Friday, February 28, 2014

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Head Above Water by Amber Garza


Book & Author Details:

Head Above Water by Amber Garza 
Publication date: February 28th 2014 
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

Synopsis:
Sometimes all you need is someone to hold you up.

Harper Elliott knows what it feels like to drown. To be unable to breath, to feel the crushing weight of your lungs collapsing while waves crash over your head and the surface is just out of reach. The ocean has stolen way too much from her and her family. Even though she lives just miles from the beach she rarely ever steps foot on it, and never goes in the water.

Until she meets Tag Williams, the sexy lifeguard with the funny name, kind smile, genuine eyes and smoking hot body. He makes Harper want to do more than just stick her toes in to test the waters. He makes her want to jump in with both feet.

But if she does, can she trust Tag to keep her head above water?

Purchase:

----

AUTHOR BIO
Amber Garza lives in California with her amazing husband and two hilarious children who provide her with enough material to keep her writing for years.

Links:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Amber-Garza-author/307389409285047

Guest Post:

My Journey as a Writer

When I was a little girl I knew I wanted to be an author one day. I used to write stories all of the time. However, life happened and when I got married and had my children I kind of put that dream on hold. Around the time my daughter turned two, I decided to try and finally write a novel. I wrote my first book, “Confessions of a Harried Housewife.” It’s a chic lit book about a quirky stay-at-home mom. Not surprising, since I was a stay-at-home mom at the time. After that I wrote two more chic lit books – “Abandoning Alice” and “Diapering Diva.” The only one that garnered attention from agents and publishers was the first one, but ultimately it didn’t get picked up.

After that the chic lit genre sort of dissolved and I worked the next few years on honing my craft and finding my voice. I tried writing an inspirational romance but abandoned it halfway through. I then wrote my suspense novel, “Engraved” and another book called, “American Dream” that I never released. I did have some short stories published and won some contests in that time frame. I also signed with an agent at one point but ended up severing that relationship for a variety of reasons.


Then I wrote the Prowl Trilogy and felt that I had finally found my niche. I really like writing young adult. It’s a genre I enjoy so much. At that point, I decided to self-publish and I’ve never looked back. It’s the perfect choice for me. I love having control over my career. I love choosing my covers, titles, release dates. I don’t mind doing my own marketing and I’ve met so many incredible bloggers, reviewers and fans who have helped with this. It’s an amazing community and I’m lucky to be a part of it. So, we will see where this journey takes me from here on out, but so far it’s been incredible.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Review: Sempre by J.M. Darhower

Summary:

Haven Antonelli and Carmine DeMarco had vastly different childhoods. Haven, a second-generation slave, grew up isolated in the middle of the desert, her days full of hard work and terrifying abuse. Carmine, born into a wealthy Mafia family, lived a life of privilege, never having to answer for anything he did.
Both now seventeen, a twist of fate causes their worlds to collide, making them question everything they ever believed. Entangled in a web of secrets and lies, they learn that while different on the surface, they have more in common than anyone would think

Publication Date: January 29, 2012


Sempre was a pleasant surprise. I’ve read a few romances with a mob setting and sometimes they don’t work for me. Sempre was sweet and sexy and I really liked the main characters and thought they had great chemistry.

Haven was such a strong character. My heart hurt when I read all that she had endured during the years she spent abused and kept as a slave by the Antonellis. Dr. DeMarco takes her in, but she is still a prisoner and lives in fear over whether or not he will eventually kill her.

Carmine was the quintessential bad boy, but I liked that his flaws didn’t magically disappear as soon as he met Haven. Haven does help change him for the better, but their romance felt very realistic. Their relationship has its ups and downs and a lot of it comes from Carmine’s broodiness and Haven’s naïveté.

The side characters were well done and I especially liked Carmine’s brother and his best friend Dia. They weren’t afraid to call Carmine on his BS and also become good friends to Haven. The bad guys in the books were seriously scary and the world building was done well.

My only complaint was the book was slow at times. The beginning and the end were very exciting, but the middle felt like it dragged. The novel is long and I felt a few of the scenes where Carmine is trying to teach Haven basic things like playing video games, driving a car and going grocery shopping, could have been cut.

Overall, I really enjoyed Sempre and after that ending I can’t wait to read the sequel. Although the main characters are teens, the book is for mature readers.

Rating: 4/5 Stars


Thanks to the publisher for a copy of Sempre for review!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Book Spotlight: Blood and Fire by Tori L. Ridgewood

Blood and Fire: Book Two of the Talbot Trilogy is a paranormal romance by Tori L. Ridgewood that was released February 2014.

Book Synopsis:

What chance does one witch have against five vampires? Alone, not much. But Rayvin’s allies are gathering…

The battle between good and evil supernatural forces heats up in the long, cold November nights of the former mining town. But how will Rayvin’s motley crew of spellcasters and shapeshifters cope when they discover the threat they face is even greater than they imagined?

Blood and Fire is available for sale on:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Fire-Talbot-Trilogy-Ridgewood-ebook/dp/B00IDNJ7U0/

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/404643

Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/shop/tori-l-ridgewood/blood-and-fire/paperback/product-21444423.html

The Talbot Trilogy books:

0. Mist and Midnight (prequel)

1. Wind and Shadow

2. Blood and Fire

3. Crystal and Wand

About the Author:

After her first heartbreak, Tori found solace in two things: reading romance novels and listening to an after-dark radio program called Lovers and Other Strangers. Throughout the summer and fall of 1990, the new kid in town found reading fiction and writing her own short stories gave her a much needed creative outlet. Determined to become a published author, Tori amassed stacks of notebooks and boxes of filed-away stories, most only half-finished before another idea would overtake her and demand to be written down. Then, while on parental leave with her second baby, one story formed and refused to be packed away. Between teaching full-time, parenting, and life in general, it would take almost seven years before the first novel in her first trilogy would be completed. In the process, Tori finally found her stride as a writer.

At present, on her off-time, Tori not only enjoys reading, but also listening to an eclectic mix of music as she walks the family dog (Skittles), attempts to turn her thumb green, or makes needlework gifts for her friends and family members. She loves to travel, collect and make miniature furniture, and a good cup of tea during a thunderstorm or a blizzard. Under it all, she is always intrigued by history, the supernatural, vampire and shapeshifter mythology, romance, and other dangers.

Tori is currently working on Crystal and Wand: Book Three of The Talbot Trilogy. She lives in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada with her husband and two children. She is a full-time teacher at a local high school.

Author Links:


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ToriLRidgewood



Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5760106.Tori_L_Ridgewood

Except from Blood and Fire: Book Two of the Talbot Trilogy
By Tori L. Ridgewood

Crouching to prod the fire, Grant thought over the options now open to him. It wasn't safe to go back to Talbot, at least not until he had gained a better understanding of what had happened to him. He needed more than a measure of control over this thing. Once he had that, he could go home and set things right. Destroy de Sade once and for all. After all, was that not the purpose of werewolves? To be an equal adversary for the undead?
The next question was not as simple. Just how did a werewolf train himself? Was it even possible for him to remain cognizant and in control when his body was no longer human?
A knot of sap crackled and snapped. He amused himself with the thought that the fire was speaking to him.
The thought that he was merely delusional, that being able to magically transform into a vicious four-footed animal was a hallucination, the product of slow starvation and exposure, nearly made him laugh aloud.
If a fire could speak, its language would be visual, he decided. He relaxed his eyes and let the glowing embers form shapes and letters.
The wind blew in from the open cabin door, swirling around him and carrying the clean scents of snow, damp wood and earth, mixed with the rank odour of animal carcass from his footprints in the snow…and something else. 
Grant held very still.
The something else was faint, but recognizable. Vaguely comforting. It made him think of an old wet dog. Or an old man who had not washed in a long time. Some combination of the two. 
A cluster of coals fell in a rush of sparks. The noise drew Grant’s attention, even as the strange smell made his nose twitch and his nostrils flare.
The collapsed, blackened piece of wood strongly resembled the face of a man with strong, mature features. It was broad in the forehead, with a long nose and wide, round eyes. A scattering of red embers looked like a bushy beard covering the mouth and jaw.
It couldn’t be possible during the day, but it seemed to Grant that he could hear the borealis sing.
Solomon. The name that belonged to this face. It was spelled out clearly for him, just for a moment, in the leaping flames.
A few more sticks collapsed, changing the image. An a-frame cabin on a lake. A short, blunt mountain nearby, and a small lake in the shape of a teardrop. The mountain had sheer sides.  Grant thought he recognized it, had even been rock climbing on it in his youth. Mount Cheminis, near Dark Lake.
Yes. Grant understood. He blinked, and the images were gone. Exhaling, he got to his feet and went to the door. The scent of wolf and man now seemed to clearly mark a trail through the trees, to the south-east.
Someone had sent him a message. His gut wanted to tell him that it was Rayvin, though logically that couldn’t be right. How the hell could she contact him from so far away? She’d done it before, sent him a mental plea for help, but she’d only been a few blocks away. And was it at all possible that she knew this character?
Great, more questions without answers.
He may have screwed up on his first battle with the monster, but at least he’d learned that he wouldn’t be able to fight on his own and win. He needed help. Wherever this information had come from, it felt right on some level. The sooner he could find this Solomon guy, the sooner he’d learn how to get control.
With control, de Sade and his little army wouldn’t find him as easy a target as before.
“Welcome to the family,” the bastard vampire had told him. Yeah, well—think of me as the black wolf in your little flock.
His mind drifted to the image of the small, red-headed witch who had chosen the vampire over him. Had she sent him the vision, the way she’d called out for help before? If she could still do that, what did it mean?
“Wait until you get a load of me,” Grant whispered aloud, as he turned back into the cabin.
He quickly filled the rucksack with a small aluminum travel pot, three more cans of beans whose dents were less severe than the others, a can opener, some boxes of pasta and rice that were still intact, and some sticks of dry kindling. He took the grey blanket, rolled it into a short, fat, sausage, and strapped it to the bottom of the rucksack in place of a sleeping bag. With the stub of a pencil he’d found in a drawer, and a scrap of paper, he wrote a quick inventory of what he’d taken. Once the bastard vampire was taken care of, Grant had determined that he would go back and try to make some compensation for what he had 'borrowed’. 
Grant used a cloth to close the door behind him, and then turned his face to the woods in order to once again find the scent of the unknown wolf.
Speed was definitely a gift that he could get used to, in this strange new life. He’d moved faster than Usain Bolt, even, reaching the edge of the small lake below Mount Cheminis by noon.
Casting his eyes around the shoreline, Grant fashioned a makeshift cup of birchbark and filled it with fresh water from the lake. The sun had just passed its zenith in the sky above, but with the temperature low, he could barely feel its warmth on his back. He scooped in some of the purification tablet he had crushed on a rock, trying to measure it proportionally to the amount of water, swished it around a few times to help it dissolve, and then waited for the iodine and assorted chemicals to work.
“You don't need to do that.”
He started. The little man standing next to him had approached without a sound. He was no bigger than an eight-year-old child, and he was completely bald, except for his full beard and his eyebrows. He had a barrel chest, and sinewy forearms showed where the sleeves of his lined flannel shirt were rolled back. Grant looked at a pair of child-sized battered work-boots, only a few feet from his face. He sensed that the man was assessing him just as carefully.
“I don't want to take any chances,” Grant answered, finally. His breath condensed in the chill air. He stood, casually, still swirling the cup of water. “You never know, these days. Decades of mining, acid rain, human presence. There are bugs in that water we probably don't even know about.”
In response, the hermit took his hand out of his jeans pocket, brushed it against his chest, squatted, and leaned over a near dip in the rocky shore. He lowered his hand into the cold black water, and scooped up a palmful. Lapping it up, he shook off the remaining drops and wiped his skin dry again. “I drink this every day, buddy. Do I look sick to you?”
Grant laughed shortly. “Kudos to your immune system. I think I'll stick with my iodine.”
His visitor shrugged, gazing across the lake. “You're a long way from the trails. Where's your gun?”
“I'm looking for someone by the name of Solomon. He's supposed to live around here.” Grant watched his face for a reaction. The other man only continued to squint against the glare of the sun, a short distance above the horizon. “Have you heard of him?”
“Maybe.” He picked up a rock and weighed it in his hand. “Who's asking?”
Grant wanted to laugh again, but he didn't. He hadn't really known what to expect, or even that he'd actually find the stubby little mountain in the dream or vision or whatever he'd had. The A-frame cabin further down the shore was evidently occupied, given the smoke rising from its chimney. From what he could see, there were no other cottages in the near area. Logically, then, this man was Solomon. What reason could a hermit have for concealing his identity? Was this some kind of epic quest moment, where the hero has to prove that he is pure of heart in order to receive wisdom from the sage? Grant had always believed in honesty. Still, he proceeded cautiously. “Do you believe in the supernatural?”
“You're a cop, ain't you?”
“What makes you say that?”
The bald man stood, cracking his back with an audible grunt of relief. “You always answer a question with another question?”
Grant shrugged with one shoulder. “No, but since you're obviously being careful, I should be, too.”
“I'll tell you what,” the stranger said, slowly. “You show me some balls, toss that so-called pure water and take a drink from the goodness of Mother Nature; I'll show you Solomon.”
Grant regarded him with a half-smile, and deliberately poured out his birchbark cup. He should have been dead weeks ago, anyway. Maybe his new physiology would protect him from beaver fever, maybe it wouldn't. Either way, he needed answers. The other man watched with narrowed eyes as Grant bent down, cupped his hands, and drank from the lake.
“Okay?” he asked, wiping his face on a clean part of his bright orange sleeve. “Where's Solomon?”
The little man burst into laughter. He opened the snaps on his work-shirt, still laughing, and pulled his t-shirt over his head. As he stepped forward, his face elongated and sprouted fangs under a black snout; his eyes yellowed as grey fur grew out of his skin, and his back snapped, the bones expanding and rearranging themselves into a canine form. Grant stepped back in horror, holding his hands out in an instinct to defend himself, backing along the edge of the rocky outcropping. The stranger’s laughter became a series of yipping howls that echoed against the trees. The massive wolf shook itself, rippling its fur, and scratched its impressive nails on the granite as the howls lowered to a growl. Grant's skin prickled, recognizing the attack posture of the biggest timber wolf he had ever seen.
Then it lunged into Grant's outstretched arms.
The animal hit Grant's chest like a bag of cement, knocking him back and down into the water.
His feet left the rocky ledge that formed the shore, but the boots he had taken from that hunter's cabin stayed where they were. In the seconds that he was airborne, he felt it all clearly, as though it were taking place in slow motion: his ears registered the snarls of the animal snapping at his neck and the ripping of cloth under the wolf's sharp nails, and from his own body's transformation. His ribcage, expanding and elongating, pushed the threads of the bright orange fleece past their limits. His pants shredded and tore as his pelvis moved and sharpened, and a tail burst out of the base of his spine. Grant's shocked cry became a canine yelp and a whine. Two writhing, growling animals hit the water at the same time and vanished beneath the surface.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: Oblivion by Sasha Dawn

Goodreads Summary:

Lisa McMann's Dead to You meets Kate Ellison's The Butterfly Clues in a psychological thriller full of romance, intrigue, and mystery.

One year ago, Callie was found in an abandoned apartment, scrawling words on the wall: "I KILLED HIM. His blood is on my hands. His heart is in my soul. I KILLED HIM." But she remembers nothing of that night or of the previous thirty-six hours. All she knows is that her father, the reverend at the Church of the Holy Promise, is missing, as is Hannah, a young girl from the parish. Their disappearances have to be connected and Callie knows that her father was not a righteous man.

Since that fateful night, she's been plagued by graphomania -- an unending and debilitating compulsion to write. The words that flow from Callie's mind and through her pen don't seem to make sense -- until now.

As the anniversary of Hannah's vanishing approaches, more words and memories bubble to the surface and a new guy in school might be the key to Callie putting together the puzzle. But digging up the secrets she's buried for so long might be her biggest mistake.

Publication Date: May 27, 2014


Oblivion was a book I could not put down for the life of me. The mystery had me guessing and it was tough trying to piece together the clues left from Callie’s graphomania. I never saw a book that used graphomania as a plot device and I found it turned a simple murder mystery plot into a very intense and dark suspenseful read.

Callie’s graphomania, an impulse to write, emerged after her father and a little girl went missing. The scenes where Callie disappears from reality and has an impulsive writing episode were exceptionally well written. I could see myself inside of Callie’s troubled brain and could empathize with the horror she experienced as she lost time. Callie has suffered horrible abuse and the writing is the only way she can properly express herself.

Callie is a flawed and unreliable narrator, but I still liked her character. She was a doormat at times, but she was certainly that way because of how horribly she had been treated. There’s a romance with Callie and two men. One of the boys was horrible and honestly I couldn’t believe she kept him around for as long as she did. The other boy came off as little too good to be true, but I still liked him.

The pace was good although the book was quite long for a young adult book. The author put a lot of detail into Callie’s writing episodes and it really set the haunting tone of the novel. I think a few sub-plots could’ve been eliminated like some mean girl drama at Callie’s high school, but otherwise I never felt bored while reading. The only other complaint I would have is that I don’t think Callie’s condition was handled realistically. I can’t imagine that the adults in her life (a psychiatrist, teachers, police officers and foster parents) would allow her to have these blackout episodes and not do something drastic to get her health. They don’t pressure her to take her medicine and never threaten to admit her to the same mental facility as her mother.

The plot is dark with themes such as sexual abuse, physical abuse, abduction, mental illness and religious fanaticism. I believe this is considered YA, but would likely be most appropriate for older teens and adults.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

I received a copy of Oblivion from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #79

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews and features books you've added to your shelves, both physical and virtual.

For Review:
Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard

My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal

Thirty Sunsets by Christine Hurley Deriso

Where Silence Gathers by Kelsey Sutton

Til Death by Kate Evangelista

Sing Sweet Nightingale by Erica Cameron

The Ring & the Crown by Melissa De La Cruz

Friday, February 21, 2014

Review: All That Glows by Ryan Graudin

Goodreads Summary:

Emrys—a fiery, red-headed Fae—always embraced her life in the Highlands, far from the city’s draining technology, until she’s sent to London to rejoin the Faery Guard. But this isn’t any normal assignment—she’s sent to guard Prince Richard: Britain’s notorious, partying bad boy and soon-to-be King. The prince’s careless ways and royal blood make him the irresistible for the dark spirits that feed on mortals. Sweet, disheveled, and alive with adventure—Richard is one charge who will put Emrys’s magic and heart to the test.

When an ancient force begins preying on the monarchy, Emrys must hunt through the London’s magical underworld, facing down Banshees, Black Dogs and Green Women to find the one who threatens Richard’s life. In this chaos of dark magic, palace murders and paparazzi, Emrys finds herself facing an impossible choice. For despite all her powers, Emrys has discovered a force that burns brighter than magic: love.

Publication Date: February 11, 2014


All That Glows was definitely a highly anticipated read for me (just look at the cover and you’ll see why). Although I liked the premise, I didn’t care for the romance. It was a little bit too cheesy and over the top for me considering the main characters only knew each other for about a week.

Emrys was very angsty for a centuries-old kick-butt fairy guard. The beginning started out strong as readers are giving a history lesson on why the fairies have protected England’s royalty since King Arthur’s time. Emrys gets into a few scuffles with soul eaters that target the next in line to be king Prince Richard. I was hoping she would stay a strong female lead, but she lost a lot of her toughness when she starts falling for Richard.

Richard was okay for me. I expected to be all swoony because he’s a prince, but he was kind of a mess at the start. He’s a drunk troublemaker, but his issues magically disappear as soon as Emrys enters the picture without much actual resolution. His romance with Emrys was high up on the insta-love scale too. Emrys is pretty much willing to risk her existence and there’s no real reason behind their intense attraction besides an electric unexplained connection.

The murder mystery plot held my interest despite it having a certain level of predictability. The suspenseful parts gave readers a break from the angst of whether or not Emrys and Richard could make their relationship work. The pacing was the strongest at the start and end of the novel.

The book fell in the middle for me and I definitely give the author credit for creating a unique setup for a YA novel. The author is a huge fan of metaphors and although it didn’t bother me, the stylized voice could turn off some readers.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Thanks to the publisher for a copy of All That Glows for review!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Kindle Fire HDX Giveaway

Kindle Fire Valentines
Win a Kindle Fire HDX, Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash ($229 value)



This is a joint AUTHOR & BLOGGER GIVEAWAY EVENT!

Bloggers & Authors have joined together and each chipped in a little money towards a Kindle Fire HDX 7" (or $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash).



All New Kindle Fire HDX 7" Giveaway
The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HDX (US Only - $229 Value)


Or $229 Amazon.com Gift Card (International)


Or $229 in Paypal Cash (International)






Giveaway Sponsors


Sign up to sponsor the next Kindle Fire Giveaway:

http://www.iamareader.com/category/kindle-giveaway-sign-ups



Giveaway Details

1 winner will receive their choice of an all new Kindle Fire 7" HDX (US Only - $229 value), $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash (International).

There is a second separate giveaway for bloggers who post this giveaway on their blog. See details in the rafflecopter on how to enter to win the 2nd Kindle Fire HDX 7".

Ends 3/16/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Review: Shadow Lover by Anne Stuart

Summary: 

Victim. Lover. Both? His dark game is seducing her-- just as it was when they were young.

How can he still have that power over her? Eighteen years ago, she saw him die.

Wealthy, selfish, and greedy, the McDowell family raised Carolyn McDowell--a foster child--like a modern Cinderella. Neglected and ignored, good-hearted Carolyn adored scion Alexander despite it all, though even he tormented her.

When Alex ran away one night, Carolyn followed and witnessed his murder, though she never told anyone. Her beloved Alex died when he was seventeen. There was no doubt.

Eighteen years later, Carolyn returns to the decadent milieu of the McDowell clan to care for her dying foster mother, Sally. As greedy relatives gather to claim their inheritances, a stunning stranger arrives, claiming to be Alexander. To Carolyn's utter shock, Sally greets her "son" without question, and no one but Carolyn believes he's a fraud.

As she delves into the mysteries of both the past and present, Carolyn quickly realizes that the resurrected Alex is a dangerous combination of seduction and power. Is this stranger after the McDowell fortune, or is he really, somehow, the Alex of old, come back to claim her? How can he be an imposter and yet know family secrets only the real Alex would remember? Was someone helping him?

What would you do if the boy you loved returned almost twenty years later, and you fell in love with him all over again--even if you were sure it couldn't be him?

Publication Date: December 31, 2013 (Original 1999)


This is the first book I read by Anne Stuart and I have to say I really enjoyed it. Alex was dark and brooding which lead to great chemistry between him and straight-laced Carolyn. I read the book quickly, intrigued over the mysteries surrounding the McDowell family.

Carolyn’s character was very guarded and seemed to suffer from a martyr complex. Although her selflessness was grating at times, she was still relatable. I was able to understand her trust issues because of how poorly the McDowells had treated her. Alex returns and one of his goals while he’s at his mother’s estate is to shake up Carolyn’s world.

Alex is far from a hero and part of the novel involves trying to figure out if he’s really Alex or not. The author has an obvious talent for creating imperfect males that the reader can still root for. Alex is selfish, wild and incredibly sexy. I liked that Carolyn didn’t fully submit to him at first and he had to work to get into her good graces. When a romance did start, the sex between the two was crazy intense and hot.

The murder mystery part was just okay for me. I would’ve liked to see more twists and turns and more suspense. The climax felt rushed and the action started very late in the novel. The writing was also repetitive at times (I think Carolyn thought of Alex as having Cossack eyes close to a dozen times).

Shadow Lover was still well worth a read. I liked the romance more than the rest of the plot, but for me sometimes a good romance can make up for other areas that are lacking in a novel. Fans of romantic suspense will want to put this on their to-be-read lists.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this novel for review!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Money Matters: eBook Pricing

In April, it will be two years since I published First Visions. Two freaking years! I can hardly believe it, but in some ways it feels much longer than that. If you know me, then you’re probably not overly surprised that I wouldn’t dare call myself an expert on anything—but I have learned a few things about successful marketing techniques along the way. Today, I wanted to talk a little bit about pricing and book sales.

First Price Point

You’re about to hit publish on your latest masterpiece and you find yourself stuck on what the heck to price your book at. Although you may feel like you should be charging $10 for your eBook, you may not generate any sales. If you’re a first-time author, this is especially true. Why would I buyer take a chance on an unknown author when their favorites are offering books at $5 or less?

Another consideration is how much you’ll make off of each book sale. Authors who have been signed to publishing houses are not taking home 70 percent of each book sale. Their royalty rate may be in the range of 10 to 20 percent. When you self-publish, you’re bringing home a higher royalty rate. Yes, you’re putting out your own money to cover publishing and marketing costs, but you’re having more control over how your money is spent.

According to a study conducted by Smashwords in 2013, books priced at $3.99 earned an average of 55 percent more than other price points. Keep in mind that any price over $2.99 is making you eligible for Amazon’s 70 percent royalty rate.

Price Drops

A sale is a great way to start off your promotional efforts for your new release. To drum up interest for your book, consider offering the book for 99 pennies for the first week or two. Later, when you have sales, make sure you promote the heck out of them to spread the word. There are free and paid promotion sites where you can advertise your sale price. You can also use your blog and social media to spread the news. I found that having a giveaway associated with the sale is a good way to get more exposure.

Holy Free Book!

A few people outside of the publishing world were horrified when I announced I was making First Visions permanently free. To be honest, I was leery at first. I worked for months on the book and poured my heart and pocketbook into putting it out there. However, I didn’t go the permanent free route until I had the entire series published and had a solid fan base. Keeping First Visions free has been a great way for new readers to discover my books.

If you sign up for KDP Select and have free promotion days, you need to find ways to maximize your exposure on those dates. If you have the funds in your marketing budget, I urge you to use sites like Kindle Nation Daily and Book Bub. I promoted my free days on both and broke into the top 100 Free on Amazon.

Finding the perfect price is tough, but after some experimentation on your part, you can see what price increases sales while also improving your readership. Just keep in mind to remain consistent across all sales channels. Amazon price matches and will lower the price of your book if it’s found to be different on another website.



Monday, February 17, 2014

Review: The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain

Summary:

Haden Lord, the disgraced prince of the Underrealm, has been sent to the mortal world to entice a girl into returning with him to the land of the dead. Posing as a student at Olympus Hills High—a haven for children of the rich and famous—Haden must single out the one girl rumored to be able to restore immortality to his race.

Daphne Raines has dreams much bigger than her tiny southern Utah town, so when her rock star dad suddenly reappears, offering her full tuition to Olympus Hills High’s prestigious music program, she sees an opportunity to catch the break she needs to make it as a singer. But upon moving into her estranged father’s mansion in California, and attending her glamorous new school, Daphne soon realizes she isn’t the only student in Olympus who doesn’t quite belong.

Haden and Daphne—destined for each other—know nothing of the true stakes their fated courtship entails. As war between the gods brews, the teenagers’ lives collide. But Daphne won’t be wooed easily and when it seems their prophesied link could happen, Haden realizes something he never intended—he’s fallen in love. Now to save themselves, Haden and Daphne must rewrite their destinies. But as their destinies change, so do the fates of both their worlds.

Publication Date: March 11, 2014


The Shadow Prince was a fun and fresh take on the Hades and Persephone myth. I’ve read several retellings of the story that missed the mark for me, but this was one of my favorites. I thought the world building was fun and different and the characters were likable.

Haden has had it tough in the underworld and he’s given a chance at redemption when he’s selected to bring back Daphne as his “boon.” He has six months to convince Daphne he’s not a creepy stalker and have her pass through the gates into the underworld willingly. He has a tough job because Daphne is very independent and has ambitions to become a famous musician.

Haden and Daphne had great chemistry and I liked the awkwardness surrounding their initial meetings. Haden comes off as very Thor-like as he tries to acclimate himself to the customs of modern society. The Shadow Prince was surprisingly funny and I liked the fish out of water scenes with Haden and his friends. The romance between Haden and Daphne developed naturally and I didn’t feel like it was insta-love between the two.

There’s some cheese in The Shadow Prince, but I had just finished an intense book, so I actually dug the corny parts of the story, like the play on the town names to represent mythological places. The high school drama was a little irksome, so I was glad the mean girl stuff was resolved quickly and didn’t become a major part of the story.

There were lots of twists and turns in The Shadow Prince and it was difficult to distinguish between allies and foes. I enjoyed Haden’s character development and that he began thinking for himself instead of trying to appease his tyrannical father. The ending resolved a few conflicts in the book, but left open a few major plot points for the sequel. If you like YA Greek mythology retellings, I’d highly recommend The Shadow Prince.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Thanks to the publisher for a copy of the novel for review!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #78

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews and features books you've added to your shelves, both physical and virtual.

Purchased:

Split Second by Kasie West

A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest

For Review:
In the End by Demitria Lunetta

Renegade (Mila 2.0) by Debra Driza

On the Fence by Kasie West

The Haven by Carol Lynch Williams

Playing for Keeps by Kate Donovan

White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout


Friday, February 14, 2014

Guest Reviews: Before You Break by Christina Lee and Full Measures by Rebecca Yarros

Summary:

A sexy, emotional New Adult romance about a bad boy on the edge and a good girl about to lose control…

The star catcher of the college baseball team isn't supposed to have skeletons in his closet. But Daniel Quinn is hiding a guilty past so dark he refuses to let anyone get close. Except there’s something about gorgeous, studious Ella Abrams that goes beyond the electric attraction between them—something that makes him want to open up.

Ella has suffered enough heartache and guilt to fill one of her psychology textbooks, but she keeps that part of herself hidden behind a bubbly exterior. Until she receives an anonymous call while working the suicide helpline and the voice on the other end touches something inside of her that she can’t ignore.

Soon Ella and Quinn’s physical connection heats up, even as their deep and revealing hotline talks intensify. But by the time Ella realizes that her seductive jock and her sensitive caller are the same guy, it might be too late to save him—or to stop herself from falling too far.

Publication Date: February 18, 2014


Jessica's Review:

4 stars. This isn't a story I'd rush out to get to add to my shelves, but it was an amazing story. Quinn and Ella are some of the most realistic characters I've read in a while and even though you can tell what's going to happen, you can't help but root for them and their happily ever after. I really, really enjoyed this story.


Summary:

Three knocks can change everything…

"She knew. That’s why Mom hadn’t opened the door. She knew he was dead."

Twenty years as an army brat and Ember Howard knew, too. The soldiers at the door meant her dad was never coming home. What she didn’t know was how she would find the strength to singlehandedly care for her crumbling family when her mom falls apart.

Then Josh Walker enters her life. Hockey star, her new next-door neighbor, and not to mention the most delicious hands that insist on saving her over and over again. He has a way of erasing the pain with a single look, a single touch. As much as she wants to turn off her feelings and endure the heartache on her own, she can’t deny their intense attraction.

Until Josh’s secret shatters their world. And Ember must decide if he’s worth the risk that comes with loving a man who could strip her bare.

Publication Date: February 10, 2014

Jessica's Review:

5 stars. I loved this story and it had me bawling like a baby. I absolutely adored Josh and while December made some choices that had me yelling at her, they were logical decisions and made sense with the story. Oh, I can't wait to get this one for my shelves.

Thanks to the publishers for copies of these books for review! A special thanks to Jessica for her providing these reviews =)