Friday, September 19, 2014

Blog Tour/Review | "Come Dancing" by Leslie Wells

Come Dancing by Leslie Wells
New Adult Romance published June 9, 2014
Atria Books
Author's website  |  Goodreads  |  Buy the Book on Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads

It’s 1981. Twenty-four-year-old Julia Nash has recently arrived in Manhattan, where she works as a publisher’s assistant. She dreams of becoming an editor with her own stable of bestselling authors—but it is hard to get promoted in the recession-clobbered book biz. 

Julia blows off steam by going dancing downtown with her best friend, Vicky. One night, a hot British guitarist invites them into his VIP section. Despite an entourage of models and groupies, Jack chooses Julia as his girl for the evening—and when Jack Kipling picks you, you go with it. The trouble is … he’s never met a girl like her before. And she resists being just one in a long line. 

Jack exposes her to new experiences, from exclusive nightclubs in SoHo to the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood; from mind-bending recording sessions to wild backstage parties. Yet Julia is afraid to fall for him. Past relationships have left her fragile; one more betrayal just might break her. 

As she fends off her grabby boss and tries to move up the corporate ladder, Julia’s torrid relationship with Jack takes her to heights she’s never known—and plunges her into depths she’s never imagined. 

With a fascinating inside look at publishing, this entertaining story of a bookish young woman’s adventures with a rock superstar is witty, moving, and toe-curlingly steamy.
My Thoughts...
I was totally intrigued by the premise of this book and to be honest a little more than drawn in by the pretty cover.  It took me over a week to read this book which is unheard of for me usually, but these days I have so little time for fun reading it seems.  That being said, it took me longer because I wasn't as pulled in to the story as I am with some books.

This is the story about Julia, a 24 year old smart girl.  She's working at a publishing house and her boss is a sleaze.  She has daddy issues, she loves music especially jazz and when she and her friend Vicky go out on the weekends she likes to dance.  One night, while on the dance floor, she catches the eye of a very high profile rock star, one that she happens to be a fan of.  He starts to pursue her and eventually she relents and starts to see him.  Jack is the guitarist for the British Band, Four on the Floor.  He's worldly, mysterious and wants Julia more than he's ever wanted a woman before.  Part of this is probably due to the fact that Julia is the only woman who's made him work for it.

So, this book is set in the early 1980's, which I had forgot about when I started reading the book, but it didn't take me too long to get up to speed.  I don't generally enjoy reading books set in this time period, I don't know why really.  I did like the rock start story in this one though.  I did enjoy the premise of the story, but I don't feel like I ever really connected with the characters.  Usually I fall in love with the male lead right away, but I never did with Jack, even though he's the type I generally fall for.  I did connect with Julia a little more because I share some of the same interests, but I felt like she didn't have a filter.  She said things out loud that most female characters only think internally.  I think this is just a weird thing I have about some books!  If felt like she was telling me things that should have been shown more as the story progressed.  You know that whole "show, don't tell" thing.

This book is a light read, it would be a great beach or summer read and if I'd had the time I could probably have finished it in one sitting.  It's considered New Adult (ish), I would put it more in a Chick Lit category probably.  It's a romance so there are some love scenes, but honestly they were fairly tame compared to some I have read. I gave this book 3.5 stars on Goodreads and I stand by that rating.  I enjoyed it, but while I didn't love it, I would definitely read more by Ms. Wells.

XOXO, Shelly

*Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for my honest review.*

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Release Day Blast | "Every Time I Think of You" by Tracey Garvis-Graves

We're celebrating the release of Every Time I Think of You by best selling Author Tracey Garvis-Graves! Check out how Tracey came up with the idea for the book and take a peek at the excerpt below. Don't forget to enter the giveaway at the end of the post!

Title: Every Time I Think of You
Author: Tracey Garvis-Graves
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Amazon US (e-book and paperback) | Amazon UK 
Amazon Canada | Amazon Australia  
Barnes & Noble  Apple | Kobo 

Thirty-year-old Daisy DiStefano has two people she holds dear: the grandmother who raised her, and her three-year-old son, Elliott. But when Daisy’s grandmother is killed in a seemingly random act of violence, Daisy must take steps to protect herself and her child.

Despite a thriving career in San Francisco, thirty-six-year-old Brooks McClain has returned home to spend what little time his mother has left before she succumbs to the deadly disease that is ravaging her. The seasoned investigative reporter has taken a position with the local newspaper and been on the job less than twenty-four hours when he’s summoned to cover the death of Pauline Thorpe.

Brooks is all business, but the more time he spends with Daisy DiStefano, the more invested he becomes; there’s something about a single mother, a defenseless child, and an unsolved crime that has stirred Brooks’s protective instincts like nothing ever has before.

And when the unthinkable happens, Brooks will do whatever it takes to clear the name of the woman he’s fallen for and the child he’ll protect at any cost.

Romantic and suspenseful, Every Time I Think of You shows how far two people will go to fight for the ones they love, and the life they’ve always imagined.

An idea was born. 
One of the questions I’m often asked is, “How did you come up with the idea for this book?” My books are fairly plot-driven, and Every Time I Think of You was no different. I could see the opening scene in my head like a movie so I knew what the inciting incident – in other words, the event that would send the main characters’ lives in another direction – would be. But in this case, my opening scene was the result of not only plot, but also a character. I have wanted to write a book where the main character was a crime reporter for a while now. I tend to gravitate toward heroes who are regular guys, and I wanted to see what would happen when I put this particular hero into various situations (and a little hot water). What would he do? How would he react? What, exactly, was he made of?

However, if main character Brooks McClain was going to be a crime reporter, that meant I had to come up with a crime (which ultimately, I’d have to solve). I’ve never written a book with a mystery or suspense element before, but I wasn’t going to let a little thing like that get in the way of telling this story. I’ve said time and time again that I never want to be an author who writes the same book over and over, but with that motto comes challenges. I have to deal with the discomfort that comes from tackling something different than I’ve done before, and often this means learning new things.

I have a love/hate relationship with research.  I keep telling myself I’m going to write a book that doesn’t require as much research, and then I write a book that requires extensive research. I should really start listening to myself! Some of the things I did in the name of research for Every Time I Think of You included taking a four-hour firearms safety course and learning how to load and shoot a gun, which was something I didn’t have any experience with.

I also studied ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, by reading memoirs and poring over countless websites dedicated to the disease. Although the timing of the recent ALS ice bucket challenge is merely a coincidence, it makes me happy to know that this devastating illness is receiving such an outpouring of support from the general public.  I studied addiction, specifically methamphetamine addiction. What I learned was heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and often tragic. In total, I read six memoirs about addiction and read countless online articles. I watched a fascinating Frontline documentary from PBS about methamphetamine addiction and its effects on law enforcement and the community.

I reached out to a criminal defense attorney in California so that I could gain an understanding of that state’s legal processes, and I spent several hours in person and on the phone with my cousin Jack, who is a detective with the Des Moines Police Department. Jack was instrumental in explaining the outcomes of all the different scenarios I proposed (naturally, I named the detective character after him). I interviewed three different crime reporters (who all told me slightly different things), and one of them saved me from a potentially embarrassing gaffe. In Every Time I Think of You, I include an actual newspaper article written by Brooks McClain. Newspaper reporters use the Associated Press Stylebook to ensure that their articles are written correctly whereas The Chicago Manual of Style is the go-to guide for fiction writers. The crime reporter who proofed my article had me make a small tweak so that it was correct in form.

I spoke to a nurse, to make sure I got the details of Daisy’s DiStefano’s work schedule correct. There were less significant things I needed the answers to, such as what kind of jewelry a nurse would be permitted to wear to work and what floor she might work on if she were involved with a particular patient.

In addition to the  factual research necessary to write this story, I also had to choose the path I’d take to solve the crime. I learned that there were a few different ways I could handle this: One, I could write the story in such a way that the reader would probably not know who committed the crime until the very end. Two, I could choose the slightly-less-suspenseful route and let the reader be privy to clues that would allow them to guess the identity of the perpetrator much earlier. That way, I could let the focus of the story rest on how the person would be brought to justice. I chose option two because I felt it would lend emotional resonance and depth to the story.

Now that I knew how I’d tell the story, I needed to concentrate on the characters. I usually have a pretty good outline in place before I sit down to start writing. This method doesn’t work for everyone, but for me it helps to have a roadmap of sorts so that I don’t waste too much time writing myself into corners. This is not a spoiler because you know from the blurb that the book deals with the aftermath of the death of Daisy’s beloved grandmother.  However, once I was about a fourth of the way through the first draft, I realized that the character I’d chosen to commit the crime didn’t actually do it. I fought it for a while, but the more I got to know these characters, the more I realized my inner muse was right. This person couldn’t have done it.  Delete, delete, delete, delete. Sigh.

The real perpetrator had a motive, but it was subtle and at first I couldn’t see it. And the person who I’d originally intended to commit the crime was actually somewhat responsible. But it will be up to the reader to draw their own conclusions about what transpired that evening in Daisy’s grandmother’s apartment, because the opening chapter of the book is narrated by Daisy’s three-year-old son, who has a very limited ability to explain it. I actually first wrote this opening chapter from the point-of-view of Daisy’s grandmother, Pauline. It gave the book a much darker tone than I wanted so I scrapped it and decided to let Elliott take the reins.

There is also one final plot thread that I chose not to tie up with a big red ribbon. Initially I wrote a paragraph that would have explained why a certain character made the choice that he did, but then I realized it wasn’t necessary. Readers are smart and book discussions are extra fun when there’s a bit of speculation involved.

I’m not an especially fast or prolific writer, and that’s fine with me. Between the research and the actual writing time, this book took fourteen months to complete, and there were times I wanted to pull my hair out. I’d told my husband there were a couple of twists I was hoping to pull off, but wasn’t sure I knew how to accomplish them. I told several people that writing this book made my brain hurt (but one of the readers who received an advance copy told me she kept saying to herself as she read it, “This book is so smart!”). When I hear feedback like that, it tells me that everything I did in the name of Every Time I Think of You was worth it.

I hope you enjoy Brooks and Daisy’s story.

About the Author:

Tracey Garvis Graves is a New York TimesWall Street Journal, and USA Todaybestselling author. Her debut novel, On the Island, spent 9 weeks on the New York Timesbestseller list, has been translated into twenty-seven languages, and is in development with MGM and Temple Hill Productions for a feature film. She is also the author ofUncharted, Covet, Every Time I Think of You, and Cherish. She is hard at work on her sixth book.
Tracey loves to interact with her readers and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

ONE signed copy of On the Island, Covet, and ETITOY. Also included, a $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Also, the winner will receive an ARC of Tracey's next work-in-progress, The Girl He Used to Know (an adult contemporary second-chance romance novel). And finally, Tracey will either use the winner's name in The Girl He Used to Know (first name or last name only, or the actual real name if comfortable) OR the winner can suggest a name for a character. 
**The restrictions to this are that it will not be the name of a main character. It will be a supporting or minor character. Also, this is a fictional character. It is not a character based on the winner. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Blog Tour | "All or Nothing" by Kendall Ryan

All or Nothing by Kendall Ryan
New Adult Romance published September 9, 2014
Atria Books
Author's website  |  Goodreads  |  Buy the Book on Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads

You’ve met Ben Shaw. Now meet Braydon Kincaid, the devil-may-care male model who nearly stole the show in Working It by New York Times bestselling author Kendall Ryan.

As one of the world’s most sought-after male models, Braydon is no stranger to the finer pleasures in life. The last thing he wants to do is limit himself, especially when it comes to women. His best friend, Ben, might’ve settled down, but Braydon doesn’t want to waste his youth on the messy complications of commitment. He wants fun. He wants easy.

Ellie isn’t looking for a casual relationship, but her tough and sassy personality instantly attracts Braydon, who proposes a “friends with benefits” arrangement. Unable to resist the powerful pull of the charming bad boy, Ellie eventually relents, though she longs for all-consuming love.

As the two spend more time together, Ellie soon realizes that Braydon’s posing skills extend off the runway. His carefully crafted fa├žade masks a secret hurt that he’s reluctant to share with Ellie, even as they embark on a passionate affair that sends them hurtling toward a fate neither expected. Can Ellie risk her heart while she waits for Braydon to let her in, or will she be forced to demand all or nothing?
My Thoughts...
When I read Ben and Emmy's last book I was really, really hoping that we would get a book with Braydon and Ellie.  I could tell from the beginning that the chemistry between then was going to be off the charts and this book didn't disappoint.  I think it took me about 3 hours to read this start to finish and I almost managed it in one sitting.  Once I started reading I didn't want to put it down.  

So, Braydon and Ellie meet earlier in the series, but this books starts in at Ben and Emmy's wedding.  We all know it was Ellie that Braydon was hooking up with in that bathroom at the wedding!  Even if it wasn't confirmed in the 2nd book, we were least I was. So basically this is the start of their "relationship", although I hesitate to call it that for very obvious reasons.  This whole "friends with benefits" scenario seems to be pretty prevalent in a lot of the New Adult books I have read lately and this one is no exception.  They meet, hook up, one of them decides that they don't want a relationship so they are just friends, etc...  Then there is always the one, usually the woman, who agrees because she thinks it will end up turning into something deeper.  That's this book, in a nutshell.  Ellie goes along with it, but starts to develop feelings pretty early on and wants more from Braydon that he is just incapable of giving her.

Braydon is the ultimate bachelor really.  He's hot, a print and commercial model, he's independent and most of all he's not looking to be tied down.  He has issues with commitment as Ellie learns once she starts to fall for him.  He's distant with her and at times just downright annoying.  In time, we learn was his issues are, but there are times throughout the book where I just wanted to punch him in his beautiful face.  He treated Ellie like he was embarrassed to be seen with her and no matter what his reasons were, that just wasn't okay.

This whole book is told from Ellie's POV.  I think it would have been better for this particular story if it had gone back and forth between the two main characters.  I think that insight into Braydon's character would have been really helpful.  I liked him, but I would have empathized with his situation more and not been so mad at him for so much of the book.  

I have to say that I saw the little twist coming from a mile away and I think most readers will, but it didn't take away from the story for me.  I did feel like from that point, though the story was a little rushed.  I enjoyed the epilogue from Bray's POV and it was  nice to see Ben and Emmy there as well.  Overall, I really liked the book, maybe even more than Ben and Emmy's story.  This is a New Adult romance so there are some very detailed and extremely sexy love scenes.  If you are looking for a quick, steamy read then I highly recommend this book!  

XOXO, Shelly

*Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for my honest review.*

Monday, September 1, 2014

Blog Tour REVIEW | "One More Chance" by Abbi Glines

One More Chance by Abbi Glines
Adult Romance published September 2, 2014
Atria Books
Author's website  |  Goodreads  |  Buy the Book on Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Grant Carter did everything in his power to convince Harlow Manning that he was a good guy. More than a smooth-talker and someone she could trust. He had to overcome his reputation as a playboy, and his history with Harlow's half-sister, Nan, a woman with a reputation of her own.

Harlow had taken the chance, falling hard and fast for the guy who thrilled her with his all-consuming desire. After a lifetime of avoiding bad boys like Grant, she had opened herself to the possibilities of love...

But a life-changing secret has torn them apart, and now Grant and Harlow must decide if they have enough fight to make it work - or if the pain of betrayal has permanently destroyed their future.
My Thoughts...
If you read my blog regularly then you know that I have become a little disenchanted with the Rosemary Beach series, but I love Grant so I needed to read this part of the series for sure.  For me this book was another 3.5 star book. I almost gave it 3 because it was so predictable, but I gave it the extra .5 for the introduction of Major and he's not even in the book much!

So this book starts out after Harlow has left Grant.  Grant is pretty much devastated, calling her every single night and leaving messages about how much he loves her and can't live without her.  He isn't the same Grant we all know and love.  This Grant is a broken shell of the man he used to be.  He goes to work in the morning, comes home and leaves messages for Harlow...over and over and over again.  He's pretty much neglecting everyone and everything else.  Harlow is in Texas living with Mase in a tiny little house on the back of his parent's property.  His main concern is protecting his little sister who is hurting just as badly as Grant is, bu she's not giving in and she's not listening to the messages that he leaves every night.  She wants to talk to him so badly, but she knows the minute she hears his voice she will cave.  She's protecting herself and the only was she knows how to do this is to keep her distance from the man she loves more than anything.

It's literally impossible to talk about the plot any further without posting spoilers.  I will just let you know some of the things that I did and didn't like.  I loved Mase and Major and I know we haven't seen the last of them.  I loved that there was NO Nan drama in this book.  "What?" you ask, "no Nan drama?  None at all?"  YES!!  It was amazing.  She only made a few quick appearances and amazingly enough she was a decent human being.  I know that I said that I didn't think she was redeemable, but in this book she proved me wrong, just a little.  And we did get into her head for just a moment and it was sad more than anything so all hope for Nan may not be lost quite yet.  We also met Grant's dad in this book and I have to say that I am not impressed with him at all.

I did think that this story was pretty predictable, but it didn't make me not like it.  This was pretty well on par with the rest of the series really.  They are quick reads that don't require any deep thinking.  They are sexy and sometimes emotional. You will love some characters and hate others, but you will keep reading them because they are fun.  They are new adult so there are plenty of steamy love scenes so if you don't care for those you will want to steer clear of this series.

XOXO, Shelly

*Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for my honest review.*