Friday, July 25, 2014

Blog tour: Harp's Voice + guest post & giveaway

Hello everyone and welcome to our tour stop for Harp's Voice. We have a guest post and there's a tourwide giveaway everyone can enter. Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!

HARP’S VOICE (Harp’s Song #2) by Cassie Shine | Release Date: June 24, 2014

Single-minded to the point of near seclusion, Harp Evans’ only goal was to move away from her abusive mother, and start a new life at college. Now a freshman at a prestigious university, Harp continues to struggle letting people in, including her ex-boyfriend—Connor Williams—who has always stood by her, especially after her mother exposed a devastating secret about Harp’s origin.

While Harp figures out how to navigate her relationships, especially with her mom, Anne, she will have to exorcize her own demons and face challenges with uncompromising courage, including reuniting her broken family—the family that was shattered by the acts of one man.

After almost twenty years, is it possible for people to change their minds and open their hearts? More importantly, is Harp strong enough to pull them all back together?

BUY Harp's Voice (Harp's Song #2): Goodreads | Amazon

Harp's Song (Harp's Song #1) by Cassie Shine
YA contemporary
Paperback/ebook, 302 pages
Published 2014 by Cassie Shine (first published November 4th 2013)

In just a few months Harp Evans will be officially coming of age and graduating from high school. She will be free from the mother that never wanted her, the house that never felt like home, and the disappointment of the last seventeen years. What she doesn’t know is that her mother has been holding onto a secret that has the potential to derail her dreams and destroy her already faulty sense of self.

A self-proclaimed recluse, Harp spends most of her time practicing the cello, in the hopes of earning a full scholarship that will grant her freedom, but will also send her away from her best friend Connor Williams, who is becoming more than just a friend.
As revelations are made, will Harp still feel the same way about leaving everyone that cares about her behind? Or will she continue to pursue the life she’s been dreaming of, for as long as she can remember?

Harp's Song: Goodreads | Amazon

The importance of having the main character (especially a female) become her own hero

Harp is a loose interpretation of me-plain and simple answer, right? Not really. She’s also inspired by other women who I have had the pleasure of knowing and who graciously shared their stories with me.

There are girls (and boys) dealing with the ugly face of abuse on a daily basis. It was important for me to write a character that didn’t let the abuse and hatred in her life pull her down. In Harp’s Song, Harp does eventually stray from her strength-doubting herself at every turn. I’ve had a few readers tell me they don’t like that she became weak, but I know what it’s like to constantly fight the negativity-to give yourself daily pep talks-and sometimes, it just becomes too much. Your will isn’t strong enough to keep fighting the fight so you look for companionship in all the wrong places because it’s easy. And, while those people don’t really care about you, their expectations are low and that’s all you need at that point in time. I think young girls tend to do this too much and I wanted to show that it’s not the only option; that you can chose YOU-you don’t need others to validate you!

It’s hard to do, trust me-but eventually you have to find that will again. Harp does find hers thanks to her love of music and the people in her life who love her and are devoted to seeing her succeed. But ultimately she does it because she wants to live a better life. I could have easily ended Harp’s story after Harp’s Song, but I knew her journey wasn’t over. I wanted to show her weakness and her strength, her self-doubt and her confidence-the juxtaposition of these character traits that make us human.

There’s a scene in Harp’s Voice where she and Connor are in the car on the way to Chicago and a Sara Evans song “A Little Bit Stronger” is playing on the radio and the lyric is: “Even on my weakest days, I get a little bit stronger”.

I love this line. If I were ever to get a tattoo this is what it would say. I have always been inspired by characters and people-in a book and in real life-who have had an antagonist in their life, but who have persevered even if they lost their faith for a little bit. It takes real courage and strength to pull yourself up from the lowest of the lows and say, “I’m going to make something of myself. I’m going to be happy and I’m going to live my life for me!”    

I hope that’s what people take away from Harp and her story. 

About Cassie Shine
Cassie Shine released her debut young adult novel, Harp's Song in November 2013, finally finishing the short story she started in her college creative writing class … many, many moons ago. She has always been an avid reader and lover of music (yes, she was in the high school marching band). While she has a weak spot for all things teenybopper, especially boy bands, she also loves classical, country, rock and well, pretty much everything. 

After living in St. Louis for more than ten years, she and her husband packed up a U-Haul and headed west. They currently live in Orange County, CA with their furry kids Finnegan and Molly. 

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Instagram | Goodreads

One lucky winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card and signed copy of HARP’S VOICE (US only)Three winners will receive a $10 gift card to Amazon or Book Depository (international). ***Any contestant that uses dummy or contest only accounts to enter will be disqualified.***
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

YA book review: The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
YA contemporary
Paperback/ebook, 294 pages
Published July 9th 2013 by Ember (first published October 20th 2008)

So, my girlfriend, Cassidy, is threatening to kick me to the curb again, my best friend suddenly wants to put the brakes on our lives of fabulous fun, my mom and big sister are plotting a future in which I turn into an atomic vampire, and my dad, well, my dad is a big fat question mark that I’m not sure I want the answer to.

Some people would let a senior year like this get them down. Not me. I’m Sutter Keely, master of the party. But don’t mistake a midnight philosopher like me for nothing more than a shallow party boy. Just ask Aimee, the new girl in my life. She saw the depth in the Sutterman from that first moment when she found me passed out on the front lawn. Okay, so she’s a social disaster, but that’s where I come in.

Yes, life is weird, but I embrace the weird. Let everyone else go marching off into their great shining futures if they want. Me, I’ve always been more than content to tip my whisky bottle and take a ride straight into the heart of the spectacular now.

review by Caitlin

I have a love/hate relationship with this book. The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp is the story of Sutter, a frequent partier who believes in living in the now. And even though he's a party boy, he still has a big heart. When he found a little boy at a convenience store who was running away, he brought him back home. At parties he's always sure to make people laugh. He befriends Aimee, and motivates her to stand up to the people who are controlling her. He has good intentions--his downfalls are his drinking habits and his lack of care when it comes to commitments and his future.

The characters are one of the things I love. From the very beginning, Sutter's voice is captivating with his humor and philosophies about life. He is so likeable (and this is what makes the ending so rough). I liked Aimee as well. She is nerdy, quiet, and sweet. She's real. She seems like the total opposite of Sutter, yet they make a perfect pair.

The ending. When I finished this book, I sat there for a few moments thinking about what the heck I had just read. Life is no fairytale, not every story has a happy ending, the world is an imperfect place--I get it. But I feel like the ending, although realistic, was a let down for me, personally. I kind of wanted to slap Sutter and tell him that he was being pathetic.

ALPHAreader said this in her review on Goodreads, and I agree with it entirely:
"There’s this weird thing that happens where, as a reader, you become sort of like Sutter’s girlfriends; all those who fell for his rambunctious charm and carefree loving-life in the beginning, but slowly figured out his failings and shortcomings, becoming frustrated with his wasted potential. The ending is brutal perfection..."

There's something special about this book. To a certain extent, I agree with Sutter's view on life. We are always thinking about tomorrow, the weekend, our next holiday break, the upcoming summer. We spend so much time dreaming about the future, that we forget to live in the present. Sutter once said "I like listening to people's dreams. My dad, I don't think he had any dreams. He was like me--every second's a dream for guys like us." I like that. But at the same time I also believe in planning for the future, so that you'll be happy then, too. I think it's all about finding a happy medium between living in the now and thinking of the future.

The Spectacular Now is a though-provoking story that is much more than a cute romance. So much more.

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp was a 2008 National Book Award Finalist, 
Young People's Literature. Read about it here.

Rating: 5

Cover comment:
Since I also saw the movie, I like this cover since it's from the movie.

Book source:
I received this book as a gift.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Blog tour: Fiancee for Hire by Tawna Fenske + giveaway

A satisfying category romance from Entangled’s brand new Lovestruck imprint…

Falling in love was never part of the plan…

Former Marine MacArthur Patton has made a small fortune on top-secret government contracts and black-ops missions, but his new assignment involves something more dangerous—marriage.

Well, fake marriage anyway.

To keep weapons out of the hands of terrorists, Mac has to secure a fiancée. A sweet, demure, compliant fiancée to serve as his arm candy for a few weeks while he completes the covert arms deal in Mexico. His sister claims to know just the woman, and sends her best friend to play the role.

“Sweet” and “demure” aren’t in Kelli Landers’s repertoire. A badass veterinarian who neuters big dogs and bigger men on a regular basis, she can’t wait to bring Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Detached to his knees. Her longtime crush on the commitment-phobe makes her plan to seduce him even sweeter.

Love wasn’t part of the plan, but the deeper Mac and Kelli fall into their ruse, the more danger they attract, until more than just their hearts are on the line…

Entangled Love Struck:
Facebook | Twitter: @lovestruckep | Steals and Deals

Author Bio:
Tawna Fenske traveled a career path that took her from newspaper reporter to English teacher in Venezuela to marketing geek to PR manager for her city's tourism bureau. An avid globetrotter and social media fiend, Tawna is the author of the popular blog, Don't Pet Me, I'm Writing, and a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her fiance in Bend, Oregon, where she'll invent any excuse to hike, bike, snowshoe, float the river, or sip wine on her back deck. She's published several romantic comedies with Sourcebooks, including Making Waves, which was nominated for contemporary romance of the year by RT Book Reviews. She also writes interactive fiction capers for Coliloquy and the steamy, heartwarming Front and Center series for Entangled Publishing. Tawna's quirky brand of comedy and romance has won praises from Kirkus Reviews, which noted, "Up-and-coming romance author Fenske sets up impeccable internal and external conflict and sizzling sexual tension for a poignant love story between two engaging characters, then infuses it with witty dialogue and lively humor. An appealing blend of lighthearted fun and emotional tenderness."

Fiancee for Hire charm necklace

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blog tour: Elly In Love (The Elly in Bloom #2) by Colleen Oakes + review

Elly is back! What can we say? We were hooked on Colleen Oakes' first contemporary romance novel, Elly in Bloom. We're thrilled to participate in the second novel in The Elly in Bloom series, Elly in Love, as part of BookSparks' Summer Reading Challenge. For our stop today we are including our review as well as spotlighting Elly in Love. Enjoy the summer!

With an army of peonies, a hot chocolate and a boyfriend who smells like sandwiches, Elly in Love is here! Order your copy on Amazon today!

Elly In Love (The Elly in Bloom #2) by Colleen Oakes
Contemporary romance
Paperback, 285 pages
Published June 24th 2014 by SparkPress

The much anticipated sequel to the bestselling novel, Elly in Bloom, is finally here!

Curvy wedding florist Elly Jordan has had quite a year. First, she had to design her ex-husband’s wedding to the mistress who split them up, and then she broke up with the hottest musician this side of St. Louis. Three months have passed since then, and now Elly is primed for what promises to be the best wedding season of her life.

Helped by her loyal friends, Elly is on the verge of opening a chic flower boutique uptown when BlissBride, a popular wedding reality show, asks her to design the wedding of a famous—make that infamous--celebrity. Elly is about to get everything she’s ever wanted, when a stranger shows up at her store with a request that changes every aspect of her life--including her budding relationship with deli owner Keith. As she struggles to stay calm in the midst of growing chaos, Elly will learn the true meaning of love and sacrifice.

Filled with the heart, humor, and horticulture that made Elly in Bloom a bestseller, Elly in Love welcomes readers back to Elly’s big, beautiful, and messy life.

Buy it: Amazon