Blitz | Romancing the Holidays Anthology

Romancing the Holidays: A First Coast Romance Writers Holiday Anthology
Publication date: September 22nd 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

A dozen ways to fall in love at the holidays…

Come celebrate the holidays with these dozen unique romances, ranging from sweet to steamy and all ending with a happily-ever-after. This anthology of short stories, written by multi-award-winning authors, including New York Times best-selling author, Alyssa Day, will transport you from Labor Day and Halloween antics to Christmas and Valentine romantics. Its stories will whisk you away into contemporary, historical, and paranormal worlds where love prevails. So, savor the authors featured in this enchanting book and bet your heart on some romantic cheer while you enjoy these twelve ways to fall in love.

Proceeds from this novel benefit First Coast Romance Writers, a non-profit chapter of Romance Writers of America that helps writers hone their craft and expand their knowledge of the publishing industry. A portion of the proceeds are also donated to FeedAmerica.org.

Goodreads / Amazon

SNEAK PEEKS:

“Faking it for the Holidays” by Lia Davis:

Julius probably shouldn’t be as happy as he was about his parents going on a cruise the week of Christmas. But he was. For the first time since he met his best friend and future wife—although she didn’t know that yet—he would be able to spend a normal, quiet, holiday season with Tara.

Just the two of them.

Was it wrong that he wanted to spend Christmas with his best friend, alone?

They didn’t have to listen to his parents, especially his mom, go on and on about how they should get married and give her beautiful grandbabies. It was embarrassing and made things awkward between them for the whole trip to Oregon to spend Christmas with his parents.

Tara had always been fantastic about his crazy family, which made her even more perfect for him. She never complained. She fit right in with them and humored his mom when she started in about the future of their lives and how they weren’t getting any younger.

The whole thing made him hesitate to ask Tara to marry him. He didn’t want her to think he was pressured into proposing, which he wasn’t. He loved her from the moment they met as kids.

He wanted to show her how much he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her, without the pressure of his family lurking and watching them. Yessir, this year was going to be different.

He had Tara to himself.

His cell rang and he snatched it up from the kitchen counter where he was prepping movie-night snacks for him and Tara. It was their usual Saturday night “date” to make fun of bad movies. Not looking at the screen and thinking it was Tara, he said, “You better not be backing out on tonight.”

There was a long few moments of silence. Jules’ heart dropped to his feet. She wasn’t coming over. He’d spent all week gathering the courage to finally tell her how he felt. That he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her and not as just her best friend. He wanted more. “Tara?”

“Oh, no silly. It’s your mother. Don’t you check the caller ID?”

Damn. “Mom. How are you? Are you on the ship?”

She let out a disappointing sigh. “Sadly, no. The cruise was canceled last minute. That means we’re staying home for Christmas. You’re coming, right?”

“An Elf’s Challenge” by Vickey Wollan

“Why are you being so nice to me?” She stared straight at him and lifted her chin. Angelina was determined not to be the first one to blink. Then, she noticed he hadn’t blinked either.

“I can do this all day. Remember, sawdust in my eyes regularly – no biggie.” Zack raised his lids and brought his nose inches from hers. “You had me at operational efficiency. I’m hoping you’ll return the favor, let me into the Paint Drying Zone.” He winked.

Angelina’s mouth went dry. No amount of soda could fix it. “Of course!” Oh, dear. What did I just do? What will my father think of me bringing a dust-covered woodworker into the paint shop?


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Blitz | Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron

I’m excited to give you some info on this book, which is out TODAY! Check out the synopsis and info below and make sure to click on the link to the retailer of your choice to pick it up!

In this highly anticipated contemporary fantasy, twelve-year-old Maya’s search for her missing father puts her at the center of a battle between our world, the Orishas, and the mysterious and sinister Dark world. Perfect for fans of Aru Shah and the End of Time and The Serpent’s Secret.

Twelve-year-old Maya is the only one in her South Side Chicago neighborhood who witnesses weird occurrences like werehyenas stalking the streets at night and a scary man made of shadows plaguing her dreams.

When Papa goes missing, Maya is thrust into a world both strange and familiar as she uncovers the truth. Her father is the guardian of the veil between our world and the Dark—where an army led by the Lord of Shadows, the man from Maya’s nightmares, awaits. Now that the veil is failing, the Lord of Shadows is determined to destroy the human world and it’s up to Maya to stop him. She just hopes she can do it in time to attend Comic-Con before summer’s over.

BUY LINKS | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | Indigo

Rena Barron grew up in small-town Alabama where stories of magic and adventure sparked her imagination. After penning her first awful poem in middle school, she graduated to writing short stories and novels by high school.

From a very young age she loved reading stories where kids saved the world, tamed dragons, wielded magic, flew spaceships, became the chosen one. She desperately searched for characters in books who looked like her and was always disappointed to find none, which fueled her early interest in writing.

Before HarperTeen acquired her Young Adult Epic Fantasy, Kingdom of Souls, Rena spent 10 years in the query trends–writing across multiple genres and age groups in the pursuit of publication. In 2017, she entered Pitch Wars, a popular and highly sought-after online mentorship program that included an agent showcase round. Rena’s entry (then titled “The Last Witchdoctor”) received multiple offers of representation. She signed with Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary shortly after, and the manuscript went on to sell in a heated auction.

In addition to the Kingdom of Souls series, Rena also has written a middle grade epic fantasy titled Maya and The Rising Dark debuting in Spring 2020, pitched as Stranger Things meets Percy Jackson, that sold in a pre-empt to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

On a personal note, Rena loves all things science fiction and fantasy, ghosts, and superheroes. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading or brushing up on her French.

Author Links | Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

If you want to see other posts on the blitz tour be sure to check out the schedule!

Happy reading!

Review | Manga Classics: Anne of Green Gables by Crystal Chan

Siblings Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert were planning to adopt an orphaned boy to help out around their farm, Green Gables – instead, they got Anne Shirley. A plucky redheaded girl with a vibrant imagination, Anne turns first Green Gables and then the rest of Prince Edward Island on its ear.

Manga Classics® is proud to be the only authorized manga adaption of Anne of Green Gables by the Heirs of L.M. Montgomery, with a foreword by Kate McDonald Butler – granddaughter of the original author!

This volume presents a faithful recreation of this classic kids novel, from the Lake of Shining Waters to the Dryad’s Bubble!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I love Anne of Green Gables, it’s something I was introduced to as a child and always has that nostalgic feeling to it. I really enjoyed this retelling of it as it condensed down a lot of the key scenes and themes of the original story. The art style perfectly captured Anne and the other characters, with everyone being unique and recognizable. Sometimes these manga re-imaginings don’t lend themselves as well to classics, but this one fit perfectly.

Happy reading!

Blog Tour | The Wild Path by Sarah R. Baughman

The Line Tender meets The Secret Horses of Briar Hill in this hopeful, heartfelt story about one girl’s search for legendary horses and her quest to piece her family back together.

Twelve-year-old Claire Barton doesn’t like the “flutter feeling” that fills her chest when she worries about the future, but she knows what she loves: the land that’s been in her family for three generations; her best friend Maya; her family’s horses, Sunny and Sam; and her older brother Andy. That’s why, with Andy recently sent to rehab after a DUI, and her parents planning to sell the horses, Claire’s world feels like it might flutter to pieces.

When Claire learns about equine therapy, she imagines a less lonely future that keeps her family together, brother and horses included. But, when she finds mysterious wild horses in the woods behind her house, she realizes she has a bitmore company than she bargained for. With this new secret-and a little bit of luck-Claire will discover the beauty of change, the power of family, and the strength within herself.

Buy Links | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | Indigo

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I did not expect to love this book as much as I did, but it thoroughly hit me in the feels. I really enjoyed Claire as a character as she was navigating through dealing with her brother being in rehab for his addiction to pain pills, dealing with anxiety and in general figuring out who she was independently from her brother (or anyone else). I was really in love with how the feeling of anxiety was described throughout the book, Claire likening it to feeling like birds fluttering around her and inside her – though it wasn’t immediately called anxiety, I knew exactly what that feeling was.

I also really enjoyed Claire’s journey to discovering what she was seeing when she went into the forest and the unwinding mystery that occurred. Claire was really on a journey to find herself and figure out who she wanted to be – as well as come to terms with the truths surrounding her brother’s addiction.

I would definitely say there are trigger warnings for anxiety and addiction (and what happens to the loved ones of addicts). I won’t lie, I lost my older brother due to a drug related death – so there were parts of this story that hit me between the eyes, especially when Claire was inside her own thoughts, Baughman definitely rings true with the internal conflicts she gave Claire and her family as they tried to navigate their new normal. All in all I absolutely loved this book and Claire’s overall journey.

I also created a playlist of songs that spoke to me regarding some of the feelings in the book, you can access it on Spotify, but I’ve also included the list of songs below.

  1. Wild Horses by The Sundays
  2. GET UP by Shinedown
  3. Waving Through a Window (Dear Evan Hansen)
  4. Second Change by Shinedown
  5. Lithium by Evanescence
  6. Serenade by Jim Brickman

Sarah R. Baughman is an author whose debut middle grade novel, THE LIGHT IN THE LAKE, is forthcoming from Little, Brown Books For Young Readers in 2019. A former middle and high school English teacher currently working as an educational consultant, Sarah graduated from Grinnell College and the University of Michigan, where she studied English, German, and Education. Sarah is represented by Katie Grimm at Don Congdon Associates. When she’s not writing, she’s probably reading, running, or getting outdoors with her family.

Author Links | Website | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook

Make sure to also check out all the other tour stops!

Also, want to win a finished copy of The Wild Path? Click here to enter the giveaway! It is U.S. only and ends on September 22nd.

Happy reading!

Review | Labyrinth: Coronation Series

When I heard that there was a graphic novel series which was a prequel to Labyrinth, and specifically was the story of how Jareth became the Goblin King – I had to read it. So I started picking up the individual issues through on my Kindle and reading through them that way.

Regarding the series as a whole, I really enjoyed it. It was told in two timelines, one being following Maria as she tried to save her baby who had been stolen, and the other following Jareth’s perspective while Sarah was making her way through the labyrinth to save Toby. It was really interesting seeing the two storylines and their similarities, as well as which characters were present in both timelines.

The art style was amazing and perfectly fit the Labyrinth aesthetic created by Jim Henson all those years ago. If I had to give the story a star rating overall, I would probably go with a strong four stars, but my breakdown by issue is below.

Labyrinth: Coronation Issue #1 – 4 stars
Labyrinth: Coronation Issue #2 – 3 stars
Labyrinth: Coronation Issue #3 – 4 stars
Labyrinth: Coronation Issue #4 – 3 stars
Labyrinth: Coronation Issue #5 – 4 stars
Labyrinth: Coronation Issue #6 – 3 stars
Labyrinth: Coronation Issue #7 – 4 stars
Labyrinth: Coronation Issue #8 – 3 stars
Labyrinth: Coronation Issue #9 – 4 stars
Labyrinth: Coronation Issue #10 – 4 stars
Labyrinth: Coronation Issue #11 – 4 stars
Labyrinth: Coronation Issue #12 – 3 stars

There were definitely parts of the series that I didn’t love, but I would definitely recommend any Labyrinth fan picking this up as it is a solid prequel and does help to fill in some holes here and there.

Happy reading!

Discussion | Reading Atmosphere

We all have our ideal reading atmosphere’s, dedicated areas or spaces that we prefer to read in. We may have a favorite chair, pillow, favorite drinks and snacks and more. I even have preferred sounds I like to listen to when I’m really in the reading zone.

Now, sometimes I don’t listen to anything, but if I am really wanting to get lost in reading then I definitely put in some earbuds and turn something on. One of my favorite things to listen to are ASMR rooms. I’m not one for traditional ASMR sounds but nature sounds, soft music etc is something I enjoy.

I also really like just general ambient sound, with my favorites being either the ocean or rain sounds – they are definitely sounds that are soothing to me so they allow me to immerse myself.

The other thing I turn to, depending on my mood, is music. Sometimes if I know of an artist that fits the mood of the book I’m reading, or a playlist that really lends to the vibe then I will listen away.

What do you guys listen to when reading? Do you prefer silence, or do you like music/sounds like I do?

Happy reading!

Kindle Deals | 9/17

I found some great deals today while perusing the kindle store and once again want to share them with you guys. As always make sure to check the prices in your area, enjoy!

The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith ($2.99)Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing– a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.

But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil’s Bible. The text of the Devil’s Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell….and Earth.

Beach Read by Emily Henry ($1.99)Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

The Sun Down Hotel by Simone St. James ($1.99) Something hasn’t been right at the roadside Sun Down Motel for a very long time, and Carly Kirk is about to find out why in this chilling new novel from the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnʼt right at the motel, something haunting and scary.

Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.

Happy reading!

Can’t Wait Wednesday | 9/16

Can’t Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings based on the meme Waiting on Wednesday by Breaking the Spine. In this weekly post people share a book that they’re excited about being released.

There are a ton of great sounding books coming out later this year, so it’s hard to choose what I want to talk about. One that I’m super excited about is Stuart Turton’s upcoming book The Devil and the Dark Water. I enjoyed The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle so I’m hoping this one lives up to that or exceeds it.

A murder on the high seas. A detective duo. A demon who may or may not exist.

It’s 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported to Amsterdam to be executed for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Travelling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent.

But no sooner are they out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. A twice-dead leper stalks the decks. Strange symbols appear on the sails. Livestock is slaughtered.

And then three passengers are marked for death, including Samuel.

Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes?

With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent can solve a mystery that connects every passenger onboard. A mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board.

Happy reading!

Blog Tour | These Vengeful Hearts by Katherine Laurin | Review

Mean Girls meets Siobhan Vivian’s The List in THESE VENGEFUL HEARTS, an utterly addictive standalone YA debut that follows 16-year-old Ember Williams as she seeks revenge against the Red Court, a secret organization of Heller High’s most elite female students that specializes in granting and requesting favors—and which is responsible for the accident that left her older sister paralyzed.

A thrilling novel about a secret society and the dangers that lie in wait for anyone brave enough to join—perfect for fans of Karen M. McManus, Kara Thomas, and Maureen Johnson.

Whenever something scandalous happens at Heller High, the Red Court is the name on everyone’s lips. Its members deal out social ruin and favors in equal measure, their true identities known only by their leader: the Queen of Hearts.

Ember Williams has seen firsthand the damage the Red Court can do. Now, she’s determined to hold the organization accountable by taking it down from the inside. But will the cost of revenge be more than she’s willing to sacrifice?

BUY LINKS | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Apple Books | Indie Bound | Bookshop.org  | Books-a-Million | Kobo

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I was really excited to get into this one since I really enjoy stories that include secret societies and someone infiltrating those secret societies for revenge? Sign me up. I did enjoy the read and it’s twists and turns, but some of the twists were a bit predictable to me. To me Ember was a bit unlikable, especially with her waffling back and forth. I understand the conflict the author was trying to inject into the story, but did feel it could have been fleshed out more to really give it the impact it could have had.

I did enjoy some of the side characters and if you’re looking for something very Mean Girls-esque, this will certainly fit the bill. It was an enjoyable read and I am interested to see more from this author as she further refines her writing.

Katherine Laurin lives in Colorado with her husband, two sons, and tiny dog. When she’s not writing, Katherine enjoys reading, traveling, hiking, and listening to true crime podcasts. These Vengeful Hearts is her first young adult novel.

SOCIAL LINKS | Twitter: @writerkatherine |
Instagram: @kl_writerAuthor |Website: https://katherinelaurin.com/

Thanks so much to Inkyard Press for inviting me to participate in the blog tour! Happy reading!

Review | Grumpy Cat Awful-ly Big Comics Collection

Collecting every (terrible) Grumpy Cat comic book story ever — in one giant (overhyped) comics collection!

The World’s Grumpiest Cat — and the world’s most adorable internet sensation — continues to delight fans of all ages. With her ever-present pout and sassy disposition, Grumpy Cat has won the hearts of people everywhere. Now, her unbearable cuteness and infectious sourpuss are featured in a collection of comic stories. If you love the memes, the videos, and that irresistible scowl, then get ready for the wildly fun antics of Grumpy Cat. Her comic book escapades are guaranteed to make you smile… even if she’s scowling!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I had no idea that there were Grumpy Cat comics, so when I saw this on NetGalley I had to pick it up. In the comics we follow Grumpy Cat of course, but also her brother Pokey and their friends. It has a lot of great humorous references and the opposite personalities of Grumpy verses Pokey makes for fun romps that Grumpy refuses to enjoy. It was a really fun read and great for fans of not only Grumpy cat, but cats in general.

Happy (or grumpy) reading!