Showing posts with label NA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NA. Show all posts

Friday, June 15, 2018

"Love Scene, Take Two" by Alex Evansley

Love Scene, Take Two
by Alex Evansley

Love Scene, Take Two by Alex Evansley

Love Scene, Take Two by Alex Evansley is currently on tour with Xpresso Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Debut author Alex Evansley delivers a sweet summer romance in this inventive novel about a young heartthrob and teen author falling in love.
Teddy Sharpe is kind of famous. He might actually be on his way to being really famous, especially if he’d nailed an audition for the lead role in the movie adaption of the newest bestselling young adult book series. There’s just one problem: He totally blew the audition. And he’s stuck in a tiny North Carolina airport. And his maybe-ex-girlfriend kind of just broke up with him.
The weekend isn’t exactly looking good until Bennett Caldwell, author of the very book series he just auditioned for, takes pity on him and invites him to her family’s lake house. Away from the glitz and glam of Hollywood for a few days, Teddy starts to relax ... and somehow he and Bennett just click. But dating is hard enough when you aren’t the subject of several dozen fanblogs, and the Internet is full of juicy gossip about Teddy and Bennett ... gossip that Bennett might not be prepared to handle.
Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, Alex Evansley’s debut novel, written from both Bennett and Teddy’s perspectives, will have teens laughing, swooning, and falling in love along with these fantastically relatable characters.

Chapter One
There are few things in life of which Teddy Sharpe is absolutely certain, and he’s absolutely certain this audition is going to be a train wreck.
At least, that’s what’s running through his head when he bursts through the front doors of one of LA’s fanciest office buildings, scaring the receptionist and a security guard half to death along the way. Teddy’s had to run into last-minute auditions before, yeah, but never one he learned about an hour ahead of time. Never one he’s had to go into completely blind because he hasn’t seen the script yet. And certainly never one that could launch his acting career into the stratosphere. He’s a little on edge.
“You said you’re here for the Parachutes auditions?” the receptionist asks, pulling her hand away from the button that releases the lobby’s turnstile to smooth her hair. She looks unnervingly like Jennifer Coolidge. “Call times for those auditions started at seven a.m. I’m sorry, I can’t let you up if you missed—”
“I just got the call from the casting director an hour ago,” Teddy rushes out, a little out of breath and holding up his phone. It doesn’t help that he came straight here from an early morning shoot for his TV show. He’s been awake since midnight and probably looks as cracked out on caffeine as he sounds. “She said if I get here by nine, I can have the last slot of the day.”
The receptionist looks unconvinced. “That’s not how things are run—”
“I know,” Teddy cuts her off again, then tries to cushion it with a smile. He gives her both the casting director’s and the director’s names. “My booking agent’s been trying to schedule an audition time for me all week that works around my current film schedule. We just confirmed it this morning.”
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“Sweet, intelligent, charming Teddy and accomplished, smart Bennett suffer all the drama and angst of young love, complicated by celebrity status and the power of social media. Romance lovers and readers fascinated with Hollywood life (on and off set) should enjoy this flirty, of-the-moment, tale.” ~ Publishers Weekly
“Bennett and Teddy’s romance is full of fun and flirty banter, chemistry, misunderstandings and miscommunications, and dealing with fame and gossip ... This new adult/older YA title is the perfect summer novel for fans of Jennifer E. Smith, Jenny Han, and Morgan Matson.” ~ School Library Journal
“A modern, cool, lovable story that easily makes you swoon.” ~ SofiaTypes, reader on
“From the awkward jokes and heartwarming scenes to the drama and the heartbreak this story had me laughing and crying.” ~ Basicgrill, reader on
“This book was utterly amazing. I've reread it multiple time at this point and to me it's almost a comfort. The writing is luscious, gripping and intriguing, the arc and plotting of the story is done beautifully and the characters were so real and honest. ... I cannot help but compare it to Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, another one of my favorite books.” ~ PriyaWrites, reader on

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
Teddy is a rising young star who has just auditioned for the movie role of his lifetime – and blown it. On his flight home, he meets Bennett, the young author of the book the movie is based on and somehow manages to get himself invited to stay at her lake house for a few days. While his manager thinks it’s a good opportunity for networking, Teddy finds himself thinking of other things entirely. Throw into the mix a jealous cousin and her star-struck brother, and it’s beginning to look like a fun weekend! Then, add one ex-not-ex-girlfriend, a shared movie set, and a publicity stunt, and things are starting to get even more complicated. Misunderstandings abound. Will this cute couple ever end up together - for real?
Even though Teddy and Bennett are both famous in their own right, they are really just people like us. I love Teddy’s humor and immaturity and Bennett’s vulnerability and insecurity. They are both extremely likable, cute, and funny. And they make the perfect couple. The author has a real talent for portraying the dialogue and behavior of these 18- to 20-year-olds, probably because she is one herself.
The first half of the story is told from Teddy’s point-of-view, followed by Bennett’s point-of-view during the filming of the movie. I enjoyed the first part so much more than the second. The author has chosen to use third person present tense, which feels a bit awkward. It would have been better written in the first person or third person past tense.
An impressive debut by a talented young author.
Warnings: coarse language, sexual references, underage drinking.

Some of My Favorite Lines
“That’s exactly what you are: a portable romantic comedy.”
“God, catching feelings for someone is a fucking nightmare.”
“Bennett’s entire train of thought derails.”
“I can literally hear your brain freaking out right now.”

About the Author
Alex Evansley
Alex Evansley is a twenty-something-year-old writer from North Carolina. Her specialized talents include putting on workout clothes and not working out, sleeping during the day, losing socks, and procrastinating stories she’d like to write. Love Scene, Take Two is her debut novel.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to a print copy of Love Scene, Take Two by Alex Evansley (US/Canada only).


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

"Queen of Corona" by Esterhazy

Queen of Corona
by Esterhazy

Queen of Corona by Esterhazy

Queen of Corona by Esterhazy is currently on tour with Xpresso Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Roza Esterhazy is a mixed-up kid. Eighteen years old and on the threshold of adulthood, she feels powerless in the face of a world that hasn’t adequately prepared her for adult life. She is riddled with anxiety about the world’s problems, the problems of her classmates at an inner-city high school in Corona, Queens. As an American of multicultural heritage (Polish-Jewish on her mother’s side, Venezuelan on her father’s) she struggles to find her place in society where the odds are stacked against people like her.
At the outset, she is on an airplane heading to Warsaw – the city of her ancestors, a city she’d never been to before. The city her mother had fled from in the 1980s because of an article she’d written that had offended the authorities. Roza’s voyage is a kind of reverse immigration – she’s escaping from America back to Poland because of a student protest that ended in tragedy. She alludes to the protest and its bloody end throughout the novel, with flashbacks tormenting her traumatized mind to the very end. When she arrives in Warsaw, she struggles to come to terms with what happened and what part she played in the tragedy. She grapples with the concept of guilt and blame – were the students to blame for what happened or was it the fault of overzealous police? She weighs how fear quells courage in an oppressive society. She confronts the grey reality of post-war Warsaw and realizes that there’s very little of it that she can identify with. She retraces history’s steps through the Polish capital and the former ghetto of WW2.
Her longing for home is visceral, reflected in the flashbacks of school and relationships that are woven through her daily existence. Flashbacks that reflect the absurdity of the inner-city high school experience, where kids are meant to learn an inimical thread of history that has little to do with their own reality, that places many of them in the position of the conquered and exploited.
Queen of Corona is a look into the inner life of the inner city. A foray into the mind and heart of a young woman on the cusp of adulthood, torn from her destiny because she dared to stand up and speak up for those who don't have a voice. A glimpse inside the hopeless hallways of New York City's failing public schools. It is a coming-of-age novel in a tumultuous time. It is a lesson on how fear is the most dangerous aspect of our Trumped-up existence.

There comes a day when you go looking for your roots and you realize they’re all gone.
You grope about in the dark and find nothing. Nothing but bits and pieces of a legacy gone astray like a dog that was never loved in the first place. No matter where you come from, the day you become an American is the day you lost it all. No matter if you were born here or made it over by plane, train, bus or banana boat. Just like that, thousands of years of memory vaporize like the plane that hit the Pentagon. You forfeit miles of spindly roots planted into the earth by your ancestors from way back when. Slowly, painfully, you squander your family recipes and all them heirlooms, memories, traditions go slipping through your fingers. You figure you’re living the dream, but something’s off. Something’s missing.
Something you didn’t even know you needed. You lose track. You lose your ground. The connection with the earth that made you. That dust that hardened into your bones and softened into your skin. You think you can go on making the tamales, the pierogis, the same old samosas your grannies made for generations but they’re not the same at all. The flour here is different. The water is different. The proportions are all out of wack. And you know it’s just a dumpling and dumplings don’t always come out right, but for some reason you’re bawling your eyes out. Because you know it’s not just a fluke. It doesn’t come out right no matter how many times you try. Because it just ain’t in you no more.
A sourness that tastes like shame comes up in your throat. Shame that flips on itself, turning on the past, turning on your parents because they’re the ones who made you and brought you here. Your loving parents are now the bullseye for your shame. Their accents and their crazy foods. It was their brilliant idea to ship you all the way across the ocean before you had anything to say about it. So now you do all you can to keep them at home, hidden behind closed doors. You never invite anyone over. You do what you can to become like everyone else. You want to look like the girls in the videos. The selfie-stick chicks on the gram. Then you start dressing like the guys in the videos so the dudes round the way no longer feel obliged to tell you that your ass is too big or your ass is too flat. You convince yourself that you’ve been here all along.
That there is no motherland. No Poland, Ukraine, Honduras, Philippines, Bangladesh. The past fades like the last wisp of smoke after a dumpster fire. But the stench of it lingers, you know. There’s nothing you can do to make it disappear for good. It’s a blemish that won’t go away. An ugly little blackhead of guilt. Because you denied your ancestors, denied your heritage. When you denied them, you denied yourself. You denied your very existence.
This is the tragedy of assimilation. The old folks give up trying to talk sense into you. They throw their hands up and let you be what you always thought you wanted to be. An apple-pie-eating, base-ball-bat swinging shiksa like all those other girls in the hood. You try telling them that shit ain’t really you at all. So they ask you, who is you then? And you try to tell them but it’s like snakes crawling up your throat. You can’t spit out a syllable. So, you figure maybe they’re right. You start grasping at straws, the frayed threads of history, shreds of a native realm.
There comes a day when you finally realize you have no idea who you is or even who you are, and where you came from. So maybe you get on a plane and try to take a good hard look at things from a distance. Try to take in the bigger picture and all. Back to the future. Though the truth is I’m not really doing it for the right reasons. My story ain’t all high and mighty like that. There’s more dirt I’ll have to dig up at some point, for sure. I’ll get to it when the time is right. No point in rushing things. We have all the time in the world.
[Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“I highly recommend this novel to anyone that like biography like novels that have anger, disappointment, romance illusions and every other even that teens face as growing up” ~ Steph Destiny
“I loved Roza as much as I wanted to scream at her. […] kudos to Esterhazy for writing such a believable and antagonizing protagonist. […] The ending made me so angry, I actually screamed at my Ol' Man when I was done. I can't say much without spoiling it, but I wanted to cry. It's possible that what upset me the most was how realistic it was. It hits ya right in the feels because you know it's real.” ~ Ms. J
“… it brings up a lot of critical issues that need to be discussed, that people need to stop sweeping under the rug, issues that privileged need to stop blaming the others for. It's not an easy read, but maybe that's what makes it so important. It doesn't glorify the ugly, it leaves it all there for you to see.” ~ Maxine

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
At the beginning of the book, Roza is on a plane to Warsaw to escape the fallout from an incident at her high school graduation ceremony, which spirals out of control. We are left to piece her story together through her stream of consciousness ramblings, often lacking in punctuation. Her current situation is interspersed with reminiscences of her life in Corona, Queens, where she makes some wrong choices and ends up in an impossible situation. In Poland, Roza struggles to make sense of life and loses herself along the way. However, after receiving news from home she determines to turn her life around.
The author channels her teenage narrator perfectly, giving her an authentic voice and personality. However, some of the other characters come across as more intellectual than you would expect from their circumstances. Through Roza, the author provides keen observations on several topics, including friendship, family, religion, society, race, prejudice, discrimination, politics, history, education, poverty, single parenthood, abortion, love, war, and slut shaming. The narrative is given even more authenticity by including references to real-life victims of the system.
Be warned, this is not an easy read and includes some confronting issues.
Warnings: coarse language, drug use, excessive alcohol consumption, sexual references, sex scenes.

About the Author
Esterhazy is a journalist, writer, and translator. A native New Yorker, she holds degrees in Comparative Literature from New York University and American Studies from the University of Warsaw. Queen of Corona is her debut novel.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a print copy of Queen of Corona by Esterhazy (US/Canada only).


Thursday, March 1, 2018

"Things You Can’t Take" by Erin Lockwood

Things You Can’t Take
by Erin Lockwood

Things You Can’t Take by Erin Lockwood

Things You Can’t Take by Erin Lockwood is currently on tour with Silver Dagger Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

For more books by this author, please check out my blog post on Angles: Part 1 and my blog post on All of the Rogers.

How far would you go for your best friend?
Abigail and Kessia shared a childhood bond that couldn't be broken. Challenged, yes - but never broken.
Born into Hollywood lineage, Kessia understood the risks and pressures of celebrity life and willingly dedicated hers to serving and protecting her best friend’s rise to stardom. But when Abigail learns of Kessia’s own behind-the-scenes battles with a predator, her sense of friendship drives her down a path that blurs the lines between loyalty and revenge at all costs.

We’re belting out a song from Abigail’s playlist when Barry pulls into the studio lot.
“Okay, turn it down!” Abigail shouts over the music.
“No, keep it up!” I yell. “I love this song.”
Barry, of course, listens to Abigail.
“I can’t,” she starts to yell but realizes she’s shouting when the music has been turned off. “I can’t let them hear me singing a promiscuous song. It’s irresponsible. I’m a role model,” she says softer. “Child actors have a higher rate of getting into trouble instead of moving onto bigger careers as adults.”
I roll my eyes a little. “We’re just having fun,” I mumble to myself. “It’s just a song.”
I throw my badge lanyard over my head before getting out of the car. Abigail hoists her Louis Vuitton purse over her shoulder, and we walk into the studio. It looks like a big airplane hangar.
“I’m gonna miss this,” Abigail says to me.
I hook my arm through hers. “I know, but we have Paris to look forward to.”
She smiles and perks up. We say hello to people as we walk by, making our way to her dressing room.
As soon as the door closes behind us, there’s a knock.
“Come in!” Abigail shouts.
“How’s my favorite star?” Pete Hallman’s head pops out from behind the door.
With my back to him, I make a face as if I were gonna throw up. He pushes the door all the way open and steps in, closing it behind him. I feel as if the air has been sucked out of the room.
At least Abigail is here. I panic inside whenever I’m alone with him. I always try to find an excuse to leave as soon as possible.
Abigail moves to him and reaches her arms out to hug him. “Hi, Pete. How are you?”
“I’m very well, thanks,” he says to her. Then, he looks my way. “How about you, Kessia? Where’s my love?” He puts his arms out and expects me to touch him.
I’ve never told Abigail the extent of how uncomfortable he makes me because I can tell she doesn’t feel the same way. It’s also partly because of how I was raised. My mom insists that producers, and directors are like gods and goddesses. I always have to use my absolute best manners.
Abigail and I have known Pete since we were seven when Abigail joined the cast of Heart of the Family, playing the youngest daughter. Now, she’ll be filming the final episodes in Paris soon.
“Of course. Hi, Pete,” I say to him and move closer to hug him.
When his arms wrap around me, he lets his fingers fall under the top of my jean shorts, touching my bare skin on my backside. His hand almost goes so far down that he could cup my butt cheek with his palm, but he stops and pulls his hand out before Abigail notices anything.
Pete stands up and backs away, as if nothing ever happened. It makes me feel crazy for thinking that something did happen.
His hand touched my butt.
I just wish someone could see what he does so that I don’t have to be the one who says something.
It’s not just Abigail. Nobody ever seems to notice. If they did, they might not say anything anyway since he’s the studio’s most successful and awarded producer. “Walking Gold,” is what Entertainment Weekly once referred to him as. “Unstoppable,” was in another publication.
I step back, giving myself even more distance from Pete, and pretend to organize Abigail’s vanity.
“So, Pete, what’s up?” Abigail asks.
He leans back on his heels and rubs his round belly. “I thought I’d pop in and watch the final studio taping. We might have a project for you.”
Abigail looks surprised. “Really? That would be great. I’ll have Tammy call you.”
Pete’s eyes dart to me before looking at Abigail again.
“All right. You go get ’em, kid.” He puts his arm around Abigail and taps her lower back. He takes a step toward me and does the same thing, except his hand lands a little lower.
Too low.
When he leaves the room, I feel like I can finally take a breath again.
“This is great news,” Abigail says to herself, grabbing her phone. “Hey”—she excitedly looks up at me—“did I ever tell you that Pete—”
“You should probably call Tammy,” I quickly interrupt her. I do not want to hear anything about Pete.
“Right,” she says, putting the phone to her ear, calling her agent.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“It's a timely novel, given all that is happening with #metoo and the Women's March 2018; so many of my conversations with moms swirl around what it means to raise our daughters with awareness, and how we can best keep them safe. While it's difficult to describe this as an "easy read" given the topic, I was caught up in the storyline and characters, and found that I finished reading the book all too quickly. Probably the most meaningful novel from Erin Lockwood yet!!” ~ Sara Banchard
“I strongly recommend reading this book as it can be very enlightening both with regards to sexual predators hiding their behavior just enough to not get caught and as a reminder that help is always available if we just know to look for it and aren’t afraid to ask for help.” ~ Katinka
“I hope with all my heart y’all read this book. It is worth reading. I honestly can’t tell y’all how much I loved it. It’ll steal a piece of your heart and hopefully it changes you and makes you want to create more awareness.” ~ Diana Laura (The Bookish Sisters)
“Last night I purchased this novel at Erin’s book signing, and within 24 hours I was done! It’s almost like I NEEDED it to be done (content) yet I was NOT wanting it to be over (so into it I couldn’t put it down). I’m so proud of Erin’s 4th book and the tough topic it dug into. Her passion and energy was felt through each page and this is worth the emotion it evokes in the reader. Well done Erin Lockwood.” ~ Jilayne Smith

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
The book begins when Kessia and Abigail meet as six-year-olds on the set of a television commercial, where they gain each other’s trust and quickly become best friends. While Abigail loves acting, Kessia hates it. So, it’s no surprise when Kessia eventually quits acting and becomes Abigail’s assistant. We follow these two girls over the next two decades, through their highs and lows, their triumphs and tragedies.
The story is told alternately from the points-of-view of Kessia and Abigail. Unfortunately, their voices are so similar that I often forgot who was narrating. I’m not a fan of the writing style: the sentences are short and choppy, there is an overabundance of awkwardly used verb qualifiers, the main characters spend too much time pondering and not enough time doing, and the writing is lacking in emotion.
On top of that, the plot is predictable, repetitive, and full of clich├ęs; the characters’ actions are hard to believe; and the author uses her narrative as a thinly veiled excuse to lecture us on sexual assault. Too bad she doesn’t lecture us on the use of guns.
Despite all of the above, this is a very timely story, which can be used to open up a dialogue with vulnerable teens about sexual assault committed by a person of power. It also conveys a nice message about being brave and speaking out, and it gives us the hope that even terrible events can result in happy endings.
There is a handy list of resources for victims of sexual assault at the end of the book.
Warnings: coarse language, sexual assault (not graphic).

About the Author
Erin Lockwood
Erin Lockwood grew up in Castro Valley, California and attended the University of Oregon, where she graduated in 2003 with a degree in journalism. From there she moved to Denver and spent the next seven years searching for the love of her life and building the family of her dreams.
It wasn’t long until, with children starting preschool and more time on her hands, Erin refocused on her career, beginning with a successful entry into the world of residential real estate as a Realtor. Free time was spent reading book after book (and binge-watching the subsequent films) in the New Adult genre. Feeling hopelessly in love with her husband, she wrote him a short story leading up to their fifth wedding anniversary. That’s when she discovered her tireless passion to share her experience of falling in love through fictional characters. That story evolved into the first novel in the Angles trilogy.
Erin still lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband, Phil, and their three children.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card.