Review: THE SECRET ROOM by John Alexander {giveaway}

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THE SECRET ROOM
(Amber-Autumn Series, #4)

by
JOHN ALEXANDER
  Genre: Children’s Mystery / Chapter Book
Date of Publication: October 14, 2017
Number of Pages: 159

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Amber and Autumn, elementary school sisters, don’t seek out problems to solve, but they often find themselves engaged in uncovering truths, solving mysteries, and helping others in the process. Autumn’s natural curiosity, combined with her boldness, leads her to push for answers to anything she does not understand. Amber, her older sister, more cautious and easily spooked, prefers to let Autumn drive ahead to solve mysteries which come their way, but her keen skills of observation often lead to the resolutions they seek.

In The Secret Room, the girls, during their stay at a  B&B, discover a long-forgotten room in the attic and uncover its secrets. The story takes place at the House of Seasons, a bed-and-breakfast in historic Jefferson, Texas. Their quest to uncover secrets takes the girls on a journey through Jefferson history including a cemetery, a river boat tour, and even an evening ghost walk.




PRAISE FOR THE SECRET ROOM:
“Great book, really enjoyed reading.  I’d guess a target audience would be 7 to 13-year-olds. Thank you for allowing me the honor to preview your book.  I look forward to purchasing your published work.” — Joseph (Teen Beta reader)

The Secret Room is a fun read. Not only is it a mystery; it also contains some of the history of Jefferson, Texas, and the surrounding area, as well as pictures of some special places there. Children and adults will enjoy reading it, just as I did.  — Carol (Adult Beta Reader)

“Overall I thought it was a great book. I would be excited to read the next book in the series.” –Madeline (4th grade Beta Reader)

 “The whole time I liked the suspense and the mystery side of it.” – Beta Reader

“I relate more to Amber because she doesn’t like a situation without light and she doesn’t like doing scary things first. She sends her little sister in to do it first and I do that. Amber is the older sister and so am I.” – Beta Reader

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Review
Wholesome Fun, for Middle Grade Girls or Boys, who love a good Mystery.

In a continuation of the Amber-Autumn chapter book series, we dive into the mysteries of historical East Texas through the narration of the youngest of the two siblings, Autumn.  The two curious young girls find adventure in solving the mysteries they encounter in Historic Jefferson and the Bed and Breakfast where they are staying.

What a great little book.  I enjoyed following the story of these two siblings through their adventures in the historic town.  In similar fashion to the great MG mystery series, the two inquisitive girls find one mystery after the next, keeping the reader’s attention going from one page to the next.  The photos added to the book add a perfect touch to give the reader a feel for the setting and mood in the story.  Quite fascinating to the adult reader, I can only imagine more so to the child reader.  Although it is book four in the series, it reads well as a stand-alone.

Highly recommended for your middle grade/upper elementary readers.  Mysteries always keep the reluctant reader turning those pages.

John writes chapter books that appeal to elementary school children to capture their imagination and help them discover the love of reading early in life. John lives in Frisco, Texas with his beautiful wife and his King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, Charlie Brown.
John spent his childhood in a small town in east Texas. He attended college at the University of Texas earning a BS in Physics and a BA in Math (minor in Computer Science). His years in the high-tech industry, most of it on the “bleeding edge,” allowed him to develop new technology with software.
John had the privilege of co-authoring two editions of CallManager Fundamentals. The two books sold over 23,000 copies, exceeding the publisher’s goal of 8,000. Having discovered his love for writing while still working in high tech, he began writing fiction in his spare time and published The Enclave, a mystery / suspense novel, in 2010.
After leaving high-tech in 2014, he now spends full time pursuing his writing passion. He loves writing books that help children discover early in life that reading is a fun adventure. He recently released illustrated editions of the first three books in the Amber-Autumn mystery series: Christmas Garden Illustrated, Grandfather’s Blessing Illustrated, and Golden Campout Illustrated. The Secret Room is the fourth book in the series.
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Review: TOO FAR DOWN by Mary Connealy {giveaway}

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TOO FAR DOWN
Cimarron Legacy Book 3

by
MARY CONNEALY
  Genre: Western Historical Christian Romance
Date of Publication: October 3, 2017
Number of Pages: 322

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With Danger Drawing Ever Closer, The Boden Clan Risk Losing Their Ranch Forever

Having returned home to the ranch, Cole Boden finds himself caught between missing his time back east and appreciating all that New Mexico Territory offers. Sure, he fights with his siblings now and then, but he does care for them. He enjoys his new job running the mine and, when he’s honest, he admits that Melanie Blake captures his interest in a way no other woman ever has.

Melanie has been a friend to the Bodens forever. A cowgirl who is more comfortable with horses and lassoes than people, she never expected to find herself falling for someone, particularly for refined Cole Boden, a Harvard graduate who can’t seem to make up his mind about staying in New Mexico.
When a deadly explosion damages the CR Mining Company, the Bodens realize their troubles are not behind them as they thought. Shadowy forces are still working against them. Melanie is determined to help Cole and the family finally put an end to the danger that’s threatened all of them. But will putting herself in harm’s way be more dangerous than anyone expected?
PRAISE FOR TOO FAR DOWN
“Connealy crafts relatable characters who will inspire readers with their love, loyalty, and fortitude, and the mystery remains intriguing until the end.” Publishers Weekly 
“Recommended for those who enjoy a fast, smart historical-set suspense.” RT Book Reviews
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Review

A fine blend of suspense, action and romance, all wrapped up in classic Western fashion.

Cole Boden might have been raised on the Cimarron Ranch, but he left that behind for Harvard and a refined life on the East Coast.  Family duty has begrudgingly brought him back home to the New Mexico Territory and his new endeavor owning and running the gold mines on the family property.  Until he spends time with Mel, that is…Melanie Blake is the daughter of successful ranch owner, and a lifelong friend to the Boden family.  She’s 100 percent cowgirl, but finds herself falling for “city boy”, Cole.
The Boden family is fighting to save their ranch, and their lives from an outside threat.  Mel is determined to help Cole save his family, even if it means putting herself in harm’s way.
Another hit by Mary Connealy.  The story has the perfect amount of action and suspense to keep the pages turning. The story picks up after the Boden family has been targeted by kidnappers and several members of the family shot, in multiple attempts at their lives.  Cole is trying to make his way in back home by running the mine when the “bad guys” blow it up and try to shut it down.  The romance picks up naturally and develops as the two characters work together to find out who is fixed on ruining the Boden family and taking Cimarron Ranch.
I enjoyed getting to know the Boden family, and the romance between the main characters.  I did feel a little lost at the beginning, not having read the first two books, since I didn’t know much about what transpired previously or about the other Boden family members.  I’d suggest grabbing the first two books, because it looks like I missed some good stuff there!
I highly recommend TOO FAR DOWN to lovers of great Western romances.  You’ll be flipping those pages faster than a prairie fire with a tail wind!

Mary Connealy writes “romantic comedies with cowboys” and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has more than half a million books in print. She is the author of the popular series Wild at Heart, Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas, Lassoed in Texas, Sophie’s Daughters, and many other books. Mary lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero.

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Review: :LAMAR’S FOLLY by Jeffrey Stuart Kerr

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LAMAR’S FOLLY

by
Jeffrey Stuart Kerr
  Genre: Texas Historical Fiction
Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
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Date of Publication: November 15, 2017
Number of Pages: 320
Mirabeau Lamar seeks nothing less than a Texas empire that will dominate the North American continent. Brave exploits at the Battle of San Jacinto bring him rank, power, and prestige, which by 1838 propel him to the presidency of the young Republic of Texas and put him in position to achieve his dream. Edward Fontaine, who works for and idolizes Lamar, vows to help his hero overcome all obstacles, including the substantial power of Sam Houston. Houston and Lamar are not only political, but personal enemies, and each man regards the other with contempt.
Edward’s slave Jacob likes and admires his master, but cannot share his hatred of Sam Houston. The loyalties of both Jacob and Edward are tested by President Lamar’s belief that a righteous cause justifies any means necessary to sustain it. Lamar becomes infatuated with a married woman who resembles his deceased wife. He sends the woman’s husband on the ill-fated Santa Fe Expedition, the failure of which humiliates Lamar and provokes a crisis in his relationship with Edward, who in turn jeopardizes the trust that Jacob has placed in him. Edward laments the waste of Lamar’s genius, while Jacob marvels at the hypocrisy of both men.
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Review
Growing up Texan gave me a certain deep-rooted respect for its history.  It’s like that with just about every Texan.  Just ask one.  So, given the opportunity to read/review a piece of historical fiction featuring this subject was not only an opportunity to read a story, but my duty as a Texan (I know, I know.  You’re rolling your eyes.  Seriously, go ask another Texan, and you’ll get the same thing.  It’s just how we are.)
I love a good fictional account of a period of history I know a lot about, and LAMAR’S FOLLY delivered.  As any good fictional account of real events should do, the story left me guessing.  Who were these people REALLY?  Texas history is always larger than life, as are the stories of the major players, such as Sam Houston and Mirabeau Lamar.  LAMAR’S FOLLY gave these characters back a semblance of realism, with character flaws and personality that the history books just can’t teach.  It was fun to imagine these men, especially through the alternating point of view of Edward Fontaine and his slave, Jacob.  What I really enjoyed was seeing what each character perceived from the same situations, each with their own notion of right and wrong, and each with their own hope for the future.  The alternating point of views gave this story the perfect balance of realism, keeping Fontaine’s aspirations from taking over the story with Jacobs straight-forward accounts of what he witnessed and felt in reaction to the same situations.
If you change the setting and characters of the story to another place in history, the story remains the same.  It’s the timeless story of ambition, pride and jealousy causing the ruin of a country, much like Napolean Boanaparte (how strange that Lamar’s shares this surname as his middle name).   Mirabeau Lamar, though portrayed as modest and humble at the start,  fed off the rank and power he gained as he climbed to the Presidency of the Republic of Texas.  This power was fueled by his disdain and all out contempt for the popularity of Sam Houston in the new republic.  What happens with the expedition to Santa Fe is the result of his ambitions for more power and his need to show up Houston, thus turning the outlook of a young nation very dark, and causes rifts in the foundation of his power, his relationships.  Poignant.
I recommend LAMAR’S FOLLY to anyone who likes a good historical fiction, but especially to those Texas History buffs who like to do a little bit of “what if” from time to time.
 
Jeffrey Stuart Kerr is the author of several titles, including Seat of Empire: The Embattled Birth of Austin, Texas, winner of the Summerfield G. Roberts Award and a True West Best Western Book.
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Review: ONE NIGHT IN SIXES by Tex Thompson

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ONE NIGHT IN SIXES
(Children of the Drought, #1)

by
Tex Thompson
  Genre: Epic Western Fantasy
Publisher: Solaris
Date of Publication: July 29, 2014
Number of Pages: 464

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 Appaloosa Elim is a man who knows his place.  On a good day, he’s content with it.

Today is not a good day.

Today, his so-called “partner” – that lily-white lordling Sil Halfwick – has ridden off west for the border, hell-bent on making a name for himself in native territory.  And Elim, whose place is written in the bastard browns and whites of his cow-spotted face, doesn’t dare show up home again without him.

The border town called Sixes is quiet in the heat of the day, but Elim’s heard the stories about what wakes at sunset: gunslingers and shapeshifters and ancient animal gods whose human faces never outlast the daylight.

If he ever wants to go home again, he’d better find his missing partner fast. But if he’s caught out after dark, Elim risks succumbing to the old and sinister truth in his own flesh – and discovering just how far he’ll go to survive the night.

The first book in an epic fantasy Western series, One Night in Sixes tells the story of the fragile peace between the industrialized east and the indigenous west – and how it threatens to fall to pieces when two strangers cause a terrible accident. Recommended for fans of the Western mythos of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, the post-war frontier dynamics of Firefly and Deep Space Nine, and the multicultural fantasy realms of Ursula K. LeGuin.

PRAISE FOR ONE NIGHT IN SIXES:

“Clearly written and engaging” – Publishers Weekly

“This author can really write. If you loved Stephen King’s Dark Tower series – or even if you’re a hardened Cormac McCarthy fan – you will find this book right inside your wheelhouse. Living, witty dialogue, and a familiar-yet-strange world inhabited by vivid characters. I loved it.” – Paul Kearney, author of The Ten Thousand, Hawkwood and the Kings, and A Different Kingdom

“Sixes is a tinderbox of a town with tensions just waiting to go off – and Sil and Elim provide the match to set the volatile town ablaze.” – GCE

“One Night in Sixes tears the covers off the Western and Fantasy genres and turns them into something that will grip you from the first page to the last.” – Rebellion

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Review

Complex. Unconventional. Fantastic.

Incredibly rich world-building, and characters that are both familiar and fantastical drive this wild ride of a story by Arianne “Tex” Thompson.  In true fashion of the masters, the traditional Western fiction genre unfolds on the pages as the author skillfully weaves it into a setting of epic fantasy proportions. Sixes is not your typical town on the Frontier.  And things are much, MUCH stranger than you could have expected from a traditional Western trope.  

Not an easy or quick read, and it takes a large chunk at the beginning of the book to get the dust stirred up, good and proper.  But lovers of mixed genres or complex and unconventional fantasies will want to give this one the patience to get past it.  The writing is brilliant.  Highly recommended.

Arianne “Tex” Thompson is a home-grown Texas success story. After earning a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s in literature, she channeled her passion for exciting, innovative, and inclusive fiction into the Children of the Drought – an internationally-published epic fantasy Western series from Solaris. Now a professional speaker and instructor for the Writers Path at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Tex is blazing a trail through writers’ conferences, workshops, and fan conventions around the country – as an endlessly energetic, relentlessly enthusiastic one-woman stampede.
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Guest Post by Christina Mandelski, author of the new YA release, THE FIRST KISS HYPOTHESIS

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Don’t Let Rejection Win!

Thank you so much for having me on the blog today!

I’d like to spend some time talking about rejection. It happens in love – like in my new release The First Kiss Hypothesis, and it happens in life too, especially if you’re in a creative field.

My book, about a girl who trusts that science will find her true love, and the boy who plans to prove her wrong, comes six long years after the release of my first YA novel, The Sweetest Thing. There were a few manuscripts shopped around in those interim years, which were subsequently rejected, and this led to lots of self-doubt.

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As in love, writing rejection can be devastating, paralyzing, and cause you to eat way more cake than anyone ever should.

And reader, I did.

Over the last six years, I’ve often wondered, what is it like to face rejection as say, an accountant?

Like, maybe your boss comes around and tells you your columns don’t add up? I don’t mean to make light of accountancy. As someone who can barely do math, I have huge respect for anyone who can make sense of it – but maybe there’s a comfort to knowing that if the numbers don’t add up, you can always re-work them.

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Not so in writing. If you write a manuscript that no one wants to buy, re-writing is always an option, but it’s not a guarantee. Yeah, that’s depressing. Which is why, if you are determined to see your story published, I highly recommend these three steps:

  1. Surround yourself with encouragers.
  2. Keep doing the work.
  3. Be open to new things.

I am lucky to have in my corner an amazing critique group. I’ve been with them for over a decade now, and we read, comment, edit, assist, chime in, and yeah, we eat cake too. It’s been important for me to have this support system. When our members sell a book, celebrating those sales gives me hope, reminds me not to give up. I also have a few other author friends who will willingly and honestly read my work if I need them, and I have fabulous agent, Danielle Chiotti, who never, ever lets me throw in the towel.

These last years of bubbling self-doubt bring me to bullet number 2 – keep doing the work. Write, write, write and don’t stop, don’t give up! I don’t think you have to write every single day, that’s a lot of pressure. But I do think that the more you write, the more likely you are to be published, and the more often you will be published.

Finally – if you are a writer – be open to new things! When my agent first suggested that I try writing category romance – I wasn’t sure. I’d written a contemporary YA with some romance – but all romance, swoon and heat? I didn’t know if that was for me.

After some thinking, I decided to take a chance. Long story short, I love it! I love working with Entangled – my editor and the staff are fantastic. I love the challenge of writing a fresh and fun romance, and because I was willing to give it a shot, I have a new book out – and another two in 2018!

I know it’s hard to do this job. There are days of woe, and days of pure joy. Today, I’m celebrating a new book, tomorrow I may write 1,000 terrible words that should all be deleted. The important thing is to focus on the successes, the possibilities. Celebrate the little things, like the days when you write a hundred beautiful words that can stay right where they are. When that happens – throw yourself a party – and make sure there’s cake!

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And always, always, just keep writing. Good luck!

Thanks again for having me!

 

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9781640633568

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About The First Kiss Hypothesis:

Nora Reid believes scientific laws control everything, even love. With her grandparents’ epic first kiss story cemented in her brain, Nora develops a hypothesis she’s determined to prove:for each person in the world, there is exactly one other person, and at first kiss, they’ll experience an immediate and intense reaction. 

But after four years of zero-reaction kisses, she comes up with a new theory: maybe that pesky crush on her stunningly hot best friend Eli Costas is skewing her results.

She needs to get rid of him, and fast.

Eli Costas is an injury-prone lacrosse star with a problem—the one chance he had at winning over the girl next door resulted in the most epically sucktastic first kiss ever. And now she’s…trying to get rid of him? Hell no. It’s time to disprove her theory and show her exactly what she’s missing. 
Game. On.

Disclaimer: This book contains a stunningly hot lacrosse player who isn’t above playing dirty to win over the stubborn girl-next-door of his dreams.

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abouttheauthor

christina-mandelski

Christina Mandelski loves to bring the characters in her head to life on the page. When she isn’t writing, she spends time with her family, working as a substitute teacher, eating (sweets, usually), traveling and reading (preferably under an umbrella at the beach).  Chris lives with her husband and two daughters in Houston. You can visit her at www.christinamandelski.com

 

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Interview: Melissa Eastlake, Author of the new YA Fantasy Release, THE UNCROSSING

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?

The Uncrossing is a YA fantasy novel. I love how fantasy stories put characters in extreme situations that can reveal deeply human truths, and I also love playing with fun, high-concept stories.

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

Like many writers, I’ve loved to read and write since before I can remember—my mom is a devoted reader, too, and brought us up reading stories every night. An important moment I remember is when my second grade teacher gave me a copy of The BFG—I think once I opened it, I didn’t close it again until I was done!

How long have you been writing?

The short answer is, for my entire life! Longer: I studied creative writing (along with communications) in college, but took a break for a couple of years after that to recover from burnout and focus on my day-job career. I ended up learning a ton about writing and editing from my marketing jobs, which informed my writing when I returned to it, about five years ago.

What cultural value do you see in writing/reading/storytelling/etc.?

I think in the largest sense, being able to share and pass down our stories is culture. Also, I’m a big believer in the way books help us learn empathy, standing inside a character’s head.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?  

I came to the book with a good amount of experience writing and revising, but this one required more grit than I’ve ever had to use, putting it through drafts and revisions, first on my own and then with my editor. Building that work ethic like a muscle was probably the hardest, though certainly also very rewarding, part of writing the book.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

The Uncrossing is a Rapunzel retelling full of fairytale tropes, and putting in all those little references was definitely fun for me!

Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book?  If so, discuss them.

The Uncrossing is a queer fairytale, an exploration of how to make that happily-ever-after in an unjust, broken world. I’m a queer woman and it was core to the premise from the beginning.

What did you find most useful in learning to write?  What was least useful or most destructive?

What was most useful to me was learning the distinction between craft and process. When we talk about “learning to write,” we have to do both, but I spent a lot of time over-focusing on other writers’ processes, or trying to build a magical process of my own. Once I set that aside and let it form more naturally, instead focusing on concrete craft elements like conflict, character development, and line editing, I found my writing grew exponentially.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

I’m a part-time writer with a day job. It’s a lot to balance and can definitely be overwhelming at times—sometimes I fantasize about how much I could get done if I didn’t have the day job! On the other hand, though, having a steady income and solid insurance has unquestionably given me the stability I need to get writing done, and I’m extremely grateful for my job’s flexibility.

What do you like to read in your free time?

I read a lot of YA, romance, and fantasy, which I write in, and I also read widely in other genres, especially queer books. Sometimes, especially when I’m revising, I’m a little too focused on my own writing to read most other books, but during those times I find comics and graphic novels perfect.

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?

I get a lot of “writing” done while walking the dogs—which basically means I figure it all out in my head, then rush back to get it written down before I forget!

What book do you wish you could have written?

This might be a cheat answer, but: there’s this book (about dragons!) hanging out on my hard drive that I have tried so many times, in so many drafts, to get right. It keeps stalling, and I can’t really figure out why. So, real talk—that book! Maybe one day.

Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

I loved Francesca Lia Block’s books as a teen—she definitely inspired me to tell my stories, and to believe that kind of unique, contemporary magic belonged in the pages of a book.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

I love playing with names! In The Uncrossing, it was important that the characters’ names fit their cultural backgrounds, as well as having a feel or connotation that fit. The main characters, Luke and Jeremy, are both biblical references, but I try not to have every character’s name have the same kind of reference or meaning.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

I would like to be able to make myself Godzilla-tall or Thumbelina-tiny at will—like the eat me-drink me in Alice in Wonderland, but without the hassle of the food and drink.

Aboutthebook

9781640633537

About The Uncrossing:

Luke can uncross almost any curse—they unravel themselves for him like no one else. So working for the Kovrovs, one of the families controlling all the magic in New York, is exciting and dangerous, especially when he encounters the first curse he can’t break. And it involves Jeremy, the beloved, sheltered prince of the Kovrov family—the one boy he absolutely shouldn’t be falling for.

Jeremy’s been in love with cocky, talented Luke since they were kids. But from their first kiss, something’s missing. Jeremy’s family keeps generations of deadly secrets, forcing him to choose between love and loyalty. As Luke fights to break the curse, a magical, citywide war starts crackling, and it’s tied to Jeremy.

This might be the one curse Luke can’t uncross. If true love’s kiss fails, what’s left for him and Jeremy?

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abouttheauthor

Melissa Eastlake

About Melissa Eastlake:

Melissa Eastlake’s debut novel, The Uncrossing, is coming in 2017 from Entangled Teen. She is a 2017 Lambda Literary Fellow and lives in Athens, Georgia with her partner and their dogs.

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Special Feature: BOMBSHELL by Pamela Fagan Hutchins {giveaway}

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BOMBSHELL
(What Doesn’t Kill You, #9)
An Ava Romantic Mystery

by
PAMELA FAGAN HUTCHINS
  Genre: Romantic Mystery / R-Rated
Date of Publication: July 11, 2017
Number of Pages: 236

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Temp worker by day, lounge singer by night, single mom Ava is having a hard time breaking up with her long-distance boyfriend and making it without the support of her parents on the island of St. Marcos. Things improve dramatically when she lands a too-good-to-be-true job at a virtual currency exchange, where she meets a seriously sexy man, and goes to work for a boss so incredible he sponsors her on a trip to New York to record a demo. But when Ava stumbles across the raped and murdered body of a young woman, she recognizes her from a shared trauma back in their school days. Ava is devastated and throws herself into avenging the girl’s death. From that moment on, it’s one bombshell after another, going off closer and closer to Ava and the people she cares about most.
PRAISE FOR BOMBSHELL:
“Just when I think I couldn’t love another Pamela Fagan Hutchins novel more, along comes Ava. She’s smart and sassy, with a story full of juicy plot twists. I enjoyed Bombshell from cover to cover!” — Marcy McKay, author of Pennies from Burger Heaven
“To finally get a whole book of Ava’s beautiful voice and attitude was so much fun. And then to see that her outer armor was mixed with the very real insecurities and struggles that we can all relate to was magical. She personifies bombshell in every sense of word and I can’t wait to have her voice in my head again in Stunner.” — Tara Scheyer, Grammy-nominated musician, Long-Distance Sisters Book Club
“Entertaining, complex, and thought-provoking.” — Ginger Copeland, power reader

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Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes overly long e-mails, award-winning and best-selling romantic mysteries, and hilarious nonfiction from deep in the heart of Nowheresville, Texas and way up in the frozen north of Snowheresville, Wyoming.
Her What Doesn’t Kill You romantic mystery series is Janet Evanovich meets Sandra Brown and a smidge of Alice Hoffman’s practical magic, featuring a revolving lineup of interrelated female amateur sleuths. She is passionate about great writing and smart authorpreneurship as well as long hikes with her hunky husband and pack of rescue dogs, riding her gigantic horses, experimenting with her Keurig, and traveling in the Bookmobile.
WEBSITE   BLOG   PINTEREST
FACEBOOK   TWITTER
    INSTAGRAM   GOODREADS   AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

AWARDS

2017 WINNER Silver Falchion Award, Best Mystery

2016 WINNER USA Best Book Award, Cross Genre Fiction
2015 WINNER USA Best Book Award, Cross Genre Fiction
2014 USA Best Book Award Finalist, Cross Genre Fiction
2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-finalist, Romance
2013 USA Best Book Award Finalist, Business: Publishing
2012 Winner of the Houston Writers Guild Ghost Story Contest
2012 WINNER USA Best Book Award, Parenting: Divorce
2011 Winner of the Houston Writers Guild Novel Contest, Mainstream
2010 Winner of the Writers League of Texas Manuscript Contest, Romance
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GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
FIVE SIGNED COPIES OF BOMBSHELL
November 1-November 10, 2017
(U.S. Only)
CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

1-Nov
Character Interview
1-Nov
Guest Post 1
2-Nov
Review
3-Nov
Video Interview
3-Nov
Guest Post 2
4-Nov
Review
5-Nov
Review
6-Nov
Excerpt
6-Nov
Guest Post 3
7-Nov
Review
8-Nov
Scrapbook Page
8-Nov
Scrapbook Page
9-Nov
Guest Post 4
10-Nov
Review
10-Nov
Review


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Interview: Ally Matthews, YA Romance author, OFFSETTING PENALTIES

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

My mom. She stayed home with us when we were little, and she was always reading. My parents also made sure there were plenty of books in the house for us to explore and read.

What kind(s) of writing do you do?

Strictly fiction. I write YA romance and also historical romance under a different pen name.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?  

Trying to balance the conflict between Izzy and Garret so it was realistic, but wouldn’t make readers dislike either of the characters. I hope I succeeded.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

These two characters were a dream to write. This is going to sound weird, but there were times when they were dictating their dialogue to me so quickly that I could barely type fast enough to keep up.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

I consider my writing a full-time job, but also work twenty hours per week as a reading and writing tutor at the local community college. I frequently try to remind myself that I’m a full-time writer to keep me on track with my deadlines. I have mixed results.

What are some day jobs that you have held?  If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

I worked as the librarian at a small, pre-K to 8th grade Montessori school, and being surrounded by books and kids all day was a dream come true. I was tasked with reading the middle grade and YA books to make sure they fit with the Montessori pedagogy, and during that process, I came to the realization that I could write a book. So I did. That first book was a mess structurally, but the second book I wrote was published.

What projects are you working on at the present?

I’m working on a proposal for two sequels to Offsetting Penalties, and I’m writing a YA speculative fiction romance.

What do your plans for future projects include?

I have so many things I want to write, but there just isn’t enough time in the day. I’m planning to write a YA book based on a Russian fairy tale, and I also have plans for a YA horror romance set inside the Hermitage Museum (I studied a lot of Russian history and culture in college and have visited Russia three times).

Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

Madeliene L’Engle. She wrote in many different genres, and for children, teens, and adults. My favorite book when I was a teenager was A Ring of Endless Light. As an adult, I find myself delving into her Crosswicks Journals over and over again to bask in her skill and wisdom.

John Green has also inspired me. He never shies away from difficult subjects or awkward situations in his books, and he’s been very forthcoming about his struggles with anxiety and OCD.

The book I’m working on now has a protagonist that suffers from social anxiety disorder. I wanted to write this book because there are so many children and teens battling with both big and small mental health issues today, and I have more than one family member who suffers from depression. Though I started writing my book before I knew anything about Turtles All the Way Down, I was excited to read this book and be able to study how a master storyteller handles the difficult subject of mental illness.

If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

I would choose relatively unknown actors because I wouldn’t be able to picture my characters as someone really famous. I think Australian actress Maia Mitchell would make a great Izzy, and she even has some dance experience. For Garret, I like Leo Howard, who was in the movies Logan and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. He also gets bonus points for being an animal lover and volunteering at shelters.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

It depends on the story, but I usually choose character names based on how they sound. Since I primarily write romance, I like to make sure the names of the hero and heroine sound good together. If I get stuck and just can’t come up with the right name, I peruse baby name websites until I find one I like.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

Forgive me. I did my best.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

The ability to heal.

What literary character is most like you?

Vicky Austin from Madeliene L’Engle’s Austin Family series.

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?

Austria. Since the first time I saw The Sound of Music as a small child, I’ve wanted to go there.

If you could have any accents from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?

I’m debating between Russian, so I can scare my kids into listening to me, or British, so I can speak like all of Jane Austen’s swoon-worthy heroes.

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About Offsetting Penalties:

Isabelle Oster has dreamed of being a prima ballerina her entire life, so when the only male dancer backs out of the fall production, she’s devastated. Without a partner, she has no hope of earning a spot with the prestigious Ballet Americana company. Until hot jock Garret practicing stretches in one of the studios gives Izzy an idea, and she whips out her phone. But does she really want this badly enough to resort to blackmail?

All-state tight end Garret Mitchell will do anything to get a college football scholarship. Even taking ballet, which surprisingly isn’t so bad, because it means he gets to be up close and personal with the gorgeous Goth girl Izzy while learning moves to increase his flexibility. But Izzy needs him to perform with her for the Ballet Americana spot, and he draws the line at getting on stage. Especially wearing tights.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains a bit of blackmail, a lot of sarcasm, and an ending guaranteed to melt your heart.

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About Ally Mathews:

Ally lives in Texas and is convinced her house is shrinking, possibly because she shares it with three kids, four dogs, two cats, a rabbit, and assorted reptiles. Oh, and her husband. She likes to curse in Russian because very few people know what she’s saying, and spends most of what would be her spare time letting dogs in and out of the house and shuttling kids around. She has many stories in her head waiting for the opportunity to escape onto paper. 

When she’s not writing, you can find her reading or binge watching Psych, Scream, Younger, and superhero movies. She loves to cook but hates to clean up afterwards, and strongly believes that Disney World is truly magical. You can find Ally on her website, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, though she makes no claims of using any of them properly.

Interview: Kena Sosa talks about THE UNHUGGABLES

 

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The Unhuggables
Written by Kena Sosa and Illustrated by Alexis Braud

Oliver is upset—very upset—and nothing his mother says makes him feel better. When she tries to give him a comforting hug, he rolls up into a tight ball like an armadillo and won’t let his mother near. She tries to coax him out of his huddle but then his claws come out. Oliver pretends to be one ferocious animal after another—none of them very good at giving hugs. But it is hard work saying no to a mother’s love. Through creativity, patience, and affection (as well as a healthy dose of humor), Oliver’s mother finds a way to get through his imaginative defenses and give him the best hug ever.

Author Kena Sosa captures the delicate dance between mother and child in this fun story about love and the power of hugs. The charming and humorous illustrations of Alexis Braud bring to life the imagination of a child and touchingly depict how hugs can soothe even the most savage beast.

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THE AUTHOR
School librarian by day and writer by night, Kena Sosa adores words. She also loves playing the drums. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Our Lady of the Lake University and her master’s degree in bilingual education from Southern Methodist University. Her first children’s book, Rey Antonio and Rey Feo, was born of the celebration of her childhood in San Antonio. Her second book, Kindertransport: A Child’s Journey, is about the escape of children on the Kindertransport train just before the outbreak of World War II. Kena Sosa has lived in Japan and Mexico, but sharing stories with her two sons and other eager readers has been her favorite adventure yet!

Find out more about her online here:

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THE ILLUSTRATOR
Once upon a time, on a bayou far, far away from everything, a girl named Alexis grew up with books and drawing pads. She embarked on great adventures and traveled far and wide to learn all she could learn. She returned to draw the land she came from and tell the stories of her home. A Cajun native, rambler, and eccentric, Alexis Braud celebrates the stories, creatures, and people of Louisiana in her work. She is a proud graduate of Nicholls State University in Thibodaux and lives along Bayou Lafourche with her family. Lots of family.

This is Alexis third book. She also illustrated Cajun ABC for River Road Press, out Fall 2017. Find Alexis online at www.fablepainter.com.

River Road Press, New Orleans
River Road Press LLC was founded in 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana with a focus on children’s books, history, Southern culture and food. River Road Press is a boutique publisher, committed to publishing the highest quality books, and encourages collaboration and artistic partnership with its authors, illustrators, photographers, and artists.

River Road Press titles include:

Rio Grande Valley ABC, The Little Float That Could, USS Alabama: Hooray for the
Mighty A!, Ten Gators in the Bed, Bugs on the Rug, Gumbo Ya Ya, Strange True Stories of Louisiana, Fred the New Orleans Drummer Boy, and Simon of New Orleans. Fall 2017 titles include The Unhuggables, The Incomparable Magazine Street, Cajun ABC, A Tree in the Sea, Southern with a Gulf Coast Accent, Goodnight to da Parish and Three Little Shrimp.

For photos, images, review copies, interview requests, author appearances, or more information about The Unhuggables, River Road Press, or its other titles, call (504) 722-8139, email scott@riverroadpress.com or visit River Road Press at www.riverroadpress.com.

 

Guest Post: Mary Lindsay, author of the new YA PNR Release, HAVEN

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Writing is my Haven (See what I did there?)

I’m so excited to be on The Librarian Talks today! It’s been a crazy week for me answering interviews and doing a couple of podcasts for my new novel, HAVEN.

(releasing TODAY, November 7, 2017 in hardcover and ebook)

One of the most common questions I receive is, “Have you always wanted to be a writer?”

Short answer: No.

I never wanted to be a writer growing up. I successfully avoided all creative writing classes and projects all the way through college, even faking sick in grade school on poetry days. Creating something original terrified me.

Becoming a writer happened unexpectedly as the result of my losing a game of “Chicken” with my eleven-year-old daughter. Losing was one of the best things to happen to me. She was complaining about how heroes in young adult books she’d read believed themselves to be evil or cursed. Her rant morphed into how she believed heroes should be written and finally, to make her feel better, I bluffed and said, “Hey, tell you what… I’ll write that book for you.” I never expected to carry through. I mean, that’s the stuff of nightmares for me. I figured she’d be satisfied and we’d forget all about it.

Nope. She called my bluff.

She looked at me with those trusting, huge eyes and said, “Really? You would really write a book for me?”

Well, crap. Busted. I had no choice but to go through with it…sort of. Surely, after a chapter of the certain garbage I’d produce, she’d beg me to stop and I’d be off the hook. Instead, she loved the first chapter and asked for more.

After that, I was hooked. Completely and totally obsessed with writing—the very thing I’d avoided my entire life. Thirty days later, I handed her the last chapter of the seven-hundred-page manuscript, which, needless to say was not my finest work. But, it was my first work and led to where I am right now, celebrating my tenth published book.

Writing, once my personal hell, became my safe haven. << Look at that blatantly obvious segue into telling you about my book.

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About HAVEN:

“We all hold a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed.”

Rain Ryland has never belonged anywhere. He’s used to people judging him for his rough background, his intimidating size, and now, his orphan status. He’s always been on the outside, looking in, and he’s fine with that. Until he moves to New Wurzburg and meets Friederike Burkhart. 

Freddie isn’t like normal teen girls, though. And someone wants her dead for it. Freddie warns he’d better stay far away if he wants to stay alive, but Rain’s never been good at running from trouble. For the first time, Rain has something worth fighting for, worth living for. Worth dying for.

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BOOK IS AVAILABLE ON ALL PLATFORMS, AS WELL AS IN HARDBACK AT THE ABOVE LINK

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All About Mary:

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Mary Lindsey is a multi award-winning, RITA® nominated author of romance for adults and teens. Her books Shattered Souls and Fragile Spirits have been selected for the 2017 Spirit of Texas Reading Program. 

Mary lives on an island in the middle of a river. Seriously, she does. When not writing, she wrangles her rowdy pack of three teens, two Cairn Terriers, and one husband. Inexplicably, her favorite animal is the giant anteater and at one point, she had over 200 “pet” Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. The roaches are a long story involving three science-crazed kids and a soft spot for rescue animals. The good news is, the “pet” roaches found a home… somewhere else.

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