Book Review: Hold Me Tight (Take Me Now #3) by Faith Sullivan

He loves me. He loves me not.

Ivy's heart shatters upon hearing Eric's crushing ultimatum. Despite how much she cares for him, she won't give in to his demands. She has no choice but to leave, even if it's the hardest thing she's ever had to do.

She loves me. She loves me not.

When Ivy walks out, Eric can't help feeling betrayed. Unwilling to put her at risk, he values her safety above all else. By refusing to compromise, he's blindsided when she moves in with a man who's already stolen so much from him.

I love you. You love me not.

Lauren sees Eric and Ivy's split as an opportunity to end their relationship once and for all. When Ivy places herself at the mercy of Eric's rival, Lauren plots to destroy the fragile tie binding them together, even if she endangers Ivy's life in the process.
Release Date: April 30, 2014
Age Group: New Adult
Source: Review copy from author
Reviewed By: Kelli
I have been a fan of Faith Sullivan's Take Me Now series from the beginning.  Read my reviews of book one: Take Me Now, here, and book two, Meant for Me, here.  This series is darker than Sullivan's other series, with a definite villain: Lauren, who has a lot of hate and murderous intent coiled up like a murderous snake inside of her.  And Ivy, Eric's true love, is the primary object of Lauren's vitriol.  Lauren wants Eric for herself and will stop at nothing to obtain him.

All throughout this series, I've thought that Lauren's jealousy, greed, and envy were what drove her to such horrible actions.  But, I learned her motivation for the things she does, in this book.  There's much more than meets the eye with Lauren, and she morphed from a one-dimensional villain to a character that while I could not approve of her actions, I could certainly understand them.  I love it when authors make me identify with the "bad guys" and Sullivan does that with aplomb in Hold Me Tight

As in the first two books in this series, Hold Me Tight is full of chemistry between Ivy and Eric.  Their relationship has grown as a result of separation and difficult live events, though, so it was neat to see their relationship evolve.  I loved the tender moments between the two, especially with regard to Ivy's pregnancy.

One of my favorite things about this series are the supporting characters.  There are so many great minor characters, many with intertwining storylines.  Sullivan draws them all together and there is closure for each character in the series---not just the main characters.

Throughout this entire series, Ivy has been compared to Eric's first love, Cassidy.  Ivy feels that she'll never measure up to Cassidy.  I always pitied Ivy for that fact, and hoped that she'd feel secure enough in their relationship to stop comparing herself to Cassidy.  Well, I got my wish, and more, with the way the past unfolded in this story.  It was so gratifying to find out what Cassidy was really like!

Hold Me Tight was the strongest book of the Take Me Now series, in my opinion.  It had the most drama, a great pace, and so much buildup to the conclusion of the story.  I loved every page of this book, and I'm so glad that Faith Sullivan provided so much great closure for the characters I've come to love.  If you're new to Faith Sullivan's work, I highly recommend her books!

Buy Hold Me Tight:
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Guest Post and Giveaway: The Opposite of Everything

Today we are honored to have author David Kalish guest posting, telling us about how he turned tragedy into comedy in his book, The Opposite of Everything.  Welcome, David!

How I Turned My Personal Struggle Into Comedy
By David Kalish

Writing about one’s personal past can feel overwhelming, particularly if the past was painful. You’re forced to revisit all the ways life hurt you and those around you. As an author, I struggled over how to make sense of traumatic events in my life that began in 1994. That year, I was diagnosed with incurable thyroid cancer at the same time my first marriage fell apart. I grew depressed.  My failed first marriage left me feeling as if I could never love, or be loved, again; my incurable cancer made me feel it didn’t matter.

I tried writing about it as memoir. My life felt like the perfect setup for autobiography. Lots of dramatic material. Besides, I was a journalist for many years, used to trading in facts. But as I read back my early drafts something funny happened. I couldn’t stand my own writing. Scenes seemed melodramatic. My characters were stick figures. Fact is, I didn’t want to reveal anything about what I felt, or what my characters felt. The material was too hot for me to handle.

So I played around with the truth. I stretched it -- made up characters that did the opposite, in some cases, of what their real-life counterparts might consider.  Told the story in third-person. And I made it funny. The best jokes, I learned, reveal hidden truths about characters and situations.

So, in short, because the material hit so close to home, I chose a narrative technique that gave me just enough creative distance from the material to give me perspective. And to make it entertaining, not maudlin.

My book is still a story about one man’s struggle, his search for renewal. But I’ve handed it over to actors who are free to do all sorts of crazy things. It’s liberating. I can focus on the story’s narrative arc. I can go to town on my life.

I’ve always had a bit of the stand-up comedian in me, but it wasn’t until life handed me a mudpie that I decided to toss the pie in my own face. Making jokes was my way of having fun – not just entertaining readers, but entertaining myself too. 

I believe humor, done well, can reveal truths in more interesting ways than a straight-forward telling. It reveals the coping mechanism of the characters, and the narrator – humor as medicine to get through the tough times. And it allows me to push my characters to extremes. The reader is too busy being entertained to question whether, for instance, someone’s father would accidentally push his son off a bridge. Which is something the father character in my novel does.

I drew inspiration for my book, and its title The Opposite of Everything, from an episode of Seinfeld, the 1990s sitcom, called “The Opposite.” Coincidentally, that episode first aired in 1994, the same year that I was diagnosed with cancer and underwent divorce.

In it, George Costanza is so fed up with life he resolves to do the complete opposite of what came normally. He orders the opposite of his normal lunch, and introduces himself to a beautiful woman who happens to order the same lunch, saying “My name is George. I’m unemployed and I live with my parents.” To his surprise, she is impressed and agrees to date him.

Looking back on those years, I sometimes felt as hapless as George. I was a busy New York City journalist struggling through stress at work, health problems, and a failed marriage. So when I sat down to write my book, long after Seinfeld went into repeats, I drew on the opposite theme for inspiration. My struggle to write the book echoed the life it depicted. At times, I wanted to run away from both. Instead I fictionalized my trauma, viewing my life through a contrarian lens. The further I distanced myself from my struggles, the less I felt like a victim.

In my case, as in my character’s, cancer provided motivation to live every day as if it were one of the last. If not for cancer, I probably would have stuck with my mediocre first marriage for a few extra years.  I didn’t have time to mess around with something half working. Cancer has been a gift in a way. It forced me to face my mortality and make the most of my time, and my relationships, and as a writer I got a book out of it and a second marriage that's a lot better than my first. I'm also on an experimental drug that's holding my disease at bay, even though it's in my lungs. So all in all, not a bad deal.

The Opposite of Everything is a hilariously fast-paced first novel for David Kalish. When Brooklyn journalist Daniel Plotnick learns he has cancer, his fortunes fall faster than you can say Ten Plagues of Egypt. His wife can’t cope, his marriage ends in a showdown with police, and his father accidentally pushes him off the George Washington Bridge.

Plotnick miraculously survives his terrifying plunge, and comes up with a zany plan to turn his life around: by doing the opposite of everything he did before.

In the darkly comedic tradition of Philip Roth and Lorrie Moore comes a new novel from author David Kalish, who draws us into a hilarious, off-kilter world where cancer tears apart relationships…and builds new ones.

Paperback:  191 Pages
Publisher:  WiDo Publishing (February 17, 2014)
Twitter hashtag: #OEKalish

David Kalish left a career as a big city journalist and became a fiction writer, earning his MFA from Bennington College. His first novel, The Opposite of Everythingwas accepted for publication by WiDo Publishing, and he's working on a second novel entitled Stoner Hero, which he often writes in his head while walking his two dogs in a forest near his upstate New York home.

In addition to the longer form, his short fiction has been published in Temenos, Knock, Spectrum, and Poydras Review, his non-fiction in The Writer's Chronicle, and a short film of his, "Regular Guy," was selected into film festivals here and abroad. As a reporter at The Associated Press, his articles appeared in major newspapers such as Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune. He is currently working on a comedic theatre script for a Latin version of A Christmas Carol. He lives in Clifton Park, New York, with his wife, daughter, and two canaries, as well as those two dogs.
David’s Website:
David on Facebook:

Want to meet David Kalish?  Here is his upcoming tour schedule:
-- Thursday, April 17, 7 p.m., Temple Sinai in Saratoga Springs
-- Tuesday, April 22, 7 p.m., Book Revue in Huntington, Long Island 
-- Thursday, May 1, 7 p.m., Book House in Albany, N.Y.
-- Saturday, May 3, Grubstreet Conference in Boston, panelist
-- Wednesday, May 7, 7 p.m., Newtonville Books, Boston
-- Saturday, May 24, 2 p.m., Golden Notebook books, Woodstock, N.Y.
-- Monday, June 2, 6 p.m., Mechanicville Public Library
-- Saturday, June 21, 3 p.m., Open Door Bookstore, Schenectady, N.Y.
-- Saturday, July 12, Book Store Plus, Lake Placid, N.Y.
-- Saturday, July 19, Big Blue Marble Bookstore, Philadelphia

Giveaway Rules:  Anyone can enter to strings attached!  Giveaway will end on May 7, 2014.  Winner will be selected randomly and notified via email and has 72 hours to respond and claim their prize. Good luck!" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway

Children's Book Review: Ten Busy Brownies by Talia Haven

Count the brownies up to ten as they go about their night time chores.
Release Date: November 2013
Age Group: Children, age 0-5
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed By: Kelli
Ten Busy Brownies is a story about hard-working brownies who come to a child's house and clean up during the night.  The rhyming text was engaging and descriptive.  The rhymes all make sense, which is not always the case for children's books.
I like that this book is about chores: something that's good to emphasize in children's books, the thinking being that kids need to learn to pick up after themselves.  However, in this case, the brownies are picking up after the children and doing other household tasks (which is how it happens in our house too, except my husband and I function as the brownies).  I wish the children in the story could have helped with the chores; but that would have negated the entire concept of the brownies' work.
At first glance, I thought the illustrations of the brownies themselves would scare Kailtyn.  They definitely don't look human, although they are intriguing.  However, she enjoyed the book.  When it was over, she said, "That book was so good!"  It wasn't a favorite of mine---simply because the text flowed in a way that would be difficult for me to memorize.  I often like to "read" bedtime books by reciting them from memory with my eyes closed, simply because by that time of night, I can't keep my eyes open any more.  But overall, Ten Busy Brownies is a simple, short story, perfect for a bedtime read. 


Book Review: How to Be Sick by Toni Bernhard

This life-affirming, instructive, and thoroughly inspiring book is a must-read for anyone who is--or who might one day be--sick. And it can also be the perfect gift of guidance, encouragement, and uplifting inspiration to family, friends, and loved ones struggling with the many terrifying or disheartening life changes that come so close on the heels of a diagnosis of a chronic condition or even a life-threatening illness.
The author, who became ill while a university law professor in the prime of her career, tells the reader how she got sick and, to her and her partner's bewilderment, stayed that way. Toni had been a longtime meditator, going on long meditation retreats and spending many hours rigorously practicing, but soon discovered that she simply could no longer engage in those difficult and taxing forms. She had to learn ways to make "being sick" the heart of her spiritual practice and, through truly learning how to be sick, she learned how, even with many physical and energetic limitations, to live a life of equanimity, compassion, and joy. Whether we ourselves are sick now or not, we can learn these vital arts of living well from How to Be Sick.

Release Date: September 14, 2010
Age Group: Adult
Source: Purchased
Reviewed By: Kelli
I've been living with chronic illness my entire life: I was born with a genetic immune deficiency which has worsened with age.  Along with the immune deficiency, I have several other auto-immune conditions as well as a chronic pain syndrome.  To look at me, you'd never know how sick I am: I look perfectly fine on the outside.  People like me are said to have "invisible illnesses."  We are often misunderstood by family members, friends, even health professionals (for those of us with rare conditions, like me).  Trying to live a full and happy life despite my health challenges is my greatest struggle.  It's even more profound now that I'm a mother: I don't want my daughter to see me as a sick person.  I want to be the best that I can be for her, and have the most positive outlook possible.  
So it was with excitement that I read Toni Bernhard's How to Be Sick.  I read an article written by Toni online and loved her writing style and message.  I immediately bought her book and I simply devoured it.  This book spoke to me and affected me deeply.  I am a Christian and was a little leery of the fact that this book is Buddhist-inspired.  I didn't know what that meant, really.  All I knew about Buddhism is that practitioners meditate.  That was it!  
Toni gently educates the reader by applying Buddhism's principles to how to live peacefully with chronic illness.  The main concept of this book is how to alleviate the mental suffering that accompanies chronic illness.  Common examples of mental suffering are: asking why is this happening to me, being envious of healthy people, and being uncertain about the future (when will I relapse, will this treatment work, fear of testing and doctor visits, and fear of being unable to attend family events, etc).  These issues are all things I struggle with in my every day life.  So, to read a book that teaches me specific ways to address these fears was a true gift.  
I loved that Toni gives so many practical examples throughout the book.  The examples really drove the points home and made me feel like I could start applying what I learned right away.  There is a great section at the end of the book with bullet points of what to do in certain situations.  I loved that!  
As soon as I finished How to Be Sick, I turned back to page one and got my highlighter ready.  Now I'm reading the book a second time and really making a study of this insightful, life-changing guide.  I can't say enough good things about this book.  If you have anyone in your life who is chronically ill, or a caregiver, I would highly recommend How to Be Sick!     


Mini Reviews: Visible and The Undead Pool

Both Visible and The Undead Pool were for-fun reads for me.  They were too good to not mention them on the site; however, I didn't have the patience to write up full reviews for each of them---too many books, not enough time!  I've been following both of these series for years and I'm so pleased with the direction each series has gone.  I'm loving the new releases of series installments!

Visible (Ripple #4) by Cidney Swanson.
I've always loved Swanson's Ripple series, and Visible was no exception.  This book was different from others in the series in that it is told entirely from Gwen's perspective.  Gwen has always been a favorite character of mine: I love her sass, wit, and humor.  I love the way she looks at life and how adaptable she is.  She's also a cat person, which makes me like her even more.  The plot from the other books in the Ripple series continued in Visible, but it wasn't the entire focus of the book.  For me, the main focus was Gwen and her love life and personal growth.  I loved that aspect of this story, especially the historical fairy-tale element.  The issue of the 'sleepers' was a huge part of the story, of course, but it took a backseat to Gwen's happiness (at least for me).  The only thing I didn't like about Visible was that it felt slow at times.  Overall, it was a great read and I look forward to the next installment in the Ripple series!  Bonus: this series is very clean and that's refreshing.  Rating: 4 stars.

The Undead Pool (The Hollows #12) by Kim Harrison.
I love the Rachel Morgan series and The Undead Pool was the best book yet!  There is finally some closure to Rachel's love life---although that was not the main focus of the story, it was my favorite aspect of this installment.  I feel like this series gets better and better with each book, and The Undead Pool was the strongest book yet, full of plot twists, excitement and intrigue.  Rachel is finally owning her power and it's thrilling for me as a reader.  And the storylines of the secondary characters are just as compelling for me as Rachel's story.  My one regret about this series is that I wish I'd waited to read it until now. It would have been a great one to read each book back-to-back.  I want to stay in Harrison's world, full of witches, vampires, werewolves, elves, pixies and demons---all interwoven into the human world.  I love it!  Rating: 5 stars.


Children's Book Review: The Blue Baboon in the Big Balloon by Sarah and Steven Mostyn

Join Harold the blue baboon in this hilarious children's picture book, as he travels to the moon, in a big balloon, with an outrageous cast of friends! This creative rhyming book will inspire children's imaginations to soar to new heights!
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Age Group: Children's
Source: Review copy from author
Reviewed By: Kelli
The Blue Baboon in the Big Balloon was such a fun read!  I loved the creative story, tongue-twisting rhymes, and illustrations.  The authors--a husband and wife team--have created such a unique and whimsical book.  This book reminded me of Dr. Seuss, in a good way.
The book starts by introducing Harold, the blue baboon who lives in a big balloon.  Harold and his brother Gerald share the balloon with an diverse cast of characters.  I loved the way each character was introduced, and how they were intertwined.  It was enjoyable and inventive, to say the least. 
The trip to the moon was pure fun.  The illustrations made this book so special, but the text was my favorite part.  The cadence was perfect, the rhymes were great and even a little tongue-twisting.  The book was the perfect length: short enough to hold Kaitlyn's interest (she's three years old), but long enough to maintain an interesting story line.  The words were spaced evenly from page to page (a children's literature pet peeve of mine is when there are some pages with paragraphs of words and then some pages with two to three words---it makes for a choppy, uneven reading experience, in my opinion).
Some children's books get boring for me: I find myself mentally cringing when Kaitlyn pulls them from the shelf.  This book, though, is one I would enjoy reading over and over again! 


It's Official: We are in LOVE with Frozen!

Kaitlyn just turned three, and has yet to show an interest in Disney movies (much to my disappointment!).  Up until now, all she wants to watch is Dora the Explorer, Curious George and the Backyardigans.  All of those are great shows, but I'd looked forward to watching Disney movies with her and thought she'd be into them by this age.
On a whim, we watched Frozen, wanting to know what all the fuss was about.  To my surprise, she fell completely in love with the music, characters, and storyline.  Since buying Frozen, we've watched it at least once a day, and she sings along with the songs and says some of the dialogue along with Elsa and Anna. 
What I love about Frozen is that it's different from the usual Disney princess theme.  Elsa and Anna don't end up with princes, instead, they reunite as sisters and best friends.  True love saves Anna---her sister's love, not the love of a prince.  I love that!
Now that we are thoroughly infected with the Frozen fever, my new mission is to find Elsa and Anna dolls for Kaitlyn.  Which is a feat easier said than done---they are sold out everywhere and are going for ridiculous prices online!
Have you watched Frozen yet?  What do you think of it?

It almost takes a disaster to occur (like an ice storm, flooding, illness with an extremely high fever or hordes of mosquitoes) to get my kids to sit down and watch a full-length animated film. Frozen was a WINNER! My daughter (8) loved it but to my surprise, my boys (5 & 2) were totally obsessed. I think this craze is two-fold. 1.) The storyline has such a great message about true love, and uniquely the love of siblings. 2.) THE MUSIC. Oh.My.Gosh. YES, WE WILL BUILD A SNOWMAN! AND YES, I WILL LET IT ALL GO! We have downloaded the music, danced like crazies all through the house and blasted it in the car for all to hear. 

Our plea, make Frozen 2! We need more family friendly films (sounds like a catchy #hashtag #familyfriendlyfilms or #FFF) & we need another dang soundtrack!

Book Spotlight: Recovering From Life by Debra McKenna

Whether it’s over-indulging in drugs

and alcohol, sex, shopping, work,

or exercise…really everyone has

something to recover from.

(taken from the author's website)

Recovering from Life is the tale of 39-year-old, red-headed spitfire Stephanie McCarthy’s rollicking road to redemption. A gifted freelance writer in Northern California, Steph works days hawking frozen foods while her life limps along. Until her husband, Kenny, disappears into the crack ghetto. His descent into addiction catapults Steph onto a wild ride that feels unendurable—but ultimately leads to her own self-discovery.

Marooned in a state of financial doom, legal tangles, and emotional turmoil, Steph navigates the pitfalls of her new path, which takes her into the realms of drug dealers, high finance—and hot romance. With her wisecracking buddy, Lee, and other surprising allies at her side, Steph begins to rebuild her world as she stumbles into her own blind spots and wrestles with her faulty guy-radar.

When Steph at last spies the “Welcome to Reality” sign at the end of the road, she realizes that her job is to heal from a life she never chose—and to recover from the one that she did. But while she rides that roller coaster of recovery, Stephanie has one hell of a good time.

About the Author:

With a degree in English and graduate work in Creative Writing, Debra McKenna worked as a feature writer and editor for city magazines in Sacramento, Denver, Lake Tahoe, and Las Vegas for over nine years. Recovering from Life is her first novel.
Visit Debra McKenna's website HERE
Buy Recovering From Life on Amazon HERE

Book to Movie Review: Odd Thomas

It is no secret that Oddy is my original fictional hero. I loved him LONG ago, when Koontz first conjured him up. For me, Odd Thomas is comparable to the hit CW series Supernatural but in the literary format. It has been years since there were rumors of Odd Thomas being adapted into a movie but they seemed dead in the water and I ultimately gave up. Low and behold, I went to the Redbox to get a few movies for the babysitter and what do I see on the screen before me?! FREAKING ODD THOMAS for $1.79!! When? How? Who? And ultimately, Is it good? I almost canceled my hot date (#almost my husband is way too hot) so I could instantly find out if it was a keeper. 

It was just as creepy as I remembered! The Bodachs are freaking scary, Odd is, well, just Odd and Stormy Llewellyn was a spitfire! With that said, this is not a blockbuster hit and it was clearly made for the fans. #memememe #inoddwetrust

Odd Thomas Series

This is not a series that has a love triangle, follows any specific formula, or has any predictability, this is DEAN KOONTZ. He will kill-off characters, create crazy, supernatural plot twists and at times, just bring utter madness. And in the middle of all the madness you will find Odd...
"MY NAME IS ODD THOMAS, though in this age when fame is the altar at which most people worship, I am not sure why you should care who I am or that I exist.
I am not a celebrity. I am not the child of a celebrity. I have never been married to, never been abused by, and never provided a kidney for transplantation into any celebrity. Furthermore, I have no desire to be a celebrity.
In fact I am such a nonentity by the standards of our culture that People magazine not only will never feature a piece about me but might also reject my attempts to subscribe to their publication on the grounds that the black-hole gravity of my noncelebrity is powerful enough to suck their entire enterprise into oblivion.
I am twenty years old. To a world-wise adult, I am little more than a child. To any child, however, I’m old enough to be distrusted, to be excluded forever from the magical community of the short and beardless.
Consequently, a demographics expert might conclude that my sole audience is other young men and women currently adrift between their twentieth and twenty-first birthdays.
In truth, I have nothing to say to that narrow audience. In my experience, I don’t care about most of the things that other twenty-year-old Americans care about. Except survival, of course.
I lead an unusual life."
The dead don’t talk. I don’t know why.
                                                      Odd Thomas

If you like creepy-crawly supernatural and the male POV, then the Odd Thomas series is for you! It was originally intended to be a single book but the fan base was so overwhelming that Koontz went on to write 5 more in the series. There are also webisodes, character interviews, podcasts, and even a Lingering Dead Detector. Koontz even interviews Odd, read HERE. For all the Odd extras visit HERE.

Beware of the Bodachs, they follow disaster and devastation...

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: To Live Forever by Andra Watkins

Is remembrance immortality? Nobody wants to be forgotten, least of all the famous.
Meriwether Lewis lived a memorable life. He and William Clark were the first white men to reach the Pacific in their failed attempt to discover a Northwest Passage. Much celebrated upon their return, Lewis was appointed governor of the vast Upper Louisiana Territory and began preparing his eagerly-anticipated journals for publication. But his re-entry into society proved as challenging as his journey. Battling financial and psychological demons and faced with mounting pressure from Washington, Lewis set out on a pivotal trip to the nation’s capital in September 1809. His mission: to publish his journals and salvage his political career. He never made it. He died in a roadside inn on the Natchez Trace in Tennessee from one gunshot to the head and another to the abdomen.
Was it suicide or murder? His mysterious death tainted his legacy and his fame quickly faded. Merry’s own memory of his death is fuzzy at best. All he knows is he’s fallen into Nowhere, where his only shot at redemption lies in the fate of rescuing another. An ill-suited “guardian angel,” Merry comes to in the same New Orleans bar after twelve straight failures. Now, with one drink and a two-dollar bill he is sent on his last assignment, his final shot at escape from the purgatory in which he’s been dwelling for almost 200 years. Merry still believes he can reverse his forgotten fortunes.
Nine-year-old Emmaline Cagney is the daughter of French Quarter madam and a Dixieland bass player. When her mother wins custody in a bitter divorce, Emmaline carves out her childhood among the ladies of Bourbon Street. Bounced between innocence and immorality, she struggles to find her safe haven, even while her mother makes her open her dress and serve tea to grown men.
It isn’t until Emmaline finds the strange cards hidden in her mother’s desk that she realizes why these men are visiting: her mother has offered to sell her to the highest bidder. To escape a life of prostitution, she slips away during a police raid on her mother’s bordello, desperate to find her father in Nashville.
Merry’s fateful two-dollar bill leads him to Emmaline as she is being chased by the winner of her mother’s sick card game: The Judge. A dangerous Nowhere Man convinced that Emmaline is the reincarnation of his long dead wife, Judge Wilkinson is determined to possess her, to tease out his wife’s spirit and marry her when she is ready. That Emmaline is now guarded by Meriwether Lewis, his bitter rival in life, further stokes his obsessive rage.
To elude the Judge, Em and Merry navigate the Mississippi River to Natchez. They set off on an adventure along the storied Natchez Trace, where they meet Cajun bird watchers, Elvis-crooning Siamese twins, War of 1812 re-enactors, Spanish wild boar hunters and ancient mound dwellers. Are these people their allies? Or pawns of the perverted, powerful Judge?
After a bloody confrontation with the Judge at Lewis’s grave, Merry and Em limp into Nashville and discover her father at the Parthenon. Just as Merry wrestles with the specter of success in his mission to deliver Em, The Judge intercedes with renewed determination to win Emmaline, waging a final battle for her soul. Merry vanquishes the Judge and earns his redemption. As his spirit fuses with the body of Em’s living father, Merry discovers that immortality lives within the salvation of another, not the remembrance of the multitude.
Read an Excerpt HERE.

Buy the Book

Amazon (Kindle Ebook)
Amazon (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble (Nook Ebook)
Barnes & Noble (Paperback)

About the Author

Hey. I’m Andra Watkins. I’m a native of Tennessee, but I’m lucky to call Charleston, South Carolina, home for 23 years. I’m the author of ‘To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis’, coming March 1, 2014. It’s a mishmash of historical fiction, paranormal fiction and suspense that follows Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis & Clark fame) after his mysterious death on the Natchez Trace in 1809.

I like:
eating (A lot; Italian food is my favorite.)
traveling (I never met a destination I didn’t like.)
reading (My favorite book is The Count of Monte Cristo.)
coffee (the caffeinated version) and COFFEE (sex)
performing (theater, singing, public speaking, playing piano)
time with my friends
Sirius XM Chill
yoga (No, I can’t stand on my head.)
writing in bed

I don’t like:
getting up in the morning
cilantro (It is the devil weed.)
surprises (For me or for anyone else.)
house cleaning

Author Links


Natchez Trace Walk

The Natchez Trace is a 10,000-year-old road that runs from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. Thousands of years ago, animals used its natural ridge line as a migratory route from points in the Ohio River Valley to the salt licks in Mississippi. It was logical for the first Native Americans to settle along the Trace to follow part of their migrating food supply. When the Kaintucks settled west of the Appalachians, they had to sell their goods at ports in New Orleans or Natchez, but before steam power, they had to walk home. The Trace became one of the busiest roads in North America.

To launch To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, I will be the first person of either sex to walk the 444-mile Natchez Trace as the pioneers did since the rise of steam power in the 1820′s. March 1, 2014 to April 3, 2014. Fifteen miles a day. Six days a week. One rest day per week. I will spend each night in the modern-day equivalent of stands, places much like Grinder’s Stand, where Meriwether Lewis died from two gunshot wounds on October 11, 1809.
I will take readers into the world of the book. You’ll see the places that inspired scenes and hear the backstories of different characters, with running commentary by my father, who’s tagging along with me.
I’ll also have a daily YouTube segment where I answer reader questions about the book, my walk, my arguments—I mean—interactions with my dad, and whatever readers want to know. Ask me anything at
You might see yourself on this site during my tour." rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway


Book Review: Big Fat Disaster by Beth Fehlbaum

Insecure, shy, and way overweight, Colby hates the limelight as much as her pageant-pretty mom and sisters love it. It's her life: Dad's a superstar, running for office on a family values platform. Then suddenly, he ditches his marriage for a younger woman and gets caught stealing money from the campaign. Everyone hates Colby for finding out and blowing the whistle on him. From a mansion, they end up in a poor relative's trailer, where her mom's contempt swells right along with Colby's supersized jeans. Then, a cruel video of Colby half-dressed, made by her cousin Ryan, finds its way onto the internet. Colby plans her own death. A tragic family accident intervenes, and Colby's role in it seems to paint her as a hero, but she's only a fraud. Finally, threatened with exposure, Colby must face facts about her selfish mother and her own shame. Harrowing and hopeful, proof that the truth that saves us can come with a fierce and terrible price, Big Fat Disaster is that rare thing, a story that is authentically new.
Release Date: April 18, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed by: Madi B

I’m not usually one for the troubled darker reads. What can I say, I prefer comedy to tragedy. Even so, this was my favorite book sent to me from Merit Press thus far! I found myself growing attached to Colby and really feeling for her! Colby sucked me into her world and wanted to step into the book and give her a hug. My favorite aspects were…
1.     I think the author (Yes, I’m talking to you, Beth) did a great job getting the readers to feel empathy. (Maybe not purposefully but either way it worked). I wanted to help Colby. I wanted to slap her family for her. I genuinely wanted to step into her story not because it would be fun but because I felt for Colby.
2.      I liked the rawness of the whole story. Colby held nothing back in her narration and I think that contributed to #1.  Colby narrated this story with complete honesty and it gives this novel an authenticity that may not have been there otherwise.
3.     Character development. Like most dark troubled protagonists, Colby had some SERIOUS character developing to do in this book. I would have preferred it to go a tad faster (I’m a teenager! Therefore I’m impatient!) but it was delivered.
I really liked this book but it wasn’t intended for me. This is a book that, given to the right audience, could change a person’s life. Some stuff I didn’t like…
1.      The balance of the book was off. When you have a plot as heavy as this one, you need to lighten up with something. A love story, a funny friend, a hobby any of these would have worked. I was never that excited to pick up the book and continue reading the book because I had nothing to look foreword to. Needless to say I felt like I HAD to pick up the book because it wouldn’t be fair to Colby otherwise. (I’m telling ya EMPATHY)
Other than that I didn’t have any complaints! Big Fat Disaster was a deep, heartfelt story that overall I’m glad I read.


Book Review: Here Without You (Between the Lines #4) by Tammara Webber

Everyone has secrets.
Some are buried so deep, their existence is forgotten.
But a secret never told can turn into a lie.
And in love, a lie is one thing:

Reid's in love with Dori, though she hasn't told her parents that she's fallen hard for the guy they'd forbidden her to see. Now she's leaving for college, and Reid's promise not to push her to go public is wearing thin, especially when she can't - or won't - return those three important words he wants to hear.

Five years ago, Brooke and Reid were a Thing. That relationship is long gone, detonated amid allegations of cheating - but they still share a secret that would stun everyone they know and alter public perception of them both if it ever comes out. And it's about to do just that.

Release Date: August 6, 2013
Age Group: New Adult
Source: Purchased

I've loved every second of Tammara Webber's Between the Lines series and Here Without You was no exception.  In fact, it was my favorite book out of the entire series.

I did not like Reid at all in the first two books, but I grew to love him in book three.  I loved he and Dori's relationship and how sweet they are together.  I really enjoyed the fact that Dori has the upper hand a lot of the time with Reid: he's not always as sure of her feelings, and she keeps things to herself.  I liked that Dori is no pushover and is good at standing up for herself and speaking her mind.

What made Here Without You so special to me was the emphasis on parenthood.  I love reading about parents, now that I'm a parent.  I was so happy with how that story arc ended and I thought it provided a great deal of character growth for all of the main characters.

I have always had a love-hate relationship with Brooke, but those feelings changed to a grudging acceptance and even admiration for her character.  Seeing her change throughout the series really made me like her more.  I hope that she gets her own series, it's time for her to have her own happily-ever-after.  

The Between the Lines series could be split into two parts: the first two books are about Emma and Graham (and they make short appearances only in the last two books) and books three and four are about Dori and Reid.  I like that about this series, it kept things from getting too repetitive.  

I really can't say enough good things about Tammara Webber.  I've read everything she's written, and I have loved every word of it.  If you like contemporary fiction, I highly recommend this series!

This entire series was so dang good! I thought I was in love with Emma & Graham's story until I met Dori! I completely agree with Kelli in every way. Webber is brilliant and I can't believe it's over! WHY? We NEED more, we Want more and we will BUY more! So, Tammara get back to that computer and give us more... more Reid & Dori, more Brooke and more little river. Oh little river, he definitely pulled on my mommy heart strings.

Heck, I'll take more of anything that is Young Hollywood, New Adult and written by the hand of Tammara Webber! ~Nat