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Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Dare You To by Katie McGarry

dareIf anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk’s home life, they’d send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom’s freedom and her own happiness. That’s how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn’t want her and going to a school that doesn’t understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn’t get her, but does….

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can’t tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn’t be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won’t let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all….

My Review:

I should start by saying I read Pushing the Limits out of sheer curiosity. The cover art was everywhere I went online for weeks. The blurb didn’t catch me, but after seeing the cover 9 trillion times I gave in and downloaded it. I loved it. Like really loved it. I bought copies for my kids’ babysitters and started following Katie on twitter. The book seemed to stand alone, so when I heard there was a sequel, I started looking for news on it periodicly.  The cover is so hot. I shared it on twitter. Then, I found the ARC available through NetGalley and nearly wet my pants when I was approved to read it. I literally squueeeed.

I devoured this book. I loved it even more than the first one. Right? Who does that? Katie did it. She drew me in to a character I didn’t think twice about in Pushing the Limits. Beth is my new favorite character ever. Like ever. She’s a hot mess. Awful. And Katie slowly peels away the layers until the reader sees how raw she is, what life’s done to her, what her heart goes through – continually. I was broken on her behalf. I groaned when she made poor choices after having good ones available because I “got” that bad choices were what she understood. The “safe” was the frightening unknown to her. OMG. Just. Wow.

Beth’s relationship with Isaiah was turbulent, but strong. It was hard to see his heart broken because he is essentially as lost as she was when the story began. We knew he loved her in Pushing the Limits. I hope Katie is telling his story next because I want so much to see him find something real.

For someone as adrift as Beth, Katie delivered the perfect hero. (I don’t mean her uncle here, though again, OMG she nailed it with him. He was amazing. Perfect. Loved). Katie introduces Ryan, the most steadfast teen I’ve ever read. He’s confident, even when he’s not. He takes chances, stands his ground and leads. He is precisely perfect for Beth. He anchors her and we can see her closed off heart unfurling as she dares to dream of something more than she has before.

The banter is fresh and fun. The romance is hawt. The story is real. I love this. I plan to buy copies for my home and the YA readers in my life. This is a must read book for anyone who loves an amazing story. Thank you Katie. Again.

Not Your Usual Suspects

I’m excited to have my first post up on Not Your Usual Suspects blogspot. Not Your Usual Suspects is a blog where Carina Press Mystery and Romantic Suspense Authors hang out, chat, share and blog together. I’m beyond excited to be there. It makes my Carina contract feel *that* much more real, more official.

My debut cozy mystery arrives in early October. I’ve come through a ton of firsts for this book already. I’ve learned the exact release date is October 7th. I’ve worked through my editorial (read as Revision) letter. I’ve done edits and am awaiting copy edits. Last week I got my first peek at the back cover copy. Things are moving right along. It’s happening. I say it, but my brain is still all hipster cool, like whatever. Until things like today happen and my face is on the blog wall with other Carina mystery authors. Then I get all stupid happy.

I can’t wait to share the back cover copy with you and to soon get a peek at my cover. In fact, that’s kind of what I blogged about over at Not Your Usual Suspects. You all know how hooked I am on Pinterest. I use it for inspiration while I write these days. When the cover art folks emailed looking for help with nailing the cover, I did my best to answer and then I directed them HERE. To my Murder by the Seaside Inspiration Board.

You see, Hubsy? All the time I spend on Pinterest IS handy….sometimes LOL. <— Bunny trail thoughts….

Anyway :) If you’ve got another click in you today, come see my debut blog post at Not Your Usual Suspects and be super surprised when you see it’s not actually about writing or mysteries. See you there!

Ohio Author Day at Hudson Library & Historical Center

imagesYesterday, Ohio celebrated it’s authors with Ohio Author Day and I was lucky enough to participate in an event at the Hudson, Ohio Library and Historical Center. Hudson’s library is absolutely beautiful. The staff are angels. I love going there for any reason, but Author Day is fast becoming my favorite reason. They spoil us there, readers and writers alike. We had pizza and cookies and coffee galore. I think I drank a commercial vat of it all by myself. The room was packed at many times throughout the day and I met so many fascinating people.  I love to people watch and of course I tweeted live as I went.

I met an author from my hometown and told many about my local writer’s guild. My lovely new friend, Maria V. Ciletti, sat beside me and we had fun people watching. She writes romance and lives in Niles. I met an author who remembered something I said on an Ohioana author panel last May. THAT felt good. Panels matter. People remember you. Who knew! Also….super glad I didn’t say something super stupid, or at least am thankful she forgot that part. I met an author who works with PBS on various shows. We talked about how strongly I feel on the topic of girl power.

I spoke with a number of highly interesting people, but really, what else is expected at a book fair? Readers and writers are the face of IMG_20130420_124856_189diversity, both in the physical and intrinsic senses. There were books there I’m dying to read like Guido Love. I laughed my head off at that. And Eat Your Way Across Ohio….yeah, that sounds right up this girl’s alley. For sure. I had the chance to thank Kathy again for all the work she does on this event each year and donate a copy of my March release to the library as well as tell them a bit about my YA suspense coming in September. Next year I’ll be in the children’s section!

Speaking of the children’s section….There was guy who sat in the empty author chair beside me IMG_20130420_143112_724about half way through the event. He had a bit of a grump face (really super) and he told me, while shaking his head, “The entrance to the children’s area smells like marijuana.” I suppressed the first thing that came to mind: Excuse me. I need to get to the children’s section. Later, I wondered if perhaps he should take a trip back there. He asked if I read crime fiction because he wanted to bounce an idea off me. I told him, I write cozy mysteries and he scoffed. I smiled. When I finally asked him what his book was about — since he’d yet to produce a book for his table beside me. He said: “No. I’m not one of you people. I just sat here for a minute.” To this I nodded, then tweeted and am still kind of cracking up. I wish I’d have gotten his name. He was a little like Grumpy Cat in a blazer.

IMG_20130420_141042_654I said all this to say…writers/authors, get involved. These things are great resources for writers and authors. They connect you with readers, local media, other authors you may be able to joint promo with at local events, book retailers, you name it. If you are bookish, make a point in finding others like you. You won’t regret it.

Review: The Rules (Project Paper Doll) by Stacey Kade

The Rules (Project Paper Doll) by Stacey Kade

51zWDsh7gjL._SY300_1. Never trust anyone.

2. Remember they are always searching.

3. Don’t get involved.

4. Keep your head down.

5. Don’t fall in love.

Five simple rules. Ariane Tucker has followed them since the night she escaped from the genetics lab where she was created, the result of combining human and extraterrestrial DNA. Ariane’s survival–and that of her adoptive father–depends on her ability to blend in among the full-blooded humans, to hide in plain sight from those who seek to recover their lost (and expensive) “project.”

But when a cruel prank at school goes awry, it puts her in the path of Zane Bradshaw, the police chief’s son and someone who sees too much. Someone who really sees her. After years of trying to be invisible, Ariane finds the attention frightening–and utterly intoxicating. Suddenly, nothing is simple anymore, especially not the rules.

I received this book as an ARC through NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion. Huge THANK YOU to both. The Rules was amazing. I have to admit it, I’m a sucker for a good alien on Earth story. It dates back to my Clark Kent obsession and that hunk from Smallville, what can I say? I’ve even tried my hand at writing a story like this. To say I’m a fan is such a disgraceful understatement of my love. I will move on.

So, I got on the treadmill and opened the Kindle file. I’m always looking for some way to help pass the time on there. An hour later, the program ended and I was confused. Had I started jogging yet? Was the treadmill broken? The hour had flown by. Zip! Gone. And I found a way to keep my motivation for exercise!  I was only 15% in and I needed more. Everyday last week I rushed through my responsibilities so I could get to the treadmill and this BOOK. I was swept away in the espionage of it all. Ariane is so lovable in an awkward way, semi-earthly way. She tries so hard and is so intrinsically good, despite everything, it was impossible not to root for her, even when she got a little rough *cough* ***avoids spoilers*

Next.I adored the budding romance between Ariane and Zane. I love that Spade skipped the overdone plot line of starting a romance off as a joke/bet etc and they fall in love for real then girl finds the truth and is heart broken….nope. None of that with this author. This was a straight forward, what-you-get kind of story and I loved the hero all the more for it. Go Zane! These two were meant for each other and they fought for what they believed in. Which made me so very happy! The Rules was entertaining, heart tugging and sometimes a nail biter. I highly recommend this read to YA readers and alien lovers, conspiracy theorists, government distrusters and Area 51 believers. It was great. I am only sorry to say I have no more motivation to get on the treadmill now….unless I read it again!

Review: The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston

The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston

RulesforShe’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.

Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do—or see—that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all of the Suits’ rules—and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself.

But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters—survival.

Review:

I received this as a digital ARC from NetGalley. I admit, I had ulterior motives for choosing this title, or requesting it. I am a hopeless YA addict, but I also write YA and guess what? I have a release coming this fall from Merit Press titled Deceived. I wrote Deceived four years ago and revised it numerous times before meeting the brilliant and beautiful, Jackie Mitchard, who against the odds connected with my revised-revision-reworked-work. I say all this to tell you,my story Deceived is about a young woman in *similar*. So, being fully aware of the whole writer-mind phenomenon, I panicked! Oh no! Her book comes 5 months before mine! I’m going to look like a hack! *insert total freak out here*.  Turns out the similarity I picked up on in the blurb is the only thing they have in common. Mental crisis averted. New crisis ensued: Her book is amazing! OMG I totally suck!

But I’m so glad I read this book!

I fell in love with Elston’s writing style in the opening paragraph. I loved her portayal of a teen in the worst situation ever. Like EVER. She explored raw emotion and touchy subjects with grace, humor and beautiful words. I drifted into her well developed world and floated there for hours on end. I’ve never been to the locations in this book, but I felt immersed. Like I could see everything she described, smell the seafood and salty night air — until my RL called me back and I realized the sun went down while I was at Pearl’s enjoying pizza. Elston’s story is intense every page of the way. She kept me guessing until the end. And since I mentioned the end…I have major questions about that too! I won’t give her away, but I seriously hope there’s a sequel or some other materials coming that will explain a thing that now keeps me up at night wondering. Do you hear me Ashely? I neeeeed to know! *whispers* Call me. *stage wink*

The family dynamic was brutally complicated and heart-wrenchingly real. The high school was argh as high school’s always are. Friendships were tested.  And the romance was completely wonderful. I think I fell in love with this boy a little myself. I won’t rehash the story because the blurb does a wonderful job and I fear I’d give something away. All you need to know, YA lovers, is this needs to be on your TBR list ASAP. It’s fabulous. Wrapped in fun. Iced with WTH!? I may never stop checking my rear view mirror. I’m just saying. Thank you Ashley Elston for an amazing escape, Netgalley and Hyperion for this amazing sneak peek!

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