Friday, March 27, 2015

2015 Audiobook Challenge First Quarter Update



So how am I doing with the audiobook challenge?  Well it was the one thing I kept reading during my slump in March so I'm doing great. I've read from a variety of sources, e-audiobooks from my library, actual CD or MP3 audiobooks from the library, some of my own and some from Audible.  No matter what I value my reading time going to and from work (25 minutes each way).

One thing I've learned, is I love speeding up the reading of my audiobooks.  Audible and my Smart AudioBook Player app on my phone allow me to do this.  The app for a desktop for eaudiobooks from the library (OneClick) allows this, but the app for my phone doesn't. So I'm a little slower listening to those books, but I enjoy them. I've found my ideal speed is around 1.8x normal.  But with some readers I have to slow this down some.  I usually stay in the 1.5x-1.9x range.

So what have I read and where am I with my goal?  I've read 12/30-50 that I wanted to read.  So I would say I am right on task for this challenge :)
  1. Tidal by Emily Snow
  2. Bad for You by Abbi Glines
  3. Hold On Tight by Abbi Glines
  4. Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau
  5. The City by Dean Koontz
  6. One More Chance by Abbi Glines
  7. Suspicion by Joseph Finder
  8. Rush Too Far by Abbi Glines
  9. Survivor in Death by J.D. Robb
  10. You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz
  11. Cell by Robin Cook
  12. Death Benefit by Robin Cook



Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Cover Reveal: Awake by Natasha Preston (+ enter the giveaway)

It's Cover Reveal time!  Today it's Awake by Natash Preston which I can't wait to review for the September release.  Here's more information and continue to the bottom for how you can enter to win an early copy of this exciting book.

About AWAKE:

Scarlett doesn’t remember anything before the age of five. Her parents say it’s from the trauma of seeing her house burn down, and she accepts the life they’ve created for her without question—until a car accident causes Scarlett to start remembering pieces of an unfamiliar past.

When a new guy moves into town, Scarlett feels an instant spark. But Noah knows the truth of Scarlett’s past, and he’s determined to shield her from it…because Scarlett grew up in a cult called Eternal Light, controlled by her biological parents.

And they want her back.

About Natasha Preston:
UK native Natasha Preston grew up in small villages and towns. She discovered her love of writing when she shared a story online—and hasn’t looked back since. She enjoys writing romance, thrillers, gritty YA, and the occasional serial killer.



Social Networking Links:

Twitter 

And now for the cover . . .


Giveaway:
 
Sourcebooks is also hosting a giveaway. grab the never-before-revealed cover for AWAKE, post this on your blog, Facebook and/or Twitter with the hashtag #AreYouAwake any of your fans that retweet the cover will be eligible to win an early ARC of AWAKE.

Here is an example Tweet:

COVER REVEAL: @natashavpreston’s Young Adult thriller AWAKE will be released this September! #AreYouAwake

Add the cover and you are entered!




Book Preview, Excerpt, and Giveaway: Grift by Jason Mosberg


Grift by Jason Mosberg
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher:
Three Story

Publish Date: March 4, 2015
Pages:
234 pages
Format:
ebook

ASIN: B00SU8XL6Y









Note: My review is coming later this week, but let me say it really grabbed me from the start.  I can't wait to get home and finish reading this.

Summary
Why would a 17-year-old girl pretend to be a prostitute?

Piper is a con artist whose canvas is the city of Las Vegas. She rolls with a crew of young grifters including a card-counting genius, a tourist-hustling pool shark, and a pocket-picking magician. Together, this crew of teenage outlaws live with their mentor Max in the penthouse of a hotel casino. They work hard and play harder. But unlike the others, Piper must balance her hyper-real Vegas fantasy with the reality of raising her 14-year-old half-sister Sophie. Disaster strikes when the Las Vegas mafia kidnaps Sophie and demands a multimillion-dollar ransom. With only five days to piece together the money, the crew races the clock to save her.

"Ocean's Eleven for the Reddit set, with a twist of Oliver Twist floating in a dirty martini none of the characters are old enough to order. Jason Mosberg deftly explores the very real world of Vegas runaways and misfits through the lens of a heist movie Sinatra's great-grandaughter would be proud of." -Sean Beaudoin, author of Wise Young Fool

"Thrilling read... couldn't put it down!" -- New York Times best selling author Aubrey Rose


Buy Links
B&N

Excerpt:
CHAPTER ONE – The Strip “How does this work?”
For the first time, I look directly into his eyes. It’s hard to make eye contact in the poorly lit Riviera Hotel and Casino. Hard to make eye contact anywhere in Las Vegas. Too dim in the casinos, too bright in the sun.
He seems anxious. Maybe because he’s out of his element. Or maybe because he’s not good with women. I give him a warm smile to loosen him up.
“Well, unless you want me here in the casino, we start by getting a room.”
He forces a one-syllable laugh.
“What’s your name?”
“Mark.”
At the mention of his name, I do everything possible to avoid smiling. I heard somewhere that it takes 10 muscles in your face to smile and 30 to frown. How many does it take to keep from smiling?
“Madeline, right?”
I nod. But Madeline’s not my name. Piper’s my name. I have a roster of about eight fake names, but I always circle back to Madeline. My mother’s name.
Mark and I wander over to the front desk. One room costs 40 bucks. On Friday and Saturday nights, a room here, booked the day of, might cost over two or three hundred. But on some random Tuesday? They just want to get you in the casino.
He fumbles for his wallet, but I insist.
He seems like a gentleman. Lets me into the elevator first. Opens the door for me. Doesn’t gawk at me. I wonder if this gentleman has a wife at home in Indiana or Rhode Island or Arizona or wherever he’s from.
Once I close the door to the hotel room, he slides his arms around my waist.
“There’s one rule I have.”
“No kissing?”
I giggle what I consider a sexy-giggle. “No. That depends on how things go. I kiss when I want to kiss.”
“So what’s the rule?”
“I always collect the money first.”
“Oh. Of course.” Mark draws his wallet. He counts out 15 crisp hundred-dollar bills. In this age, people rarely pay for anything with this much cash unless it’s scandalous. Drugs. Gambling. Sex.
The cash never stops flowing in Vegas.
“Thank you.”
He hasn’t inhaled in a few seconds. Or blinked. He’s waiting to ask me something.
“Will you dance for me?”
Damn it. There it is.
Dance means strip. No one pays an escort to do the funky chicken fully clothed.
I’m not really in the mood to slowly remove layers of clothing while dancing, but the request gives me a quick in for booze. I glance at the ground and use my most innocent voice. “Sure, but I might need some champagne then.”
After one glass of champagne, I dance. I don’t enjoy doing it, but it’s not the worst. It’s slow. Tasteful. He’s not expecting me to shake my ass in his face. He can get that over at the Pussycat Lounge for $35. He wants to see class. That’s what he’s paying for. Class.
Fifteen minutes of slow, rhythmic swaying pass. Feels like fifty minutes to me. Afterwards, I stand in my bra and underwear, undergarments that cost twice as much as the room. His eyes have grown bigger and his looks longer. The word gentleman no longer comes to mind.
I pour myself another glass of champagne. After a few sips, I rub my head and grimace.
“You okay?”
“Yeah, just…didn’t eat dinner. Reminds me of this time a couple years ago when I was on a field trip with my class. Me and my friends snuck out and stole a couple bottles of wine from this drug store. One of my friends…well she was obsessed with grunge music. You know, the 90’s, Nirvana and…well, anyway so we hid the bottles in her baggy jeans and flannel shirt. But none of us had eaten dinner, so of course we all ended up getting sick.”
He takes the bait.
“How old are you?”
“Seventeen.”
His jaw drops. As if his chin instantly gained five pounds.
“You’re 17 years old?”
“I’ll be 18 in two months.”
A lie. I’ll be 18 in more like ten months. For a moment, it looks like he’s changing his mind, but they never change their mind.
As he puts his hands on me, I move to my purse.
“I’ll feel better if I take my medicine.” I pull out some prescription pills. They wash down like two little barrels going over a waterfall of champagne.
His impatience grows. He places his hand on my shoulder. I want to smack his hand away, but I have to pretend his fingers don’t feel reptilian against my skin. Pretend his reaction to my being 17 years old doesn’t make me want to puke on him.
I put my hands on his arm, but then I reel back. He sees then that I’m ill.
“Hey. Are you sure you’re okay?”
I try to stand. But I can’t. I collapse on the couch.
He rushes over to me, shakes me a few times.
“Madeline! Madeline!”
A driblet of saliva runs down my lip to my chin. It tickles like crazy.
He shakes me a few more times but realizes this girl is not going to wake up.
As soon as the door closes, I spring to my feet. I want to get out of the suite ASAP. Just in case the guy experiences a sudden burst of conscience. They never do, but I still have my rules.
I walk past the elevator to the stairwell, but I don’t walk down. I walk up four flights. A different key card I had in my purse unlocks the door to room 1216.
On the bed sits the bag I left. I dump out the items: denim overalls I plan to throw over my dress, an extra-baggy hooded sweatshirt, and a baseball cap with a built-in red ponytail wig.
Thirty seconds later down the elevator rides an inconspicuous tomboy.
Fairly smooth, I think to myself as the elevator descends. I wasn’t in the mood to dance, so that was a drag, but at least he hadn’t insisted on paying for the room. If he had, then his card would have been on file with the hotel, and he’d have been much less likely to flee. In which case, I would have needed to use a different variation of the con. I’ve used dozens of variations.
I scan the lobby for the mark, but even if he were there, he probably wouldn’t recognize me. Now I take a moment to smile at the coincidence of his name.
Chances are Mark wouldn’t have stuck around. So you might think the $80 I spent on the two rooms went to waste. But it’s worth it. Worth it for that one time you get seen.
The $80 isn’t the only money that comes out of the $1,500 I just scored. $150 goes to the spotter, who in this case is a fat man named Randy who played Single A professional baseball before he began working as a telephone representative for an escort service called First Class. And of the $1,270 that’s left over, 90% goes to Max. I’m sure 90% seems like a lot, but I owe everything to Max. Compared to everything, 90% doesn’t seem too bad.
From the lobby, I walk outside, hitting the dry desert air just as the afternoon sun disappears below the towers of Circus-Circus. I head south on The Strip – I’ve got another appointment at 7:00.

 

Author Biography

Jason Mosberg lives in Los Angeles where he works as a screenwriter. He has optioned several feature screenplays to independent financiers. He wrote his first novel Grift while staying in cheap hotel rooms in Las Vegas. When he’s not writing, Jason can be found playing soccer, walking, and over analyzing everything.

Having grown up in Delaware, Jason attended Wake Forest University before he lit out for the west coast. His top five TV shows of all time are The Wire, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Six Feet Under, and Twin Peaks.

His one vice is claw machines.

On the book side, he is represented by Andrea Somberg at Harvey Klinger.


Social Networking Links
Twitter

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***I received this book from the author for an honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way except receiving the book for free.  ***

Monday, March 2, 2015

Book Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: Return to You by Samantha Chase

Return To You by Samantha Chase
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Summary
She will never forget their past...

He can't stop thinking about their future...


James Montgomery has achieved everything he'd hoped for in life...except marrying the girl of his dreams. After a terrible accident, Selena Ainsley left ten years ago. She took his heart with her and she's never coming back. But it's becoming harder and harder for him to forget their precious time together, and James can't help but wonder what he would do if they could ever meet again.



My Review:
Return to You was an amazing read.  I love the story where the guy and girl were so close in high school but something happens and they are apart for many years but finally get back together.  Add in a wonderful uncle matchmaker (which is what ties this series together) and you get magic.

I believe this is the fourth book in the Montgomery family series.  It's based on a man in the family (he's the Dad in the first three books and I believe the Uncle in subsequent books, like this one) who is a great matchmaker. I really liked him. He was fun, sweet and had wonderful intentions to unite each child/niece/nephew into the relationship they are destined for.  He does some arranging but it never comes off as manipulative since he has their best interests at heart.

And oh does he have James' and Selena's best interests at heart.  These two were high school sweethearts, meant to be together but pulled apart by horrible circumstances that I can't reveal because it's really a part of how the book unfolds.  Watching them react to each other, find each other again and deal with the past is both wonderful and heartbreaking.  Both have held on for the other for so long, but as it works most of the time, stubbornness can get in the way.

Both characters, James and Selena are developed very well.  I got a great feel for each of them, their pain, their pride and their love for each other and their passion in life.  The plot was fast-paced, giving some flashbacks to how they met and some of their life in the past but mainly focusing on the now and how they get back together.  Of course their is conflict, you can't have a romance book without it and I had to see what would happen.  That makes it a great book for me.  When I care enough about the characters to see what happens to them.  And now I hope I will get a glimpse of them in future books about the Montgomery family.

A great installment in a series, but don't be afraid to read this one as a stand-alone.  I did and I am curious about the other matches that were made and can't wait to read other books in the series.  I will go back and read the first three and will definitely pre-order any future books.  This is a fun series and if this book is any indication I will really enjoy the other books in the series.  Looks like I have a new automatic author for me in the contemporary romance genre.  If you haven't checked out Samantha Chase I can heartily recommend this one.

Rating: 4.5/5.0

Excerpt

It was near midnight and Selena’s eyes felt heavy. With her head resting on James’s shoulder, she tried to focus on the ending of The Philadelphia Story. Back when they were dating, they used to enjoy watching classic movies, and finding one on the television seemed like the perfect way for them to relax after such an emotional evening.

James looked over at Selena and smiled to himself. If he could freeze this moment in time, he would. For years he had wondered if he’d ever find a woman he could come home to, with whom he could sit like this and simply relax. The woman half-asleep beside him was the only woman he wanted to fit that bill. The credits were beginning to roll, and he gently nudged her with his shoulder. “Hey,” he said softly, “are you still awake?”

“Mmm…barely,” she whispered and then yawned. As much as Selena knew that the bed would be a far more comfortable place to sleep, she didn’t want to leave the security of James’s side. She jumped when he shifted beside her to stand up. A wave of panic hit her as she prayed that he wasn’t getting up to leave. Before she could even voice her concern, James turned off the television and then scooped her up into his arms. “Oh!”

“Don’t get me wrong. I was completely enjoying being curled up with you on the sofa, but I had a feeling your neck was going to kill you tomorrow.” He walked through to the bedroom and carefully held her close as he pulled back the comforter and gently placed Selena down. Without a word, he walked back out to the living room and locked the door and turned out the lights before returning to her.

He didn’t ask permission.

She didn’t extend an invitation.

Neither seemed necessary.



Buy Links:

Amazon      Barnes and Noble     Kobo      IndieBound

Author Biography

New York Times and USA Today Bestseller/contemporary romance writer Samantha Chase released her debut novel, Jordan's Return, in November 2011. Although she waited until she was in her 40's to publish for the first time, writing has been a lifelong passion. Her motivation to take that step was her students: teaching creative writing to elementary age students all the way up through high school and encouraging those students to follow their writing dreams gave Samantha the confidence to take that step as well.

When she's not working on a new story, she spends her time reading contemporary romances, playing way too many games of Scrabble or Solitaire on Facebook and spending time with her husband of 25 years and their two sons in North Carolina.



Website      Facebook      Twitter      Goodreads

Giveaway
 



a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

***I received this book from the publisher for an honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way except receiving the book for free.  ***

What Are You Reading Monday #14

Come post weekly and see what others are reading too just so you can add to your tbr - I always do! For more information see Sheila at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books and join in!

Books Completed Last Week (links go to my review):
  • The Way We Fall by Cassia Leo (mine, bought)
  • One Night in Close Exposure by Ashley C. Harris (review)
  • Return to You by Samantha Chase (review) 
  • You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz (audiobook, library) 
Reading Now: 
  • Grift by Jason Mosberg
  • Cell by Robin Cook (audiobook, library)
  • Knitting Rules!: The Yarn Harlot's Bag of Knitting Tricks by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (Scribd)
Next: 
  • Reckless by S.C. Stephens (Scribd)
  • Thoughtful by S.C. Stephens (ebook, review)
  • Origin in Death by J.D. Robb (audiobook, audible)
Summary -
It's been another cold week for those of us in coastal NC.  We had snow and ice Tuesday and it finally melted Wednesday afternoon. The kids and I were out of school/work on Tuesday and Wednesday and they had a 2-hour delay on Thursday.  Then Thursday was my birthday and my family made it a great day. My youngest even gave me an amazon gift card he got for Christmas.  My oldest gave me some money (I didn't want them to do anything but at the same time it was very touching).  And my husband gave me some lovely clothes.  It was a good and crazy week!

So how was your week?  What were your temps like where you were and how much snow did you get if any?  Any great books to share from the past week or ones you are looking forward to?


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: One Night in Close Exposure by AshleyC. Harris




One Night in Close Exposure by Ashley C. Harris
The highly awaited follow up (and final book in the series) to Ashley C. Harris’ ONE NIGHT IN HEATED SNAPSHOTS.

My Review:
First I should mention that I haven't read the first book in the series, One Night in Heated Snapshots.  And while I could easily read this book, I would like personally to go back and read the first book to get more of a feel for Beth and Sterling in their past.

That said, I don't think you must read the first book to enjoy the second story.  There are brief glimpses into what happened in the first book, but never anything that I thought of as a major spoiler.  So I thought the history was treated welll for people like me who jump in and start reading One Night in Close Exposure.

So what did I think.  It's a cute story that is powered along by some character development and a lot going on in the plot. It's a quick, easy and satisfying book to read.  A romance just finding it's start again despite a lot of of odds against it.

I enjoyed Beth and Sterling's characters.  They were different and going through different things but they share so much.  Both have fears and both have dreams, but will things work between them?  You'll have to read it to find out.

My only fault with the book was not in the story or the characters but there were some minor editing blips that may have gotten missed on first pass and I'm hoping by the time that the book is released (I think this was an eARC) that these will be fixed.  They were very minor and most people would miss them.  They didn't glare at me or yank me out of the story.  And most of the book has no editing issues at all.

If you enjoy a simple romance (guy+girl) with some hurdles thrown in then this is perfect for you.  Both Sterling and Beth are fun characters and the sparks fly when they are together which makes for a great romance.  So come, read and enjoy.

 My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Excerpt:


“Beth, you need to go ... ” is what her mom had told her repeatedly all week long the moment there was breaking news that Sterling Johnson, and a whole slew of other Olympic athletes, were flying into Beth’s city for the governor’s honorary ball. Beth knew her mom was right, what other chance would she get to talk to Sterling at this point, especially now that he had actually broken a new world record and joined the U.S.A. Olympic team? The answer was none.
            Too many people had begun calling him the minute his Olympic swimming status was announced on a national level, which is why he must have switched numbers, breaking off the possibility of Beth getting ahold of him again. Well, not all possibility, but the truth was she hadn’t ever wanted to face him after their one steamy night that had ended so wrong. But now, just as Sterling’s stellar Olympic news was announced, she had learned her own life stopping drama. In fact, she was pretty sure her life was over as she imagined her dreams and aspirations suddenly crashing to the floor. Oh God, how can this really be happening to me? How can I do this, Lord?
            She entered the ballroom with waves of hot nausea assaulting her. Smells of seafood and other appetizers were making her stomach turn in the worst possible way. Of course, her stomach had been turning for two and a half months now; she just hadn’t realized it was morning sickness until it was too late. I’ve been so foolish ...
            There was a big yellow taped off area where media was not allowed to pass and yet Beth stood at the very edge of it with her photography media badge, looking. Would she be able to get Sterling’s attention ahead of time before the speeches came? A bodyguard warned her with his stern eyes not to dare take a step further and trip up the rope.
            Nervous energy caused her to tremble at the thought of speaking to Sterling now, looking upon his tall height and too ripped abs, ripped in a way that made him this next generation’s newest Michael Phelps and Michael Lochte rolled into one. Young fans posted statuses on the web that Sterling’s face was far more handsome, far more perfect, than any swimmer before him. His photos had been spread across all the papers, capturing his best angles. Beth had to admit, it seemed like they were right.
            If only everyone knew the true man and his motives under that swim cap.

About ONE NIGHT IN CLOSE EXPOSURE:

Title: One Night in Close Exposure
Series: Snapshots #2
Genre: New Adult Romance
Release Date: February 23, 2015
Publisher: Self-Published
Print Length: 89 pages
Format: Digital
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Synopsis: Beth, in another life, was a top student and had nothing but visions of a successful career in her head. That was until one night with Sterling Johnson, the sexy and deceitful swim champion next door, who changed her entire future. Now, because of that night from her past, Beth’s path as a photographer is forever changed. Gone is the young women she used to be as she struggles to keep a secret hidden.

Sterling Johnson, on the other hand, has quickly become America’s favorite Olympic athlete. Constantly followed and stalked by the press and the father he has turned his back on, Sterling craves someone who isn’t interested in his celebrity.

When a publicity stunt takes him back to a wild college campus and Beth, who turns out to be the media photographer assigned to his story, the flame he thought was dead rekindles. Will Beth prove to be the only girl not interested in his celebrity status? Or are her own twisted secrets and lies about to bring both their worlds down?

ONE NIGHT IN HEATED SNAPSHOTS, Book One in the Heated Snapshots series, is currently free on Amazon! Grab your copy now!

About Ashley C. Harris:
Author and film director Ashley C. Harris resides in Florida. Ashley was first recognized for her edgy writing and unique film work when she wrote and directed the teenage film Lines. Lines was the first feature film in the world captured using only Mac Laptops.

In 2013 Ashley teamed up with Barclay Publicity to release the first title in a new young adult series Shock Me. Ashley then went on to release the first of a new NA series, One Night in Heated Snapshots, that quickly reached Amazon's Best Selling top ten list for sports romances.

When she is not dreaming up new books and working on film sets, she loves to spend time with her friends and family.

Keep a close watch for Ashley's newest young adult books releases!

Connect with Ashley at: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Tumblr | Instagram


To celebrate the release of ONE NIGHT IN CLOSE EXPOSURE, Ashley’s giving away a gift card to Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) worth $10! Enter below!







***I received this book from Barclay Publicity for an honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way except receiving the book for free.  ***

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Write On Review-a-thon Starting Line



Write On Review-a-Thon

It's time for another Write On Review-a-thon and I need it!  It's easy to participate.  Go to The Book Vixen to sign up and see what others are doing.

The Write On review-a-thon is a monthly event created and hosted by Brianna at The Book Vixen. It’s 2 days dedicated to getting reviews done, whether you have one review to write or 30+. This edition of the review-a-thon takes place all day Friday, February 27th and Saturday, February 28th. Let’s get those reviews done!


Review-a-Thon Details:
  • Reviews can be of the written variety or in video format.
  • This event is not limited to book reviews. If you write/vlog reviews for movies, super cool gadgets, or anything else, you are welcome to participate.
  • To participate, create a post on your blog with a list of reviews you need to complete. Don’t forget to grab the official blurb (above) and event button (grab code below). If you don’t have a blog, you can announce your intent to participate via social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.) with a link back to this sign up post so others can join in as well.
  • Add the DIRECT LINK to your sign up post to the linky found at the end of this post. The sign up linky will be open until 11:55 pm PDT on February 27th.
  • On February 27th, get working on those reviews!
  • There will be a wrap-up post linky on The Book Vixen on March 1st.

Reviews I need to do:
  1. Get Dirty by Gretchen McNeil
  2. Hope to Die by James Patterson
  3. Happenstance by Jamie McGuire
  4. The first four books in the Rosemary Beach series (Rush and Blaire's story) by Abbi Glines
  5. You Don't Want to Know by Lisa Jackson
  6. Suspicion by Joseph Finder
  7. The City by Dean Koontz
  8. Sea Breeze Series by Abbi Glines
  9. Return to You by Samantha Chase
I'm hoping to get at least 5 done, and really hoping to do all of them and have some weeks done in advance.  That would be a great feeling :)

Good luck everyone participating!




***I received this book from the publisher for an honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way except receiving the book for free.  ***