Series Spotlight: Seasons of Change by Mia Hoddell

Seasons of Change Box Set
Books 1-4 + Exclusive Bonus Stories
by Mia Hoddell

Genre: YA Romance
Release date: November 27th 2014

You can now get all four Amazon best-selling novellas in the Seasons of Change series, plus two exclusive short stories, in one box set.

These feel-good contemporary romances follow the seasons as characters change for the better, find themselves, and overcome fears.

All of the novellas are standalone reads, but can be enjoyed as a series because characters overlap. This box set includes:

Summer Demons:
Jenna Shaw jumped on a plane and flew to Portugal to try and forget her past. However, forced to deal with her memories due to an ill-timed joke, Jenna’s holiday is derailed by the charismatic Ethan Brooks. She sees him as an annoyance; he sees her as a challenge. And when all of his usual tricks only serve to push her away, Ethan has to work harder than ever if he wants to win over and help his mysterious girl.

Winter Angel: When Amy’s suggestion of a beach holiday is overruled in favour of skiing she couldn’t have predicted it might make her break the one, and only, rule she has: not to commit to a serious relationship again. The minute she sees Luke, she knows something’s wrong, and her desire to fix people means she wants to be the one to help him. However, she didn’t go on holiday to fall for someone, and whether or not she can move past her insecurities will depend on whether Luke can face his biggest fear.

Autumn Ghosts: Only one person knows what truly lies in Ellie Jeffords’ heart, and that’s herself. Hating the course she is studying, Ellie is failing and when a friend’s cousin, Justin, offers to tutor her, she jumps at the chance. However, as the pressure of exams starts to break Ellie, Justin wants her to confide in him. The only problem is that he can’t persuade her to talk without revealing his own dark secret, and forcing Ellie to choose between her parents’ dreams and her own will cost her something she loves.

Spring Knight: Kayleigh Barrow is most comfortable on stage where she can pretend she’s someone else, but when auditions for the latest production are opened up to the entire university, the lines between fantasy and reality start to blur. Thrown together with renowned player, Aiden Hanson, she can’t longer hide her feelings for him. However, he’s never had a serious relationship and Kayleigh refuses to be another conquest. When her acting starts to become real and she can no longer hide behind her character, Kayleigh must decide whether Aiden’s worth the risk, or if he will end up breaking her heart.

Plus 2 exclusive short stories:
Summer Revenge:
Jenna promised she’d get Ethan back for his prank, and it’s time to cash in. Read about what happened after the couple left Portugal.
Season of Love: There’s beach fun, flirting, and mischief as all of the Seasons of Change couples take part in a beach competition.

Buy it now, save 20% and get more content than if purchased separately.

Spring Knight Excerpt
Black. It was the only colour she could see as she stood on top of the platform. Her vision had tunnelled with the waves of vertigo that hit her body, allowing only the dark colour into her eye line. With the strength of a gale force wind, it pounded on her chest, causing her to stumble back as its icy hold sent a shiver along her spine. The break from seeing the ground wasn’t enough, though. She couldn’t go far enough to feel safe. If she moved more than one step in any direction she would fall.
She felt dizzy ... lightheaded.
It was the worst possible time to find out she was scared of heights, but maybe it was the thought of jumping rather than the actual distance. Not only did she feel faint, but also sick. Kayleigh didn’t even know how those two actions could combine, but she let out a nervous giggle and hoped another type of blackness would capture her mind before she made a complete fool of herself. It probably made her sound insane, but she couldn’t stop the sound.
No longer could she find the answer to why she was on a platform, willing herself to fall. It had seemed logical and easy on the climb up, but now she suddenly felt as if she was standing on top of a building, rather than a few metres in the air. Her heart was pounding in her chest; the rhythm frantic as she urged herself to peer over the edge once more. Palms slick with sweat, her fingers slipping over each other, she twitched nervously as she strained her neck to catch a glimpse of the floor.
“I can do this. Just lean back and it will all be over,” she muttered to herself, only adding to the crazy image she had going on.
People were shuffling anxiously on the ground, unsettled by her actions. “Block them out, Kayleigh. You can do this,” she chanted ritually under her breath before she inhaled sharply. Slowly counting, she exhaled with a deep sigh when she reached twenty. Her whole body relaxed with the action and Kayleigh closed her eyes, trying to find a sense of peace and stillness. Unfortunately, all it did was make her knees weaker. Reopening her eyes, Kayleigh kept her head up and her chin parallel with the floor. If she didn’t look down, what she was about to do couldn’t scare her … at least that’s what she told herself.
Block it out. Everything. Focus on your breathing. It’ll be over in seconds.
Taking one last deep breath, her gaze hardened and she picked a spot across the room to focus on. She shuffled to the edge, her bare toes skimming the lip of the platform.
She was just about to turn around when something interrupted her focus. A door slammed hard, and into the room walked the last person she expected to see. His cool, blue eyes found hers instantly, holding multiple questions as to why she was doing what she was. Yet Kayleigh didn’t stop to think any further. The last thing she needed was to appear weak in front of him, and she’d only just calmed herself down.
Turning, Kayleigh edged back so that only her toes were balanced on the edge, her heels hanging off. She felt like a diver, but with worse balance since her legs had started to shake.
She couldn’t hold the position long.
“Ready!” she shouted, loud enough to silence the room. Normally she hated being the centre of attention, and wanted to shrink into the darkest corner possible. However, today she would kill anyone who wasn’t focused on her. Today she needed all eyes to be on her or everything was going to end badly.
She heard counting below. “Three ... Two ... One ...” As they reached the final number Kayleigh pushed all thoughts from her mind and leaned back, her arms crossed over her chest tightly.

Displacing her weight, her body fell.

About the Author

Mia Hoddell lives in the UK with her family and two cats. She spends most of her time writing or reading, loves anything paranormal and has an overactive imagination that keeps her up until the early hours of the morning.

With three poems published before the age of sixteen, Mia moved on to short stories but finding she had too much to tell with too little space, Mia progressed to novels. She started her first series (The Wanderer Trilogy) at the age of fourteen and since then hasn’t stopped writing. Seasons of Change is her third series and with an ever growing list of ideas, Mia is trying to keep up with the speed at which her imagination generates them.

Connect with Mia:

Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Google+ | Amazon Author Page

or subscribe to Mia's Newsletter for information on:
 ARCs, giveaways and new releases

3x copies of Summer Demons and Winter Angel (ebooks)

Author Interview: Laurel Osterkamp

Welcome to my tour stop for The Next Breath by Laurel Osterkamp. This is an adult contemporary novel and the tour runs November 17-28th with reviews, interviews and guest posts. Check out the tour schedule for all the posts. Read my review of The Next Breath here

Jed has cystic fibrosis, and his struggles with that were so realistic and moving.  Can you tell me about the research you did in order to write Jed's character?
I don’t know anyone who has cystic fibrosis, so I decided to read a lot and I was amazed at the generosity of all the people who have CF, and who share their stories online - especially Eva Markvoort, who ran the blog, The blog still exists, but sadly, Eva died in 2010. She was suffering from chronic rejection three years after her lung transplant, but she was amazing: loving, strong, and an incredible writer. There is also a documentary about her, which streams on Netflix, called 65 Red Roses. (Parents often teach their children to say “cystic fibrosis” by telling them to say “65 Roses,” hence the title. Eva added in “red” because it was her favorite color.)
I love the story-within-a-story concept.  Did you plan on the book including Robin in the past and present or did that idea develop as you wrote?
Yes, I knew I wanted to do flashbacks from the beginning. Robin’s character arc has always been about self-discovery, so what better time of life to write about than her college years? But when I first started writing, I didn’t know that Jed wrote the present-day play that Robin was performing in. That’s sort of amazing to me now, because it’s such an integral part of the story.
The magical realism was such a nice surprise.  It took The Next Breath to an even deeper level of intensity for me.  Can you tell me about the process you used for this inventive concept?
By magical realism, I’m assuming you mean the parts when Robin feels Jed’s presence, like during her dreams, or during the play? That too was sort of something I stumbled upon as I was writing. That line about “feeling his shadow” was just something I threw in while I was writing the dialogue for Jed’s play, and later when I read it back, I realized how much I liked it. So I decided to emphasize it and make it a theme. Often times, the writing I am most proud of happens by mistake!
The ending really surprised me.  Did you always have that ending planned or did it come to you as you wrote?
I don’t like to plan out my endings. I usually have a strong idea of where the story needs to be, but (and forgive me if this sounds silly) the way I know if I’m happy with my book’s ending is if I cry while I write it. I bawled when I wrote the last couple of scenes for The Next Breath- not because I think they were incredibly sad, but because of the emotional release that came from writing them. So I was like, “yeah, this ending will work.”
I've loved all of your books.  What's next for you?
Thank you, Kelli! I want to do one last book for Robin, because I don’t think her story is quite done. But I’m also thinking she won’t be the only narrator for this last story. So far, I have her in NYC, doing another reality show, only it’s like Project Runway, and she helps a ballet dancer turned model who is in a lot of trouble. Stay tuned! J

About the Book

nextbreath-osterkamp-ebookThe Next Breath, 313 pages

I kiss him, choosing love over honesty, which is a choice nobody should ever have to make…"

Robin loves sweet, responsible Nick, with his penchant for Beethoven and Ben Folds Five. But she also still loves her college boyfriend Jed, an irreverent playwright plagued with cystic fibrosis. Now Robin is struggling to reveal her secrets and confront her past, as she finally performs in the play that Jed wrote for her, eleven years ago. Will Robin have the strength to keep her promise and stay true to her heart?

Alternating between present-day scenes, college flashbacks, and segments from Jed’s play, this tear-jerking yet uplifting tale illustrates how life is finite but love is infinite, and the road to recovery begins with the next breath.  

Goodreads | Amazon

 About the Author

Laurel Osterkamp becomes very attached to her characters, and it’s hard for her to stop writing about them.  The Holdout, November Surprise, Blue State, Campaign Promises, American Angst and The Next Breath all feature the Bricker family, as their stories continue. (But you can read any of these books in any order.) You can find Laurel on Twitter but she needs to work on sending clever Tweets. A better idea is to follow her blog at Laurel teaches in Minneapolis, MN, where she tries to stay warm, spend time with her two nearly perfect children and husband, and find the time to write.  Her other novels are Following My Toes and Starring in the Movie of My Life. Visit her at


$25 Amazon Gift Card (INT)
Ends December 3rd, 2014

Book Review: Sinner (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #4) by Maggie Stiefvater

Sinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 New York Times bestselling Shiver Trilogy. Everybody thinks they know Cole's story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole's darkest secret -- his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel's life. Can this sinner be saved? 

Release Date: July 2014
Age Group: YA
Source: Purchased
Reviewed By:  Nat

This was the epic conclusion that I have been waiting for! When I finished what I thought to be the conclusion of the Wolves of Mercy Falls (Forever), it felt like something was missing. The story was over for Grace  and Sam but I kept thinking Cole was way to cool to just let go. And truth be told, Cole and Isabelle stole the show- they were way more entertaining to follow. I remember calling Kelli and we had a big debate about what we thought was going to happen to Cole and Isabelle. I thought there was still hope for a reunion but Kelli was dead-set that Isabelle was getting a fresh start.

Write this down folks! I was right!! Their story was just beginning and Stiefvater did them justice.

Now, something important to note before I go on, to date Kelli and I have only had two disagreements in the last 12 years. 1.) Team Gale or Team Peeta (it is still a sore subject) and 2.) The star rating for each book in this series.

Kelli describes Stiefvater's writing like an Enya song, "you know Nat, it just floats along". In layman's terms, it is just "eh" for Kelli and IT. KILLS. ME. I freaking love this series and literally read Sinner in one night! PS Kelli, HERE is the playlist from Maggie and guess what, it is Enya free. #insertuglylaugh

Yea, it was one of those times that I put the kids to bed at 6pm (with bread for dinner) and read all night. Only to be completely dysfunctional the next day and attempt to hide my sin from Sweet Stuff.  I said things like "Oh, I think I need a new pillow, I just couldn't sleep last night" aka I had a really good book and to H-E-Double Hocky Sticks do I care if anyone has breakfast.

Sinner is seen through the eyes of both Cole and Isabelle. Cole is still the arrogant, yet charming genius and Isabelle is still the snarky snot but she is real. She is so sharp witted and doesn't take any crap and for that I love her. Cole has made a plan, imagine that, and he has headed back to the big city where he once fought the struggles of fame but this time he will struggle from the past, his present deal with the devil and the unknown future he wants or needs with Isabelle.

I like that the wolf problems took a back seat. Yes, this is a paranormal series but at this point in the game it is pretty much resolved and Stiefvater did an excellent job transitioning the paranormal to the young and hot Hollywood scene (it seems like Young Hollywood has been a favorite read of mine lately). I don't want to say too much more about the plot because you need to be shocked, disgusted, have moments of relief and hope. 

Sinner will take you on an emotional roller-coaster where you will want to slap Cole, hunt down the paparazzi and then shake Isabelle half to death all while wondering how tweets rule the world.

*Image source:

Book Review: As Long As You Love Me (2B Trilogy #2) by Ann Aguirre

Most people dream about getting out of Sharon, Nebraska, but after three years away, Lauren Barrett is coming home. There are the justifications she gives to everyone else—missing her family, losing her college scholarship. And then there’s the reason Lauren can’t admit to anyone: Rob Conrad, her best friend’s older brother.

Football prowess and jaw-dropping good looks made Rob a star in high school. Out in the real world, his job and his relationships are going nowhere. He can’t pinpoint exactly what’s missing until Lauren comes back to town, bringing old feelings and new dreams with her. But he’s the guy that women love and leave—not the one who makes them think of forever.

Though she’s terrified of opening up, Lauren’s ready to take that chance. Because the only thing more important than figuring out where you truly belong is finding the person you were meant to be with.
Release Date: September 30, 2014
Age Group: New Adult
Source: Purchased
Reviewed By: Kelli
I loved the first book in Ann Aguirre's 2B Trilogy, I Want it That Way.  I fell in love with Aguirre's characters, not to mention her realistic plots and steamy romances.
I read As Long As You Love Me in one sitting on the day it was released and wouldn't have had it any other way.  I thought Lauren was going to be a great main character---she had some mystery to her in book one and I was excited to get to know her better.  Little did I know just how much I would end up identifying and liking Lauren.  She was much more like me than Nadia (the heroine from book one).
I love so many things about this series.  I love that the books are being released close together.  And they are stand-alone novels.  I love that!  No cliffhangers--yay!  The characters are so easy to relate to.  I always find myself really liking the characters as people, and thinking of them as I would a friend, hoping for their happy endings.  The love stories in this series are pretty steamy---definitely new adult.  I had no idea Aguirre could write like this...whoa.
If you like contemporary romance, I highly recommend the 2B Trilogy!

Book Review: I Want it That Way (2B Trilogy #1) by Ann Aguirre

Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she's determined to make them come true—for her parents' sake as well as her own. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, she barely has time to think, let alone date. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B….

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can't risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, a social life is out of the question. The last thing he wants is for four noisy students to move into the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia's and Ty's paths cross, and soon they can't stay away from each other.

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can't know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Age Group: New Adult
Source: Purchased
Reviewed By: Kelli
I love Ann Aguirre's writing: her Razorland series is a favorite of mine.  I was excited to discover what her contemporary romance series would be like.  I wondered if I Want it That Way would be as good as the Razorland books.  Boy, was it ever! 
I Want it That Way was deliciously good.  I loved the characters, the chemistry, the story line and the twist at the end.  I loved everything about this book!  The tension between Nadia and Ty was palpable.  I loved not knowing what would happen next: Aguirre continually surprised me with the plot twists.  There was tons of character growth, which is always a huge plus for me.  I especially appreciate character growth in a new adult novel, because it's not always a given for this genre. 
My one issue is that the bedroom scenes felt more adult than new adult; however, that is just my personal opinion.  And it certainly didn't stop me from immediately ordering the next two books in the trilogy.
I have to note that I LOVE IT when authors release an entire series back-to-back.  I Want it That Way came out on 8/26/14.  Book two, As Long As You Love Me, releases 9/30/14, and book three, The Shape of My Heart, releases 11/25/14.  I love that I don't have to wait years for this series to end, and that each book is about one character's story. So, there was plenty of closure with book one. 
I'm really excited about this fresh new series! 


Guest Post: A Forensic/Medical Author's Take on Ebola and the CDC by D.J. Donaldson

Today we have a different topic to discuss, one that has our nation up in arms, so to speak.  Author D.J. Donaldson is here to discuss his thoughts on Ebola and the CDC. Mr. Donaldson is a retired university science professor as well as a forensic/medical author.
Outbreak… Breakdown
A Forensic/Medical Author’s Take on Ebola and the CDC
by D.J. Donaldson
My book, Louisiana Fever, involves the spread of a bleeding disease known as Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever. This is a real disease that, like its close relative, Ebola, is caused by an infectious virus.  And having researched this thoroughly (and having come from a forensic/health background) I feel compelled to weigh in on the Ebola outbreak.
When I was plotting Louisiana Fever, I figured I ought to have a character in the book that was once an infectious disease specialist at the CDC.  It seemed like a logical idea because the CDC is this country’s unquestioned champion against virulent organisms, an organization staffed with experts that know every nuance of tropical viruses and how they can be controlled.
To make sure my writing about the CDC would have an authentic ring to it, I asked the public relations office of the CDC if I might be given a tour of the place.  “Sorry,” I was told.  “We don’t give tours.”  Considering how many dangerous viruses are stored in the various labs there, that seemed like a good policy, even to me.  So there would be no tour.  But then I heard from someone in my department at the U. of Tennessee Medical Center that one of our former graduate students now worked at the CDC.  I began to wonder if this connection might work to my advantage. 
And it certainly did.  The former student was now a virology section chief. A SECTION CHIEF…. Holy cow! This could be my way in.  But would the man be generous by nature and sympathetic to writers?  He proved to be both of those.
On the day of my visit, I reported to the security office as instructed.  There, I had to wait until my host came to escort me into the bowels of the place… no wandering around on my own with a visitor’s badge.  That day I saw the hot zone in action and spoke with experts in many fields of virology, even spent some time with the world expert on porcine retroviruses.  At the end of my visit—including all the cumbersome clinical protocols I had to engage in both before and during said visit—I not only left feeling more educated, but actually more safe and secure that no tropical virus would ever be a threat to this country… not with the meticulous, detail-oriented, security conscious, microbe fighters at the CDC watching out for us.      
So, it’s with much regret and… yes, even a little fear, that I witnessed the head of the CDC recently assuring us that the Ebola virus is very difficult to transmit and that we know exactly how to control it.  Instead of (what looked like) his clumsy attempts to soothe an ignorant and paranoid public, the CDC head should have given a blunt assessment, educated everyone like adults, and encouraged them to exercise precaution. Then, seemingly in answer, two nurses who cared for the index patient from Liberia become Ebola positive.  And the CDC clears one of those nurses to take a commercial airline flight, even though she was in the early stages of Ebola infection…depressing.  From a medical professional standpoint, this was practically criminal negligence. At present, the disease is not transmitted by air ("airborne"), but any scientist worth his/her salt cannot account for mutations the virus may undergo.  This is why the job of the CDC is to contain harmful microbes, issue protocols to protect the public against them and ultimately eradicate them... period.  It is not to be PR professionals for television cameras and fostering carelessness.
I’m still convinced that the combined knowledge and brainpower of the CDC staff will be a major impediment to any virus taking over this country.  But Ebola probably has some tricks we haven’t seen yet. That means we may lose a few more battles before we can declare that this particular threat is behind us.
Meanwhile, how is development of that Ebola vaccine coming?
About the Author 
D.J. Donaldson is a retired professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Tennessee, Health Science Center—where he taught and published dozens of papers on wound-healing and other health issues.  He is the author of Louisiana Fever, one of the seven in the Andy Broussard/Kit Franklyn series of forensic mystery thrillers.
Louisiana Fever:


Book Review: Find Me I'm Yours by Hillary Carlip

“If you believe in destiny like I do, and you think there’s even a remote possibility we’re meant to be together, then find me I’m yours.” —Mr. WTF

In one sentence — one serendipitous moment — everything Mags Marclay, an offbeat, wry, 24-year-old struggling artist living in L.A., has ever known is forever changed as she is led on a treasure hunt to find her soul mate.

Find Me I’m Yours is a highly entertaining, unconventional virtual page-turner. Become immersed in Mags’s world through original artwork, hand-written lists, graphics, and Instagram photos within the book. You can go even deeper into the Find Me I’m Yours universe by clicking on embedded links leading to interactive content that’s expertly woven through the novel, including:

• Original rom-com style VIDEOS that star the handsome stranger Mags dubs “Mr. WTF,” who gives clues to the hunt.
• Thirty-three unique, custom-designed WEBSITES that further the narrative, blur the lines between fiction and reality, and offer endless ways for you to enjoy additional original content, including reality and comedy series featuring A-list talent.
• OPPORTUNITIES for you to share your own content (artwork, stories, songs, apologies, wishes, etc.), interact, connect, and personally engage with the story.

This revolutionary CLICK LIT® novel was conceived from the get-go as an ever-expanding, multi-platform entertainment experience. Created, written, and designed by Hillary Carlip, and co-created, directed, and produced by Golden Globe-winning and Emmy-nominated TV comedy writer/producer/director Maxine Lapiduss, Find Me I’m Yours is a game changer in the way that stories are told and experienced.
Release Date: November 3, 2014
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed By: Kelli
Find Me I'm Yours was such a unique and fun read!  It was my first time reading Click Lit and I really enjoyed it.  I found myself smiling as I read, and ended the book smiling and happy.

I liked Mags right from the beginning.  Her voice appealed to me and her inner dialogue sounded a lot like mine.  I loved the way she thought about things: even though she appeared to be quite happy-go-lucky, she was actually quite pragmatic about the way she did things.  This was most evident in the way she conducted the search for Mr. WTF.  She was smart, savvy and thought outside of the box. 

The crux of the book, the hunt for Mr. WTF, was a fun and inventive concept.  I loved that Mags really had to work hard at deciphering the clues.  There was a lot of character development throughout the story, mainly because Mags' search led her to some realizations about her own life.  

The addition of the websites, pictures, and videos made Find Me I'm Yours all the more fun to read.  I read the book on my Kindle Paperwhite, and while I definitely enjoyed it, I would recommend reading this book on a device that has a color screen.  I would have enjoyed all the additions even more had they been in color.   

There were so many funny moments throughout this story.  Some things that stand out are the names Mags makes up for things and people, like S.H.A.R.I., the skantress, and the Victorias Secrets model.  The way Mags thought, and her humor throughout hard times in her life, made me smile as I read.

I really enjoyed Find Me I'm Yours.  It was fun, light-hearted, and unique.  It was also a pretty clean read, which was nice considering the genre.  I'd recommend it to fans of contemporary fiction, and would definitely read Hillary Carlip again.


Book Review: Bad Will Hunting (Seven Exes Are Eight Too Many #2) by Heather Wardell

During her time on "Ragged Royalty", Ashley developed a reputation as the show's scowling shrew. Clever editing, no doubt, but she still hates it. Now that her stint on the show is complete, she's determined to get the revenge she deserves on the producers who made her look so awful. Without it she can't move forward and decide what comes next for her. She knows what doesn't, though--ever seeing MC or Kent or any of the other contestants again. She hates all of them and they hate her too. Who could like "Angry Ashley"?

When she meets sexy attorney Will on the flight home, she believes he can help her get everything she needs. Until he double-crosses her. Now she needs revenge on him too.
After reluctantly enlisting fellow contestant Sam's much-needed help in her "Bad Will Hunting" mission, Ashley turns up a ton of dead ends but also some exciting life-changing possibilities. But she can't get over her need to get one over on Will, and on everyone else who's wronged her. 
With so much "bad will" in her way, can Ashley ever find true happiness?

Release Date: November 14, 2014
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from author
Reviewed By: Kelli
I have been one of Heather Wardell's biggest fans for years now, loving her books for so many reasons.  I love her writing style, which flows so easily that I usually read her books in one sitting.  Her characters are so easy for me to relate to, and I always see myself in her characters in some way.  Heather's plots are just right: detailed, interesting, and surprising.  I love that her books are contemporary women's fiction without a lot of bedroom scenes (sometimes none at all).  They are about falling in love, which is so much fun to read about. 

But my favorite thing about Heather's books is the character growth in each story.  I love seeing people change, and that change usually prods me to look at my own life and the areas where I need improvement.  It's the mark of a great writer, the ability to move a reader towards personal growth, all from the simple act of reading a book! 

When I first started Bad Will Hunting, I didn't know if I was going to be able to see myself in Ashley.  She was so angry (but justly so) that it consumed her every waking thought and every action.  Her anger was her driving force in life, and her only source of pleasure and satisfaction.  I get mad, sure, but I've never been mad like Ashley is in Bad Will Hunting.  Or course, I've never had the things that happen to Ashley happen to me.  She has plenty to be righteously angry about. 

So I started Bad Will Hunting thinking, "well, I'm not like Ashley, but I know this will still be a great read," simply because it's a "Heather" book.  And it was!  But to my surprise, Ashley really grew on me as I read her story, and by the end of the book I found several aspects in which we really were alike. 

I think that everyone has at some point in their lives experienced the burning pain of loss and betrayal.  I know I have, as well as the ache for revenge.  Revenge makes you feel better in the moment, but it hurts you in the long run.  For much of the story, Ashley doesn't know this.  All she knows is that it feels like the world is out to get her and she has to look out for herself because no one else will.  And then when her expectations about others' behavior are proved right, and she is hurt, she delivers retribution.  Ashley's revenge sometimes exceeds her initial hurt and she ends up feeling worse than she did before...until she focuses her attention on her next target. 

I understood Ashley because I too, have wanted to hurt those who have wronged me.  I've never gone as far as Ashley usually does, but I have done things I'm not proud of in the name of getting back at those that hurt me.  Ashley's rage is all-consuming, coiled inside of her like a poisonous snake waiting to strike.  It affects every area of her life, and all of that negative energy builds on itself until finally Ashley reaches a turning point.  That turning point, the crux of the story, embodied everything I love about Heather's writing.  The resolution of the plot's main conflict was realistic, uplifting, and had practical applications for my own life. 

In the end, Bad Will Hunting is a story about a woman who learns that acts of kindness, love, and acceptance can heal a battered heart.  It's not the end point that is most important, it's the journey.  I'm glad to have taken the journey with Ashley and learned some things about myself along the way.

If you are new to Heather Wardell, her first book, Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tatoo, is free on her website hereRead won't be disappointed!


Book Review: Echoes of Us (The Hybrid Chronicles #3) by Kat Zhang

To change the world, I may lose everything.All Eva ever wanted was the chance to be herself. But in the Americas, to be hybrid—to share your body with a second soul—is not tolerated past childhood. Now Eva and Addie, her sister soul, are constantly on the move, hiding from the officials who seek to capture them. But the tide is changing. A revolution is brewing, and people are starting to question the hybrids' mistreatment.

Then Marion, an ambitious reporter, offers Eva and Addie a daring proposal: If they go undercover and film the wretched conditions of a hybrid institution, she will not only rescue them, she'll find a way to free Jackson, the boy Addie loves. It's risky, and Eva will have to leave Ryan and her friends behind, but if she succeeds, it could also tip the scales forever and lead to hybrid freedom.

As Eva and Addie walk into danger, they cling to each other and the hope of a better future. But the price they might pay is higher than they ever could have imagined.
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Age Group: YA
Source: Purchased
Reviewed By: Kelli
I have loved each book in the Hybrid Chronicles series, and Echoes of Us was no different from its predecessors.  The premise of this series is so captivating, and really makes this series stand out in the genre.  I fell in love with Zhang's characters, and found myself sad that the series was over.

Eva and Addie aren't afraid of anything---and that made them so easy to admire.  I love their determination and their ability to effect change in the world around them.  They were inspiring characters to read about.

I did have a couple of complaints about Echoes of Us.  There were a lot of captures and escapes in this book.  Just one too many for my tastes.  And, the conflict resolution was rushed, in my opinion.  I wanted more "after" to the happily ever after.

Overall, I really did love this series, and would definitely recommend it.  Kat Zhang is an author to watch---I love her writing and I'm looking forward to her next release!


Book Review: Childhood's End (Shine, #1) by William Bernhardt

In the near future, a few young women manifest extraordinary abilities called "Shine." Each girl's ability is different. Some develop extraordinary mental abilities. Some become physically strong. Others have powers that defy description. But the world does not embrace these Shines. It fears them.

Aura was only trying to use her healing powers to help a small child. But when she Shined, something went horribly wrong--and Seattle was destroyed. In the aftermath of this disaster, the government institutionalizes Shines in "rehabilitative treatment centers." Aura is sent to the Transforming Your Light island rehab--but to her it seems more like a prison. The other Shines hate her. The people running the place are out to get her. And she feels certain more is going on here than "group grope" and twelve-step programs. But when she tumbles onto the horrible secret beneath the rehab--she realizes just how great the danger to her and all the other Shines really is.

Aura resolves to escape before it's too late. But she can only do that if she organizes the Shines, persuades them to work together, and overcomes the deadly opposition she only barely understands.

Shine 1: Childhood's End is the first installment in a new monthly series from nationally bestselling author William Bernhardt. Each month a new installment will be released. The first story arc will be spread over the first five months, followed by stories set in the same universe by other authors selected and invited by Bernhardt, until Bernhardt launches his second multi-part story arc in mid-2014.
Release Date: October 7, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from author
Reviewed By: Kelli
The Shine series is one of those that really took me by surprise.  For one, I'm not a huge fan of novellas.  Secondly, the paranormal genre is getting a little old for me.  And lastly, I broke one of my cardinal reading rules by reading these books out of order.  Gasp!  I read book six before any of the others (read my review here).  William Bernhardt wrote the first five installments in the Shine series and invited other authors to continue the series. 

This review is for book one, Childhood's End.  I was excited to see how the Shine saga started, and how the Shines came about.  The premise of the Shines---young girls with different superhero powers---is catchy and inventive. 

I love that these books focus on strong female lead characters.  I can't abide weak, indecisive lead characters, and so I really enjoyed reading Aura's story.  She's smart, strong and capable. 

Childhood's End is a short book but there's a lot of story packed into this novella.  I found it thrilling and read it in one sitting.  I love the Shine premise and look forward to reading the rest of this series.


Book Review: UnDivided (Unwind Dystology #4) by Neal Shusterman

Teens control the fate of America in the fourth and final book in the New York Times bestselling Unwind dystology by Neal Shusterman.

Proactive Citizenry, the company that created Cam from the parts of unwound teens, has a plan: to mass produce rewound teens like Cam for military purposes. And below the surface of that horror lies another shocking level of intrigue: Proactive Citizenry has been suppressing technology that could make unwinding completely unnecessary. As Conner, Risa, and Lev uncover these startling secrets, enraged teens begin to march on Washington to demand justice and a better future.

But more trouble is brewing. Starkey’s group of storked teens is growing more powerful and militant with each new recruit. And if they have their way, they’ll burn the harvest camps to the ground and put every adult in them before a firing squad—which could destroy any chance America has for a peaceful future.
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Age Group: YA
Source: Purchased
Reviewed By: Kelli
I've been waiting on the conclusion of the Unwind series for four years now.  I can't believe it's been only four years, because I can't remember a time when I didn't think of the characters from UnwindUnwind was one of those books that left an indelible mark on my heart, a book I'll never forget.  My first time reading it was so emotional and moving.  I've read it twice more since then and loved it even more each time.  The premise is so relevant, so captivatingly realistic, that I find myself thinking about this series often in my daily life. 

This entire series has been stunning, thrilling, and inspiring.  The way Neal Shusterman writes his characters makes them unforgettable.  His plots never cease to amaze me: he can weave story threads together in a way that makes me feel like the story could not have possibly gone any other way.  To put it succinctly: he's a storytelling genius, pure and simple.  And UnDivided was, in my opinion, his best work yet.

Shusterman continues with the theme of multiple narrators, and it really works for this series.  In UnDivided, there are more narrators than ever before.  It was almost to the point of getting confusing, when the narrators' stories began to converge.  Watching these people living separate lives come together to the same purpose was magical. 

All of the characters I fell in love with in Unwind are back, and they all get their conclusive endings.  I won't say happily-ever-afters because that isn't always the case---Shusterman keeps his stories realistic---but the endings were decisive and I loved that about this book.  The way he concluded the actual issue of unwinding was perfect.  Wondering how that story arc would unfold was one of my most-anticipated things about this book, and I'm so happy with the way he treated the unwind accord.

I could go on for days about how great UnDivided was, but I'm going to stop here and urge you to read this series if you haven't already.  It really is one of my favorite all-time series, and I can't wait to see what Shusterman comes up with next.  Also, if you haven't already heard, Unwind has been optioned for film release, due out in 2016 (read about it here).

Book Spotlight: Slave and Sister by Sabra Waldfogel

Please join Sabra Waldfogel's Blog Tour with HF Virtual Book Tours for Slave and Sister, from October 27-November 7.

01_Slave and Sister 

Publication Date: March 11, 2014 | Publisher: Sabra Waldfogel | Formats: eBook, Paperback | 379p

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Adelaide Mannheim and her slave Rachel share a shameful secret. Adelaide’s father, a Jewish planter in Cass County, Georgia, is Rachel’s father, too. Adelaide marries neighboring planter Henry Kaltenbach, a Jew deeply troubled by slavery, and watches with a wary eye as her husband treats all of his slaves—including Rachel—with kindness. As the country’s conflict over slavery looms ever larger, Henry and Rachel fall in love, and as the United States is rent by the Civil War, the lives of mistress and slave are torn apart.

When the war brings destruction and Emancipation, can these two women, made kin by slavery, free themselves of the past to truly become sisters?

Praise for Slave and Sister

"Two faces seen in a mirror: a black slave and her white mistress. Their eyes, their cheekbones, reflect a disturbingly similar cast. Disturbing for the times, antebellum Georgia, and for the reason: Adelaide Mannheim and her slave Rachel share the same father. Later, as war clouds gather, Adelaide, newly married, finds her husband and Rachel have fallen in love. What could have been a tawdry tale of forbidden romance becomes, in the hands of author Sabra Waldfogel, a complex story of survival and the emergence of true love and heroism. Waldfogel has an eye for character and the historical training to ground her story in the milieu of the 1850s and '60s. A veritable page-turner that will capture the reader from start to finish." - Lavender Magazine

"A carefully crafted cavern through time... Waldfogel's wizardry with words makes it impossible not to be devastatingly impacted by her work... A literary tapestry of shame and honor, of glory and defeat, and of coming to terms with the most important issues in life." - The Northern Star

About the Author

Sabra Waldfogel grew up far from the South in Minneapolis. She studied history at Harvard University and received her Ph.D. in American History from the University of Minnesota. She has worked as a technical writer and has written about historic architecture for Old House Journal and Arts and Crafts Homes. Her short story “Yemaya” appeared in Sixfold’s Winter 2013 fiction issue. Slave and Sister is her first novel.

For more information please visit Sabra's website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Slave and Sister Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 27
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, October 28
Interview at Caroline Wilson Writes

Wednesday, October 29
Review & Giveaway at Forever Ashley
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Thursday, October 30
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

Monday, November 3
Review at Book Babe

Tuesday, November 4
Spotlight at I'd Rather Be Reading

Wednesday, November 5
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Thursday, November 6
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews

Friday, November 7
Interview at Mina's Bookshelf
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter

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