Thursday, February 4, 2016

#BlogTour: These Vicious Masks by @KellyZekas & @tkshanker with excerpt @XpressoTours

These Vicious Masks by Kelly Zekas & Tarun Shanker
Published by: Swoon Romance
Publication date: February 9th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult


Evelyn has no interest in marriage and even the dashing Mr. Kent can’t make her want to live up to society’s expectations. She’d much rather assist her beloved sister Rose in becoming the world’s first female doctor. But everything changes the night she meets Sebastian Braddock – not only is the reclusive lord both vexing and surprisingly attractive, he’s also quite possibly mad, and his interest in Rose is galling. So when Evelyn wakes up to discover that Rose has disappeared, she immediately suspects Sebastian.

But then she discovers that Sebastian’s strange tales of special powers are actually true, and that Rose’s kidnappers have worse in mind for her than simply ruining her reputation. Surrounded by secrets, lies, and unprecedented danger, Evelyn has no choice but to trust Sebastian, yet she can’t help but worry that Sebastian’s secrets are the most dangerous of all…

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Mr. Kent Dancing Scene

“What would you do if you could do anything at this ball?”

“I’d eat cake.”

“Unless you eat upwards of two hundred cakes, that particular activity will not occupy your entire night.”

My mind shuffled through all the possibilities—cards, suitors, copious amounts of wine—but nothing appealed. This was exactly why I avoided every ball I could.

“I don’t know,” I admitted.

“Then I present you with two choices. We stand here, observing our dull surroundings, racking our minds for ideas. Or,” he said, putting his hand out, “we do our thinking while spinning in circles and forgetting where we are.”

“As persuasive an argument as any,” I said, surrendering my hand. He clasped it for an inordinate length of time before putting it on his arm, and I didn’t mind where he led me. As we moved toward the dance floor, a new song hummed to life, and Mr. Kent, unable to restrain his smile, pulled me into a waltz.

With gentle pressure on my waist, he guided me in slow circles, weaving us through the dizzying stream of couples, our every step and turn on point with the beat. My head felt light, almost giddy with the rush of motion. His light brown eyes met mine, and they seemed to dance along with us.

“You were right, this is absolutely dismal,” he said.

“Don’t be so quick to judge,” I replied, “here comes the exciting part, where we continue to twirl in the exact same manner as before.”

“My God, you are impossible to please.”

As we bounced to the swells and dips, the room and its crowd revolved with us. Poor Rose whirled by in a flash of silks as another infatuated dance partner tried desperately to win her approval with his footwork. Mother, breaking away from her group of matchmakers, made her way along the outskirts of the room. And Mr. Braddock stood determinedly by himself, a slight space between him and a gaggle of giggling schoolgirls. He seemed to be directly in my mother’s path. Or even worse, her destination.

“I’ve changed my mind,” I told Mr. Kent. “We’re dancing forever now.”

“Ah, that’ll be a difficult life, but very well, I will let no other claim you.”

“Good, for I can see my mother getting ready to arrange a dance with Mr. Braddock.”

“I see.” Something lit behind his eyes as they landed on Mr. Braddock, and I couldn’t tell if it was amusement or jealousy. “Would that be the fellow over there? He certainly seems to have gathered a following.”

“Indeed, it is.” And Mr. Kent was right. It wasn’t just my mother and a few young women. Every mother in the county was eyeing him, fans fluttering and bosoms quivering. Simpering misses subtly pinched their cheeks and smoothed down their hair. How absurd.

A tall, plain girl bravely stepped from the pack and marched toward him. She turned and stared daggers at her companions, who had renewed their giggles. Mr. Braddock scanned the crowd closely, as though looking for someone, but his stiff posture suggested that he knew what a stir his presence had created and wanted to leave immediately.

Mr. Kent and I watched with some delight as the brave girl came up behind him and very impolitely grabbed his arm. By reflex, he wrenched his arm away, but the girl held on as she fell into a paroxysm of coughing. And though Mr. Braddock tried to step away, she managed to climax her performance with a none-too-graceful faint directly onto his person with some well-practiced gasps for breath in his arms.

For his part, Mr. Braddock seemed unequal to the task of dealing with the creature and unceremoniously let her drop to the ground, where it seemed her false swoon became a true one. He hovered above her, shock and guilt lacing his features. The ballroom lay deathly still for a brief moment until he wordlessly whirled and dashed straight out of the room, guests hopping out of his path. I looked at Mr. Kent and saw my own puzzlement mirrored on his angular face. Then a small, gloved hand grabbed my own, and Rose pulled me toward the fallen girl.

About the author

Tarun and Kelly met in a freshman year writing class at NYU and started writing These Vicious Masks a few years later.

Tarun is a writer living in Los Angeles whose idea of paradise consists of kung-fu movies, David Bowie and chai tea. Since completing his first horrible screenplay in high school, he’s written everything from one-act plays and film criticism to humor pieces and strongly-worded emails. He’s also magnetized, crushed and burned the hard drive where that first screenplay can be found.

Kelly is a writer and actor living in NYC. YA is her absolute favorite thing on earth other than cupcakes and she has spent many hours crying over fictional deaths. She also started reading Harlequin romances at a possibly too early age (12?), and still loves a good paperback romance.

Links (Tarun):

Links (Kelly):

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

#BlogTour Remembrance (The #Mediator, book 7) by @megcabot #review @MyShelfAndI

Suze Simon is in the house! Fans of the YA series will know who I'm talking about. I am so excited to be a part of the tour for Remembrance by Meg Cabot! Getting to revisit the characters I so enjoyed from The Mediator series has been a great way to start off this month (and the year). My review is below. Thanks for stopping by. Enter the giveaway!

The Mediator #7

Author: Meg Cabot
Release Date: February 2nd, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow


The highly anticipated return of Meg’s bestselling Mediator series featuring fan-favorite ghost whisperer, Susannah Simon.

You can take the boy out of the darkness. But you can’t take the darkness out of the boy.

All Susannah Simon wants is to make a good impression at her first job since graduating from college (and since becoming engaged to Dr. Jesse de Silva). But when she’s hired as a guidance counselor at her alma mater, she stumbles across a decade-old murder, and soon ancient history isn’t all that’s coming back to haunt her. Old ghosts as well as new ones are coming out of the woodwork, some to test her, some to vex her, and it isn’t only because she’s a mediator, gifted with second sight.

What happens when old ghosts come back to haunt you? If you’re a mediator, you might have to kick a little ass.

From a sophomore haunted by the murderous specter of a child, to ghosts of a very different kind-including Paul Slater, Suze’s ex, who shows up to make a bargain Suze is certain must have come from the Devil himself-Suze isn’t sure she’ll make it through the semester, let alone to her wedding night. Suze is used to striking first and asking questions later. But what happens when ghosts from her past-including one she found nearly impossible to resist-strike first?

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Suze Simon, the girl from New York City with the killer fashion sense and side job of dealing with NCDPs (read the series) is back in Remembrance, the seventh and final book in The Mediator series by Meg Cabot. Let me tell you how stoked I was to hear about this book and to be on the blog tour! STOKED! 

It's six years later and Suze has graduated high school and college and she's working on her graduate program to become a counselor. Her old friend Father Dominic helps out by letting her intern at her old alma mater. That way, in case they have to deal with any ghostly problems, they have each other. It was good to reconnect with these characters one final time, a bit melancholy since I loved the series, but still great--kinda of like coming home again after being away. Of course, I couldn't wait to see Jessie and get to swoon over him. He is completing his residency and gets to wear a white coat. The doctor will see you now;) ;) Yep, I get to ship Jessie. He has some good lines as does Suze and their chemistry has only increased. Readers can always depend on Cabot for her trademark witticisms, snark and those tender moments which make us sigh.

As for the story line, Suze encounters a very scary ghost girl in the school when a student is brought in needing medical assistance. That scene and the pool incident later on are what The Mediator series is all about: laugh out loud one-liners, spooky hi-jinks (with some Jessie acting macho and then heroic added in) and something to discover/settle. The author sets up the conflict of the novel, adds a lot of mystery, while showing us characters we've grown to love interact with Suze. Her step-brothers are all grown up, some married, and one has the cutest/scariest set of triplets I've read in a long time. Suze has a good friend and the guy we love to hate, that sleaze rich boy Paul, returns to bother Suze all over again.

And as for Suze and her fiance, Jessie? They made me giggle and remember their escapades from their previous books and...I also remembered the magic they created as they fell in love. Excuse me while I grab a tissue. They're adults now but Cabot still adds wit and spunk to Suze's lust-induced moments. I enjoyed her thoughts whenever she and Jessie had their moments together. Her watching him sleep in her stepbrother's house was classic Suze Simon. Let me also say that Jessie having a little 'dark' in him only adds to his appeal.

I need to thank Meg Cabot for giving fans the closure to this series that readers like me wanted. Going along a journey with two characters over six books shows a true commitment and connection to a creation an author has made and shared with the world. The Mediator series will always have a special place in my book-loving heart. Cabot gave us one more chance to hang with these beloved people, added some romantic adult time, and the publishing company's art department gifted us with a tuxedo-wearing Jessie on the cover (and Suze in some awesome boots, as usual). 

I will say I was skeptical at first when I thought Suze's voice still sounded young for someone older and it took a little while for the story to move me, but when the pieces of the plot began to unwind and I forgot about time, I knew that the author had done it again. Remembrance offers fans the only true way to end this loved series. I cherish all those hours engrossed in Ms. Simon's ghostly antics and can move on knowing she is in good, no, GREAT hands with Mr. daSilva. Thank you, Meg Cabot, for the memories.

Rating: 5
Cover comment: Love it! Jazzed up for 2016 but still looks like it belongs with the other covers.
Book source: Edelweiss

About the author

Meg Cabot was born in Bloomington, Indiana. In addition to her adult contemporary fiction she is the author of the bestselling young adult fiction series, The Princess Diaries. Over 25 million copies of her novels for children and adults have sold worldwide. Meg lives in Key West, FL, with her husband.

One winner will get a physical copy of the first Mediator novel, SHADOWLAND

Must be 13+ To Enter | Ships in US only | See Terms & Conditions for full contest rules before entering some restrictions apply.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

#BlogTour: Free Me by @JaneLark with review #New Adult #Giveaway @XpressoTours

Free Me by Jane Lark
Publication date: September 29th 2015
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Thriller


Lies, secrets and truth untold. How can the future be different?

When Amy escaped the prison cell she’d been trapped in for years she had no idea how hard it would be to live again. Six months after the guy who kept her hostage died she is still looking for a way to break free from the shadow of fear that keeps haunting her.

Guilt hurts, and it’s left Rich lost. He is drinking in a bar with his friends when he sees a girl who prods him out of the listlessness he’s been trapped by since he turned himself around from a bad guy to good man. She’s beautiful, but she’s hesitant and nervous. It’s attractive, though. She’s sweet. But he doesn’t know what her awkwardness and her fleeting smiles hide, and when she asks if he’s a good guy, he isn’t sure what to say. He didn’t used to be.
Fate plays some cruel games…

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Free Me is one of those books whose story and characters gets under my skin and stays days after I've finished reading it. Talk about profound. Author Jane Lark makes her main characters Amy and Rich so realistic I feel I've known them for years. I sometimes mention the lack of character depth in some of my reviews but here I can only say this is how to shape true characters, mold them into people who live and breathe in each reader's mind. And there they remain like ghosts lingering in the background because one simply can't forget them. These two people have resonated within me, touching me with their story, and it's a powerful, moving experience.

Free Me would only work if we share in the perspective of each character and Lark does exactly that. We get to see and know Amy and Rich, feel their anguish, their fears, relive the terrors they've gone through, as well as experience all of the new sets of emotions when they meet and become friends. I can't go into details about them because I want others to read their story and judge for themselves. I did come away from this book knowing this wide world can seem small when we meet someone who completes the circle of what makes us complete. Not sure what I mean by that? Sorry, you have to pick up a copy first and succumb to the web of mystery and intrigue the author has set up.

Expect to feel and fall deep into this novel and journey of two intriguing characters. Free Me by Jane Lark is an engrossing, unforgettable read.

Cover comment: Would have liked to see Rich on the cover too.
Book source: I received a promotional copy which in no way impacted my reading experience.

About the author

Jane is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and New Adult romance and author of a No.1 bestselling Historical Novel,’The Illicit Love of a Courtesan, as well as a Kindle overall Top 25, bestselling author. She began her first historical novel at sixteen, but a life full of adversity derailed her as she lives with the restrictions of Ankylosing Spondylitis. When she finally completed a novel it was because she was determined not to reach forty still saying, I want to write. Now Jane is writing a Regency series as well as contemporary, new adult, stories and she is thrilled to be giving her characters life in others’ imaginations at last.

You might think that Jane was inspired to write by Jane Austen, especially as she lives near Bath in the United Kingdom, but you would be wrong. Jane’s favourite author is Anya Seton, and the book which drew her into the bliss of falling into historical imagination was ‘Katherine’ a story crafted from reality. Jane has drawn on this inspiration to discover other real-life love stories, reading memoirs and letters to capture elements of the past, and she uses these to create more realistic plots. ‘Basically I love history and I am sucker for a love story. I love the feeling of falling in love; it’s wonderful being able to do it time and time again in fiction.’ Jane is also a Chartered Member of the Institute of Personnel and Development in the United Kingdom, and uses this specialist understanding of people to bring her characters to life.

Author links:

Reader Girls is able to offer one lucky reader one (1) Jane Lark Tote Bag (image above). Open to US and Canada. Our giveaway ends February 24th.
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