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.

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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Monday, April 25, 2016

Book Blitz&Giveaway: Painting Sky by Rita Branches





It feels like New Adult novels and their respective author's have literally taken over my life within the last year or two. There's something that I crave more and more about the raw, gritty, grown-up and mature tone they seem to take on. It feels like I'm reading books that are targeted towards me, as an avid book reader and I keep voraciously devouring them every single chance that I get. I've watched people that I admire grow into becoming some of the best New Adult romance authors out there. People like, Molli Moran, Lia Riley, Jessica Sorensen, Eliza Freed, and Rita Branches are what make me want to read more. 

That's why, I'm really excited to be part of this blitz, because it's talented author's like Rita Branches, that fuel my desire to read and Painting Sky, looks like it's going to be amazing. So, if you guys are interested in checking out some amazing New Adult author's and discovering new books, as well as reading what I think will turn out to be an amazing gem, then keep reading and check out the excerpt below. It's got me, hook line, and sinker!


Painting Sky 
Rita Branches
Release Date: 04/25/16
Age Demographic: NA
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 306

Nobody ever said life was easy…
People pleaser, Jane Skylar wants nothing more than to earn her art degree, start her life, and bask in the bliss of living with her boyfriend.
But things don’t always go as planned…

Struggling with her creative side, Jane finds herself in turmoil, often confiding in her roommate – another, more talented art student, Keith Hale. Keith just so happens to be her boyfriend’s older, brooding brother. After a devastating breakup, Jane turns to Keith for comfort. But when the lines blur between roommate and lover, Jane’s life becomes more complicated than ever before.

When Keith’s past comes back to haunt him, their lives all get turned upside down, forcing the truth to surface. Now Jane must fight for what she wants–even if it hurts everyone she loves.

EXCERPT:
When I pulled the door open, the last person I wanted to see was sitting on a stool, sipping his morning coffee. He didn’t acknowledge me.

I poured some coffee in a random mug, since Keith was using my favorite one, and tried to reach the last package of cookies on the top shelf. I really didn’t want to use the stool in front of Keith.

What was the least humiliating decision? Trying to reach it by jumping on the counter or getting the stupid stool? I almost decided on just eating something at school when a throat being cleared sounded just behind me. I knew that, if I turned around, he would be invading my personal space. I had no intention of letting him ruin my birthday, so I stayed put with my arms crossed over my chest.

“Were you deciding between the cookies, the canned peas, or the rice? Because I can help with either one of them, just not sure which one you get in the morning.” Keith snickered. I could smell him, and the fact that such a pleasant smell could come from such an unpleasant person puzzled me.

I had the strong urge to turn and flip him the finger. I had never done that in my life, but could now understand why people did it. Instead, I turned slowly, thinking about how to have the upper hand this time.

I was right about the personal space: I leaned back and rested my hands behind me on the counter. He was standing so close to me that I had to look up to see his eyes. For a second, I saw the indecision there, as if he knew he should step back.

I had to think of a witty response fast, but then I noticed he had shaved— that was where the amazing smell was coming from. He had a small cut on his throat.

Keith wasn’t smirking now; he was genuinely waiting for me to do something. I wished I could read his thoughts so I could do the exact opposite of what he was hoping for.

I quickly took the wish back. It was my birthday, after all, and we never did know when a wish would be granted. This was one I really didn’t want to come true. Hearing his words hurt enough without having to hear his thoughts, as well.

“Next time you shave, try standing an inch or two closer to the blade,” I whispered, leaning closer to his shoulder.

I was so pleased with my joke that I pondered going upstairs and writing it down. I smiled triumphantly at my quick response and did a little happy dance inside.

“Did you have to think on that one this whole time, or were you just checking me out?”

My smile faltered and then completely disappeared. That had been a good one. Okay, I must have thought about it a little longer than I realized. Maybe I had been kind of checking him out—not in a “you’re so hot” way, but more of a “if you could just be a statue and never speak or move, I would thank the powers that be” way.

I stuck my chin out to try to appear taller. “That was a good one and you know it.” I crossed my arms again and brushed against his chest in the process.

Author Bio:

Rita Branches is an independent YA (young adult) author who enjoys spending every free moment (when she´s not reading) writing emotional stories. Visit: http://ritabranches.wordpress.com


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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Spotted Book Blitz for Under My Skin by Laura Diamond with Giveaway




I am excited to be part of this book blitz, the minute that I read the synopsis for this book I knew that I wanted to devour this book instantly. It's an emotionally charged, contemporary romance that will give you ALL THE FEELS and SWOONS. From the few reviews that I've read for this book, the author does a beautiful job of illustrating life and death and the fact that everything can change within the span of a heartbeat. It's a gorgeously compelling contemporary romance that will lift you up and weigh you down with all of the painful baggage that comes along with the affliction Adam faces on a daily basis. 

If you're looking for a book that will stay with you long after you've turned the page, then I suggest picking up a copy of Under My Skin by the beautifully talented Laura Diamond. If you'd like to know more about it and get a feel for how it reads, then continue reading this post, because Laura Diamond has generously provided an excerpt for you to read and there is also a giveaway going on.

Happy Reading!

Under My Skin
Laura Diamond
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Published: 04/12/16
Genres: YA Contemp

Bookish Brit Adam Gibson is one wonky heartbeat away from a fatal arrhythmia. But staying alive requires Adam to become keenly focused on both his pulse and the many different daily medications he must take in exactly the right dosages. Adam’s torn between wanting to live and knowing that someone else must die in order for him to do so. He needs a new heart.

The pressure is getting to him. Adam stops talking to his friends back home, refuses to meet kids at his new school, and shuts his parents out entirely. His days are spent wondering if can cope with having a dead man’s heart beating inside his chest, or if he should surrender to the thoughts of suicide swirling around in his head.

And then a donor is found…

Outspoken artist Darby Fox rarely lets anything stand in her way of achieving her goals . Whether it’s painting, ignoring her homework (dyslexia makes a mess out of words anyway), kissing a hot boy she doesn’t even know, or taking the head cheerleader down a peg , no one has ever accused Darby of being a shy. She also happens to be the twin sister to a perfect brother with good looks, good grades, manners, and the approval of their parents – something Darby has never had.

Darby’s always had bad timing . She picks the worst time to argue with her brother Daniel. In a car with bald tires, on an icy road in the freezing cold, the unthinkable happens. In a split-second, everything changes forever.

EXCERPT:
ADAM:
Best to get it over with now. I type: I had the thought today.

I click send.

For a few seconds, I watch the screen, waiting for her to reply. I can’t expect Dr. Shaw to be right there to answer me. She’s probably in session with someone.

A group of students pass by, chattering and laughing, light at bubbles. They halt at the curb to wait for the light to change. They’re all wearing NYU sweatshirts and carrying messenger bags or laptops with silkscreen logos about “being green” and “tolerant of diversity.” Adventurers embarking on the quest known as Life. What it must be like to have a whole lifetime to look forward to, no dead end staring back at you.

My mobile buzzes.

It’s Dr. Shaw. Tell me the exact thought and context.

I had a flutter. After, I saw Mum and Dad. Their backs were turned to me and I thought: They’d be happier without me. They’ll be fine after I’m dead. I click send and try to ignore the gnawing pit in my stomach. My message seems dramatic now that I’ve sent it off for her to scrutinize. It was better left unsaid.

A bubble with three dots surfaces at the bottom of my screen. She’s typing right now. I suck in a dry, exhaust laden breath.

She replies: What evidence do you have that they’ll be happy?

That was simple. They were laughing.

Your death will be devastating to them.

My heart twinges a bit. Will be? Does she somehow know I won’t make it until I find a donor? Maybe the surgeon told her I’m not a candidate. I blink and re-read her statement. No, I’m over-reacting. She’s just countering my argument with logic. It’s her style to challenge me with the opposite idea so I’ll find the reality somewhere between. Still, I’m not ready to admit she’s right. Mum and Dad don’t need me dragging them down. I text, Yes, but they’ll be alright.

Of course they will. Life goes on.

Dr. Shaw is unrelenting in her approach. So different from Mum who tries to comfort me with delusional happy thoughts.

Right. And I’m such a burden on them now.

Whatever you think they’re sacrificing is nothing compared to how much you mean to them.

I’m tired of waiting for my heart to stop.

Do you want it to stop? You won’t suffer anymore.



About the Author

Laura Diamond is a board certified psychiatrist currently specializing in emergency psychiatry. She is also an author of all things young adult—both contemporary and paranormal. An avid fan of sci-fi, fantasy, and anything magical, she thrives on quirk, her lucid dreams, and coffee. When she’s not working or writing, she can be found sniffing books and drinking a latte at the bookstore or at home pondering renovations on her 225 year old fixer upper, all while obeying her feline overlords, of course.


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