New Years Resolutions for 2015

I'm really excited to be sharing an excerpt from the newest LGBTQ+ anthology being released this month. I support this book, because ALL PROCEEDS from the sale will be donated to The Trevor Project.

$500 YA Signed Book Giveaway + Gift Card

Derek Murphy, YA author and founder of the YA Author Alliance, is running a giveaway this month, 10 signed books by bestselling authors and a $200 giftcard.

Once Upon A Series

I have way too many series that I've started, but haven't finished for whatever reason and this is a list of those I plan to finish this year.

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves is an eye-opening, heartbreaking, and beautifully written novel that will leave an everlasting impression on you.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Blog Tour for Furious Rush featuring a Q&A with author S.C. Stephens

I'm super pumped to be a part of this blog tour for S.C. Stephen's newly released book, Furious Rush. It's a captivating, thrilling, and tantalizing romance that's incredibly too hot to handle, as in you won't want to put it down until you're finished reading it. If you're not familiar with S.C. Stephens, she's the author of the Thoughtless series. It's another New Adult romance, that is just as amazing as Furious Rush. 

Since, I've read the Thoughtless series, I've been on pins and needles anxiously awaiting her newest release, Furious Rush. I absolutely cannot wait to read it, I already have a copy of it burning up my Kindle waiting for me to finish the current book I'm reading, before reading it. It's definitely next on my list, though. 

Today, I'm extremely excited to bring you a small interview that she has generously allowed me to share with you, as well as an awesome giveaway. First, though, I thought I'd share with you a little bit more about the book and where you can purchase it. :)

I don't know about you, but if I were Mackenzie, I'd definitely chase Hayden around the race track!

Furious Rush
S.C. Stephens
Published: 08/23/16
Publisher: Forever
Age Demographic: NA Romance
Pages: 384

Too fast, too furious-and way too hot to handle . . .

Mackenzie Cox has a lot to prove. Daughter of a racing legend, she is eager to show the world that she has inherited her father's talent in the male-dominated sport of professional motorcycle racing. The last thing Kenzie needs is to be antagonized by her rival team's newest rider, Hayden Hayes. Plucked from the world of illegal street racing, Hayden immediately gets under Kenzie's skin. His insinuations that Kenzie is a spoiled princess who was handed her career fuels her desire to win, and much to her surprise, Kenzie soon learns she performs better when she's racing against Hayden.

As Kenzie and Hayden push each other on the track, the electric energy between them off the track shifts into an intense--and strictly forbidden--attraction. The only rule between their two ultra-competitive teams is zero contact. Kenzie always does her best to play by the rules, but when her team slips into a financial crisis, she has no choice but to turn to Hayden for help. The tension simmers during their secret, late-night rendezvous, but Kenzie has too much to lose to give in to her desires. Especially when she begins to doubt that Hayden has completely left his street life behind.

Are your fingers tingly now, to pick up this book?!
Cause, mine sure are!

S.C. Stephen's totally manages to make me smile while reading her answer's to a few requested questions that she answer. I confess, secretly (not so secretly), that I haven't read Throne of Glass yet, either. However, I totally want to read it, the entire series at some point within the next year or so. I hope you enjoy this small little question and answer, that she has shared with us and decide to leave her some feedback and love either here or on her own blog, or even on her Goodreads.
So why choose to write about motorcycle racers specifically?  I wanted a heart-of-gold bad boy who did something sexy for a living. Kellan already owned the rock star market, so I started looking around for other avenues for Hayden. My brother had just purchased a shiny, red street bike, and when I saw it, I couldn’t help but notice that the bike was super-sexy. I knew right then and there that bikes were going to be Hayden’s “thing.”

Would you ever write a sports romance about football, baseball, etc.? I think professional football could be interesting. The dramas between the wives, the egos of the players, and of course, the forbidden romance with the cheerleader… Sounds like fun!

Was it challenging to write about something completely new after spending so much time with the characters in the Thoughtless series?  Yes and no. It was very freeing to be able to write new characters with no set-in-stone back stories, no previous timelines fixing them to a certain path. What I did find challenging however, was the endless possibilities. So many options can be overwhelming, and it took some time to narrow the scope into something more manageable. 

What is one book you are dying to read but haven’t gotten the time to do so yet? Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. It’s literally sitting on my nightstand right now, but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. I’ve only heard good things about this entire series, and I can’t wait to start it.
Want to know where you can purchase your very own copy of Furious Rush?!
Check out the links below.

Also, don't forget to check out the giveaway, it's pretty awesome!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
About the Author

S.C. Stephens is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who enjoys spending every free moment she has creating stories that are packed with emotion and heavy on romance. 

Her debut novel, Thoughtless, an angst-filled love triangle charged with insurmountable passion and the unforgettable Kellan Kyle, took the literary world by storm. Amazed and surprised by the response to the release of Thoughtless in 2009, more stories were quick to follow. Stephens has been writing nonstop ever since.

In addition to writing, Stephens enjoys spending lazy afternoons in the sun reading fabulous novels, loading up her iPod with writer's block reducing music, heading out to the movies, and spending quality time with her friends and family. She currently resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her two equally beautiful children.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

RWM Wednesday: Featuring All the Contemporaries

Read With Me: Contemporary Edition
Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins
Unrivaled by Alyson Noel
You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan
When We Collided by Emery Lord
The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub
Sing by Vivi Greene

I thought it might be fun to talk about the books I'm reading in a new little feature I'm calling, "Read With Me Wednesday's" twice a month. It's been a struggle this year, trying to juggle work, personal life, and reading all at the same time and still have some "free time" for me. So, after giving it some thought, I've decided that I'm not going to set a "how many books I'll be reading this year" goal, because it's just been too much added pressure on me and honestly it's started to suck the fun out reading. I've also decided that I'm going to read whatever feels right and what I'm in the mood to read, while still intermingling some of the ARC's I've received for review into that pile as well.

This Wednesday, we're going to be talking about "all the Contemporaries", because it seems like I've been on a really big kick with them lately. It's summer time and I love sinking into a really fun, super carefree, sweet romance or a super hyped-up, all drama, crazy ball of contemporary feels. Also, I love how diverse most of the books I'm most excited to read this summer, are. But enough of my gabbing, let's talk about these books and what I loved about them or why I want/can't wait to read them. 

Currently Reading...

I'm really enjoying this book, I'm about half way through it and I've been taking my time reading two or three stories a day or whenever I have time. It's not as strong as the My True Love Gave to Me anthology of short stories, but it's really cute, fun, and a couple of the stories has super feels. I absolutely love the short story that Francesca Lia Block wrote, it was beautiful, angsty, and super feels-y. It really gave me something to think about, to reflect on, plus is made me cry. It was just gorgeous and so far, it has been one of my absolute favorites. (Even though, some have said it just seemed pointless.)

I also really loved how adorable and cute Stephanie Perkins story was and I'm really looking forward to reading the one that Jennifer E. Smith wrote, since I've heard that it puts a positive spin on highlighting Autism and how it affects the people who have to live with it on a daily basis. If you like short stories and summer, I would definitely suggest picking up a copy and reading it, because it's tons of fun and feels-y. 

I actually received a finished copy of this book via the publisher and I have to say, that despite some residual feelings, I'm actually enjoying it. It's a pretty good summer mystery, filled with all kinds of drama, various characters from different backgrounds, and different purposes that all tie into the bigger part of the story. 

Again, I'm about half-way through it, and I'm really liking it. So, if you're looking for a pretty decent summer mystery, I would actually suggest you give this one a try and see how you like it. 

Wanting to Read...

Okay, so, where do I even begin with this book?! Because, I love the fact that it's so LGBTQ+ positive (that there are more books like this that are being written and released soon in YA), that Nina LaCour and David Levithan freaking wrote a book together, (what?!), or that the basic premise of it just sounds so amazing. I want this book to become a movie, so that I can like freaking obsess over it like crazy. 

There should be more books like these, more characters and stories exactly like this one in YA. This book is going to be absolutely gorgeous and brave and full of so many wonderful things and I can't wait to read it.

"We are seventeen and shattered and still dancing. We have messy, throbbing hearts, and we are stronger than anyone could ever know…"

That quote is THE WHY I want to read this book, because if the rest of it is ANYTHING like that then I know it's going to be absolutely beautiful and amazing. This is how I want to spend the rest of my summer days, reading books like these that give me ALL THE FEELS. That, and the fact that it's unlike any of the other books that she's written, that it highlights mental illness in such a raw and realistic thought provoking way just makes me want to read it even more! 

This is probably going to be one that I'm going to want to physically own a copy of and not just have it on my Kindle. 

I absolutely love reading books like this one, because you get to meet various characters, see how their lives crossed or intersected in some way or another, and also see the future impact that it had on them. You just get to see so many sides to each person, see their story, and how it affects them and other's around them that you can't help, but feel. 

Currently Read...

I know from looking at Goodreads that pretty everyone and their mother, thinks this book is based on Taylor Swift and her life. I can't say whether or not it was or wasn't inspired by her, but I am going to say that not everything is about Taylor Swift (who, I actually kind of like btw). This story was fun, super sweet and charming, and it definitely made me laugh and cry at the same time. It actually made me feel something, it was the first book that I've picked up in the last couple of months that I actually wanted to sit down and just drown in without putting it away until I was finished. It was another one that was sent as finished copy by the publisher for review and I have yet to find the words to say how much I enjoyed it. 

I just don't care what other people think, really, because until you've read it you don't really know who it's about or what it's really about. There's a little bit more there to it, than meets the eye and I felt like it was really sweet and cute and funny in all of the right ways that a summer romance and finding oneself and being brave enough to accept the changes in who you were, who you are becoming, and who you want to be no matter the odds that you'll face or the people or things that might fall away in your life. That is how this story spoke to me and I really loved it. 

So, those are the books that I'm currently reading, what I want to read, and what I've read so far. 

What are you reading? Wanting to read? Have read? 
Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Book Blitz+Giveaway: Because I Love You by Tori Rigby

I'm really excited to be a part of this particular book blitz, especially since one of the topics being discussed during ArmChairBEA this week is about more diversity in books. I love reading in general, it's literally changed the way that I look at the world around, which is why I'm always craving more diversity in the type of books that I love to read - which is - pretty much everything within reason. I've definitely been trying to step outside of my comfort zone even more so now, than I was willing to do back when I originally started this blog and decided that I was going to be seriously about keeping it up. 

Books can do so many things for you, if you let them open your eyes to the world around you. They can become a sort of "escapism" and people use them for "coping mechanisms", and also reading in general for fun. I love the fun light-hearted, carefree books that you can just sink into easily and finish in a lazy day out in the summer sun; but I also love the books that can challenge your way of thinking, give you a different view or outlook on something, or just change your mind completely. 

Those books are filled with diversity in all kinds, like LGBTQIA+, topics on mental illnesses, books exploring teen pregnancy (such as this one) and the affects it can have from all sides, racial issues, and they can explore many different backgrounds and cultures giving you a plethera of characters ranging from one nationality to many more, heroes and heroines that come in all shapes and sizes. These are the kinds of books that I'm kind of filling my days off with, when I get the chance to read.

Which, is why, I'm really excited to be sharing an excerpt of Because I Love You by the lovely and talented Tori Rigby with you. Before starting this blog, this isn't the type of book that I would have actually thought to pick up and read or even really want to read. I wasn't all that much of a contemporary person, nor was I really that into reading books that explored "teen pregnancy," which is continuously on the rise. Now, though, it's different. I look forward to reading a copy of this book and I am thrilled to try and get other's into being more open to reading books that span a wide diverse of topics and characters.

So, if you're interested, check out the excerpt below and don't forget to enter the giveway. Also, please leave Tori Rigby some love as well.

Because I Love You
Tori Rigby
Publisher: Blaze Publishing
Published: May 17th 2016
Age Demographic: YA
Genres: Contemporary 
Eight weeks after sixteen-year-old Andie Hamilton gives her virginity to her best friend, “the stick” says she’s pregnant.

Her friends treat her like she’s carrying the plague, her classmates torture and ridicule her, and the boy she thought loved her doesn’t even care. Afraid to experience the next seven months alone, she turns to her ex-boyfriend, Neil Donaghue, a dark-haired, blue-eyed player. With him, she finds comfort and the support she desperately needs to make the hardest decision of her life: whether or not to keep the baby.

Then a tragic accident leads Andie to discover Neil’s keeping a secret that could dramatically alter their lives, and she’s forced to make a choice. But after hearing her son’s heartbeat for the first time, she doesn’t know how she’ll ever be able to let go.

Can't decide if you want to read Because I Love You?
Let the small excerpt decide that for you...
Excerpt from Because I Love You
Written by Tori Rigby

No matter how much I needed him, I couldn’t let Neil throw his future away for me. He would do anything to keep me protected, comforted; I knew that like I knew the sky was blue. But I had to show him the same selfless love, or I’d forever regret holding him back. Which meant one thing: I was on my own.

My stomach turned to stone. But what about Ethan? Even if I did manage to drop out of high school and find a job that paid a decent wage, I couldn’t provide for a baby by myself. I couldn’t raise a baby in poverty—I wouldn’t. My son deserved so much more. But how the hell was I supposed to let him go?
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Author Bio

Adopted at three-days-old by a construction worker and a stay at home mom, Tori Rigby grew up with her nose in a book and her fingers on piano keys, always awaiting the day she’d take her own adventure. Now, she goes on multiple journeys through her contemporary and historical romances. She longs to live in the Scottish Highlands, and her favorite place in history is Medieval England—she’d even give up her Internet and running water to go back in time! Tori also writes high-concept genre fiction as Vicki Leigh, and when she isn’t writing, she’s kicking butt in krav maga or attending classes to learn how to catch bad guys.
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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Book Blitz&Giveaway: The Midnight Sea (Fourth Element #1) by Kat Ross

So, how much do we all love a fantastically well written and three dimensional villain that's written into a story in such a way, that you fall mad and passionately in love with their character and you know you're supposed to hate them, but you kind of don't want to?! 

Seriously, my hand would be the very first to shoot straight up, because I do! I do! I so do! 

I don't know if it's my love for all things Joss Whedon (and let's just all recognize that he has written some wonderfully loved and hated to love characters/villains), Stephen King and the crazy evil that he writes about, or the whole idea that some human's are pretty much demons masquerading with human faces and some demons are way more human than any other human could possibly be. All I know, is that I love, love, love these characters to pieces and they are some of my absolute favorite. 

Give me an amazingly well established villain with a great backstory and plot twist waiting to happen, combined with fantasy and I'm there every single time because that is THE STORY that I want to read. This is why I'm so excited to have Kat Ross on the blog today talking about how to write a great villain, among a few other things. Plus, I'm just really excited for The Midnight Sea, and can't wait to read it. It just looks like it's going be a fantastic novel, from the synopsis and reading what the author has to say about it herself. 

Want to know more about this awesome book?! Check out the synopsis below and order yourself a copy!

The Midnight Sea
Kat Ross
(Fourth Element #1)
Published: May 10th 2016
Age Demographic: YA

Genre: Fantasy
To Buy: Amazon
They are the light against the darkness. The steel against the necromancy of the Druj. And they use demons to hunt demons….

Nazafareen lives for revenge. A girl of the isolated Four-Legs Clan, all she knows about the King’s elite Water Dogs is that they bind wicked creatures called daevas to protect the empire from the Undead. But when scouts arrive to recruit young people with the gift, she leaps at the chance to join their ranks. To hunt the monsters that killed her sister.

Scarred by grief, she’s willing to pay any price, even if it requires linking with a daeva named Darius. Human in body, he’s possessed of a terrifying power, one that Nazafareen controls. But the golden cuffs that join them have an unwanted side effect. Each experiences the other’s emotions, and human and daeva start to grow dangerously close.

As they pursue a deadly foe across the arid waste of the Great Salt Plain to the glittering capital of Persepolae, unearthing the secrets of Darius’s past along the way, Nazafareen is forced to question his slavery—and her own loyalty to the empire. But with an ancient evil stirring in the north, and a young conqueror sweeping in from the west, the fate of an entire civilization may be at stake…
Despicable You: 
Writing Great Villains

I have a confession to make—one that some of you might share. My favorite characters are usually the awful ones. The ones who do terrible things without a shred of remorse. The ones that I'm dying to see get their comeuppance, but not before they push our beloved protagonist to the very edge and nearly destroy everything in the story we care about. Yes, I'm talking about the villains.

Think the viscerally creepy Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar from Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. The icily elegant Mrs. Coulter from Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. Elizabeth Wein's SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden in Code Name Verity, who we only meet second-hand but is terrifying nonetheless.

Villains can make or break a book. When they're boring or one-dimensional or clichéd, there's no tension and the plot deflates with that sad wheezing noise balloons make when you stick with them with a hatpin. But when they're done right, meaning that they are an actual character and not simply a clunky device to test the hero, they help keep the stakes of the story high and the reader turning pages late into the night. 

In The Midnight Sea, King Artaxeros II is the obvious villain, but he's also a bit abstract—you don't meet him until more than halfway through, and then only briefly. So I needed another antagonist. One who you really get to know. One who has some admirable traits but, as the pressures of the plot slowly pile up, becomes something much darker. Without giving away too many spoilers, I'll just say that I spent as much or more time thinking about him as about my main characters, Nazafareen and Darius. If you're going to have a colossal betrayal, the reader had better care about everyone involved or it just won't have much emotional impact. 

"So here are a few tips on writing unforgettable villains."

First off, all this is very subjective. What gives me cold sweats might make you laugh yourself silly. So you might start by thinking about which villains in film, TV, books, wherever, have resonated the most and why. Is it the prosthetic hook? The creepy Malkovich-esque voice? The mask of sanity they wear with their family when they're not committing grisly deeds? Once you know what disturbs you in the deepest, most primal part of your monkey brain, channel that quality in your own bad guy.

Okay, this one I cannot emphasize enough: give the villain motivation that readers can relate to, even if it's totally twisted. So they're power-hungry. Why? Is it because they have a secret crush on someone they want to impress? Or maybe they're compensating for a horrible childhood, or their dog needs an expensive operation, or their ideas of right and wrong are simply skewed beyond repair? I like to think that even the worst villain has something they care about. Balthazar, a necromancer who gets a starring turn in the second book of my series, is madly in love with his wicked queen. Yes, he does terrible things. But everything he does, he does for her.

Rachel Aaron has an awesome blog post on character development where she breaks it down into the deceptively simple formula below. The key is to understand that what a character wants and why they want it are two separate things and as a writer, you need to be very clear on both.

What do you want? (Goal)
Why do you want it? (Motivation)
What's stopping you? (Conflict)

If you have trouble, you can also try flipping the story and imagining it from the villain's point of view. You might be surprised at what you discover. Setting aside hockey-masked killers and comic book arch-bad guys, a good villain could potentially be the protagonist if he or she weren't quite so extreme.

In my first book, the sci-fi thriller Some Fine Day, one of the most despicable characters is a military doctor who's deliberately infected innocent people with a super-nasty Level Four virus. But as she calmly explains to the main character, the project is simply a response to their enemies engineering a similar plague. From her point of view, it's a matter of self-defense. 

Effective villains often embody an exaggerated version of the same things your hero is conflicted about. That's very much the case in The Midnight Sea, where both Nazafareen and her antagonist face a similar choice but react in opposite ways. This is where we dig down deep and see what our characters are made of. Often, it is the villain's inability to change and grow and face the truth (external or internal) that proves to be their undoing. 

So now that you’ve got a fantastic, fully fleshed out villain that rivals Moriarty or Lecter, what's the best way to get them across to the reader? Well, if the story is third person, you can give your villain their own POV. Jack Torrance in The Shining is one of my all-time favorites because we get to watch him slide slowly into madness over the course of several hundred pages. But the scariest part comes just before he's lost it completely. We know he's probably going to do some very bad things, but there's still an unpredictable quality to him. In our hearts, we still vainly hope that his love for his wife and kid will somehow triumph over the evil ghosts running the Overlook Hotel, which makes it SO much worse when Jack finally, irretrievably snaps. 

As King says, “This inhuman place makes human monsters.” And those are always the scariest kind.

Anyway, thanks for reading! For tons more on villains, I highly recommend Bullies, Bastards And Bitches: How To Write The Bad Guys Of Fiction by Jessica Morrell.
Author Bio:

Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She lives in Westchester with her kid and a few sleepy cats. Kat is also the author of the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day (Skyscape, 2014), about a world where the sea levels have risen sixty meters. She loves magic, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Preferably with mutants.

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