Review: Adventurous Proposal

ABOUT THE BOOK

32857529Title: Adventurous Proposal
Author: Laura Barnard
Release Date: November 2016
Length: 127 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Novella

After a string of bad dates, Florence Gray is so over online dating. So much so, that if she has to survive another guy standing her up she might just do something crazy … like accept the first proposal she gets.

So when she finds herself alone in the bar, again, Florence can hardly believe her eyes-or ears-when Hugh Humphreys swoops in and presents her with a proposal so adventurous she can’t believe she’s actually considering saying yes.

Because, after all, twenty five days to plan a wedding is some feat and that’s while getting to know your fiancé, their disapproving Mother and dealing with a jealous ex. Throw in the small matter of where they should live and you have Florence wondering what the hell she’s gotten herself into.

Can you really countdown to a wedding like an advent calendar? Fall in love with a stranger and make them your husband? Because if she’s going to make it down the aisle Christmas morning, Florence has to find out and fast.

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

 

my review

The Skinny

Florence is young and still single. Despite her online dating profile, she keeps getting stood up. On one of these such dates – the last one, in fact – she meets Hugh. They hit things off well and a few hours after walking her home, Hugh is back with a crazy proposal: get married on Christmas Day.

Crazier still, Flo says yes. She is getting married to a complete stranger in only 23 days.

The Players

Flo – a professional make-up artist tired of online dating

Hugh – a property developer from a high-society background

Nadine, Kelly, Mia – Flo’s friends; Nadine helps plan the wedding

Jace and Troy – Hugh’s friends

Felicity – pale, porcelain-skinned redhead that is Hugh’s ex

The Quote

“What if I’m shit in bed?”

His eyes light up with amusement. “Are you?”

Shit, am I?

“I don’t bloody know! I don’t have sex with me, but I’m single. That could be telling me something!” I realize I must sound hysterical, but I’m clearly more freaked out about this than I thought.

The Highs and Lows

Disclaimer: This novella does contain explicit language.
  • The Crazy Plan. Marry a complete stranger in 20ish days? Sure! No problem! Flo and Hugh go full steam ahead on their crazy plan, despite obstacles that pop up along the way that most people would heed with caution.
  • Hugh. Hugh is the brains behind this bright idea. I will admit I highly questioned his motives, especially after some odd occurrences and situations cropped up – especially the mystery surrounding the end of his engagement just six short months ago. I found it hard to seriously consider Hugh in this scheme because he was saying all the right things – sometimes so insistently – and yet he didn’t always seem to match his words. It felt like he wanted the marriage more than he did Flo, that she was just a casualty in all of this. He is very charming and well-mannered, and that scared me.
  • Pacing. Because of the short time-frame of the storyline, this book’s pacing matched. Where things could have been drug out, it wasn’t. Instead, each morning Hugh greets his grumpy bride-to-be to move forward on their wedding plans while also getting to know Flo. Each step of the process (venue, decor, dress, invitations, guest list, etc) are each touched upon humorously, and sometimes outrageously — ahem, I’m talking about you, champagne dress choosing scene!
  • The Villains. This is a toss-up between Hugh’s mother – a petty, prejudiced elite socialite – and his ex – a jealous, attention-starved shell. Being the classy gals that they are, nothing is off-limits in both of them latching their claws into Hugh. They both have despicable behavior and actions. Deplorable. I would not have been able to battle that ish.
  • The Friends. They were skeptical as hell about this entire arrangement, but quickly banded together to get behind their two lovebird friends full force. If this train was going to wreck, it was going to wreck in the most massive firework show ever. And if it wasn’t going to wreck, it would be the most amazing display of friendship ever.

The Take-Away

I think I missed the whole advent thing? It’s highlighted in the title and mentioned in the synopsis, but I think I completely overlooked it…and that was supposed to be a big part of the story? Whoops.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

Borrow.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

3490836Laura Barnard lives in Hertfordshire, UK and writes romantic comedy or ‘chick lit’ as its so often described. In her spare time she enjoys drinking her body weight in tea, indulging in cupcakes the size of her face and drooling over hunks like Jamie Dornan, Ryan Gosling and Leo Dicaprio.

She enjoys wearing yoga pants and reading fitness magazines while sitting on the sofa eating chocolate. She’s a real fan of the power nap and of course READING!

She writes not to get rich or famous, but because she LOVES writing. Even if one person tells her they enjoyed her book it makes the midnight typing worth it!

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Review + Giveaway: Doing It Over

Bybee-DoingItOver-21434-CV-FT-v6Title: Doing It Over
Author: Catherine Bybee
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release Date: April 2016
Length: 334 pages
Series?: Most Likely To #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Find the book: Goodreads |Amazon

One small town. Three close friends. True love to last a lifetime.

Voted Most Likely to Succeed, Melanie Bartlett ended up anything but. The down-on-her-luck single mom wants a complete do-over—is that too much to ask? With her family long gone from River Bend, strong, independent Mel is as surprised as anyone to end up in the quaint small town she once called home. But with her friends, Jo and Zoe, by her side, and a comfortable room at Miss Gina’s quirky bed-and-breakfast, she just might have turned the corner on a new life.

Wyatt Gibson never liked the big city. River Bend suits the ruggedly handsome builder just fine. Wyatt knows he’s home, even if that means being charmed by the appearance of Melanie and her spunky, adorable daughter. Is Wyatt’s calm devotion—even amid a coming storm—enough to convince Mel she may have found a home to call her own, a family that never leaves, and a true love to last a lifetime?

Praise for Doing It Over

“The romance between fiercely independent Melanie and charming Wyatt heats up even as outsiders threaten to derail their newfound happiness. This novel will hook readers with its warm, inviting characters and the promise for similar future installments.” –Publishers Weekly

 “This brand-new trilogy, Most Likely To, based on yearbook superlatives, kicks off with a novel that will encourage you to root for the incredibly likable Melanie. Her friends are hilarious and readers will swoon over Wyatt, who is charming and strong. Even Melanie’s daughter, Hope, is a hoot! This romance is jam-packed with animated characters, and Bybee displays her creative writing talent wonderfully. –RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

 

REVIEW

The Skinny

Melanie Bartlett returns to her hometown of River Bend a week before her 10 year reunion, as she promised her two best friends when they graduated high school. The three were inseparable as teens but have grown apart over the years as usually happens. But Melanie is back in town and down on her luck, desperately needing for her car not to break down. But it does one furiously rainy night. After refusing the help of a stranger, he calls the Sheriff – none other than her best friend Jo.

As Melanie and her young daughter get settled back in at Jo’s and later Ms. Gina’s B&B, Melanie realizes Bakersfield was a distant memory in the rear view mirror. Voted Most Likely to Succeed in high school,  Melanie is embarrassed about the circumstances of her life. The closer it comes to the reunion, the more Melanie and her daughter feel right at home with Melanie’s old friends and the townspeople. It could be the change that she’s needed for far too long.

A newcomer to the town, Wyatt, moved to River Bend to get out of the big city. He is very busy with his contract work even in a small town. When Melanie and her adventurous kid move into the B&B, Wyatt finds himself inexplicably drawn to the familial clan that bands together around Melanie, Jo, and Zoe. When a ghost from Melanie’s past resurfaces in town and threatens everything she’s built for herself and her daughter, things get dicey. Melanie’s nightmare is only just beginning, and Wyatt, Jo, Zoe and the gang must band together to figure it all out.

The Players

Melanie Bartlett – a down-on-her-luck single mom voted Most Likely to Succeed in high school is returning for her 10 year reunion

Hope Bartlett – Melanie’s seven year old daughter, she is sometimes bold and adventurous and very spunky

Jo Ward – only child of the sheriff, she choose to rebel as a teen and take his stead later in life

Zoe Brown – voted Most Likely to Never Leave River Bend has become a world famous chef and travels on a regular basis, leaving a relationship in RB behind

Luke Miller – Zoe’s high school sweetheart who stayed in River Bend, he works with his father at the local autoshop

Ms. Gina – the racy owner of the the local B&B, she took in the three girls as teens and gave them a safe space to hang out, she is known to smoke, laugh and cuss “like a sinner on Saturday”

Wyatt Gibson – a local contractor who moved out of the big city for the small town life, he avoided the career path of his prominent father

Zane – Zoe’s younger no-good brother destined to follow his father right into prison

Josie – the owner of the local bar R&B

The Quote

After getting settled in at Jo’s home the first night in town, Melanie reflects on Sheriff Ward as she opens a bottle of wine, although he has been gone several years. I still feel like this as well even as an adult.

She found herself looking around waiting for Sheriff Ward to walk in the door and read her the riot act for drinking. Didn’t matter that she was twenty-eight now, well past the legal age to drink…your parent,s or even your friend’s parents who knew you before you could wear a bra, intimidated you into believing you were still ten.

 

Wyatt stepped out of his truck; shut the door without even taking the keys with him. River Bend was this side of Mayberry in terms of crime. The chances of someone jumping in his truck and taking off were nil.

 

The lemonade was from a powder and not nature’s fruit.

With vodka…it was perfect.

The Highs and Lows

  • Truth About Small Towns. Small town life is very complex, but I feel Bybee captured it perfectly in this novel. There are intricacies that are often exaggerated or overlooked, and that was not the case here. Bybee zooms the lens on each character throughout the novel and scrutinizes their history. Although life was relatively pleasant for most of the gang, some of negatives of their lives (like Jo’s rebellious behavior, Melanie’s parent’s divorce, and Zoe’s steady relationship with Luke and her family history)  are present. They aren’t stereotypical, they aren’t glazed over. There are more than one occasion that show how those things now affect the characters – and others around them. This is the kind of place where the sheriff takes rebellious teens – including his own – and hands them over to the high school track coach for doing their time. I appreciated that Bybee took the time to get it right and make small town life realistic and not develop the storyline into its own trope about small towns.
  • The Gang. Melanie, Jo, and Zoe were high school besties. They formed a bond that has lasted through the years, no matter how far they go or how long between talks. Growing up, they all gravitated to Ms. Gina’s B&B. They also got dragged in by the Sheriff (Jo’s dad) to be on the track team. At Ms. Gina’s, the girls did odd jobs and were treated as equals. They could talk to Ms. Gina in a way they couldn’t to their own parents, and it was a safe haven for them. There were at Ms. Gina’s more than they were at home, and they became very familiar with her red cup of spiked lemonade, which she still has around. 🙂
  • The Tension. There was incredible tension between Zoe and Luke Miller. I’m still not clear what really went down all those years ago, but I do know that Zoe left and she now travels the world and has a lucrative lifestyle in Dallas, Texas working as a famous chef while Luke stayed home and continued his familiar lifestyle. When Zoe pops back into town, the tension is real and evident. Other characters pick up on it.
  • The Town & The Gang Adopting Wyatt. It is hard to be a newcomer in a small town, especially one as tight-knit as River Bend. However, Wyatt is a contributing member of society and a decent guy. He’s made the widows of the town very happy with his work, even accepting pot roasts and apple pies as payments. It’s a different way of life and Wyatt has embraced it – and the town has embraced him. I didn’t realize how seamlessly the gang had accepted him into their family, and I don’t even know when exactly it happened, but toward the end of the novel he was just like them. There was no exclusion or different treatment for being an outsider. He earned his way into their hearts and their lives, and they gladly welcomed him.
  • Melanie. She is such a complex woman. For being so smart, I was surprised. She went off to college away from her family following her parent’s divorce – announced the night of her high school graduation (parents of the decade right there) – and she didn’t look back. When money became a struggle and she could no longer afford to go to school, she fell into the “playing house” situation with her overbearing, intimidating, bullying boyfriend. Shortly later, she was pregnant and working all the time. When the baby came, she was left alone to raise her. All the while, Melanie let her boyfriend tell everyone they were married to avoid the embarrassment. She has struggled so much over the years that she wants to hide it all. When she returns to River Bend, she is not very willing to be forthcoming with her friends, who didn’t like the situation when she shared it along the way. Her placation for all those years now comes to bite her in the butt. After all those years on her own, coming back home, without even spending too much time dwelling on it, Melanie has this new resolve to fight back that was never there before. Having the support of really good friends can do amazing things for a person.
  • The Crazy Ex and Mr. Lewis. What good would a book be without a crazy ex involved? No joke, the guy is bad news all around and pretty sleazy at that. Some wild things happen – including a potential kidnapping, a fall almost off a cliff, and a mysterious mystery man who vanishes into thin air. Cue the FBI!

The Take-Away

The characters and the town of River Bend truly make this book meaningful and memorable. I loved them all, even the sloppy, messy, ugly, sassy, and classy sides of them. I told a colleague today that I wanted to go live in River Bend. Knowing these characters, I would be warmly welcomed.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

My recommendation is to buy this one. It’s a feel-good to keep around for years of re-reads and characters to serve as role models to your kids and grandkids.

About the Author

 

Copyright Julianne Gentry PhotographyNew York Times & USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee was raised in Washington State, but after graduating high school, she moved to Southern California in hopes of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Weekday Brides Series and the Not Quite Series. Bybee lives with her two teenage sons in Southern California.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Giveaway

1 Kindle Paperwhite and 2 $50 Gift Cards

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Guest Post + Review + Giveaway: Level Up

Welcome to my tour stop for Level Up by Cathy Yardley. This is a romantic comedy and the tour runs January 4-22 with reviews, interviews, guest posts and excerpts. You can check out the tour schedule here. The book is available in ebook formats worldwide.

LevelUp-Cover-640x1024Title: Level Up
Author: Cathy Yardley
Publisher: xx
Release Date: January 2016
Length: 151 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Romantic Comedy

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

“Geeky introvert Tessa Rodriguez will do whatever it takes to get promoted to video game engineer– including create a fandom-based video game in just three weeks. The only problem is, she can’t do it alone. Now, she needs to strong-arm, cajole, and otherwise socialize with her video game coworkers, especially her roommate, Adam, who’s always been strictly business with her. The more they work together, though, the closer they get…

Adam London has always thought of his roomie Tessa as “one of the guys” until he agreed to help her with this crazy project. Now, he’s thinking of her all the time… and certainly as something more than just a roommate! But his last girlfriend broke up with him to follow her ambitions, and he knows that Tessa is obsessed with getting ahead in the video game world.Going from friends to something more is one hell of a challenge. Can Tessa and Adam level up their relationship to love?”

***** Guest Post *****

The 7 Stages of Fangirl Syndrome

According to the Urban Dictionary, a fangirl is: “a rabid breed of human female who is obsessed with either a fictional character of an actor… have been known to glomp, grope, and tackle when encountering said obsessions.”

Alas, this probably describes me.

I’m a fandom fan. While I would never “glomp, grope, and tackle” anyone (what is “glomp” anyway?) I definitely find myself obsessed with certain shows, movies, and books. What’s worse, fandoms are often a gateway drug: you might start out watching Supernatural, then transfer to Sherlock, only to find yourself suddenly watching Doctor Who and Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.  There are fandoms for Marvel, Disney, and of course Star Wars.  It’s a sickness, but frankly, I don’t want the cure.

That said, if you’ve managed to avoid falling into a fandom, here’s a brief overview of what happens when fondness turns to mania – call them warning signs.

 

Stage 1:  B.F. (Before Fandom)

You live your life in a (relatively) normal manner.  You may socialize occasionally.  You go to work, school, interact with others.  Life isn’t terribly exciting, but it isn’t bad.

 

Stage 2:  Exposure

Here’s where the trouble begins. You might have a vague awareness of a show, book, or movie. Slowly, there’s an insidious seep into your consciousness. You seem to see references to the thing everywhere. You start to experience a mild FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out.  The final blow: one of your friends, who is already deep in her fangirl sickness, hammers at you relentlessly.  “You haven’t seen this?  Oh my God, you HAVE to see this.  Go watch it/read it/devour it NOW!”)  Finally, you give in.  Might as well see what all the fuss is about, right?

Famous last words.

 

Stage 3:  “Hey, this is pretty good…”

Like a blind date, where you’ve heard a lot about someone but you’ve never actually met, you have hopes that the thing lives up to the hype, even as you steel yourself for disappointment.  When it starts to prove itself, the overwhelming emotion is relief… followed quickly by curiosity.

It really isn’t bad, you think happily.

In fact, it’s good.

Pretty darned good.

 

Stage 4:  “OH. MY. GOD.”

This is more than pretty darned good. This is sensational.  Where has this been all your life?  What have you been doing when you could’ve been experiencing this?  Why didn’t you start watching/reading/enjoying sooner?

Now Is not the time for moderation.  This is full-scale binge time.  Four seasons in a week?  Sure!

Nine book series?  Looks like there’s a lot of pizza ordering in your future. Who has time to cook?

Sleep?  Sleep is for the weak!  You can sleep when you’re dead!

This fandom needs you!  Fire up the Serenity, grab some salt, load up John Watson and Daryl Dixon and let’s get going! Allons-y!

 

Stage 5:  Research! All! The Things!

You’re getting to the end of your binge.  Now, it’s not enough to read all of the books, or watch all of the episodes or movies.  You need to see if movies are being made of the books, or if comics are being made of the series, or whatever.  You Google interviews with the actors you now know by name who are portraying your favorite characters. You check out fan forums that are discussing the latest conspiracy theories for the sequel that is two years in the works.  You check out fan art, memes, and behind-the-scenes-footage. You check out videos from fan convention.  You scour the internet.

 

Stage 6:  Withdrawal

After a certain point, the material is simply petering out. The last book in the series comes out, or won’t be out for years (if ever.)  The movies have stopped. The show is on hiatus, or even (gasp!) cancelled.

You re-read the same interviews forty times, like a pauper licking at the crumbs on his plate.  You may even dip into fan fiction.  You mourn the end of an era.

 

Stage 7:  Contagion

There is only one way to recapture the magic.  You need to get a new person interested in your fandom… watch them fall down the rabbit hole, fall in love, and become just as obsessed with you.  (This is where your friend was when you were in Stage 2.)  It’s the next best thing to experiencing it again for the first time.

 

It’s too late for me. Save yourself…

If you aren’t part of a fandom, it might not be too late.  You can avoid the craziness, keep what’s left of your sanity, your free time, and your mental bandwidth.

But for the rest of you, the fans, the ones who have already succumbed and now go through the cycle…

Isn’t it great?

***** Review *****

The Skinny

Tessa is a woman working in a male-dominated field: gaming. She is simply an audio girl, but has the capability to be a video game engineer. She has worked extremely hard, and knows she deserves an upcoming slot on the team at her company. The only problem is the head engineer, who is known to run off potential candidates. Tess doesn’t stand a chance if she doesn’t become more personable.

Her roommate, Adam, is the project manager of the engineering team, and is strong-armed by Tessa to help her out. After a round of advice leads Tessa to crash and burn, Adam takes it upon himself to help her himself. While Tessa befriends a new temp girl at work – and her crew of girls – Tessa finds a cause that allows her to showcase her engineering talents and desperately help her new friends, but a short deadline requires Tessa to socialize at work and seek help from the engineering team.

Meanwhile, the entire engineering team has a bet going with work-obsessed Adam that he cannot find a new girlfriend before the next new hire fills the upcoming opening slot on the engineering team. The long hours he’s putting in with Tessa naturally draw them together, and he can’t help but compare her to his ex-(almost)-fiancé.

*There is adult content in the book, as well as this review. Proceed with caution.

The Players

Tessa – a mid-20s audio engineer; she is an introvert and painfully and awkwardly antisocial; roommates with Adam; she has her sights set on being a coding engineer

Ani – Tessa’s only friend; she lives far away so they Skype since she lives in Helsinki

Adam – the project manager for the engineering team; owns the house and rents a room to Tessa; propels her to socialize and meet people; still suffering from a bad breakup

 

The Girls

Stacy – the company’s temp secretary; introduces Tessa to the crew

Rachel – a university student working as an event planner at the Blue Moon Casino;

Hailey – a tall, rockabilly styled woman who deals blackjack at the Blue Moon Casino

Kyla – a mechanic with a striking resemblance to Marilyn Monroe; she has incredible art talent

Cressida – suffers from agoraphobia; hasn’t left the bookstore since they moved there years ago

*Rachel, Hailey and Cressida are sister who own the local bookstore. The bookstore is suffering and needing a boost in sales and promotions. They also live there, so their home is in jeopardy.

 

The Geeks 

Abraham – head of the engineering team, worshiped for his coding skills, is very hard to get along with

Rodney – relatively nice guy

Fezza – probably Adam’s best friend

José – hits on everybody

 

The Quotes

“Dude! It’s New Year’s!” José said, nudging Adam from his place on Fezza’s pea-soup green sofa. “We’ve got ten monitors and a large screen set up for an epic twenty-four hour straight marathon, and you’re sitting here dinking away on your laptop?”

Adam didn’t even bother to look up from hsi screen. “Tod you. Got a project,” he said.

“Well then, why didn’t you stay at home?” José whined.

“Talk to Fezza.” Adam took a quick swig of Mountain Dew. “He’s the one who kidnapped me.”

“‘Kidnapped’ is such an ugly word,” Fezza interjected, clicking the keys of his game controller madly. “I prefer ‘forcibly invited.”

 

“If the shoe fits,” she ground out, “lace up that bitch and wear it!”

 

“I was just starting to get the hang of it. But you guys can’t keep trying to make me a healer, damn it. That’s sexist.”

“We’re making you a healer because you’re less likely to try killing your teamates, you dork,” Fezza said. “Every time you’re a barbarian, you kill me.”

She smiled, motioning him to come closer. “That’s because you’re an asshole,” she shared in a conspiratorial stage whisper.

The guys hooted.

Highs and Lows

  • + Tessa’s Drive. Tessa is a young woman driven to succeed. She doesn’t want to go back home with her tail between her legs. She talks at one point of being very different than her siblings and her mother, and she is setting out to accomplish her dreams. She knows she is basically blackballed in her career field. It is a man’s field, and she is trying to elevate herself in it. It’s not an easy task when it is clearly evident that she’s working with many who are sexist. Regardless, she’s going to prove herself…or go down trying.
  • – Adam. At times, Adam is great. At other times, Adam’s a jerk. He is the one who gets Tessa into the mess she winds up in, and basically throws her in the Lion’s Den. Then, he helps her. Toward the latter half of the book, there are several occasions where he has a blow-up moment and storms off. I didn’t like that. I understood it, sort of, but I didn’t like it.
  • + The Girls. Lordy, they are a group! They are so interesting and ecclectic, each in their own right and collectively, and from Tessa’s descriptions, they are gorgeous! I can only imagine what Hailey and Kyla look like. At the same time, there was a certain amount of depth to them, but also not a lot, which is understandable given this is the first installment in the series. However, Cressida *never* makes an appearance in the book at all. I was hoping she would toward the end.
  • – The Geeks. The guys Adam works with are a bunch of pigs, José especially. They are very sexist, as Tessa points out. I really didn’t like them for the vast majority of the book. I still don’t like Abraham. He’s just a dick.
  • + Tessa’s Scene @ The Restaurant. Woman’s got balls! She delivers and  blasts this slimeball so eloquently. It was the first time I realized there was more to Tessa than fluff and insecurity. It’s like there is an entire other side of her that doesn’t quite make it’s way all the way out. It also made me wonder if there were a more closely aligned reason for her ballsy speech.
  • – The Bookstore. Tessa is working herself into the ground trying to get this project for the bookstore up and going to enter into a contest. It’s a long shot, but it should definitely be a contender for the prize. It seems she hits a roadblock at every turn, which sets the tone for the project. I felt Tessa was fighting a losing game and I didn’t like that feeling at all, not after all she did for the sisters and all her efforts showing The Geeks what she can do.
  • + The Code-Off.  Yeah, there’s a code-off. And it’s AWESOME!

The Take-Away

What was there not to like about this book? There are The Girls and The Geeks, their two leaders, an crazy ex, a code-off, some lucrative job offers, and an almost lawsuit amidst this insane attraction. It’s like, just get together already! Everyone in The Girls and The Geeks would be all for it. Just do it already! That part was so angsty, and you know, the whole project part.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

BUY! This is a buy you won’t regret.

 

***** About the Author *****

Cathy Yardley needs to get out more. When not writing, she is probably cruising the Internet, sleeping or watching D-list movies and adding to her unnatural mental store of character-actor trivia. She is a closet fangirl forSupernatural, Sherlock, Doctor Who, and too many others to name. Her family is considering performing an intervention for her addiction to pop culture. Want to read more of her writing? Sign up for her notification list, and get a free novella, Hooked, from the Fandom Hearts series!

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

 

***** Giveaway *****

$25 Amazon GC (INT). Ends 1/27/16.

Prizing is provided by the author, hosts are not responsible. Must be 13 or older to enter and have parental permission if under 18. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary to win.
This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

 

Review + Giveaway: Striking Out

STRIKING_OUT_BannerToday I have a review of Striking Out by Australian author Scarlet Bennett. Check out the tour page all the rest of the goings-on for the tour.

Title: Striking Out
Author: Scarlet Bennett
Publisher: Firefield Press
Release Date: July 2015
Length: 272 pages
Series?: Sharon Jackson #1
Genre: NA

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Sharon Jackson is a small-town girl with big-city dreams. Forced out of her home in regional Western Australia with her singing career in ruins, she hits the big smoke in search of stardom. After signing with a sleazy agent who wants more than a ten percent cut of her earnings, she struggles to earn a place in the macho world of rock-‘n-roll, encountering a series of colourful characters along the way – like Todd, the sexy, brooding muso with a dragon tattoo and Kevin, the whip-smart fighter with some hidden demons of his own.

But when her troubled past follows her to the city, Shazza’s dreams begin to unravel. With no home to go back to and a past that won’t stay buried, everything she has worked for is on the line. Shazza must make a decision that will define the course of her future, and time is running out.

 

***** Review *****

The Skinny

Shazza has left town under a black cloud. She wants nothing more than to be a rock-n-roll star, so she signs on with a seedy agent but struggles to make her way. Shazza meets some fascinating friends along the way, including a music teacher and a dojo owner. Shazza thinks she’s making progress with her music when a blast from the past appears in Perth. Shazza has some serious thinking to do and choices to make for herself and her future.

The Players

Shazza – a young rock-n-roll musician

Des – a very egotistical musical/talent agent; Shazza and Todd’s agent

Todd – frontman for Des’ best band; helps Shazza with her career

Jillian – Des’ girlfriend; befriends Shazza

Kevin – dojo owner; offers Shazza a teaching position

First Impressions

The cover is pink with a rocker girl on it. I was pretty sure I knew what to expect with a more adult coming-of-age and self-discovery type of storyline.

Second Thoughts

At first I wasn’t sure I would finish this book, but I still have a personal stigma about DNFing books. As I started reading I quickly found that my initial dislike of the book was misplaced. I don’t know if it was the cover or the synopsis.

The cover is very appealing to young girls, but this is definitely an adult read. The first thing I noticed was the language. Right from the start and throughout there is quite a bit of language. As the plot progresses, there is also some sexual content to the book. It is sparse and sprinkled in at just the right moments.

From the very beginning, with everything in the world against Shazza, I couldn’t help but be on her side. She wanted so desperately to make her way, and I couldn’t help but want all the pieces to fall into place perfectly for her.

I liked the fact that Shazza was exactly what she presented herself to be. She didn’t put on a front of who she was for readers or for other characters, even though she was the small fish in a big pond. That scored big points with me because she was a genuine character in a world of not so genuine characters.

Shazza has many talents. She is musically inclined with both instruments and voice, and she discovers she has a range of vocal talent with the help of her vocal teacher, Roderick. Shazza also has quite a talent with her body – as a taekwondo guru. Her musical talents score her Des as an agent, although he doesn’t seem to be up to snuff, and her taekwondo experience earns her a teaching position at Kevin’s dojo for some extra money that she desperately needs.

Roderick and Bobby, the duo whom are responsible for the broadening of Shazza’s vocal range and abilities, are a hilarious and comforting pair of friends for Shazza. In the rocky world of a new town, they are a safe place for her to land, as is Kevin’s dojo.

I wasn’t sure where Shazza’s story was going, and I wasn’t so sure she knew either, until things just kind of fell into her lap. She reaches a point where she must make several choices about her future and how she wants to continue in life.

The book is relatively fast-paced and the situations Shazza finds herself in kept me turning pages. I would definitely recommend this as a great read!

***** About the Author *****

 Scarlet Bennett spent her formative years in regional Western Australia, and it shows. Years of city living have softened her broad accent, but the slang she’s stuck with. After earning a Masters degree in Psychology, the colourful characters of her childhood – and that irrepressible Aussie spirit – found their way onto the page. She is a graduate of Allaboutwriting’s mentoring program, and lives in Canberra with her husband, kids, and far more animals than can reasonably fit on a suburban plot.

 

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

***** Giveaway *****

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10 sets of earrings handmade by the author (INT)

Ends September 2nd

All earrings are made with sterling silver and semi-precious gemstones. The gemstones included are turquoise, rose quartz, red agate, freshwater pearls and amethyst.

Prizing provided by the author, hosts are in no way responsible.

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

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Review: Someone Else’s Fairytale

Title: Someone Else’s Fairytale
Author: E.M. Tippets
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Release Date: December 2013
Length: 356 pages
Series?: Someone Else’s Fairytale #1
Genre: Romance

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon 

Jason Vanderholt, Hollywood’s hottest actor, falls head over heels for everygirl, Chloe Winters, who hasn’t gotten around to watching most of his movies. It’s the ideal fairytale… for most people. The last thing Chloe needs is public attention. It brings back dangers from the past that she’s worked her whole life to escape.

***** Review *****

I wanted to like this book so bad. It has a badass title with a great cover.

I just could not get into it. I think there were two reasons.

  1. I wanted to, but it was just too outlandish for me. I felt like it wanted to be realistic, but it was just a poser, a fake. Even the characters. I don’t like that. I don’t like that in people, and I definitely do not like it in my books.
  2. It d  r   u   g   on and on and on. It was so slow. I felt like nothing was happening.

I reached the quarter mark and I had to have a serious conversation with myself. I hate DNFing books, but I had to remind myself that I also hate forcing myself to read something just for the sake of not DNFing it.

***** About the Author *****

Emily Mah Tippetts writes romance under the name E.M. Tippetts and science fiction and fantasy under the name Emily Mah. Before she was a published author, she was an attorney who specialized in real estate, contracts, and estate planning, especially literary estate planning.

Her most recent pro publications have been her science fiction and fantasy short stories in magazines like Black Gate, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, and the anthology, Shanghai Steam.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review: Just Desserts

Title: Just Desserts
Author: Emma Bennet
Publisher: Joffe Books Romance and Suspense
Release Date: December 2014
Length: 55 pages
Series?: novella
Genre: Romance

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon 

Leah is falling for handsome French chef Jean-Claude. But she’s meant to be getting married to Dan in a few weeks!

Leah is about to give up her job at a top restaurant to marry her fiancé Dan. Then Jean-Claude, a charming French chef, comes to work at the restaurant, and suddenly Leah’s world is turned upside down.

Does Jean-Claude offer a more exciting future than dependable Dan? And does Jean-Claude even really like her?

***** Review *****

The plot synopsis is juvenile, which is exactly how I would describe this short novella. The plot sets readers up to be worried about Leah, who is living her life very passively with her fiancé Dan.

Dan and Leah have been together for four years and are buying a house outside of London, forcing Leah to resign from her pastry chef job at a prestigious London restaurant. But it’s not just her job. He’s asking her to give up her career that she’s worked so hard for, and Leah is supposed to be struggling with that decision, but it isn’t really a struggle because she just lets Dan tell her how it’s going to be and does as he says. There’s no real resistance from Leah, no true realization or growth.

All the while, Dan is requiring Leah to plan this elaborate wedding. Of course, it’s more for show than at all a reflection of their love for one another because every instance we see Dan reinforces how selfish and self-absorbed of a person he is. The only thing we learn about Dan is the reinforcement of how completely selfish and clueless he is to Leah’s wants and needs as his partner, as a woman, and as a person.

Leah does as she’s told and resigns, but is on-hand to train her replacement while also planning her wedding. Jean-Claude is a hunk with a personality, and he is interested in Leah. After the course of a few days’ work, she realizes she is attracted to him, but she is still planning her wedding and moving forward with building her life and future with Dan.

Needless to say, the wedding is doomed.

This sounds interesting and suspenseful, right? It’s not, really. There wasn’t any real suspense. It was pretty clear cut the entire way through with a predictable storyline. It was difficult to see where the romance was supposed to be in the mix, as well.

I think a little extra time spent developing the characters a bit more and the plot line are in order for this to be a sweet, romantic read.

***** About the Author *****

Emma grew up and lived in London, before falling in love and moving to Wales to marry her own hero. Emma now lives with her husband, children, and many animals in a small Welsh market town, fitting in her writing around the many demands of little people and cats.The beautiful landscape around her home gave her the inspiration for ‘The Green Hills of Home’.

Her second novel, ‘His Secret Daughter’, is available now.

Emma likes (in no particular order): cake, books, Cary Grant films, prosecco, chocolate, guinea pigs, knitting, quilting and happily ever afters!

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review: The Seven Steps to Closure

17791526Title: The Seven Steps to Closure
Author: Donna Joy Usher
Publisher: Lush Publications
Release Date: May 2012
Length: 410 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Humor, Romance

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Tara Babcock awakes the morning after her 30th birthday with a hangover that could kill an elephant – and the knowledge she is still no closer to achieving closure on her marriage breakup. Things go from bad to worse when she discovers that, not only is her ex-husband engaged to her cousin – Tash, the woman he left her for – but that Jake is also running for Lord Mayor of Sydney.

Desperate to leave the destructive relationship behind and with nothing to lose, she decides- with encouragement from her three best friends – to follow the dubious advice from a magazine article, Closure in Seven Easy Steps. The Seven Steps to Closure follows Tara on her sometimes disastrous – always hilarious – path to achieve the seemingly impossible.

***** Review *****

I yearned for the day that I would wake up and know that deep inside me, the wounds had healed – but at the same time I still fantasized about a reunion with him. I had become an emotional schizophrenic. 

Tara Babcock has spent the last year leading up to her 30th birthday knowing her husband left her for her snooty, snobby cousin Tash. She is in this perpetual loop of heartbreak because she’d loved him. She still loves him. She doesn’t understand what went so wrong.

When I first started reading, all I could think from the descriptions of little incidents from her marriage was that Tara was a complete idiot. Obviously the man has some bipolar issue, but mostly he’s just a jackass who cheated on you with your cousin. And I was bugged that Tara had so many wonderful family members and friends in her life that just stood by through it all.

But then the focus shifted slightly to Tara’s friends and the elements of their lives, which I thoroughly enjoyed throughout the book. It became more and more clear that Tara is just a bit of a shell.

With time, it had become easier to pretend that I was fine, to function in a semi-normal manner. To smile; even though it didn’t reach my eyes. To laugh; even though it didn’t touch my heart. But I found myself continuously wondering. What could I have done differently? Why wasn’t I enough? And self-doubt had become a shadow, following my footsteps and shaping my decisions. 

The emotional baggage we, as women, carry with us through life is sometimes more detrimental to us than anything else in the world. And that’s exactly where Tara still is. Everything still seems fresh as the days it happened. So her friends rally around her and put Tara on The Seven Steps to Closure. It is time for her to move on. (Of course, it doesn’t help that Jake is running for Lord Mayor, so he and Tash are plastered across every paper, tabloid and TV.)

I LOVED the seven steps. At first I was very dubious about how any of that would ever even work, but the more and more I thought of it – as a woman who has been through Jake relationship (God, it’s like they’re the same person), and a jilted fiancé – I realized it’s not to look upon the seven steps as a one-size-fits-all cure. It’s about following the steps with fidelity and the journey they will bring. I wish I’d known about these seven steps when I was where Tara finds herself in life.

Step number seven – Obtain closure. 

“What?” I asked. “How?” 

“I’m not sure about that part,” admitted Elaine. “But I have faith that if you follow all the other steps, it will just happen naturally.” 

“You just want me to have sex.”

“Yes I do dear, and the sooner the better.”

Tara embarks on this journey, and it is the experience of a lifetime. She does the whole “new me, new look” thing, the one-night stand, and then comes time for an exotic trip. She picks no better time than that of Jake and Tash’s wedding, which turns out to be the wedding she had planned for her and Jake and all the ideas he nixed and blew off. (Asshat.)

She recognizes the man in the seat next to her, but she cannot for the longest place him. Needless to say, airfare is not the best mode of transportation for Tara. Even the wheels retracting into the undercarriage of the plane frighten her, but this very annoying stranger gets her through the trip.

Tara gets to see up close and personal some of the world, with it’s good and bad, and she falls in love along the way. Only, she’s trying hard not to. She doesn’t want to replace one for another or have a rebound relationship. It just sort of happens, in the most simple of ways. I loved Tara’s travels and all that happened. It brings her character to life and everything looks different through her eyes.

When Tara returns, a flurry of things happen. So much going on! And one conversation Tara has with her mother hits the nail on the head perfectly in terms of why no one was there to hep Tara out of her horrible marriage. It’s the reason I went down that horrible, bad relationship road myself, and why so many women do.

“I hadn’t realized how much of myself I had sacrificed to be with Jake. I gave up my identity.” 

“You were too lost to realize you were lost. It made me so sad watching you. You got smaller and smaller and then one day you stopped shining.” 

“Mother,” I said saddened, “why didn’t you say something?” 

“Some things you have to realize yourself, and until you do, you drive away anyone who tries to tell you away. I’d already lost so much of you I didn’t want to lose all of you.” 

For some reason those words are so powerful and resonated with me. Perhaps because I had been in Tara’s shoes (thankfully though, not married to the jerk). It is an intense and emotional roller coaster. And Tara seems to be back on another one, but this time she’s putting a stop to it no matter how much her heart breaks.

Only…things are not as they seem…and word from the grapevine is that Jake is in the same predicament that was the reason he left Tara for Tash. Oh, karma. You are such a wonderful and beautiful bitch. 🙂

***** About the Author *****

I started writing my first novel when I was seven. With no idea about plot or character development (I mean I was only seven) my storyline quickly disintegrated into a muddled jumble of boring dialogue between two horses. Disillusioned, I gave up writing stories for quite a while after that. Instead, I concentrated on my studies, eventually graduating as a dentist.

After many years of ‘drilling and filling’ I turned to writing in an effort to escape the seriousness of my day job. During that time I created my first book, The Seven Steps to Closure, and discovered that I love nothing more than making other people laugh. Well that, and my husband and two miniature schnauzers, Chloe and Xena.

I currently live near the beach on the beautiful New South Wales Central Coast. When I am not working or writing, I love to paddle board, walk on the beach and sip chai lattes at the local cafe.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads