Monday, October 31, 2016

Five Book Picks from NCIBA, and a Happy Halloween

Last week, I had the fortune of attending the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Fall Discovery Show. And boy, did I discover. I took home a haul of books, which I will definitely blog about in ensuing months, but for now, I'm including five that I can't wait to devour this Halloween.

1. THE READER, by Traci Chee

Sefia lives her life on the run. After her father is viciously murdered, she flees to the forest with her aunt Nin, the only person left she can trust. They survive in the wilderness together, hunting and stealing what they need, forever looking over their shoulders for new threats. But when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is suddenly on her own, with no way to know who’s taken Nin or where she is. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object that once belonged to her father left behind, something she comes to realize is a book.

Though reading is unheard of in Sefia’s world, she slowly learns, unearthing the book’s closely guarded secrets, which may be the key to Nin’s disappearance and discovering what really happened the day her father was killed. With no time to lose, and the unexpected help of swashbuckling pirates and an enigmatic stranger, Sefia sets out on a dangerous journey to rescue her aunt, using the book as her guide. In the end, she discovers what the book had been trying to tell her all along: Nothing is as it seems, and the end of her story is only the beginning.

I picked this because I love the premise, and it's similar to what my first novel was about. Interestingly, when I talked to Traci, I found out our ideas came at around the same time. Kind of like what happened to Elizabeth Gilbert and Ann Patchett

2. THE DIABOLIC, by S.J. Kincaid

Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe.

When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything.

As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire.

I chose this book because I love S.J. Kincaid's writing. This is a new standalone that promises to be as adventurous and epic as her other series, Insignia.


A teenage misfit named Hawthorn Creely inserts herself in the investigation of missing person Lizzie Lovett, who disappeared mysteriously while camping with her boyfriend. Hawthorn doesn't mean to interfere, but she has a pretty crazy theory about what happened to Lizzie. In order to prove it, she decides to immerse herself in Lizzie's life. That includes taking her job... and her boyfriend. It's a huge risk — but it's just what Hawthorn needs to find her own place in the world.

This book is newly in paperback, and I loved the premise when first I saw it as an ARC. I love the cover too! 

4. WE KNOW IT WAS YOU, by Maggie Thrash

Halfway through Friday night’s football game, beautiful cheerleader Brittany Montague—dressed as the giant Winship Wildcat mascot—hurls herself off a bridge into Atlanta’s surging Chattahoochee River.

Just like that, she’s gone.

Eight days later, Benny Flax and Virginia Leeds will be the only ones who know why.

I first got to know Maggie Thrash through her thought-provoking memoir, HONOR GIRL. I'm excited to see her first novel.


“I am sixteen years old. I am a human being.”

Actually Sarah is several human beings. At once. And only one of them is sixteen. Her parents insist she’s a gifted artist with a bright future, but now she can’t draw a thing, not even her own hand. Meanwhile, there’s a ten-year-old Sarah with a filthy mouth, a bad sunburn, and a clear memory of the family vacation in Mexico that ruined everything. She’s a ray of sunshine compared to twenty-three-year-old Sarah, who has snazzy highlights and a bad attitude. And then there’s forty-year-old Sarah (makes good queso dip, doesn’t wear a bra, really wants sixteen-year-old Sarah to tell the truth about her art teacher). They’re all wandering Philadelphia—along with a homeless artist allegedly named Earl—and they’re all worried about Sarah’s future.

But Sarah’s future isn’t the problem. The present is where she might be having an existential crisis. Or maybe all those other Sarahs are trying to wake her up before she’s lost forever in the tornado of violence and denial that is her parents’ marriage.

“I am a human being. I am sixteen years old. That should be enough.”

I've loved everything I've read by A.S. King, and this new foray into the existential is already jumping off the page for me. 

Here are some links if you'd like buy the above books. Happy Halloween!


Buy: BookPassage ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound


Buy: BookPassage ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound


Buy: BookPassage ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound


Buy: BookPassage ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound


Buy: BookPassage ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wicked Winter Set and a Good Cause

Warm up your chilly nights with 15 stories by some of today’s hottest USA Today, and Amazon bestselling authors as they tell you tales of vampires, shifters, elementals, fae, and demons trying to find a little love this winter. Expected release date is December 6. 

All proceeds will be donated to help support the Alzheimer’s Association in the fight to find a cure.

 Cover Designer: Rene Folsom Charity Anthology: Alzheimer Association

Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR

Pre Order Link: 


TAGLINE: How can one move forwards when their past comes back to haunt those they love?

TEASER: “So arrogant all you Fae warriors. Tell me where are your wings, little one?”
Holly’s grin widened as her wings sprang free of her back and with a quick push from the snow she was crashing both her body and the snarling wolf through the branches of the tree’s that were only seconds ago above them.
Dorthea’s gaze widened as she took in the spread of Holly’s stark white wings. “Those don’t belong to you… what are you?”
Holly tried not to flinch at the accusation. The wings weren’t hers… not originally, but they had been gifted from her father and every time she released the massive white feathers from her back, she felt her father’s presence. His strength supporting her, encouraging her to do what she had always been meant to do. To fight at her siblings’ and the warriors’ side. To help the Light Fae and keep the humans safe from what could slip from the Middle World, like the bitch she was holding a good sixty feet in the air.
“I’m the daughter of Try and the warrior who is going to end you.”

COLD HEARTS by Emma Shade

TAGLINE: Sometimes love finds your inner wolf.

TEASERS: I had finished my burger and moved on to the loaded cheese fries. However, something compelled me look up.
In walked a gorgeous guy that screamed tall, dark, and handsome. I knew the description was cliché, but daaaamn. He glanced around the restaurant and I noticed his eyes resembled mist on a foggy morning.
My inner wolf instantly perked up, my senses on overload. Then he looked at me and the world shifted. The busy diner disappeared as if we were the only two here. We both stared at each other as my long forgotten cheese fries dripped gooey sauce on my fingers.

THE OAK by S.L Dearing

TAGLINE: Passion. Devotion. Obsession. The Crusade to win her heart begins with The Oak.

TEASER: Keitha relished the chill in the air as the warmth of the sun broke t
through the winter cloud cover. Sunlight streamed over the forest, pushing through the pine needles and bouncing off the white mounds of snow. Pulling her cloak tightly around her as she maneuvered over the drifts, Keitha trudged forward until she came to a cluster of bushes covered in small red fruit. She opened her satchel and began plucking the small round rose hips from the frozen branches, humming to herself. So engrossed in her endeavor, she was unaware that she was being watched.
From several hundred yards away, Foley Guillory leaned against a tree, watching her intently. Knitting his brows together, he absently wiped his mouth.
“Are we going to hunt, or not?” came a whine from behind him.
Foley turned and stared at his companion. Cody Page was short and slightly pudgy with freckles and a head of ginger hair.  he folded his arms in front of him, a pale attempt to defy the handsome huntsman. Foley smirked before turning his attention back to Keitha. “We’ll go when I say we go.”
“Aww, c’mon, Foley. It’s cold out here. Why do you have to follow her everywhere anyway?”
“Because… she’s mine. She belongs to me… she just doesn’t understand that yet.”

FRIGID by Rene Folsom

TAGLINE: With the struggle to hone her powers as an elemental half-breed, Kirsi learns what it means to protect her heart all while keeping the town of Relic safe.

TEASER: I glanced over my shoulder while I ran, my hand holding my side.  The stitches there were tearing at my skin, the wound a painful reminder of last week’s run-in, and the heeled boots I wore tonight weren’t doing me any favors.  I had no idea why I decided to put them on.  I should've known better than to assume I’d have a normal night.
When was anything in my life normal?
The n-word was clearly not in my vocabulary.
I huffed and continued, practically holding myself together as I ran through the streets of Relic toward the forest. I didn’t care one little bit about the looks I was getting from mortali bystanders. I needed to make it to the perimeter of my land and that was my only focus. Once I hit the border, the wards I set would automatically protect me, keeping out any I didn’t choose to let in.
My date had been a disaster, ending with this God-forsaken chase. I could still feel the asshole’s slimy hands lingering on my skin.  Just the memory sent chills up my spine.  The fact I couldn’t pin down who—or what—it was had my insides coiling like I’d just swallowed a gulp of sour milk.
The malus approached me just outside the restaurant, its breath seeping into my sinuses like a poison, yet no verbal demand came from it.  Regardless of its physical appearance being that of a human male, I could tell by the look in its eyes and the stench on its skin that it was anything but.
It didn’t take a genius to know I had to get far away and fast.

HOLLY by Danielle Gavan

TAGLINE: Fantasies, Dreams, Nightmares... Ralph Holly’s world just got complicated.

TEASER: Careful to keep their fingertips from brushing, Ralph took possession of the tablet and accessed the surveillance files from Philip’s home. He queued up the video he’d discovered earlier and turned it for Reverie to view. A crease formed between her brows as the seconds ticked by, her eyes glossing over as sadness took root. Ralph pulled the device back and shut down the video feed before the tears started. He couldn’t handle tears. His mother had cried at the drop of a pin and it has ripped at his heart. Every. Single. Time. No. Tears were not happening. Especially not Reverie’s tears.
“So,” he sighed and cleared his throat. “That’s why I think your brother’s involved, as if his parents getting divorced isn’t enough of a nightmare.”
Reverie nodded, her perfect white teeth scraping over the sweep of her lower lip again. Focus on the task, Ralph reminded himself. Focus on the fucking task. He gave himself a mental shake and tried for a neutral expression.
“I’ve got a guy on the night shift in surveillance.” Ralph pulled his cell out from the holster on his belt and opened the messaging app. He tapped in a quick message and then looked across the table at her once more. “Let me check in with him and I’ll get back to you. I can’t guarantee it’ll be tonight, but as soon as I know anything you’ll know. Okay?”
“Okay.” She gave him a grateful smile and reached across, her small hand landing on the bicep he’d rested on the back of his chair. Every single one of the fine hairs covering his body stood at attention. Every neuron and synapse fired, tensing muscles and sending signals like crazy throughout his body. Her fingers squeezed his bicep and Ralph nearly swallowed his tongue. Fuck. If just one touch could make him react like that… What would full on contact be like?


TEASER: Taking in the young woman in front of him, Abraham couldn’t help but enjoy the view of her long dark curls clinging to her glistening face and body. Her skin was losing the flushed look from the hot shower he had clearly interrupted, but her complexion glowed as her green eyes sparkled back at him during their brief conversation. He was not about to walk away from this obsidian beauty.
Pulling a black and white photograph from his inside coat pocket, showing her the snapshot of a picnic scene with three adults and a little girl sporting pigtails clasping onto a raggedy panda bear, Abraham pleaded. “Please do not dismiss me. I can wait outside until you are suitably dressed and ready to receive me into your abode? Trust me, Ebony. I have information about your family.”
A thousand reasons why she shouldn’t trust him were probably flashing through her mind, but he knew the photograph held more than a distant memory for her. He could have the answers she wanted—no, the answers she needed. However the outcome unraveled, she would regret closing the door . She wrapped her fingers gingerly around the photograph, never taking her eyes from it as she retreated back into the safety of her home. Abraham was about to protest when two words silenced him. “Wait here.”

MATED by Katie Salidas

TAGLINE: Confirmed bachelor.
Serial Womanizer.
Sex God.
Brady wore those titles like a badge of honor.
Boyfriend or ― a word that should never be spoken ― Mate.
No. Way. In. Hell.
He’d never let a woman tie him down… like that.

WINTER RUNES by Rebecca Brooke

BITTER by Alexia Purdy

TAGLINE: Becoming the Alpha is going to take all he's got.

TEASER: A large white and gray spotted wolf approached him snarling and baring his teeth through the rumbling growls. Hayden could barely get a good look at him as his vision refused to sharpen. He badly wanted to drift off into a beckoning sleep of nothing. The enormous wolf paused its snarls, sniffing him with a morbid curiosity increasingly interested in the blood trickling from the gash on his head. Hayden tried to shift his position slowly, but his body refused to cooperate, not moving. Yet, he could feel his strength returning as his vision cleared up and landed directly onto a pair of black outlined silver eyes.
Crap. This wasn’t good. There was nothing but malice guaranteed in a wolf’s stare down.

COOLING by Morgan Jane Mitchell

TAGLINE: While the other worldly town of Cooling heats up for its newest resident, Mardella Craft wants answers, not to be snowed in with the sexy demon. Will it take a devil to melt her cold heart?

IMARA by Jessica Cage
TAGLINE: Winter was her favorite season.
TEASER: It was the frost in the air that did something seductive to her. Most would claim the heat of the summer brought the months of highest arousal, but Imara disagreed with this theory wholeheartedly. The chilled air, the early nights, and the desire that winter brought, was the most gratifying for the sexually charged woman. Granted, Imara was far from being considered normal by any means. Standing on her balcony, she enjoyed the soft dusting of wintery flakes as she peered out over the city. The sheer robe that barely hid the deep chocolate tones of her skin, flew open as the winds picked up. The cool air caressed her flesh, touched the dark rings of her nipples, and aroused her. Behind the veil of her thick mane of curls, her eyes glowed with a deep blue—she was hungry.
Imara filled her lungs with a long pull of the wintery air. What she sensed was the heat of the people nearby. That was the thing about winter, it made it so much easier to target her prey. In summer, everyone was hot, everyone was ready, but in the winter, only those who were truly sexual by nature stood out to her. Those were the ones who tasted the best, those were the ones who satisfied her most.
Imara was born a succubus … half-succubus to be exact, which was why she was an outcast to her demonic family. Her father, a dark warlock who tricked her mother into bedding him, left them both high and dry. Hell, at least she inherited a bit of magic from him. It took years for her to learn to control the power, but somehow she’d managed. It wasn’t easy, as a lot of the witches she ran into weren’t eager to help the half demon. In fact, most of them actually tried to kill her. Excuse a girl for saying hello! This, of course, meant she had to deal with some of the shadiest people she would ever encounter.
What else was to be expected in the life of a succubus?
THE FALL OF WINTER by Virginia Cantrell
TAGLINE: Sometimes the wrong choices lead your heart to the right place.
TEASER: At the sound of the door slamming against the stone wall, I launched to my feet, but froze in shock at the sight that greeted me. A small, frightened girl was dragged through the wooden doorway by three burly sentinels. The girl thrashed against their hold, but she was no match against the soldiers. Their brute strength easily outmatched her own; not to mention, she was powerless against their ability to negate her natural command of one of the four elements. The sentinels were the perfect counter balance to an elemental, maintaining nature’s order.
It had been five long years since I had gazed upon that face, and I never imagined our reunion to be quite like this. Fear and confusion threaten to overwhelm me as time stood still and everything froze, all except my heart beating ferociously in my chest. The sentinels seemed just as confused as me as their gazes bounced between me and the now docile girl. Perhaps they weren't aware Ivey had a twin, much less expecting my presence at such a volatile moment. The soldiers on each side of Ivey retained their grip on her upper arms while the third sentinel held firmly to her shoulders, but still Ivey was able to reach her hand out to me.
“Annabelle,” she whispered imploringly.
The look of helplessness on my once-proud sister’s face had me automatically rushing to grasp her hand. Just as our fingers made contact, one of the soldiers bellowed, “Don’t,” and tried to wrench Ivey away, but it was too late. Catching them by surprise, Ivey sprang forward, clutching my hand. Quick as lightning, a familiar sensation coiled in my stomach. I tried to gain control of it, but it was yanked from me.
The blast of energy exploded in the air, emitting a heat so great, the sentinels were dead before they hit the ground. For a moment, my heart stopped beating and my knees threaten to give out, my legs suddenly unable to hold my weight. But before I could give into that weakness, Ivey’s words and accusatory tone caught my attention, stiffening my spine.
“Annabelle, what have you done?”
“I d-didn’t…” I tried to deny it, to explain, but no other words emerged through my shock. Vaguely, I noticed the glassy excitement that shown in Ivey’s eyes as my twin surveyed the destruction around us. Had she—
Just then, the sound of rushing footsteps could be heard through the door. Ivey snatched up my forearm in a biting grip.
That one whispered word echoed through my head as if it had been bellowed inside a deep cave. Acting on instinct, I didn't even think about it. I just did as my sister commanded. I ran.

THE COTTAGE by Lavinia Urban

TAGLINE: Forbidden gateway to the dark realm.

EVERLEE FROST by Emily Walker

TAGLINE: Everlee's new boyfriend is hiding something, sometimes secrets can be deadly.
TURNED by Katherine Rhodes

TAGLINE: She didn’t ask to be turned; she only asked to be loved.  

Waking up dead sucks.
Cracking her eyes open as one of the undead for the first time in the cellars of Castle Pietra, Sara immediately meets her guardian—well, werewolf. She witnesses him halt her summary execution and then save her life with his blood.
His sweet, delicious, magic-laced blood.
Slowly, through Michael Morchause's tutelage and the kindness of his family, she starts to adjust to being a vampire. It’s not the best un-life, but at least she can make sure her little brother Keelan is safe and cared for.
But all it took was one winter night. A night she was enjoying with her date, Marius, and trying to live just a little bit of the life she lost when everything changed. She, Marius and Michael are pulled into a world that was darker, more cruel, and bigger than they ever suspected.
And Keelan was their captive.
Magen McMinimy
Magen started writing as a hobby. Having been one of those people obsessed with the world of the paranormal for as long as she can remember, she loves creating her own worlds for readers to get lost in. She see’s life as a constant balance of what we want and what we need. A balance that we all have to create in our own way.
“Life is a constant balance of what we want and what that balance in her love of writing and cherishes every minute she’s fortunate enough chase her dreams. We need. It's also a lot like a Battle. A battle that we all have to fight our own way. I choose to try and love and cherish every minute that I get to chase my crazy dreams and create a world and characters to get lost in.”
Rene Folsom
Rene Folsom, author of paranormal romance and erotica, lives in Florida with her husband and three kids. She has officially diagnosed herself with creative ADD and often has a million and one writing projects going at once. In addition to writing, she is also a graphic artist who enjoys creating custom book covers for indie authors. She is definitely an artist at heart and would love nothing more than to be elbow deep in clay during her waking hours.
Rene believes that all fiction is based on some form of reality—otherwise we would never have the inspiration or knowledge to dream up the realistic situations we portray with our words. She is proud to say that her personal experiences have been inspirational, though perhaps not always identical to that of her fictional characters. Where reality and fantasy diverge, however, must remain her little secret…
Morgan Jane Mitchell
Bestselling Erotic Romance and Paranormal author Morgan Jane Mitchell spent years blogging politics and health trends before she rediscovered her love of writing fiction. Trading politicians for bloodsuckers of another kind, she's now the author of bestselling post-apocalyptic fantasy novel, Sanguis City. Her action packed series of vampires, witches, demons and zombies is paranormal romance, dystopia, urban fantasy and erotica in one bite. When Morgan Jane is not creating the city of blood or conjuring up other supernatural tales, she's dreaming up erotic and dark romances.
Keep up to date and sign up for her newsletter for exclusive giveaways, teasers and chapter reveals.
Alexia Purdy
Alexia is a USA Today Bestselling author who currently lives in Las Vegas and loves spending every free moment writing or hanging out with her four rambunctious kids. Writing is the ultimate getaway for her since she's always lost in her head. She is best known for her award-winning Reign of Blood series, and A Dark Faerie Tale Series.
Sign up for email updates and exclusive giveaways:
Jessica Cage
Born and raised in Chicago, IL, writing has always been a passion for Jessica Cage. She decided to take a risk and unleash the plethora of characters and their crazy adventurous worlds that had previously existed only in her mind, into the realm of readers. She did this with hopes to inspire not only her son but herself. Inviting the world to tag along on her journey to become the writer she has always wanted to be. She hopes to continue writing and bringing her signature Caged Fantasies to readers everywhere.
Rebecca Brooke
Rebecca Brooke grew up in the shore towns of South Jersey. Writing has always been a love for her, as well as reading. She loves to hit the beach, but always with her kindle on hand. She is married to the most wonderful man, who puts up with all of her craziness. Together they have two beautiful children who keep her on her toes. Rebecca is the author of contemporary, new adult, and paranormal romance.
Virginia Cantrell
Virginia's greatest passion has always been fiction, particularly romance. The innocent in her loves the idea of a happily ever after, but she has a massive soft spot for the bad boys. If you ask her, she'll tell you she's living her dream—getting paid to read and helping indie authors to create beauty by working as an editor for Hot Tree Editing. She's inspired by the many amazing indie authors she has met and has (finally) found the courage to follow her other dream by becoming a published author.
Virginia would love to hear from you at or please consider leaving a review at Amazon or Goodreads.
S.L. Dearing
Although she grew up in Arizona, Shannon L. Dearing was born and raised in California
and considers the Golden State her home. Shannon attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo,
studying biology, before returning to Los Angeles where she spent several years studying at
Los Angeles City College’s renowned Television/ Film program. Although she has directed, produced and performed several other crew functions, nowadays regarding her film career, she is a screenwriter and, on occasion, an awesome crafty (Craft Services).
Besides, screenplays, Shannon is also a published multi-genre author – currently working on the next book in the Lia Fail Series, The Bridging: Book Two of The Lia Fail Chronicles, due out in 2017 (book 1 and 1.5 are already available), and she is working on a Sci-Fi Romance novella, Captured, also due out in 2017. When not writing or reading, Shannon enjoys spending time with friends and family.  Her hobbies include making jewelry and book swag (she has an Etsy store, Underdweller Treasures), baking and candy making, learning the guitar and drawing. Shannon currently resides in Los Angeles.
Danielle Gavan
Danielle is an International Amazon and All Romance eBooks Bestselling Author. She is currently pursuing her dream of writing, editing and graphic design while maintaining a full-time job.
She resides in Guelph, Ontario, Canada with her two beautiful teenage sons. Her incredibly supportive, and loving partner is also never far from her side and cheering Danielle on like the Number One fan that he is.
Danielle welcomes email and you may contact her at
Twitter @DanielleGavan
Katherine Rhodes
Armed with a pen name, Katherine Rhodes has gird her loins and set her mind to writing erotic romances which are kinky, dirty, and fun. As a lackadaisical laundry goddess, and an expert in the profundities of bad music and awful literature-thanks to her husband-Katherine strives to find balance in the universe and time to cook dinner. An East Coast dweller, currently located in the Philadelphia Tristate area, she is the proud servants of three cats and would take a vacation in Prague over a day at the beach any time.
Katie Salidas
Author of the Immortalis, Chronicles, and Little Werewolf Series, Las Vegas native, Katie Salidas is a Jill of all trades.  Mother to three, Wife to one, and slave to the craft of writing, she tries to do it all, often causing sleep deprivation and many nights passed out at the computer. Writing is her passion, and she hopes that her passion will bring you hours of entertainment.
Emma Shade
Emma lives in Indiana with her husband and three crazy cats. She’s currently pursuing a degree in Visual Communications with Photography. When she’s not busy writing her next novel or doing college homework, Emma enjoys spending time with family and friends, listening to music, taking naps, or curled up with a good book.
Lavinia Urban
Lavinia originally grew up in Cheshire and now lives in a small village just outside of Edinburgh with her husband and two daughters.
Writing has always been something that Lavinia have loved since an early age but it wasn't until 2010 when the idea came to her to write Erin the Fire Goddess.
Lavinia chose to name the main character and her sister after her two daughters, who inspire Lavinia to write every day.
Emily Walker
Emily Walker loves creating worlds and stumbling around in them. She is constantly losing her chap-stick, and has an obsession with the color pink. Currently a resident of the mountains and loving the view she writes mostly paranormal fiction, and horror. Her small family consists of her red bearded other half, a rat terrier named Rebel, and a little girl named Harper.
Jax Walsh
Jax loves to listen to music while closing her eyes and letting the stories unfold. This was her favourite pastime growing up in Scotland and today remains high on her list. Her father, James Walsh, introduced her to a world of fantasy and imagination with a visit to the local library, kick-starting a love affair with the written word. As an avid reader, she prefers paranormal romance, thrillers, and the horror genre; she relished in the new challenge of writing her own novella.
Pre Order Link: 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Book Review: UNLOCKED by Margo Kelly

I originally got wind of this title by receiving an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of another book, but once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. The premise immediately grabbed me, and the story kept me hooked until the very end. This is a great selection for readers who are into a bit of magical realism.

17-year-old Hannah is losing her grip on reality, which is affecting not only her but her friends and family too. She wrecked the car when bugs crawled over her hands, but were the creepy things even real? Now someone is moving Hannah’s possessions around in her room, or is she imagining that also? Why does she feel like she isn’t in control of her own brain anymore? Hannah is terrified she’s headed for a horrible life in and out of the mental institution, just like her dad.

When her friends bail, Hannah is left floundering. Her boyfriend, Manny, doesn’t believe her wild stories, and new girl Chelsea is practically replacing her at school. Only artsy outsider and self-proclaimed occult expert, Plug, agrees to help Hannah discover the truth, but even he can't help Hannah reclaim her mind from whatever is taking over. She'll have to do that on her own, especially if she wants to save her friends, her mom, and herself.

Review: I was immediately drawn to the carnival-like atmosphere with its colors, tastes, and smells. And even though the carnival was only a small part of the overall plot, the author did so well to create Hannah's sensory experiences that I was really afraid for her when things started going wrong. It wasn't always clear whether what Hannah was seeing and perceiving was actually happening, and the use of her as an unreliable narrator really made this story pop--especially when the truth was eventually revealed. I also liked how realistic this book was in its portrayal of high school friendships, especially the diverse characters--having lived in the southwest for the best part of ten years, I'm always happy to read accurate portrayals of Native Americans and people of Latin American descent. It's also a helpful book for dealing with the stigma that often comes with mental illness, and allows plenty of ways for teens to see their own experiences within the story. I was even taken back to my own senior year, when I suffered a similar fate of having to change classes, and crowds. I wouldn't only recommend this book to readers who love magical realism, but for those who are looking for a complex story with an interesting twist at the end.

To grab a copy of UNLOCKED for yourself, feel free to click the links below:

Buy: BookPassage ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Guest Post! Anna Staniszewski: Finding the Emotion in Your Story Idea

I've been fortunate enough to feature Anna Staniszewski on a variety of occasions, including here, here, and here. I'm also excited about her newest book, ONCE UPON A CRUISE.

Ainsley never wanted to spend her summer on a fairy tale cruise--especially since, instead of lounging by the pool, she's running around the ship doing favor after favor for her cruise director mom.

Things aren't all bad--it's good to see her mom acting confident again after the divorce, and she's learning a lot about obscure German fairy tales and how to fold towels into entertaining shapes for little kids (um, yay?). There's also a guy who's super cute, even in a dorky dwarf costume--if only Ainsley could get Prince Handsome to stop babbling about himself long enough for her to say more than 'hi' to the cute dwarf!

But once the cruise starts, things start to go wrong: the laundry turns pink, the kitchen runs out of food, the guy playing the Pig King is always in Ainsley's hair, and her mom expects her to be in a hundred places all at once. Is this fairy tale cruise under a wicked curse? Or can Ainsley stand up for herself and make the cruise end happily ever after?

Today, Anna offers us a guest post about finding emotion within story:

Finding the Emotion In Your Story Idea

If there’s one thing I’m never short on, it’s story ideas. So when my editor approached me with an idea for a book, I had to ask myself: Do I really need something else to work on? Then I read the premise—a girl spends the summer working with her mom on a fairy tale cruise—and it was so perfect for me that I had to say yes.

Once I dove into actually writing the book, I was in uncharted waters. Even though I loved the premise, I had to figure out how to make it my own. After some brief panicking, I decided to do what I always do when I start a new project: figure out the character’s emotional journey.

My editor had given me the basic plot—things on the cruise start to go awry and the protagonist, Ainsley, has to try to fix them—but I didn’t know why Ainsley felt the need to take on all these problems by herself. When I mulled it over, I realized it’s because she can’t say no to things, a character flaw I certainly know a little something about!

If a girl who can’t say no is stuck in the middle of the ocean with people who keep asking her for favors, she’s going to get seriously out of her depth in no time. Add the fear of disappointing her mom, and voila—we have plenty of material for an interesting emotional journey. Will Ainsley ever learn to stand up for herself? What will push her to finally say no?

Her emotional journey also gave me some insight into the romance plot that had been mentioned in my editor’s synopsis. If everyone is always asking Ainsley for favors then perhaps the love interest is the one person who doesn’t. That will show us just how good of a pair they really are and add another layer to the story.

I always knew that figuring out how a character changes emotionally from beginning to end made for a more interesting story, but I never realized how useful it could be in making someone else’s story idea your own.

So if you’re having trouble getting into a project, I’d suggest doing a little brainstorming to figure out what your character’s major character flaw is and how that character will be forced to confront it over the course of the story. Then look at how your romantic or other subplots might tie into that thread. It might be just what you need to sail off into the sunset with your new book.

Anna Staniszewski is the author of the My Very UnFairy Tale Life series, the Dirt Diary series, and the Switched at First Kiss series—all published by Sourcebooks—as well as the picture book POWER DOWN, LITTLE ROBOT. Her latest tween novel, ONCE UPON A CRUISE, was released by Scholastic in September. Anna was a Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a recipient of the PEN New England Discovery Award, and she currently teaches in the MFA Writing for Children Program at Simmons College. You can find out more about Anna and her books at

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