Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Happenstance, by Jamie McGuire

Five Stars to Happenstance, by Jamie McGuire, the first in a new series of self-published YA novellas from the beloved author of Beautiful Disaster.  It's a characterful portrait of a small town girl with big dreams, and the complicated circumstances that unfold as her senior year comes to an end.


Erin Easter is one of three Erins in the small senior class of rural Blackwell High School who not only share a first name, but also their birthday. Raised by a neglectful single mom, Erin keeps to herself and admires Weston Gates from afar. The other Erins, Erin A. and Erin M. are the darlings of the community: daughters of the two wealthiest families in town, best friends, cheerleaders, and everything Erin Easter isn't--and they never let her forget it. Erin A. has even claimed Weston since the 8th grade.

Weston is a well-liked star athlete, and the son of two prominent attorneys. He struggles daily with the pressures of living up to his family name and secretly empathizes with Erin Easter's feeling that she belongs somewhere else; in a different life. Not until he begins sneaking nights out with Erin does he gain the courage to buck expectations and acknowledge his feelings ... both for his future, and for her.

But when a shocking tragedy rocks the tiny town, Erin's life is turned upside down in the best way possible. But when the truth is revealed and everything Erin thinks she wanted falls into her lap, life only becomes more complicated.

Fred's Notes

The art of miniature painting reached its apogee or zenith in the late 16th century, with
the artistry of Nicholas Hilliard, who was renowned not only for his technical skill, but also for the way his work was sensitive to the character of the persons he portrayed.  This little portrait he did of Queen Elizabeth I gives us a glimpse of her as a real person I think, not the shellacked and overcoiffed official image we usually see.  And what a crazy time that was in England right? John Donne, Shakespeare, William Byrd, John Dowland - an astonishing flowering of works that still speak to our contemporary ears.

I'm not going to get super carried away and say we're in a literary renaissance of Elizabethan proportions,  but the outpouring of awesome that has occurred since Jamie first published Beautiful Disaster, Colleen Hoover published Slammed, Abbi Glines published Breathe, E.L. James published the Fifty Shades trilogy, Tammara Webber published the Between the Lines series, Steph Campbell published  Grounding Quinn, Tarryn Fisher published The Opportunist ... okay, I'm going to stop, and leave those as examplars, not an exhaustive enumeration, because although there are so many that I don't want to leave out,  this is supposed to be a review of Happenstance, right?  So my point is that there has been an outpouring, an explosion, even, of talent that while maybe not straight outa Cheapside, is reminiscent at least of another British invasion, when four lads from Liverpool ignited a storm of talent that blew up the charts, the music business and the ears of young listeners in much the way Jamie and her coterie of charming codebreakers  (they broke the publishing code, is what I'm driving at) burst onto the scene just a few short years ago (wow, 2011, right? So much has happened and changed!).

Happenstance is a beautiful miniature in the mold of those sixteenth century portraits (just in case you wondered how I was planning on tying that in, lol).  It's technically proficient, clever, artful and, conveys a vivid sense of its characters and their circumstances.  And while small in scale, it delivers a big emotional punch.  Proficient and clever, you ask?  Well, consider the names of the characters for example. Erin Easter, our protagonist, is ripe for the rebirth and renewal of the season whose name she shares (treading close to spoiler territory, sorry!)  And Weston Gates?  Maybe he's the entryway to something beyond the circumscribed circumstances of Erin's current choices. And Erin works at Dairy Queen, where she's a bit of a scullery maid, replete with a cruel mother, as well.  So there are archetypal elements of fairy tale, legend and myth, mingled in with the down home realism that Jamie is at great pains to create. I've worked in a Dairy Queen (okay, technically it was a Tastee Freeze, fine) and Jamie nails the sights, sounds, smells and spatters of that experience.   She also creates a vivid and touching portrait of a sensitive girl in tough circumstances, one whose knight without armor relies on his inhaler in socially stressful situations, and a provincial society that is kind of Gene Pitney-esque in its "without pity" aspects. Her imagery is vivid, but relatable, in a way that reminded me of my old high school production of Our Town, finding poetry in the pedestrian details of small town life. 

Okay, suffice it to say, I loved Happenstance, and I think you will too, if you love a tender and emotional contemporary YA.  It's fun to watch a master at work, and to enjoy the atmosphere and characters she creates as she wields that miniature brush so lovingly and effectively.  

Wrap Up and Amazon Link

It's probably pretty obvious that I'm a big Jamie fan.  I consider her a friend, mentor and supporter of my little blog and my presence in the book community.  But that friendship grows from my respect for Jamie's talent, perseverance and humanity.  So trust me when I tell you, this is a heck of a sweet read for contemp YA lovers.  It's short (remember my whole miniature shtick?), but a lovely quick read that will remind you why you fell in love with indie, and Jamie McGuire, in the first place.

Find it at Amazon, here!

Friday, May 23, 2014

To Professor, With Love (Forbidden Men, Number 2), by Linda Kage

To Professor With Love (Forbidden Men, #2), by Linda Kage

I'm excited to be part of Tasty Book Tours blog tour for Linda's latest, the second in her "Forbidden Men" New Adult series (The first book in the series, The Price of a Kiss, is about a girl who falls in love with a gigolo.  Sounds bad, right, but, well it's a long, crazy story ...) This is a standalone, with some recurring characters from Book 1 making an appearance, but it doesn't require one to have read TPOK.  Add it to your Goodreads tbr here, but don't deny yourself the pleasure for too long, it's that sweet of a read!


Junior in college. Star athlete. Constant attention from the opposite sex. 

On this campus, I’m worshiped. While seven hundred miles away, back in my hometown, I’m still trailer park trash, child of the town tramp, and older sibling to three kids who are counting on me to keep my shit together so I can take them away from the same crappy life I grew up in. 

These two opposing sides of myself never mix until one person gets a glimpse of the true me. I never expected to connect with anyone like this or want more beyond one night. This may be the real deal.

Problem is, Dr. Kavanagh’s my literature professor.

If I start anything with a teacher and we’re caught together, I might as well kiss my entire future goodbye, as well as my family’s, and especially Dr. Kavanagh’s. Except sometimes love is worth risking everything. Or at least, it damn well better be because I can only resist so much.

Fred's Notes

I've read a few of Linda's many books (girl is a boss, seriously!), including The Stillburrow Crush, Delinquent Daddy, and Kiss It Better, and I've loved them all.  They are different in genre and approach ( Stillburrow is YA, Delinquent Daddy is contemporary romance, and Kiss It Better is, idk, kind of a contemp issues book?), but they share Linda's unique ability to take a situation that seems to have been saturated with treatment by others, and make it fresh and unputdownable (I've read all of Linda's books except To Professor in one sitting, and would have read this one that way, but it's a big ass book, 358 kindle pages, whoa!).  So this one too, is a situation, teacher/student, that has been the subject of several of my favorite books of the last couple years (I have a rule that I don't mention other authors in reviews, but they are familiar books), and I kind of thought, oh I know the whole plot already.  But, haha, Linda laughs (I imagine), no you don't!  First, the "Professor" is the girl here, although she's young, so she's the one with the authority position, and the most to lose upon discovery.  Linda brings the intensity, the drama and the angst in this one, with some of the sensitive themes and issues she's touched on in other books (including rape and a whole lotta preggo goin' on), misunderstandings and miscontrued conversations up the wazoo.  In other words, everything I love about a Linda Kage book.  Another thing I really enjoyed about this book was the way Linda uses literary works such as The Heart of Darkness,The Great Gatsby and The Scarlet Letter to move the plot forward, as well as to illuminate and allusively embroider the book's themes.  All in all a satisfying, sweet and surprisingly affecting read (although you think I'd be on to Linda's tricks by now!), that I heartily recommend to lovers of contemporary NA.  

Who's That Girl?

Linda grew up on a dairy farm in the Midwest as the youngest of eight children. Now she lives in Kansas with her husband, toddler daughter, and their nine cuckoo clocks. She works a day job in the acquisitions department of a university library and feels her life has been blessed with lots of people to learn from and love. Writing's always been a major part her world, and she's thrilled to finally share some of her stories with other romance lovers.

An Excerpt from To Professor, With Love

“What the does that even mean?”

Dr. Kavanagh remained cool and collected, damn her, seated in her chair as she calmly watched me unravel into a hot pile of anxiety. “It means you didn’t do what you were asked to do. I wanted you to
make a correlation between a character in the story and yourself. You made no such connection. In fact, you didn’t talk about you at all.”

I snorted. “Maybe I didn’t feel a connection with a bunch of rich-ass idiots from the twenties, whining about lost love while they spread around adultery like it was some kind of candy. How am I supposed to correlate anything when there is nothing to correlate?”

She fell back in her chair and sent me a frustrated frown. “Mr. Gamble…” With another sigh, she shook her head and ran her hands wearily over her face, which unfortunately made me focus on her lips.

God damn, that mouth should not be legal. I could picture it pursed so perfectly around my cock, could almost feel the wet slide of her tongue running up my entire length as she sucked me in deep. 

Shit, now I had wood.

Fortunately oblivious to my crude, unwanted thoughts, she stiffened her shoulders, sat forward again and looked me straight in the eye. “Truly talented literature is truly talented for a reason. It always—always—finds a way to reach every person who reads it. It takes a theme about the human condition and makes it its little bitch.”

My eyebrows shot up into my hairline. What the hell? Shaking my head, I blinked. “Did you just say—”

“Yes!” she snapped. “I did. Because it’s true. Take one word about feelings or emotions and you’ll be able to find a theme for it in The Great Gatsby. I promise you.” When I did nothing but gape at her, she arched a curious brow. “You do have emotions, don’t you?”

“I’m having some right now.” And they were totally freaking me out, but fuck, I really liked watching her perfect, too-pure mouth forming dirty words. It was like some awful, humiliating sickness. I wanted her to do it again.

Say bitch again. Please. Just one more time."

Find and follow Linda all over the place!

And Enter An Awesome Rafflecopter Giveaway!

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Captivating Bridge, by Michelle Mankin

NOW AVAILABLE & on SALE for ONLY $.99 for RELEASE WEEK ONLY (regular price will be $2.99)

Come join our Goodreads Release Day & Blog Tour Event


Warren “War” Jinkins is that guy.
The bad one.
Tempest’s ex front man, an arrogant rock god.
The only thing larger than his ego is his capacity for self-destruction.
His bad attitude has cost him. His woman. His best friend. His band.
Shaina Bentley is that girl.
The good one.
Hollywood’s pink candy-coated sweetheart.
The star of Pinky Swear, television’s top rated teen show.
She’s been practically perfect since that horrible day. But she’s starting to crack under the strain of being everything to everyone.
He’s a one man island. She’s a fragile captive soul.
Is love a current too dangerous to cross or will it be the bridge that brings them together?
*Author note: Each book in the Tempest series features a different band member and can stand alone.*

Fred’s Notes

I love Michelle Mankin and her awesome crazy crew at Black Cat records.  I remember so well the sense of delighted discovery I felt when first reading Love Evolution, the kick-ass kick-off to her Brutal Strength series, and the excitement Michelle and I shared as her fledgling but fearless and feisty foo-fightin’ friends took the stage and began to rock.  And now five books later, Michelle is kicking out the jams all over again, rockin’ harder than a hurricane, tender and tough, gritty and graceful.  I haven’t had the chance to read Captivating Bridge yet, but am so looking forward to it.  Does the title refer to the part of a song that draws you in between verses, or a span that connects two souls, bridging the troubled waters of the world, the flesh and the devil?  Or all of the above? Can’t wait to find out!

And it’s so cool that Brandee’s Book Endings is hosting and invited me to be part of this rockin’ release.  Being part of a Brandee tour is always a treat for me, she got style, she got taste, she got mojo workin' all over the place.  Love it when two of my favorite friends find each other.

So to celebrate, in addition to the awesome prize packs in the Rafflecopter below, I’m giving away copies of Captivating Bridge, here, and over at my Facebook page, Team Fred.  Leave your email in the comments, or pm me, and I’ll hook you up!  Subject to limitations of reasonableness, mental fatigue and my discretion, so don’t rock the jukebox too hard (by which I mean I'm shooting for a total of ten-ish)!

CAPTIVATING BRIDGE will be on sale at .99 for a limited time with a portion of proceeds going to: The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) a leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to preventing suicide.

Captivating Bridge spotify playlist

3 PRIZE PACKS - enter below

FAN -Black Cat Records bumper sticker & tat, Tempest tat, all 3 ebooks

GROUPIE - all of that, plus Soul of the Rose earrings just like War's tat in CB, plus all 3 ebooks

ULTIMATE GROUPIE - all above, plus necklace like War's tat in CB, Janis Joplin sticker, GNR limited edition playing cards, plus all 3 signed paperbacks

Michelle Mankin is the author of the Black Cat Records series of novels.
Romance with subtext.
Reimagining classic stories with sexy rock stars and thought provoking issues.
For many years she worked in the insurance industry as an underwriter. Somehow, the boredom didn't kill her but the hours and hours of looking at facts and figures provided ample time for her mind to wander.
Black Cat Records in Vancouver provides the central backdrop for all of Michelle’s current novels. Love Evolution, Love Revolution, and Love Resolution are a Brutal Strength centered trilogy, combining the plot underpinnings of Shakespeare with the drama, excitement, and indisputable sexiness of the rock 'n roll industry.
Things take a bit of an edgier, once upon a time turn with the Tempest series. These pierced, tatted, and troubled Seattle rockers are young and on the cusp of making it big, but with serious obstacles to overcome that may prevent them from ever getting there.
When Michelle is not prowling the streets of her Texas town listening to her rock music much too loud, she is putting her daydreams down on paper or traveling the world with her family and friends, sometimes for real, and sometimes just for pretend as she takes the children to school and back.
Brutal Strength series:
Love Evolution: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0080ZCZ14
Love Revolution: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A6DE8IG
Love Resolution: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CC705J0
Tempest series:
Irresistible Refrain: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FLG5KPS
Enticing Interlude: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I7LGQOI
Captivating Bridge: http://amzn.to/RT7AMV
Connect with Michelle Mankin on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Michelle-Mankin/233503403414065
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/MichelleMankin
On her website: http://www.michellemankin.com/
Receive the Black Cat Records newsletter: http://eepurl.com/Lvgzf
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Monday, May 19, 2014

His Billion Dollar Baby, by Lea Nolan

His Billion Dollar Baby, by Lea Nolan.

I met Lea at RT this past week, and she was gracious and generous enough to spend a few minutes chatting with me.  I love the sound of this book, I'm always a sucker for a baby plot, and this one sounds awesomely sweet and emotional, I'm really looking forward to reading it!  And I loved that's it blurbed (on Amazon) by the lovely and talented Rachel Harris, another beloved author I got to meet this week at RT!


Burned by love and grieving over his brother’s death, sexy billionaire CEO Carter Anderson wants nothing more than to protect his family. So when beautiful and unassuming physical therapist Gwen Radley shows up at the funeral, pregnant with his brother’s baby, Carter’s certain she wants an interest in the Anderson empire—and both his suspicion and attraction grow when circumstances force Gwen to move into his family’s mansion.

An orphan, Gwen’s never wanted anything more than a family, and she finds in the Andersons a place she and her baby might belong. When Gwen’s therapy expertise leads to long hours of intense, late-night collaboration on a lucrative project, the attraction between her and Carter leads to a night of white-hot passion. But Carter’s distrust remains, leading them both to wonder if he will ever embrace his brother’s baby—or the love that’s blooming between them.

Who's That Girl?

Lea Nolan couldn’t read until the third grade. After a lot of hard work she finally got the hang of it and
quickly learned the best way to get out of doing chores was to tell her parents she was reading. Soon she was hooked, devouring books by Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien, and graduated to those by V.C. Andrews, Stephen King, and Anne Rice. Books provided a portal to enchanted lands where anything was possible and characters relied on their wits to wiggle out of sticky situations.

Today, Lea Nolan writes books for young adults featuring bright heroines, crazy-hot heroes, diabolical plot twists, plus a dose of magic, a draft of romance, and a sprinkle of history. She also pens smart, witty contemporary stories for adults filled with head-swooning, heart-throbbing, sweep-you-off your feet romance.

With a master’s degree in women’s studies and public policy, and an undergraduate degree in history, she spent twenty years as a health policy analyst and researcher, writing hundreds of fascinating reports and articles tens of people enjoyed. Today, she teaches graduate courses in health policy, law, and financing, and takes on the occasional consulting gig.

Born and raised on Long Island, New York, she loves the water far too much to live inland. With her heroically supportive husband and three clever children, she resides in Maryland where she scarfs down crab cakes whenever she gets the chance.

 Amazon Link Here!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Kiss Me Hard Before You Go by Shannon McCrimmon

On Amazon Now

Kiss Me Hard Before You Go, by Shannon McCrimmon

Releasing today, Shannon's new novel of summer, family and unexpected chances.  Find it on Amazon today, and step into the enchanted summer of 1978 and the wonderful, if slightly offbeat, world of Kip Kierkin's Carnival of Wonders!


Every summer, Gray Barnes and his eighteen­ year old daughter, Evie, open up their farm n the foothills of South Carolina to Kip Kierkin's Carnival of Wonder. The carnival attracts hordes of locals and out ­of ­towners, and it brings in the extra cash that Gray and his daughter need to keep the family estate running.

Evie decided long ago that she wants nothing to do with the carnival or the farm that her dad so desperately works to keep afloat. She doesn't understand her father's appreciation for the land or the work that it takes to maintain it, but that's all about to change when she meets Finch Mills.

Finch is a lifer – a carny since birth. He's spent all of his twenty ­two years on the circuit and longs for a different path. He's never paid much attention to Evie, not until this eventful summer of 1978.

Who's That Girl?
Shannon is a Florida native who currently resides in Greenville, South Carolina, with my husband
and toy poodle. When she's not writing, she can be found drinking Earl Grey tea with honey
and cream, singing ineptly and butchering the lyrics to her favorite songs, and asking
friends ridiculous, hypothetical scenario­ based questions. She loves to hear from readers, connect with her at www.shannonmccrimmon.com

Fred's Notes

I've enjoyed the lyrical, emotionally complex world of Shannon's earlier novels, The Summer I Learned To Dive, and The Year I Almost Drowned.  Shannon has a beautiful way with words, and a sensitivity to the web of family, friends and emotions that both tangles and supports us as we reach for the freedom of our adult lives.  I'm really looking forward to reading this one!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Misunderstandings, by Tiffany King


A Woodfalls Girls Novel by Tiffany King

“Funny, real, moving and passionate, 
Misunderstandings is a MUST-READ for 
NA contemporary romance fans."
New York Times bestselling
author Samantha Young

“Super sweet and swoon-worthy!" 
#1 NewYork Times Bestselling author
Jennifer L. Armentrout

Misunderstandings - Synopsis

She thought she was ready to move forward …

Two years after a devastating breakup, Brittni Mitchell has moved on from Justin Avery—or so she tells herself. But when she returns to Seattle for her best friend’s engagement party, Brittni finds herself the victim of a disastrously timed elevator breakdown. She’s trapped with the last person she wants to face, and forced to recount the past she desperately wants to forget.

But now she’s going to have to look back…

When Brittni left her podunk hometown for a big city college experience at the University of Washington, hooking up with a guy like Justin Avery was not part of her plan. Between Justin’s attention-grabbing tattoos, cigarette smoking, and bad boy attitude Brittni quickly chalked him up as “Mr. Wrong.” But his charm was unrelenting, and Brittni’s decision to give Justin a chance quickly turned into the worst choice she ever made.
To put what's past behind her ... and finally face her future.

Now she’s stuck with Justin—literally—and the complicated web of misunderstandings that tied up the truth for two years is about to unravel ...


Fred's Notes

Sometimes the biggest emotions take place in the smallest spaces ... like in the Elevator From Hell that MC Brittni finds herself trapped in with her ex, Justin Avery.  It's hard to believe there's enough room for both of them in that elevator, what with all those unresolved issues taking up so much emotional space, but they're in there alright.  Foolish pride, prejudicial preconceptions and the titular major misunderstandings brew up a mega-melange of maladaptive misbehavior. Fortunately for Brittni and Justin, they are in the capable hands of beloved author Tiffany King, so you can have a pretty good feeling that those tangled webs of emotion they've worked so hard to weave will not be impervious to the salty tears of satisfied readers.  Tender, yes, and sometimes tough, this is a lovely example of Tiffany King at the height of her powers.  Humane, compassionate and witty, it's a delightful read.

Available Now at these Purchase Links




Barnes & Noble



Indie Bound


Who's That Girl?

USA Today Bestselling author Tiffany King is a lifelong reading fanatic who is now living her dream as a writer, weaving Young Adult and New Adult romance tales for others to enjoy. She has a loving husband and two
wonderful kids. (Five, if you count her three spoiled cats). Her addictions include: Her iPhone and iPad, chocolate, Diet Coke, chocolate, Harry Potter, chocolate, zombies and her favorite TV shows. Want to know what they are? Just
ask (and stand back, lol, ed.)

For information on any of Author Tiffany's titles, visit her blog at www.authortiffanyjking.blogspot.com

Find and Follow Tiffany All Over The Place!

Twitter - @AuthorTiffany

Facebook - AuthorTiffanyKing

Pinterest - Tiffany King

Goodreads - Tiffany King

Email authortiffany@yahoo.com.

"Dreams do come true...Dream big."