Book Blitz: “Haven” by Laury Falter – Excerpt + Giveaway!

Haven-LauryFalter-1600x2400Title: Haven, Part I of the Apocalypse Chronicles

Author: Laury Falter

Release date: June 22, 2013

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Age Group:  Young Adult

Event organized by: AToMR Tours

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16621789-haven

Haven, the first book in the Apocalypse Chronicles…

On an ordinary day in early September, Kennedy Shaw leaves for school unaware that within a few minutes the world she knows will be gone – succumbed to an outbreak of epidemic proportions. After finding a safe haven inside the security of her enclosed high school, she learns that four others have survived, one being a bold, mysterious transfer student from Texas whose unruffled demeanor harbors more than a cool interest in her. As they struggle to survive the dead fighting their way inside, will Kennedy discover there is more to life than survival? And will she and the others find a way to live in this terrifying new world?

About the Authorprofile_pic-1

Laury Falter is the author of the bestselling Guardian Trilogy. She writes young adult paranormal romances and urban fantasy when she’s not taking her stray dogs for a walk or enjoying a date night with her husband.

Laury has released two series, the Guardian Trilogy and the Residue Series (a spinoff of the Guardian Trilogy books), and is currently releasing her third series, the Apocalypse Chronicles.

To learn more about Laury and her novels, visit her at:

Website: lauryfalter.com

Twitter page: twitter.com/LauryFalter

Facebook page: facebook.com/pages/Laury-Falter/196033543803745

Goodreads page: goodreads.com/author/show/4061922.Laury_Falter

EXCERPT

The first Infected who came into view was balding. The half moon of white hair around the back of his head was severed in half by a gash that left his neck and the collar of his light blue business suit a crusty red. His hand on the railing was the same ruby color. The one coming up behind him was a girl in her twenties with bleached blonde hair and a tattoo that curled up the side of her neck. The Infected trailing her was a woman with an afro and oversized gold hoop earrings. There were more – I could hear their feet on the stairs – but they hadn’t located me yet. Once they did, I knew nothing could tear them away. This was why I had the rifle pointed at Mr. Suit. If I hit him just right there was a possibility he would collapse against the wall and topple backwards, into the crowd, momentarily blocking the rest from advancing. That might buy me enough time to run for the next set of stairs and, possibly, to safety.

My heart was pounding so hard that I was afraid it would interfere with my aim, even at this short distance. The muzzle was bobbing so rapidly it reminded me of peaks on a hospital pulse monitor. As I’d been trained, I stopped, took a deep breath, and attempted to steady my heart rate. One of my dad’s favorite sayings coursed through my mind, reminding me how to take an accurate shot and calming me instantly. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast, Kennedy. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

As I contemplated my plan, biding my time to get the right shot off, something happened on the floor below. It started with a roar, which was odd because I’d never heard a single Infected roar. Then a commotion followed that caused Mr. Suit and the others to seek the source of the interruption behind them. Apparently, their judgment hadn’t been so dramatically impaired that they knew enough to turn around. This took their focus away from me and I immediately stepped toward the stairs I’d been eyeing. But then I froze…because Ms. Afro had suddenly been yanked out of sight. I watched as Ms. Biker Girl prepared to lunge but also quickly disappeared down the stairs. Mr. Suit was then yanked away, his head snapping back as he vanished in the same direction as the others. Whatever was making its way up the stairs was cutting through the Infected like they were paper dolls. Then the turmoil came to a sudden end and the warehouse settled back into silence, with only the wind whistling through the openings in the building to fill the void. Beneath that hushed sound came another one. A footstep. It was sturdy, landing solidly and with intent. The sound came again. And again. And then there before me stood Harrison, chest heaving, eyes bulging, lips drawn back in a snarl.

My heart leapt at the sight of him, both because I didn’t expect him to appear and because I didn’t expect him to appear like this. What I saw in him was the same behavior so visibly obvious in the Infected. Only one word could describe them both: enraged.

“Harrison?” I whispered, which seemed to bring him back to me.

He had been inspecting the upper floor before his eyes stopped on me. He blinked and straightened out of his crouch, relaxing his face until it returned to the same gorgeous Harrison so familiar to me. He came forward, up the remaining step, but no farther, as hesitancy spread across his face. I was vaguely aware of it wavering as I found myself running for him.

Before I knew it, I was in his arms and my face was pressed against his firm chest and his warm, secure arms were encircling me.

“Kennedy,” he whispered back, hoarsely, full of the emotion he held for me and vowed he would never show.

GIVEAWAY 

(1) eBook copy of Haven (Part I of the Apocalypse Chronicles). Books will be gifted from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Open internationally. To enter, leave a comment with your name and email!

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Book Blast: “15 Minutes” by Jill Cooper – Excerpt + Giveaway!

Welcome to the book blast for 15 Minutes by Jill Cooper, hosted by AToMR Tours. I’ve got a lot of goodies for you about this book, so let’s get started!

15_ebook15 Minutes (The Rewind Series #1) by Jill Cooper

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

I have 15 minutes to save my mother’s life….

15 minutes is all the Rewind Agency gives you in the past, but for Lara Crane it’s enough time to race through the city, find her mother, and stop her from being killed in a mugging that happened over ten years ago.

But that’s not how it happened. The story she’s been told all her life is a lie and when Lara takes a bullet meant for her mother, her future changes forever.

The love of her life acts like a stranger. Her simple life is replaced with a giant house, glamorous clothes and a new boyfriend.

Except someone knows her secret. And he will try to stop her at every turn as she races against the clock to unravel a dangerous conspiracy.

15 Minutes is an edgy high octane YA thriller that can be described as Back to the Future meets Inception where the people Lara trusts change in an instant. She is in a timeline she doesn’t understand, and is about to make one fatal mistake as she faces an enemy so familiar, he’s family.

Continue reading

Blog Tour: “The Cadet of Tildor” by Alex Lidell – Review + Giveaway!

TCoT Tour Banner

Welcome to the blog tour for The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell! There’s a giveaway in here somewhere, but first! My GLOWING review!

Cover Final CadetofTildorThe Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell

Amazon | Goodreads

There is a new king on the throne of Tildor. Currents of political unrest sweep the country as two warring crime families seek power, angling to exploit the young Crown’s inexperience. At the Academy of Tildor, the training ground for elite soldiers, Cadet Renee de Winter struggles to keep up with her male peers. But when her mentor, a notorious commander recalled from active duty to teach at the Academy, is kidnapped to fight in illegal gladiator games, Renee and her best friend Alec find themselves thrust into a world rife with crime, sorting through a maze of political intrigue, and struggling to resolve what they want, what is legal, and what is right.

5 stars

This tour is hosted by A Tale of Many Reviews. Make sure you check out the rest of the tour HERE. Thanks to AToMR and Alex Lidell! This title will be available January 10th, 2013.

There are moments, when you finish a book, that you just go, “Yes.” You put down your book or ereader and just sit there for a few minutes because YES. Especially lately, for me, when all my blog reading has been rushed and not entirely enjoyable. THIS IS WHY I LOVE BLOGGING, books like this.

I will say right from the get-go that I am a HUGE Tamora Pierce fan. She basically structured my childhood. One of my favorites was her series The Protector of the Small. The main character, Kel, and Renee would be GREAT AND AWESOME FRIENDS. If you loved The Protector of the Small series, stop reading this review right here and just go pre-order this book. Seriously. I’m not kidding.

Renee de Winter is my kind of girl. When the book opens up, she is given an ultimatum by her father: either be a real girl, or she’s banished from the house. Like she should, Renee chooses to go back to the life of a soldier–even though she is falling behind the rest of her male peers. Renee is shorter and weaker then all her male peers, simply because she doesn’t have the body mass she does. She believes that her salvation will come when the legedary Commander Savoy comes to teach the cadets, thinking that his methods will help her learn how to be better than the boys. But then, of course, there is kidnapping and treason and her simple task of trying to stay in the cadets so she doesn’t get thrown out on the street with nowhere to go gets WORSE.

I am honestly shocked on how well this book handles a wide range of settings and characters. I usually don’t like large character casts, but somehow this manages to keep all the characters in my brain. Sure, plenty of them aren’t fleshed out too much, but unlike some other books this doesn’t bother me. Each character seems to have the perfect amount of focus for their role in the story. (Except for Alec. But I think I just don’t LIKE Alec.)  This book also definitely gets around, but I’m always really connected to where I am at the time. I usually jump on books for doing both these things poorly, but…I can’t believe I get to say someone’s done it well.

The plot is also very involved. It’s very political, and each action has a reaction on a very large scale. But, somehow, each action is also very personal, and each step makes sense. I wish I could expand on that, but then they’re would be spoilers and I can’t have that. Let me just say that Renee is affecting politics on a global scale while simply protecting her friends, and it’s amazing how it works out. Everything fits together seemlessly to create a personal story within a complicated political sphere–which, even better, always made sense to me.

As I said, more characters than not weren’t fleshed out, but the main characters–Renee, Savoy, Diam, for example–made me very happy. Obviously I’m predisposed to like Renee, but the character arc for Savoy also made me very happy. Once my intial dislike of a character is cemented, it takes very good reasons for me to like them again. Lidell gave me good reasons. For everything. Even the things I disliked in the beginning. One weird thing was that he had more flaws then it seemed Renee did, but I’ll let that slide. Romance was entirely NOT a factor of this novel, but I actually found myself wishing for it. Yes, me. Pretty sure pigs are about to fly. I’ll leave it at that.

It’s always harder to write a review on books you liked rather than the ones you disliked, but this is my attempt. My one most horrible thing to say is that Goodreads doesn’t have a series tag for this book and I just KNOW there has to be another one because OHMYGOD THERE HAS TO BE ANOTHER ONE. I will most certainly be owning it, and giving them the special place on my top shelf next to my Protector of the Small books.

AND NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!

FOR OUR US FRIENDS: $20 Amazon Gift Card, PLUS a copy of THE CADET OF TILDOR with swag

FOR OUR INTERNATIONAL FRIENDS: $20 Book Depository Gift Card

Enter HERE if you’re interested!

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Promo Event: “Love Revolution” by Michelle Mankin – Excerpt + Giveaway!

Welcome to the Love Revolution Promo Event, hosted by A Tale of Many Reviews! As the first order of business, allow me to introduce you to the author, Michelle Mankin!

Michelle Mankin is a young adult romance writer as well as a self proclaimed giant… inside of her own mind!

For many years she worked in the insurance industry as an underwriter. Somehow, the boredom didn’t kill her but the hour and hours of looking at facts and figures provided ample time for her mind to wander.

Love Evolution is her debut novel. A rock ‘n roll romance based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. It is the first in a planned trilogy using the plot underpinnings of Shakespeare combined with the drama, excitement, and indisputable sexiness of the rock ‘n roll industry.

When she is not putting her daydreams down on paper, you can find her traveling the world with her family, sometimes for real, and sometimes just for pretend as she takes the children to school and back.

Author Website

Now, that’s not a typo. Love Revolution is actually the sequel to Love Evolution. So of course I’m going to tell you about the first book before I tell you about the second one!

Love Evolution (Black Cat Records #1) by Michelle Mankin

Goodreads | Trailer

After the death of her twin brother, nineteen year old guitar prodigy Avery Jones finds herself desperate, alone, and out of options. Hope arrives in the form of a job opening with Brutal Strength, one of the biggest rock bands out there. Only problem is temperamental lead singer Marcus Anthony doesn’t want a woman in the group. So Avery and her manager Trevor come up with a plan involving a Bieber haircut and men’s clothing. No one seems to be onto their little con. But what happens when Avery starts falling for Marcus? Will she be able to continue with the farce or will the whole thing come crashing down around her like a house of cards?

Love Evolution (the first in a planned trilogy) is a rock ‘n roll romance based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

So now you’re excited, right? Well let me tell you about book number two!

Love Revolution (Black Cat Records #2) by Michelle Mankin

Goodreads

The wheels of love are always turning at Black Cat Records. Things are just starting to settle down there, but two Texas sisters are fixin’ to stir things up again at the Vancouver record label. CEO Mary Timmons sets spirited country superstar, Sara Daniels, on a collision course with cocky rocker, Chris Alex. Meanwhile, Brutal Strength’s suave drummer, JR, has his head turned by pretty young intern, Samantha Daniels.  Do all their highways lead to happiness or will the wheels fly off when the sisters’ tragic past comes back to haunt them?

Love Revolution is a rock ‘n roll romance inspired by Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and is the second book in the Black Cat Records Trilogy.

EXCERPT FROM LOVE REVOLUTION

The 2nd book in the Black Cat Records Shakespeare inspired series has more MUSIC, more ROMANCE, and much, much, more STEAM…

A lone spotlight illuminated JR as he began to lay down a heavy beat. Strobes flashed as Avery stepped out from behind the black curtain to meet Marcus at center stage. He reached for her, but she leaned away, just out of reach. She winked at him and smiled at the audience. The crowd roared their approval…For Sam, the spotlight stayed on JR. She didn’t notice anyone else. Frenetic, yet fluid, he flailed away on the drums like a madman, a modern day Keith Moon. His sticks spun like twin rotator blades on a Chinook helicopter, and his knees moved up and down, pistons pounding out a rhythm.

Her whole body came alive at the first touch of his warm lips on hers, the tender way he‘d looked at her the moment before a tantalizing preview of the gentle way he was devouring her lips now

An anticipatory thrill ran down her spine as Chris Alex stalked her. Sara cast her gaze around the room, trying to avoid gaping at his naked torso. No use. Pupils dilated, her eyes followed the trail of brown hair down to the point where it tapered and disappeared into the waistband of his low hanging jeans. Oh, no. Wrong place to look. Look up. Look up. Icy fire ran through her veins. She licked her dry lips and nervously balled up her hands…

AND NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!

Print copy of LOVE REVOLUTION with a Brutal Strength Band tattoo & the first 25 blogs to submit, their winner will also get a bumper sticker – Open US/Canada only. OR  (1) eBook copy of LOVE REVOLUTION – Open International. Enter HERE.

Blog Tour: “The Messenger” by Pamela DuMond – Giveaway!

This tour is hosted by A Tale of Many Reviews! For a list of participating blogs and all their goodies/giveways, click HERE.

The Messenger (Mortal Beloved #1) by Pamela DuMond

Facebook (Book) | Facebook (Author) | Twitter | Website | Goodreads

Createspace | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

Infinity. Life. Death. Rebirth. Some souls are meant to be together, but pursuing true love can be dangerous and often deadly. When sixteen-year-old Madeline falls in love with Samuel, a boy who lives hundreds of years before she is even born, she will risk her very existence to be with him.

Madeline’s from present day Chicago when she is pushed onto the train tracks, and accidentally time travels to a bloody war between the Natives and the colonists. She falls in love with a Native boy, Samuel. But, she’s living in the body of a colonial girl and their romance is a crime that carries harsh punishments.

Madeline discovers that she is meant to be a Messenger, a traveler who if properly trained, can slip through time’s fabric at will. The Medicine Woman mentors her. But Madeline doesn’t fit in this world. She’s different from the other colonists. Rumors of witchcraft and spying arise. Deadly Hunters, dark-souled predators as well as skilled time travelers, crave Madeline’s powers. Can Madeline find the way back to her future? And will that future include her one true love, Samuel?

GIVEAWAY TIME!

You know you want this one, and I’ve got just the thing! There is not one but TWO giveaways happening for this book! One is US only, for 1 hardcopy of the book. The other is INTERNATIONAL for five, YES FIVE, ebooks! ENTER NOW!

US Only | International

Book Trailer Reveal: “The Cadet of Tildor” by Alex Lidell + Giveaway!

HEY GUYS! I’m trying something new here at My Life is a Notebook. That’s right, I’ve got my first ever BOOK TRAILER reveal! You may remember that a while ago I had a cover reveal for a book called The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell. (If you don’t remember, check that out HERE.) Well, I hope that got you excited for this book. If it didn’t, here’s another reason why!

Title: The Cadet of Tildor

Author: Alex Lidell

Expected Release: January 10, 2013

Book trailer by: Medieval Reenactment Group “Liberi Lusenta” located in Italy

Organized by: AToMR Tours

ADD TO GOODREADS

Summary

Tamora Pierce meets George R. R. Martin in this smart, political, medieval fantasy-thriller.

There is a new king on the throne of Tildor. Currents of political unrest sweep the country as two warring crime families seek power, angling to exploit the young Crown’s inexperience. At the Academy of Tildor, the training ground for elite soldiers, Cadet Renee de Winter struggles to keep up with her male peers. But when her mentor, a notorious commander recalled from active duty to teach at the Academy, is kidnapped to fight in illegal gladiator games, Renee and her best friend Alec find themselves thrust into a world rife with crime, sorting through a maze of political intrigue, and struggling to resolve what they want, what is legal, and what is right.

Bio:

Alex is a YA fantasy author, a Tamora Pierce addict, a horse rider, and paramedic.  The latter two tend to hand in hand a bit more often than one would like.  Alex started writing at 2 am.

 

Alex Lidell| Facebook| Twitter

AND NOW!

FOR THE MOMENT YOU’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR!

(Don’t forget to MEET THE TRAILER CAST!)

AND LET’S NOT FORGET THE GIVEAWAY! It’s for an ARC PLUS a custom made bracelet! ENTER NOW HERE!

Blog Tour: “My Boyfriend Merlin” by Priya Ardis – Review + Giveaway

Welcome to my stop of the My Merlin series blog tour! This is ONE AWESOME TOUR, guys. It’s not just about one book, it’s about the series. Some of the stops have reviews of one book of the series or ALL OF THEM. Others have excerpts, top tens or other fun stuff. Oh yeah, and giveaways. Can’t forget that. Basically, you need to check out what’s all going on HERE.

Now let’s get this started! Meet author Priya Ardis!

 Priya Ardis loves books of all kinds—but especially the gooey ones that make your nose leak and let your latte go cold. She started her first book at sixteen, writing in notebooks on long train rides during a hot summer vacation in India. Her favorite Arthurian piece is the poem The Lady of Shalott by Lord Alfred Tennyson. A hopeless romantic, she’s a longtime member of the Romance Writer’s of America. When not living in her characters’ world, she might be found at the local coffee shop—her nose buried in a book.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

My Boyfriend Merlin (My Merlin #1) by Priya Ardis

Goodreads | Amazon

He was a little older than he was letting on. By a few eons…

In this modern day Arthurian, 17 year-old Boston high schooler Arriane, aka Ryan, DuLac just found out the guy she’s been crushing on, hot biker Matt, is a little older than he was letting on. In fact, he is really Merlin—the Merlin, King Arthur’s Merlin, the greatest wizard who ever lived. Frozen in a cave for over fifteen hundred years, he’s woken for a purpose. But Ryan’s not impressed. Tired of being a relationship loser, she’d rather kick his legendary behind.    

Sure, the world has been crazy ever since the sword and the stone fell out of the sky like a meteor. But despite gruesome gargoyles, a deadly new world of magic, and the guy driving her crazy, Ryan knows that family is everything. Will Merlin sacrifice hers to save the world? Will she be able to stop him?

3 1/2 stars

Now, I’m going to be honest. The blurb above is not the one I read originally when I decided to read My Boyfriend Merlin. This one isn’t better or worse, but the one I read seemed to encompass more of the things that were a big drive in this book. I originally wrote this review while staring at the other blurb with the different set of information, but trustme when I say nothing I’m going to outright discuss is that big of a surprise.

Okay, I’ll be frank–I didn’t come at this book with exceedingly high expectations. I mean, right from the get go, it’s clear: there’s a love triangle coming. I understand it’s the big thing now to tout these kinds of things, but come on. Really? For me, it’s not a selling point. But the blurb promised me Merlin, and for that I’m willing to test out someone else’s probably trite love triangle.

Despite promising us “my boyfriend Merlin,” Ryan and Merlin/Matt actually begin the book broken up and stay that way. They just totally aren’t over each other. There is, of course, a cosmic reason they can’t be together and blah blah blah. BUT WAIT.

THE PLOT DECIDES TO PUT THE ROMANCE IN SECOND PLACE FOR A WHILE.

Nothing ever makes me so happy as this. Once we get past Ryan going “Oh Matt, I miss you!” all of the sudden there are gargoyles everywhere and magic battles and Ardis holds zero punches. By the way, this is the first three chapters I’m talking about. The book certainly takes off like a rocket and promises you a wild ride.

After that intial action, though, it slows down again. Ryan gets whisked off to Hogwar– Avalon High School to learn how to defeat magic and weild a sword. (She’s no wizard, though. But you can find out WHAT she is if you read the book.) This, of course, results in some high school drama. However, I was fairly impressed on how minimal all that is.

Of course, that’s probably because all the drama emphasis is on the love triangle. Once again, I had a large problem with it. It’s bad enough that it’s between Merlin and his brother. It’s worse that Vane is clearly a not so nice guy. What’s even WORSE is that Ryan really doesn’t like him in the beginning and he gives her NO reason to like him and then all the sudden they’re friends. Her change in tune is ridicusouly unwarranted and out of character, but makes the love triangle viable. No, people, no.

That said, though, the second half of the book was really impressive. The action kicks back up again, and the love triangle is mostly forgotten under EVERYBODY SAVE THE WORLD. In the rush of action, there were a few MAJOR things that were introduced and then not dealt with at all, which was annoying, but I let is slide because honestly I didn’t want to deal with them then either. BEHEAD THE GARGOYLES!

The ending was a little interesting, though I mostly guessed it. It still leaves our characters in a VERY interesting place for book 2 to take off from, and I look forward to seeing how this all progresses. Despite my problem with the love triangle, I really like Ryan as a character enough to swallow my hatred for love triangle and keep on keeping on with the series. (The amount of action doesn’t hurt.)

Check out the other two books in the series here! My Merlin Awakening | Ever My Merlin

GIVEAWAY TIME!

This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL! There will be TWO WINNERS! These two lucky entrants will win either Books 1 & 2 in paperback form (US) or Books 1 & 2 in ebook form (INTL). That’s right, TWO winners will win TWO books! Enough jabbering! If you want to enter, click HERE.

“Dante’s Girl” by Courtney Cole – Excerpt + Giveaway!

Welcome to a stop of the promotional event for Dante’s Girl by Courtney Cole as hosted by A Tale of Many Reviews! Not only do you get to hear about a fantastic new book, but you also get to read some of Chapter One and enter an INTERNATIONAL giveaway! Here we go!

Dante’s Girl by Courtney Cole

Author Website | Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

I have spent every summer since I was ten years old with my father in London.  Every summer, since I was ten years old, has been uneventful and boring. 

Until this year.

And this year, after a freak volcanic eruption strands me far from home, I have learned these things:

1.  I can make do with one outfit for three days before I buy new clothes. 

2.  If I hear the phrase, “You’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto,” even one more time, I might become a homicidal maniac.

3.  I am horribly and embarrassingly allergic to jellyfish.

4. I am in love with Dante Giliberti, who just happens to be the beautiful, sophisticated son of the Prime Minister of a Mediterranean paradise. 

5.  See number four above.  Because it brings with it a whole slew  of problems and I’ve learned something from every one of them.

Let’s start with the fact that Dante’s world is five light-years away from mine.  He goes to black-tie functions and knows the Prime Minister of England on a first name basis.  I was born and raised on a farm in Kansas and wear cut-off jeans paired with cowboy boots.  See the difference?

But hearts don’t care about differences.  Hearts want what they want.  And mine just wants to be Dante’s girl. 

My heart just might be crazy.

CHAPTER ONE

It is impossible to look hot in the dingy fluorescent light of an airport bathroom. Or as my best friend Becca would say, hawt.

At this particular moment, I’m not hot or hawt.  I make this revelation as I vigorously scrub at my arms and face and then use a wet paper towel under my pits.

And what is it about peeing in an airport toilet ten times in a day that makes you feel so completely scummy?  I glance around at the crumpled tissues strewn about on the scuffed floor and the dirty toilets peeking from behind half-closed doors and cringe.  That answer is clearly ‘because of the germs’. Ack.

Trying not to think about it, I clean up the best I can.  After running a brush through my hair, I stick a piece of gum in my mouth, apply a thin layer of lip gloss and call it good.  I glance into the mirror and cringe.  It isn’t good enough, but it will have to do.  Very soon, I’ll put this dreadful four hour layover in Amsterdam behind me and before I even know it, I’ll be in London.

With my father.

For the summer.

It would be torture.

Just shoot me now.

And it’s not because I don’t love him, because I do.  My reluctance doesn’t stem from lack of love.  It comes from the deep-seeded fact that Alexander Ellis doesn’t understand me.  He never has and he never will. It’s something that I’ve made my peace with and I’m not angry about it.

I’m his only child and he works his life away as some top-secret agent for the NSA.  His job is so secret that I don’t even know what he does. In my head, I imagine him jumping from helicopters and saving starving children in war torn areas.  But in reality, I know he probably sits behind a desk and analyzes information from a satellite stream or a taped telephone conversation. I’m pretty sure that’s what the NSA does, anyway.  They aren’t the cool kind of spies.

Also, he isn’t exactly sure what to do with a daughter.  I was supposed to have been a boy. Seventeen years ago, sonograms apparently weren’t as absolute as they are today, because the technician told my parents that she was 99.9% sure that I was a boy.  They painted my nursery blue and picked out my name and everything.  I can only imagine the shocked horror on my father’s face when I was born with lady parts.

Regardless, I know he loves me.  Even though he had willingly given my mother full custody when they divorced years ago, I know he only did it because he works overseas so much and he isn’t exactly sure how to raise a girl.  He does okay.  But then again, I do have some reason to believe that he still pretends that I’m a boy, just to make it easier on himself.  It’s fairly easy to do since I still have the boy name that they originally picked out.

With my head down, I trudge back out into the congested halls of Schiphol airport.  Weary travelers bustle around me and I shift my bags so that I can pull the stubborn strap of my tank top back over my shoulder where it belongs.  As I do, I crash into someone with enough force that my bags go flying out of my hands and scatter onto the ground under people’s feet.

“Son of a –“ I blurt before I even think.

“Buck?” a male voice offers helpfully.

Looking up, I stare into the most unique and beautiful shade of blue that a pair of eyes has ever possessed. Of that I am certain.  Blue just shouldn’t be that multi-faceted and twinkling.  There should be a law or something.

Or at least a warning label:

Caution, these eyes may cause female knees to tremble.

Before I can help it, I scan the rest of him.  Sweet Mary.  This guy had lucked out in the gene department.  Tall, slender, beautiful.  Honey colored hair that had natural highlights that could even catch the crappy airport light, broad shoulders, slim hips, long legs.  He is tan and golden with a bright, white smile.

I am surely staring at Apollo, the god of the sun.  Probably with my mouth hanging open, which makes me realize that I must look like an idiot- the personification of what foreigners think Americans to be.  I snap my mouth closed.

“I’m sorry,” I say quickly, trying to still my racing heart.  “Did I run into you?”

“Only a bit,” Apollo says gentlemanly, with a shrug of his strong shoulders.  I can tell he is strong even through his shirt sleeves, which are snug across his toned biceps.  Sweet baby monkeys.

“How can someone run into someone else only by a bit?” I ask with a nervous smile as I kneel to retrieve my stuff.

Please don’t let him smell me right now, I silently pray to any god who cares to listen. I am sure that at this point in my travels, I probably smell like soiled hamster bedding.

He bends next to me and picks up the contents of my spilled purse. He smells like sunshine.  And rain.  And everything beautiful that I can think of.  I try not to cringe as his fingers grasp a tampon and slide it back inside my bag.  He doesn’t even flinch, he just casually continues to pick up my things like he’s used to handling feminine hygiene products.

“Oh, it’s fairly easy, really,” he answers.  He has an exotic sounding accent that I can’t place.  “At least, when you’re not looking where you’re going.”  My head snaps up and he laughs.

“I’m kidding,” he assures me as he extends an arm to me. Even his hand is graceful.  I gulp as his fingers curl around mine.  “You can bump into me any time you’d like.”

“Thanks,” I mumble.  “I think.”

“I’m Dante,” he tells me, his impossibly blue eyes still twinkling.

“I’m Reece,” I answer with a sigh, already anticipating his reaction. “Yes, I know it’s a boy’s name.”

“You’re not a boy,” Dante observes.  “Most definitely not a boy.”

Is that a note of appreciation in his voice?  Surely not. I look like a bedraggled Shih Tzu.

“No, I’m not,” I agree.  “I just don’t know that my dad ever got that memo.”

I look past Dante and find that he is alone.  He seems to be about my age so that’s a little unusual in these circumstances.  My parents had flown me as an ‘unaccompanied minor’ across the ocean for years, but other people’s parents are usually a little squeamish about that.

“I’m sure that fact hasn’t escaped him,” Dante tells me in amusement.  Why do his eyes have to sparkle so much?   I usually go for brown-eyed guys.  But this boy is most certainly making me re-think that stance.

“That’s debatable,” I sigh.  Realizing that we are impeding the busy pedestrian traffic like a dam in a rushing river, I smile.

“Thank you very much for helping me pick up my things.  Safe travels!”

I turn on my heel and pivot, walking quickly and what I hope is confidently in the other direction.  Hitching my heavy purse up on my shoulder, I fight the urge to turn and look at him.  Something about him is practically mesmerizing.

But I don’t look.  I keep walking, one foot in front of the other.  When I reach the moving walkway, I hop on and focus ahead of me, eyes straight forward.

Don’t look back.

Don’t look back.

Don’t look back.

Regardless of my silent chanting, when I step from the walkway I discreetly check behind me.  Apollo is nowhere to be seen.  With a sigh, I continue on to the British Airways terminal.  Only three short hours left until take-off.  Plugging my earbuds into my ears, I settle into a seat and close my eyes.

* * *

“Excuse me, Reece?”

Before I even open my eyes, I know the sexy accent is coming from Apollo.  I can feel his epic hotness emanating through my eyelids.  I only hope that I haven’t been drooling in my sleep.

“Yes?” I ask as nonchalantly as I can while my eyes pop open.  I try to discreetly smooth my hair down. In my head, I envision myself as Chewbacca from Star Wars and wince.

Dante hands me my phone, which must’ve fallen from my lap as I napped.

“Are you on the flight to London?” he grins.  “They’re boarding priority travelers now.  I just thought you should know.”

Yikes. I had slept for three hours?  In a noisy airport?  I must have been super tired.

“Thank you,” I reply quickly, gathering my things in a rush. “I didn’t mean to fall asleep.  I’m not a priority traveler, but I probably would have slept through general boarding.  Thank you for waking me.”

I glance at him as I stand up and can’t help but do a double take.  It isn’t easy to get used to his particular brand of sexy.  He is laid-back, handsome and casual, which is a formula for utter female devastation.  The impossible thing is that he doesn’t seem to realize it. He’s effortlessly sophisticated and chic.

“Well, you’re awake now and that’s the important thing. Have a nice trip, Reece,” Dante grins once more before he joins a group of men who are apparently waiting for him.  I was wrong, I guess.  He isn’t alone after all.  The men close around him in a tight circle and they board the plane with the other passengers with first class tickets.

He’s on my flight.

I gulp and find a place in line with the other travelers flying coach.

As the richer, better-dressed passengers file past us, I feel a little like a bumpkin in rumpled clothing.  Even though I travel to London every summer to visit my dad, I live in rural America the rest of the year. And all of a sudden, I feel like I am wearing a blinking neon sign proclaiming that very fact.  The clothing that had seemed sophisticated to travel in this morning now seems like it was hand-made in someone’s backwoods shed.

And it so makes sense that Apollo is in first class.  He smells like a beautiful sunrise in a wooded meadow. Oh, my gosh.  What is wrong with me? Where did that come from?  I am totally being as corny as an erectile dysfunction commercial.

I roll my eyes at my own absurdity and hand my ticket to the heavily made-up flight attendant who is waiting to take it.  She glances at it and then at me before she stamps my passport and hands it back.

“Have a nice flight, Miss Ellis,” she tells me before turning her attention to the passenger behind me.

Yeah, right.

I like flying almost as much as I like having dental work.  Or having my fingernails pulled out one by one.  Or having paper cuts sliced onto my legs and then lemon juice poured onto them.  Just about that much.

Filing down the narrow aisle through first class, I can’t help but search out Apollo.  It doesn’t take long to find him.  He is situated by the window in a wide, leather first-class seat.  He’s already covered in a warm blanket and looks like he is settling in for the hour long flight.  As I move closer to him, his eyes pop open and meet mine, the electric blue of his almost causing me to gasp aloud.

He smiles slightly as I pass and his gaze doesn’t waver from mine.

I find myself wishing that I could sit next to him.  Not only because of the lavish first class seats, although those would be nice too.

But rather, there is something in the air between Dante and me.  I can feel it, an instant connection.  I can practically reach out and touch it.  I’ve never experienced chemistry like this in my life. It’s the kind that seems corny when you read about it in books, but in real life, it is anything but. It is simply electrifying.  Ripping my eyes from his, I continue down the aisle and find my seat.

Taking a deep breath, I stash my carry-on in the overhead bin and slump into the window seat, trying not to hyperventilate as my fear of flying suddenly overwhelms me while the cramped airplane closes in around me.

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.

Repeat.

I watch the flight crew below me loading the bags into the belly of the plane.  What if they dislodge the landing gear while they are messing around down there?  What if they don’t check the systems well enough and we die in a fiery crash?  What if the metal holding the plane together rips off in the air and peels away like tissue paper?

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.

Repeat.

I might die.

Seriously.

I listen impatiently as the flight attendants give their safety spiel and motion toward the exits like they are NFL referees with dumb tiny scarves around their necks.  I just need for them to get on with it.  Just let us taxi out and take-off and then I will be perfectly fine once we are in the air.  My hands get clammy and my ears start to roar.  Why am I such a freak?

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.

Repeat.

You freaking flight attendants.

Hurry.

Up.

I’m just getting ready to shove my earbuds back in to distract myself when Dante appears next to me like a savior or an angel or something of equal beauty and importance.

“Is this seat taken?” he smiles and I notice a dimple in his right cheek that I hadn’t noticed before.  How had I missed a dimple?

“Um, not that I know of,” I answer weakly, trying not to die from heart palpations.  “But the seat belt sign is on. You’re not supposed to be out of your seat.”

Fabulous. Now I sound like a hall monitor with a heart problem.

Dante shrugs without seeming worried.

“I think it will be okay,” he answers.  “We’re not even on the runway yet.”

“Good point.”

“Can I sit here?  I’m bored up front.”

I nod, my palms instantly clammier.  “I hope you brought your blanket.  You won’t get much back here except for a bag of peanuts.”

And now I sound like a cheap hall monitor with a heart problem. I’m presenting myself better and better by the moment.

Dante smiles yet again and sits next to me.  He brings his charming accent with him and the scent of his amazing cologne.  I take a deep breath.  He smells far better than the stale airplane air.  Far better.  I fight the urge to jump into his lap and inhale his neck, a maneuver that just might make me appear slightly insane.

“You look pretty pale,” he observes as he buckles up. “Are you afraid to fly?”

“Is it that obvious?” I ask quietly.  “As much as I’ve flown in my lifetime, I should be used to it.  But I’m afraid that’s never going to happen.  Once I’m in the air for awhile, I’ll be fine, but until then… well, I’m terrified. I admit it.”

“Don’t worry,” Dante tells me quietly, his voice calm and reassuring.  “There’s nothing to be afraid of.  You’re more likely to get into a–”

“Car crash rather than die in a plane crash,” I interrupt.  “Yes, I know. I’ve heard.  Where are you from?” I ask curiously, half out of genuine curiosity and half out of the need to distract myself.  “You have the most interesting accent.”

He smiles, his teeth brilliantly white.  I decide on the spot that I could watch him smile all day long.

“Caberra,” he answers, reminding me that I had asked a question.  “It’s an island near Greece.  And you?”

“Like you don’t know that I’m American,” I chuckle.  “I know it’s written all over me.  I’m sure you’re a fan, right?”

“Of Americans?” he raises a golden eyebrow.  “Of course. I love them.  I have no reason not to.  They bring a lot of tourist dollars to Caberra.”

“Well, we are a land of excess,” I admit.  “But that’s usually what foreigners seem to hate about us.”

Dante stares at me for a moment and then smiles.  “Well, I can’t speak for all foreigners, but I don’t hate Americans.  And you’re not in America right now, are you?”

I shake my head.  “No, I am most certainly not.”

“Well, then.  You’re the foreigner now.”  He grins and I can’t help but smile back.  He has a point.

The pilot gets on the intercom and his nasally voice drones on and on, but I am able to tune it out as I engage in conversation with a boy who is surely a direct descendent of the gods.  There is no other plausible explanation for his good looks or charm. I barely even hear the words that come out of Dante’s mouth, because I am so mesmerized by the shape of his lips as he moves them.  Pathetic, I know, but true.

One thing about me:  I don’t lie to myself.  I might stretch the truth for my parents from time to time when necessary, but never to myself. And I’m pathetically fascinated by this boy.

Finally, the aircraft shudders a bit and noses forward and I startle, gripping the arms of my seat. My fingers turn white and I am certain that I am leaving permanent indentions in the cracked vinyl arm-rests.

“Don’t worry,” Dante says quietly, unpeeling one of my hands and grasping it within his own.  “It will be fine.”

The feel of his hand distracts me.  Strong and warm, it cups my own carefully, like he is holding something very fragile.  I close my eyes and enjoy the feeling. I only have a couple of minutes to soak it in, however.

As the plane moves down the runway in preparation for take-off, something happens.  Something isn’t right.

Our plane rocks a little, then quivers, like it is being moved by a strong gust of wind.  I feel it a brief moment before Dante tightens his grip on my hand, a split second before light explodes from outside of my eyelids.  I open them to discover fire tearing down the runway past my window.  Before I can react or even scream, all hell breaks loose.

GIVEAWAY TIME!

The wonderful Courtney Cole is offering one lucky INTERNATIONAL winner a ecopy (Kindle or Nook) of her books Princess or Soul Kissed – the winner gets to choose which one! If the winner also happens to be in the US/Canada range, they will also get a signed 4×6 glossy of of Dante’s Girl.  Sounds cool, right? Well, click HERE to enter – you have until 11:59 PM on October 3rd!

Blog Tour: “Nerve” by Jeanne Ryan – Review + Giveaway!

Welcome to my stop of this great blog tour, as hosted by A Tale of Many Reviews and made possibly by Dial Books (Penguin)! I’ve got some great stuff for you guys today, so let’s get going! Don’t forget to check out the other blogs that are participating in this blog tour HERE.

Nerve by Jeanne Ryan

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Author Website

A high-stakes online game of dares turns deadly

When Vee is picked to be a player in NERVE, an anonymous game of dares broadcast live online, she discovers that the game knows her. They tempt her with prizes taken from her ThisIsMe page and team her up with the perfect boy, sizzling-hot Ian. At first it’s exhilarating–Vee and Ian’s fans cheer them on to riskier dares with higher stakes. But the game takes a twisted turn when they’re directed to a secret location with five other players for the Grand Prize round. Suddenly they’re playing all or nothing, with their lives on the line. Just how far will Vee go before she loses NERVE?

3 1/2 stars

Thank you to A Tale of Many Reviews and Dial Books (Penguin) for this eARC! Nerve is now available for your reading pleasure!

Holy hair raiser.

Holy stomach churner.

Dear sweet “I WANT TO STOP READING BUT I CAN’T.”

That, in three sentences, was Nerve.

To be honest, this book didn’t set off on a good foot with me. The prologue chapter takes place at the end of the book, with the first chapter backing way up in time. This is a pet peeve of mine, and personally I thought it took a ton of suspense out of the ending, which upon reading the prologue still didn’t make any sense. But once you hit the first chapter, all that is forgotten.

It actually goes through that whole, “everything is perfect” phase before heading into hair rasing territory. Vee is the best friend of the most popular girl in school but pining for the hottest guy. She is quiet, she’s more of a loner–she’s basically the best friend cliché. It is this normalcy and the distinct want to feel something different that forces Vee into the game of NERVE in the first place. As far as reasons go, it was a fairly believable one, even if it was never developed as fully as I’d have liked.

The game of NERVE is sickening on several levels–and it’s meant to be. Vee is forced to do a whole lot of things that NO sane person would do. The reasons she keeps going after things clearly start getting sketchy were, again, not as developed as I’d have liked, but this book seemed to sacrifice fleshing out of the plot in a lot of places to make room for the pacing.

And OHMYGOD was that some pacing.

Nerve never stops. Not once. Even when you want to because your stomach is attempting seven kinds of sailor’s knots. Vee’s rationale towards NERVE at the beginning is one I’ve used a thousand times to scoff at reality TV shows: it’s scripted, it’s fake, it’s just a game. NERVE pulling information about her from her ThisIsMe page sounds creepily similar to the kinds of things people maintain Facebook does. The book takes on all these secret fears we have about technology and throws them into one fiery explosion. There were several times when I felt like I had to step back and breathe or even stop reading all together because OHMYGOD, but I couldn’t do it because the book just kept charging forward into darker and darker territory.

As I said, though, the downside of this was that many aspects of the plot were never fleshed out. This goes for characterization and key plot points alike. There were passing comments made for some things and half-baked explanation for others, but all in all many parts of the story almost became useless in the HOLY CRAP THIS IS MADNESS of NERVE. Though I’d say Ryan managed to make it work because of her awesome pacing, the nitpicky side of me can’t let it go.

Personally, I was not entirely satisfied with the ending. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you why because part of my blog tour compliance is that there are no spoilers. Sorry! However, I CAN tell you that I’m begging someone to tell me there’s a sequel coming, because you CANNOT end it like that and leave us all hanging. But then, there were several things I thought you could not do and then Ryan did them and left me reading faster with a dryer mouth.

IN FOR A THRILLER? THEN ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

That’s right, GIVEAWAY! The prize is one hardcopy of Nerve, SIGNED. The giveaway is open to US/Canada only. Please click HERE to enter!

Blog Tour + Giveaway: “Flight” by Alyssa Rose Ivy

It’s time for another blog tour, this one hosted by A Tale of Many Reviews for Alyssa Rose Ivy’s Flight (The Crescent Chronicles #1). Here’s what we’re talking about!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Sometimes you just have to take flight.

A summer in New Orleans is exactly what Allie needs before starting college. Accepting her dad’s invitation to work at his hotel offers an escape from her ex-boyfriend and the chance to spend the summer with her best friend. Meeting a guy is the last thing on her mind—until she sees Levi.

Unable to resist the infuriating yet alluring Levi, Allie finds herself at the center of a supernatural society and forced to decide between following the path she has always trusted or saving a city that might just save her.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alyssa Rose Ivy is a Young Adult and New Adult author who loves to weave stories with romance and a southern setting. Although raised in the New York area, she fell in love with the South after moving to New Orleans for college. After years as a perpetual student, she turned back to her creative side and decided to write. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and two young children, and she can usually be found with a cup of coffee in her hand.

Goodreads | Author Website | Facebook | Twitter

Sounds cool, right? You want a copy of this, right? Well, look no further! Not only do I have a US only giveaway for 1 print copy, but I ALSO have an INTERNATIONAL giveaway for one of TWO ecopies of the book! For the US giveaway, click HERE. For the international giveaway, click HERE.

DON’T FORGET to check out the other blogs on this tour for their reviews and guest posts! Check out what’s going on HERE!