Blog Tour – Buck Up, Buttercup

Title: Buck Up, Buttercup
Author: Anna Alkire
Published: June 2022
Genres: Comedy, Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Goodreads

Synopsis:
All’s fair in love and war.
With Randi and Buck, it’s hard to tell the two apart…

An uptight, self-contained college girl, Randi Becker just needed one thing: a room. Somewhere she could study, and keep away from the things that most confuse and frighten her: people.

Unfortunately, the “nice quiet place” she reserved turns out to be a room in the campus’ most raucous house. A place seemingly designed to make studying impossible, made even worse by the other girls’ non-stop drama.

But then Buck, a fun-loving cowboy whom all the ladies love, shows up…and everything gets much worse.

Buck seems to have it all: friends, fun, and a never-ending line of admirers. But what he most desires is a break. So when Buck spots Randi, he figures she’s a perfect decoy: he can play up a “crush” on her that will take him off the market; buy him some breathing room. And if he can tease her a bit, and get under the skin of the uptight busybody? Well, that’s just gravy.

But Buck is about to find more than he bargained for. Randi’s strong-willed, opinionated, difficult—and maybe just what he needs. And Buck isn’t alone. Soon Randi wonders as well…if the world she wanted is really the world she needs. If her future is nothing more than a diploma on the wall. And if the most important thing in her world isn’t a grade, but the cowboy who’s planted his boots firmly in her heart.

Fans of Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare and Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game will delight at this mix of romantic comedy, contemporary romance, and cultures colliding in a campus town with a western flair. Grab your copy today, and fall in love with Buck Up, Buttercup!

Chapter One 

The cab driver obviously smoked cigarettes and didn’t use his air conditioner. Or deodorant. Randi pulled off her thin cardigan in the stuffy backseat. It still felt like mid-summer down here, even with October twelve days away. 

She would finish her degree and get out. Done is better than perfect, she told herself for the hundredth time. Companies hiring for business, marketing, and graphic design (her combined major) wanted graduates, not perfect grades. A good thing because she’d be lucky to pass everything. 

At last, the car turned onto a gravel road winding into an orchard. The cab’s high-beams lit up the bushy branches and thick gnarled trunks of hazelnut trees. She couldn’t wait to see it in daylight. 

“Shit!” the driver yelled. He slammed on the brakes and the cab jerked to a stop, swirling dust up from the gravel road. Randi gasped. Someone ran right in front of the cab, pink, naked skin glowing in the headlights. 

Male butt cheeks sprinted up the middle of the road blocking them from passing. Pale, hairy legs ended in cowboy boots. One of his hands was holding a cowboy hat on his head. He whooped and veered off into the orchard. 

They sat in silence for a stunned moment. If that was somebody’s boyfriend, she would be moving out. 

“Did a naked guy jump in front of the car?” Randi said, taking her glasses off to rub her eyes. 

The cab driver grunted. 

“Do you see that kind of thing often?”
“Hazing week,” he grumbled. “You want to keep going?”
She paused, her head a foggy cloud. What did he mean, keep going? Did he want her to 

jump out and walk the rest of the way? Not with insane naked men running around. “Yes,” she said. 

Belatedly, her brain caught up with the conversation—he’d meant he could turn the cab around with her in it. A lump the size of a fist lodged in her throat. Something was brewing up ahead and it wasn’t herbal tea before bedtime. 

The cab rolled forward at a slower pace, veering around the largest potholes. Her clenching stomach churned with acid. She couldn’t think. They rounded a bend. Cars lined both sides of the road, wedged between the trees. Women came tumbling out of one of them—young, wearing cowboy hats, short shorts, and halter tops. 

Randi’s mouth opened and closed. The cab kept going. Beer cans and red keg cups littered the gravel and the dirt shoulder. Noise was filtering in: shouts and high-pitched laughter. She realized the seat belt was clenched in both her fists. They drove out of the orchard. A sea of cars spread out in row after row on the grass in front of a farmhouse, like the parking lot of an outdoor concert. 

People swarmed everywhere, blocking stairways, twenty deep around the sides of the house. A huge bonfire burned in front of a barn. 

The driver turned off his radio. The overwhelming muddle of music, shouting, whooping, and a few hundred people talking at once brought reality crashing home. She sat suspended, unable to speak, chest heaving, panting in short gasps. Her sweating back could have been glued to the sticky leather seat. 

“Hey, kiddo,” the driver said, “got a pickup in twenty minutes. You want a ride back into town?” 

She stared at the house number. It was correct. Not to mention the old farmhouse matched the picture online. And so did the orchard. Over the summer, Trish had emailed her back promptly, answering all her questions. This was the house of “studious women serious about school.” When asked directly about parties, Trish had responded, “Little get-togethers— yes. Massive parties—absolutely not.” 

Anger boiled up, burning away the paralyzing fear. She huffed in dawning realization. They’d taken her savings. Conned her. After working fourteen-hour days, seven days a week for three months in Buenos Aires, she’d spent everything to secure her spot living at this house. She would get her money back, tonight—first and last month’s rent, plus a deposit. Her stomach roiled. 

“Meter’s running. What’s it going to be?” 

Amazon


Anna Alkire has been a long-term college student, a business owner, and a world traveler. Now “settled”—with a sigh and a cup of decaf—Anna lives in Washington state, where she splits her time between a husband who thinks the North Pole would be a great place to live, chasing her hurricane of a son, learning new handicrafts, and creating worlds full of the kind of romance and fun she most wants to read. Find more about her (and grab a freebie or two) at her website, annaalkire.com.

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Blog Tour – Trapped in Love

Title: Trapped In Love (MacGregor Brothers Brewing Company, #2)
Author: Danica Flynn
Published: July 2022
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads

Synopsis:
When my boss forced me on vacation to think about my career at the brewery, I wanted to scream. Then my sister suggested I spend the week at our dad’s cabin in the Poconos to think about what I really wanted.

Hoping for a relaxing week of fishing, hiking, and drinking lots of beer, I didn’t expect to find my sworn enemy already there. It was clear we had been setup by my meddlesome sister.

I had no desire to work out my differences with Felix freaking Jameson. He already broke my heart twice and I wasn’t going to let him do it a third time.

I just hoped the cabin was big enough for the both of us. And that I could forget how good it felt when his mouth was on mine. I definitely wasn’t going to let him into my bed again. Definitely not.

Trapped in Love is a small-town summer vacation romance set in the Poconos. If you love enemies to lovers and forced proximity, this one is for you.

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I blinked and stared at my brothers-in-law while I processed what they had just asked me.

The MacGregor Brothers couldn’t look more different, but they had similar mannerisms. While Declan rubbed a nervous hand across his clean-shaven jaw, his older brother Nolan mirrored the reaction by brushing his hand across his big, bushy beard.

“Well?” Nolan asked.

I blinked back at him. “That’s the stupidest f&*!ing name for a beer I’ve ever heard!”

Declan busted up laughing. “Told you!”

Nolan scowled, which was his usual MO anyway. Everyone knew Nolan MacGregor was the biggest grump in all of Drakesville.

I pinned him with a confused look. “Norah’s Nectar, really? Nol, that sounds gross!”

Declan tried so hard not to laugh, while Nolan stood up and started pacing around the office. The pacing wasn’t new. My sister was heavily pregnant, and the stress was getting to her husband. Lately, he was such a grumpy bear that everyone was walking on eggshells around him.

I got that he wanted to name the new hefeweizen after his baby, but Norah’s Nectar was dumb as shit. I chewed on my lip and ran a hand down my tattooed arm as I tried to come up with a better name.

Immediately, a thought struck me. 

“Ooh! I got it!” I cheered.

 “What?” Nolan growled.

See — grumpy bear!

A smile curled up onto my lips. “Mac Daddy!”

Nolan frowned. “That’s so stupid!”

“Nope!” Declan agreed with me. “I like it. It gets people to go ‘whoa, what’s that?’ and pick it up.”

“Exactly,” I said. “This beer’s new. It shows we’re experimenting and trying new things. It should have a unique name.”

Nolan gnashed his teeth, but then he nodded and walked out of the room.

Declan shrugged. We were all used to Nolan The Grouch by now. Declan went to say something else to me, but then his phone rang, and his brow furrowed in confusion. He held up a finger for me to wait before I darted back out to the serving floor.

“Gemma’s coming to get you,” he said into the phone.

My eyes widened. By his words, I knew exactly who he was talking to. Oh, s&!t, it was go-time. Avery was having the baby! 

“Go,” Declan said when he hung up the phone and handed me the go-bag Nolan had stashed behind Declan’s desk.

“I’m supposed to be on shift. Asher can’t handle the bar himself tonight.”

Declan swore. “Call Felix. Tell him it’s an emergency.”

I gritted my teeth and fingered the crystal around my neck. I tried to will away the bad vibes as I thought of Felix fricking Jameson.

I used to like Felix. A lot. He was funny and hot with his eyebrow piercing and sleeve tattoos. Back in January, he asked me out, but then he stood me up. If he apologized, I wouldn’t have hated him with the passion of a thousand fiery suns. Instead, he pretended he never asked me out and said it was a joke.

Danica Flynn is a marketer by day, and a writer by nights and weekends. AKA she doesn’t sleep! She is a rabid hockey fan of both The Philadelphia Flyers and the Metropolitan Riveters. When not writing, she can be found hanging with her partner, playing video games, and reading a ton of books.

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Tour-wide giveaway (INT):
Signed copy of Trapped In Love
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Blog Tour – Reasons Why Not to Date Public Enemy CEO

Title: Reasons Why Not to Date Public Enemy CEO (Shell Grove, #1)
Author: Melanie Munton
Published: June 2022
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads

Reasons Why Not to Date Public Enemy CEO-4

What happens when the most hated man in town goes after everyone’s favorite girl-next-door?

Reason #1: Big, bad CEO Aiden Beaumont wears his grumpy mask every day like a badge of honor. Mia Sparks wants nothing more than to honk his nose or throw a pie in his face, à la The Three Stooges, just to see if he’s capable of smiling. Unfortunately, she can’t. Because he’s technically her boss, and she’d like to keep her gig at the new five-star beach resort for longer than two weeks.

Reason #2: Everyone in her small hometown of Shell Grove, SC hates the man. He brought big business to their little beach town, and as far as her fellow citizens are concerned, that makes him the devil incarnate. But he won’t be staying forever, which works for Mia. She doesn’t go for the flashy city types anyway. She’s quite happy living her quiet life in Shell Grove. The faster the cranky—albeit stupidly hot—CEO is out of her life, the better.

Reason #3: Every time Aiden frowns at her, it hits her like a thousand-watt smile. He has a language all his own, and it’s starting to make way too much sense to her. She can’t avoid him in a town the size of a postage stamp, and it finally hits her that…she doesn’t want to escape him. This always-irritated, too-serious businessman couldn’t possibly be the stable safe haven she’s been looking for. Could he?

Aiden knows there’s a million and one reasons to stay away from the sugary sweet Mia. But who runs away from sunshine after living their entire life in a secluded cave? And when someone from her past unexpectedly emerges and tries to drive a wedge between the two of them? All bets are off. Aiden has never lost a fight in the boardroom, and he’s not about to lose the fight for the woman he wants to deserve. He just has to prove to her that he’s not the PUBLIC ENEMY CEO everyone thinks he is.

Excerpt

Aiden took a moment to breathe in the fresh air of the outdoors, something he really never took the time to do unless he was on a golf course. The fact that this was only his second visit to The Sapphire’s course was a travesty. It had recently been voted one of the top five courses in the entire state. And due to the fact that this area of South Carolina—close to the Georgia border—was practically the mecca of all things golf in the US, that honor was fucking saying something.

It was a stunner of a day. Clear blue skies dotted with puffy white clouds. Mild temperatures with no humidity, something they’d all better savor now because they’d be sweating their asses off in about a month’s time. Summertime in the south was goddamn sweltering.

“Oh, thank God,” Darius said on a heavy exhale. “I was wondering when she’d get here.”

Aiden spared a glance in the same direction as he stepped up to the tee box and took a few practice swings. The cart girl was fast approaching on the path, carrying her cooler of ice-cold beers that, Aiden had to admit, sounded pretty damn good. He shook out his shoulders, gazing down the fairway, as he heard the cart screech to a stop behind him.

“Good afternoon, gentleman. What can I get everyone?”

Aiden’s head whipped around so fast he risked severe whiplash.

Seriously? Was this woman omnipresent or something?

She didn’t notice him right away, not with her back turned toward her cooler as she dug out three beer bottles and capped the lids.

He was barely able to stifle his groan.

She just had to be wearing the official cart girl uniform too. The short, white skort rode up as she bent over slightly, nearly exposing those dimples on the underside of her ass cheeks. And if that didn’t immediately draw his attention, the slender shape of those tanned legs would. The way her calves flexed with her movements, the tiny pulses in her hamstrings as she shifted her weight around. Not to mention, the conforming fabric of the sleeveless blue shirt she wore put every angle of her enticing curves on display. She wasn’t bony, couldn’t even really be called petite. She was fit, with flesh where there should be flesh, and definition that just screamed this girl knows how to take care of herself.

And his three associates were looking in all the wrong damn places.

The same places Aiden was looking, but that wasn’t the fucking point.

He didn’t even know why he cared. Or why irritation nagged at him when Darius started inching closer and closer to her with that smooth swagger Aiden had seen him work on other cart girls and the like. He’d talked to her once. She worked for him. Nothing about this should bother him in the least. Besides, Chuck and Archie were both in their fifties and happily married. But Darius, on the other hand, was a couple of years older than Aiden’s thirty-two, and was an attractive black man who treated the gym like it was his second home.

His gloved hand tightened around his club.

Not your business, Beaumont.

She still hadn’t noticed him as she handed each man his beer—two Michelob Ultras and one Corona. Finally, she turned in his direction with a ready smile. “And what can I get yo—”

Her words cut off as her eyes bulged to the size of inner tubes.

Then she swallowed, which was a problem because it drew his eyeline to the slender column of her throat. A throat that would look fantastic arched back as his hands explored what she was hiding beneath that top, what treasures awaited him under that tight little skort.

“Ms. Sparks.”

“M-Mr. Beaumont,” she sputtered, a little breathless. “Um, hello, sir.”

Fuck sir.

He’d much rather hear her call him by his first name, but professional decorum needed to remain in place. He may have been her boss, but the sir was just too much. For reasons he couldn’t begin to fathom, he wanted to go back to six days ago, when he wasn’t the CEO, but some random guy she’d walloped with a pool skimmer.

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About the Author

Melanie grew up in the Midwest, but she loves living in the Southeast (where the beaches are!) now with her husband and daughter.
Melanie’s other passion is traveling and seeing the world. With anthropology degrees under their belts, she and her husband have made it their goal in life to see as many archaeological sites around the world as possible.
She has a horrible food addiction to pasta and candy (not together…ew). And she gets sad when her wine rack is empty.
At the end of the day, she is a true romantic at heart. She loves writing the cheesy and corny of romantic comedies, and the sassy and sexy of suspense. She aims to make her readers swoon, laugh out loud, maybe sweat a little, and above all, fall in love.
Go visit Melanie’s website and sign up for her newsletter to stay updated on release dates, teasers, and other details for all of her projects!

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Giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway (INT)
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Book Review – Full Flight

Title: Full Flight
Author: Ashley Schumacher
Published: February 2022
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Goodreads

Rating: 5 stars
Cover: Love it

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Synopsis:

Everyone else in the tiny town of Enfield, Texas calls fall football season, but for the forty-three members of the Fighting Enfield Marching Band, it’s contest season. And for the new saxophonist Anna James, it’s her first chance to prove herself as the great musician she’s trying hard to be.

When she’s assigned a duet with mellophone player Weston Ryan, the boy her small-minded town thinks of as nothing but trouble, she’s equal parts thrilled and intimidated. But as he helps her with the duet, and she sees the smile he seems to save just for her, she can’t help but feel like she’s helping him with something too.

After her strict parents find out she’s been secretly seeing him and keep them apart, together they learn what it truly means to fight for something they love. With the marching band contest nearing, and the two falling hard for one another, the unthinkable happens, and Anna is left grappling for a way forward without Weston.

A heartbreaking novel about finding your first love and what happens when it’s over too soon. Ashley Schumacher’s Full Flight is about how first love shapes useven after it’s gone.

Happy book birthday to Ashley Schumacher’s latest book, Full Flight! Thank you so much to Schumacher and Wednesday Books for a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Go ahead and slap “Ashley Schumacher’s #1 Fan” on my forehead because I’ll never get enough of her almost poetic writing style. I can’t wait to get my copy tonight so that I can sit it next to her first book on my shelves, which is still my favorite. Just a little warning should you pick up this book (which you should, duh!), maybe don’t read the end of the book during your lunch break at work unless you have no problem blubbering in public. Learn from my mistakes.

Anna is fresh blood; she’s newer to band than all the lifer members. All the same, she is determined to work hard and do well now that her parents can financially support this hobby she’s been dreaming of, but she can’t seem to get this freaking duet right. Recognizing that Weston Ryan’s talents far surpass his lower social status, Anna begs their teacher to make Weston her duet partner/tutor, not caring what other people at the school or her parents think. He can help her get to where she needs to be. Plus, his private little smile, just for her, doesn’t hurt either.

Weston has had so many rumors started about him, he doesn’t even care. He doesn’t care that everyone, except his best friend, only sees his leather jacket he wears every day or the fact that he went to their rival school for a year. Honestly, he just has too much going on to care.
When Anna forces her friendship on him during a tumultuous time of his life, his is forced to recognize his loneliness, as well as his hurt from dealing with the breaking point of his family. Anna gives him somewhere he can finally feel like he belongs, but his fear of messing it up is fighting for the upper hand.

Schumacher is amazing at writing first love: so all consuming, so important. Weston teaches Anna the magic of music and the beauty of the perfect duet, of something created as two being made perfect in belonging. Anna teaches Weston how to find happiness in the very things that make them quirky. Even when her parents try to separate them, the two learn what it means to fight for each other. After the unthinkable happens (HOW DARE YOU, ASHLEY SCHUMACHER), Weston teaches Anna how to take the things she’s learned from being fully, completely, incandescently in love with a passionately musical boy on with her as she grieves and reorients her life.

Two things to highlight that I took away from this book. I am not a musician, I’ve never been in band, I have no experience with this topic. But the passion Weston has for music is so deeply engrained in the emotion-filled writing that I wanted to learn just as much as Anna. I wanted to hear everything about why and how music can be so incredibly special. Secondly, the book ends with unanswered questions about a specific character (trying not to be spoilery here), but it doesn’t feel incomplete. It works. So often we are touched by people in our lives even when we don’t have the whole picture of who they are.

Schumacher writes a beautiful portrait of a deep longing to belong somewhere painted on a backdrop of a perfect duet. I seriously can NOT get enough of her magical, emotional writing style, even as heartbreaking as her stories can be. Can we hurry up to her next book release please? Asking for a friend.

Book Review/Blog Tour – Sleigh Bells on Bread Loaf Mountain

Title: Sleigh Bells on Bread Loaf Mountain
Author: Lindy Miller
Published: December 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Holiday, Romance

Rating: 3 stars
Cover: Don’t like it

SleighBellsonBreadLoafMountain_Ebook

Synopsis:

Screenplay by the writer of Rescuing Madison and A Lesson in Romance (Hallmark), and the forthcoming Aloha with Love.

Christmas isn’t fashion editor Roxanne Hudson’s style, but when she finds herself snowed in with a handsome stranger, she might just discover the magic of the season after all.

Roxanne Hudson does not like the holidays. They come with too many family obligations that take her away from work as a rising fashion editor in New York City. But this Christmas might be Grandma Myrtle’s last, and Roxanne’s parents want her to spend the holiday at the family cabin in the Green Mountains. With her boyfriend out of the country for a photo shoot, Roxanne decides to brave the long commute—and the wilderness—to spend Christmas in Vermont.

After an uncomfortable call from her boyfriend starts the trip off badly, Roxanne is blindsided by a blizzard on the snowy mountain road, where the last thing she hears before losing consciousness is sleigh bells. When she’s rescued by Mark Foster, a handsome park ranger who’s the exact opposite of everything she always thought she wanted, Roxanne seeks her grandmother’s wisdom and discovers an uncanny connection that could be a sign of what her life is really meant to be.

Happy book birthday week to Lindy Miller’s Sleigh Bells on Bread Loaf Mountain. Thank you to Rosewind Books, Miller, and Xpresso Book Tours for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review. Time to turn off the Hallmark Channel because I’ve found the perfect book to read that will make you feel like you’re in one of their Christmas movies.

Miller writes a very sweet romance between a woman who’s been fighting hard to shape herself into someone who will succeed in her line of work and an unlikely down to earth hero. Roxanne finds herself challenged to look at this life she’s built for herself in a very honest way to see what she is pushing away in the meantime. A trip she didn’t even want to take to be with family for Christmas ends up making her question why she was distancing herself from her family in the first place. And a very attractive park ranger helps her understand the magic and meaning of Christmas.

I was very enchanted by the Christmasy spirit intertwined in the story with a cute romance to boot. There were some inconsistencies that bugged me, which brought down my review some, including a very big emphasis placed on how unprepared Roxanne was for all the snow and cold in Vermont. She is in fact from New York, which DEFINITELY get lots of snow and even blizzards sometimes. It’s very impossible to live in New York full time without a warm winter coat. The fact that this detail kept being harped on made me feel like Miller thought her reader was dumb. Aside from this, this Christmas romance warmed my heart and put me in the holiday spirit.

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About the Author

Lindy Miller is an entrepreneur, award-winning professor, and publishing professional. In 2011, Miller was part of the executive leadership team that founded Radiant Advisors, a data and business intelligence research and advisory firm, where Miller developed and launched the company’s editorial and research divisions, and later its data visualization practice, for clients that included 21st Century Fox Films, Fox Networks, Warner Bros., and Disney. She is the author of numerous papers and two textbooks under the name of Lindy Ryan, The Visual Imperative: Creating a Culture of Visual Discovery (Elsevier) and Visual Data Storytelling with Tableau (Pearson) Miller holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration: Entrepreneurship and Strategy, and a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership and a Doctorate in Education, Organizational Leadership.

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Giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway (INT)
Paperback copy of Sleigh Bells on Bread Loaf Mountain
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Blog Tour – All I’ve Wanted, All I’ve Needed

Title: All I’ve Wanted All I’ve Needed
Author: A.E. Valdez
Published: July 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads

AllIveWanted

Harlow Shaw feels naïve for believing in happily ever afters but she craves a love that lights her up.

She thought she had it all with her boyfriend. Until his promising baseball career overshadows their relationship and he asks her a life changing question. It causes her to wonder if what they have is all she ever truly wanted.

Harlow is yearning for more than the curated life she is living.

A trip to Bali, a move to Seattle, and a “burned” cup of coffee lead her to a friendship she didn’t know she needed and a love so deep she can feel it in her bones.

Excerpt

The afternoon lunch rush just died down and I am wiping down tables. Who knew that there would be a lunch rush for coffee? One thing that I’ve learned since starting here is that people fucking love their coffee. If there was an IV drip available for it, people would buy it.

I make my way back to the counter and hear the door open as someone enters. When I glance up, I see that it’s Sevyn and she looks like she just stepped off the runway. She is dressed in a black jumpsuit with a Gucci belt cinched around her waist, her deep red curls frame her face, and she carries a black clutch in her hand. She waves when she sees me. “I was worried I would miss you! I took a little longer than I anticipated to get ready.” She twirls on the spot.

“You look drop dead gorgeous. Zane is going to eat you up!” I say.

“You weren’t lying, this shop is a whole vibe,” she remarks as she looks around.

The coffee shop has an industrial design with warm, rich colors throughout. There is a stage for performances, coffee tables in the center of the shop, and then plush chairs are scattered throughout. One of the walls has a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf that is stacked with a variety of books. Ava and West did a good job creating a space where you can relax and socialize.

“It really is. Did you want me to make you something?” I ask as I walk behind the counter and wash my hands.

Sevyn scrunches up her face as she studies the menu behind me. “Mmm… let me get the house blend, please.”

“Alright, coming right up.” I busy myself with making the shots. I’m listening to Sevyn talk when I look up and the air is stolen from my lungs. A guy strides in and every inch of his rich copper brown skin that I can see is adorned with tattoos. My eyes slowly rake up his hands and arms emblazoned with the most intricate ink. I imagine tracing each one with my fingertips. Ink covers the piece of chest exposed at the V-neck of his shirt that is pulled tautly over his broad shoulders. They continue to coil around his neck and abruptly stop at his sharp jawline. There are no tattoos on his face and his lips are plump. They look soft enough to kiss. Our eyes lock onto one another; his are pensive and remind me of embers in a fire.

Amazon

About the Author

A.E. Valdez discovered her passion for writing when she was given a journal by her 5th grade teacher and has been creating poetry, works of fiction, and gaming narratives ever since. As a child, she wanted to read more stories with people that looked like her.

She loves all things romance, from heartbreak to happily ever afters. She pours her own heart and soul into the stories she brings to life. Causing readers to fall in, and sometimes out, of love alongside her characters.

Amanda currently resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their two sons. Most days you can find her sipping on an iced latte while she writes or enjoying time with her family.

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Giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway (INT)
eBook copy of All I’ve Wanted All I’ve Needed + $5 Amazon gift card
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Book Review/Blog Tour – The Weight of the Sky

Title: The Weight of the Sky
Author: Caroline Schley
Published: May 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: Don’t like it

Ebook_TheWeightoftheSkyCover_Final

Synopsis:

Speak meets Gossip Girl in this searing contemporary Young Adult novel where the most courageous three words a teenage girl will ever have to say are, “I need help.”

But fifteen-year-old Chris Miller is far from courageous. She does nothing when her best friend is sent to juvenile detention for a crime Chris knows she didn’t commit. She stays quiet as her mother steamrolls her into a scholarship program at St. Catherine’s Prep for her sophomore year. She acquiesces when her new friends introduce ‘drinkstagram’ at their sleepovers. Chris understands that quiet insecurity isn’t the most valiant approach to life, but it gets her through the day unscathed. Until she’s sexually assaulted.

In the aftermath, Chris’s fragile coping mechanisms crumble, alongside her grades and her tenuous happiness. When Chris is forced to volunteer at an afterschool program to maintain her scholarship, she finds herself catapulted back to the very neighborhood she has been struggling to escape. When her family is thrust into the crosshairs of a gang war, she discovers just how much damage her silence can cause. Ultimately, she must decide if she will continue to stay quiet as others call the shots and remain a victim, or if she can forge the strength to stand up, declare the truth and call herself a survivor.

Trigger Warning: This story contains content that may be sensitive for some readers including sexual assault and drug/alcohol consumption

Thank you Caroline Schley and Xpresso Tours for an eARC of The Weight of the Sky in exchange for an honest review.

Chris feels like her life isn’t hers to live out, but she is pressured to pursue a life her mom felt cheated out of. Even when Chris tries to find some sense of identity by trying to find out about her nonexistent dad, her mom shuts down the topic every time. Her mom refuses to let their income status pave the way for Chris’s life, so she constantly drills into her daughter’s head a drive to work hard and look for opportunities. When one such opportunity presents itself, Chris is plucked from her public school characterized by drugs and gangs and enrolled in an elite private school on a full scholarship. While Chris feels like the only reason she’s there is to help her on her way to her mom’s dream of her being a doctor, she does quickly find herself welcomed into a group of girls, going to sleepovers, parties, talking about boys, etc. She struggles with feeling like an outsider because of their stark differences in socioeconomic classes, but the girls don’t seem to see this as a problem. Even though Chris feels like she has to lie to her mom frequently, she finally feels included and happy.

Until the unthinkable happens.

Suddenly Chris feels like she doesn’t have anyone. Her days are filled with swirling emotions from trauma, the people she called her friends don’t believe her, and she quickly finds herself failing her classes do to a lack of desire.

Schley writes a raw story about sexual assault and trauma. There is no way you can read Chris’s story without feeling your heart pulling for her in a puddle of empathy. As you find yourself immersed in Schley’s writing, you will feel a part of the story, mourning with Chris, chiding every lie, cheering for her as she rebuilds confidence, feeling her emotional rollercoaster as she learns about who she is.

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About the Author

I am a writer, teacher and outdoor enthusiast, always looking for a new adventure.

Originally from New York City, I have also lived in China, New Zealand and Spain. I’m on a constant quest for the best food and views in the world. Some of my favorite places are the GR 221 in Mallorca, the top floor of the Musee D’Orsay in Paris and the window seat on a Fifth Avenue bus in Manhattan.

I’m have received comprehensive work training in a large variety of fields including political street canvassing, freelance writing, white water rafting, latte making, childcare and secondary science education.

I have an undergraduate Magna Cum Laude degree in Environmental Science with a focus in Hydrology from CU-Boulder and a graduate degree in Secondary Science Education from NYU. I’ve served as an NSTA New Teacher Fellow, a Jhumpki Basu Fellow and participated in the Jane Goodall Roots and Shoots Training program.

I’ve just completed my first YA contemporary manuscript and I’m seeking agent and publisher representation.

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Book Review/Blog Tour – A Night Twice as Long

Title: A Night Twice as Long
Author: Andrew Simonet
Published: June 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Night

Synopsis:

What do you call the difference between what you should feel and what you do feel? Life?

The blackout has been going on for three weeks. But Alex feels like she’s been living in the dark for a year, ever since her brother, who has autism, was removed from the house, something Alex blames herself for. So when her best friend, Anthony, asks her to trek to another town to figure out the truth about the blackout, Alex says yes.

On a journey that ultimately takes all day and night, Alex’s relationships with Anthony, her brother, and herself will transform in ways that change them all forever.

In this honest and gripping young adult novel, Andrew Simonet spins a propulsive tale about what it means to turn on the lights and look at what’s real.

Excerpt

I wake at dawn, tangled in a heap of blankets, hugging my pillow. My open window is letting in chilly air and a riot of bird- calls. How’s a recluse supposed to sleep?

I’m dreading telling Anthony I can’t come. I should have done it last night.

I’ll bring him snacks for his journey. I think we still have granola bars.

I shut the window and flip the light switch.
Nope. Day twenty-two.
My mom taught me this trick to figure out if you’re dreaming: Try to change the lighting. Turn a light on or off in a dream, and nothing happens. Our unconscious doesn’t know about electricity, because it’s too recent. Once, I dreamt of a flood, watching from my window as a car floated by, a bewildered kid staring out from the back seat. I pulled the chain on my desk lamp. She was right. Nothing.

I creep along the green hallway carpet, past my mom’s room. Silence. Past my brother’s room. Dangit. My mom’s twitchy breathing. She’s whimpering, maybe half-asleep, in Georgie’s bed. Again.

Jesus, Mom, we talked about this. Georgie’s bed doesn’t help you sleep. It doesn’t help anything.

My breakfast waits on the kitchen counter: two packets of instant oatmeal, not cooked but soaked in water overnight. It’s a gloopy room-temperature treat. Cinnamon & Spice tastes pretty much like Maple & Brown Sugar, gritty and sickly sweet. I’m not hungry.

In the bathroom, the window by the toilet glows gray blue with the first light. I’m getting better at moving around in the dark and near dark. We all are. We moan about the blackout— the inconvenience, the stress—but mostly, we adjust. It’s wild how quickly your animal senses come back. From our yard, I can hear a door close two blocks away.

On the shelf with the hairbrushes and deodorant, our phones are optimistically, pointlessly plugged in. It’s my mom’s old rule: When you brush your teeth before bed, you’re done with your phone. For now, we’re really done with them.

I think of all the messages and stories and pictures that flowed from that cracked dark screen the minute I turned it on in the morning. Every day for the last three weeks, we’ve asked: When is that coming back?

This morning, I think: Maybe it’s not.
Maybe none of it’s coming back.
Maybe these veterans will say it’s time to bury our phones, time to move on.
Georgie’s bed, five feet above my head, creaks and clunks as my mom rolls over.
Maybe the blackout wiped everything clean. Maybe the treadmill we all trudge on, our heads down, has stopped.
In the mirror, I’m a silhouette, a gray outline, my frizzed-out hair making me vague and approximate. My mom coughs out a string of sobs, high-pitched and whiny, like giggles. Our floors are thin, and her whimpers, so soggy and immediate, could be mine. It’s karaoke weeping. My reflection is sobbing. I am the one stranded and stricken.
I bring a hand to my mouth. No, I’m not sobbing. I’m not collapsed in my little brother’s bed. I am standing.
I pull my hair back, and my bangs droop forward. I’ve hid- den under this mud-brown tangle for months, letting it grow. It’s the untended hedge of a deserted house. It’s the frayed screen door Anthony knocks on, trying to coax me outside.

Sweet Anthony, the one person who still shows up, he needs me today. He said so.

All right, shut-in. Time to tear the screen door off. Time to chop the damn hedges down.

I look for scissors. Clippers would be best, but, with the power out, scissors will have to do.

Wait. Georgie’s clippers are rechargeable.

Bottom shelf, behind the cough medicine and the broken hair dryer. I thumb the ridged switch to on. That hard snap as the clippers start, then the soothing hum. The first electricity I’ve touched in days.

Upstairs, my mom blows her nose, the bleat of a party horn.

As dawn turns the white bathroom tilesgold, I run the clip- pers front to back, like I used to for Georgie, the pitch falling as my thick hair clogs the blades. Heavy coils tumble silently. I knock the clippers clean on the counter, building a nest of me in the sink, a soft mound of what I’ve been carrying.

The first rays of sun show my true outline. This is where I begin. This is my edge, my boundary. I look like my brother: My ears stick out, my nose is big, and my eyes droop.

I pull off my shirt, itchy with hair, and see my round belly and my pale scalp, my thick arms and my scrawny boobs. I am uncovered.

I’ve been hiding for a year. I take my hair off and I’m visible. I silently thank Georgie for the clippers.
Georgie. He hates haircuts. You can’t use scissors, cause he

might flinch or grab them. And you can’t take him to the barber. Mom tried.

“You don’t owe me anything, lady, just get your kid out of here!” the barber yelled after Georgie smashed a jar of disinfectant on the floor, bright aqua swallowing clumps of brown hair. Georgie’s half-shaved head bobbed down the side- walk, arms in the air, celebrating his escape.

So we got the clippers. His haircuts last ninety seconds: Put the number one guard on, the shortest, run it front to back. It made him look mean, punchy, like a military kid, his normal I-smell-something cringe turned into a scowl.

I could use a second pass now, but the charge ran out. I’m uneven, patchy. Stubble, not hair.

All right, Anthony, let’s go find some truth.

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About the Author

Andrew Simonet is a choreographer and writer in Philadelphia. His first novel, Wilder, published in 2018. He co-directed Headlong Dance Theater for twenty years and founded Artists U, an incubator for helping artists make sustainable lives. He lives in West Philadelphia with his wife, Elizabeth, and their two sons, Jesse Tiger and Nico Wolf.

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Giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway (INT)
Print copy of A Night Twice as Long
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Book Review/Blog Tour – The Marvelous

Title: The Marvelous
Author: Claire Kann
Published: June 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Young Adult

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: Like it

Marvelous

Synopsis:

From the author of Let’s Talk About Love and If It Makes You Happy, this exuberant YA Novel follows six teens locked together in a mansion, contending for a life-changing cash prize in a competition run by a reclusive heiress.

Everyone thinks they know Jewel Van Hanen. Heiress turned actress turned social media darling who created the massively popular video-sharing app, Golden Rule.

After mysteriously disappearing for a year, Jewel makes her dramatic return with an announcement: she has chosen a few lucky Golden Rule users to spend an unforgettable weekend at her private estate. But once they arrive, Jewel ingeniously flips the script: the guests are now players in an elaborate estate-wide game. And she’s tailored every challenge and obstacle to test whether they have what it takes to win–at any cost.

Told from the perspective of three dazzling players–Nicole: the new queen of Golden Rule; Luna: Jewel’s biggest fan; and Stella: a brilliant outsider–this novel will charm its way into your heart and keep you guessing how it all ends because money isn’t the only thing at stake.

“Jewel isn’t the person any of us think she is. That’s not necessarily a bad thing–it’s okay if the Jewel in your head doesn’t match the Jewel in real life–but being loyal to an idealized version of her is.”

Happy release week to Claire Kann’s book, The Marvelous. Thank you to Kann, Swoon Reads, and Xpresso Tours for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

This book is fun and will have you on the edge of your seat! It was a fresh blend of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Clue with a mixture of The Westing Game. Four users of the vlogging social media app Golden Rule are invited to an exclusive weekend at the creator, Jewel’s, mansion. When they arrive, they discover that Jewel has created a game filled with puzzles, challenges, team work, and secrets. With plenty of twists and unreliable narrators, this story will keep you guessing the whole way through.

The story is told from three of the players’ perspectives, which I did feel to be a little too big of a bite to chew, and the amount of characters involved made me wish for a longer book in order to actually get to know all of them. I still feel like I don’t really know Harlow or Francis.

Kann’s writing is engaging and descriptive, giving you just enough of a peak behind the curtain to keep you hooked. As this is my first book by this author, I’m definitely going to have to get my hands on her other books!

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About the Author

Claire Kann is the author of LET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE and an award-winning online storyteller. In her other life, she works for a nonprofit that you may have heard of where she daydreams like she’s paid to do it. Find out more by visiting her website: http://www.clairekann.com (and while you’re there, tell her about your cats. She loves cats. A lot.)

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Giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway (US/CAN)
Print copy of The Marvelous
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Book Review/Blog Tour – Constellations of Scars

Title: Constellations of Scars
Author: Melissa Eskue Ousley
Published: June 2021
Genres: Adult, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy

Rating: 3 stars
Cover: Don’t like it

Constellations

Synopsis:

“An indelible story of loving yourself in a world of dreadful realities.” – Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Not all gifts are a blessing. Some are a curse.

When Amelia turned 12, she began growing pearls. Every month, a crop of beautiful pearls bursts from the skin on her back. Her mother, Denise, believes her daughter is blessed, and sells the pearls to put food on the table. Amelia sees her condition as a curse. As the pearls form, her body aches and her skin grows feverish. The harvest of pearls brings temporary relief from the pain, but leaves her back marred by scars. Denise hides Amelia away from the world, worried that Amelia’s gift will be discovered and she will be abducted for the wealth she can provide. Now a young woman, Amelia realizes she has become her mother’s captive, and plans her escape. When she runs away from home, she finds a new family in a troupe of performers at a museum of human oddities. She soon discovers the world is much more dangerous than her mother feared.

Happy book birthday to Melissa Eskue Ousley’s book, Constellation of Scars. Thank you to Ousley, Midnight Tide Publishing, and Xpresso Tours for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review. Let me tell you: what a unique storyline!

Amelia found out when she was 12-years-old that she was much different than the other kids her age. She was essentially a human oyster. Her mom quickly withdrew her from school and sheltered her at home for her own protection. She warned Amelia of the dangers of letting anyone else know about her gift. As Amelia grows up, never being allowed to leave the house, she realizes that her mom’s motivations seem to stem more from control than from protection, so she starts planning her getaway. Her grand plans are off to a bumpy start when she reaches the city and is immediately turned around and mugged. However, fortune seems to smile on her when she meets a young man who’s willing to buy her pearls–even offering her a job in a quaint beach town at his father’s museum of oddities. Amelia gets swept up into a new-found family and thoroughly is enjoying the life she’s built for herself. Unfortunately, she learns too late that not everyone is trust worthy.

A truly unique story about finding yourself and where you fit in, and about the people we choose as family. I really enjoyed watching Amelia grow into herself as she discovers she’s surrounded by a team of people like her. I was hoping for more romance with a particular character whom Ousley was building a lot of sexual tension with, but was a little disappointed that it didn’t play out how I wanted it to. However, Ousley is definitely skilled at bringing the plot to unexpected places.

This book definitely has a thriller aspect and I didn’t expect it to the extent it played out, even though Ousley is a little in your face with foreshadowing. The ending was rushed, and I felt like there were so many loose ends. I also was a little confused how Amelia doesn’t seem to show any kind of trauma from any of the emotion abuse, etc, she encounters in her life.

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About the Author

Melissa Eskue Ousley is an award-winning author living on the Oregon coast with her family, a neurotic dog, two charming cats, and a piranha. Her suspense novel, Pitcher Plant, is set in Seaside, and won a 2018 Independent Publisher Book Award. Her young adult novel, Sunset Empire, debuted in a bestselling boxed set. Her short stories have been included in Rain Magazine, The North Coast Squid, and various anthologies. When she’s not writing, she can be found volunteering for her local wildlife center, caring for injured owls and hawks.

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Giveaway

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3x print copies of Constellations of Scars (US only)
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