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Guest Post by Susane Colasanti and Giveaway!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Skye wants to meet the boy who will change her life forever. Seth feels their instant connection the second he sees her. When Seth starts talking to Skye at the last beach party of the summer, it's obvious to both of them that this is something real. But when Seth leaves for college before they exchange contact info, Skye wonders if he felt the same way she did--and if she will ever see him again. Even if they find their way back to each other, can they make a long-distance relationship work despite trust issues, ex drama, and some serious background differences?

Teen favorite Susane Colasanti returns to the alternating-voice style of her beloved debut When It Happens in this Serendipity-inspired story about summer, soul mates, and the moments that change our lives forever.

Guest Post:

Rule 7: Dream big

Every summer of high school I swore that I would reinvent the old me and return to school as a shiny new version of myself. The best version of myself. The summer always started with strict goal-oriented activities. One summer I wanted to lose weight. I placed an embargo on desserts. There was no way I was eating dessert for the rest of the summer. No. Freaking. Way. But three days later, all I could think about was Entenmann’s Ultimate Crumb Cake. The crumb cake craving won. My weight-loss goal never stood a chance. 

Summer after summer, my reinvention goals were shredded to tatters. Why? I was focusing on the wrong goals. Instead of changing my external appearance to make other people like me more (pathetic, but that’s how lacking in self-confidence I was at 15), I should have been focusing inward. Being at peace with yourself is the only way to find lasting happiness.

Now I practice creative visualization. Creative visualization is all about turning your dreams—the ones that really matter—into reality. One fun way to do this is to create a wish box. Find a cool shoebox and decorate both the inside and outside. Glue on pictures that represent the things that make you the happiest. By reflecting on what makes you happy, you can more easily identify your biggest dreams. Fill the box with objects, affirmations, notes, mementos—anything that represents your heart’s desires. Turning the box into a beautiful treasure map of your goals will help you to dream big and never give up.

About the author:

Susane Colasanti is the bestselling author of When It Happens, Take Me There, Waiting for You, Something Like Fate, So Much Closer, and Keep Holding On. Before becoming a full-time author in 2007, she was a high school science teacher for ten years. Susane has a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a master's degree from New York University. She lives in New York City. 

Susane's seventh teen novel, All I Need, will be released on May 21, 2013.

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Duchess by Susan May Warren

The golden age of Hollywood is in the business of creating stars. Rosie Worth, now starlet Roxy Price, has found everything she’s wanted in the glamour of the silver screen. With adoring fans and a studio-mogul husband, she’s finally silenced the voices—and grief—of the past. Her future shines bright…until the fated Black Friday when it all comes crashing down. When Roxy loses everything, she finds herself disgraced and penniless. Her only hope is to join forces with Belgian duke Rolfe Van Horne, a longtime film investor. But Rolfe is not who he seems, and he has other plans for Roxy and her movies—plans to support a growing unrest in Europe, plans that could break her heart and endanger her life.

When her country needs her, will she have the courage to surrender her glittering world and her one true love?

Goodreads Summary

Roxy Price is the actress that everyone would love to be.  Successful, talented, and high-fashion, she lived the true American Dream.  With the advent of Black Friday, Roxy must reevaluate herself and her place in life.  Rolfe, a Belgian Duke and film investor, just might be her only way out of this mess.  Can Roxy shine her crown and come out sparkling?  Or is she doomed to lose her place in the spotlight forever?

This book provides rich history lessons as well as a storyline.  I liked Roxy's character from the beginning.  She is no pushover and has the gumption to push herself to the top.  I felt bad for her when it became clear that her marriage was more for convenience and show than for love.  Rolfe was an interesting character.  He had many layers to him, some were not exactly good-his help comes with strings attached.  The other characters helped move the plot along and provide small details that really brought out the setting and plot.  I loved how the author wrote in a very even tone.  This book is recommended to adult readers.

4 Stars

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Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck

Once Upon a Prince, the first novel in the Royal Wedding series by bestselling author Rachel Hauck, treats you to a modern-day fairy tale.

Susanna Truitt never dreamed of a great romance or being treated like a princess---just to marry the man she has loved for twelve years. But life isn’t going according to plan. When her high-school-sweetheart-turned-Marine-officer breaks up instead of proposing, Susanna scrambles to rebuild her life.

The last thing Prince Nathaniel expects to find on his American holiday to St. Simon’s Island is the queen of his heart. A prince has duties, and his family’s tense political situation has chosen his bride for him. When Prince Nathaniel comes to Susanna’s aid under the fabled Lover’s Oak, he is blindsided by love.

Their lives are worlds apart. He’s a royal prince. She’s a ordinary girl. But everything changes when Susanna receives an invitation to Nathaniel’s coronation.

Goodreads Summary

Susanna has realistic expectations about marriage.  She always expected to marry her high school sweetheart, but life doesn't always go as planned and the relationship ends in a break-up.  She isn't happy and wonders if God's plan for her has gone awry.  When Nate stumbles into her life, she isn't quite sure what to do.  Although it hasn't been long since her break-up, Susanna feels drawn to Nate in a way that she hasn't felt before.  There is one problem, however-Nate is the heir to a throne in Europe and is not allowed to marry a foreigner.  Can Nate and Susanna find a way to be together regardless?  Is it too soon for Susanna to find love again?

Susanna's character was a good one.  I liked her sweet personality and her ability to handle bad situations.  I am not a fan of "insta-love."  Though the romance wasn't necessarily "insta-love," it was very close.  I prefer a relationship to develop over the course of the book, but I still enjoyed the romance very much.  Nate's character was both charismatic and frustrating.  When he decided to try to move on from Susanna, I wanted to shake him, but he believed that he was making the right decision so it wasn't easy to stay mad at him.  The plot wasn't unique, but this book was a perfect read for a rainy day and recommended to adult readers.

4 Stars

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Grave Consequences by Lisa T. Bergren

For Cora Kensington, the journey of a lifetime takes unexpected twists. And her future—her very life—depends on the decisions she’ll make at each crossroad. As her European tour with her newfound family takes her through Austria, France, and Italy, an unseen enemy trails close behind. Meanwhile, a forbidden love continues to claim her heart, putting everyone’s plans in danger.

And as Cora stays one step ahead of it all, what might need the most protection is her own heart, torn between the dramatic pursuit of a dashing Frenchman and a man who has been quietly staking claim to her affections all along. Love has dangers all its own. She must escape the bonds of the past and discover the faith to make the right choices, as each one has grave consequences.

Goodreads Summary

Ready for a European tour?  Author Lisa Bergren takes the reader on a richly illustrated trip through Europe with a plot filled with mystery and suspense.  The reader will love the little details that make it very easy to imagine actually being there with the characters.  Cora never imagined that she would find love and mystery on a trip, but one can't predict the future.  Cora is being pursued by her past kidnappers.  She must find a way to remain safe and stop their chase.  In the meantime, her heart is being pulled in two different directions.  A handsome Frenchman is aggressively seeking her out and the slightly shyer tour guide has an unforgettable presence.  Who, if anyone, will Cora choose?  Will Cora's kidnappers find a way to hunt her down?

Cora's character is easy to love.  If the reader had the pleasure of reading the first in the series, then Cora's natural charm doesn't need to win him/her over a second time.  She maintains her posture and breeding at all times while still breaking the usual mold for women of that time period.  She is more uncertain of the path her life is taking in this book than the first, but this adds an element of mystery and excitement.  She has the opportunity to choose her own way.  I really liked most of the secondary characters and thought that the author did a terrific job of developing their personalities to make them memorable.  This book is the second in a trilogy and will leave the reader anticipating the last.  

4 Stars

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It Happened At The Fair by Deeanne Gist

A transporting historical novel about a promising young inventor, his struggle with loss, and the attractive teacher who changes his life, all set against the razzle-dazzle of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Gambling everything, including the family farm, Cullen McNamara travels to the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with his most recent invention. But the noise in the Fair’s Machinery Palace makes it impossible to communicate with potential buyers. In an act of desperation, he hires Della Wentworth, a teacher of the deaf, to tutor him in the art of lip-reading.

The young teacher is reluctant to participate, and Cullen has trouble keeping his mind on his lessons while intently watching her lips. Like the newly invented Ferris Wheel, he is caught in a whirl between his girl back home, his dreams as an inventor, and his unexpected attraction to his new tutor. Can he keep his feet on the ground, or will he be carried away?

Goodreads Summary

The Chicago World's Fair is coming and Cullen McNamara must be ready!  He is an inventor who wants to use his invention to save lives (his reason behind this is very touching).  Cullen doesn't have the best hearing and the convention hall is loud, bustling, and busy.  Desperate to promote his product, Cullen contacts Della, a teacher who can help him learn to lip read.  Della isn't sure if she should teach Cullen, but she is eventually convinced when he promise to guide her around the Fair.  With obvious chemistry sparking between them, can Della and Cullen both get what they want out of the Fair?

Della's character was interesting.  She isn't immediately welcoming and takes a little bit of time to warm up to.  Her decision to teach young, deaf children is admirable.  Cullen's invention of an automatic sprinkler system is aimed at saving lives-his own mother died in a fire.  Both characters are the type that are impossible not to root for and like.  The reader will only want the best for them.  This was the perfect relationship-to me-because the author allowed it to develop over a period of time and shared experiences.  It was far more believable that the pair could love each other.  

Having hearing loss myself, I loved the addition of the unusual topic to the novel.  The author discusses signing versus lip reading and describes both experiences very well.  This book is recommended to adult readers.

4 Stars

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The One Good Thing by Kevin Alan Milne

For as long as Halley Steen has known her husband Nathan, he has carried a handful of stones in his pocket. Each day he uses those stones to remind him to follow the Golden Rule, moving a stone from one pocket to the other with each act of kindness. So it's not unusual that Nathan stops to help a stranger on the side of the highway while on his way to his son's football game one Friday evening. But that one act will change all of their lives forever, when a car hydroplanes off the road, killing Nathan instantly.

As Halley and her children Ty and Alice struggle with their grief, Nathan's spiritual legacy lives on. A Facebook page appears, where countless stories about Nathan's selfless acts are shared. But among them is one that stands out, from a woman who says that Nathan saved her life. Neither Halley nor her children have ever heard of Madeline Zuckerman. But soon Halley discovers years of e-mails from this woman to her husband on his computer that refer to "our little girl." How could her husband have kept the secret of this other child for their entire marriage? Why had he lied to her? Was he not the man she thought he was?

Only thirteen-year-old Alice maintains unwavering faith in her father. She knows there's an explanation. When she sets out to find Madeline and learn the truth, she will start to unravel the complex story of The One Good Thing Nathan Steen did that had the greatest impact of all.

Goodreads Summary

Nathan is an unusual man.  He carries stones in his pockets, shifting them from one pocket to the next after completing a good deed.  He strongly believes in the Golden Rule and does his best to live accordingly.  On one tragic day, Nathan's good deeds result in his death.  After the funeral, Nathan wife, Halley, and children, Ty. and Alice, discover a disturbing fact:  Nathan may have had an affair that resulted in a child.  Could this really be true?  It would be so hard to believe that about Nathan.  His wife and children decide to investigate...what they find will change their characters for the better.

The reader will get to know each main character very well as the story is told from all of their points of view.  Halley is easy to love and sympathize with.  She is now the glue that holds the saddened family together.  Her children are very well-adjusted and try to live life as their father would want them to.  The mystery of the woman who claims to have been "saved" by Nathan adds an element of suspense to the novel.

This book was an unusual one and unlike any I usually pick up.  I liked the entire family and most of the secondary characters.  I wasn't too big a fan of Madeline, the woman who claimed to bear Nathan's child, but I understood her purpose in the story.  I loved the subtle hints and reminders that it doesn't take much to brighten someone's day.  The lessons the story provides will stick with me later on.  

4 Stars

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Mira's Diary: Home Sweet Rome by Marissa Moss

As if traveling to a new country in search of her missing mother weren't difficult enough, Mira has to do it dressed as a boy. In a different century.

A new postcard from her time-traveling mother points Mira to the 16th century Rome. But before she can rescue her mom, she must follow the clues left around the city to find Giordano Bruno, a famous thinker and mathematician, who discovered something so shocking that important Italian officials don't want it revealed. All the while avoiding the Watchers--time-traveling police who want Mira back in her own time.

It's another whirlwind adventure for Mira, and this time she is determined to bring her mother out of the past.

Praise for Mira's Diary: Lost in Paris

Goodreads Summary

Looking for a good book for a middle grader during the summer?  Home Sweet Home provides the perfect balance of entertainment and education.  Mira and her mother are time travelers.  Mira's mother takes it upon herself to correct horrible injustices throughout the course of history.  These acts, as one could imagine, are not allowed and severely punished.  When Mira's mom leaves another clue to her whereabouts, Mira knows she must follow-even if it means that she must dress as a boy to do so. While trying to track down her mother, Mira receives another order: to find and help Giordarno Bruno ensure the safety of his work.  He is a mathematician and  philosopher who dares to defy the Church's beliefs involving the sun revolving around the Earth.  When Bruno insists that the Church has it backwards, his very life is threatened.  Can Mira help Bruno preserve his work?

Mira's character is fun and engaging.  She will certainly appeal to middle grade readers with her enthusiasm and determination.  I loved how she enjoyed the past and her job as a time traveler.  This book was full of history and small tidbits/details that are easy to remember.  When I read this book to my little cousin, I felt like she learned without actually trying-the best way!  The other characters ranged from fascinating to formidable.  The author clearly took her time to develop the characters to best connect to the reader.  This book is recommended to middle grade readers.

5 Stars

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This Journal Belongs to Ratchet by Nancy J. Cavanaugh

A debut middle grade novel about a girl named Ratchet and her quest to make a friend, save a park, and find her own definition of normal. Ratchet tells her story through the assignments in her homeschool journal.

If only getting a new life were as easy as getting a new notebook.
But it's not.

It's the first day of school for all the kids in the neighborhood. But not for me. I'm homeschooled. That means nothing new. No new book bag, no new clothes, and no friends – old or new. The best I've got is this notebook. I'm supposed to use it for my writing assignments, but my dad never checks. Here's what I'm really going to use it for:

Ratchet's Top Secret Plan
Project Goal: turn my old, recycled, freakish, friendless, motherless life into something shiny and new.

This year, I'm going make something change.

Goodreads Summary

Ratchet isn't your average girl.  Her mother passed away when she was very young and her unusual father gives Ratchet a "weird kid" vibe to the other children her age.  Ratchet is homeschooled and doesn't have many friends.  Ratchet decides she wants to model herself after her mother instead of her environmentalist, homeschooling father.  The more Ratchet discovers about her mother, however, the more questions she has and the more she learns about herself.  The reader will love getting acquainted with Ratchet and her father.  

The book is told from a diary point of view.  Ratchet writes lists, thoughts, poems, etc... and really allows the reader to get inside her head.  She is funny, brave, and sarcastic-easy to like.  It will feel like the reader is reading streams of emotion rather than just words.  When Ratchet finds something belonging to her mother, she begins to investigate and learn about the past.  Not all is as it seems.  It was easy to fall in love with Ratchet and her father.  I loved how I felt like I really knew the characters at the end of the novel.  This book is perfect for middle grade readers. 

4 Stars

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Love In Bloom Giveaway Hop!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

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The Planet Thieves by Dan Krokos

The Planet Thieves is the first thrilling installment of a new middle-grade series by Dan Krokos.

Two weeks ago, thirteen-year-old Mason Stark and seventeen of his fellow cadets from the Academy for Earth Space Command boarded theSS Egypt. The trip was supposed to be a short routine voyage to log their required spacetime for summer quarter.

But routine goes out the airlock when they’re attacked by the Tremist, an alien race who have been at war with humanity for the last sixty years.

With the captain and crew dead, injured, or taken prisoner, Mason and the cadets are all that’s left to warn the ESC. And soon they find out exactly why the Tremist chose this ship to attack: the Egypt is carrying a weapon that could change the war forever.

Now Mason will have to lead the cadets in a daring assault to take back the ship, rescue the survivors, and recover the weapon. Before there isn’t a war left to fight.

Goodreads Summary

Looking for a book to entice young male readers to read over the summer?  The Planet Thieves is the perfect blend of action, humanity, and aliens!  Mason, the main character, is forced to think on his feet and make intelligent decisions in order to stave off an alien attack.  Originally, Mason was taking a short trip; however, that short trip went awry when the Tremist attacked and killed off or took prisoner most of the adult crew.  The Tremist is an evil alien race who have loathed the human race for many decades.  How does one combat an alien race?  Pick up this book to find out!

Mason's character was really fun to read about.  He managed to maintain his sanity in the upheaval of his ship, organize a resistance, and come up with a solid plan of attack.  The other characters in this novel were also interesting to get to know, but Mason will likely emerge as the clear favorite.  The plot itself was very fast-paced, making the book difficult to put down.  Many older readers will find this an enjoyable and fast read, but this book is perfect for younger readers, too.  The author kept the vocabulary at a level where older readers didn't feel like they were reading a grade-school book and younger readers felt like they could understand the dialogue.  Overall, this book is recommended to readers from middle grade to young adult.

4 Stars

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The Buttersmiths' Gold by Adam Glendon Sidwell Cover Reveal and Giveaway!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Buttersmiths' Gold

Everyone knows the most coveted treasure of the Viking Age was blueberry muffins. Blueberry muffins so succulent that if you sniffed just a whiff, you'd want a whole bite. If you bit a bite, you'd want a batch; if you snatched a batch, you'd stop at nothing short of going to war just to claim them all. 
Young Torbjorn Trofastsonn comes from the clan that makes them. He's a Viking through and
through – he's thirteen winters old, larger than most respectable rocks, and most of all, a Buttersmith. That's what he thinks anyway, until a charismatic merchant makes Torbjorn question his place among the muffin-makers. When Torbjorn lets the secret of his clan's muffin recipe slip, he calls doom and destruction down upon his peaceful village and forces his brother Storfjell and his clansmen to do the one thing they are ill-prepared to do: battle for their lives.

About The Buttersmiths' Gold
The Buttersmiths' Gold is a spin off novella in the Evertaster series that tells the story of two Viking brothers and their adventurous past. The Evertaster series (Book #1 released June 14, 2012) is about Guster Johnsonville, who goes searching for a legendary taste rumored to be the most delicious in all of history. Along the way he meets a slew of mysterious characters, including two Viking brothers Torbjorn and Storfjell. The Buttersmiths' Gold is their story. 124 pages. By Adam Glendon Sidwell. Published by Future House Publishing. 

Evertaster, Book #1:
A legendary taste. Sought after for centuries. Shrouded in secrecy.
When eleven-year-old Guster Johnsonville rejects his mother’s casserole for the umpteenth time, she takes him into the city of New Orleans to find him something to eat. There, in a dark, abandoned corner of the city they meet a dying pastry maker. In his last breath he entrusts them with a secret: an ancient recipe that makes the most delicious taste the world will ever know — a taste that will change the fate of humanity forever.

Forced to flee by a cult of murderous chefs, the Johnsonvilles embark on a perilous journey to ancient ruins, faraway jungles and forgotten caves. Along the way they discover the truth: Guster is an Evertaster — a kid so picky that nothing but the legendary taste itself will save him from starvation. With the sinister chefs hot on Guster’s heels and the chefs’ reign of terror spreading, Guster and his family must find the legendary taste before it’s too late.

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Spring Fling Giveaway Hop!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

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The Newstead Project Book Blast

The Newstead Project

Joel Cranston shouldn’t exist. He just doesn’t know that yet. He’s lived a pretty normal life for the last sixteen years. If you consider being almost seven feet tall and good at about every sport you’ve ever played normal. Normal ends the day Newstead shows up with an invitation to come to their school.
the school.

Newstead is a private high school in Central Vermont by the Green Mountains. It’s a great place to hide a few hundred people who shouldn’t exist while you train them to become tomorrow’s rulers, tomorrow’s dictators, tomorrow’s gods.
the unexpected.

Rachel Newell thinks she’s just passing through. She never stays any place more than four months and with Newstead so close to Weston, she has even more reason to make this her shortest stop ever. The last thing she expects is to have a reason to stay.
Together Rachel and Joel uncover the truth behind what is
the newstead project.

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Book Trailer

Author Melanie Schulz

I live in Upstate New York with my husband and three children, where I’ve pretty much been planted my entire life.  Which is fine, because it’s beautiful here. My only complaint is that most people assume that New York means NYC, which it doesn’t. There. I’ve done my part in exposing the truth. Truth. The truth is I’m not a writer; storyteller maybe, but not a writer. It wasn’t something I spent years dreaming of, or even what I went to school for. I’m a nurse. I love being a nurse. So why write? I don’t know. I do know when it started, though. September 3, 2010. I know this because I nature journal, and on that day Joel made it into my notes. I guess that’s fitting. Someone like him needed to be birthed out in the woods. If you were to meet me, and I hope someday you do, you would not connect me with this story. I’m a wife, a mother, a nurse. The person who wrote this should’ve been a guy, first off, secondly he should be some militaristic strategist; that’s who you’d expect to see if you were to come to a book signing, not me. But I’m there, in every line. So if I don’t have the good fortune to meet you in person, I hope to see you in THE NEWSTEAD PROJECT.

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Book Blast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 5/19/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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