Sunday, September 24, 2017

Book Review: Whispers of a Broken World by Jeff Pryor

Reactions to a poetry book can be varied, and I found this true of the different poems in "Whispers of a Broken World". A few I didn't care for, but I enjoyed many of the others in this collection by Jeff Pryor. The overall tone is one of despair, the view that this is a "broken world", and there's not much we, the readers, can do about it.  Some of the poems are more uplifting, such as 'Is It so Hard?' or 'Nature Night', but more are in the mood of 'I get sad' or 'Goodbye', melancholic and without hope.
A few, such as 'Prices', could be song lyrics. I could hear a tune as I read it.
My favorite was probably 'Do You Believe?'. It spoke to me as a writer and activist, but I think that any reader will find something to like in this collection. 

Link to Amazon

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Book Review: King of Code by CD Reiss

Taylor Harden is an ex-hacker who is on the cusp (yes, I used cusp - you'll get it if you read the book) of fame and fortune with his new unhackable system. Until, just as Wired is interviewing him, all his screens go black. His unhackable system has been hacked! He and his team manage to trace back to a small town in the middle of the US and Taylor takes off to find the hacker and get his system back.
Oh, I should probably mention here that Taylor is a thoroughly unlikeable misogynist, a typical Silicon Valley guy who works all the time and only cares about his core team of men.
He reaches the origin of the hack and almost immediately meets Harper Watson. He thinks she's beautiful and hopes she'll lead him to the hacker - except she is the hacker. She's also a genius, just as smart as Taylor. The resulting game of cat and mouse is intriguing, fun, and makes for a completely enjoyable read. The fact that the two have great sexual chemistry is just a bonus.
This is the first book from C.D. Reiss that I've read, but I've already preordered the next two that have to do with characters from this story. I come from the ITS world so I loved the technical aspects which were well researched and not too much for non-techies. The romance is hot and also tender. I thought it impossible that I'd grow to like Taylor, but by the end of the book I was totally team Taylor. Both he and Harper are great characters. I'll add that it was unusual for me to read a book entirely from the male hero POV and I found it thought-provoking to see how Taylor approached his life and the resulting changes due to the hack.
While not hitting the reader over the head with a sledge hammer, Ms. Reiss also made some great points about the 'elite coasts' and the rust-belt midwest. Harper's town had faded; the jobs are gone, the young have moved out, and there's not much hope left for the remaining people. Her writing is descriptive:
"We're the sale of the earth's what they say. Them in power, with the money. They stroke us. Jerk us off with some bullshit about how hardworking we are. Tell us we're the real America. Like we're stupid. Them fucks set man against man so we can feel like winners, but let me ask you." He held out his arms and stepped back. "Do I look like a winner to you?"
At the same time, there are many funny parts strewn into the story. The townspeople are real, and their humor shines through the book. Ms. Reiss manages to balance all the intrigue, the banter, the sex, the romance, and the politics into a satisfying and delicious goulash of a story that fills you up and warms you.

Link to Amazon

Monday, September 18, 2017

Promo, Excerpt, Review: The Sullivans Books 1-3 by Bella Andre




Contemporary Romance
Date Published: December 5, 2015
Publisher: Oak Press, LLC

 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

More than 6 million readers have already fallen in love with the Sullivans! Now get ready to meet your new favorite family in Bella Andre's New York Times and USA Today bestselling contemporary romances with the first three books in the #1 hit series.

"Not since Nora Roberts has anyone been able to write a big family romance series with every book as good as the last! Bella Andre never disappoints!" Revolving Bookcase Reviews

THE LOOK OF LOVE
Chloe Peterson is having a bad night. A really bad night. The large bruise on her cheek can attest to that. And when her car skids off the side of a wet country road straight into a ditch, she's convinced even the gorgeous guy who rescues her in the middle of the rain storm must be too good to be true. Or is he?

As a successful photographer who frequently travels around the world, Chase Sullivan has his pick of beautiful women, and whenever he's home in San Francisco, one of his seven siblings is usually up for causing a little fun trouble. Chase thinks his life is great just as it is--until the night he finds Chloe and her totaled car on the side of the road in Napa Valley. Not only has he never met anyone so lovely, both inside and out, but he quickly realizes she has much bigger problems than her damaged car. Soon, he is willing to move mountains to love--and protect--her, but will she let him?

FROM THIS MOMENT ON
For thirty-six years, Marcus Sullivan has been the responsible older brother, stepping in to take care of his seven siblings after their father died when they were children. But when the perfectly ordered future he's planned for himself turns out to be nothing but a lie, Marcus needs one reckless night to shake free from it all.

Nicola Harding is known throughout the world by only one name - Nico - for her catchy, sensual pop songs. Only, what no one knows about the twenty-five year old singer is that her sex-kitten image is totally false. After a terrible betrayal by a man who loved fame far more than he ever loved her, she vows not to let anyone else get close enough to find out who she really is...or hurt her again. Especially not the gorgeous stranger she meets at a nightclub, even though the hunger - and the sinful promises - in his dark eyes make her want to spill all her secrets.

CAN’T HELP FALLING IN LOVE
Gabe Sullivan risks his life every day as a firefighter in San Francisco. But after learning a brutal lesson about professional boundaries, he knows better than to risk his heart to his fire victims ever again. Especially the brave mother and daughter he saved from a deadly apartment fire...and can't stop thinking about.

Megan Harris knows she owes the heroic firefighter everything for running into a burning building to save her and her seven-year-old daughter. Everything except her heart. Because after losing her navy pilot husband five years ago, she has vowed to never suffer through loving - and losing - a man with a dangerous job again.

Enjoy the following excerpt from THE LOOK OF LOVE...

Chase almost missed the flickering light off on the right side of the two-lane country road. In the past thirty minutes, he hadn’t passed a single car, because on a night like this, most sane Californians—who didn’t know the first thing about driving safely in inclement weather—stayed home.
Knowing better than to slam on the brakes—he wouldn’t be able to help whomever was stranded on the side of the road if he ended up stuck in the muddy ditch right next to them—Chase slowed down enough to see that there was definitely a vehicle stuck in the ditch.
He turned his brights on to see better in the pouring rain and realized there was a person walking along the edge of the road about a hundred yards up ahead. Obviously hearing his car approach, she turned to face him and he could see her long wet hair whipping around her shoulders in his headlights.
Wondering why she wasn’t just sitting in her car, dry and warm, calling Triple A and waiting for them to come save her, he pulled over to the edge of his lane and got out to try and help her. She was shivering as she watched him approach.
"Are you hurt?"
She covered her cheek with one hand, but shook her head. "No."
He had to move closer to hear her over the sound of the water hitting the pavement in what were rapidly becoming hailstones. Even though he’d turned his headlights off, as his eyes quickly adjusted to the darkness, he was able to get a better look at her face.
Something inside of Chase’s chest clenched tight.
Despite the long, dark hair plastered to her head and chest, regardless of the fact that looking like a drowned rat wasn’t too far off the descriptive mark, her beauty stunned him.
In an instant, his photographer’s eye cataloged her features. Her mouth was a little too big, her eyes a little too wide-set on her face. She wasn’t even close to model thin, but given the way her T-shirt and jeans stuck to her skin, he could see that she wore her lush curves well. In the dark he couldn’t judge the exact color of her hair, but it looked like silk, perfectly smooth and straight where it lay over her breasts.
It wasn’t until Chase heard her say, "My car is definitely hurt, though," that he realized he had completely lost the thread of what he’d come out here to do.
Knowing he’d been drinking her in like he was dying of thirst, he worked to recover his balance. He could already see he’d been right about her car. It didn’t take a mechanic like his brother, Zach, who owned an auto shop—more like forty, but Chase had stopped counting years ago—to see that her shitty hatchback was borderline totaled. Even if the front bumper wasn’t half smashed to pieces by the white farm fence she’d slid into, her bald tires weren’t going to get any traction on the mud. Not tonight, anyway.
If her car had been in a less precarious situation, he probably would have sent her to hang out  in her car while he took care of getting it unstuck. But one of her back tires was hanging precariously over the edge of the ditch.
He jerked his thumb over his shoulder. "Get in my car. We can wait there for a tow truck." He was vaguely aware of his words coming out like an order, but the hail was starting to sting, damn it. Both of them needed to get out of the rain before they froze.
But the woman didn’t move. Instead, she gave him a look that said he was a complete and utter nut-job.
"I’m not getting into your car."
Realizing just how frightening it must be for a lone woman to end up stuck and alone in the middle of a dark road, Chase took a step back from her. He had to speak loudly enough for her to hear him over the hail.
"I’m not going to attack you. I swear I won’t do anything to hurt you."
She all but flinched at the word attack and Chase’s radar started buzzing. He’d never been a magnet for troubled women, wasn’t the kind of guy who thrived on fixing wounded birds. But living with two sisters for so many years meant he could always tell when something was up.
And something was definitely up with this woman, beyond the fact that her car was half-stuck in a muddy ditch.
Wanting to make her feel safe, he held his hands up. "I swear on my father’s grave, I’m not going to hurt you. It’s okay to get into my car." When she didn’t immediately say no again, he pressed his advantage with, "I just want to help you." And he did. More than it made sense to want to help a stranger. "Please," he said. "Let me help you."
She stared at him for a long moment, hail hammering between them, around them, onto them. Chase found himself holding his breath, waiting for her decision. It shouldn’t matter to him what she decided.
But, for some strange reason, it did.

...Excerpt from THE LOOK OF LOVE by Bella Andre © 2015

Book Review:
I've read some of the other Sullivan books earlier; The Look of Love was one of those, but I reread it as it has been a while and I wanted to see how I felt about it now.
The Look of Love - Chloe is fleeing an abusive ex-husband when she meets Chase Sullivan, one of eight siblings who are all gorgeous-looking and mostly well-to-do. Chase is the photographer of the family. He and Chloe immediately hit it off and fall into bed while Chase is doing a photo shoot at his brother's vineyard. 
From This Moment On - Marcus, the oldest Sullivan and owner of the vineyard that's the setting for the first book, meets Nicola, or Nico, famous pop star and they fall into bed.
Can't Help Falling in Love - Gabe Sullivan is a firefighter in San Francisco and rescues Megan and her daughter in a fire. They are immediately attracted to each other and fall into bed.
All three books follow the same basic plotline: There's a tiny bit of story to set up each meeting, then chapters and chapters of sex scenes, then a resolution where the couples marry almost immediately. These are great beach books when you just want to read something without much depth and is very sexy.  



About the Author


Bella Andre is the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of “The Sullivans”, “The Morrisons” and “The Maverick Billionaires” series. 

Having sold more than 6 million books, Bella Andre's novels have been #1 bestsellers around the world and have appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists 33 times. She has been the #1 Ranked Author at Amazon (on a top 10 list that included Nora Roberts, JK Rowling, James Patterson and Stephen King). Apple iBooks named her one of their “Bestselling Authors of All Time” (alongside Nicholas Sparks, Nora Roberts and EL James). And Publishers Weekly named Oak Press, the publishing company she created to publish her own books, the Fastest-Growing Independent Publisher in the US. After signing a groundbreaking 7-figure print-only deal with Harlequin MIRA, Bella's “The Sullivans” series is being released in paperback in the US, Canada, and Australia. 

Known for “sensual, empowered stories enveloped in heady romance” (Publishers Weekly), her books have been Cosmopolitan Magazine “Red Hot Reads” twice and have been translated into ten languages. Winner of the Award of Excellence, The Washington Post called her “One of the top writers in America”; and she has been featured in Entertainment Weekly, NPR, USA Today, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and TIME Magazine. A graduate of Stanford University, she has given keynote speeches at publishing conferences from Copenhagen to Berlin to San Francisco, including a standing-room-only keynote at Book Expo America in New York City. 

Bella also writes the New York Times bestselling Four Weddings and a Fiasco series as Lucy Kevin. Her “sweet” contemporary romances also include the new USA Today bestselling Walker Island series written as Lucy Kevin. 

If not behind her computer, you can find her reading her favorite authors, hiking, swimming or laughing. Married with two children, Bella splits her time between the Northern California wine country and a 100-year-old log cabin in the Adirondacks.


Contact Links


Purchase Links



Reading Addiction Blog Tours

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Book Review: Home Front by Shannen C Wright

In this second book of the Sanctuary series, Kana has arrived in the jungles of China towing her young son, Michael. She meets up with Vincent (the werewolf boyfriend), Gabby (the ice queen), Lola (Gabby's shapeshifter daughter), Chloe (the vampire), Barney (the shade), and Luca (the trickster) in Gabby's new hotel for monsters.
Kana struggles to fit in as a mere human. She doesn't listen, thus causing more trouble for the group, but when Chinese soldiers show up, and then a new monster, Circe, it's up to Kana to save them all with a little bit of help.
This is a great book for YA readers who will recognize many of Kana's traits in themselves and their friends. She's about twenty-two in the book, but often seems much younger. Yet there's no doubting her love for her son and her loyalty to her friends. Now I need book 3 to come out!

Link to Amazon

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Book Review: Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel

Angie Dovage has a new neighbor. Reese Fernandez is good-looking, athletic, and is at the center of some odd going-ons. Angie is intrigued though he's really not her type and starts following him around, trying to understand the mystery. She finds more than she bargained for with paranormal happenings such as non-human beings and murders of crows.
I enjoyed this book so much. I thought it might be a YA story about the odd girl, the handsome guy, and the mean girl when I started reading, but it soon became something very different. The supernatural aspects were intriguing, drawing the reader into this world of the remnants of magic. The harbingers of death and the beekeepers were not something I've read about before and made this book truly unique.
Angie was so much more than the odd girl trope as was Reese much darker than the good-looking guy. The other characters supplemented the story perfectly. All-in-all, the result was a surprising and satisfying conclusion to a beautifully written story. 

Link to Amazon

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Book Tour and Giveaway: Four Victorian Romances by Rachel Brimble


ALL BOOKS ARE LOOSELY CONNECTED YET EASILY READ AS STANDALONES!

The Seduction of Emily
by Rachel Brimble
Genre: Victorian Romance

Seduction is a wicked game, and no one plays it better than the devilish Will Samson in Rachel Brimble's captivating new novel. . .



Since girlhood, Emily Darson has accepted that she will marry Nicholas, the son of her father's trusted business partner. The marriage contract safeguards her family legacy, Emily's fortune, and everything she values--except her independence. Only when a sinfully handsome scoundrel enters her life does Emily realize quite how much a loveless match will cost her.

Will Samson has advanced from expert pickpocket to confidence trickster of the highest caliber. Now he has come to Bath to exact vengeance on the man who destroyed his mother--the man Emily will soon marry. But from his first glimpse of the enemy's bewitching, spirited fiancée, Will's plan changes.
Amid the ballrooms and salons of elegant society, heated glances explode into scandalous kisses. Revenge is sweet, but surrender will be irresistible. . .




The Temptation of Laura

Laura Robinson has always been dazzled by the glamour of the stage. But perhaps acting and selling one's favors are not so different—for Laura must feign pleasure with the men she beds to survive. Now, with her only friend at death's door and a ruthless pimp at her heels, escaping her occupation seems impossible. Hoping to attract a gentleman, she attends the theater. Yet the man Laura captivates is no customer, but a rising star and playwright. . .



What a Woman Desires

From country girl to actress of the stage, one woman dares to live her dreams—but is she brave enough to open her heart. . .?



Monica Danes always wanted more than the village of Biddlestone had to offer. After a failed courtship to a man of her parents' choosing, she fled for the city of Bath and never looked back. Today, Monica is the undisputed queen of the theater—a wealthy, independent woman. But when she is called home in the wake of tragedy, Monica returns—intending to leave again as soon as possible.

Thomas Ashby has been a groom at the Danes estate since he was a boy—and has been enamored with Monica for almost as long. He knows he isn't a suitable match for his master's daughter, despite the special bond he and Monica have always shared—and their undeniable attraction. But now that she's returned, Thomas has one last chance to prove himself worthy—and to show Monica a life, and a love, she won't want to give up. . .




Her One True Love

Jane Charlotte Danes has loved the squire of her idyllic country town for as long as she can remember. He is good, kind, and alluring beyond words… and he chose to marry another. Tired of dwelling on her futile longings, Jane plans a move to Bath, where she dreams of a new beginning. But the man who has so imprisoned her heart is only a few steps behind…



He Can't Let Her Go…

Until now, Matthew Cleaves has endeavored to meet the responsibilities of his position with dignity and good spirits--including his dutiful marriage. But when his wife leaves him for another man, Matthew is at last free to pursue his one true love. Only one vital question remains: will the captivating, stubborn, beautiful Jane allow him the challenge, and the pleasure, of winning her back?.. 






Rachel lives with her husband and two young daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Here first novel was published in 2007. Since then, she's had several books published with small presses and since 2012 has written mainstream romance and romantic suspense for Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and Victorian romance for eKensington/Lyrical Press.



Agent represented in the US, Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, When she isn't writing, you'll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England. And in the evening? Well, a well-deserved glass of wine is never, ever refused...



Follow the tour HERE for exclusive content and a giveaway!




Tuesday, September 5, 2017

New Release: Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel



A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.
Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.
What's more, she knows something most don't. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.



Meg Kassel is an award-winning author of fantasy and speculative books for young adults. A graduate of Parson's School of Design, she’s always been creating stories, whether with visuals or words. She worked as a graphic designer, a waitress, a tour guide and a farm hand. Meg is a New Jersey native who now lives in a log house in the Maine woods with her husband and daughter. A fan of ’80s cartoons, Netflix series, and ancient mythology, Meg has always been fascinated and inspired by the fantastic, the creepy, and the futuristic. When she’s not writing, Meg is reading, hanging out with her family, hoarding peanut butter cups, or playing video games.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

New Release and Book Review: The Phoenix Lord by Angelique S. Anderson

The Phoenix Lord is the sequel to The Dragon Lady. Lord Adrian McCollum marries his true love, Wylie Petford, and sets out to exhibit his steam-powered carriage, first in London, then America as he looks for investors. Wylie still has her Dracosinum and performs her nightly duties, but when she falls ill, it's up to Adrian to find out what's causing her sickness and get a remedy.
This fast-paced book is a fun romp through a world of steampunk and fantasy. Here be dragons as well as a phoenix and mysterious gods. Ms. Anderson has hit her stride in this exciting tale for readers of any age though I think MG and YA readers might enjoy it most. I only hope she continues this great series so I follow Adrian and Wylie's further adventures.

Link to Amazon

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Book Review: Mergers & Acquisitions by Jennifer Griffith

When Jillian Price finds a rare painting at a garage sale, she can't believe her luck. But it's her newfound acquaintance, Aero Jantzen, who gives her the push to follow her dreams. Jilly is a high-priced attorney, but she really wants to run an art gallery. Aero is a banker who also works as the agent for their mutual high-maintenance client, teenage actor Ryker.
But the painting hides secrets that may derail the budding romance of Jillian and Aero despite the efforts of Ryker to get them together. This is a really cute novella and an easy read. All the characters, main and secondary, are interesting and fun. The information about the art world was pertinent as well as the legal/banking information, but not overwhelming the romance. Another great addition in a good series.
I received this book as an ARC and opted to give an honest review.

Link to Amazon

Book Blitz: Melvin the Sad...(ish) Robot by Joshua Margolis




Children’s book
Date Published: 11/1/16
Publisher: Mascot Books

 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

Melvin is known for being a sad…(ish) robot. But, as he finds new friends and experiences, he may just figure out how to be happy…(ish).




About the Author

Joshua Margolis is a sculptor, photographer, and author from Oakland, Ca. His work has been featured in many galleries and studios. He was the de Young Fine Arts Museum artist in residence for the month of July 2014, where he brought his monsters and robots project to sculpted life. Melvin the Sad…(ish) Robot is the first story of its kind to incorporate Joshua ceramic sculptures into a real world setting, creating a unique visual narrative.

Contact Links


Purchase Links


Reading Addiction Blog Tours

Monday, August 28, 2017

Book Release & Excerpt: Just Off the Path by Weston Sullivan




Fantasy
Date Published: September 5, 2017

 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

Hansel never asked to be a hero. He never wanted to fall in love with Rapunzel, Queen of the East. He didn’t ask to be raised by Gothel the Wretch, and he certainly never wanted to be credited for her arrest. But more than any of that, Hansel never wanted to lie: but he did. He lied about everything. He thought that he was done with it all when he and his sister Gretel retreated into the woods to reclaim their land, but he should have known better.

Years later, Rapunzel’s guards knock at his door, and they say the words he hoped that he would never hear: Gothel has escaped. As he and Gretel take refuge inside Rapunzel’s castle in the eastern capitol of Hildebrand, Hansel is thrust back into everything he never wanted in the first place: his lies, his legend, and his lust. In the wake of it all, he knows that Gothel has escaped to finish what she started. She is out to make sure that the Sleeping Beauty never wakes, and that Grimm suffocates under her blanket of thorn and vine. In order to find Gothel and save the kingdom, Hansel and Gretel must look for fact in a land of fairy-tale by following a trail of grisly murders, a girl in a red cape, and a powerful little man who can’t stand the sound of his own name.

As they search for answers, Hansel finds that he isn’t the only liar in Grimm, and that there may be a traitor among them of royal proportion.


Reading Addiction Blog Tours

Excerpt

The winter storm began with a scream that split the trees. It echoed throughout the woods and birds fled into the sky, disappearing like smoke behind gray clouds. Hansel looked off in the direction of the disturbance—but it was silent again. There was something menacing about the renewed absence of life that hung over him. He strung his bow, keeping it close to his side, and surveyed the area around him. He was met only with the familiar stillness of the trees and dead foliage beneath.
“We should go,” he said, trying to disguise the urgency in his voice.
His sister, Gretel, hesitated. “Someone screamed.”
“I know,” he said. “That’s why we need to go.”
Gretel scanned the tree line and ran her fingers through her hair. Grabbing her hand, Hansel pulled her in the direction they’d come from. The woods were dangerous, especially on the cusp of winter. They were close to the Southern Thickets—the part of the forest overrun with briar and weed, where all of Grimm’s most dangerous creatures lived—and Hansel knew that if someone was screaming, they had a good reason.
They made their way back to The Path in silence. Hansel was wary of crunching leaves under his boot, afraid to wake the forest. Seconds after they turned around, he felt something whiz past him on both sides of his head. He hoped they were fireflies, bustling about the tops of trees, cutting through the coldness that crept over them. He followed the sparkling speckles with his eyes. They moved with purpose, cracking branches and creasing clouds, spinning wildly. Hansel was probably the only person in Grimm who was ever disappointed to see a flock of fairies, but fireflies meant it was summer, and he longed to see summer again.
Before they blinked out of sight, they spoke to him. Tens of wistful, unison whispers in his ears said: Help…the girl needs help. Hansel looked at Gretel, wondering if she heard them, too. He didn’t have to ask. She bounded back in the opposite direction and drew the skinning knife she kept sheathed at her waist. Hansel cursed, taking off after her. No sooner than he’d kicked off the ground, another mortifying scream shook the woods. He followed close behind Gretel, dodging trees and leaping over the underbrush. There was a third scream, and then a fourth; louder and closer than any before.
He didn’t know what to do. As they ran, the woods shrank around them until the sun no longer broke through the gaps between the trees. Hansel knew they were going to die. No one made it deep into the thickets and lived. It was home to godless monsters; giants, goblins—the creatures of the dark who scarcely bothered with humans, until they were crossed. Hansel struggled to keep up with his sister. Where he was cautious, she was fearless, and where she was cautious, he was safest. He looked up and was surprised to see hundreds of fairies lighting their path. Each second, more poured in from the sky until there was an army over them.
Gretel stopped abruptly, causing Hansel to trip and roll a few steps downhill. He didn’t think long enough to register pain. As he found his footing, Gretel climbed down the incline and stood beside him. His first instinct was to go back the way they’d come, but he was awestruck. They stood on the threshold of life and death, where the woods became the Southern Thickets. It was like a scar across the ground, stretching from one end of the world to the next, a final warning to those brave enough to pass into the curse. Even the fairies were still, their glow dimmed by the wicked magic ahead.
Hansel was relieved to see that there were no longer trees; they’d been replaced by a wall of bramble, too large and thick to allow passage. They were surrounded by the purplish-blue tint of twilight, thorns as sharp as daggers to their throats in front of them and crooked, mossy trees behind them. Once, when Hansel lived in the city, he’d visited his parents’ corpses in the graveyard. They were buried in a public sepulcher maintained by the city to ensure that if a family was unwilling or unable to buy a plot for their deceased, their corpses wouldn’t be left to rot and attract the attention of wildlife. Standing just before the thickets reminded Hansel of that day—the day when he stood at the maw of death and was so close he could feel himself slipping away.
Gretel looked behind them. Hansel hoped she’d given up, and maybe she had. He almost smiled. But one final, thankless cry echoed past the briar, stirring the fairies. Gretel squinted, determined. That scream, Hansel knew, was the epitaph on their gravestones. The fairies swarmed them, and he was swallowed in a rainbow of color, cascading like a waterfall upon him. He couldn’t see anything but the swirling light of the fairy flock, spinning faster and faster around him, tugging at his shirt and creating a whirlwind. He felt weightless. His stomach churned and he felt dizzy. When the fairies cleared, he could see why—he was high in the air, flying over the Southern Thickets.
For a moment, he forgot about the screams and that he was headed into danger. He was soaring. Gretel was flying just below him, her arms spread wide, her hair flailing. Seeing Grimm from the air was both breathtaking and appalling. He expected to see the land as it once was, alive and vibrant. Instead, it was a sickly beige with winter and the end of the curse. The world around them was devoid of life. Most of the animals had fled years earlier, knowing the world was about to change, and those that remained were tucked safely away somewhere beneath them.
The thickets looked exactly as he’d always imagined. From above, he saw nothing but briar and bramble etched across the uneven terrain. They gained speed, and the cold air blasted his cheeks. He was grateful to have the cold in that moment to waken his senses and remind him that he was still alive, that he and Gretel were in danger. He sucked in a breath as they flew farther away from home, and against the still-setting sun that formed the silhouette of a castle, jagged and broken. The Sleeping Castle—he knew it from legend—the home where the rightful royalty of Grimm still rested, dead to the world but not in definition, suffering eternally at the hands of a vengeful witch. All he could make out was one tower, freed from the clutches of the thorn like the arm of an old beggar, trying to hoist himself out of the darkness. The top of the tower stuck at a point against the sunlight like a bony finger fighting for liberation.
It felt like they were flying only moments before he felt himself descending. Hansel looked below. There was a tiny clearing in the briar—a hole in the patchwork—and inside that hole he saw a spot of red. His eyes widened when he realized what was happening; it was a little girl, and she was running for her life. Sooner than he anticipated, the fairies dropped him and he fell into the clearing. They placed Gretel gracefully on the ground next to him and charged back up into the sky in one harmonious motion, disappearing into the briar. The girl stared at them in wonder, Hansel standing close to Gretel. It was suddenly dark, and Hansel knew it was because they were in a place so sinister that even the sunlight refused to pass through. The girl Hansel had seen from the sky was covered in bloody scratches, as if she’d been running through the thorns. Her face was dirty and streaked in muddy tears. She tried to speak to them, but she was silenced by the rustling of the vines behind her.
She yelped, running to them for help. Gretel took her in her arms and cupped her hand over her mouth, quieting her. Hansel trembled, pulling the bowstring back so far he worried it would snap. The figure of a large man appeared on the other side of the curtain of briar, causing the girl to cry harder. He made his best attempt to look imposing, but he was frightened. The man stepped into the clearing, dressed all in black, his hood casting a shadow over his face so that all Hansel could see was a pair of dull, white eyes. At first, Hansel thought the red-orange coating on the figure’s machete was rust, but as the man moved closer, he recognized it as the color of dried blood.
“Who are you?” Hansel asked.
It was like standing in front of death itself—silent, ominous, and terrifying.
Hansel stood rigid, his arrow pointed at the man’s chest. He hated the idea of killing someone, but he knew that his bow would take action before his head did if it was given the opportunity. The man’s chest rose, fell, but didn’t rise again. That was when Hansel knew it was time to let go of the string. It was too late. The hooded figure leaped out of the way just before the arrow left the bow, and as Hansel went to re-string it, he disappeared back into the thickets. Hansel stretched his bow into a V and focused his aim, in case the man returned.
Gretel helped the girl to her feet. “Are you all right?”
She wore a bright cloak that canvassed her body like a suit of armor, bright yet all-concealing. Hansel didn’t know what to make of her. She embodied adolescence, but exuded effortless maturity as if at war with herself. Wine and wildflowers protruded from her basket, peeking surreptitiously back at him. She was a walking contradiction, and that made him anxious.
“I think so,” the girl replied, using her cloak, which was made of some sort of fabric that Hansel couldn’t name but knew was expensive, to wipe her face. “Thank you for saving me.”
“Who was that man?” Hansel asked.
The girl hesitated. She stepped beside Hansel and followed his gaze out into the thickets.
“He was no man,” she said. “He was a wolf.”
“A wolf?” Hansel asked.
She nodded. “He walks like a man, but he’s a wolf, I swear to it. He tackled me back there and started sniffing me and snarling like a beast. His breath smells like dung and whiskey. It frightened me, so I ran off.”
Hansel and Gretel exchanged looks. Gretel furrowed her brows, dumbstruck.
“But why did he come after you?” Gretel asked.
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?” Hansel asked. “How do you not know? Do you find you’re often being chased by hooded man-wolves, or is today a special day?”
The girl seemed put off by the question. “Do you normally fly with the fairies?”
“Of course not,” Hansel said.
“So today must be special for all of us,” she said, slyly.
Gretel broke the tension. “What’s your name?”
“My name’s Ceara,” the girl replied with a smile that soured Hansel’s mood. She spoke to no one in particular. “But some people call me Little Red Cap because of my cape. It’s made of the finest silk in the East.” She offered the tail of her cape to them.
Gretel reached her hand out and felt the fabric, rubbing it between her fingers. “It’s lovely,” she mumbled.
“My gran made it for me when I was younger. I was always running about in the woods and she worried I would get lost. That’s why the cape is red…I’m easier to spot that way.”
Hansel dropped the bow to his side. It just so happened that he and Gretel knew quite a bit about being lost in the woods.
“Do you know how to get back to The Path from here?” he asked Ceara.
The Path was the clearest, safest route through the woods. It was a trail worn in the grass by the boots of travelers and kings alike; a clear, oppressive force that divided Grimm into four regions. The Path was the safest, most direct route to any place in the entire kingdom.
Ceara’s smile faded. She wiped the tears from her face, using her cloak to remove the dirt from her cheeks. “Of course I do,” she said, gesturing toward the vines. “It’s just a few steps this way.”
“You mean through the thorns?” Hansel asked.
She rolled her eyes. “Unless you plan on asking the fairies for another lift, there’s really no other way.”
“I thought it was impossible to pass through the thickets.” As he spoke, he stared at the thorns. He imagined slicing his leg open, or accidentally impaling himself. He squirmed.
Ceara giggled at him. “Just because the whole kingdom says it’s impossible, doesn’t mean it is.”
Gretel laughed at him as well, shrugging as she passed him. Ceara parted the vines carefully and let Gretel pass through. After Gretel disappeared into the thickets, Ceara held the vines apart for him. “Go on.”
Right then, Hansel knew he wasn’t going to like Ceara.

About the Author


Weston Sullivan lives and writes in Tampa, Florida. He spends his days splitting time between writing, a full time job, and studying for his degree in Creative Writing from the University of South Florida. He enjoys everything related to storytelling, including film and theater. He likes to read all genres, from contemporary fiction to classic favorites such as Faulkner and Woolf. After he finishes his undergraduate coursework and continues to build his career as an author, he plans to attend graduate school in New York City.

Contact Links


Purchase Link

Giveaway

With Purchase of a Copy of the novel, you can enter to WIN AND IPAD


Reading Addiction Blog Tours

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Book Tour, Giveaway, Review and Recipe for Sex in a Pan (Delicious): Lucky Charmed by Sharla Lovelace


LUCKY CHARMED
by Sharla Lovelace

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Pub Date: 7/18/2017


Charmed, Texas, is as warm and welcoming as it sounds. But even in a small town, when it comes to love, sometimes you’ve got to take the bitter with the sweet . . .
Carmen Frost hates honey. And bees. And in her hometown of Charmed, Texas, which practically invented the stuff, that’s a problem. The good news is that the summer Honey Festival is finally over. Even better, so is the annual Lucky Hart carnival, a road show that made off with her dreams years ago—including the boy she loved. Now she’s got a divorce behind her, and a successful law career in front of her, but in a tiny town, big memories die hard. Or they don’t die at all—as Carmen discovers when she runs into an all too familiar pair of eyes—older, wiser, and just as heart-melting as ever . . .
Sully Hart has had enough of the nomad lifestyle. Travelling with his father’s carnival gave him adventures, but it cost him much more. Now he’s home to stay, contracted to create an entertainment complex in Charmed. He wants roots, a house with a yard and all the mundane pleasures that go with it. But the girl he loved has become a woman who still wants freedom. Can she still want him? It seems he and Carmen are at each other’s throats one minute—and on each other’s lips the next. Someone’s gotta give . . .

Amazon * Apple * B&N * Google * Kobo 


Sex in a Pan (Sully’s dessert)
Ingredients:
Crust:
1 cup pecans, chopped...
3 tbsp white sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
Cream cheese layer:
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup whipped cream or cool whip
Vanilla pudding layer:
1 package of instant vanilla pudding (5.1 oz or 144 g)
3 cups milk
Chocolate Pudding layer:
1 package of instant chocolate pudding (5.1 oz or 144 g)
3 cups milk
Last layer:
3 cups whipped cream or cool whip
shaved chocolate (enough to cover. took me 3 Hershey bars)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Mix all the crust ingredients together and press the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake it for about 20 minutes.
Prepare the vanilla pudding as per the instructions on the package.
Prepare the chocolate pudding as per the instructions on the package.
In a mixer combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar and the cup of whipped cream. Mix until light and fluffy.
Let the crust cool. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the crust evenly.
Spread the chocolate pudding over the cream cheese filling, then the vanilla pudding over the chocolate. (I sprinkled a light layer of additional chopped pecans between the pudding layers just because we are nutty freaks over here but that's a personal preference)
Top with the whipped cream and sprinkle with the chocolate.
Refrigerate for a couple hours so that it sets.

Oh my my my....


Review

Carmen Frost has always lived in Charmed, Texas, but wants to travel. Circumstances have forced her to stay in town, but now she's ready to leave - just as Sullivan (Sully) Hart, a carny who broke her heart many years ago, finally returns for good. 
This is just a terrific book. The writing is excellent with some very funny parts as well as sexy times. The secondary characters reinforce what small towns are about. This is a second chance romance at its best as Carmen and Sully navigate their past and grow in the process. They are a good match, each not afraid to acknowledge their own insecurities and bringing out the best in the other. 
I received this book from the author and I'm giving an honest review on my own. 

Sharla Lovelace is the bestselling, award-winning author of sexy small-town love stories. Being a Texas girl through and through, she’s proud to say she lives in Southeast Texas with her retired husband, a tricked-out golf cart, and two crazy dogs. She is the author of five stand-alone novels including the bestselling Don’t Let Go, the exciting Heart Of The Storm series, and the fun and sexy new Charmed in Texas series. For more about Sharla's books, visit sharlalovelace.com, and keep up with all her new book releases easily by subscribing to her newsletter. She loves keeping up with her readers, and you can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as @sharlalovelace.



Follow the tour HERE for exclusive guest posts and a giveaway!