Saturday, May 31, 2014

Spring Recap and Giveaway

It doesn't seem that long ago since 2014 started, but we're already halfway into the new year and now it's summer! Actually, I've been on summer break since May 9th, but technically May is still a spring month. For the past two months, I've skipped doing recaps and updates. So, I decided to just wait until June hits and do a massive wrap-up of the past several months. 

Let's see, I finished my "sophomore" year of college with a 3.56 GPA. Not too shabby, but I'm hard on myself when it comes to grades, so I'm not that happy. Especially since it decreased both these past two semesters. I really need to step it up, because I've decided not to minor. Which means that I'm graduating next spring!! I'm so excited to finally be done with school for a bit, and I'm excited for what the future brings. These past two years have taught me a lot about myself, and I wouldn't do anything differently. But I want to make this final year the best that it can be! :) 

With that said, I've just been enjoying being home and having the time to read. I've already read 84 books this year! THAT'S A LOT. I'm definitely going to be surpassing my Goodreads goal of 100. And I've also ...OH MY GOD, THERE WAS A SPIDER RIGHT BY MY HAND!! *excuse me while I go freak out some more* *deep breathing* I FUCKING HATE SPIDERS. NO, SERIOUSLY, THEY ARE THE WORST CREATURES IN THE WORLD. I'm not being melodramatic, I swear! *takes one last, calming breath* Okay, guys, I'm good now. I think... let's just hope I can sleep tonight. *shudders* 

Aaaanyway, like I was saying before that spider so rudely interrupted me, I've also been keeping up with my NERC challenge. Which, if you don't know, is called the NetGalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge and is hosted by Emily @ Falling for YA. It's an awesome challenge designed to help you break down those long-ass TBR lists from both websites and bring you up to that 80% desired approval rate on NetGalley. If you want to see what I've read and reviewed for this, check out my reading challenges tab. 

Also, here is the list of books I've read and reviewed on Part of that World in April and May! :)


A recap in reviews!

April
*Dazed by Kim Karr
*Breaking Alexandria by K.A. Robinson
*Search by Alyssa Rose Ivy
*My Not So Super Sweet Life by Rachel Harris
*Make It a Double by Sawyer Bennett
*Breaking the Reins by Juliana Haygert

May
*Foretold by Rinda Elliott
*Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover
*Uncovering Cobbogoth by Hannah L. Clark
*Enchanter by Joanne Wadsworth
*Fighting for Infinity by Karen Amanda Hooper
*Last Second Chance by Caisey Quinn
*The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
*Where There's Smoke by Elizabeth Lee
*Falling for Autumn by Heather Topham Wood
*Torn from You by Nashoda Rose
*Overwhelmed by You by Nashoda Rose
*Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker
*One Tiny Lie by K.A. Tucker
*Son of Set by Kelsey Ketch
*The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

My favorites were My Not So Super Sweet Life, Maybe Someday, The Kiss of Deception, Ten Tiny Breaths, One Tiny Lie, and The Truth About Alice.

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ALSO, DON'T FORGET! 
***GIVEAWAY***
I currently have a giveaway going for a paperback copy of Mended by Kim Karr for the blog tour! You only have 4 days left to enter, so be sure to do that here

***

For the time being, I'm just going to keep knocking down that atrocious NetGalley reading list and keep looking for a job. I'm also going to (hopefully) start running with little bro and turn this into a productive summer. And I'm finally pushing myself to finish writing a book! If you missed my blog post about my WIPs, you can find it here. Everyday, I'm going to write at least 1,000 words in CC. On Saturdays, I'm going to update my word counts on the right-hand side of my blog page. So, stay tuned as I try and push myself to finish a book this summer. :)

That's it for me, guys! So, what are YOUR plans for the summer? Are you reading anything spectacular right now? Or maybe you're like me and afraid of spiders! Who knows? Haha. But I'd be stoked if y'all left a comment! :)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Mended by Kim Karr Blog Tour and Giveaway


Synopsis:
MUSIC HAS THE POWER TO HEAL ALL…BUT NOT ALL BROKEN HEARTS CAN BE MENDED.

Always in control, Xander Wilde considered life on the road to be a perfect fit for him. But when disaster strikes on the Wilde Ones’ latest tour, fate intervenes…and a newly single Ivy Taylor, the only girl he has ever loved, steps back into his life.

After moving past her painful breakup with Xander years ago, Ivy was poised to become the next big name in pop music…when suddenly she withdrew from the limelight—the same day she announced her engagement to her controlling agent, Damon Wolf.

Xander knows he should keep his distance. But once they’re on the road, he can’t resist pursuing her for a second chance. Yet a jealous Damon can’t let her go—and he’s keeping dangerous secrets that could destroy them all. 

When the three of them come together, everything falls apart. But if Xander and Ivy can hold tight to the bond that connects them, they just might have a chance at reclaiming the powerful love they thought they had lost forever....


Buy Links:
 AMAZON - http://amzn.to/1ap7Jwn
 iTUNES - http://bit.ly/1i9fQkM
 B&N - http://bit.ly/1iaTkYS
 Paperback - http://amzn.to/1dtnJgJ

***

Excerpt!

Xander Wilde
The magic of rock and roll—it casts a spell on you. I’m no exception. I’m a band manager and I’m living the dream, touring with The Wilde Ones, helping them secure their well-deserved place in the music industry. I love being a part of it all, especially watching the band perform live—the crowds, the cheers, the music. It’s a high and a low all at once and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Every step of the way with this band has been fun, exciting, stressful—every possible emotion. Obviously we’ve had some breaks but mostly we all put in a lot of hard work—myself, Garrett Flynn, Phoenix Harper, River Wilde, and now Zane Perry.
“Can you hear me now?” he bellows.
I nod my head as my heart pounds in my chest. My hands feel cold and clammy and a nervousness that makes me weak and shaky takes over. Doubts race through my head and I’m questioning if he’s going to make it through this. A vague awareness that something bad could happen kicks around in my mind and I can’t shake it. The Wilde Ones are doing a sound check on stage and Zane’s not on his game.
It’s July and the weather has been brutally hot. But today it seems cooler. Maybe it’s the California weather maybe it’s the excitement of being home. The Beautiful Lies Tour bus finally rolled back into our home state of California after six months away. When we pulled into the amphitheater, we could see tanned kids in board shorts and bikini tops already lined up at the will call window. Security guards in polo shirts directed us to the artist parking lot, and we were officially home. Tonight we’ll be headlining our biggest show to date. We’re on tour without my brother, River, and still more than half of the shows are sold out, including tonight’s. River quit the band—touring just wasn’t for him but even so the album is on its way up the charts. Who knows it may even hit gold status. The songs on the album were written and sung by River but are performed in concert by Zane. Having him as my brother’s replacement has been the key to our successful transition in a world where replacing leads is normally unsuccessful—simply put, we’re lucky as hell to have him. River promised to make a surprise appearance at our next stop. It’s going to be epic.
But tonight is all about the arena—Mountain View and the Shoreline. “That’s enough,” I yell to the band and call rehearsal. This place is the biggest outdoor venue we’ve played and I couldn’t be more stoked—or more nervous. A sold out show and a rocking opening band—what a combination. But a lead singer with another cold and a weakened voice that can’t be heard throughout an amphitheater scares the shit out of me.
I head straight for the bus and spend the next few hours hashing out a song with Nix that he calls a jumbled mess of muscular sense and big-riff sunshine—whatever the hell that means. All I know is that it needs help and that’s why he’s turning to me. I hadn’t played guitar since I was eighteen but for some reason over the course of this tour I’ve picked it back up. At first I used whatever was lying around but last month I had my mother mail my old one to me and it feels like home. It’s a light blue and brown Gibson and I had to have it because it was the guitar that Slash played on. Playing again seems to help pass the time and brings a calm over me that I haven’t felt in awhile.
Hours pass and before I know it, it’s almost show time. We make our way over to the Amphitheater, do the typical festival schmooze fest, and then settle back to wait. Waiting for them to take the stage is always the most nerve-racking time. I’m sitting in the practically vacant makeshift meet and greet area back stage and sipping a beer in a worthless effort to calm my nerves when a voice travels through the sound system. It’s a powerful and emotive mezzo-soprano range that is nothing short of explosive. She sounds unlike any singer I’ve ever heard before—with only one exception, Ivy Taylor. I push back the memory of her name and the emotions it evokes—the memories are just too  painful. I can’t see her on stage but I know that the voice belongs to Jane Mommsen. Her band Breathless is playing right before The Wilde Ones.
A hand on my shoulder startles me. I twist and glance up as Amy sits down beside me, crossing her legs. “Hi, Xander. I thought I saw you earlier at the hotel.”
She’s a beautiful woman—long, wavy dark hair, petite figure, very natural looking. She’s wearing jeans, a blue shirt with some kind of foil design, and silver sandals. Grinning at her I say, “Finally we catch up. Can I get you a drink?”
“I’d love that. How’s life on the road been?”
“You know, it has its ups and downs but actually not bad. You?”
“Jane’s been going full-force for a while now. But the tour ends with the summer. I’ll be glad to be back in LA.”
Standing up, I laugh. “I know the feeling. I’ll be right back, let me grab us that drink.” Tossing my empty bottle, I make my way to the coolers lined up under the tent and grab two beers. I know she’d rather have a glass of Chardonnay but beer it is. Amy is Jane’s assistant and I’ve taken her out more than a few times. We went to high school together and Amy and I know most of the same people so whenever I need a date, I ask her. Last time I saw her was almost nine months ago when I took her to River and Dahlia’s wedding.
Heading back to the table I hear Jane yell out to the crowd, “Are you ready for three of the hottest guys in music?” The audience starts screaming and the stage lights dim cuing the guys that it’s the fifteen-minute countdown until they take the stage. The band huddles together in their typical pre-performance stance. I’ll have a quick drink with Amy and then join them. As I hand her the bottle my fingers touch hers and we both grin, knowing that we will end up alone by the end of the night.
“You sticking around for the whole show?”
“I think I might,” she smiles.
“How about we ride back to the hotel together and grab a real drink at the bar?”
“Sounds like a plan.”
“Great. Time for me to get back to work.”
 She rises from the table, I do the same. She stands up on her toes and kisses me quickly on the lips. “See you tonight,” she smiles.
“Catch you later,” I say and then cross the room to join the band.
“You’re late,” Nix snickers. “What’s with you two anyway?” he asks.
I shrug my shoulders. “Nothing. We casually see each other once in a while.”
Garrett raises an eyebrow. “Chicks are never cool with casual.”
Shaking my head at him, I don’t bother to disagree. Amy and I have been doing this for years. It works for her and for me. We like each other’s company but only see each other sporadically. I’ll call her once in a while and we’ll go out but we are in no way exclusive. I don’t ask her about other men and she doesn’t ask me about other women. I grab the bottle and pour the amber liquid into the shot glasses stacked on the cap. It’s our pre-show routine. A shot and a prayer, so to say. It’s Garrett’s turn tonight to ‘pray’ so this should be good.
He raises his glass. “Here’s to hoping Xander gets laid so he’ll get off our backs.”
Tipping my glass back, I quickly down the amber liquid. It burns as it makes its way down my throat. Once we’ve all drank our two shot maximum before a show Garrett follows his toast up with, “Seriously man, you need to get laid.”
The guys laugh and I actually join in. Jerking off in the small bathroom on the bus is definitely one of the downsides of touring. I’ve slept with a few girls at some of our stops but screwing groupies isn’t really my thing. I’m not one to have time for a girlfriend but I’m also not about to pull my dick out backstage, so it’s been a long six months.
Zane coughs after he slings back the shot and I look at him with concern. “You’re going to a doctor tomorrow.”
He shakes his head. “Yes, Mom, if you say so.”
“I’m not kidding. Your voice sounds like shit.”
“It’s a fucking cold. I took some medicine. I’ll be fine.”
“Doctor. Tomorrow. I mean it. I’ll have Ena set it up.”
“I can always sing,” Garrett chimes in and I smack the back of his head.
“Hey. I can.”
The lights start to flicker and I look at Zane with that feeling of uneasiness again. Second time this tour he’s coughing and hacking. We’re screwed if he really gets sick. He nods at me as I pat him on the back. Slinging his guitar over his shoulder, he heads out first raising his arm in the air. The crowd goes crazy. The six foot guy is a chick magnet and no one misses my brother tonight. Garrett heads out next yelling, “Great to be here Mountain View!” and Nix follows with his trademark nod. Zane skips his normal charming banter and I know he must be saving his voice. Again, I think about how we’re fucked if he gets sick.
I stand at the edge of the stage all night until they finally come to their last song. “It Wasn’t Days Ago,” is a simple but crowd affecting ballad and Zane belts it out. Shouts from nearly thirty thousand fans call for an encore. Turning away from the microphone Zane coughs again. Biting his thumbnail he looks over at me and I slice my finger across my neck.
“One more song for tonight,” he tells the screaming fans and my blood pressure rises. “This one is a cover, an ‘ode to’ I’ll call it. It’s for Xander Wilde, the band’s manager and it’s his favorite song. Everyone ready?” As he starts to sing Linkin Park’s “Iridescent,” I close my eyes and listen. When he hits the chorus his voice gets so low my eyes snap open. Zane turns to grab a bottle of water while the guys continue to play but I can tell something isn’t right.

***

Last night definitely didn’t go as planned—a visit to the ER, then sleeping in a chair next to Zane all night on the bus because the steroids he was given freaked him out. It’s noon and Amy and I are just arriving at the Pelican Hill Resort. Breathless was leaving right after the show last night so Amy had already planned to ride with us and meet up with them in Irvine. She invited me to some party being thrown by her band’s label that I would have rather not gone to but Ellie, the tour manager, insisted we all go for the good PR.
I’m exhausted and really need some sleep before dealing with the press and tomorrow night’s show. The paparazzi have been everywhere—by the bus as we exited to the waiting car in LA, outside the doctor’s office, at the gates of Zane’s father’s house, and now they’re here in Irvine at the hotel.
To avoid the chaos awaiting us in the lobby, I call Ellie, who is already here, and ask her to check me in and meet me at the pool bar with the key. Draping my arm around Amy, we head that way. I’ve been here a few times so I know my way around. Cutting through the grotto and over to the pool and cabanas, I steer Amy to the right and stop in my tracks as all the air rushes from my lungs.
My body floods with adrenaline and my gut twists. I don’t even have to do a double take because I’d know her anywhere. There’s no mistaking her. She’s just so beautiful—the elegant planes of her face, those high cheekbones, red lipstick, her platinum blonde hair shorter than it used to be tucked behind her ear, that face of an angel. She looks the same. No, she looks better. Her skin glistens in the sun and my gaze automatically follows the shape of her long legs. They look smooth and tan against her white bathing suit. An ache forms in my chest as I think about running my fingers up them. She’s still that eighteen-year-old girl I once knew but now she has the body of a woman—lean and toned and full of curves. When she moves it’s so familiar it doesn’t seem like a day has passed—and everything I ever felt for her, it’s all still inside me.
My pulse races at the mere sight of her. She’s lounging in the cushioned chair reading a magazine just outside a cabana. My heart slams harder in my chest when she sticks her earphones in her ears like she always used to do and it transports me back to the last time I saw her do the very same thing. We’d skipped school and were at my grandparents’ house—their pool. She was lying on the lounge chair listening to music and singing along—her voice so full of soul. I’d moved to sit with her under the guise of putting lotion of her back. She sat up and smiled that shy smile she didn’t need to have when she was with me. I squeezed the tube into my hand and after rubbing them together I slowly applied it to her back kneading my way up and down, touching every inch of her that I could.
It brings me back to the here and now when she suddenly sits up and looks over at me. Her eyes pin me in place. She looks at me as if she remembers me for who I was, what we were, not what I did to her. With my chest pounding, memories of us keep flashing through my mind. Fighting a smile, I wonder if she’s thinking the same thing—remembering what we were, what we shared, how we loved.
She quickly breaks our connection when she averts her eyes over to the man handing her a drink. I suck in a deep breath trying not to feel sick at the sight. He’s nearing fifty, wearing a terrycloth robe. He’s about my height, dark brown hair, meticulously groomed facial hair, and not exactly ripped but fit. He’s Damon Wolf, a man I’ve never actually met but hate all the same. I’ve seen their picture on TV and in magazines. He’s her agent, her fiancé, and I’m sure he’s the reason she’s not singing anymore.
She looks up at him with that same forced smile she used to give people she just wanted to appease and mouths “thank you.” I have a sudden urge to go over and deck him when her gaze shifts back to mine and he pulls her chin back to look at him. I can sense a discomfort between them. We could sense each other’s feelings even when we weren’t near each other.
Amy’s hand slides down my face and I have to blink a few times before I can hear what she’s saying. Glancing one last time at Ivy I see that she’s staring at me again. Then suddenly her mouth forms a scowl and she flicks her attention toward him. Hooking her arm around his neck, she pulls him down for a kiss and I think I might throw up.
“Are you okay?”
I nod. Not able to say a word.
“Isn’t that Ivy Taylor over there? The girl you used to date in high school?” Amy asks. There’s an irritated tone to her voice I’m not used to hearing and it makes me agitated.
 “Yeah, it is,” is all I say. She’s not just a girl I used to date…she’s the only girl I ever really loved. She’s also the girl whose heart I broke. Seeing her now brings back all those feelings I blocked, ignored, tucked aside. So many times over the years I wanted to go after her and tell her the truth—but I never did. Why I don’t know. Then one day it was too late—she had gotten engaged.
Amy chatters on. “I think that’s Damon Wolf with her. We should go say hi.”
My body goes cold and my face blank at the thought. I straighten and just as I’m about to say, “No fucking way,” my phone vibrates in my pocket. Squinting at the screen, I see that it’s my brother. I look over to Amy and motion toward the bar. “Hey, this is River. I need to take it. I’ll meet you over there in a minute.”
“That’s fine. We can catch up with them later. I’ll go order us a drink.” She smiles and starts toward the bar.
Turning around to avoid staring at Ivy, I answer the phone. “It took you long enough to call me back.”
“I was in a meeting and stepped out as soon as I could, so don’t start. What did the doctor say about Zane?”
“He’s out for the rest of the tour and we’re fucked.”
“You sure? You’re back in LA for almost two weeks after tomorrow night right? Isn’t that enough time for him to heal?”
“Technically yes. But his old man wants him out. The doctor said that he couldn’t be sure how long the blood that accumulated under his vocal cords had been there but obviously last night, the amount of ruptured vessels was enough to cause his voice to change. He advised at least two weeks of rest before another evaluation to see if surgery is necessary. Zeak wants his son to take a longer period of time off. He’s just afraid that if Zane keeps singing and it keeps happening, scar tissue will build up and cause his voice to change forever.”
“Do you blame him?”
“No I don’t,” I tell River and I feel like shit that I have to put him in a position to do what he didn’t want to do in the first place. But I also know that if I don’t, the band won’t survive. If I have to cancel this tour—the Wilde Ones are done. So I ask, “Did you talk to Dahlia?”
He sighs. “Yeah, I did. She’s cool with it, Xander. I’m just trying to figure it all out.”
“You know I’ll do whatever you need me to do, right?”
“Shit why can’t you just be an ass and make it easy for me to say no?”
“Because you have no idea what this means to me.”
“Actually I do, and that’s why I’m going to make it happen. But Xander, remember I can’t play a twelve string.”
Laughter and relief take hold of me. I feel a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. “Right now I wouldn’t care if you only played the violin,” I joke.
He laughs and I add, “You’ll be here tonight?”
Now he sounds slightly annoyed. “I said I would. We might be a little late so don’t get your panties in a wad.”
“That’s cool. Thanks for everything. Hey, one more thing.’
“What?”
“Ivy Taylor’s here.”
“No way. Have you talked to her?”
“Fuck no. You know she won’t talk to me. And besides she’s with that asshole.”
“You should talk to her. Tell her the truth.”
“What’s that going to do now? She’ll just think I’m lying.”
“You want me to talk to her? I can explain everything.”
“No. I don’t need my little brother to fight my battles. I’ll talk to her if I feel the time is right. Do you hear me?”
“Whatever you say. Look, I have to run but I want to discuss this later. And Xander…you don’t know he’s an asshole. Just because Dad said his name once doesn’t mean shit.”
“Right. Okay, see you tonight,” I say and end the call. My head is spinning knowing that after all these years I’m actually in the same place she is. I want to talk to her, tell her everything but what would it matter now anyway. Glancing behind me, I catch another glimpse of her with him that turns my stomach. He’s such a slime ball. Since his father was hospitalized and he took over the business, he’s been scooping up labels, tearing them apart, and rebuilding them with bands he thinks are better fits. My guess is he picked up Jane’s label—that’s why he’s here. I heard they were having some financial difficulty and he’s just the kind of bottom feeder that would want to capitalize on not only being her agent but now also her producer. The sight of him touching Ivy makes my skin crawl.

Damon Wolf—two of the last words my father ever spoke to me before killing himself, and I never knew why. Of all the guys in the world Ivy had to end up with him—why him? I look up and they’re gone. But I’m anything but relieved. Rubbing my chin, I’m antsy, agitated, pissed as hell, but feel more alive than I have in years.

***




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Author Bio:
Kim Karr is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of romance, including her sexy New Adult romance series, Connections.  She describes herself as wearing a lot of hats–writer, book-lover, wife, soccer-mom, taxi driver, and the all-around go-to person of the family.  However, she always finds the time to read.  She believes in soul mates, kindred spirits, true friends and Happily-Ever-Afters, and loves to drink champagne, listen to music, and hopes to always stay young at heart.  Kim lives in Florida with her husband and four kids.

Author Links

***GIVEAWAY!!!***
Kim Karr and her publisher are providing one lucky winner with a print copy of Mended! This is US ONLY, though. Also, be sure to read the terms & conditions. So, what are you waiting for? Enter below! :) 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

NERC Review #18: The Truth About Alice

*I received an eARC of this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book had one of the most unique plots I've read in the past few years. I didn't know what to expect coming into this book, and I think that's the best thing I could have done. Without any expectations, I was more than surprised with how everything came about. And I really enjoyed it!

Rating: 4 "Crazy Good" Stars!

Like I said, the plot was totally unique. This book is told in 4 different POVs, with 4 completely different characters. We have the queen of the high school, the ex-best friend of Alice, the nerd, and the jock. They are all telling the story how they see–how they want to see it–and what they believe to be the truth. But it all connects. Every tidbit of information provides insight to the characters, their thoughts and feelings, and brings about the collection of the truth about Alice. It's a fascinating messed-up web of lies, power, betrayal, heartbreak, longing, secrets, and jealousy. There were some good moments thrown in, but this book wasn't really about those good moments. It was about what lengths teenagers will go to when trying to fit in, and the powerful reality of bullying.

I really like how this book was set up! I don't think I've read a book quite like this, where there are four narrators telling a story about someone else from their point of views. I also like how each of them had their own personalities. It didn't feel like this book was all about Alice. It was as much about the four of them as her; some more than others. I liked Elaine, even though she was a bitch. But she made no apologies for that. She was a little superficial and downright cruel, but she also had her moments of almost kindness. I hated Kelsie! She was the worst friend you could ever want, and all she wanted was popularity. It was all about her and what she wanted. Josh was a weak character; not in the way that he was written, but as a person. He let insecurities lead to lies that ruined a perfectly good person's life. He did it to compensate for his weakness. I really liked Kurt! He was the only one who was inherently good. He was nerdy and kind and just wanted to be honest with the girl he likes.

Even though Alice didn't have a POV until the end, I still felt like I knew her. The other characters told stories about her and them together, or just about her in general. Not always bad ones, either. But, as a reader who loves character development, it kind of sucked a little that it was hard to connect with her because she wasn't the voice of the story.

This book packs a pretty emotional punch. It explores the harsh reality of bullying and high school cliques. It sheds a light on what teenagers go through–their insecurities, and fears, and secrets. Their hopes and dreams. Their moments of doubt; moments of strength. It brings to mind that there's more to people than what they appear to be. It doesn't romanticize bullying; it just sheds a light on the harsh truth of it. That it sucks. That it's not fair. That it hurts. That it turns people into horrible human beings. That it can change your life.

The Truth About Alice was fast-paced, filled with a complicated web of secrets, lies, and insecurities. I really liked how the story was told and how everything kind of came together even though there were only four POVs. However, I felt cheated by that ending. I was expecting something more out of Alice's POV. I wish that part had been a bit longer. Still, this book was "crazy good" and I enjoyed every second of it! No joke; I devoured this book in one sitting!

WIPs and Author Aspirations

I've always loved writing. I've always loved stringing words together to create wondrous tales (even if they were extremely weird and sometimes so unbelievable I'm almost ashamed I still have them). But they helped me grow. Every single time I've written a story, I've gotten better and better. Now? Now I feel confident in my abilities to actually create something wonderful, something beautiful. Something that I hope will find its way into many readers' hands. 

I just want to give people an escape, much as books have given me over the years. But I've never made myself actually finish a book. I have so many ideas swirling in my head that I'm surprised I've kept them all separate. I want to write so many books, but I've never disciplined myself to keep going with them. I usually just wrote whenever I felt like it, skipping from story to story until I sometimes mixed them up! But now, I've got a clear goal in mind, and I'm going to accomplish it!


***

CC

12524 / 70000 words. 18% done!
A YA Contemporary, CC is a reverse of a cliché trope: good girl and bad boy. And guys, I'm always partial to those bad boys. But this one is not like that. Instead, my guy is a Church-going, sweet-talker who never swears. (At least, not in front of his parents). The girl is a firecracker; wild, strong. She doesn't care what anybody thinks of her, and she's not trying to be anyone but herself. These two clash, but they bond. And what comes of it? Well, I don't even know that yet. All I know is that I have a beginning and an ending, and all I need is the middle. Musical inspiration: Cop Car by Keith Urban. <3 
I already LOVE this one! When I started writing it, I ended up doing the prologue and the epilogue first. Haha, so I knew exactly how it began and ended, but I didn't know the middle! I'm actually learning A LOT about my characters as I go, and I've even added in elements that I never knew were gonna be thrown in there. (I don't do outlines. I don't write down what I'm going to do later on. I just go with the flow). It's fun to have such creative freedom. And I'm so excited about this story! :)

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Acceptance

8787 / 70000 words. 13% done! 

YA Contemporary. Acceptance (which may actually be the title) is about a girl who loses her twin sister in a car accident. It follows her journey as she stumbles through life without her soulmate, learns what true friendship means, and finds love in the unlikeliest of places. This follows her journey of self-discovery and grief, of pain and heartbreak. Told in 1st person narrative by the main character, Jess.
This one is really hard for me to write, because it comes partly from experience. As all writers understand, we put a piece of ourselves in each story and each character. Those are the ones that speak to us the most, the ones that just NEED to be told. And when we're telling them, they come directly from the heart. But it's hard, and I'm going to take my time with it, because I want it to be beautiful and be the best that it can be.

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J&N


46765 / 80000 words. 58% done!

Adult Mystery, J&N is a story about a guy who comes home after being placed on leave and a woman coming back to town after the death of her grandmother only to discover a secret that's been hidden for more than twenty years. It'll be a trilogy, with two different main characters for each book. Jackson and Natalie are my two leads in this one, but they are definitely not the only characters. I truly, absolutely love this story even if it is terrible. I love my characters; I love how they interact and how they are together. It's exactly the kind of book I love; strong friendships and great characters, combined with a (hopefully) cool mystery. Told in 3rd person narrative, with more than one POV. 4 POVs actually.

As you can see, I'm getting really close with this one. But do not be fooled, because it needs A LOT of work! I have to rewrite quite a bit of the story-line (I finally figured out where I was going with it), and I also have to do some research (like, a lot) because I don't know forensics and law enforcement well. It's not a great mystery, by any means. But hopefully I can make it as entertaining as possible to make up for the fact that y'all would know who the killer is in the beginning. I've read books like that, where I know "who-dun-it" because I'm told. And I actually didn't mind them, but I suppose it depends on the author.

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BD


14778 / 80000 words. 18% done! 
NA Contemporary. BD is about a girl who has been through a lot and is letting the hurt and pain slowly damage her heart and soul. She doesn't realize how bad it is until one guy walks into her life and makes her question how she's living. And she makes him question how he's living, too. Star of the football team, this golden boy is anything but safe and predictable. He's slowly unraveling piece by piece, and he'll need the heart of one girl to help him heal. Told in 3rd person narrative by both of them.
This one is my favorite story. <3 To elaborate, my girl Cat has a mother with Alzheimer's and a father who left them. She's got her grandmother and best friend, but she still feels all alone. My guy Drake went through a tragedy that left him reeling, sending him spiraling. And he has a father who doesn't understand him. Presently, it's in 3rd person narrative, but I feel that 1st person would work better. However, I'm not sold on having to rework the entire story, especially if it's not what I really want to do. As it stands, I'm putting this one aside for now. I love it, and I know where I want to take it, but I just don't want to go there right this minute.

***


The one that I really want to finish is CC. Actually, I'd love to finish Acceptance, but I doubt that's going to happen. That one takes a lot out of me when I write. And it's just not coming through as clear. BD is beautiful and touching, and I wish I'd stick with it more often. I'm not far, but I know exactly where this is going and what happens. I just need to get myself there with it. I loooove J&N, but let's face: it's not going to happen for a loooong time. As it stands, CC is the one that I WANT to finish this summer!

The goal counts are guesstimates. Most books, I think, are around 80,000 words. But I have no clue how many pages that actually is. So, I could be done earlier or it might take me longer. Who knows? Every day, I'm going to write at least 1,000 words in CC. At the end of each week (on Saturday), I'm going to update my word count so y'all can see the progress I've made. They will all be down the right side of my blog. With this goal, I could finish the book this summer!! And I'm already wayyyyy ahead from where I started, so I'm positive this is going to happen!


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So, stay tuned. :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Son of Set by Kelsey Ketch Blog Tour and Review



Release Date: 05/02/14

Summary from Goodreads:
“. . . the Sons would never just let him go—alive.”

Seth O’Keefe has broken the laws of his god. He never thought he would sacrifice his own future to protect a Daughter of Isis. But when the Sons of Set discovered Natti is the Secret Keeper, he had no choice. Now, Seth and Natti are on the run from his father, who wants nothing more than to see Seth dead. With no allies, Seth turns to the Daughters of Isis for help, hoping they would protect Natti. But when they meet the Daughters, he discovers a secret that puts both their lives in more danger. Low on options, Seth sees only one possibility for survival. He must help Natti solve an ancient puzzle and find the secret name of Ra.

Natara “Natti” Stone is having a hard time swallowing the truth. She can’t believe what she has learned in the past twenty-four hours: Seth is a Son of Set blessed with charm; she is a Daughter of Isis blessed with a sliver of Ma ‘at; the locket her grandmother gave her holds an ancient Egyptian secret linking to Osiris and Isis. That along with being tortured and brutalized by the Sons of Set, she can hardly hold herself together. Thank God for Seth’s touch! That warm, tingling sensation that drowns it all out. Yet her heart struggles to stay focused. She must quickly embrace her destiny before the secret name of Ra falls into the wrong hands.

*Note: Content for Upper YA*


Buy Links:
Son of Set


Daughter of Isis: (On sale for $.99 during the week of the tour)


***

My Review!

I really, really enjoyed this sequel! It was better than the first book, and I love where the story is heading. I love the Egyptian mythology, and I love the characters. In Son of Set, we get more of the mythology, and we also get a lot more character development.


Rating: 4 stars!

Son of Set is the second book in the Descendants of Isis series by Kelsey Ketch. I really enjoyed the first book, Daughter of Isis, but I wish there had been more emphasis on the Egyptian mythology. And in this book, we get a ton more of that! Not only are the main characters on the run, but they also need to figure out the riddle from the locket that Natti's grandmother gave her. It's a riddle to unlocking the location of the secret name of Ra. But they aren't the only ones looking for it. 

Natti and Seth are on the run because the Sons of Set are looking for them. Natti escaped, and Seth betrayed them. They aren't going to let them go that easily, especially since they need Natti to find the secret name of Ra so they can resurrect Set and bring about the destruction of the world. But these two can't let that happen.

I loved the development of Natti's and Seth's relationship. In the first book, it's really all about Natti trying to shake off Seth's charm. There are still secrets between them, things Natti doesn't know. And being in such close proximity (aka, hotel rooms), their chemistry is bound to explode. But it's hard for Natti to trust Seth after finding out he's a son of Set, especially since his father is the one who almost killed her. Not to mention, she doesn't know if her feelings for him are real, or the work of his charm. And Seth doesn't really know either. But as they run from his father, Seth and Natti have tons of time to sort out their feelings. It brings them closer together, and I loved their relationship. 

As for the main characters, I like them both! Natti is a strong, likable heroine who is not afraid to stand up for herself and discover ancient secrets. After being brutalized in the Sons' temple, she's feeling the effects of what happened. But she never gives up. She has her moments of vulnerability, but she doesn't let herself be swept up in Seth's charm. And as for Seth, I really like his character! After growing up as a Son and being brought into that life, he's breaking away from it because of his feelings for Natti. He's protective, strong, and just wants to keep her safe. He's very complex.

The only thing, really, that I disliked about this book was the story-line with the Daughters of Isis. I don't know why, but I guess I was just expecting more from that. Secrets were revealed and questions were (somewhat) answered, but I thought they'd be more helpful. I thought they'd be a secret society like the Sons of Set and that they would be able to protect Natti. As it were, we only spend a few chapters with them and that's it. 

I really liked where this story headed, and I can't wait for the third (and probably) final book in this series. I'm loving this Egyptian mythology, and I'm hoping for more adventures in Name of Ra. I also can't wait for more development in Natti's and Seth's relationship, and I have a feeling more secrets are still left to be uncovered. Son of Set was like a fast rollercoaster, where our two main characters had to elude dangerous men to discover an ancient secret that has been kept hidden for thousands of years.


***

About the Author
During her high school years, Kelsey Ketch could always be found tucked away in a little corner of the hall or classroom, writing her fantasy worlds and creating illustrations and maps. Today is no different, except now she’s writing in the break room at her office building or at the tables of the Barnes and Noble Café in Cary, North Carolina. She is also an avid reader, a part-time book blogger at Ketch’s Book Nook, and lives with her two orange tabbies and awesome and humorous flat-mate.Daughter of Isis is her debut novel.
For more information, please visit her site at kelseyketch.com.



Author Links:
https://www.facebook.com/KelseyKetch#

***GIVEAWAY***
One lucky winner will get a was scepter pendant (created specially by SilverspotStudio), a hieroglyphic tote bag, and a Son of Set journal (INT)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Double Review: Ten Tiny Breaths and One Tiny Lie

There are some books that take you to a place far away from reality, but once you're back, you don't really think about them that much. They were light, fluffy reads to give you something to laugh and smile about. And then there are books that make you think, keep your mind open, keep you guessing and using your intellect. Those mysteries and psychological thrillers that involve you only to the extent of your mind. And then there are those that involve your heart. They completely take you over and mess with your emotions, bringing tears to your eyes and hurt to your heart. They might even be those that you can connect with because of the experiences and events inside them. Those ones make you feel. They make you weep, with joy and with pain. They are more than just a book, more than just words on a page and fictional characters. They are real to you. And they are the ones that will always hold a special place in your heart.

Ten Tiny Breaths is one of those books that make you feel with your heartIt is heartbreaking, and real, and romantic. It is captivating, funny, and even painful. It is everything else, and so much more. It is one of those books that only comes around every so often, so you hold onto it, and savor those feelings and the reading experience you had with it. 

Rating: 5 Exquisite Stars

It's almost eerie how well I could relate and connect with the main character, Kacey. Our personalities could never be more different, how we deal with grief could never be more diverse. Kacey is loud, mean, and cold, while I'm quiet, contemplative, and slightly distant. But it is not her personality I felt a connection with; it's her choices. To cover her grief and smother it within the confines of a box in her heart. To build up walls to keep people out, to distance herself from others so she won't form connections and relationships. It's easier, isn't it? To not give a shit? The more you don't care, the more you won't get hurt. But the more you shut yourself out, the more you keep the real you locked up, the harder it is to recognize yourself. And the harder it is bring yourself out of it and move on. I should know; I've been through my share of tragedies. And that, coupled with my connection with Kacey, made this a truly different reading experience.

I once read this quote: "When you shut out pain, you shut out everything else too." And I find that it especially applies to Kacey's story, to her journey. She shut out everything after the accident. But when you shut out pain, when you shut out the grief, it only builds up. Threatens to tear down your carefully built walls and expose the deepest part of yourself. It's what happened to Kacey; until she realized what she was doing, how it wasn't just hurting her but hurting others, and that she needed help. Kacey's journey from beginning to end was beautiful to watch unfold. And I loved every single second of it.


Just breathe, Kacey. Ten tiny breaths. Seize them. Feel them. Love them.
Kacey Cleary went through an unimaginable tragedy when she was only 16. One stupid mistake, too many drinks, and careless individuals results in the deaths of six people. Among them, Kacey's parents, her boyfriend, and her best friend. How she was able to survive that, I have no clue. It took real strength to even move on from that. Except.. Kacey hasn't really moved on. She's only been pretending to be okay, is content for that grief and pain to stay locked up in that box in her heart. Until one man steps into her life and makes her face her past.

From the first moment he stepped onto the pages, I fell in love with Trent Emerson. And, I think, so did Kacey. Their chemistry was there from the moment they met, and I absolutely loved their playful, definitely flirty, and real dialogue. But Kacey was determined to keep him at a distance, because she can't handle relationships. She can't handle connections. She can't even handle shaking people's hands. She's spent so long running away from everything (metaphorically speaking) that she doesn't even recognize herself anymore. Her sister remembers the real Kacey, but Kacey only remembers the after-accident one. Her character was snarky, cold, and sometimes even downright cruel. But it didn't turn me off, because I understood why she was like that. That tragedy shaped her, molded her into this person that, once she starts opening up and letting people in, shames her. And with it, begins a journey that Kacey's not even sure she wants to be on. Because, with it, comes the pain and grief and rage. With it, comes everything she's worked so hard to put past her. And she doesn't know how to deal with all of these new emotions.

But she's got people in her corner. Her sister, Livie. Her neighbor Storm, and Storm's daughter, Mia. She's even got her new boss, Cain, and his trusty bouncers. Most notably, though, she has Trent. Her next-door neighbor with the hotness, charm, and most beautiful blue eyes she's ever seen. He pushes past her touch barriers (that scene at the club where she holds his hand broke my heart), breaks down her walls with a sledgehammer, and starts bringing out the real Kacey. Who wouldn't succumb to his charm and totally fall in love with him, this guy who could toss out dirty comments like no one's business and manage to toe the line between good guy and bad boy?
"Give me your heart, Kacey. I'll take everything that comes with it."
Talk about swoons! Oh, be still my beating heart! I loved how he never gave up on Kacey, how he let her set the pace and still managed to shake her will. However, he's not as perfect as he seems. 

Normally, I'd be so damn mad if I managed to guess the big mystery early on. You can't just put "even if means revealing an explosive secret that could shatter both their worlds" in the synopsis and not expect me to guess! It's like dangling a friggin' treat in front of a dog's nose and expecting it be good and obey you (I don't even know if that metaphor works, but whatever. I'm going with it). I knew, early on, exactly what that secret was. However, it didn't lessen my enjoyment whatsoever and it didn't piss me off. When it came out, I was relieved. I was relieved that it was finally out in the open, though the implications of what it meant were not so easily known. 

The plot focused on Kacey's journey; her finding the strength to let go of the grief and rage, to move on and let herself heal. The last, like, fifty pages were some of the best out of the whole book. It brought a different side to Kacey, one who finally stops fighting everything and everyone. One who accepts her vulnerability and accepts the fact that people aren't perfect, that they make mistakes, even if those mistakes have irreparable consequences. And she finally understands what her mother was always trying to tell her: Ten tiny breaths. Seize them. Feel them. Love them. But most of all, she needed to learn how to forgive, because forgiveness sets us free. And now Kacey finally knows what it feels like to breathe again.

The secondary characters were all so brilliant, and I can't wait to read Livie's story, and Cain's and Ben's. They were an integral part of Kacey's journey, just as Trent was. I was a little sad that this was told in one POV, but ultimately, it was exactly as it should be. Also, I applaud the author for how she handled the sensitive subject of PTSD and drunk driving. It was so wonderfully written that I absolutely loved the ending result. :)

Everything about this book was pretty much perfection for me. I don't think I've ever had this kind of reading experience, one where I was so attuned with the story and so connected with the characters, especially Kacey. Ten Tiny Breaths was exquisite. It was my favorite type of story; grief and tragedy intertwined with love and healing.

P.S. Not to mention Kacey and Livie are from Grand Rapids, Michigan! I don't live far from GR. Ah, what are the odds? :)


***

*I received a copy of this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

As you can see from my above review, I absolutely loved Ten Tiny Breaths! And ever since Livie stepped onto the pages of it, I've wanted to know her story. I've wanted to get inside her head. She's seemingly perfect; warm and kind and always looking out for others. She seems to have it all together, but as much as people try to be, they aren't perfect. And Livie had to let go of her preconceived notions of who she is and what she wants out of life to find out exactly where she belongs.

Rating: 4.5 Freeing Stars!

I've already said how much I can connect with Kacey, but I can also connect with Livie. I loved her POV and how she told the story. It was fresh, innocent, and fun. But it was also heartbreaking, heavy, and confusing. On the outside, Olivia Cleary is perfect. She's not afraid to talk about her parents, seemingly has overcome that grief, and is on her way to becoming a doctor in pediatrics (specifically, oncology). But it's Kacey, and Dr. Stayner, who notice that maybe she's holding onto her parents in a dangerous way. Not like Kacey's self-destructive nature, but in a way that is much more subtle and hard to detect. It's dangerous because Livie has spent so much time being perfect, that anything less sends her spiraling. And she's been hiding so much of herself away for fear of straying from this path she's on that it makes her question everything about her life.

Ashton makes her question everything about her life. I fell so hard for Ashton, maybe even harder than I fell for Trent. He's a womanizing, arrogant male with no regard for how he hurts people and who doesn't care what anybody thinks of him. But there is more to this guy than anyone knows. Ashton's story broke my heart, made me cry, and gave his character so much depth that I found myself absolutely loving his development. It was beautiful and heartbreaking; it was just so damn good. He was such a complex character. He was arrogant, cocky, and a cheater. But he was also caring, protective, and even sweet.
"I can't ever undo all of the mistakes that I made with you, all the lies I told, all the ways that I hurt you. But...can we please just somehow forget all of that and start over?"
It took a long time for the real Ashton to come through, but it was so believable. What he went through, what he's still going through is not something that a person can get over completely in a few days. And Livie never gave up on him, giving him whatever he needed, because she understood. He was flawed, and she got that.

The relationship between these two was so wonderfully written; their chemistry so strong and so passionate. It was amazing to see how it unfolded. From their drunken first kiss to the on-and-off romance, I loved watching it develop (even if I disliked it at times). But their bond was so deep. 
"How can I help?" -Livie
"Make me forget." -Ashton
The way these two interacted, from their teasing to their passionate exchanges, I was captivated. That scene in the bathroom after Livie hurt her ankle was one of the best scenes I've ever read, in any book. It was simply exquisite. It showed that they are flawed individuals who feel with their entire beings. It showed the depth of their relationship. It was subtly romantic. They gave each other what they needed. They understood each other in way that no one else could. God, I loved it.

BUT. It was hard to like sometimes, because of certain circumstances. I'm not a fan of cheating, in any sense of the word. I really wish Livie had done things differently, but I found myself not caring that much. This wasn't about cheating or just wanting to give into the passion you feel for someone else. This was about Livie and Ashton. This was about a girl who never explored who she really was and who never let herself feel or think or do anything that would challenge that perfection. This was about her making mistakes and trying new things and letting herself just... live. This was about a guy who shut everyone out to make his life easier and who was going to accept that he'd never be free. But Livie became his freedom, his Irish girl. She became the catalyst that would help him decide to break free of his father and just be himself.

These two characters were so complex, and I loved their development. The emotions were intense, the level of depth shown brilliant. One Tiny Lie was a truly wonderful and beautiful read.  

What more can I say that I haven't already? This series is truly one of the best I've ever read. The characterizations, the plot, the actual story, the emotions, the depth of feeling, the incredible writing. I love everything about these two books. And I seriously can't wait for the rest and more of K.A. Tucker. <3