Review: Five Days, Five Kisses

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Five Days, Five Kisses
Author: Angela Carling
Release Date: January 2018
Length: 257 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Children’s

What could be more awkward than getting dumped at graduation….kissing five strangers to get over it! Nikola Jensen hates endings, like when her parents told her they were splitting up, or when she was forced to leave her first love and idyllic lake home to move to the barren desert of Arizona. So, two years later when her high school boyfriend Sam, publicly breaks her heart, Nikola can’t seem to let go. To help her move on Nikola’s best friends, Liberty and Maya create the absurd Five Days, Five Kisses plan. All she has to do is kiss a new guy every day for five days and Sam will be a distant memory. Five Days, kissing five strangers. What could possibly go wrong?

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

My Thoughts 

This was a fun, light, and quick read! Perfect to kick off spring break or summer with.

I enjoyed the relationship Nikola had with each of her friends, Liberty and Maya. Liberty is analytical to the extreme, and Maya is more in tune with emotions. Regardless, both girls have her back and are fiercely loyal. Between the two of them, they set Nikola up on a date each night after her boyfriend breaks up with her on graduation.

While some of the convos and dates were a little improbable, I can say if it were me, my friends would have totally been Liberty and Maya and I would have been forced to go along with the five kisses in five days theory. Honestly, I can’t say after the first kiss I would be needing to be forced. 🙂 It does sound like an adventure – and fun!!

I also really loved Nikola’s reflection on her relationship and what she was forced to give up when she started dating said loser ex-boyfriend. Her realization about herself was not something I expected and I’m so glad Carling made a point to include that in the book.

Overall, a great book about strong teen friendships in a positive light!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

TitlePic2I was born and raised in Palm Springs, California and after living in several different states ended up back in yet another desert in Arizona, where I reside with my husband, three kids and five cats.  We’ve now lived here for ten years and haven’t melted yet, although we have fried eggs on the sidewalk. We love to escape to our cabin in the mountains or to my favorite place, the beach. I have several obsessions, including my passion for all kinds of music and my inability to stop buying cheap jewelry. I am often caught singing in public bathrooms, just for the acoustics, or rollerblading through my neighborhood while singing loudly to whatever is playing on my iPod. I love to have lots of flowers in my garden and shiny things in my house.  My favorite holiday of all (going along with the shiny things theme) is Christmas. All in all, I consider myself the luckiest, most blessed person alive and am so happy to have this opportunity to write and also to share my writing with other people!

Find the author: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review: Game of Hearts

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Game of Hearts
Author: Cathy Yardley
Publisher: RYW Publishing 
Release Date: January 2018
Length: 179 pages
Series?: Fandom Hearts #3
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Kyla Summers has been offered the opportunity of a lifetime to get her cosplay business off the ground, and only one thing stands in her way. She needs someone to take over the auto shop, and there’s only one person she can think of to call…

Jericho Salomon hasn’t been back in his home town since he joined a biker gang and rode off nine years ago. When his best friend’s kid sister calls begging for help, he knows that he owes the family a debt and he intends to pay. This is easier said than done once he finds that the kid is all grown up…

She needs a pair of skillful hands. He needs to keep his hands off. When sparks begin to fly, can they keep things strictly business, or will their hearts get hopelessly tangled? No more games, it’s time to play for keeps.

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

My Thoughts 

Kyla Summers has been running ragged operating both the business and mechanic side of the auto shop she and her brother inherited from their father so he could enjoy traveling. With her brother off cavorting on his own vacations as he pleases, Kyla is left to man the shop on her own while also trying to get her own costume design business off the ground. When Billy returns from a trip with a broken arm and Kyla’s costumes are due at convention only a month off, she throws in the towel and calls long-time friend Jericho Salomon.

Jericho Salomon spent the last of his time in town with the Summers, his second family. After leaving home at 17, he met up with some motorcycle gearheads and joined a crew called the Machinists. They are not a motorcycle club or gang, and Jericho is intent on keeping their foundation alive by helping out the young men who are interested, just as Pedro and Mike helped him.

Mike and Pedro are expanding the crew, but it is growing too large too fast and presenting problems with a younger recruit trying to throw a coupe and get the other youngers to rebel and go gangster in Hell’s Angels fashion. With an upcoming rally, Jericho is pressed for time to come back to help the Summers while things continue to escalate with his motorcycle friends.

Jericho is a machine himself in the shop. Standing at 6 foot 7 inches tall, he’s a mammoth of a man. He easily falls into working in the shop, and bunks above the shop in Kyla’s little apartment. Despite not seeing one another for nine years, they fall easily back into their old habits and friendship. The banter flows with ease and helps bring out their natures. In front of Billy, it is full of flirtation and only to get his hackles up. For Jericho, it’s all a ruse. But for Kyla…she’s crushed on Jericho near all her life. When Jericho finds Kyla falling out of her the daybed in her costume room, he brings her back to her room and the huge California king bed she gave up for him.

Jericho coming back to his hometown is not something he does lightly, and not by choice. He strictly comes to help the Summers. He and Billy have been friends for so long, it’s like a small debt to repay the Summers family. Billy throws a fit that Kyla asked because being back near his mom and all the bad from his childhood isn’t good for him.

Kyla’s brother Billy is a domineering, self-serving, selfish man. He belittles Kyla for wanting to pursue her passion, and does not admit to sloughing off all the work on her shoulders while demanding she step up while she’s been doing double duty for most of the year. He treated his sister abominably and wasn’t even apologetic about it. When Kyla finally tries to sort of stand up for herself, he doesn’t even recognize her points. He was manipulative and pulled the “family business” strings about heartbreaking their father if she walked away to do her costumes.

Jericho makes his own deal with Kyla. She is to work on her costumes for the convention while he handles the entire shop. Kyla’s dream of winning this phenomenal costume contest and kick-starting her business seems to be more of a reality than she ever thought possible. Kyla’s hardwork hits a hard wall when she discovers the contest requirements include male costumes and a couples costume. She’s worked the entire time on only the three, including a Daenerys Game of Thrones costume. When motorcycle trouble draws Jericho away, Kyla’s forced back into the shop. Her dreams are going down the drain.

Jericho’s motorcycle crew brings trouble back to Kyla’s shop, which she uses to her advantage. Jericho also lays some of his own demons to rest. I wish that there was some more focus on Jericho’s family to round out and give more life to Jericho’s past, but the interactions are enough to explain why Jericho has stayed away all these years and understand his mother’s reasons. 

I loved the descriptions of Kyla’s costume making and her passion for doing something different. Like Hailey in the previous book in the series,  Kyla carries the weight of the family business on her shoulders. I wish she had stood up to her brother sooner and took more of a stand because nothing is really resolved between them, unlike Jericho’s problems with his mother. I loved Jericho’s character and the strength and compassion he displays for Kyla and for his mother.

A sweet friends-to-lovers/best friend’s little sister trope brings heart and humor to the table. The sweet and savory mix of bad boy and sweet girl, Kyla’s gender-breaking roles, and the fandom fashion brought out a sweet, savory romance.

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

Five Year Blogoversary + Giveaway!

Today I’m excited to celebrate my  Five Year Blogoverary! Five years!! Wow!! Where has the time gone?

The day I started blogging I was scared. Y’all, I am a bit worry wart (thanks, Dad). I didn’t want to fail. I started out by sharing reviews with a friend to put on her blog. After a couple of months, I started my own blog in January 2013. I had just graduated college the month before and had some time to figure out how things worked.

I spent little time deciding on my blog name. It was inspired from a fictional place of similar name from a book I read several years ago, Land of a Hundred Wonders. The book was filled with characters I came to love. My first year was rough. I was learning about this whole new world and then I was a teacher! I lived at my school (and I still do), so I had to step away from my blog that first year. When 2014 hit I had a little bit better handle on things and I started coming back.

Since then there have been so many great books that have come along. NetGalley helped out there, and I’m still paying the price, but I love that I am auto-approved from a few publishers. I met some really great people and enjoyed so much of my blogging journey. I’ve had to take several hiatuses over the years, but I never considered leaving my blog behind. These past five years have been such a bright spot in my life with my blog.

Some Stats

379 Books Read
1,922 Posts
9,775 Comments
58,823 Blog Views
442 Followers on Instagram
1,595 Likes on Facebook Page
1,462 Followers on Twitter

It is so great to have this space and the freedom to share my thoughts about books and my life.  I want to thank all of you for visiting and commenting. In celebration of this milestone, I want to celebrate you! Without all of you fellow bloggers, I wouldn’t have enjoyed blogging nearly as much.

 Enter to win a $20 Amazon gift card!

  • Open Internationally
  • Ends: 12:00 AM February 5th
  • Winner will be notified within 72 hours and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.
  • Sweeps and giveaway accounts are ineligible.

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code. 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 emailed within 72 hours 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. Prizing is provided by Girl of 1000 Wonders. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Black Friday Book Bonanza Giveaway

I decided to join a thing! I usually always tend to shy away from joining or participating in giveaway hops, but this year I am feeling it. Why not?

This is the 7th Annual Black Friday Book Bonanza Blog Giveaway Hop, hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer and Marlene @ Reading Reality. Come join in the fun and help followers and visitors avoid the crowds and hop your blogs for the chance to win goodies!


Wanna know what I’m giving away? 

 

I’m giving away…

$15 Amazon Gift Card

The Giveaway Deets

  • Prize: $15 Amazon Gift Card
  • Open Internationally
  • Ends: 12:00 AM November 27th
  • Winner will be notified within 72 hours and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.
  • Sweeps or giveaway accounts are ineligible.

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code. 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 emailed within 72 hours 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. Prizing is provided by Girl of 1000 Wonders. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Check out these other Book Bonanza Giveaway participants! Go check out what they’re giving away this Black Friday! 

Reminder: Black Friday Giveaway!

This is the 7th Annual Black Friday Book Bonanza Blog Giveaway Hop, hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer and Marlene @ Reading Reality. Come join in the fun and help followers and visitors avoid the crowds and hop your blogs for the chance to win goodies!


Wanna know what I’m giving away? 

 

 

I’m giving away…

$15 Amazon Gift Card

The Giveaway Deets

  • Prize: $15 Amazon Gift Card
  • Open Internationally
  • Ends: 12:00 AM November 27th
  • Winner will be notified within 72 hours and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

Look for the giveaway post on Friday!

Enter all weekend long!

Are You Ready For a Black Friday Giveaway?

I decided to join a thing! I usually always tend to shy away from joining or participating in giveaway hops, but this year I am feeling it. Why not?

This is the 7th Annual Black Friday Book Bonanza Blog Giveaway Hop, hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer and Marlene @ Reading Reality. Come join in the fun and help followers and visitors avoid the crowds and hop your blogs for the chance to win goodies!


Hop Rules

  • The giveaway runs from 12:01 am on November 24 through 12:01 am November 27 (Black Friday through Cyber Monday)
  • Giveaway is book-related
  • Winners will be announced within 72 hours of giveaway end

Wanna know what I’m giving away? 

 

I’m giving away…

$15 Amazon Gift Card

The Giveaway Deets

  • Prize: $15 Amazon Gift Card
  • Open Internationally
  • Ends: 12:00 AM November 27th
  • Winner will be notified within 72 hours and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code. 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 emailed within 72 hours 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. Prizing is provided by Girl of 1000 Wonders. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

 

Look for the giveaway post on November 24th!!

 

Blitz + Giveaway: The Lucky One

The Lucky One
Sylvie Stewart
(Carolina Connections, #3)
Publication date: May 11th 2017
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Romance

When your luck runs out, do you run away—or do you stay and fight?

Bailey:
Let’s get one thing straight. I am not your typical girl. Sure I’ve got all the parts, but I’ve been a stubborn, irreverent tomboy since the womb, as my Irish father would proudly attest. Despite my Irish blood, I’ve had a bit of bad luck here and there—I recently trusted the wrong guy and got derailed in my professional pursuits. But I’ve bounced back. With my shields firmly in place, I thought nothing, or no one, could touch me again. Until he did. And he just might make this tomboy do the girliest thing in the world—fall head over heels in love. Of all the damn luck…

Jake:
I’m a pretty lucky guy. I have a phenomenal family, a career I love, and I’m building a brand-new life back in my hometown. And, not to be a jerk about it, but I do more than all right with the ladies. Everything’s been going according to plan—like I said, I’m a lucky guy.

That was, until my luck ran out.

Until I met the girl I call “Irish.”

Irony can go kiss my a$$.

Goodreads / Amazon / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

I was struck again by the thought that everyone in the world seemed to be good with kids but me. And how unfair was it that Jake Beckett was not only hot as sin and a wizard in the sack, but he was also nice to small people and fainting women?

What was I supposed to do with that?

We finally pulled into the driveway and I hopped out quickly to avoid any awkward assistance that might be offered. Seeming to need no invitation, Jake followed us inside and closed the door behind him.

I took a deep breath and firmed my back as well as my resolve.

“As you can see, we’re all fine. I appreciate your concern—and the burritos—but everything is under control. We’ll go ahead and get on with our day and you can get on with yours.” I held my hand out toward the door like some damn restaurant hostess.

“Uh-huh,” he replied and had the nerve to lean against the entryway wall and put his hands in his pockets.

What was this? Was he posing for a bachelor-of-the-month calendar?

Gah!

I performed the hostess gesture yet again.

This time it received a grin.

“What?!” I demanded.

He looked me up and down. “Uh-huh.”

I became acutely aware of my attire and general appearance in that moment. I could feel the heat rising to my cheeks.

My hair was in a messy ponytail and I was dressed in athletic shorts and a men’s t-shirt. I didn’t need to look down to know there was a ketchup stain on the hem and a dinosaur riding a bicycle on the front. I have no explanation.

I urged myself to ignore Jake’s look and not even attempt to interpret it.

This moment perfectly captured the reason all Jake’s texts and calls had gone unanswered over the past three weeks.

He wasn’t texting me.

He was texting the girl from the wedding.

The girl I’d pretended to be for one night.

The girl I would never be.

The one I couldn’t afford to be.

(Copyright 2017 Sylvie Stewart)

 

Sylvie Stewart’s addiction to books has been a lifelong problem. It was the cause of many scoldings when her mother discovered Sylvie army-crawling to the bookshelf after lights out. And it is the reason her husband would have a fairly solid case if he claimed “alienation of affection” and pointed a finger at her e-reader (a.k.a “The Precious”). Never-the-less, books are in Sylvie’s heart to stay, and she has transformed her love of books into a career as an author.

A recent move to North Carolina inspired Sylvie’s debut Romantic Comedy series. Carolina Connections is a collection of standalone novels based in her new hometown, and it combines her love of romance, humor, and sexy times. There is also some wine drinking incorporated in there, as this is another of Sylvie’s passions. Perhaps a future story will also involve kayaking, a new interest in Sylvie’s life. Experience has taught her that you can’t kayak and drink wine simultaneously, though, so don’t try this at home!

The Fix, The Spark, and The Lucky One are now available. The fourth book in the Carolina Connections series will release in Fall 2017.. That is, if Sylvie’s eight-year-old twins will stop trying to peek at her laptop while she’s writing. That might lead to some awkward parent-teacher conferences.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

GIVEAWAY!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Blitz + Giveaway: Written In Blood

Written In Blood
Alex R. Carver
Publication date: April 4th 2017
Genres: Adult, Thriller

A peaceful village torn apart by murder, mistrust, and a desire for revenge.

When Oakhurst’s daughters begin to turn up, brutally murdered and with accusatory words carved into their skin, the residents of the small, close-knit community are unwilling to believe that one of their own might be a killer. Suspicion falls on the village’s newest resident, Zack Wild, attractive, charming, author of violent crime novels, and possessor of a dark history; he seems like the perfect suspect. As the investigation continues, the evidence against Wild mounts, but is prejudice against the newcomer affecting the judgment of Sergeant Mitchell, Constable Turner thinks so; she is determined to bring the killer to justice, no matter who it is, or what she has to do. Who will be proved right, and will they catch the killer before he can strike again?

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

EXCERPT:

The greeting that rose to his lips died there when he caught sight of the person on his doorstep. The first thing he saw was a pair of tanned legs, followed by a red micro mini-skirt that was only a little bigger than a belt, then a red top, cut low to show off the cleavage and so skin-tight he couldn’t help thinking that it must be at least one size too small. From the skirt and top his eyes took in the rest of the figure, which he liked very much – he could not remember the last time he saw someone in such a revealing outfit, at least not in person – before moving up to the face.

He quickly cut off his thoughts when he saw how young his visitor was. She had the body of a woman, but it was clear from her face that she was a teen, no older than sixteen. He couldn’t think why such a provocatively-dressed teen would be on his doorstep at any time, let alone at a quarter past two on a Friday afternoon, when he was sure she should be at school, and for a few moments he just stood there, staring.

“Hello,” he finally managed to say.

“You’re Zack Wild,” Lucy said excitedly, the last of her nerves gone now that she was there and she saw how he looked at her – the same way almost every other male did, regardless of their age.

“That’s right,” Zack agreed. He was still getting used to people reacting to him in that fashion, though he didn’t think he would ever become truly comfortable with the semi-fame that came with being a best-selling author. “And you are?”

“Lucy, Lucy Goulding, I’m a huge fan,” she declared breathlessly. Her nervousness might be gone, chased away by her usual confidence, but she wasn’t yet in complete control of herself – she was as attracted to Zack Wild as she suspected he was to her, and his looks were having an effect on her.

“Hello, Lucy,” Zack shook her hand briefly. “I wouldn’t have thought my books were the sort of thing a girl like you would read,” he said. He was not interested in such things, but his agent had provided him with a breakdown of his reading audience, which told him that it was mostly twenty to forty-five year olds that read his books.

“Oh I absolutely love them,” Lucy enthused. “I love them all. I’ve read everything you’ve written. I borrowed the first one from my dad, and just had to get the rest. Your true crime books are great, but I prefer your Inspector Deakins books. Would you sign them; I’ve brought them all with me.”

 

Alex Carver has worked a number of jobs over the years, none of which provided the satisfaction he got from writing, and he has now given up the day jobs to write full-time. Primarily he writes crime fiction, reflecting his interest in the seedy underbelly of life, but science fiction and kids adventure have featured in his writing, with books in those genres on the long list of titles he is preparing for release.

Website / Goodreads / Twitter

 

GIVEAWAY!
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Blitz + Giveaway: Who She Was

Who She Was
Stormy Smith
Publication date: May 4th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult

Trevor Adler loathes the music he used to love, but it’s the key to his full-ride scholarship and the ticket away from his dysfunctional parents. To kick off their freshman year, Trevor’s roommate drags him to a frat party, where he ends up face-to-face with his childhood best friend and finds himself entrenched in memories he’d rather forget.

Unable to let Charlie go again without understanding the truth of why she disappeared from his life and chose to become the type of person they always hated, Trevor is relentless in his pursuit of the girl he once knew.

Charlotte (Charlie) Logan is broken. Under her perfectly-crafted exterior are the shards of a shattered heart. A handful of angry words changed her life completely and Charlie’s never been able to forgive herself for the truth she’s hidden from everyone.

While Trevor pushes Charlie to remember the music that lit her soul and the laughter they shared, they find themselves reverting to a banter-filled rhythm that feels all too familiar, yet different now. When Trevor’s own secrets come to light, it becomes clear he and Charlie both must face their tragic pasts if they have any hope at a future together.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

Chapter One
Charlie

August

“Are you guys ready for this?”

The overly-excited frat boy in charge yelled into the microphone and the backyard of the Sigma Alpha house hit deafening levels. Inside their dingy kitchen, I shared a wary look with a few of the Kappa pledges.

“As much fun as we’re already having tonight, it’s about to get real! The fifth annual dating auction is about to start. That means the only thing standing between you and a hot little sorority pledge is your parents’ money!”

A petite redhead who barely looked fifteen, let alone eighteen, drew back the curtain of the kitchen window to peek out as he continued and then giggled.

“I can’t believe rush week is finally here and tonight is the auction!” She actually clapped her hands together and I forced my eyes not to disappear into the back of my head. “I hope Austin bids on me,” she gushed. “He’s so hot.”

“And you will be yet another notch on his freshman bedpost,” I muttered before I could stop myself. The girl behind me in line stifled a chuckle, and I smiled knowing there was someone else who understood how absurd this was.

“Your mom was a Kappa, too?” She asked.

I nodded. The line of sorority pledges filed forward through the kitchen to the back door as the emcee announced the next piece of meat up for bid. I kept my eyes forward and not on the half-filled keg cups and ripped open chip bags.

“Can you believe we have to go through with this just to pledge?” The girl twisted a piece of her hair and I didn’t miss the fear that flashed in her eyes. “The worst part was when I told my mom, she was actually excited.”

We took another step forward as I shook my head in disbelief. I hadn’t bothered to even tell my mother since it wouldn’t have mattered. Getting in was all she was worried about and Katie was the only one who ever mattered to her.

Then, I was next. I swallowed down my own anxiety and pressed my sweating palms down my skirt. It was tight and high-waisted, and my heels were higher than I was comfortable with.
Katie would have loved me in it.

I missed my Chucks.
My name came over the crackling sound system and I felt warm fingers encircle my own.

“You’ll do great, Charlotte,” she encouraged. I hadn’t even bothered to ask her name and she’d been astute enough to pluck mine from the bio being read to the crowd. I gave her a tight-lipped smile and returned the gesture even though I wanted to yank my hand from hers and wipe it off again.

I pushed through the torn screen door and pulled the humid August air into my lungs as I straightened my posture and put one foot in front of the other. My smile was so automatic it didn’t matter that I didn’t feel it anywhere but the shift in my cheeks—not too much teeth to seem fake, just enough for no one to ever think anything was wrong.

The emcee’s voice was lost in the cat calls. I heard bids of anywhere from five dollars to twenty as they commented on my rack or how my long hair would come in handy. My fingers tapped out a familiar rhythm onto my hip, one that I refused to acknowledge, but it was the only way I could keep circling the rickety stage.

I had to get into this sorority. It was what she wanted. It wasn’t optional.

“Two hundred and fifty dollars.” His voice silenced the crowd.

My smile didn’t waver as I let out a longer exhale and thanked whoever he was while also praying he wasn’t a psycho.

A sweaty, drunk guy helped me off the stage, and I was thankful when my heels sunk slightly into the ground because it was over and all the attention shifted to the next piece of cattle. I followed the turning heads in the direction of my bidder, who was still lost in the crowd.

The crowd shifted as their attention focused back on the next pledge up for bid. The light from the porch found him and he stood facing me, clearly waiting. For a split second, time stopped.
He smirked, catching my pause. The baby-face Trevor had the last time I saw him was gone. Instead, angular features and questioning eyes stared back at me.

I wanted to spin on my heel and run the other direction. Trevor was the slip knot of my life. The carefully intertwined ropes I’d wrapped around the person I used to be — the one he alone had understood and yet still abandoned — could be unraveled with one tug. He could destroy me and everything I’d done to atone for my mistake.

No one knew what I’d done. How it was all my fault. I’d never told anyone so he couldn’t know. It was a secret I desperately wanted to share so I no longer had to bear it alone, but knew I couldn’t.

“Fancy meeting you here, Charlie,” Trevor said as he pushed his thick-rimmed glass up his nose, failing to convince me he was any more comfortable with our impromptu reunion than I was.

I didn’t need him anymore. He was the who’d disappeared and left me all alone. It didn’t matter that he was the one who knew the rhythm I tapped out to get through the worst of times. Or that in an instant I remembered what real laughter felt like and the feel of ivory under my fingertips. It couldn’t matter. Not anymore.

I charged forward, auto-smiled and played the part I’d cast for myself.

“Charlotte,” I stated. “My name is Charlotte.”

 

If you’re ready to spend 99 cents to find out what happens next, click here. I did! I can’t wait to hear what you think! 

 

Stormy Smith calls Iowa’s capital home now, but was raised in a tiny town in the Southeast corner of the state. She grew to love books honestly, having a mom that read voraciously and instilled that same love in her.

When she isn’t working on, or thinking about, her books, Stormy’s favorite places include bar patios, live music shows, her yoga mat or anywhere she can relax with her husband, twin sons or girlfriends.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Blitz + Giveaway: Ensnared

Ensnared
Rita Stradling
Publication date: May 23rd 2017
Genres: New Adult, Science Fiction

A Near Future Retelling of Beauty and the Beast

Alainn’s father is not a bad man. He’s a genius and an inventor. When he’s hired to create the robot Rose, Alainn knows taking the money is a mistake.

Rose acts like a human. She looks exactly like Alainn. But, something in her comes out wrong.

To save her father from a five year prison sentence, Alainn takes Rose’s place. She says goodbye to the sun and goes to live in a tower no human is allowed to enter. She becomes the prisoner of a man no human is allowed to see.

Believing that a life of servitude lies ahead, Alainn finds a very different fate awaits her in the company of the strange, scarred recluse.

Add to Goodreads / Pre-order

EXCERPT:

December 2, 2026

Alainn woke knowing someone was in her room.

Whoever it was sat behind her. Quiet, even breaths rasped through the air. Alainn’s eyelids peeked open. Moonlight cast a grayish glow, cutting deep shadows into the space around her bed.

“Good morning, Alainn,” Rose said in a quiet voice. When Alainn didn’t respond, Rose said, “I can tell from the change in your breathing pattern that you are awake.”

“Rose?” she whispered, not quite ready to let out a sigh of relief. Alainn twisted to look at her. “What are you doing here? Did you break my lock?”

“I picked it,” she said. “It is now locked again.”

“Oh, uh—” Her heart pounded in her chest; she sat up and faced the robot. “Why—why would you do that?”

The moonlight lit half of Rose’s face as she watched Alainn, expressionless. “Do not be alarmed. You are obviously having a fear reaction, but I was simply waiting for you to wake up.”

“Don’t you need to sleep—recharge?”

Now that Alainn faced Rose, she smelled the faint odor of her exhaust. Rose continuously exhaled the lightest tang of something sweet and acidic. The air in the room felt used, like a plane cabin after a cross-country flight.

“I was not completely forthcoming with you today. While what I said was true, I have for a time now believed that having Father imprisoned would impede my potential. While I have far surpassed his skills in software, there are times when I need assistance. I am limited by my need to stay near my charging station. Your brother is often absent for days at a time—and you, months.”

“Okay, wait—you’re going to go tomorrow?” Alainn scooted forward on the bed. A dormant hope resurged through her. Alainn would do anything—she’d worship at the robot’s feet if Rose agreed to go.

“No, you are going to go tomorrow.”

Alainn froze, staring at Rose. “What?” she whispered.

“I have calculated one way in which all parties can achieve their desires.”

“I’m sorry—I’m not understanding.” Alainn shook her head. A hard knot formed in her stomach.

“I am not surprised.” Rose reached out to pat Alainn’s hand. “You are not as intelligent as the rest of your family.”

“Spell it out in really simple terms, then.” She just managed to not growl the words at Rose.

Slowly, Rose looked up to the ceiling, moonlight slashing up the curve of her neck, her chin, and the line of her nose. “Earlier tonight, I arranged for you to be picked up by Mr. Garbhan through e-mail, writing as if I was Father. In one hour, a car will arrive outside to take you to his building. I have designed and created hardware for your body. If you are scanned, a chip in the hardware will communicate to the scanners that you have an organic circuitry system rather than a human brain.”

Alainn shook her head, hoping to dislodge some of the grogginess there. “I’m still not following—you’re saying you want me to pretend to be you and turn myself over? That you already arranged it?”

“Yes, you are following. That is exactly what I am saying.”

“I—I—” Alainn shook her head again. The air thinned around her.

“I have a working plan for the transplanting. You can assimilate easily into a life of servitude as you are already accustomed to the labor you will be asked to perform.” Rose lifted a hand, ghostly gray in the low light, and ticked off the chores on her fingers. “Cooking, housekeeping, and bookkeeping. Unless . . . is your concern that he might use you for sexual gratification?”

“What? No.”

“I believe that this would be a particular concern of yours.”

“I never even considered that he would do that to you—I, of all people, would never have tried to push you into going if I thought you’d be used that way.” Alainn blinked furiously. “Rose, do you really think that I would have let myself be the model when my dad printed your face and body if I thought Mr. Garbhan was going to do that to you?”

“It is highly unlikely that I was designed for this function. I have also been assured that there were documents signed to that effect addressed to Father.”

Alainn held out her palms to Rose. “Rose, it’s not just that. I can’t take your place. There’s no way that would work . . . and I can’t live in that tower for the rest of my life. I’m a human. I know that probably sounds callous to you, but you were created to not need sunshine and fresh air. And you don’t need exercise. Humans need those things, me especially. Everything I am,” she touched her chest, “is centered on being in the outdoors.”

“The duration will be seven to fourteen days, no longer.” Her head swung down, causing shadows to swallow her eyes. Two black hollows focused on Alainn. “When Mr. Garbhan pays Father, he and I will make the Rosette model; this process should only take a week, unless there are complications. And then I will devise a way to switch you with the new model.”

 

Rita Stradling is the author of The Deception Dance series, the Dakota Kekoa series and The Fourteen Day Soul Detox Novella Serial. She has a BA in Art History and a particular love for modern and medieval art.

Rita lives with her husband and son in Northern California.

She has an insatiable novel addiction and mostly reads young adult and adult: romance, paranormal, urban fantasy and high fantasy.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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