original digital story by Lauren Kate, the #1New York Times bestselling author of the Fallen series, set in the romantic world of Teardrop, a place of  devastating secrets and dark magic . . . a world where everything you love can be washed away.

Last Day of Love gives us a glimpse into Ander's past before the beginning of Teardrop.  It was nice to see his history in a little more detail and understand a little more about how his family works and their beliefs.  You can really understand why he behaves like he does in Teardrop after reading this.

There really isn't a happy ending - it's just a short blast of memory from his past.  Unfortuantely, I think it was too short for the amount of money asked for it.  Have the book is actually the first part of Teardrop, so it was a lot shorter than it looked from the page count on Amazon.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Review; The Clearing by Shalini Boland

Title: The Clearing (Outside #2)
Author: Shalini Boland
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Release Date: January 15, 2013
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

In the ravaged future, children are disappearing.

Riley lives safely behind her Perimeter Fence, but soon she’ll have to confront the terrible truth of what’s happening outside. An old enemy is approaching. Threatening to extinguish her way of life. 

To save herself, she will have to fight to save another. She must put herself in the last place she ever wanted to be. 

This is the terrifying sequel to the post apocalyptic thriller OUTSIDE.

My Review of Book One: Outside

Book two of Shalini Boland's Outside series is much more intense and exciting than the first book.  While the first book seemed to be done in small little episodes - book two has a much larger story arc that continues to build throughout the entire story.  Again the storyline jumps from the past - following a little girl names Liss after she is kidnapped from her parents - to the present of Riley and Luc attempting to rescue her from a compound known for kidnapping and brainwashing children to build an army.

Liss's story is tragic and frightening.  Boland does a fantastic job portraying the events she needs to overcome in order to resist the brainwashing that she is being subjected to on a daily basis.  Riley and Luc, having just returned from their dangerous trek in search for the killer of Riley's sister, are sent outside the perimeter to help find and rescue Liss in return for some valuable information on a deadly enemy.

Full of excitement and adventure, the book was much easier to sit down and read straight through than the first.  Boland's writing seems to have developed in a fantastic way.  The world that is built really develops and there is a lot of character building as well.  Most of the time I don't like the second as much as the first or the ones that follow - this was a welcome surprise that I really enjoyed.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Review: Teardrop by Lauren Kate

Title: Teardrop (Teardrop #1)
Author: Lauren Kate
Source: Amazon Vine
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Mythology
Release Date: October 22, 2013
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

Never, ever cry...

Seventeen-year-old Eureka won't let anyone close enough to feel her pain. After her mother was killed in a freak accident, the things she used to love hold no meaning. She wants to escape, but one thing holds her back: Ander, the boy who is everywhere she goes, whose turquoise eyes are like the ocean.

And then Eureka uncovers an ancient tale of romance and heartbreak, about a girl who cried an entire continent into the sea. Suddenly her mother's death and Ander's appearance seem connected, and her life takes on dark undercurrents that don't make sense.

Can everything you love be washed away?

Lauren Kate has created an amazing new reality in Teardrop.  A reality where magic is real and myths and legends begin to come true.  Eureka doesn't think she's anything special.  Just a girl whose mother died a strange and horrible death.  Her mother's inheritance is nothing like she expected.  Not that she wanted money or anything, but her mother's gifts seem strange and otherworldly.  Then the strange boy that has been following her seems to know more about them than she does herself.

Book one of the Teardrop series is a lot of world building.  It tends to move along a little slow at times but the people are brought to life along with the world and it's legends in a beautfiul way.  Eureka is a confused teenager - and Lauren Kate shows us all sides of this, along with her family and friends to really bring us into her world.  It was a fantastic start to the series with quite a bang and cliffhanger for the ending.  

I'll be keeping my eye out for book two.  When I checked out Goodreads to look for an expected publication date, I stumbled on a #0.5 - a short 50ish page story that I picked up right away.  I really want to know more now!  Look for that review soon and for book two as soon as I can get it.

*This book was received in exchange for an honest review*

Monday, December 23, 2013

Review: The Lightbearers by Nora M. Garcia

Title: The Lightbearers
Author: Nora M. Garcia
Source: Author Request
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: November 9, 2013
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

THE LIGHTBEARERS is the story of an ancient Egyptian King and Queen, Akhenaton and Nefertiti, who have been reincarnating together for the past 3300 years. They have been entrusted with the mission of The Lightbearers, whose responsibility is to be guardians of the human race and to enlighten any whose path they cross. Through reincarnation, during each of their lifetimes, they strive to overcome violence, greed and injustice and in each lifetime they leave pockets of individuals with whom they have shared their secrets of life and death. They have also been ascribed with the powers of telepathy, astral projection and psycho kinesis. They are highly evolved and highly enlightened.

Discovery of their innate mystical powers is facilitated by the assistance of an alien being who introduces them to the mission of the Lightbearer. Through a series of flashbacks two of their previous lifetimes are revealed beginning in Ancient Egypt and including 17th century France where they switched genders.

The story unfolds in the 21st century where Jean Crystal, Nefertiti’s incarnate, has been kidnapped by Dr. Natas, whose plan for world domination has been temporarily disrupted by Jean and her husband George, Akhenaten’s incarnate. Jean and George have discovered a secret about Dr. Natas experimental school, a school completely computerized and robotized.

Jean is held captive on a laboratory table by a motion sensitive laser directed toward her central nervous system. Not realizing this, upon awakening from a narcotic sleep induced by the doctor, she attempts to move and is suddenly wracked by a mind numbing pain. The more she moves the more pain she receives. By astrally projecting herself she is able to overcome the pain and investigate her circumstances. George has already been assassinated and while awaiting her own demise, George pays Jean a visit in the lab, assuring her of their eternal vow to each other. Jean is very shortly, thereafter, assassinated. Upon the joyful reunion of their spirits on Petite Terre, a tiny island just off the Normandy Province of France, Jean and George plan their return. While it is possible to determine their gender and the time in which they return, they cannot predetermine their identities. They must pick a place, a time and a signal by which they can find and identify each other in their subsequent lifetime. In this particular lifetime, their favorite song was “Imagine” by John Lennon and so on the first Monday of October, 2024 at 12 noon, they decide to meet outside the computer science building on the UCLA campus in Los Angeles. She will find him sitting under a tree near the building with a guitar strumming “Imagine”.

Their reunion takes place 20 years later, albeit not without a hitch. Together they set out to rescue the United States from Dr. Natas’s well-placed plans, he has already begun to execute.

Lightbringers is an very interesting and different take on reincarnation.  Beginning with Queen Nefertiti's awakening to her destiny and continuing into the near future of about 2050.  She and her King, Akhenaton, have struggles life after life to bring humanity to a new understanding of balance in the world.  Their most recent incarnation has wrapped them up in the life of Dr. Natas, an unfeeling man set to robotize the world - beginning with the children.

The story jumps around a lot from where it begins to ancient Egypt (my favorite part) and a few of their other past lives.  Then forward again into their most recent incarnation - where they find themselves in a do or die scenario with the future of mankind coming to a critical crisis.  Their final incarnation was the best part of the story, but unfortunately it was one of the smaller parts as well.  They story itself was quite good, but at times the writing style seemed a little forced and mechanical - it just didn't fit well for me.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Must Love Otters by Eliza Gordon

Title: Must Love Otters
Author: Eliza Gordon
Genre: Women's Fiction/Humor/Contemporary/Romantic Comedy 
Publisher: West 26th Street Press, NYC (a division of Writers House)

Hollie Porter is the chairwoman of Generation Disillusioned: at twenty-five years old, she’s saddled with a job she hates, a boyfriend who’s all wrong for her, and a vexing inability to say no. She’s already near her breaking point, so when one caller too many kicks the bucket during Hollie’s 911 shift, she cashes in the Sweethearts’ Spa & Stay gift certificate from her dad and heads to Revelation Cove, British Columbia. One caveat: she’s going solo. Any sweethearts will have to be found on site.

Hollie hopes to find her beloved otters in the wilds of the Great White North, but instead she’s providing comic relief for staff and guests alike. Even Concierge Ryan, a former NHL star with bad knees and broken dreams, can’t stop her from stumbling from one (mis)adventure to another. Just when Hollie starts to think that a change of venue doesn’t mean a change in circumstances, the island works its charm and she starts to think she might have found the rejuvenation she so desperately desires. But then an uninvited guest crashes the party, forcing her to step out of the discomfort zone where she dwells and save the day … and maybe even herself in the process.

About the Author:
Eliza Gordon is a husband-and-wife team of controlled chaos who writes romantic comedies and silly stories for hearts that haven't given up on the possibility of a Happily Ever After. 

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Exception by Patty Maximini

Exception by Patty Maximini 
Publication date: November 2nd 2013
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

When all hope for moving on from a life filled with pain and abuse was gone, Emily Watson closed herself off to the world, packed her bags, and moved across the country in search of a new life. What she found was a career she adored and friends she loved. It wasn’t a full and complete life, but it was definitely better than what she knew before.

When all hope for being loved and accepted for who he was instead of what he had was gone, Taylor Carter decided that trusting people outside of his family wasn’t really smart and would only lead to disappointment. With his world turned upside down, his life became about his work, and every new relationship was meaningless and superficial. He was safe and definitely content but never truly happy.

When all hope for staying awake during a long day was gone, Emily and Taylor found themselves at the same coffee cart. Little did they know then that the worst coffee they’d ever had would forever change their lives.

When hopeless people are blinded by an endless pain, when contentment and safety feel like the best options, and when love seems impossible, they may just find an exception.

Words have always been a passion of mine. I’ve always loved to read them, write them and learn them in other languages. Last year, I’ve decided to take that passion and turn it into a book, the result was Exception, my very first novel due this October.

Whenever I’m not sitting behind my computer, I’m either enjoying the company of my dear hubby, Alex, and our four four-legged babies or reading. I’m a firm believer in long hand written letters, love of any kind and good stories.

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Review: Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

Title: Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab: A Mystery with Electromagnets, Burglar Alarms, and Other Gadgets You Can Build Yourself (Nick and Tesla #1)
Authors: Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith
Source: Amazon Vine
Genre: Middle Grade, Mystery
Release Date: November 5, 2013
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

Nick and Tesla are bright 11-year-old siblings with a knack for science, electronics, and getting into trouble. When their parents mysteriously vanish, they’re sent to live with their Uncle Newt, a brilliant inventor who engineers top-secret gadgets for a classified government agency. It’s not long before Nick and Tesla are embarking on adventures of their own—engineering all kinds of outrageous MacGyverish contraptions to save their skin: 9-volt burglar alarms, electromagnets, mobile tracking devices, and more. Readers are invited to join in the fun as each story contains instructions and blueprints for five different projects.

In Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab, we meet the characters and learn how to make everything from rocket launchers to soda-powered vehicles. Learning about science has never been so dangerous—or so much fun!

I love finding books that I can get into with my daughter.  Nick and Tesla is one of those books that parents and children (boy or girl) can love to read.  Nick and Tesla are great characters that are extremely intelligent and inventive.  They use their brains and whatever they can find in their Uncle's lab to create some really fun gadgets.  The mystery was fairly straight forward and perfect for the pre-teen age group.  I even enjoyed waiting to find out who the bad guys were and just what they were up to.

The projects in the book had fairly simple supply lists.  The items I didn't have around the house (Mentos and PVC pipe and caps) would be fairly easy to come by and not very expensive.  Since the projects need to be done outside, we haven't had a chance to do them yet in this cold December weather, but the instructions are very straight-forward with some well-placed diagrams to help.  We are thinking of trying the robo-cat this spring.

*This book was received in exchange for an honest review*

Friday, December 20, 2013

Book Tour Review and Giveaway: Sparks the Matchmaker by Russell Elkins

Sparks the Matchmaker by Russell Elkins

Ollie just wants one thing. The girl.

Things haven’t been going so well with Anne lately, though; their relationship has become a perpetual study date, and Ollie’s roommates are starting to worry about him. How to fix things? Why, with a marriage proposal, of course.

Unfortunately for Ollie, his relationship with Anne has run out of gas. Life feels like it’s counting down to one. And that one is the only person in Ollie’s life he really cares about: Ollie. Perhaps, then, he should get over himself. But first he has to deal with Sparks, the irritating little Yankees fan who invades his life in order to “help” him. And while Keith, his best friend, is doing all he can to help, Ollie’s other friend Richie never fails to show up and threaten to ruin everything just by being himself. Never mind all the drama Sparks brings to the party by forcing Ollie to take a job actually helping people in need.

Will Ollie meet the girl? Will it be in history class? On a road trip to Colorado? Can he get over Anne, or should he try to mend the relationship? Should he pursue the new girl Sparks is trying to set him up with? As the strings of the puppeteer tangle with the strings of the heart, only one person can sort out the mess Ollie has made. It seems that the harder he tries, the more Ollie messes things up. Is Sparks a cruel manipulator, or is he really going to help Ollie find his match?

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Sparks had quite a few good things going for it.  The fact that the story was told completely from the male point of view was a first for me - at least that I can remeber.  The fact that the matchmaker was a cute little animal or an annoying female friend was another.  Ollie was an OK character - but I think that was the point.  He was an everyday Joe with a broken heart that wished for a girl he could fall in love with.  Along comes Sparks - with a promise to help him - because Sparks "knows things".  And so the story begins.

Of course Sparks can't just wave a magic wand and have everything work out the way Ollie hopes.  Nope, he's going to make Ollie work for it - he wouldn't really appreciate it otherwise.  The dialog between Ollie and Sparks was very humorous at times.  The love story that follows is very subtle and it really sneaks up on you in the end - and then you realize that it was staring you in the face all along and you just didn't see it - sort of how love can sneak up on a person in real life.

I loved that Sparks was out to help Ollie with more than just his love life - he genuinely wanted to help him have a better life and life outlook.  This was a cute story - but parts of the relationships seemed a little forced - perhaps because it was a shorter book.  Definately worth reading with some very memorable characters though.

russell elkinsAuthor Russell Elkins

Russell Elkins has become a leading expert on open adoption through first-hand experience that he now shares in Open Adoption, Open Heart. Russell regularly contributes to Adoption.com. He also writes his own blog at russellelkins.com to educate others in the struggles and beauties of open adoption.

Russell has always been a family man at heart, looking forward to the day when he could be a husband and a father. It took him a little while, but eventually his eyes locked onto a beautiful blonde, and he has never looked away. Russell and Jammie were married in 2004. They had the same goals for their home and didn't want to wait too long before starting their family. However, filling their home quickly with children wasn't in the cards, and they found themselves weighing their options to overcome problems with infertility. Their lives changed dramatically the day they decided to adopt.

Russell and Jammie have adopted two beautiful children, Ira and Hazel, and have embraced their role as parents through open adoption. Both are actively engaged in the adoption community by communicating through social media, taking part in discussion panels, and writing songs about adoption.

Russell was born on Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., in the fall of 1977. Along with his five siblings, he and his military family moved around a lot, living in eight different houses by the time he left for college at age 17. Although his family moved away from Fallon, Nevada, just a few months after he moved out, he still considers that little oasis in the desert to be his childhood hometown.

Even after leaving home, Russell always stayed close to his family. He shared an apartment with each of his three brothers at different times during his college career. They formed a band together back in the 1990s and still perform on a regular basis under the name of the Invisible Swordsmen.

After nearly a decade of college and changing his major a few times, Russell received his bachelor's degree in sociology from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He later graduated from Ameritech College where he learned the trade of being a dental lab technician. Russell now owns and operates Elkins Dental Lab located in Meridian, Idaho.

Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 1/12/14

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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 and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Book Blitz Excerpt and Giveaway: Insanity by Cameron Jace

Insanity by Cameron Jace 
Publication date: December 20, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Paranormal

After accidentally killing everyone in her class, Alice Wonder is now a patient in the Radcliffe Lunatic Asylum. No one doubts her insanity. Only a hookah-smoking professor believes otherwise; that he can prove her sanity by decoding Lewis Carroll’s paintings, photographs, and find Wonderland’s real whereabouts. Professor Caterpillar persuades the asylum that Alice can save lives and catch the wonderland monsters now reincarnated in modern day criminals. In order to do so, Alice leads a double life: an Oxford university student by day, a mad girl in an asylum by night. The line between sanity and insanity thins when she meets Jack Diamond, an arrogant college student who believes that nonsense is an actual science.

Wonderlander, Neverlander, Unicorn-chaser, enchanter, musician, survived a coma, & totally awesome. Sometimes I tell stories. Always luv the little monsters      I write young adult paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and science fiction mostly. The Grimm Diaries series is a seven book saga that deals with retellings of fairy tales from a young adult POV - it connects most of the fairy tales together and claims to be the truth about fairy tales.      I live in San Fransisco and seriously think circles are way cooler than triangles.

Excerpt from Insanity:
Chapter 1
The writing on the wall says it's January 14th. I am not sure what year. I haven't been sure of many things lately, but I’m wondering if it’s my handwriting I’m looking at.
There is an strange key drawn underneath the date. It's carved with a sharp object, probably a broken mirror. I couldn’t have written this. I'm terrified of mirrors. They love to call it Catoptrophobia around here.
Unlike regular patients in the asylum, my room is windowless, stripped down to a single mattress in the middle, a sink, and bucket for peeing--or puking--when necessary. The tiles on the floor are black-and-white squares, like a chessboard. I never step on black. Always white. Again, I'm not sure why.
The walls are smeared with a greasy pale green everywhere. I wonder if it's the previous patient's brains spattered all over from shock therapy. In the Radcliffe Lunatic Asylum, politely known as the Warneford hospital, the doctors have a sweet spot for shock therapy. They love watching patients with bulging eyes and shivering limbs begging for relief from the electricity. It makes me question who is really mad in here.
It's been a while since I was sent to shock therapy myself. Dr. Tom Truckle, my supervising physician, said I don't need it anymore, particularly after I stopped mentioning Wonderland. He told me that I used to talk about it all the time; a dangerous place I claim I have been whisked away to when my elder sister lost me at the age of seven.
Truth is, I don't remember this Wonderland they are talking about. I don't even know why I am here. My oldest vivid memory is from a week ago. Before that, it's all a purple haze.
I have only one friend in this asylum. It's not a doctor or a nurse. And it's not a human. It doesn't hate, envy, or point a finger at you. My friend is an orange flower I keep in a pot; a Tiger Lily I can't live without. I keep it safe next to a small crack in the wall where a single sun ray sneaks through for only ten minutes a day. It might not be enough light to grow a flower, but my Tiger Lily is a tough girl.
Each day, I save half of the water they give me for my flower. As for me, better thirsty than mad.
My orange flower is also my personal rain check for my sanity. If I talk to her and she doesn't reply, I know I am not hallucinating. If it talks back to me, all kinds of nonsense starts to happen. Insanity prevails. There must be a reason why I am here. It doesn’t mean I will easily give in to such a fate.
"Alice Pleasance Wonder. Are you ready?" the nurse knocks with her electric prod on my steel door. Her name is Waltraud Wagner. She is German. Everything she says sounds like a threat and smells like smoke. My fellow mad people say she is a Nazi; that she used to kill her own patients back in Germany. "Get avay vrom za dor. I an coming in," she demands.
Listening to the rattling of her large keychain, my heart pounds in my chest. The turn of the key makes me want to swallow. When the door opens, all I can think of is choking her before she begins to hurt me. Sadly, her neck is too thick for my nimble hands. I stare at her almost-square figure for a moment. Everything about her is four sizes too big, all except her feet, which are as small as mine. My sympathies, little feet.
"Time for your daily ten-minute break," she approaches me with a straitjacket, a devilish grin on her face. I never get out. My ward is underground, and I take my break in another empty ward upstairs, where patients love to play soccer with a hedgehog’s head.
A big muscled warden stands behind Watlraud. Thomas Ogier. He is bald, has an angry-red face and a silver tooth he likes to flash whenever he sees me. His biceps are the size of my head. I have a hard time believing he has ever been a 4-pound baby.
"Slide your arms into the jacket," Waltraud demands in her German accent, a cigarette puckered between her lips. "Slow and easy, Alice," she nods at warden Ogier, in case I misbehave.
I comply obediently and stretch out my arms for her to do whatever she wants. Waltraud twists my right arm slightly and checks the tattoo on my arm. It’s the only tattoo I have. It’s a handwritten sentence that looks like a thin arm band from afar. Waltraud feels the need to read it allowed, “’I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.’” I was told I have written it myself while still believing in Wonderland. “That Alice in Wonderland has really messed with your head.” She puffs smoke into my face as she mocks me.
The tattoo and Waltraud’s mocking is the least of my concerns right now. I let her tie me, and while she does, I close my eyes. I imagine I am a sixteenth century princess, some kind of a lucky Cinderella, being squeezed into a corset by my chain smoking servant in a fairy tale castle above ground, just about to go meet my Prince Charming. Such imagery always helps me breathe. I once heard that it was hope that saves the day, not sanity. I need to cool down before I begin my grand escape. 

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