Thursday, February 16, 2017

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: To Dance With Angels by KC Cullen

Check out the cover reveal for debut author KC Cullen's A Dance With Angels. Organized by Itching for Books.



Release date: February 28th 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:
Since she was a little girl, Kyra Byrne sacrificed everything for her dream to be a prima ballerina, braving broken toes and scheming rivals. Now the dream is finally within reach: she’s a soloist at a prestigious Boston company, her tumultuous past safely behind her.

But all that is put at risk when the company brings in a new choreographer, the smoldering Damien Delacroix with the sexy accent, rebellious tattoos, rippling abs, and scandalous reputation, a man who’s ruined as many careers as he’s built up. And the moment he walks into the studio, Damien only has eyes for Kyra.

Against the wishes of everyone from Kyra’s boss to the drama-queen prima, he casts Kyra as the lead in his new ballet. This could be the break she needed so badly—or it could be her ruin when her past begins to resurface in unpredictable ways. As Damien and Kyra’s chemistry sizzles on and off the stage, she realizes she’s in too deep. Kyra never dreamed of risking everything she worked so hard for, everything she painstakingly built—all for a man. But with the premiere looming and with the other dancers gunning for her downfall, she could lose more than her heart. 



About the Author
YA author by day, KC Cullen writes romance and romantic suspense by night. Her debut, TO DANCE WITH ANGELS, will be released on February 28, 2017. She lives in northern Ontario with her husband, two teenagers, and hyperactive Dalmatian.









Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Review: Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson

Release date: February 14th 2017
Publisher: Bloomsburry
Purchase: Amazon


Synopsis via Goodreads:
A timely and powerful story about a teen girl from a poor neighborhood striving for success, from acclaimed author Renée Watson.

Jade believes she must get out of her neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother says she has to take every opportunity. She has. She accepted a scholarship to a mostly-white private school and even Saturday morning test prep opportunities. But some opportunities feel more demeaning than helpful. Like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for “at-risk” girls. Except really, it’s for black girls. From “bad” neighborhoods.

But Jade doesn’t need support. And just because her mentor is black doesn’t mean she understands Jade. And maybe there are some things Jade could show these successful women about the real world and finding ways to make a real difference.

Friendships, race, privilege, identity—this compelling and thoughtful story explores the issues young women face.

*Publisher approved request via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.



I really liked Watson's previous novel, This Side of Home, and was excited to read Piecing Me Together when I spotted it on Goodreads. Well, this novel did not disappoint. I liked how the author kept things real, touching on topics that are still so strongly present in society, while also depicting relatable problems faced by a teen girl. 

Jade wasn't perfect and didn't come from a perfect family. She's raised by a single mother in a far-from-lavish neighborhood and they shared their already tight apartment with Jade's uncle. Regardless, they did their best. The mother worked hella hard so her daughter could have a good life and always encouraged Jade to do the same. I loved how whenever she was tough with Jade, it came from a place of love and hope for nothing but the best. And I admired the respect Jade had in return, not only for her mother but for where she came from. 

Speaking of where she came from. Often times people judge others based on their address and have preconceived notions about their character. But Jade was really smart and focused. She went to a great school that often overlooked her because of the color of her skin, but still, she kept on and looked for opportunities. Many of the things that came up in the story, mainly things that Jade experienced, made me look into my own life and I could remember moments where I had faced something similar. We may come from completely different backgrounds, but I could understand and relate to how she felt and agreed that her perception was justified and dead-on. For instance, that trip would have benefited Jade just as much as any other student, and she truly worked hard and deserved to go. So her feelings about it were acceptable and I wish that Sam was more understanding. 

Sam's character is like many. She was a good friend to Jade, but certain things made her uncomfortable to discuss and she seemed to rather not talk about it. I grew frustrated with her like Jade because, in times where she should have supported and stood up for her friend, she tried to brush it off and explain away the situation. Thankfully she made an effort later on and they were able to hold on to their friendship. 

There were other elements of the story that intensified my interest, including the whole debacle with Jade getting a mentor. The way she was sort of shoved into that program pissed me off, but I again, Jade was going for as many opportunities as she could so it wasn't surprising that she accepted. But that mentor had me rolling my eyes so much. She needed more mentoring than Jade, which brought back the line in the blurb where "just because her mentor is black doesn’t mean she understands Jade," and that was so true. Glad Jade spoke up and her mentor opened her eyes to reality sooner than later. 

My gosh, I could go on and on with reasons as to why I enjoyed this one but I don't want to give too much away. Loved the writing, the raw depictions of emotion toward horrible events, and that poem at the end was a tearjerker. Such a thought-provoking story. Wonderfully done, Renée.  



27ef868543abf9c4e16439c1aeb8f0bd.jpgAbout the Author
RENÉE WATSON is the acclaimed author of the teen novel, This Side of Home, and two picture books: Harlem's Little Blackbird and A Place Where Hurricanes Happen, which was featured on NBC Nightly News. Her middle grade novel, What Momma Left Me debuted as an ABA New Voices Pick. She lives in New York City.



Monday, February 13, 2017

Guest Post & Giveaway: Ethel Rohan on The Weight of Him

Award-winning short story writer Ethel Rohan has released her debut novel, The Weight of Himwhich is described as the perfect feel-good novel to curl up with this winter. And I'm excited to have her on the blog sharing what inspired her to write this story. Check out the guest post and enter to win a copy of the book! 



Release date: February 14th 2017
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Purchase: Amazon


Synopsis via Goodreads:

In The Weight of Him Billy Brennan undergoes an unforgettable journey in a startling attempt to resurrect his family and reignite hearts, his own most of all.

At four hundred pounds, Billy can always count on food. From his earliest memories, he has loved food's colors, textures and tastes. The way flavors go off in his mouth. How food keeps his mind still and his bad feelings quiet. Food has always made everything better, until the day Billy's beloved son Michael takes his own life.

Billy determines to make a difference in Michael's memory and undertakes a public weight-loss campaign, to raise money for suicide prevention--his first step in an ambitious plan to save himself, and to save others. However, Billy's dramatic crusade appalls his family, who want to simply try to go on, quietly, privately.

Despite his crushing detractors, Billy gains welcome allies: his community-at-large; a co-worker who lost his father to suicide; a filmmaker with his own dubious agenda; and a secret, miniature kingdom that Billy populates with the sub-quality dolls and soldiers he saves from disposal at the toy factory where he works. But it is only if Billy can confront the truth of the suffering and brokenness within and around him that he and others will be able to realize the recovery they need.

Told against the picturesque yet haunting backdrop of rural, contemporary Ireland, The Weight of Him is a big-hearted novel about loss and reliance that moves from tragedy to recrimination to what can be achieved when we take the stand of our lives.




The meaning behind The Weight of Him, and why it is a "call for love"?

           While the characters and events in my first novel, The Weight of Him, are fictional, the story’s themes are rooted in reality and have deep personal meaning. For one, some of my earliest memories are around suicide.
When I was a girl, my mentally ill mother repeatedly threatened to kill herself. Every time she left the house I went into a panic, terrified she would end herself and never return. At night I lay awake on my bed, stiff and sweating, listening for sounds from downstairs, her bedroom, the bathroom—frantic that she might attempt to follow through on her threats.
As an adult, I’ve had my own struggles with anxiety and depression, and suicidal thoughts. I lost a dear friend to suicide, distant family members, several in my community, and many more in wider circles. Mental illness, and suicide in particular, is a disease that plagues all too many. Suicide is the number one killer of young men in Ireland, my birthplace, and is also a global epidemic. On average, in the US, there are 121 suicides every day. That’s 121 too many.
In my own journey to recovery, I found the root of my anguish lay in a lack of self-love and a sense of hopelessness—torment that’s common amongst the suicidal. It became impossible to believe that I could ever feel better about myself, and my life. My return to well-being started with gratitude. I began every day giving thanks. Even at my most wretched, with intention, I could always find something for which to be thankful—food, warmth, home, my daughters, my husband, another lifesaving breath. The more gratitude I expressed, the better I began to feel. Slowly. Surely.
My healing deepened with forgiveness—forgiving others and myself for wrongs both real and imagined. I did not find peace(ish), though, until I learned to love myself unconditionally. And getting to that point proved to be long, hard, painful work. I loved my children (and my cat and dog!) without reservation, but I had little empathy or compassion for myself. With counseling, instead of hating on myself, I started to treat myself as lovingly as I did my family and friends (and, yes, my cat and dog). I got to a once unthinkable place: I came to love myself. It’s heartbreaking how many of us cannot declare that with our whole heart: I love me.
That is my rally cry in my novel: Love yourself. Love others. It’s the only way we will survive.


Photo Credit: Justin YeeAbout the Author
Ethel Rohan is the author of two story collections, Goodnight Nobody and Cut Through the Bone, the former longlisted for The Edge Hill Prize and the latter longlisted for The Story Prize.

Her work has appeared in The New York Times, World Literature Today, GUERNICA Magazine, Tin House Online,The Rumpus, and many more. Born and raised in Ireland, she lives in San Francisco.





*Thanks to the publisher for contributing a copy of the book





Thursday, February 2, 2017

Review: Between the Devil and the Duke by Kelly Bowen

Series: Season for Scandal #3
Release date: January 31st 2017
Publisher: Forever
Purchase: Amazon


Synopsis via Goodreads:

Their love was always in the cards.
He should have thrown her out. But when club owner Alexander Lavoie catches a mysterious blonde counting cards at his vingt-et-un table, he's more intrigued than angry. He has to see more of this beauty—in his club, in his office, in his bed. But first he'll have to devise a proposition she can't turn down. 

Gossip said he was an assassin.
Common sense told her to stay away. But Angelique Archer was desperate, and Lavoie's club offered a surefire way to make quick money—until she got caught. Instead of throwing her out though, the devil offers her a deal: come work for him. Refusing him means facing starvation, but with a man so sinfully handsome and fiercely protective, keeping things professional might prove impossible.


*Publisher provided eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.



I love Historical Romance and have been wanting to read more books in that genre, so you can imagine my excitement when Between the Devil and the Duke landed on my kindle. 
I was looking forward to traveling into the past and reading about the ways of society in that time period. And at start, I was beyond intrigued with this story. 

Angelique's character drew me in instantly. I needed to know why she was often in Alexander's casino at a vingt-et-un table (which by the way I had to look up to figure out meant blackjack), and what was up with her family. When those things were brought to light, I was happy that Alexander genuinely wanted to help her in any way he could. I mean, Angelique was a strong and fierce woman, and she had to be, with a terrible excuse of a brother that never got himself together for his family. So it was nice that she could allow herself to be vulnerable at times and just allow a man like Alexander to take care of things. 

In regards to Alexander, I never quite got his story, only bits and pieces here and there because of how much he kept inside. He spoke about a particular painful thing that happened in his life and how it affected him. Yet, I think there was still more to learn. Although, I did enjoy the air of mystery. 

It seemed the story would be about these two characters working together at the gambling hell, with Angelique putting her awesome skill to use and Alexander admiring her every step of the way. I had no idea that whole bit with the brother and the twist with Angelique's family would come into play. While I liked the addition of suspense, which was mostly about finding the real culprit and discovering why they were out to ruin Angelique's family, that part of the story seemed a tad drawn out and there were moments that I got confused about names and things mentioned. That aside, it was an interesting novel with nice writing and sexy scenes that'll ease any prolonged tension. I also like that even though this is the third book in the series, you don't have to read them in order and there are different characters to fall in love with in the two previous books.

  

About the Author
Kelly BowenKelly Bowen grew up in Manitoba, Canada. She worked her way through her teenage years as a back country trail guide and ranch hand. She attended the University of Manitoba and earned a Master of Science degree in veterinary physiology and endocrinology.

But it was Kelly's infatuation with history and a weakness for a good love story that led her down the path of historical romance. When she is not writing, she seizes every opportunity to explore ruins and battlefields.

Currently, Kelly lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two boys, all of whom are wonderfully patient with the writing process. Except, that is, when they need a goalie for street hockey.





Tuesday, January 31, 2017

COVER REVEAL SIGN-UP~To Dance With Angels by KC Cullen [Feb. 16th]


IFB is organizing the cover reveal for KC Cullen's upcoming release, To Dance With Angels, on Thursday February 16th. Your support is appreciated.



Release date: February 28th 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis via Goodreads:
Since she was a little girl, Kyra Byrne sacrificed everything for her dream to be a prima ballerina, braving broken toes and scheming rivals. Now the dream is finally within reach: she’s a soloist at a prestigious Boston company, her tumultuous past safely behind her.

But all that is put at risk when the company brings in a new choreographer, the smoldering Damien Delacroix with the sexy accent, rebellious tattoos, rippling abs, and scandalous reputation, a man who’s ruined as many careers as he’s built up. And the moment he walks into the studio, Damien only has eyes for Kyra.

Against the wishes of everyone from Kyra’s boss to the drama-queen prima, he casts Kyra as the lead in his new ballet. This could be the break she needed so badly—or it could be her ruin when her past begins to resurface in unpredictable ways. As Damien and Kyra’s chemistry sizzles on and off the stage, she realizes she’s in too deep. Kyra never dreamed of risking everything she worked so hard for, everything she painstakingly built—all for a man. But with the premiere looming and with the other dancers gunning for her downfall, she could lose more than her heart. 



About the Author
YA author by day, KC Cullen writes romance and romantic suspense by night. Her debut, TO DANCE WITH ANGELS, will be released on February 28, 2017. She lives in northern Ontario with her husband, two teenagers, and hyperactive Dalmatian.


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