Spells & Sorcery: Book Review + Giveaway (Blog tour)



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I am so happy to be today’s host for Spells & Sorcery Blog Tour.
This ya fantasy was pretty quick read for me and I want to say thank you to Giselle from Xpresso Tours for giving me this opportunity.

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Spells and Sorcery
S. Usher Evans
(Lexie Carrigan Chronicles, #1)
Publication date: October 4th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

You have magic.

One sentence, three words, four syllables. Enough to change my life forever. And I’m not talking about the whole spells and sorcery thing.

Lexie Carrigan thought the weirdest thing about her was she preferred watching documentaries and reading the newspaper to reality TV and Twitter. But on the eve of her fifteenth birthday, her aunt and sisters drop a bomb–she’s magical.

Now the girl who never made waves is blowing up her nightstand and trying to keep from wreaking havoc on her school. When a kind stranger shows up with all the answers, Lexie hopes he’ll be able to help her control her newfound powers. But Gavon may not be as kind as he seems, and soon Lexie finds out that being magical is the least weird thing about her.

Spells and Sorcery is the first YA fantasy from S. Usher Evans, author of the Razia series, the Madion War Trilogy and Empath.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

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Author Bio:

S. Usher Evans is an author, blogger, and witty banter aficionado. Born in Pensacola, Florida, she left the sleepy town behind for the fast-paced world of Washington, D.C.. There, she somehow landed jobs with BBC, Discovery Channel, and National Geographic Television before finally settling into a “real job” as an IT consultant. After a quarter life crisis at age 27, she decided consulting was for the birds and rekindled a childhood passion for writing novels. She sold everything she owned and moved back to Pensacola, where she currently resides with her two dogs, Zoe and Mr. Biscuit.

Evans is the author of the Razia series, Madion War Trilogy, and Empath, published by Sun’s Golden Ray Publishing.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

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My Review:

It has been awhile since I read ya fantasy, but when I saw the cover for Spells and Sorcery and read it’s synopsis, I knew I wanted to give it a try.

The story follows Lexie who, on her 15th birthday, finds out she has magical powers.
She and her sisters are witches. They lost their parents so their aunt (who is also a witch) took them under her roof.

I went into this book without high expectations, but with a lot of adrenaline (not literary, but you know what I mean).
I was on, ready to love it to bits and to finish it as fast as I could.

First thing didn’t happened, but the second one did!

I read this book in a record time – just one day!
Who’d say I could read 386 pages in just one day?
I certenly wouldn’t!

What I’m trying to tell you here is that the writing style is pretty easy to read and it makes you turn those pages even if the story is not too original nor interesting enough.

I came to conclusion that Evans has put so much energy into describing this world and how the magic system works, that in a way she forgot to make interesting side stories that would keep this book compelling.

There was no secondary stories then the main one. All that this book was about was Lexie finding out about magic and doing researches about this new system. It was like she had no life before her 15th birthday.

What bothered me the most was how she was always alone, without any friends to mention, while she was still going to public school she went to prior her birthday that changed her life.
There are only two people that are mentioned briefly: Joel and Callista, and Lexie didn’t even have a normal conversation with them through the whole story.
If she was a loner, bullied, rebel or someone no one wanted to talk to, I would understand, but in this case it felt like an author simply forgot to create a decent teenage life for her character.

Let me ask you this: do you think Harry Potter books (and I appologize to compare this book with HP because they are not similar at all, the only thing in common they have is magic) would be so good if Harry didn’t have Ron and Hermione by his side? If he was an outcast without friends, do you think people around the world would enjoy reading those books so much? I don’t think so, because friendship has a big part in those stories.

Here, there was a great potential to make Spells and Sorcery so much more interesting.
If Lexie had a friend by her side when exploring this new world and her abilities within it, this book would be so much more fascinating.

It surely wouldn’t feel like reading a magic encyclopedia as it felt at some points.

Another thing I didn’t like was how Lexie’s sisters left her all alone in this new situation she found herself in.
They were not helping her at all, and I can imagine that if they knew Lexie will get her powers at age of 15, they should have prepared her for it years ago.

That leads me to my third complain (or have I lost my count?): If her sister pepared her for what was coming, Lexie wouldn’t have to take instructions from some strange middle aged man who just showed up out of nowhere.

That was too weird (and I could see from the biginning who he really was because that was the only thing that was logical to me).
What was even weirder was how Lexie didn’t have the need to tell anyone about Gavon (that is his name) or how all she wanted to do was spend time with him (and now I’ll probably sound sick to some of you, especially if you read the book and know his story, but she wasn’t even attracted to him).

The last 5 chapters were the best in the story.
Everything before that felt like a slow overtire, and then, in the last 5 chapters, the real story began.

Overall, this was a quick story to pass time, and will probably appeal to younger audence.

3

 

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Giveaway (INTL):

Tour-wide giveaway (INTL)
  • Paperback copy of Spells and Sorcery + swag
  • ends November 3rd

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Serenity by India R. Adams: Excerpt + Giveaway (Blog Tour)



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I am so happy to be today’s stop for Serenity blog tour. This book is perfect for ya paranormal fans and I want to thank Giselle from Xpresso Book Tours for giving me this opportuinty.
Today, you can read an excerpt from the book and decide whether you think this could be something you’d enjoy.

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Serenity
India R. Adams
(Forever, #1)
Publication date: July 26th 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

To say I know where this story begins is to say I remember what lifetime started it all…and why. What I do know is this lifetime is hard and cruel…maybe like the rest. That is until I meet him–the light that shines and guides me. To where I don’t know but my soul chooses to follow regardless. I believe it has done this before. I believe I will follow him…forever.

A destructive home life silently tears Serenity, a 16 year old girl, apart until her broken spirit is given a gift in the form of an old journal that sends her a visitor in the night.

Away from the sun I close my eyes
and release myself into the unknown
I hope she is there
I hope she is there…

The cloaked woman teaches Serenity that the lingering feeling of missing a part of her soul, may not be a figment of her imagination and with these words Serenity’s journey, of this lifetime, begins.

The toll on my spirit had slowly broken me down—day by day, night by night, drink by drink, hit by hit—to the limp, fragile, lost girl that Dereck Hamilton . . . carried away.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iBooks

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Excerpt:

Josh has Jolene wrapped in his arms, leaning against his old-timey blue Ford pickup truck, the only thing his dad left when he bailed years ago. Josh’s deep-set brown eagle eyes are already watching over Sky and me. Jolene is approximately five feet eight, so the top of her head fits just under his chin when they hold each other like this. I melt when watching them show affection. Their energies blend, making violet waves shine for me. I instantly want to intermix with their love because I know firsthand how healing it is.

            Even if I’m weren’t able to read auras, the sun shining off Josh and Jolene would show how they’ve both fallen out of the Gorgeous Tree and hit every Stunning Branch on the way down. He has short, light-brown hair and a brooding, serious face. Jolene has similar-colored hair except it’s much longer and has golden tints throughout. The Wise Ones, together, are perfection. They may be financially poor, but they’re rich in many different ways. They also have this uncanny parental instinct when it comes to Skyler and me. Josh and Jolene watch over us as if they aren’t high school seniors, and we trust them implicitly because Jolene says to always follow my instincts.

            Jolene glances over her shoulder with her model-like brown eyes when she hears Sky’s car slam on the brakes. Sky’s driving is horrendous and a danger to all other vehicles on the road. Exhibit A: she just forgot to put her car in park before opening her door.

            As the car begins to roll, Josh yells, “Sky. Park.”

I jolt as Skyler slams on the brakes—again—doing as she’s told. She yells past me and out my open window, “Well! What the hell do you expect? You’ve got me all riled up! A damn bundle of nerves with your damn last-minute plan changing.”

He leans his head back and laughs. “That girl kills me!”

As we get out of the car, Jolene lets go of Josh and proudly coos, “There’s my baby girls.”

I know she says this every day, but hearing her speak of us so endearingly warms my heart. Maybe it’s also the fact that they let each other go to make room for Sky and me. And I’m in need of their attention, because I suspect Josh of being a troublemaker.

His smirk confirms our suspicions. “I can see your pout from here. Stop it.”

I mumble, “Says the pot stirrer.”

            Jolene and Josh take hold of our shoulders that sometimes hold more weight than Sky and I can bear, and then they embrace us. Skyler’s face buries into Josh’s strong chest, unknowingly soaking up his violet rays as if starving. “You lecture us on our grades then ask us to skip school?” With her arms around his waist, she peers up. She has to. He’s six feet two. “What gives, o mighty one?”

His hugs never have hidden agendas, and his kisses are from the best, most overprotective big brother in the whole world.

His deep inhale informs me it’s worse than I thought. “Now, don’t freak out.”

“Oh. My. God.”

“Sky! I just said don’t freak.”

“Is it cancer? How much longer do we have you?”

“What? I’m not dying, Skyler. You’re always going straight to the worst scenario.”

She smirks. “The worst scenario would be Jolene having cancer.”

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Author Bio:

India R Adams is an author/singer/songwriter who has written YA and NA novels such as Blue Waters (A Tainted Waters Novella), My Wolf and Me, Steal Me (A Haunted Roads Novel), Rain (A Stranger in the Woods Novel), Serenity (A Forever Series Novel) and also The Forever Series music.

India was born and raised in Florida but has also been so lucky as to live in Idaho (where she froze but fell in love with the small town life), Austin Texas (where she started her first book, Serenity, and met wonderful artist), and now Murphy, North Carolina (where the mountains have stolen a piece of her heart).

Being a survivor of abuse, has inspired India to let others know they have nothing to be ashamed of. She put her many years of professional theater background to the test and has written fictional stories with a shadow of her personal experiences. She says, “I’m simply finding ways to empower perfect imperfections.”

Another cause India feels needs change, is Sexual Slavery. She has joined forces with jewelers to design beautiful ways to raise money for non-profit organizations. Even though India writes about serious subjects such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, and Human Trafficking, she has a magnificent sense of humor, as do the characters she creates. Perfectly balanced between laughter and tears, her readers see how to empower their own perfect imperfections.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

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Giveaway (INTL):

You can win:

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  • Organic soap and body oil (1 Bar and 1 oil. Scent: lavender and Patchouli) + paperback copy of Rain.
  • ends August 25th

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The Moment She Left: Book Review + Giveaway (Blog Tour)

the moment she left

I am so happy to paticipate in The Moment She Left blog tour.
I really enjoyed reading this novel and I would like to thank Louise Page for giving me this opportunity.

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My Review:

„How easily loved ones could become strangers, how disturbing when strangers were those you loved.“

The Moment She Left centres around Jessica‘s dissapearance. Two years ago, a young girl should have come home from London, where she studied. She spoke to her brother on the phone, told him she was on her way to the train station, but she nev er showed up.
Today, there is still no clue where Jessica is or is she alive.

Going into the story, taught by my previous experience with Susan Lewis’ books, I knew this novel will be character rich.
The story follows more then few characters, with significant difference in their age and all of them were pretty good developed.
Once again, I had a feeling that the writer knows the soul of her characters and if you asked her any irrelevant question about any of her characters, she would give you the answer immediately.

Even though this is a crime fiction because the main theme is the dissapearance of a young girl, this could also be read as a family prose or just general fiction, because, in my opinon, it has even more elements that are specific to that genres.
This story talks not just about resolving a mystery or a problem, but it also covers some life important topics (like dealing with illnes that can not be cured or going through the divorce).

All of the characters and all of their stories intertwine and together they make a whole circle.

It took me more then few days to finish this book, but I don’t mind.
I find Susan Lewis’ writing style the one I like to take my time with, so I really get the best from the story.

I can’t say that this story kept me on the edge of my seat, but I can say that, while not reading, I caught myself more then couple of times thinking about it and trying to resolve the mystery myself.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t good at guessing.
The reason I say unfortunately is not because I wasn’t satisfied with the end, because I was.
It was because in my version the end was happier for some characters.

In the very end, all of the questions were answered and I was very pleased with that.
There is only one answer we probably never will get, but  I don’t mind because some questions never get their answers. That is the reality.

4

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Giveaway (UK Only)

the girl

Penguin Random House UK was kind enough to offer Susan Lewis’ previous book The Girl Who Came Back for the giveaway. This book recently came out in paperback edition and you can win yourself a copy here.

If you want, you can read my review for The Girl Who Came Back here.

This giveaway is UK only!!

 

Enter here:

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The Name I Call Myself: Book Review (Blog Tour)

the name I call

Today is the last day of The Name I Call Myself book blog tour and I am honoured to be today’s host.
I would like to thank Rhoda Hardie for giving me this opportunity.

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About the book:

All Faith Harp wants is a quiet life–to take care of her troubled brother, Sam, earn enough money to stop the poverty wolves snapping at her heels, and to keep her past buried as deep as possible. And after years of upheaval, she might have just about managed it: Sam’s latest treatment seems to actually be working, Faith is holding down a job, and she’s engaged to the gorgeous and successful Perry. But, for Faith, things never seem to stay simple for long. Her domineering mother-in-law-to-be is planning a nightmare wedding, including the wedding dress from hell. And the man who killed her mother is released from prison, sending her brother tumbling back into mental illness.

When secretly planning the wedding she really wants, Faith stumbles across a church choir that challenges far more than her ability to hold a tune. She ends up joining the choir, led by the fierce choir-mistress Hester, who is determined to do whatever it takes to turn the group of ragtag women into something spectacular. She also meets Dylan, the church’s vicar, who is different than any man she has ever met before . . .

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My Review:

Don’t let the cover of The Name I Call Myself fool you. It screams qirky and funny chick lit in all it’s glory.
And yes, it was quirky, it was fun at times and you could say it is a chick lit (even though it is a true piece of women’s fiction in my opinion), but it is also so much more.

The story follows Faith, 25 years old girl who is engaged to Perry, who’s family come from the old money.
Faith has some trouble preparing for the wedding as her mother-in-law likes to have everything under control, from Faith’s wedding dress to wedding invitations, every possible aspect of Faith’s big day.
While trying to arrange what church the wedding should be in, Faith and her best friend Marilyn stumble upon a choir and decide to join.
What hurt can some choir practice bring, right? Especially where there’s a cute church vicar involved…
But Faith also has so much more on her plate. The life she lived before, her unreliable brother she’s taking care of and some ghosts from her past will shake her everyday life and make her question her decisions in a search for herself.

This book took me by surprise. I enjoyed reading it as much as I expected, but what I didn’t expect was the seriousness that the story took.
At first, it started as a typical chick lit, with a clumsy protagonist and humoristic scenes that even made me roll my eyes.
But as the story progressed, it took another turn and it became more serious, covering some pretty important issues like addiction, violence and abuse.

Characters we met in this novel had more dimensions and I liked how they seemed real.
Faith was a great protagonist. The writer made her relatableand at some points, even though I didn’t agree with her, I saw where she was coming from.

I only wish we got to see more scenes with Perry. In that case, we’d got a chance to meet him better so he wouldn’t be so mysterious. I can’t even tell if his absence came as a planned part of the story or if his character was just neglected in the process of writing.
Whatever it is, I think it would be better if there was more of him.

The writing style was really good. From pacing to describing, everything is well managed and the book reads pretty quickly.

This was my first time reading the work of Beth Moran.
I am glad I had a chance to read The Name I Call Myself because now I’d like to try Moran’s other work.

If you are a women’s fiction lover, I highly recommend you to put The Name I call Myself on your to-be-read list.
In my opinion, it is worth giving a try.

4

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About the author:

Beth Moran has a background as a research scientist and adult educator. She now concentrates on church work and is part of the national leadership team of the UK women’s network Free Range Chicks. She is married with three children and lives in Nottingham, England.

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Visit other blogs that were part of this tour:

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A Summer of Secrets by Alice Ross: Book Review (Blog Tour)

summer of secrets for JENNY

 

I am so happy to be today’s host for A Summer of Secrets blog tour. I enjoyed reading this story and would like to thank Jenny from Nevrland Blog Tours for giving me this opportunity.

A Summer of Secrets

A perfect, feel-good summer read about love, life and family.
One long hot summer. Secrets never stay buried for long…

Portia is determined to restore Buttersley Manor, her family’s crumbling ancestral home, to its former glory. Yet she has a feeling that there are a few forgotten skeletons in the dust-covered cupboards.

Jenny has put her life on hold for far too long. It’s time to finally start living and to dig up those hopes and dreams she’s kept hidden all these years – but is she brave enough?

Rich is happily married with a beautiful wife and lovely daughter. In fact, his world is perfect until a very unexpected consequence of his past walks through the door…

Joe would like nothing more than to travel back in time to when he and Gina were happy. But is it too late to rescue what they once had?

One thing’s for sure, nothing’s ever quite what it seems when it comes to life in the country!

Goodreads * Amazon

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Review:

Four characters, four stories, one village, one short book. That all equals one enjoyable summer read.
And as a cherry on top, it has a cute cover with bright colors that makes you feel good just when you look at it.

A Summer of Secrets follows four different characters: Portia, Jenny, Rich and Joe who’s lives intertwine as they live in the same place, a little village called Buttersley.

From all the stories in the book, I think Joe’s one was the most interesting one. However, not one of them grabbed my attention from the very start and after I finished the whole book, I can’t say I was touched by either of them.

However, I think this is still a very good read and would likely recommend it for days when you want to read something light that will bright up your day and make you forget the world around you.

The writing style was simple and easily readable. It does not have any memorable quotes just like the whole book does not have any memorable situations, but when you take everything in and out, the final product is still very good.

This is second book in the series but can easily be read as standalone.
In fact, you don’t have to read the first book in order to read this one because it follows totally different cast.

It is written in third person.

Now, after everythig I wrote so far, you probably think I wasn’t emotionally engaged when it comes to this novel, but that is not true.
In fact, at some scenes  I even wanted to transform myself into Buttersley and shake some characters, and the lawyer in me wanted to give Joe and Rich some legal advices.
I felt sorry over Jenny and it kind of broke my heart to see how she gave up her life in order to make her mother happy and how she couldn’t find the strenght in herself to rebel.

All in all, I am pretty satisfied with this book. Yes, it does have some flaws that could easily be solved with editing, and yes, it will probably vanish from my mind few months from now, but it still kept me entertained and made me feel better.

The end was okay, but I think Rich’s and Joe’s stories could have been more developed.

If there will be the next book in the series I believe it will follow some other characters which is good but ashame at the same time, because I feel like Rich, Joe, Jenny and Portia have more stories to tell and it would be interesting to read where their lives would bring them.

3

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About the author:

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Alice Ross used to work in the financial services industry where she wrote riveting, enthralling brochures about pensions and ISAs that everyone read avidly and no one ever put straight into the bin.

One day, when nobody was looking, she managed to escape. Dragging her personal chef (aka her husband) along with her, she headed to Spain, where she began writing witty, sexy, romps designed to amuse slightly more than pension brochures.

Missing Blighty (including the weather – but don’t tell anyone), she returned five years later and now works part-time in the tourism industry.

When not writing, she can be found scratching out a tune on her violin, walking her dog in wellies two sizes too big (don’t ask!), or standing on her head in a yoga pose.

Twitter * Website

Guest Post + Giveaway: Love Charms and Other Catastrophes (Blog Tour)

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I am happy to be today’s stop on Love Carms and other Catastrophes blog tour.

Today I am bringing you a guest post in which lovely Kimberly is sharing a recipe for the perfect guy, and a giveaway where you can win yourself a copy of the book.

I want to say thanks to Giselle from Xpresso Tours for giving me this opportunity.

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Love Charms and Other Catastrophes by Kimberly Karalius
(Grimbaud #2)
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: May 17th 2016love charms
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Synopsis:

Aspiring love charm maker Hijiri Kitamura was excited to come back to Grimbaud for her sophomore year-until she learns about the upcoming charm making competition. Grimbaud has just started to recover from the tyranny of Zita’s love fortunes and it would be too easy for the winning charm maker to take Zita’s place. The only solution is for Hijiri, with the support of her friends and fellow rebels, to win the contest herself.

Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done, especially when Love itself has decided to meddle in Hijiri’s life. Concerned that it’s favorite charm maker has given up on finding a boyfriend of her own, Love takes matters into its own hands and delivers the perfect boyfriend to her in a giftwrapped box…literally.

Get ready to be charmed by this magical, quirky sequel to Love Fortunes and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius.

Goodreads * Amazon * B&N * iTunes * Kobo

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Guest Post

A Grimbaudian Recipe for the Perfect Guy

 

Disclaimer: Don’t try this recipe unless you’re in Grimbaud. Otherwise, you could find yourself stuck with questionably edible cake batter that may scare your neighbors.

 

Ingredients:

 

2 packages of the cake mix of your choice, according to your sweetness preference (EX: yellow cake produces friendly boy-next-doors while gingerbread cake results in boys with sass)

2 marbles for eyes

1 elephant ear cookie for ears

1 boy-shaped cooking mold, according to body preference

Hair – preferably real hair – for your boyfriend, according to how much you want on his head and facial hair, if any

1 stand-in heart. Can be any object like a pocket watch or tissue box, but choose carefully. Your boyfriend may take on some traits from your stand-in heart

12 eggs

8 teaspoons of vegetable oil

4 cups sugar

12 cups all-purpose flour

6 teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons salt

4 cups milk

4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups butter (softened)

 

Directions:

 

In a large bowl, cream the softened butter and sugar, slowly beating the eggs in one at a time. Add vanilla extract, baking powder, salt, milk, vegetable oil, cake mix, and the flour until the batter is thick and well-mixed. Then pour the batter into the boy-shaped cooking mold.

 

Now the real work begins. Take your marbles and put them where your perfect guy’s eyes should be. Remember to only sink them halfway in, so that the marbles are carefully embedded, but not submerged in the batter. Using your hands or tools, sculpt his nose and mouth. The nose can be tricky; consider using a non-edible option like a silicone or clay nose. If this is your first time, you may want to stick with a simple smile for the mouth. If you sculpt a smirk, your perfect guy will smirk a lot. Then, cut the elephant ear cookie in half, essentially creating two ears, and place them correctly on the sides of the head. In the same manner, give your perfect guy a head of hair and maybe a moustache. Use tweezers if your hands tend to shake.

 

Lastly, completely submerge the stand-in heart so that it can’t be seen. Consult a diagram if you’re not sure where the heart should go.

 

Carry the boy-shaped mold to your backyard or a quiet spot outdoors. Make sure you place the mold so that it has direct contact with the sun. Then sit cross-legged on the ground and have a thrilling one-sided conversation with Love. Tell Love why you chose the ingredients you did, what you hope your perfect guy will be like, and anything else you feel it needs to know. Then leave the mold outside overnight. Check the next morning to make sure the mold is empty.

 

Expected results may vary. Your perfect guy may pop up in unlikely places or literally ring your doorbell to introduce himself. If you smell something like cake in the air, you’ll know he’s close by. Have faith and confidence in the hard work and well-wishes you put into him. Love never fails!

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Giveaway (US and Can only)

  • A print copy of Love Charms and Other Catastrophes
  • Giveaway ends May 19th

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spoiler vrpcaAbout the author:

Kimberly KIMBERLY KARALIUS holds an MFA in fiction from the University of South Florida, and has been sharing stories on Figment.com with a strong following of enthusiastic readers since the site’s conception. Although Kimberly lives in sunny Florida, she prefers to stay indoors and sometimes buys a scarf in the hopes of snow. She loves watching really old cartoons and silent films. Being in Florida certainly has one big perk: going to Disney World. Which she does. Frequently. Love Fortunes and Other Disasters is her debut novel.

 

Web site * Goodreads * Facebook *  Twitter

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Excerpt + Giveaway: Surviving High School by Lele Pons and Melissa de la Cruz (Blog Tour)

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I am happy to be today’s stop on Surviving High Schoole blog tour.

Today I am bringing you an excerpt of the book and a giveaway where you can win yourself a copy of the book.

I want to say thanks to Giselle from Xpresso Tours for giving me this opportunity.

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Surviving High School
by Lele Pons & Melissa de la Cruz
Published by: Gallery Books
Publication date: April 5th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Synopsis:

Vine superstar Lele Pons—“one of the coolest girls on the web” (Teen Vogue)—teams up with #1 New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz (The Isle of the Lost) in this lovable debut novel about the wilds and wonders of high school that’s as laugh-out-loud addictive as Lele’s popular videos.SHS

Ten million followers and I still sit alone at lunch. Lele is a bulls-eye target at her new school in Miami
until, overnight, her digital fame catapults the girl with cheerleader looks, a seriously silly personality, and a self-deprecating funny bone into the popular crowd. Now she’s facing a whole new set of challenges—the rel
entless drama, the ruthless cliques, the unexpected internet celebrity—all while trying to keep her grades up and make her parents proud.

Filled with the zany enthusiasm that has made Lele into Vine’s most viewed star, this charming novel is proof that high school is a trip. From crushing your crushes (what’s up with that hot transfer student Alexei??) to throwing Insta-fake parties with your BFFs and moaning over homework (GAH) with your frenemies, high school is a rollercoaster of exhilarating highs and totally embarrassing lows. Leave it to Lele to reassure us that falling flat on your face is definitely not the end of the world. Fans of Mean Girls will love this fun and heartwarming fish-out-of-water story.

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Excerpt:

2

The Advantages of Being a Boy

(2,000 Followers)

Allow me to back up. What is this Vine, you might ask? Well, maybe no one would ask that. But the truth of the matter is, I once did have to ask that. Not only did I used to be “uncool” but I also used to be a social media virgin, long past the time it was normal. Meaning, it was 2011 and I still didn’t have Facebook. Or a phone. At my core I was not a city girl. Sometimes I felt like I wasn’t even a Planet Earth girl. Sometimes I still do feel that way, actually. But back to social media: it never made sense to me. It just didn’t seem appealing to collect fake friends like Pokémon cards and listen to everyone brag about the cool things they did over the weekend.

I mean, am I crazy or might there be more to life than that?

Anyway, when Lucy, a BFF from St. Anne’s, showed me her Vine account, I felt an instant connection. It was the first social media platform I had ever encountered that seemed to be about genuine self-expression versus only the blind desperation for social valida- tion. But I mean, it was more than that.

Vine wasn’t just a way to express myself, it was the outlet I had been waiting for my whole life. For as long as I can remember, whenever I struggled with words, I used images to tell a story. I used physical communication. When I discovered Vine, I found the medium through which I would finally be able to communicate fully with the world around me, to share my thoughts and concerns with anyone who might want to listen. I finally had a voice, and I was hooked.

I wasn’t looking to gain a following. Really, I wasn’t! But the girls at St. Anne’s thought my videos were funny and were really support- ive about it right away. I quickly became “Vine famous” within my tiny private school, which means basically I went to school with one thousand kids and all of them followed me! People ask me how this happened, and I want to be clear that it was really never anything fancy at all: people want honesty, and I was not afraid to give it to them. It’s as simple as that.

Cut back to: I’m at Miami High and nobody knows who I am— nobody appreciates my humor and honesty and uniqueness, because I’ve been quickly dismissed as a freak. Would I be so ostracized, so quickly judged, if I were a boy instead?

Don’t get me wrong, I like being a girl. I like my long, thick blond hair and wearing a glamorous dress for a fabulous occasion. But being a girl comes with a price. Well, lots of prices. Being a girl means having to put energy into your looks, having to wear a bra (so uncomfortable), having to pee sitting down (so inconvenient), and ultimately, it means one day having to push a bowling-ball-sized human out of you and call it the miracle of life—if that’s your thing. Miracle shmiracle, that sounds like a straight-up nightmare.

For me, on morning number two as a Miami High outcast, being a girl means having to wake up three hours early to get my look on fleek. In case you don’t speak my language, “on fleek” means “on point.” And “on point” means, like . . . fabulous. So anyway, I set my alarm for five in the morning (brutal!) but I manage to hit snooze a couple hundred times and end up sleeping until about seven thirty, which means I only have thirty minutes to get on fleek and get to school. If you know anything about being on fleek you know that thirty minutes will not do the trick. Or the fleek. Heh.

I slip into my jeans and navy-blue polo shirt hoping to glide through the day unnoticed. A simple pair of white Converse, I figure, are sure to keep me under the radar. Getting dressed goes smoothly enough, but here’s where I run into trouble, here’s where the day first goes off the rails (7:45 a.m. is as good a time as any for the madness to begin): it’s my hair. Oh God, my hair. My hair is long, long, long, long. If it were any longer I would be Rapunzel, I swear. And sure, long blond hair sounds nice, it might even sound enviable, but I am telling you, it is the hair from hell. No matter what I do, I wake up with it in complete disarray, knots and tangles and kinks and frizz. It’s a daily battle, a struggle of good versus evil, me in the bathroom using a comb to wrestle my hair like a dragon (do dragons wrestle? I don’t know). As soon as I get my thousands of hair strands untangled and smoothed out, a bunch of them start popping up again, refusing to stay in place, rejecting the status quo of hair, rebelling against their oppressor, going against the grain like a bunch of whiny hippies. Sometimes I think I should just shave it all off.

Boys don’t have this problem. Boys run one hand through their hair and they’re good to go. That’s why they’re the enemy. Their life is way too easy.

Downstairs Mom and Dad have made me my favorite breakfast: Eggo waffles and Vermont natural maple syrup. Okay, so it sounds basic, but I don’t even care, there’s really nothing better. I know I complain about my parents, but the truth is they’re not the worst. How bad could they be, when they’ve been consistently making me Eggo waffles every morning since I was five? Legend has it, when we first moved from Venezuela I was so homesick that all that could cheer me up were these frozen waffles, so it became a daily morn- ing tradition. Okay, so it’s not the most interesting legend in the world, but it’s mine, so leave me alone.

“You look different today, sweetheart,” Dad says as I sit down and take a bite of my syrup-drenched Eggo.

“I’m not dressed like a pirate today,” I say, mouth half full.
“Oh, maybe that’s it.”
“You look lovely,” Mom says, filling my glass with orange juice.
“I liked your outfit yesterday,” Dad interjects rather uselessly. “It

was creative. Unique. I hope you’re not going to let this new school squash your individuality.”

“Well, if it does squash my individuality it will be your fault, as you are the one who sent me there.”

They give each other the famous look that says, “Well, that’s our Lele,” and that is the end of that.

A miracle in first-period English: Mr. Contreras presents us with Alexei Kuyper, transfer student. There’s really only one way to say this: Alexei is hot. Blue eyes, blond hair pushed playfully off his brilliant forehead, abs loosely defined behind his white T-shirt. He’s James Dean for the modern schoolgirl. A dream. Mr. Contreras asks him to tell us about himself, just like I had to on the first day, and he does so effortlessly, unlike me, who, um, just stood there turning red.

“Hi, I’m Alexei, I just moved with my family to Florida.”
“Where are you from, Alexei?” someone asks eagerly.
“I’m from Belgium. We moved a few weeks ago. I’m happy to be

here. Any other questions?” The class laughs with him, he’s won them over. Lucky bastard. His smile is winning. Swoon!

“Lele is also new,” Mr. Contreras says, and my ears get instantly hot. “You can sit next to her. Lele, raise your hand please for Mr. Kuyper.” I raise my hand, certain I look like an outright baboon, and gorgeous Alexei finds me right away. He must be super smart.

“Hey,” I say, “nice to meet you.” “You too.”

“Are the waffles really good?” I ask.
“What?” He doesn’t get it. Oh God, oh God.
“In Belgium. You know, Belgian waffles? Aren’t the waffles sup-

posed to be really good there? I’m really into waffles.” I’m really into waffles? Oh, Lele.

“Yeah, actually”—he laughs, flashes that winning grin—“they’re supposed to be the best, but I don’t really get waffles, to be honest. I’m more of a pancake guy.”

“You don’t get waffles? Are you psycho?”
“Are YOU psycho?”
“A little.”
“Me too,” he says, and then you’ll never guess what happened:

HE WINKED AT ME! We both smile and my heart feels like it’s going to jump out through my throat.

Leaving class, I trip over a backpack and crash straight into him, bumping my lip on his shoulder. His T-shirt gets caught in my braces and untangling it becomes this whole thing. So much for that romantic and flirty moment. He’s nice about it, helps me get to my feet and all, but not soon enough to prevent everyone from noticing.

“L-O-L,” one girl says to another. “That new girl is sooooo clumsy.”

“Oh, I know,” says the second girl. “Awk-ward.”

When I arrive at my locker after school I find that it has been spray- painted with red letters that spell out: fresh meat.

“Are you kidding me?” I say out loud to no one in particular. I’m so shocked, I don’t know whether to be scared or to laugh. This sort of thing gets people suspended now. We’ve all seen the It Gets Better ads, right? Out of the corner of my eye I can see a group of guys and girls snickering and pointing.

“Welcome to Miami High, fresh meat!” one girl with buoyantly curly hair calls out with a mean-intentioned laugh. The way she says it makes it sound like a warning, like this won’t be the last of my metaphorical beating. Like I better watch out. Who the hell are these kids and why don’t they have anything better to do? I guess I always thought high school bullying was a fiction created for 1980s rom coms, I didn’t realize kids could actually be that petty in real life. Sure, kids at St. Anne’s weren’t perfect, but they weren’t ever this outwardly mean. Normally I’m a big fan of crying, but I can’t let these idiots see that they’ve gotten to me, so I fight back the tears and frustration, and stand up extra tall like I can’t see or hear them.

Alexei walks up as I’m struggling to cram all my books into my vandalized locker. One falls out and he grabs it for me. What a gentleman.

“Thanks,” I say. “Hey, did they do this to you too?” I show him the front of the locker.

“Um, no, that’s pretty brutal.”
“I don’t get it! You’re new too, why aren’t you getting picked on?” “I’m normal; I fit in. Kids are insecure and they lash out at who-

ever is the most different.” He shrugs.
“It’s not fair.”
“Are you saying you prefer that I get picked on?”
“No—I just don’t know what it is about me. I guess I never

thought of myself as that different. And I guess I’d prefer not to go through it alone.”

“You’re not that different; you’re just a free spirit. You don’t care as much about what people think, and that makes them nervous. And you’re not going through it alone; I’m here. I got your back.”

“Oh.” I try to keep from blushing but I can’t help it. “Thank you.”

“Where do you live?” he asks. “I was thinking I could walk you home.” What is this, 1952? Romance central? Where am I? Who am I? Why can’t I feel my face? (But I love it!)

“On Romero Street, it would be like a twenty-minute walk.”
“I could use a bit of a tour—we just moved here.” His voice is husky and exotic; it has the sound of a tropical breeze, you know, if tropical breezes had a sound. He can speak English perfectly but he’s got that offbeat rhythm that comes from being foreign, that hint of insecurity that comes off as sexy.

“Yes, you definitely need a tour. We can walk, you seem like you’re in good enough shape. I mean good shape. I mean, you look like a twenty-minute walk wouldn’t kill you. I didn’t mean to say that you’re hot.” I once read an article in Cosmopolitan about how to flirt; somehow I don’t think I’ve mastered the art.

“So you don’t think I’m hot?” he asked.
Uh-oh.
“Um, no, it’s not that I don’t think you’re hot. I think you’re . . .

I mean, are you nice-looking? Sure. You don’t look bad. I mean—” “I’m just messing with you, weirdo. Let’s go, yeah?” He smiled. Weirdo. He already has a pet name for me! Heart-eyes emoji, heart- eyes emoji.
Is this really happening? I am being walked home by a boy. On

my second day of school. Maybe I’m not such a loser after all. I bet stupid Yvette Amparo didn’t get walked home by a boy today.

We have the best conversation on the way home, him with his sexy foreign accent and me with my garbled Venezuelan under- tones. We talk about really deep stuff, like last week’s episode of So You Think You Can Dance and the Red Wedding on Game of Thrones. He so obviously gets me. He asks me about my hopes and dreams, and I tell him all about how I want to be a famous actress but the idea of auditioning in front of producers gives me panic at- tacks. I ask him about his hopes and dreams, and he tells me about how he wants to be a model or professional surfer, and maybe an actor too, but if that doesn’t work out then maybe a doctor.

The whole thing is beyond perfect except: I have to pee so badly. Why did I drink that liter of Coke during sixth period? Every caffeine rush has its price to pay, lesson learned. Ten minutes until I’m home, only ten minutes. You can do it, Lele, you’re almost there. I try to tell myself these things but I can feel my bladder stretching like a water balloon. Alexei is talking about how much he misses Belgium, and how he wonders if he’ll ever get to go back, but all I can think of is getting to a toilet, so I’m just nodding and saying mhm-mhm like a moron. He probably thinks I’m a total idiot. Or a bitch. I keep smiling and fluttering my eyelids like the Cosmo article said to do, but I think I just ended up looking deranged. Deranged and agonized. Not sexy.

Did it just get hotter? Yes, it definitely did. A cloud has shifted and the sun is now beating down on us. I can feel beads of sweat gathering under my bra, I worry my boobs might be in danger of drowning.

“Wow, it’s hot out today,” Alexei says.

“Oh, is it? Yeah, I guess so.” I shrug, easy breezy, all the while inside I am dying. Then, because this Belgian boy is evil and wants to torture me, he actually takes off his shirt. This is cruel for two reasons: (1) I am about to die of heatstroke and can’t do anything about it, and (2) his abs are so marvelously defined he could be a statue. A bronze, brilliantly beautiful statue. I try not to look directly at them, for fear they might blind me. To add insult to injury, Alexei taps my shoulder and says, “Be right back, I have to pee,” then saunters off behind a nearby tree to relieve himself.

First of all, rude. Doesn’t he know he’s in the presence of a premium woman? Second of all, not fair! I’m honestly seconds away from bursting and this guy can pee as soon as he feels the urge. This is what I’m talking about with boys. They have it so much easier. They’ll never know the true meaning of discomfort; they’ll never know how we suffer.

When he comes back all shirtless and relieved, practically glow- ing, the guy has the nerve to try and give me a high five! What do I do? Well, I’ll tell you. I punched him in the balls like he deserved!

Just kidding, I didn’t leave him hanging. After all, his greatest crime is also part of why I already like him so much: he’s a boy.

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Giveaway (US only)

  • 2x print copies of Surviving High School
  • giveaway ends May 12th

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spoiler vrpcaAbout the authors:

Lele Pons was born in Caracas, Venezuela and moved with her family to Miami when she was five years old. She got her start when she created a page on the video-sharing app Vine in December 2013. Originally intended as a fun outlet to showcase her creativity, her vines evolved into comedic sketches and pulling practical jokes on family and friends. Her following grew from five thousand local followers to more than ten million by November 2015.

Today she is one of the most recognizable names on social media, and has been featured in Vanity Fair, The New York Times, Teen Vogue, Time, and more. Lele has been nominated for three Teen Choice Awards, a People’s Choice Award, and a Streamy Award. In 2015, she was invited to the White House by First Lady Michelle Obama to help launch her campaign for disadvantaged kids to go to college. Lele graduated from high school in 2015 and currently resides in Los Angeles, CA.

Melissa de la Cruz is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of books for readers of all ages, including the Witches of East End, Blue Bloods, and Descendants series.

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Book Review + Giveaway: Hope by Grier Cooper (Blog Tour)

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I am happy to be today’s stop at Hope Blog Tour.
I really enjoyed reading this novel and I want to say thanks to Dancing Poodle Press for providing me a digital copy of this book and to Giselle from Xpresso Tours for giving me this opportunity.

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Hope by Grier Cooper
(Indigo Ballet Series, #2)
Publication date: April 26th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adulthope

Synopsis:
Indigo is living the life she’s always imagined at the famed New York School of Ballet. Or is she? Although she hopes she’ll be chosen for the company, her ballet teachers aren’t talking and their silence is confusing.

When Indigo is singled out for a coveted solo she feels her dreams are finally within reach, until she finds out she’s dancing with Felipe Gonzalez, the school’s smolderingly hot rising star. In the days that follo
w, Indigo questions everything she thought was true and finds herself making surprising choices.

After a fateful piece of paper reveals the truth, Indigo must ask herself the hardest question of all: can she take control of her own future to create the life she wants?

Goodreads * Purchase Book 1 * Purchase Book 2

 

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My Review: 

In this, second book in the Indigo Dreams series, our main protagonist, a 17 years old Indingo, is not in Connecticut anymore.
She lives in New York where she goes to School of American Balet.

She has a lot going on. She’s trying to be the best dancer she could possible be. In order to reach her goal, she has to overcome some challenges that are standing on her way. Above that, she has to make piece with herself and learn how to deal with situations she finds herself in.
Like every teenager, she has a lot of going on in her personal life too.

This is the story of a young girl who’s trying to live up to her dream, but it is also a story of growing up, finding the streinght in yourself and coming of age.

Although this is the second book in the series, it could easily be read as a standalone.

The character cast is totally different from the one in the first book. The only character that is present in both books is Indigo. Others just got some mention and that is it.

I liked the first book in the series, but I liked this one even more.
Maybe I got used to the writing style, maybe I found the characters I met in this novel to be better, or maybe I just liked this period of Inigo’s life more.

This book does not deal with serious topics as it’s prequel, but it still tells the story about important things.

The writing style is pretty simple and I finished this book faster then I tought I would.

Now, when I read both books in the series, I can say that Indigo really grew on me.

Even though this book ended with the full circle closed, I would’n mind reading about Indigo again.
If the author decides to write another book in Indigo Dreams series, I’ll be glad to pick it up.

This book doesn’t have special quotes, it does not have moments you’d like to remember after you finish the story, it does not leave you breathless, but it does give you one thing: a comfortable feeling all the time you’re reading it.
Once again, I had a feeling I was watching a good teenage drama on TV and it felt like home.

4

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Giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway (INTL)
  • e-book copy of “WISH”, book #1 of the Indigo Ballet Series and a $10 Amazon giftcard

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About the Author:

Grier began ballet lessons at age five and left home at fourteen to study at the School of American Ballet in New York. She has performed on three out of seven continents with companies such as San Francisco Ballet, Miami CityAuthorPhotoSm2014 Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet, totaling more than thirty years of experience as a dancer, teacher and performer.

Her work has been praised as “poignant and honest” with “emotional hooks that penetrate deeply.” She writes and blogs about dance in the San Francisco Bay Area and has interviewed and photographed a diverse collection dancers and performers including Clive Owen, Nicole Kidman, Glen Allen Sims and Jessica Sutta. She is the author of Build a Ballerina Body and The Daily Book of Photography.

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Book Review + Giveaway: Holding Court by K.C. Held (Blog Tour)

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I am happy to be today’s stop at Holding Court Blog Tour.
I really enjoyed reading this novel and I want to say thanks to Entagled Teen for providing me a digital copy of this book and to MaryAnn from Chapter by Chapter for giving me this opportunity.

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 Holding Court Cover

 

Book Title: Holding Court

Author: K.C. Held

Release Date: March. 1, 2016

Genre: YA Mystery

 

 

Sixteen-year-old Jules Verity knows exactly what’s in store at her new job at castle-turned-dinner-theater Tudor Times. Some extra cash, wearing a fancy-pants dress, and plenty of time to secretly drool ove
r the ever-so-tasty–and completely unavailable–Grayson Chandler. Except that it’s not quite what she imagined.

 

For one, the costume Jules has to wear is awful. Then there’s the dead body she finds that just kind of…well, disappears. Oh, and there’s the small issue of Jules and her episodes of what her best friend calls “Psychic Tourette’s Syndrome”–spontaneous and uncontrollable outbursts of seemingly absurd prophecies.

 

The only bright side? This whole dead body thing seems to have gotten Grayson’s attention. Except that the more Jules investigates, the more she discovers that Grayson’s interest might not be as courtly as she
thought. In fact, it’s starting to look suspicious…

 

Amazon | B&N | iBooks |Kobo | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca | Entangled Page

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My Review:

Written in the first person, Holding Court follows a girl named Jules, who is „cursed“ with what she likes to call „Psychic Tourette’s Syndrome“.
If you’re confused just like I was and wonder what that could be, let me explain it to you: from time to time, Julie, uncontrollably, blurbs out what will happen to someone in the future, but she tells that pretty much in codes. Overall, the whole thing makes her a weirdo in other people’s eyes.

She’s not the only one with the gift. Her grandmother can see other people’s auras and her mother can tell authenticidy of an object with a single touch.

One summer, to make some money and save enough to buy herself a car, sixteen years old Jules gets a job in a place called Tudor Times.
Fun fact: Grayson, the guy she has a crush for years works there.
Funnier fact: her girlfriend Bree also works there.

Jules knew not everything will be roses and butterflies, but what she couldn’t even dream about was that, while exploring secret chambers of her workplace, she would find a dead body…

First thing I have to warn you about: there are some illogical happenings trough the story.
If you are a critical reader you’ll probably find it’s flaws and they could put you off when it comes to finishing this story.
However, I think it is only fair of me to tell you how, if you can play blind to those flaws, you will probably end up really enjoying yourself while reading.

Yes, the main character does swoon over the guy while she should be worried about the killer and about her own sake.
Yes, the story does have a love triengle (that is, let me make that clear, a really good love triangle).
Yes, the character does not act the smartest way possible at some scenes, but…

The writing style is so good, it makes you want to devaour the story in one sitting.
The more pages you read, the plot is more and more interesting, characters are more and more likeable, the mystery is more and more mysterious.

I also have to emphasize that I didn’t see who the killer was. Of course, I had my own suspicion, but I was wrong.

And now, let me tell you what I liked the most about this book: Love triangle.
At first, I tought about giving this book a lower rating, but what made me really appreciate this novel is the love triangle in it and the way it resolved in the end.
Maybe some would call it naive or unbelievable, but I like to call it refreshing.
I have never before read the story in which all love interests  wrap up the way they did here, and it never even crossed my mind that someday it would be great to read the story with that kind of result.
Just because of that,  K.C. Held deserves an extra applause.

Overall, this is an easy, quick read with a great atmosphere, perfect for spring or summer when you want to read something entertaining and cute.
The writing style is enjoyable, the story has something different to offer when it comes to love interest and the very last chapter is the best chapter in the whole book, which made me appreciate this piece.

I gladely recommend it!

3,75

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Giveaway (US Only)

Giveaway Information:  Contest ends March 18, 2016

 

  • One (1) winner will receive Holding Court swag pack containing a magnetic prophecy kit, signed bookplate, coloring postcard with stacked coloring pencil, and a bookmark.

HC Swag pack

 

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About the author:kc-held

K.C. HELD was born and raised in California with stopovers in Honduras, Mexico, and France. Married to her high school sweetheart, and mom to two avid bookworms, she holds an MFA in costume design and is an accomplished seamstress with a background in opera, theater, film, and television. Although she once spent a summer working in a castle, there were no dead bodies involved.

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