The Lying Game


Title: The Lying Game
Author: Sara Shepard
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Purchased
Release Date: December 7, 2010
Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

I had a life anyone would kill for.

Then someone did.

The worst part of being dead is that there’s nothing left to live for. No more kisses. No more secrets. No more gossip. It’s enough to kill a girl all over again. But I’m about to get something no one else does–an encore performance, thanks to Emma, the long-lost twin sister I never even got to meet.

Now Emma’s desperate to know what happened to me. And the only way to figure it out is to be me–to slip into my old life and piece it all together. But can she laugh at inside jokes with my best friends? Convince my boyfriend she’s the girl he fell in love with? Pretend to be a happy, care-free daughter when she hugs my parents goodnight? And can she keep up the charade, even after she realizes my murderer is watching her every move?

From Sara Shepard, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Pretty Little Liars books, comes a riveting new series about secrets, lies, and killer consequences.

Let the lying game begin.

Review:

From the beginning of this story, I was hooked. Then mystery of Emma’s twin, Sutton, being killed began right away. I couldn’t predict where the story was going, which intrigued me.

One thing that I didn’t like was the narration style. It appears to be a third person narrator with a close view of Emma. However, some paragraphs are told by Sutton. This switch between third person and first person was jarring at times. I had to stop to adjust to the change. There should have been some kind of break in the page or another distinction between the two narration styles.

This story reminded me of Sara Shepard’s other series Pretty Little Liars, but the story was still distinct enough to differentiate between the two.

I’m excited to read the rest of the series! Look for my reviews coming soon!

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Grand Valley

First Step Forward
Liora Blake
(Grand Valley #1)
Published by: Pocket Books
Publication date: November 29th 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Pro-football player Cooper Lowry is off the field and into some trouble—in the form of a very alluring, very free-spirited apple orchard owner named Whitney Reed—in the first installment in Liora Blake’s all new Grand Valley series.

After eight seasons playing pro-football, Cooper Lowry knows all the right answers.

Is he stubborn, short-tempered, and impatient? Yes. Are jersey chasers more trouble than they’re worth? Absolutely. Has he ever imagined a life beyond the game? Nope.

Cooper has built an enviable career—the result of staying focused, working hard, and keeping his head on straight—even as his body takes the brunt. So when a hard hit during a Sunday home game leaves him in a dazed heap on the field, it’s nothing more than another day at the office. The only thing that’s different about this Sunday is a chance encounter with a certain fascinating, beautiful free-spirited woman. And some sternly-worded instructions from his coach to take a little time off and give his body the TLC it craves—before he does lasting damage.

Whitney Reed is a few months away from losing the organic fruit orchard she bought three years ago in the tiny town of Hotchkiss, Colorado. At the time, she was just looking for a place to get lost. Instead, she found a home, somewhere she could finally put down roots. Now foreclosure is knocking on her door—along with a grumpy, gorgeous football player who might be just what she never knew she needed.

A charming love story for romance and sports fans alike, First Step Forward is a sexy, heartwarming romp perfect for readers of Jennifer Probst, Kristan Higgins, and Julie James.

Second Chance Season
Liora Blake
(Grand Valley #2)
Published by: Pocket Books
Publication date: June 20th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Return to Liora Blake’s Grand Valley series with Second Chance Season, in which an avowed country boy with a family duty meets an ambitious city girl with even bigger goals and who shows him just what he’s been missing.

Garrett Strickland is unapologetically country, fiercely loyal, and perfectly happy with his job at the Hotchkiss Co-op. Garrett is all about living in the present and not dwelling in the past—even if he was once on his way to a lofty agricultural sciences degree that would guarantee the brightest of futures, only to end up back home when his old man died, leaving behind a debt-ridden family farm that was impossible to keep afloat. After that, it was easy to see why dreaming big wasn’t worth the heartache. And until he crosses paths with a city girl who’s hell-bent on kick-starting her own future, he’s sure that good enough is just that.

Cara Cavanaugh is ready for more from life, even if that means changing everything; including dumping her boyfriend of ten years, turning down a lucrative job at a major newspaper, and leaving behind the upscale suburbs of Chicago where she grew up. Now, she just has to pray that temporarily relocating to the middle of nowhere in Colorado will be the first step in building a career as a freelance journalist—all she has to do is prove she’s got what it takes to make a name for herself. Unfortunately, her tony country day school is as close to “country” as she’s ever been. But when a goodhearted guy who looks like he just stumbled out of a country music video offers to help, she ends up falling hard…and discovering that the perfect story is a love story. And it’s theirs.

Second Chance Season, book two in the Grand Valley series, is a charming, feel-good romance, perfect for fans of Jennifer Probst and Kristan Higgins.

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EXCERPT
SECOND CHANCE SEASON

Despite her excitement over the upcoming Hotchkiss booster event, as we walk out to the truck, I’m on edge, waiting for the inevitable browbeating I’m sure she‟ll eventually remember to give me. Whitney does not disappoint.

“Just out of curiosity, was that necessary?” “What?”

I drop the tailgate on my truck. I know exactly what she’s talking about, but this feels like the kind of moment when you play dumb for as long as you can.

She won’t understand. She can’t possibly understand what it feels like to be a guy, fall for a woman harder than a box of rocks off a skyscraper, and hate having any other man within a three-state radius of her. It isn’t about trust or lack thereof, it isn’t about thinking she isn’t capable of handling herself—she can, because she’s amazing. And, all her amazingness is part of the problem. Amazing women are amazing. Men like amazing.

She sighs. “The whole ‘I’m here now’ bullshit. Garrett’s a good kid. I emphasize the word kid. There wasn’t any need to stick a flag in the ground next to my feet and proclaim my body to be a sovereign state recently claimed by you and your man-parts.”

I set the dormant oil in the bed and close the gate, then gesture for her to move around the side of the truck.

“I’m sure he is a good kid. But he’s also thought about bending you over the front counter in there and giving you his own personalized seed report, babe.”

As I open the passenger-side door for her, she freezes and screws her face up.

“There are so many things wrong with that statement. ‘Seed report’? Gross. He hasn’t ever thought about that.”

“He’s a guy. You’re a beautiful, interesting woman who, I guarantee, is totally different from what he’s used to. Different and unique fascinates us—and intrigues our dicks. So he’s absolutely thought about it.”

I sweep my hand toward her seat to urge her to get in the truck. She narrows her eyes and pins her gaze on me. I sigh. “What?”

“You’ve been such a Neanderthal over the last few days. First, the no-riding-shotgun thing, and now this. That’s also the third time you’ve called me ‘babe’. And I can‟t quite figure out how I feel about that.” She takes a step forward, putting one foot on the running board, but doesn’t climb in. “I think I should hate it, but I’m not sure. Say it again.”

I lean forward. “Get your cute ass in the truck, babe. I’ll turn your seat on.”

“Shit.” She climbs in and shakes her head. “I think I kind of like it. Look at me. Sitting in this ridiculous truck, just thrilled at the prospect of you turning on my heated seat, and my belly all topsy-turvy because you called me ‘babe’. Get me home. I feel a sudden need to burn some incense and renew my Sierra Club membership.”


Author Bio:

Liora Blake is a contemporary romance author living in Colorado.

When she isn’t writing, she’s likely baking cookies she shouldn’t eat, inventing elaborate excuses to avoid going for a run, or asking the nice barista to sell her another quad-shot Americano.

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Book Blitz and Giveaway: The Last Dragon Rider

The Last Dragon Rider
Errin Krystal
(The Wild Realms of Véneanár, #1)
Published by: The Wild Rose Press
Publication date: August 9th 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Trained as an elite warrior from childhood, the elven crown prince Flintathriël fights to bring a stop to a war that began before he was born. With the aid of his betrothed Sairalindë, a skilled mage and dragon rider in her own right, they must find the Book of Souls – an ancient and mysterious tome rumored to have belonged to the god Hath’Raal.

When the missing book turns up in the hands of Mnuvae, the bastard child of the dead king, Flintathriël finds himself fighting to not only save his people from this new threat but also trying to keep Sairalindë safe when Mnuvae takes over the dragons in her attempt to win back the kingdom she believes is rightfully hers.

The love Flintathriël and Sairalindë share shines pure and true, but when the smoke of the battle clears, will their hearts survive the aftermath of war or will their love become a casualty that cannot be revived?

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EXCERPT:

She began wrapping the cloth tightly about her, binding her breasts firmly, criss-crossing the gauzy fabric around her torso and across her stomach, tying it off at her hip. She shimmied into a pair of leather leggings and reached for her foot wraps. To other races—like the dwarves and humans—the elves lack of footwear was strange. The elven people had strong ties to the lands, their magic and mystique were inexplicably linked. Even those who did not practice magic felt the connection to nature, and the elven people had maintained the practice throughout their long history.

After binding her feet and leaving only her toes exposed, she tossed an olive green tunic over her head before quickly weaving her tresses into a thick braid.

Sivath was waiting, and Flintathriël was late. Again.

She was reaching for her leather jerkin when he finally appeared in her doorway.

Arms akimbo, he slouched against the frame, all lean muscle and sharp angles beneath his leathers. Silver-white hair fell across his forehead, hiding the dark arches of his brows as he gazed at her with silvery blue eyes. The mop of hair barely touching his shoulders. His coloring typical of the royal family.

Her gaze traced his tattoos. Sweeping vines encompassed runic symbols, curling downward from his bottom lip, winding and weaving their way down his chin and neck. She knew every line that twisted and spread across his shoulders, and across his back. Etchings that disappeared beneath his tunic and reappeared along his arms. She still remembered the day he received the markings, branding him Nuvian. The day she first gave herself to him, the day she truly became his.


Author Bio:

Errin Krystal is a fantasy romance writer who has been writing since she was a small child. Her head has always been full of stories. She began work on her first novel when she was sixteen.

She lives with her family in regional Victoria, Australia, and works as a chef. In her quieter moments, she loves to indulge her passion for storytelling, basking in the joy that comes from creating vibrant characters, fantastical worlds and all manner of magical creatures. Dragons and elves, mages and warriors, troubled princes and beautiful princesses, romance, magic, and adventure can all be found in her writing.

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Drama


Title: Drama
Author: Raina Telgemeier
Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult, Middle Grade
Publisher: Scholastic
Source: Purchased
Release Date: September 1, 2012
Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

PLACES, EVERYONE!

Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi, she can’t really sing. Instead she’s the set designer for the drama department stage crew, and this year she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn’t know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen. And when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier!

Review:
This story had a lot of aspects of a play. Instead of chapters, it was divided into acts. At the beginning, the curtain rose and it fell at the end. There was even an intermission in the middle.

I also liked that there were gay characters in this story. The characters were in middle school, which is the time when you start to learn about yourself. It’s important to have a variety of characters in middle grade and young adult books, because the world is filled with a variety of people.

Like all of the graphic novels by Raina Telgemeier that I’ve read, I loved this book!

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Dominion Rising

Dominion Rising Collection
Publication date: August 8th 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Find all the Sci-Fi and Fantasy reads you’ve been craving in one fantastic set!

Whether it’s alien invasion or dark fairytales, heart-pounding galactic adventures or cyberpunk romance, Dominion Rising will satisfy with a thrilling mix of 23 BRAND NEW novels set in fantastical realms. Sword and sorcery, far-flung galactic empires, alternative history, epic magic, slipstream futures: this collection of carefully selected, exclusive novels is sure to please and delight readers of speculative fiction.

Over five thousand pages packed with aliens, faeries, vampires, gargoyles, warriors, telepaths, space pirates, starship captains, hapless mercenaries, street urchins, robots, cyber-enhanced humans, badass heroines, and lost princesses.

Dominion Rising brings you a galaxy of talented authors, including New York Times bestselling authors Gwynn White, Margo Bond Collins, Tom Shutt, Felix R. Savage and Erin St Pierre; USA Todaybestselling authors P.K. Tyler, Anthea Sharp, S.M. Schmitz, K.J. Colt, Dean F. Wilson, Lisa Blackwood, Marilyn Peake, JC Andrijeski and Erin Hayes; and award-winning and Amazon bestselling authors S.M. Blooding, Melanie Karsak, Timothy C. Ward, Daniel Arthur Smith, Tony Bertauski, Rebecca Rode, Cheri Lasota, Ann Christy, Becca Andre, Logan Snyder, Ella Summers, and Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy notable Samuel Peralta.

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Book Blitz and Giveaway: Symphony of Ruin

Symphony of Ruin
Christina Lay
Publication date: July 25th 2017
Genres: Dark Fantasy, Fantasy

Death is stalking The City. From out of the catacombs, a deadly monster has arisen. Unfortunately for alchemist’s apprentice Remy the Rat Boy, his master is away and it’s up to Remy to discover the nature of the monster and put an end to its killing rampage. His search for answers takes him high into the elegant chambers of the city’s elite, and down into long forgotten ruins, into depths untraveled and unimagined for centuries. Lost in the ancient ruins with only ghosts and creatures of the darkness for companionship, Remy must use every ounce of wit and conjure every scrap of magic at his disposal in order to survive the labyrinth and save The City from its shadow self.

A magical and thrilling journey by award-winning author Christina Lay, inspired by the game and artwork of Dungeon Solitaire: Labyrinth of Souls. For more information on the Labyrinth of Souls fiction project, visit shadowspinnerspress.com

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EXCERPT:

Death made its nightly rounds of the old quarter. Skeletal toes scraped the cobblestones and bones rattled in the keening wind blowing down from the steppes. The scythe of oblivion spared no one; man, woman or child might be snatched. This alone was reason enough to raid Master Marek’s pantry and Remy could think of several others as he cleared a space on the long table against the wall. He placed one knee on the well-worn surface and tested its strength. The table wobbled only slightly on uneven legs.

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” his friend Glyn asked from behind him.

“Not only is it good, it is excellent. Top notch. One of the best I’ve ever had.” Remy grabbed at the row of shelves to steady himself as he climbed up. The collection of bottles and jars rattled alarmingly. He paused as they settled. Nothing fell except a tuft of what looked like dried moss.

When he’d first moved in, Remy would have needed to use a footstool to reach the tabletop and he’d have to stand on the rickety table to reach Marek’s stash of quality liquor. Now if he stretched full length, he could finger the row of colored glass bottles on the top shelf while still on his knees.

Some of the bottles were filled with dyed water. He knew this because he was the one who’d drained and refilled them. His master never noticed because Marek rarely partook of the odd offerings of beet brandy, moss wine, crabapple cider and so on that his clients sometimes paid him with. No, Marek reserved his imbibing for the good stuff in the cut crystal decanter, an amber brandy he shared with Remy on Winter’s solstice, and then only by the wee thimble full.

Remy remembered its heat coating his throat, the flavors of caramel, loam and wealth, and the comforting affect a mere sip had on his state of mind. That was what he needed now—comfort. Glyn had just brought him the news of their mate Abernath’s death. Abernath, a robust young man of seventeen years—the same age as Remy and Glyn—had been found dead in an alley the night before without a fresh mark on him.

Remy’s long fingers tweezed the decanter toward the edge of the shelf. Glyn took an audible breath, sucking air out of the room in the process, braced to flee at the first hint of disaster. Glyn would rather face death than Master Marek in a rage.

“Marek is in the Giant Mountains,” Remy assured him, voice a little pinched from the effort of stretching to his full length and a tiny bit beyond. “I’ve had no word from him for weeks. He’s not about to pop up in the middle of the night with no notice. He likes his fire to be lit and his supper warm when he returns from a long trip.” The decanter tipped forward and Remy caught it with his other hand. As he eased back his sleeve caught on a jutting handle and brought a little pot thudding to the tabletop. The pottery cracked. Something black and viscous oozed out.

“Ox balls,” Remy muttered, and clambered down from the table.

“What is that?” Glyn backed up as if a jinn might spring forth from the ooze.

“Nothing to worry about,” Remy said. He gave the scratch marks on the lid a closer look. Ox balls and a pig’s poker to boot. “Nothing to worry about immediately anyway. Come on. Where’s your cup?”

Author Bio:

Christina Lay is primarily a writer of fantastical fiction, with frequent forays into mystery and mainstream. Many of her short stories have been published in anthologies, magazines and online. She’s won five awards for her short fiction, including second place in the Writers’ Digest Short Fiction competition in 2003. Her novels have also won awards, including first place in the Rupert Hughes Writing Competition at the Maui Writers Conference, First Place in the Journey Conference Novel competition, and she was a finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association competition. Death is a Star, her first novel to be published, was released in February 2013.

Christina was born in Eugene, Oregon and graduated from the University of Oregon in 1988 with a degree in Sociology and a minor in Political Science. She’s worked a wide variety of jobs, from pastry shop clerk to computer software support to cost accounting and bookkeeping for nonprofits. Her favorite job so far has been administrative assistant in a Victorian House Museum. The goal is always to spend as much time as possible writing. For fun she likes to study languages through poetry, take way too many pictures with digital cameras, and be herded by her border collie, Lazlo.

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Emma in the Night

Title: Emma in the Night
Author: Wendy Walker
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn’t add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister’s return might just be the beginning of the crime.

Review:

As soon as I started this book and I saw the reference to mythology I was excited! I love Greek mythology. When I saw that the main character was named Cassandra, I guessed what was going to happen. In Greek mythology, Cassandra was the son of King Priam of Troy. She was cursed with the power to tell the future, but no one would ever believe her. Cass experiences a similar effect, though not as extreme.

This was a very exciting story. I could see some holes in Cass’s story, but I had no idea how it was going to end.

Some of the background stories became confusing after a while because they were so extensive. I kept wanting the story to move forward rather than focus on things that had happened before the girls disappeared. There was also a lot of background information on Abby that was unnecessary to the story.

I really loved this story! If you love thrillers, you should definitely read it!

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Crescent Calling

Crescent Calling
Axelle Chandler
(The Crescent Witch Chronicles #1)
Publication date: August 9th 2017
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy

Skye Williams is an ordinary woman, living an ordinary life.
Or so she thought.
When she receives news of her estranged mother’s death, she must go to Ireland to claim her inheritance, but when she arrives in the tiny village of Derrydun, she isn’t prepared for what she finds nestled amongst the rolling hills of the Emerald Isle.
Lumped with a funeral, her mother’s crystal shop, a moody goth girl for an employee, and a crumbling cottage with horrible floral curtains, selling up and getting out sounds like a great plan, but everything and everyone seems determined to keep her from going home.
Skye doesn’t want any part of her mother’s life or the people of Derrydun until she sees the hot Irishman she’s been crushing on turn into a fox.
More absurdly, he tells her her dead mother was a witch who battled evil fairies, there’s magical trees growing in the centre of the village, there’s a parallel universe where the fair folk live, and she’s meant to be the last defense of the magical peoples of Ireland.
Turns out Skye Williams was never an ordinary woman. Not by a long shot.
She’s the last Crescent Witch and has a destiny to fulfil.
Whether she likes it or not.

The Crescent Witch Chronicles is a series stuffed full of Irish charm, myth and mayhem. Come on an adventure fraught with danger and forbidden romance…and the ultimate battle to save magic before it’s gone forever.

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EXCERPT:

That night, as Buddy kept me company, I fell asleep to the sound of wind howling through the trees outside. Plagued with dreams of wolves, I tossed and turned until I slipped into a deep slumber.

When dawn finally broke, I was covered in a thin sheen of sweat, and my head was stuffed with cotton wool. I’d slept but not really. A heavy burden was over my heart, and my body had become twisted in the quilt, my feet trapped.

Ugh, I was all hot and sticky. I kicked, trying to shift the uncomfortable weight and turned over, but it didn’t budge. Lifting my head, my eyes cracked open, sleep still clogging my head. That was when I saw a lump at the end of the bed. A very large, man-shaped lump.

Now completely awake, I screamed, scrambling up the bed. It was Boone. A very naked Boone.

He started, his head shooting up, and when he saw me, he rolled and fell off the end of the bed, hitting the floor with a thud. Scrambling to his feet, his face turned a deep shade of crimson.

“Oh, shit,” he cursed, covering his junk with his hands. “Oh, cac.”

Cac?” I yelled. “I’ll give you bloody Irish cac!

Grabbing the lamp on the bedside table, I pushed up onto my knees and swung it with all my might. The plug popped out of the wall, and the shade barely missed Boone’s face, but the cord came around and whipped him directly on his bare ass.

He howled in pain and retreated across the room.

Pervert!” I shrieked.

“Let me explain,” he said, holding up his hands and leaving nothing to the imagination.

“Explain? What’s there to explain?” I shouted, trying not to look at his you-know-what. “You were asleep on the end of my bed…naked!” I swung the lamp at him again, barely missing his head. “You’re still standing there. I can see your meat and two veg!

“Oh, cac,” he said again. “I didn’t mean for you to find out this way…”

“Find out what? That you’re a pervert, who sneaks into women’s homes butt naked?”


Author Bio:

Axelle Chandler is an Australian Urban Fantasy author. She lives in the western suburbs of Melbourne dreaming up nail biting stories featuring bad-ass witches, hunky shape shifters and devious monsters. She likes chocolate, cat memes and video games. When she’s not writing, she likes to think of what she’s writing next.

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Book Blitz and Giveaway: The Woodlands

The Woodlands Series Box Set
Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: August 7th 2017
Genres: Dystopian, Romance, Young Adult

Do you dare enter the Woodlands?

As the last livable spot on Earth, it’s the only home Rosa and Joseph have ever known. But now they need to escape, or Rosa will be trapped forever in a horrific government program. A dystopian page-turner with over 750 five-star ratings on Goodreads. The Woodlands Series is perfect for fans of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth, and The Jewel Series by Amy Ewing. Readers can purchase this boxed set at a significant discount over the cost to purchase each novel individually. This is a complete series boxed set.

The Woodlands is an Award-Winning Finalist in the “Fiction: Young Adult” category of the USA Best Book Awards, as well as a Semifinalist in The Kindle Book Awards by the Kindle Book Review.

“Lauren Taylor’s writing is powerfully descriptive; she is a master of words and similes.” – Author Erica Kiefer

“It seems so rare these days to find a dystopian with an original vein in it. The Woodlands Succeeds.” -Author Pauline Creeden

“I went into this story with my own ideas, but they were obliterated by what I found instead. I was so happy to be wrong because this story touched my heart deeply in a way that I never expected.” – Reviewer Amber Douglas Mcallister

“This book was fantastic! Spectacular! It had everything I look for in a book: Action, Adventure, and even romance!” – Reviewer Jocelyn Sanchez

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EXCERPT:

The helicopters were stationed at the rim of Ring One, just inside the low, sandy-colored wall that surrounded the center podium. They were waiting, crouching like black angels ready to lift us from this place, this hell, into an unknown world. A Guardian in black uniform with gold trim walked to the front of the choppers and signaled for us to come forward. Another one threw the bags in the cargo hold as he read from his list. Three girls and eight boys. Joseph’s name was not on the list. I felt a flood of relief that was washed away by panic. I was barely holding myself together as it was, seeing him was liable to make me fall to pieces. But he was supposed to be here.

Paulo’s hand was on my back, pushing me towards the helicopter like I was an uncooperative apple on the conveyor belt. I was trying so hard to muster up some courage. Today I was leaving the only home I had ever known. I would never see my mother again. I felt the anxiety rising, the crushing pain of the separation I was about to suffer. Suddenly the grey-washed town didn’t look so horrible. It was home after all, I guess. I told myself it was fear that was making me feel this way. It didn’t help.

My mother, who had been quietly following us around like a dazed puppy, pulled me to her in a tight embrace. She whispered, “Sorry,” in my ear before stepping back, fists clenched, showing the appropriate restraint. Some other mothers were crying and holding their children as the Guardian wrenched them away and led them onto the aircraft.

My mother’s face was my own, the way she moved mirrored my own movements and mannerisms, but that’s where the similarities ended. Although raised by this woman, I was nothing like her. For the first time, I saw things from her perspective. Getting into trouble all the time, never showing Paulo anything other than contempt. I must have been such a frustration to her.

They called my name. Paulo put his hands firmly on my shoulders, holding me in my place. His intense stare was impossible to look away from. “Don’t shame your family,” he spat at me. And with that, he made it easy to leave. I could feel the blades starting to move, my hair whipping around my face. I stripped away the fear and anxiety, leaving a girl that was fierce, empowered by his hatred.

“Don’t worry, Paulo, I’ll stir it up, make a little noise!” I shouted through the wind. The Guardian that let me sign up was watching me, probably regretting his decision. My mother was standing rigidly, her handmade skirt billowing as the air churned around her, her hand outstretched, pleading. I could see it in her eyes—please Rosa, don’t cause more trouble. She couldn’t stop me, no one ever could. Paulo was already walking away, his back to me. Behind my mother stood a man, one blue eye, one brown, smiling. He lifted his hand to wave. I raised my hand, confused. The chopper lurched awkwardly and I was knocked back into the cargo hold.

“Sit down!” the Guardian snapped at me. I quickly found a spot and strapped myself in. The others were staring at me, eyes wide. The Guardian tapped the pilot on the shoulder. “Wait, there’s one more.”

He bounded in, bag in hand, and casually threw it on the pile and scanned the seats. There was plenty of room on the other side but he squeezed his bulky form between me and the boy I was sitting next to.

Suddenly we were in the air. When the Guardian wasn’t looking, Joseph slipped his hand over mine. Warmth calmed the agitation I felt, like pouring gold over lead, glowing. We stayed that way the entire ride. Eyes forward. Impossibly trying to anticipate what may lie ahead.


Author Bio:

Lauren Nicolle Taylor lives in the lush Adelaide Hills. The daughter of a Malaysian nuclear physicist and an Australian scientist, she was expected to follow a science career path, attending Adelaide University and completing a Health Science degree with Honours in obstetrics and gynaecology.
She then worked in health research for a short time before having her first child. Due to their extensive health issues, Lauren spent her twenties as a full-time mother/carer to her three children. When her family life settled down, she turned to writing.

She is a 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semi-finalist and a USA Best Book Awards Finalist.

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Book Blitz and Giveaway: Start Your Engines

Start Your Engines
Jim Cangany
Published by: Crimson Romance
Publication date: August 7th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Buckle up for a race for the championship and the prize of a lifetime in this heartfelt reunion romance.

When racing team director Brad Thomas needs a new driver, his boss insists there’s only one answer: Gabrielle Marquez. The Indycar ace has newly returned to the United States after becoming one of the European circuit’s top drivers. But ten years ago, Gabrielle caused a crash that ended Brad’s racing career and killed their mutual best friend, along with the burgeoning crush they were exploring.

Gabby’s ready to put the past behind her, even though she knows making amends and regaining Brad’s trust won’t be easy. Rebuilding their professional relationship paves the way for healing, and old feelings soon rekindle, but a rival’s dangerous game of sabotage may threaten their team’s chance at the title.

Then an irresistible offers lands on Gabby’s windshield, forcing her to choose between her heart and her hard-fought career. Will achieving her professional dreams mean personal sacrifice?

Sensuality Level: Behind Closed Doors

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EXCERPT:

The AES machine flashed across the finish line as the starter waved the green flag, the prismatic paint job displaying every color of the spectrum.

“God, she’s beautiful.” The moment Brad had uttered the words, he realized he wasn’t sure if he was referring to the car or its driver. He was happy he didn’t have his microphone on, though.

A video feed of Gabrielle’s progress was in a corner of his computer screen. As she barreled down the long backstretch, which was five-eighths of a mile in length all by itself, he checked her speed. She was zooming at over two hundred miles per hour.

At Gabrielle’s request, the team had disconnected her speedometer. Brad was to report her speed when she finished the first lap and again when she completed the attempt. He was to say nothing else.

Brad held his breath as she flew down the front straight, the song of the turbocharged engine sweeter than an opera singer, and completed lap one. Her speed flashed on the screen. It was all Brad could do to keep from shouting.

“Two hundred point thirteen. Everything looks great.”

The first lap was pole-winning speed.

Down the backstretch and into turn three, the line Gabrielle took was as smooth as soft-serve ice cream. Exiting turn four, she drifted up so close to the white concrete retaining wall, Brad flinched and closed one eye for a moment.

The close call didn’t slow her down, though. She took the checkered flag, completing the run with a two-lap average of 200.2 miles per hour.

“Congrats, Gabrielle, you just set a Continental Series track record.”

“Yes!” Her shout almost burst Brad’s eardrums.

Scott gave Brad a thumbs-up but pointed at the scoring pylon. There were two cars left to make their qualifying attempts. One of them was Chas.

By the time Gabrielle was out of the car and had her helmet off, the number seventy-seven had the first lap in the books at just under 199 miles per hour. He was no threat. The team gathered around her to wait for Chas to make his attempt.

Brad gave Gabrielle a fist bump, but nothing more. He didn’t want to jinx anything.

The Thornton Industries machine looked fast as it took the green flag. Brad reached out and took Gabrielle’s hand. A pleasant tingling sensation went up his arm when they touched. She didn’t pull away. Rather, she held on. It was a perfect fit.

Nobody said anything as Chas came into view coming out of turn four. Brad kept his focus on the scoring pylon as their rival completed lap one.

199.96.

Gabrielle loosened her grip a touch as the group let out a collective sigh of relief. Chas wasn’t far off Gabrielle’s time, but catching her could be a tall order. It was an order he couldn’t deliver. His second lap was a tick over two hundred miles per hour.

Gabrielle was on the pole.

For the most important race of the season.

At the most historic racing venue on Earth.

Amid a cacophony of whoops and shouts of elation, Brad took Gabrielle by the shoulders.

“You did it.” At that moment, someone bumped him into Gabrielle, which brought his lips to hers. The moment they made contact, fireworks went off. Brad wasn’t sure if they were real or imagined, but he didn’t care. Kissing the woman in his arms was electrifying.

Her lips were soft, with a hint of blueberry from her lip balm. His thumb stroked her cheek and wiped away a tear. All too soon, she pulled back. He opened his eyes to find her red-cheeked but smiling from ear to ear. He recovered his senses enough to take her wrist and raise her arm.

“Presenting your pole winner for the Memorial One Hundred, Gabrielle Marquez.”

 

Author Bio:

A lifelong resident of the State of Indiana, Jim Cangany is proud to call himself a Hoosier. The youngest of eight children, he grew up in a household full of books and people. Thanks to the influence of his older siblings, Jim gravitated toward fantasy and sci-fi when looking for something to read. He wrote his first story at age fourteen. A school project, The Magic Coin was a fantasy that involved a king, some bad guys, and, not surprisingly, a magical token.

These days, Jim writes romance on the sweet end. If you ask him what is a guy like him is doing writing romance, he’ll reply, “Those are the stories in my head.” A believer that the world has enough doom and gloom, he likes stories with a happy ending, regardless of genre.

He lives in Indianapolis with his wonderful wife Nancy, sons, Seamus and Aidan, and kitty-cat Maria.

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