Friday, July 29, 2016

"How to Keep Rolling After a Fall" by Karole Cozzo

How to Keep Rolling After a Fall
by Karole Cozzo

How to Keep Rolling After a Fall by Karole Cozzo will be released on 2 August but is currently available for pre-order. Follow the tour with Xpresso Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

After a cyber bullying incident turns her life upside down, a handsome wheelchair rugby player shows a former mean girl that everyone deserves a second chance in this swoonworthy new novel from the author of How to Say I Love You Out Loud.
The party was at her house. The photos were posted to her Facebook account. That’s all the evidence anyone needed to condemn Nikki Baylor for a cyber bullying incident that humiliated a classmate and nearly resulted in the girl’s suicide. Now Nikki’s been expelled from her old school, her friends have abandoned her, and even her own parents can’t look her in the eye. With her plans for the future all but destroyed, Nikki resigns herself to being the girl everyone hates – almost as much as she hates herself. But then Nikki meets Pax, a spirited wheelchair rugby player who knows what it’s like when one mistake completely shatters your life. Refusing to judge her because of her past, he shows her that everyone deserves a second chance ... and everyone deserves to be loved.

Praise for the Book
"Cozzo has created a well-written YA novel featuring a main character with a disability ... Pax and Nikki’s love story is natural and gradual and feels authentic to the teen experience." ~ School Library Journal
"How to Keep Rolling After a Fall is definitely one of my favourite books of the year. It is educational, yet entertaining and contains a character in a wheelchair who has got to be one of the most positive people ever. There are themes of loss, but the book is more about getting back on your feet. This is such an important book that everyone should read!" ~ Olivia (The Candid Cover)
"Swoon-y romance isn't normally my thing, but this really was a sweet book. I enjoyed it, and I would definitely read other books by this author ... " ~ Ashley
"With the exception of the first few pages, I read this book in a day - it was that unputdownable. How to Keep Rolling After a Fall's got everything I look for in contemporary YA romance. It’s a perfect mash-up of the thoughtful family dynamic of a Sarah Dessen story, the complex friendships of an Emery Lord novel, and the sexy edginess of a Miranda Kenneally book. [...] Fans of YA romance, definitely check out How to Keep Rolling After a Fall when it comes out this August." ~ Katy Upperman

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
While doing community service at a rehabilitation center, Nikki meets Pax, a wheelchair rugby player. Nikki's story is revealed slowly, but we eventually find out that she was expelled from her school for the part she played in an incident of cyber bullying. Now, ostracized by her friends and family, Nikki struggles to find a fresh start in her new school. She meets Sam, who was herself the victim of cyber bullying, but what will happen when Sam finds out about Nikki's dirty little secret? As Nikki's friendship with Pax grows, she slowly regains some of her confidence. But could this end up tearing them apart?
This book is not only a beautifully moving love story but also a timely social commentary. The author provides us with the interesting perspective of not the victim, but the perpetrator, of the bullying, and we are shown that there is always more than one side to any story. The trials and tribulations of Nikki's relationships with both Pax and her own family brought tears to my eyes.
Not to be missed.

About the Author
Karole Cozzo is a school psychologist by day, a wife and mother of two by night, and a writer of YA romance in the wee hours of the morning. She loves camping out at Starbucks, breakfast cereal at all hours, and watching every movie made from her favorite YA books. How to Say I Love You Out Loud is her debut novel.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a print copy of How to Keep Rolling After a Fall by Karole Cozzo (US/Canada only).


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

"The Proverbial Mr. Universe" by Maria La Serra

The Proverbial Mr. Universe
by Maria La Serra

The Proverbial Mr. Universe by Maria La Serra is ON SALE for only $0.99 for a limited time (US only).

The Proverbial Mr. Universe 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.

Dear girl with the red scarf,
Love was never meant to be conquered;
you have to surrender to it.
Trust me. After all, I am Mr. Universe.
When the universe conveys a message, you listen.
Olivia Montiano just caught her fiancé cheating. Now she is forced to question what she wants out of life and love. Striving to live up to her father’s unrealistic standards for the past twenty-three years, every decision she has ever made was with her father’s wishes in mind - until she finds mysterious, handwritten letters tucked away in places only meant for her. That’s when she realizes she’s been on the wrong path all along and gives her heart to a guy her father thinks is entirely wrong.
Washed-up abstract artist Nick Montgomery has had quite a few setbacks in life. He’s become accustomed to never needing anyone, thinking he’s just fine - until he meets the girl with the red scarf. She’s not his type. But the universe has other ideas. Nick has a secret he’s keeping from her, afraid it will bring their new relationship to a sudden halt.
Will they figure out what the universe holds for them?

Book Video

She looked away, self-conscious, turning her attention to the canvases around the room. “So are you going to show me the reason you brought me here?” Olivia’s eyes grew darker.
Nick tried to swallow the knot in his throat.
What was the reason?
He didn’t realize it was going to be this difficult, to be so close and not be able to touch her. It took everything in him not to watch as she removed her soaked sweater, placing it on the back of a chair. He was conscious of how her damp cotton tee clung to every curve. Rubbing the side of his face, he inhaled one slow breath, taking in her fragrance and awakening everything inside himself.
He knew they weren’t going to pick up where they left off. If Olivia wanted him, she would have to say it. She would have to make the first move.
Right…the reason he brought her here suddenly came to him.
Nick motioned for her to follow him to the other side of the room.
“So, what do you think?” Nick showed her a large canvas lying on his work table.
“Very organic. Is it a flower?” She crossed her arms in front of her, slightly turning her head up to meet him for some confirmation.
“Yeah, it turned out that way,” he said, embarrassed.
He never realized the softer side of himself. His past work had always been edgy and emulated destruction. There were no words to describe how Nick processed his work. It came from within; it was seeing things and feeling them, bringing them to life with one brushstroke at a time.
“I love that you use the dark blue at the top and how it fades gradually at the bottom. The use of magenta streaming through the empty spaces…beautifully done,” she said, looking at him as he watched her so intensely.
“Am I saying something wrong?” She laughed.
He loved it when she took an interest in his work. He folded his arms across his chest, leaning further on the table behind him, mustering his strength to keep from placing his hands in her hair.
“There’s no wrong way to analyze abstract art. It’s meant to inspire without understanding, almost like classical music. It means something different to everyone.”
“So what does it mean to you?” she asked.
“Ah, well…I guess I was thinking of you when I was working on it, and this is the result.” He pointed back to the canvas.
She smiled in a way that made him think his answer satisfied her. “Am I your muse, Montgomery?” she taunted.
She had no fuckin’ idea.
“All the time.”
He couldn’t help but pull her closer to him, holding her there, lightly brushing her bangs out of her eyes. For a moment he thought he might just kiss her and would have if she didn’t pull away so abruptly. He deserved it. He had hurt her by completely shutting her out.
“I’ve got to go,” she said, walking back toward the chair to gather her sweater.
“I have to go.”
“I thought you said you didn’t have plans.”
“No, you told me you had nowhere to be. I, on the other hand, never said anything.”
There was an elephant in the room that he desired to destroy. He needed to tell her, and if she left, he wasn’t sure if he would ever find the courage again.
“Roshambo.” He smiled. “I win, you stay here with me.”
She looked right through him, her lips twitching to one side. “Okay.”
“ROSHAMBO,” they said in unison.
He smiled more brightly.
“Okay, I’ll stay for a little while longer.”
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"An amazing debut novel from a new author!!" ~ Shrimalya Srinivasan
"Overall, this was a great book and I highly recommend it." ~ Amira Hairston
"This was a really sweet, clean, story about Olivia, Nick, and some wonderful inspirational quotes and advice from 'Mr. Universe'. It's a slow-burn relationship that blossoms between Olivia and Nick with the help of serendipity. [...] Loved this thoughtful, well-written book, and I definitely loved the notes from the mysterious 'Mr. Universe'." ~ Amazon Customer
"If you love Fate and Destiny/Missed Connections type love stories, then you will love The Proverbial Mr. Universe as it is one of those sweet, feel-good type stories where though the characters have their up's and down's and obstacles - you are filled with hope that everything as Mr. Universe would say 'Ends up as it should'." ~ Paula L. Phillips
"The Proverbial Mr. Universe was a well written and beautifully romantic book! It was a fresh concept which kept me reading and not wanting to put it down! I fell in love with the characters and was sad when the book ended because it was like these people were my friends and now they were gone!" ~ Katie

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
When artist Nick Montgomery first spots Olivia Montiano, he is immediately attracted to her and starts stalking her (there's no other word for it) to find out more about her. They finally meet just after Olivia breaks up with her fiancé Dario, and the sparks sure do fly - but not the good kind! Olivia places him firmly in the friend zone, while Nick is reluctant to commit to a relationship because he, too, is dealing with a recent break-up. With their timing all wrong, with Olivia's father vehemently opposed to their relationship, and with Nick hiding a pretty big secret from Olivia, will these two lost souls ever find happiness? Maybe, with the help of the sage advice Olivia receives from the mysterious Mr. Universe.
The story is told from both Olivia's and Nick's points-of-view, interspersed with cute hand-written notes by Mr. Universe (these are the best parts of the book). Olivia and Nick are a likable pair and are surrounded by a great cast of supporting characters, but there really isn't much of a story here; it's basically just the interactions between two people with complex family histories. It's slow-going, and there's a bit too much repetition, introspection, and repetition. And, while the cover is cute, it doesn't suit the book and it definitely doesn't match Nick's description.
I read an ARC that was so full of editing errors (including incorrect prepositions, missing words, incorrect word usage, a mixture of tenses, punctuation errors, poorly-phrased sentences) that it was practically unreadable. I can see from the Amazon preview that some, but not all, of these errors have been corrected. A note to the author/publisher: you are doing both yourself and the reviewers a disservice by releasing such a poor review copy.
Warnings: coarse language, domestic abuse.

About the Author
Maria La Serra, a fashion designer, turned writer, lives in Montreal with her husband and two children. She will try everything at least once, except for skiing, hiking or camping-okay anything relating to activities done in the great outdoors. The Proverbial Mr. Universe is her first novel.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of two $10 Amazon gift cards.


Monday, July 25, 2016

"Death Unmasked" by Rick Sulik

Death Unmasked
by Rick Sulik

Author Rick Sulik stops by today to share an excerpt from his mystery/suspense novel, Death Unmasked. It's Rick's birthday today, so please join me in wishing him a very happy birthday!

A reincarnated evil is stalking the women of Houston. With each murder, the madman quotes an excerpt from the Oscar Wilde poem, "The Ballad of Reading Gaol". A huge smokestack belching smoke, a ragged flea market double-breasted wool coat, and an old antique picture frame, bring the distant past back to haunt Houston Homicide Detective, Sean Jamison. With those catalysts, Jamison knows who he was in a past life and that he lost the only woman he could ever love. Searching for his reincarnated mate becomes Jamison’s raison d’être as he and fellow detectives scour Houston for a brutal serial killer. The memory of timeless love drives Jamison’s dogged search for a serial killer, determined to finish what he started decades earlier.
Each clue brings Jamison closer to unmasking his old nemesis. Tenacious police work, lessons learned in the past, and intuition may be the only weapons he has in preventing history from repeating itself.

Overnight, fall succumbed to early winter. A blanket of frost covered mother earth. Dawn’s crimson light—a sailor’s warning—spread across a cloudless horizon.
A choir of chirping birds awakened him. His eyes blinked open. A cool morning breeze blew wisps of invigorating country air into the tranquil chamber.
Through a sleepy haze, he cocked his head to admire the love of his life lying next to and facing him. Her head rested comfortably on a cottony pillow. A contented smile curved at her mouth. Her essence captivated him. Theirs had been a marriage made in Shangri-La.
A steady ray of warm sunlight penetrated the curtain sheer and shined on her golden hair as soft as the rain falling on summer flowers.
He shifted his body and leaned on his elbow. He rested his head in the palm of his hand and watched her sleep.
His devoted gaze swept over her sleeping figure. He took great pleasure memorizing every delicate contour of her face. He strained his ears and grinned as sounds of a faint whistle emitted from her tapered nose when she exhaled. He almost laughed aloud at those slight sounds.
His Laura looked stunning. Sunny morning or stormy weather, she brought a twinkle to his wistful eye.
With deliberate gentleness, one hand crept from under the bed sheet and pulled the comforter up over her exposed shoulder.
So young and full of life! Nothing’s quite as pretty as my Laura in the morning, chasing a rainbow in her dreams in faraway enchanted lands.
He stretched his neck and kissed her forehead.
She didn’t move.
He reached over and tweaked her nose.
Her forehead wrinkled.
He grinned and tickled her ear.
She stirred and arched an eyebrow. She opened one sleepy eye half-way, yawned and stretched herself lazily.
“Good morning, sunshine,” he said.
A sweet smile curled on her voluptuous honey lips when she opened both eyes wide at his morning greeting.
“Good morning, Emil,” she said and kissed him. “I was sleeping so good.”
“Yes, love, I could tell. I’ve been watching you.”
“I dreamed we were on our own private island.”
“That’s an expensive dream. I don’t think we can afford such luxury on my petty wages in this lifetime.”
“Well then, maybe things will be different the next time around together and we’ll be able to afford our very own secluded paradise. Until then, how about we just pretend we’re marooned on a deserted island?”
She played the seductress this morning. To entice him, Laura rolled on her back and pretended to sunbathe nude on an imaginary sandy white beach.
The tingling sensation of his warm hand on her smooth skin brought a giggle of anticipation.
Emil kissed her brow and hoped they could fulfill their dreams together, and all their tomorrows would be safe and happy.
Their unconditional love for each other thrilled him, but unlike other passionate mornings, today, a chilling sense of dread and doom lurked and struck like a dagger at his heart. His instincts set off an alarm, and suddenly he felt sick. He trembled as fear and gloom gripped him by the throat and appeared to suffocate him.
He shuddered, and Laura said, “Emil, what’s wrong?”
The next second erupted with the sound of bomb bursts in the distance that shattered the silence and peace of their cozy hillside hamlet. The earth erupted with sounds of war ripping the countryside apart.
Emil’s legs tangled in the sheets in his haste to reach the bedroom window.
The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end as his eyes swept the landscape.
His shocked face looked at his jittery wife.
Laura sat straight up in bed clutching the quilt to her breast with fear written on her face.
His eyes moved from Laura back to the horizon.
He squinted and blocked the bright morning sun with his hand and searched his acre of land for any signs of hostile troop movement.
Emil never expected his country to be invaded.
Never in a million years.
They promised they wouldn’t invade! They signed an armistice agreement!
He and the rest of his countrymen had been fooled.
Blasted rotten bastards lied and betrayed all of us. I wonder if there’s still time to unite and arm ourselves against total annihilation. The enemy must have crossed the unsecured border overnight and invaded nearby towns. The enemy could have advanced and taken our town! They might be sneaking up on me right this very moment! Hell! Who’s protecting us? Blast those lying bastards!
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"The author has accomplished an impassioned, arduously written result of crafting together various stylistic elements to tell his story that, combined, engage the reader on different levels and provide different perspectives of social, spiritual and humanistic themes in an entertaining way." ~ Robert M. Tucker, author, Byron, Chance of a Lifetime, American Landscape
"Poetry and murder: an unlikely couple, but the twain meet in this fascinating, supernaturally inspired detective thriller." ~ D. Clarke
"Part love story, part criminal thriller, this supernatural novel appeals on many levels. [...] A unique and satisfying read, definitely recommended." ~ Thalia
A book that flows, easy to read and not only engaging, but draws the reader in, to such an extent that once you put the book down, you have to readjust back to the 'real world'. The writer connects to those details that touch us all, such as that favourite song you've always listened to, and rather than just depict violence, he brings out the reality of the heartache that such evil cruelty brings. [...] With the twists and turns, enhanced with love, crime and the supernatural, well written, what more could you ask for? Get it, Gift it, share it." ~ T-Fly
"I found this book a combination of prose; poetry; detective story; love story; suspense novel; and reincarnation novel. Some portions were a real 'finger turner'. I had scheduled myself one week to read it but finished in two days. It is extremely well written and the author has a message to say about the meaning of life and death. The author is well versed in police procedures. [...] I do think most anyone would like this book. After I read the novel I found that the author had an extensive police background. I have no qualms about giving this well written novel a five star rating." ~ D. Meyer

About the Author
Rick Sulik was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio. After completing high school in Boardman, Ohio, he enlisted and served four years in the United States Air Force Military Police. After receiving an Honorable Discharge, he worked three and a half years with the Houston, Texas Police Department, twenty-two years with the Pasadena, Texas Police Department, and ten years as a courthouse bailiff with the Gonzales County, Texas Sheriff s Department, before retiring in 2013.


Friday, July 22, 2016

"State of Fear" by Summer Lane

State of Fear
(Collapse Series Book 8)
by Summer Lane

State of Fear, the eighth book in Summer Lane's Collapse Series, has just been released. Also available: State of Emergency, State of Chaos, State of Rebellion (read my blog post), State of Pursuit (read my blog post), State of Alliance (read my blog post), State of Vengeance (read my blog post), and State of Destruction (read my blog post).

This book blitz and giveaway is brought to you by Xpresso Book Tours.

More books by this author: the Zero Trilogy, which complements the Collapse Series - Day Zero (read my blog post), Day One (read my blog post), and End of Day (read my blog post); Bravo: Apocalypse Mission, the first book in the Bravo Saga (read my blog post).

The world has gone nuclear, and the militias have met their first major defeat.
Torn and desperate, Cassidy Hart and her team make a difficult decision to relocate their forces to the cold, barren wilderness of Alaska. In the snowy mountains of the Gates of the Arctic, Yukon City has become a stronghold for survivors of the apocalypse.
Or has it?
Commander Chris Young remains in California to combat the shadowy forces of Omega, while Cassidy attempts to rebuild the militia’s strength at Yukon City. Uriah True has ideas of his own when it comes to surviving, and the militias are splitting apart.
Veronica Klaus is unleashing hell upon the west coast. The true, terrifying nature of Omega is revealed at last. A dangerous, desperate move is made to find reinforcements and seize a weapon that could give the militias an upper hand.
The downside?
It just might kill everyone on planet earth.
Cassidy, Chris and their friends have made it this far.
How much longer can they survive?
How much longer can the world survive?

Click below to read an excerpt.

Praise for the Book
"This series just keeps getting better. This book is full of action and I found myself in suspense throughout most of the story. I appreciate that this is a series that my son can enjoy as much as I do." ~ Amazon Customer
"State of Fear is full of action, suspense, and had me rooting for our beloved couples once again. State of Fear is a page turner I just couldn't put down, I had to know what was going to happen next! Bravo (pun intended) Summer Lane!" ~ alicia
"Each book demonstrates her progression and growth as an author. This book is well-written, flows well, and is a great read. This is a worthy volume in the series. Buy it. Read it. Enjoy it." ~ J. W. Cejka III
"I absolutely love every book in this series and this is another great cliff hanger! This is another that does not have Chris active but that does not mean there is no action which is what I love! Great book, great plot, can't wait for the next!" ~ Valerie Guevara
"I have to say that turned out to be one of my favorite books in the Collapse Series. I love Summer's writing and she doesn't fall short on this book. I like that there is a little romance in it but it takes a backseat to the action. State of Fear will not disappoint you if you are a fan of the series." ~ Lisa

Interview with the Author
This is the eighth book in the Collapse Series. How do you keep the storyline and world going this far into the series?
The issue with Cassidy Hart is not running out of stories – it’s containing them! Cassidy’s world is monstrously huge and the options for story pathways are endless, so I really had to zero in on what I wanted the eighth book to be. In terms of technicality and research, this was a challenging book – but it was also exciting to write. I was able to utilize some elements that I have wanted to use for a long time, like submarines and ice ... trust me, it’ll make sense when you read the book!
Do you find it difficult to write about one set of characters for ten books?
No, I don’t. The longer you’re with your characters, the better you get to know them. In this case, I have had the opportunity to get familiar with my characters to such a level that their development and characteristics are incredibly organic. It’s a real blast!
Are you Team Uriah or Team Chris?
A lot of people like to think that Uriah is the perfect guy for Cassidy – while some much prefer Chris, since he is the original male lead (and he’s pretty awesome, in all honesty!). I have my own secret thoughts on this subject, and I don’t like to project my opinions on such an emotional element of the series. I leave that to my readers. But I will say that, in the end, Cassidy is a strong woman who doesn’t need anybody. She’s one of those kickass characters that can survive no matter what – and anyone she falls in love with is just a bonus.  I don’t say to belittle the importance of the male leads, but to stress that Cassidy is just that kind of character at this point in the series.
What’s with the title? Why "fear"? What’s there to fear in this book?
The title is really a projection of the underlying theme of this book. My characters are thrust into a type of warfare that’s really unlike anything they’ve ever seen before. They go to the barren wilds of Alaska, where the icy glaciers surround them and the dark winter solstice blots out the sun. Omega could kill them all – so many terrible things have happened, and could continue to happen. Cassidy is doubting herself and her relationships. This book is about exploring all of those fears, and then figuring out if our heroes are going to succumb to the darkness or stand up and kick its butt. It’s gritty, it’s dark and it’s intense. It’s my kind of story, and that’s why I wrote it.
Speaking of State of Fear, what is your favorite thing about this particular novel?
The ending. I love the way the book ends. I won’t confirm whether it’s happy or shocking or sad, but it’s something that I have envisioned for a while and I can’t wait for readers to get to it. I think they’re going to be very, very surprised. Let the theories begin! **wink**
The Collapse Series will cap at 10 installments. What’s it going to be like writing the final two books?
Probably fairly emotional. **grabs tissues to dab at eyes** By the time the series caps, I will have spent 5 years working on it. That’s a lot of emotional energy and devotion. Saying goodbye is always tough, but it’s a part of the writing process. I keep telling people that State of Fear is like a prologue to the final two chapters of the series. The final installments will be more intense, grittier and more shocking (no spoilers!). I am putting all of my energy and time into writing them this fall and winter, so look out!
What are you going to do when Collapse finishes?
I have addressed this question a couple of times already, but I’ll just put it out there again: I have more ideas and more stories within the world of Collapse, and even outside of it. I will be working on a project as soon as Collapse is finished, and I think my readers will enjoy it immensely. Meanwhile, the final installment to the Bravo Saga releases this fall.
What inspires you to continue writing these rapid-fire apocalypse novels?
The world around me. The "what if". The possibilities, the imagined scenarios, the technology of the modern world, the gritty man-to-man struggles of the old west, the tactical prowess of a soldier. Everything around me is a story, and I love to tell those stories to whoever will read them.

About the Author
Summer Lane is the #1 Bestselling Author of the Collapse Series, the Zero Trilogy, and the Bravo Saga. She is also the author of Collapse: The Illustrated Guide, a #1 bestselling graphic companion to her phenomenal original series.
She is the owner of WB Publishing and Writing Belle, an online magazine where she has worked with countless authors from around the globe. Summer is also an accomplished journalist and creative writing teacher.
Summer lives in the Central Valley of California, where she spends her days writing, collecting tea, and writing some more.

Enter the blitz-wide giveaway for a chance to win a Collapse Gift Pack (including a $40 Amazon gift card, an autographed surprise book, and an exclusive piece of artwork featuring Cassidy Hart, from artist Oskari Niittymaki, the artist behind Collapse:The Illustrated Guide) OR a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card (open internationally).