Wednesday, April 29, 2015

0 CHAOS Cover Reveal

From the moment she saw Shawn Scarlett perform at a school talent show, Kit Larson has loved two things: the guitar, and the gorgeous, green-eyed boy who inspired her to play. But one careless night in high school shatters her hope of ever being more than a notch on his bedpost.

Six years, two bands, and one mostly-mended heart later, Kit’s about to make her rock star dreams a reality as the new guitarist for Shawn’s band, The Last Ones to Know. He may not remember their reckless night together, but Kit has never forgotten… and she’s determined to make him eat his heart out.

The release of their new album means a month cooped up on a tour bus, sleeping inches away from the ridiculously sexy musician she’s never quite gotten over. And as Kit gets to know the real Shawn—not Shawn Scarlett, the rock god, the player—their attraction becomes too hot to resist. But the past is paved with secrets, and when they finally surface, Kit could lose everything: the band, the music, her dreams… and Shawn.










0 Review: Aoléon The Martian Girl: A Science Fiction and Fantasy Saga - Part 4: Illegal Aliens,

Book Title: Aoléon The Martian Girl: A Science Fiction and Fantasy Saga - Part 4: Illegal Aliens, written and illustrated by Brent LeVasseur
Category:  Middle-Grade, 139 pages
Genre: Science-fiction and Fantasy
Publisher: Aoléon Press
Release date: February 1, 2015
Content Rating: G



Book Description:

Aoleon and Gilbert have become the Luminon’s top priority in stopping the Martian resistance movement, and after being chased by the Royal Paladin Guard, they are forced to flee the Martian Megalopolis. Aoléon, Gilbert and Zoot escape with the help of Bizwat and his newly found friend, Helios, a first generation soldierbot.

After their saucer is destroyed, they crash land somewhere in the deep Martian desert, and they set out to locate Kyrios and the secret base where Aoleon’s parents are being held captive.

After battling the forces of nature, starvation, a Klyklon dust storm, (and not to mention a giant slor that almost swallows them alive), they finally make it to their destination. However, after Kyrios gives Gilbert some basic training to develop his budding psionic power, they learn that their journey is far from over.

Will Aoléon, Glbert, Bizwat, Helios, and Zoot be able to rescue Aoleon’s parents and stop the Martian invasion of Earth in time?

Read part 4 to find out!




My Thoughts

This series is just so much fun. The story just deepens with each new installment. In this episode we are treated to a daring escape, a crash landing, a desert crossing journey, an old, old, old Martian that is a Yoda-type mentor, a massive sandstorm, and a giant slor that tries to eat our intrepid heroes alive. 

In this book we learn more about Bizwat, the Procyon warrior friend of Aoleon, and we are introduced to Helios, a soldierbot. The action moves out of the Megalopolis and into the Martian desert so LeVasseur beautifully develops another part to his expanding Martian landscape. Aoleon and Gilbert's relationship continues to grow and strengthen. Their abilities are continually tested and explored. I am anxiously waiting to see how they turn out.

Once again, I am digging this series. It is tons of fun and anyone that likes sci-fi and/or good middle school stories would do well to add this to your TBR list. I can't wait to get into the fifth book and plan on doing so soon.








Buy the Book:
 ​

Buy The Martian Girl Song!



Another World - Single

Featuring Élan Noelle



Meet the Author:

Mr. LeVasseur enjoys crafting good stories based on lovable characters designed to translate well to multiple media formats such as books, games, movies, and toys. He lives in New York when he is not commuting between Southern California and Olympus Mons, Mars. His hobbies include writing, 3D animation, musical composition, and intergalactic space travel. He also enjoys various sports such as skiing, running, and exospheric skydiving.

Connect with Brent:   Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Aoléon: The Martian Girl 





Tuesday, April 28, 2015

0 Happy Release Day to Julia London’s The Scoundrel and the Debutante.



Monday, April 27, 2015

7 A Dream Called Marilyn Book Blast and Giveaway

HF Virtual Book Tours invites you to follow Author Mercedes King's Book Blast for A Dream Called Marilyn, from April 20-May 1, and enter to win one of five paperback copies or a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

02_A Dream Called Marilyn Cover
Publication Date: March 23, 2015
Triumph Productions
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 180
Genre: Historical Fiction


In the summer of 1962, nothing could prepare Dr. Charles Campbell for his first meeting with his new client, Marilyn Monroe. A reputable psychiatrist, he's been hired by a studio executive to handle and subdue the star, no matter what it takes. Although he's been warned about Ms. Monroe's unpredictability, she's not what he expected, and resisting her natural charms will test his fortitude.

In the days that follow, Charles' world is turned upside-down. His marriage has been under pressure and is still fragile from one of his wife’s antics. Obsessed with reinvigorating her acting career, Helen Campbell often ignores her motherhood duties. Charles does as much as he can to hold the family together and to protect his young daughters, but the strain has reached a new intensity for all of them.

Charles’ sessions with Marilyn range from sensual to bizarre. She even threatens to go public with information that could ruin her career and destroy President Kennedy’s administration.

Desperate for advice, Charles enlists help from a former college pal, Bertrand Miller. A private detective, known for seedy practices, Miller isn’t new to Hollywood’s underside—or even to Marilyn’s secrets. He advises Charles to be careful, as it’s rumored that the mob will silence Marilyn to protect Kennedy.

But Charles makes the mistake of getting too personal with Marilyn. Although his intentions are well-meaning, those keeping an eye on Marilyn couldn’t care less, which makes Charles a target for the mob and the FBI. Saving Marilyn from her self-destructive ways and crossing doctor-patient boundaries, might also cost Charles Campbell his life.

Buy A Dream Called Marilyn


Excerpt from A Dream Called Marilyn

Dr. Charles Campbell tightened the knot in his tie, knowing that today was the biggest day of his career. Maybe even his life. He promised himself--no, swore to himself--that he wouldn’t let his infatuation get the best of him, that he would hold it together when he met her for the very first time, right there in his office.

He’d cleared away the dust, made sure his diplomas hung T-square straight, and he’d washed his hands. Repeatedly. He’d made sure his gray suit and navy blue tie were pressed to perfection. Like most red-blooded, breathing males he’d taken a beating from inside his chest whenever he saw her on the screen. She had that way about her, being able to stir a man’s desires and make you fall in love with her effortlessly. With that teasing smile and that vulnerable naivety she exuded, she could make any man melt, abandon any morals he held. And her curves. Well, Charles couldn’t think on that. Not today.

He’d treat her the way every psychiatrist was expected to treat a patient. Charles promised himself he wouldn’t flinch or become a caricature of himself when he touched her hand. There would be no unbuttoning of his collar or adjusting the air conditioning unit. And his eyes would not wander. That was his resolve.

He dabbed the beads of perspiration from his forehead. Theirs would be a business relationship, he reminded himself. According to the studio contact, the man who’d arranged today’s meeting, this was a woman in desperate need of his professional services. They would establish a doctor-patient association. Yes, simple as that. Charles would uphold the fine reputation he’d built in Los Angeles and tend to her like he would any female client.

Why, he’d treated a number of actors and actresses, from those struggling with sexual identity issues to depressive diseases. Those famous for their cowboy roles, those noted for their singing and dancing. Even those known for the flip of their hair or their on-set tantrums.

But who was he kidding? There was no one like her. Would she notice his resemblance to Rod Taylor? Remark that his hair was lighter, but that the similarities were uncanny. Perhaps his only hope was that she¾

A knock sounded, interrupting his rambling thoughts.

Charles opened the door to his office.

And there she was.

“Miss Monroe.” He stepped aside, held out his hand to welcome her in. “Please.”

Her eyes flashed that shy but friendly grin he’d seen in her movie characters as she entered, a crème-colored shawl hugging her bare shoulders. Interesting, Charles thought, for a sultry June afternoon.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Monroe.” Charles offered his hand.

Marilyn stole a surmising glance of the room, which served as the outer room and waiting area for Charles’ practice. How he wished he’d spruced up the walls. She shook his hand, almost as if the gesture were new to her. Her pink linen dress reminded him of her outfit from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes when she sang, “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”. This dress was shorter, sleeveless but with a high neckline, and sans gloves and diamonds.

“Thank you for seeing me, Dr….?”

Charlie reddened. “Dr. Campbell.” Hadn’t the studio contact mentioned his name to her? And as the man from the studio crossed his mind, he found it curious Marilyn had come alone; he’d expected her to be escorted, handed off almost. “May I get you anything? A glass of water perhaps?”

“No, thank you.” She smiled, sweetly yet cautiously. Charles couldn’t blame her. Here was a woman who’d been raised in turmoil, endured multiple heartbreaks and divorce, professional difficulties, much of it in the public eye. All while being rotated through various doctors.

“Would you like to sit here or in my office?”

“Wherever you’d like me.”

The lump that jumped into his throat almost knocked him unconscious.

“There is a couch in here.” He said it as his hand slid the door open to his inner office. “Well, I only mean that it’s probably more comfortable….”

He was certain he sounded lustful, perverted. Minutes into his first session and he was blowing it! Did he have any hope left of instilling confidence in her, in gaining her trust?

To his surprise she laughed. An unexpected, breathy release that made his own breathing pause. She sashayed into Charles’ inner office and seated herself on the burnt-orange couch--how he wished he’d bought a new one!--tucked her legs up beside her and leaned onto the arm.

Instinct struck Charles; he nudged his tie loose, undid the top button of his collar.

He reached for the pad of notepaper and pen on his desk, desperately hoping she hadn’t noticed his acute failure to behave better than an ordinary man.

“I know why I’m here.” She spoke with a sudden perkiness that caught Charles off guard. Many of his clients had battled resentment, denial while sitting on that couch.

“Oh?” He sat in a tufted vinyl chair across from her.

“Yes.” Her eyes were wide. Trusting. “You see, I’m dangerous.”

“To yourself?”

“Not exactly.” Her smile returned. “I know it will be hard for you to understand, and I’m not sure how much I should tell you, for your own good.”

It was too early for Charles to gauge how serious Marilyn was. Their initial encounter was still warm and clutter plagued his mind. He had to shove aside the characters she’d played, the magazine articles he’d read about her, and momentarily ignore disparaging details he’d read about her in the file from the studio contact. Charles had to figure out who Marilyn really was.

03_Mercedes King AuthorAbout the Author

A founding member of Sisters in Crime Columbus, Ohio (affectionately dubbed SiCCO), Mercedes King can be found elbow-deep in research, reading, or enjoying the local bike path. Combining her love of pop culture with history, she created A Dream Called Marilyn, a novella focusing on the last weeks of Marilyn's life.

O! Jackie is a fictional take on Jackie Kennedy's private life--and how she dealt with JFK's affairs. Unable to quench that thirst for Kennedys, Mercedes wrote The Kennedy Chronicles, a series of short stories featuring Jackie and Jack before the White House and before they were married.

Plantation Nation follows Emma Cartwright, a 16 year old Southern girl who disguises herself as a young man and fights for the Union Army.

For more information please visit Mercedes King's website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and Goodreads.

A Dream Called Marilyn Book Blast Schedule

Monday, April 20

Tuesday, April 21

Wednesday, April 22

Thursday, April 23

Friday, April 24

Saturday, April 25

Sunday, April 26

Monday, April 27

Tuesday, April 28

Wednesday, April 29

Thursday, April 30

Friday, May 1

Giveaway

To enter to win a copy of A Dream Called Marilyn (5 copies are up for grabs) or a $50 Amazon Gift Card please see the Gleam giveaway below.

RULES

Giveaway starts on April 20th at 12:01am EST and ends at 11:59pm EST on May 1st.
Giveaway is open to residents in the US only and you must be 18 or older to enter.
Winners will be chosen via GLEAM and notified via email.
Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
Please email Amy @ hfvirtualbooktours@gmail.com with any questions.

A Dream Called Marilyn Book Blast Giveaway


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Friday, April 24, 2015

4 The Witch of Napoli Book Blast and Giveaway

02_The Witch of Napoli Cover
Publication Date: January 15, 2015 
Palladino Books
 Formats: eBook, Paperback 
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Add to GR Button

Join Michael Schmicker as his novel The Witch of  Napoli is featured around the blogosphere, and enter to win a copy! 



Italy 1899: Fiery-tempered, erotic medium Alessandra Poverelli levitates a table at a Spiritualist séance in Naples. A reporter photographs the miracle, and wealthy, skeptical, Jewish psychiatrist Camillo Lombardi arrives in Naples to investigate. When she materializes the ghost of his dead mother, he risks his reputation and fortune to finance a tour of the Continent, challenging the scientific and academic elite of Europe to test Alessandra’s mysterious powers. She will help him rewrite Science. His fee will help her escape her sadistic husband Pigotti and start a new life in Rome. Newspapers across Europe trumpet her Cinderella story and baffling successes, and the public demands to know – does the “Queen of Spirits” really have supernatural powers?

Nigel Huxley is convinced she’s simply another vulgar, Italian trickster. The icy, aristocratic detective for England’s Society for the Investigation of Mediums launches a plot to trap and expose her. The Vatican is quietly digging up her childhood secrets, desperate to discredit her supernatural powers; her abusive husband Pigotti is coming to kill her; and the tarot cards predict catastrophe.

Praised by Kirkus Reviews as an “enchanting and graceful narrative” that absorbs readers from the very first page, The Witch of Napoli masterfully resurrects the bitter 19th century battle between Science and religion over the possibility of an afterlife.

Praise for The Witch of Napoli

"Impressive...an enchanting, graceful narrative that absorbs readers from the first page." -Kirkus Reviews

03_Michael Schmicker AuthorAbout the Author

Michael Schmicker is an investigative journalist and nationally-known writer on the paranormal. He's been a featured guest on national broadcast radio talk shows, including twice on Coast to Coast AM (560 stations in North America, with 3 million weekly listeners). He also shares his investigations through popular paranormal webcasts including Skeptiko, hosted by Alex Tsakiris; Speaking of Strange with Joshua Warren; the X-Zone, with Rob McConnell (Canada); and he even spent an hour chatting with spoon-bending celebrity Uri Geller on his program Parascience and Beyond (England). He is the co-author of The Gift, ESP: The Extraordinary Experiences of Ordinary People (St. Martin's Press). The Witch of Napoli is his debut novel. Michael began his writing career as a crime reporter for a suburban Dow-Jones newspaper in Connecticut, and worked as a freelance reporter in Southeast Asia for three years. He has also worked as a stringer for Forbes magazine, and Op-Ed contributor to The Wall Street Journal Asia. His interest in investigating the paranormal began as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand where he first encountered a non-Western culture which readily accepts the reality of ghosts and spirits, reincarnation, psychics, mediums, divination,and other persistently reported phenomena unexplainable by current Science. He lives and writes in Honolulu, Hawaii, on a mountaintop overlooking Waikiki and Diamond Head.

Connect with Michael Schmicker on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.




The Witch of Napoli Book Blast Schedule

Monday, April 20
Susan Heim on Writing 
Tuesday, April 21
Griperang's Bookmarks

Wednesday, April 22
Genre Queen 
Friday, April 24
To Read, Or Not to Read 
Monday, April 27
The Maiden's Court 
Tuesday, April 28
A Chick Who Reads 
Friday, May 1
Beth's Book Nook Blog


Giveaway

Two copies of The Witch of Napoli are up for grabs. To enter please complete the form below.

RULES

Giveaway starts on April 20th at 12:01am EST and ends at 11:59pm EST on May 1st.
Giveaway is open to residents in the US, UK, AUS/NZ only and you must be 18 or older to enter.
Winners will be chosen via GLEAM and notified via email.
Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
Please email Amy @ hfvirtualbooktours@gmail.com with any questions.

The Witch of Napoli Book Blast


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Thursday, April 23, 2015

0 Review: Ravencliffe

Title: Ravencliffe (Blythewood #2)
Author: Carol Goodman
Publisher: Viking
Published: December 2, 2014
Hardcover, 432 pages
ISBN: 978-0-670-78477-6
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Publisher






Summary:
Avaline Hall is no ordinary girl.

She’s a student at Blythewood Academy, an elite boarding school that trains young women to defend human society from the shadowy forces that live among us. After the devastating events of her first year at Blythewood, Ava is eager to reunite with her friends—and with Raven, the compelling but elusive winged boy who makes her pulse race. She soon discovers, though, that the sinister Judicus van Drood hasn’t finished wreaking havoc on Blythewood—and wants to use Ava and her classmates to attack a much bigger target.

Ava’s the only one with any hope of stopping van Drood. But to scuttle his plans, she must reveal her deepest secret to everyone at Blythewood. What’s she willing to sacrifice to do what’s right—her school? Her love? Or her life?


My Thoughts:
After the Blythewood cliffhanger I was more than eager to begin Ravencliffe. So much happened in the first book, but the end was really revealing. *SPOILER ALERT for BLYTHEWOOD* Ava found out that her father is a Darkling and that she is also a Darkling. She also kinda insulted her boyfriend, Raven, when he told her what was happening. Though she didn't do it on purpose. Ava is lost and confused and so scared that her friends and family will reject her when they find out what's happening to her. All that takes a backseat, however, when Ava learns that girls are being kidnapped by the evil Judicus van Drood. Only Ava can stop him before it's too late. 

I'm always a little scared to read the second book of a series when I liked the first book so much. A lot of the time the story line loses steam and the second book falls short. Not this time, though. Ravencliffe was just as good as the first book. In the first book, Ava's mother's past is revealed. In this book, Ava's father is revealed. As is more information about the Darklings. Pride and prejudice have to be put aside for the greater good. Ava has to trust in herself and her friends. This series just keeps getting better and better. I really can't wait till the third book comes out. Which isn't until December. If you haven't started this series yet, it will give you plenty of time to catch up. 


My Rating


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

0 The Sweet Spot Excerpt and Giveaway



ABOUT THE SWEET SPOT:
Readers were captivated by Stephanie Evanovich’s highly-anticipated New York Times bestselling debut novel, Big Girl Panties. THE SWEET SPOT (William Morrow Paperbacks, on-sale 3/24/2015, ISBN: 9780062234827, $14.99), finally tells the sizzling story of two of readers’ favorite characters from Big Girl Panties: Chase Walker, the hunky professional baseball player, and his beautiful, curvy, and exceptionally sassy wife Amanda.

Amanda is a successful, levelheaded woman who built her restaurant from scratch. She’s certainly not looking for a prince charming to sweep her off her feet. So when Chase, baseball’s golden boy, begins to pursue her, she barely gives him the time of day. Despite his playboy image, Chase is a monogamist who likes strong women. Amanda is exactly the type he’s been looking to settle down with, but she won’t say yes easily.

For Amanda their romance is all too good to be true, can Chase really be this perfect? And then she discovers that squeaky-clean Chase Walker has a spicy little kink. Chase’s fans have no idea that off the field, he likes to indulge in a little passionate spanking from time to time. To her surprise, Amanda discovers a naughty side she never knew she had. Thanks to a tabloid, their secret comes to light and becomes the nation’s favorite water-cooler gossip. Will Amanda give up a little bit of her single-girl freedom for true love with a twist? Or will the pressure of Chase’s stardom spell doom for this sexy couple?



Chapter One


It was a top down kind of day. The sky was blue, with a few passing clouds and just a hint of breeze indicating that winter was waving its final good-bye. It hinted at summer just around the corner. The sun was bright and warm, encouraging buds to blossom into fragrant glorious flowers. The very atmosphere spoke of all the things possible as the earth renewed itself after a cold east coast hibernation. It was just too tempting. Amanda never put the top down anymore, not since the first summer she had the Chrysler Sebring anyway. She’d always wanted a convertible. At least fate had been kind enough to wait until August two years ago to sport around before a wasp tangled itself in her hair at 40 miles an hour on her way to opening day at the Cold Creek. It ended up stinging her hand, her neck and inadvertently, her front bumper and an unsuspecting fire hydrant. She spent the night she had meticulously been planning for months moping in an ER room with a slight concussion and a burn from the airbag. It had been air conditioning whenever she was in the car from then on. But when she walked out the front door that late April afternoon and was greeted with that first you-know-you-don’t-need-a-jacket day, she was willing to take the risk. Today felt different. And wasps would still be drowsy. Amanda watched ducks and geese and squirrels roaming in pairs as she drove past Maxwell Place Park, looking actually love struck, ready to extend their respective species. People on the streets were smiling as they hustled about their day, others were acting flirty. It was nothing short of spring fever, and she couldn’t help but catch it. At a stop light, she titled her face up towards the sun to let it shine on her for a moment as she offered up a quick prayer of thankfulness for this beautiful day, her wonderful life and all the possibilities that came with it. Maybe she’d do some flirting herself. She turned up the radio and began to bounce to the music. Yeah, it was a top down kind of day.

And then there was the seagull that flew overhead.

Amanda watched it all go down from the rearview mirror as she checked her make-up after pulling into The Cold Creek Grill’s small parking lot. The white and green gloppy goo fell perfectly onto the right side of her head, a stark contrast to her long black waves. She stared at it for a few moments as the reality and the poop sunk in.

“That didn’t just happen.”

But it did happen, and once again, Amanda Cole had been reminded. Never get too cocky. Avoid using words like perfect or wonderful. Never attach your own name. They were invitations to comeuppance. She wouldn’t go as far as to say she considered herself particularly unlucky, she just knew her boundaries. She couldn’t pinpoint when she’d learned it for sure, but it was probably somewhere in between not making cheerleading and being as her mother called it, “twenty pounds away from prom queen.”

Her mother wasn’t cruel, but she was blunt. Sometimes it was hard to tell the difference and every now and then, someone you love says something thoughtless, and it sticks.

Catherine Cole didn’t really want her to be a prom queen, anyway. As Essex County DA, Amanda’s mother wanted her to be smart and shrewd and strong.

Amanda was beautiful and sensitive in spite of herself, her retired family court judge father never failed to remind her.

Amanda stomped in through the Cold Creek’s front door and slammed her purse on the bar with a loud thud. Eric and Nicole were going through the beer cooler’s inventory in preparation to stock up from the basement whatever they would need for the evening. Eric was a lanky blonde blue eyed surfer boy who had been accepted to Harvard, but opted for Bartending School instead when he realized how late he liked to sleep. All his savings and vacation time were spent in search of the perfect curl. In between budgeting, he felt New Jersey waves were as good as anyplace else, and he could be close to his family. Nicki was a free spirited Seaton Hall drop that Amanda had known since high school out who was trying to break into acting. She was a petite, vivacious brunette who had a great horror movie victim scream, but her booking to audition ratio was often disappointing. She did her best to stay optimistic, paying her dues, as they all called it. Eric was a few years younger but that didn’t prevent him and Nicki from becoming fast friends as well as roommates. Although nobody got involved, it was common knowledge that the two were known to hook up now and again, usually the result of her not getting the call and his ability to make the best commiserating cocktail. Amanda didn’t care if they shined the bar with their butts, as long as they could work together, did it after closing and cleaned up afterwards.

Eric looked up briefly from his clipboard and then took a double take as Amanda approached their end of the bar.

“Yikes,” he said, his face scrunching up in distaste, “Hope that’s not a fashion statement.”

“Bird,” was Amanda’s one word reply as she proceeded past them.

“Geez, what was that thing eating?” He said, casting a quick look to his counter-part.

“It’s supposed to be good luck!” Nicki called out while Amanda began disappearing within the ladies room.

“Not feeling it,” Amanda could be heard snapping as the door closed behind her. She walked up to the mirror over the sink to best assess how to clean the mess up. It had begun to drip further down, appeared to be soaking into the thick black hair she spent a half hour blowing dry. She took a deep breath. This was nothing more than a problem that needed solving. She had this. First she took some toilet paper and tried to scoop as much as she could with one grab. It got the bulk of it, but the parts left behind were now successfully smeared deeper into her hair and beginning to clump together. She wet some more tissue and tried to wash the remainder out, but it started to decompose in her hand and her hair, leaving bits of it behind and adding to the mix. She took one more handful of tissue and wet it again but this time left it too soaked. When she tried to gently squeeze it over the affected hair, the overflow dripped down her hand and onto the front of her blue silk Jones of New York blouse, leaving a wet spot directly over the center of her ample right breast.

“Really?” she shook her head in disgust at her reflection in the mirror. Not only did she have bird shit and toilet paper remnants in her hair, now she looked like she was lactating.

She had only managed to make things worse. Giving the shirt priority, she tried the hand dryer for it. After a minute, it dried up the moisture but left a rather large off color stain where the water had been. It no longer looked like she was lactating, but merely that she had lactated. The right side of her head was now crunchy.

Strike two.

Amanda stormed out of the bathroom, back to the bar where Eric and Nicki were now waiting.

“You can barely notice it,” Nicki said after staring for a minute.

“Are you kidding?” Eric took the more direct approach. “It looks like a pterodactyl flew over her after a chili cook-off.”

Amanda closed her eyes, bit her lip and began counting. When she reached eight the phone rang. She quickly fired off nine and ten out loud and went back near the front door.

“Cold Creek Grill. How may I help you?” She answered the phone as if her day was right as rain. She was a business woman, first and foremost.

“I need a reservation for tonight,” a gravelly voice barked into the phone. The caller was either on a cell phone with a bad connection or had a mouth full of marbles.

“Of course sir, what time are you looking for?”

“Seven,” he said impatiently and Amanda pictured him running to catch a subway.

“Let me make sure I have that available,” she told him, trying to buy time while she booted up the computer at the podium a few feet away. She moved the phone to the other side of her head, forgetting it was a war zone and her hair crackled near her ear.

“Trust me, sweetheart, you have a table available.”

“Sir?” She didn’t know what to be more offended by, his use of the word sweetheart or the underlying threat that she better be able to seat him. And she determined he was just some arrogant blowhard who was sitting with his feet up on his desk overlooking the water and a fat stogy in his mouth.

“A superstar is having dinner at your restaurant; you don’t want to make him wait.”

“All of our guests at the Cold Creek are VIPs Mr…?”

“Maybe I should speak to the owner?” he cut her off and she thought she heard more spit squish out of the end of his cigar.

“I am the owner. My name is Amanda Cole. To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?”

“Don’t seat us someplace high traffic like near the front. He’s not there to be an advertisement. You’ll get your photo op.”

It sounded so scathing, like she was some sort of a bistro whore looking to make a buck, as if she would be interested in taking a picture with him in the first place. Supreme Court justices and past presidents dined at the Cold Creek without incident. “Mr. What-ever-your-name-is, I’m not only concerned for the comfort of our guests, but the safety of my staff. And we have had some high profile guests in the past. Several are regulars.”

“Yeah, yeah, I heard that. That’s why I’m calling. But lady, you never had anyone this big,” he said with an air of superiority that was nothing short of skin crawling. At least he had upgraded her to lady.

If he wasn’t being such a total jack-ass, she might have taken him more seriously. “Would you like to tell me who he is, so that I might inform security?” she said with overt sarcasm. He could either take being spoken to in kind, or he would start to ream her out and she would hang up on him and he could dine elsewhere, bad business or not.

There was a pause and she thought he may have hung up on her first. But then he said, “No. Better you don’t know till he gets there. Someone tips off TMZ and the night’s a bust. And he brings his own security”

“Will they be joining you for dinner?”

His laugh was particularly smarmy. “They’re not paid to eat.”

So he wasn’t only rude, he was also a tyrant. “That’s fine, sir, they can stand guard with mine.” Only hers were imaginary. She no longer cared if the computer was ready. It was a Weds, they were rarely fully booked, and this man and his famous guest seemed intent on dining there. He was probably going to be more aggravation than anything else, even if he was only half as self-important as his representative. “You’re all set, dinner for two at seven. Would you like to leave me a name or is there a code word or what?”

There was another pause, and once again Amanda was given the false hope that he may have hung up and saved her from a night of inconvenient distractions at the very least. But then she heard him on the other end, it sounded like a snort.

“You’re spunky, kid,” he told her. “Name under Alan Shaw. I’ll be there at 6:50. I don’t like to wait either. And make sure there are good steaks on hand, he’s a meat-eater.”

There was no mistaking the disconnection this time. A security conscious carnivore with pope-like status was joining her for dinner tonight. One who had an obnoxious toady. She pulled the phone away from her ear, turned it off and wiped the watered down bird residue off it with the sleeve of her shirt before setting it down on the bar. She noted the time on the now fully booted up computer, which opened to the day’s reservation page. They were completely booked for seven. She had forgotten about the art house theatre opening a few blocks away. Strike three. Her day officially went bust at 2:02 pm. That was fast, and on a day that started off so well. When would she learn to keep thoughts on perfection out of her head?

Amanda took a look over at Eric and Nicole. When the exchange started taking a turn for the testy, they stopped what they were doing to watch, waiting to see if their usually competent boss was about to unravel. Amanda picked her purse up off the bar.

“Can you two hold down the fort for a couple hours?” she asked, more out of courtesy than concern while fishing out her keys.

“Sure,” they said in unison. Then Nicki added, “Where you going?”

“I’m using a mulligan and starting the day over,” Amanda said over her shoulder as she headed for the door. She wasn’t sure it was going to help.

Meet Stephanie Evanovich


Hi! My name is Stephanie Evanovich and I have a confession to make.

Ever since I was five years old, I wanted to be an actor. Okay, that’s not entirely true. At first I wanted to be a singer, but in my teenage years I started smoking. It didn’t take long for me to realize I had started sounding more like Bobcat Goldthwait than Celine Dion, so I scrapped the crooning. It would be years until I finally figured out that what I should have scrapped was the smoking. Can I get a rebel yell?
For decades I studied and practiced the craft, trying to pay my dues. I took classes; I did more cheesy community theater productions than I can count. I did some low-budget films—I don’t think I even remember the titles. I was also an extra on Fletch Lives. If you look really closely at the end, you can see a blurry head in a blue choir robe peeking through a door as they wheel a body past. The look I was going for was horror; the assistant director actually told me to keep doing it for all the takes, so I’d like to think I made an impression. But my real claim to fame is that there are probably enough head shots of me in garbage cans to shut down a local landfill.
And since I’m being completely honest, there were long stretches of time when the priority was entertaining my two sons, who (coincidentally) were also my best audience. If they didn’t have to go and grow up on me, I’d still be happily doing it. But I knew that if I raised them right, eventually they would venture out into the world on their own and I would have to have something to replace that tremendous void.
            I started writing to amuse myself and my friends, but still held on to the acting dream. It was actually the release of the movie The Wrestler that finally put a pile driver to it. I found out a good deal of it was filmed in Asbury Park, New Jersey—literally a half mile from my house. It was then that it dawned on me, like waking up out of a sleeper hold: if I can’t find my way onto a set as an extra in a movie about a washed-up wrestler that is being filmed a stone’s throw from my front door, maybe I don’t have the right connections. I won’t even bother going into detail about the funk that followed.
            Luckily, I have some very supportive friends who also happen to be writers and creative types in general. They encouraged and motivated me to write the novel Big Girl Panties. I can’t help but see symmetry in it all: whether I’m singing, acting, or writing, maybe what I really want to do is entertain. I just took the scenic route to my medium.
            I consider it a privilege to have this opportunity to try to entertain you. In fact, I’ve been waiting for it most of my life.

The Story Behind The Sweet Spot


Dorothea Benton Frank, bestselling author of The Hurricane Sisters, interviews Stephanie Evanovich

Dottie: I just want to congratulate you on the success of your debut, Big Girl Panties. And you’re following that up a year later with a new novel that I’m sure will keep people talking.

Stephanie: Thanks, Dottie! It’s been a really fun year. I’m looking forward to the July eighth release of The Sweet Spot. I can’t wait to get back out there and talk to readers about it. And congrats on your new release—The Hurricane Sisters. It’s the book I think I’ll be taking with me when I travel, if I can wait that long to read it.

Dottie: The romantic duo in The Sweet Spot, Chase and Amanda Walker, were sidekicks in Big Girl Panties—did fans specifically ask for you to bring them back for a star turn?

Stephanie: After Big Girl Panties hit the streets and I started getting feedback, it was pretty clear that some readers really took to them. They nearly stole the show! And I’m positively thrilled by that. They may be my favorite couple.

Dottie: Chase Walker is a superstar baseball player and a lot of the tension in the novel comes from Amanda trying to decide if she wants to be a superstar’s girlfriend. I know you’re a sports fan. Were you excited to have a pro athlete as your hero?

Stephanie: Excited is a bit of an understatement. It was more like crazy-over-the-moon psyched. There’s just something about athletes . . . yum.

Dottie: There’s some genuinely fun, spicy scenes in this book. How do readers react when you turn up the heat?

Stephanie: When I went out on the road with Big Girl Panties and met readers, fun seemed to be the order of the day. Throw some spice in there and it’s a recipe for delicious hotness—at least I’m hoping that’s the case.
 
ABOUT STEPHANIE EVANOVICH:
Stephanie Evanovich is a full-fledged Jersey girl from Asbury Park who began writing fiction while waiting for her cues during countless community theater projects. She attended New York’s School of Film and Television and acted in several improvisational troupes and a few small-budget movies, all in preparation for the greatest job she ever had, raising her two sons. Now a full-time writer, she’s an avid sports fan who holds a black belt in tae kwon do.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

0 Feature: What Doesn't Kill Us by Nirina Stone


Book summary:
Lucy Reynolds has spent her life hiding from her inner demons and now that she's away at university, all she wants is to forget. But memories of her abuse-ridden childhood continue to plague her. In order to protect herself, Lucy has mastered the art of remaining seemingly anonymous, vowing to keep her secrets safe. 
When a secret society set their sights on her and another young woman, both will be powerless to resist their advances. When the other woman goes missing, Lucy wonders if she'll be next. 
Soon, dark secrets are shared, but is Lucy prepared for what she'll find out? Are some secrets just too horrible to reveal?


Buy & social media: 
Twitter: @nirinastone

Bio:
Nirina Stone is a reader, occasional country-hopper, and indie author. She inhales literary novels, suspense, horror, speculative fiction and the odd comedy.
Her writing may or may not touch on all of the above.
As a kid, she'd often be caught under the blankets with a book and a torchlight until wee hours of the morning. That hasn't changed much (happiness = a kindle and a book light).
She lives in sunny Sydney Australia with her hubby, two awesome kids, and one crazy Tortie kitten.
To stay tuned on upcoming novels, visit www.nirinastone.com

Monday, April 20, 2015

2 Check out this giveaway and excerpt to All's Fair in Love and Scandal

Blurb:
Nothing wagered…
Douglas Bennet can't resist a good wager, especially not one that involves a beautiful woman. When a friend proposes an audacious plan to expose the most notorious woman in England, Douglas agrees at once. After all, it would be quite a coup to discover the true identity of Lady Constance, author of the infamous erotic serial scandalizing the ton, 50 Ways to Sin.

Nothing won…
Madeline Wilde is used to being pursued. For years she's cultivated a reputation for being unattainable and mysterious, and for good reason: her livelihood depends on discretion. When Douglas turns his legendary charm on her, she dismisses him as just another rake. But he surprises her—instead of merely trying to seduce her, he becomes her friend…her confidant…and her lover. But can it really lead to happily-ever-after…or are they about to become the biggest scandal London has ever seen?

Author Bio:
Caroline Linden was born a reader, not a writer. She earned a math degree from Harvard University and wrote computer software before turning to writing fiction. Ten years, twelve books, three Red Sox championships, and one dog later, she has never been happier with her decision. Her books have won the NEC Reader’s Choice Beanpot Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award, and RWA’s RITA Award. Since she never won any prizes in math, she takes this as a sign that her decision was also a smart one. Visit her online at www.carolinelinden.com

Buy Links:


Excerpt:

Quite a crush, isn’t it?” He gave Mrs. Wilde his winning smile, the easy, friendly one that soothed anxious nerves and made women of every age and rank like him.
She turned at his voice behind her. Something like mirth glimmered in her eyes. “Indeed.”
“I hardly know a soul here tonight.” He lowered his voice but without leaning toward her. Leaning put women on guard. A low voice made them lean toward him, which he much preferred. “It’s rather intimidating, to tell the truth.”
“You?” She arched one golden brow. “You don’t seem the sort to be easily intimidated.”
Douglas grinned. He knew he was a big fellow. Women tended to like it once they got to know him. “Rubbish. I’m petrified just looking at the elegance of this assembly.”
Her lovely lips curved. Her head tipped toward him, just a little. Her dark eyes gleamed. “I don’t believe you.”
“It’s true,” he protested. “My heart is racing, my knees are unsteady. Look—see how my hand trembles.” He caught her hand in his, tensing his muscle to produce the tiniest tremor in his hand, and then relaxing it. “Ah. Your touch has healing power, I see.”
She left her hand in his, but that slight smile tugging at her mouth grew a bit wider. “It’s not flattering to a woman, to say her touch calms a man’s heart and body. Usually she wishes it were the other way around.”
His heart did skip a beat at that. She was a flirt; excellent. He adored flirts. Douglas stroked his thumb over the back of her hand. “It only stilled the terror, my dear. I suspect you could elicit an entirely different sort of tremor.” He lifted her hand and brushed the faintest kiss over her knuckles. “We must be introduced.”
“I fear there’s no one here in this quiet corner who will do it.” Her eyes seemed to grow darker as he drew one finger across her palm.
“Then I will risk being appallingly rude and present myself.” He bowed over her hand, his eyes never leaving her face. “Douglas Bennet, at your service.”
“Yes, I know.”
“You do?” He smiled in delight. “Then we should become acquainted…”
“Mr. Douglas Bennet,” she repeated, her voice changing just enough to freeze him in place. “Son and heir of Sir George Bennet, baronet. A very handsome title, an even handsomer fortune. An unrepentant rake, gambler, brawler, and sometime rogue. Your mother wants you to marry; you couldn’t be less interested. Your taste runs to tavern maids and opera dancers, preferably French. Your sister wed your bosom friend Lord Burke, much to your disgust, although no one quite knows if you pity your sister or your one-time friend more.” She tilted her head and smiled as he stared at her, blank-faced with shock that was rapidly turning to indignation. “What have I forgotten? Oh, yes—you love a good wager. What was the one that sent you over here: a wager to get me into your bed?” She slipped her fingers from his slackened grip. “If it was…you’ve already lost. I hope you didn’t stake a large amount.”
“It was merely for the pleasure of a dance,” he said, hiding his temper behind a flat tone.
She laughed. By God, she had a beautiful laugh, throaty and soft, the sort that made a man want to amuse her so he could hear it again. “I doubt it. But then, you’re also accustomed to losing, aren’t you?” She sank into a graceful curtsey, giving him one last view of her matchless bosom. “Good evening, sir.” She turned and walked away, unhurried, unaffected.
He was still standing there, pulsing with unexpected desire and insulted pride, when Spence slung an arm around his neck. “Rough luck,” he said, his voice brimming with amusement. “She’s a cold one.” He grinned and slapped Douglas’s shoulder. “Five quid, gone in a blink.”
Douglas turned a black look on the man. “You didn’t say when.”
Spence raised his eyebrows, still grinning like a cardsharp. Come to think of it, he usually looked like that, right before he took someone’s money. Douglas had won and lost to Spence with equanimity—for the most part—but tonight he wanted to punch his friend. Spence had deliberately dared him to an impossible task, sending him over to be humiliated and rejected. And now he wanted five pounds. “What do you mean?”
“You didn’t say when.” Douglas bit off each word. “She rejected me tonight, but there’s always tomorrow night, and the next, and the next after that.”
A scowl darkened Spence’s face for a split second before he threw up his hand. “You’re right! I didn’t. Let’s say…within a fortnight. That ought to be enough time to work up some charm and get between the fair widow’s legs.”
“You wagered for a dance, not a tupping.”
“Well.” Spence’s eyes glittered. “I thought I wagered for tonight. Allowances must be made.” When Douglas said nothing, Spence leaned closer. “You’re not afraid, are you? Not going soft in the head like Burke? The woman gutted you and denied you in front of all society, man. Look around.” He swept one arm toward the rest of the room. “Don’t you think half the people here guessed why you sought her out? And now they see her leaving alone, and you looking like she took your ballocks with her.”
Against his will, Douglas’s eyes caught on Madeline Wilde as she made her way toward the doors. Damn, she was beautiful. He had wanted to dance with her, and probably get her into bed as well, even though she was not, as she had so baldly pointed out, his usual type of woman. She was…something more.
As if she could hear his thoughts, she paused at the top of the short flight of stairs leading out of the ballroom. She glanced back over her shoulder, and her eyes met his. For a moment he felt again a bolt of lust—unwanted this time—and her lips curved, as if she knew. She lowered her chin and smiled in a coy, entrancing way, as if they shared secrets—or as if she dared him to uncover hers. With breathtaking nerve, she pursed up her lips as if in a kiss, and touched one finger to them.
He took a harsh breath as she turned and continued on her way, her emerald skirts swaying bewitchingly. “Why her?”
“Why not her?”
Douglas set his jaw. “You had her marked from the moment we stepped into this room. I saw you watching her, Spence. A former lover? Was I supposed to exact some revenge or retribution by asking the lady to dance?”
“The courtesan’s daughter?” The other man’s lip curled. “Hardly a former lover of mine. I have higher standards than that.”
Not really, in Douglas’s opinion. Spence liked married women who couldn’t impose on his freedom, and who often wished to keep their liaisons secret. That was hardly what one could call a refined requirement. Still, Douglas hadn’t known she was a courtesan’s daughter. He made a mental note to find out more about that.
“She appeared respectable enough to me,” he said.
“To you,” repeated Spence with an edge of condescension. “Compared to a tavern wench with rounded heels, she might be. To the rest of us…” He snapped his fingers at a passing footman and took a glass of wine from the man’s tray. “You really ought to improve your taste, Bennet.”
Douglas let that go. He did like tavern wenches. They were friendly and earthy, nothing delicate or prim about them. They were more willing to be adventurous in bed, and they demanded so much less of him—financially and emotionally—than any other woman would.
“But why her?” he asked again, circling back to his main question. “Just for the sport of it? Or did you simply want the pleasure of seeing me turned down flat?”
Spence didn’t reply for a moment. His eyes were sharp and calculating. “How plump are your pockets at the moment?” he finally asked.
“Reasonably,” said Douglas. He’d been gone from town for a month overseeing repairs at one of his father’s estates, to the great benefit of his purse. Still, it was a few weeks to quarter day, when his father paid out his allowance. He could always find a use for more money.
Spence lowered his voice. “I suspect our lovely Mrs. Wilde of being more than she appears. And if I’m right, there’s two thousand quid to be had.”
Douglas’s eyebrows shot up. “What is she, a spy?”
“Of some sort,” muttered Spence. “You aren’t acquainted with a little piece of rubbish called 50 Ways to Sin, are you?”
“No.”
“Get a copy. It’s a pamphlet of a most…intriguing nature.” A cunning smile split his face. “I suspect you’ll enjoy it.”
That smile put him on guard. Douglas might not be the most discerning fellow, but he wasn’t stupid, and he knew Spence too well. “If you insist—not that it answers my question about why you wanted me to charm my way into Mrs. Wilde’s good graces.”
“The authoress is unknown. I daresay even you’ll guess why when you read it. But she’s piqued more than one man’s pride with her scandalous pen, and there’s a bounty out for her name. Mrs. Wilde seems a very likely candidate.” He shrugged. “If you can unmask her, I’ll split the bounty with you.”
Douglas folded his arms and looked at Spence through narrowed eyes. “I should seduce the woman, gain her confidence, presumably enough to be admitted to her boudoir, where I would have to search for some proof that she writes this pamphlet. And for that, you’ll take half the money? Not so, Spence, not so.”
His friend’s hooded eyes flashed. “Very well. Forget I said anything.”
Douglas shrugged. “Hard to do that. Who staked the bounty?”
Spence hesitated.
“If the bloke’s serious about finding the author, he can’t be too secretive about it.”
“Lord Chesterton,” said Spence with obvious reluctance. “He felt she identified him too clearly in one story and he’s livid.”
“Identified? She didn’t use his name?”
Spence looked impatient. “No, she uses obviously false names.”
“Then how did he recognize himself?”
His friend smirked again. “Find a copy and see if you can deduce that yourself.”
Douglas wondered what on earth this story was, that would drive Lord Chesterton to such an action. The man was as correct and polite as anyone could be, distantly connected to the King and as stiff as a piece of kindling. Now he’d placed a public bounty on a woman’s head? What could Mrs. Wilde—if she was in fact the author—have written about him? Two thousand pounds was a small fortune, and certain to attract a fair amount of attention.
Of course, that also made it a much more interesting contest.
“Three to one,” he said after a moment’s thought.
“Eh?”
“Three to one split, if we take the bounty.” He glanced at Spence. “You’re the one, obviously.”
“Two to three,” countered the other man.
“Do it yourself, then.”
Spence muttered a few curses under his breath, but stuck out his hand. “Done.”
Douglas shook on it, already anticipating his next meeting with the wily widow. “Done.”

ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE AND SCANDAL
BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

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4/22
Rambling Reads -- Excerpt
Unwrapping Romance – Promo, Excerpt
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4/23
Doing Some Reading -- Excerpt
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Booksane -- Review, Promo

4/24
Wallflowers and Rakes – Review, Promo
The Book Reading Gals -- Review, Promo

4/27
The Lusty Literate – Review, Promo, Excerpt
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4/29
Brooke Blogs -- Review
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5/1
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