Friday, May 31, 2019

"Two Like Me and You" by Chad Alan Gibbs

Two Like Me and You
by Chad Alan Gibbs

Two Like Me and You by Chad Alan Gibbs

Two Like Me and You by Chad Alan Gibbs 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.

Edwin Green’s ex-girlfriend is famous. We’re talking cover-of-every-tabloid-in-the-grocery-store-line famous. She dumped Edwin one year ago on what he refers to as Black Saturday, and in hopes of winning her back, he’s spent the last twelve months trying to become famous himself. It hasn’t gone well.
But when a history class assignment pairs Edwin with Parker Haddaway, the mysterious new girl at school, she introduces him to Garland Lenox, a nursing-home-bound World War II veteran who will change Edwin’s life forever.
The three escape to France, in search of the old man’s long-lost love, and as word of their adventure spreads, they become media darlings. But when things fall apart, they also become the focus of French authorities. In a race against time, who will find love, and who will only find more heartache?

Book Video

You can’t make this shit up.
That’s what Garland Lenox would say about this story—my story—the story of how I tried to win back Sadie Evans, my super famous ex-girlfriend. Of course, Garland said that a lot. It was his go-to reply anytime anyone raised so much as a skeptical eyebrow at one of the more outrageous details of his own life story. Details like ...
“Scientists said they’d never heard of a Great White that far up the Mississippi River, but when they pulled its tooth from my leg they had to rewrite their little science books.”
Or ...
“Saddam Hussein never could remember all the rules to chess. He’d move pawns backward and he wouldn’t even touch his bishops because he said they were papists.”
Or ...
“The Super Bowl is faker than professional wrestling. I know the fella in Bakersfield who used to write scripts for the NFL. Why’d you think they take two weeks off before the big game? It’s so the players can rehearse.”
Garland would watch you while he told his tales, and if he saw even a shadow of disbelief he’d pounce: “Son, you can’t make this shit up.”
In the week I knew the old man he said those words to me approximately sixty-three times, though for the record I’m not his son. Garland called everyone son, even Parker sometimes, though I’m pretty sure he knew she was a girl. Also for the record, I never once accused Garland of making up anything, though I usually had my doubts, and sometimes my face would betray me.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“A smashing debut that's both intimate and epic.” ~ Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“... a whirlwind, cross-continental adventure that combines some classic story elements that make something beautifully original and engaging.” ~ IndieReader
“Part heist story, part love story, part road trip - Two Like Me and You is clever, insightful, and a whole bunch of fun.” ~ Reedsy Discovery (5-Stars)
“Teens will enjoy the fast-paced mix of adventure, heartbreaking romance, and satire ...” ~ IndieReader
“... one of those all-too-rare reading experiences that make you smile as you begin reading and then hold you blissfully entranced all the way through to the last page.” ~ Jack Magnus, Reader's Favorite (5-Stars)

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

By Lynda Dickson
Edwin Green teams up with new girl Parker Haddaway for a history assignment in which they have to interview someone who lived through World War II. That’s how he meets Garland Lenox and somehow agrees to help “a crazy girl bust a ninety-year-old man out of his nursing home so we can take him to France against his attorney’s wishes to find a woman he met during World War II, all in the hope of becoming famous and winning back my ex-girlfriend.” Let’s see how that goes!
Our narrator Edwin is immediately engaging, with his fantastically sarcastic voice and love of lists. The way he weaves his story keeps you hooked, as do the outlandish chapter headings that give us a tantalizing taste of what is to come (ending in Chapter 66 with “In which—oh hell, just read it and find out.”).
The book is full of laugh-out-loud moments, and the author’s humor is even evident in his Acknowledgments section, which is the funniest I have come across. Despite the levity, the book also contains some of the most heart-wrenching descriptions of the war and one of the most bittersweet young adult romances that I have read. This is a wonderfully romantic and wacky story that will leave you yearning for more. As Garland Lenox is fond of saying, “You can’t make this shit up.” Except that the author did. Or did he?
My favorite read of the year so far. Even more amazing now I know it’s the author’s first novel.
Warnings: coarse language, war, suicide, sexual references, violence.

Some of My Favorite Lines
“You can’t make this shit up.”
“You might get one chance like that in your life, son, and you damn well better be ready to take it or it’ll haunt you forever.”
“Smitten? Who says smitten? Are you my grandmother?”
“Theologians talk about free will, but I couldn’t have told her no if I’d wanted to.”
“Facebook isn’t a verb.”
“The thing is, when you meet the one, the one you’ve dreamed about and hoped and prayed actually existed somewhere out there in the world, when you meet her, you know it. You know it in an instant. You don’t even fall in love with her, because you were in love with her before time. Before either of you even existed. When you meet her you’ll know it because you feel whole, for the first time, and it’s the best damn feeling in the world.”

About the Author
Chad Alan Gibbs
Chad Alan Gibbs lives in Alabama with his wife, two sons, two dogs, and an embarrassingly large collection of Star Wars action figures. Two Like Me and You is his first novel.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a one of three signed or ebook copies of Two Like Me and You by Chad Alan Gibbs.


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Thursday, May 30, 2019

"Within and Without" by Deborah Maroulis

Within and Without
by Deborah Maroulis

Within and Without by Deborah Maroulis

Within and Without by Deborah Maroulis is currently on tour with Chapter by Chapter Blog Tours. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author and an excerpt. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Some people go to great lengths to fit in. But how far is too far?
After her parent’s divorce, sixteen-year-old Wren Newmann is forced to move from a small California town to her grandmother’s vineyard, where she’s convinced she’ll die a shriveled, wine-country virgin. Her dad’s gone AWOL, her mom’s hooking up with anything in pants, and her best friend has found the love of her life. Apart from the annoying but cute Greek farmhand Panayis, who doesn’t appear to notice her awkwardness or thunder thighs, Wren’s life has hit an all-time low.
That is until her own dating life improves unexpectedly when Jay, Wren’s long-time country crush, notices her. Yet it’s as if people don’t want her to be happy, with their warnings and advice that perhaps Jay isn’t the right guy for her. But they don’t know, and Wren’s done being Beached Whale Girl. She’s determined to become social, skinny, and sexy, because Jay wants her - every part of her.
Though her anxiety and secret purging sessions sing another warning that she finds hard to ignore. And when a series of personal tragedies strikes, Wren’s life is flipped upside down and she’s left to pick up the pieces of her broken relationships. Now, she must find the inner strength to decide if the illusion of being loved is worth sacrificing her health, and maybe even her life.
Described as “unflinching and authentic”, Within and Without is a stunning debut that touches on a teenage girl’s emotionally haunting journey to self acceptance “that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.”

The boy I’ve secretly loved for the last three years is parking in Granny’s driveway. The tires of his blue 4x4 roll to a stop, and warbled song lyrics promising a good time boom over the vineyards.
Dear fashion gods, now would be the perfect time to send me something flowy and flattering.
I sink into the porch swing as my heart matches the thump of the beat echoing against the wrap-around porch. I suck in my gut and lift my heels so my legs won’t smoosh against the bench—a trick I learned to instantly look a size smaller. My hands smooth over my jeans in the hopes the fashion gods might reconsider.
Again, no such luck.
The driver’s door swings open, and Jay leaps to the ground, sauntering up the graveled driveway to the porch. To me. Now all that’s separating us is a white picket fence and sixteen years of my inability to be normal in a social setting.
I’ll take Dying Alone for $200, Alex.
He’s abandoned his usual work boots and flannel for a tank top and canvas slip-ons. He’s obviously not supposed to be working—so what’s he here for? Probably been in town with his friends doing friend-ish things. As he works the gate latch, the muscles under his fair skin flex, sending the hundred-degree temperature up another ten. He’s easily the most attractive being on the planet I wish I had the nerve to talk to. I did try once. But we don’t discuss The Dark Days.
“Jay!” his dad calls from the path by the garage. “I’m back here.” Jay stops and turns. They meet at the gate and his dad nods to me. “Hi, Wren.”
“Hi, Mr. Dressler.” He runs the part of Granny’s business that makes wine.
Jay glances my way, every brown hair crowning his head and freckle sprinkling his nose exactly where they should be.
“Hey,” I say to Jay. To my horror, my voice cracks.
He nods in my direction, staring a second too long before turning back to face his dad. Probably thinking the awkward is strong in this one.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“Unflinching, authentic, and the perfect mixture of bold and sweet, Within and Without is a story readers will lose themselves in more than once. A debut both heartwarming and heartbreaking from an exciting new voice in YA literature.” ~ Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, author of Firsts and Last Girl Lied To
“A moving portrait of first love, friendship, and the pressures we put upon ourselves daily. Maroulis tackles the delicate subject of eating disorders with a realistic pen, all while maintaining a humorous and hopeful tone. Within and Without will stay with you long after you turn the last page.” ~ Samantha Joyce, author of Flirting with Fame
“A heartfelt and moving story of friendship, first love, and finding yourself. Maroulis isn't afraid to tackle tough topics to show that finding love requires learning to love yourself.” ~ Kelly deVos, author of Fat Girl on a Plane
“It is such an important book.” ~ Eliza, Goodreads
“A heartfelt new voice.” ~ Hannah, Goodreads
“Well-written, engaging, and thoughtful.” ~ RJ, Goodreads

Guest Post by the Author
If I Knew Then What I Know Now About Writing
If I were writing this post in my early years of learning the craft, I would start by slowly opening my eyes, then roll out of bed, examine myself in the mirror and narrate my features, grab a piece of toast on my way to my hand-me-down car and the first day of school. In the hallway, I’d probably see my crush and forget to let out the breath I was holding.
After my first draft, John Hughes called and wanted the 80s back.
When I first started writing seriously, I wrote with a mixture of what I’d read in other books, seen on TV or in movies, and a dash of my sense of humor. I tried to mimic the formatting I’d noticed in other books and relied heavily on my academic knowledge of MLA. It took me forever to be able to use contractions and fragments - all my characters sounded like Data from The Next Generation!
After working with a developmental editor, I realized how many filter words I relied on and how my dialogue tags were so long and random, readers had a tough time following along. One of the revisions I did for Within and Without was to change the original past tense to present. Yes, it was tedious. Yes, I got tired of it. But it was the best way for me to search the story for all the problematic phrasing and make it better.
Here’s what I did. (Bear with me, it’s a little crazy.) I took all the clunky sentences and pasted them into Twitter like I was preparing a tweet. Something about isolating the sentence made me able to make them better. Not that every sentence makes the character limit, but reducing the red as much as possible made the sentences as simple and as powerful as I could make them.
Now that I’ve been through the major revision process a couple of times, my writing is a little cleaner than when I started. That doesn’t mean I don’t have to dig out the fine-toothed comb when it’s time to turn something in. But at least I’m not spending weeks (or months!) doing it anymore.
It’s like Taylor Mali says in his famous poem, and I’m paraphrasing - in math, we’re instructed to show all our work, but in English, we must hide it. I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of all the John Hughes in my work. Some things are embedded forever. But now I’m in control of how much I show. Just like Andie and her prom dress.

About the Author
Deborah Maroulis
Born and raised in a small town in Northern California, Deborah Maroulis is lucky enough to surround herself with the things and people she loves. She teaches English and mythology at her local community college, studies myth and depth psychology in her Ph.D. program, and writes contemporary Young Adult novels. She lives in a slightly bigger town than the one she grew up in with her husband, newly-adult children, and her daughter’s very spoiled, semi-retired service dog.


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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

"Extinction Of All Children" by L. J. Epps

Extinction Of All Children
(Extinction Of All Children Book 1)
by L. J. Epps

Extinction Of All Children (Extinction Of All Children Book 1) by L. J. Epps

Extinction Of All Children is currently on tour with Bewitching Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

The futuristic world of Craigluy has been divided into three territories and three economic classes. A large wall separates the territories, so the poor cannot mingle with the rich.
Since President Esther, the ruler over all of Craigluy, believes the poor do not have adequate means to take care of children, they are no longer allowed to procreate. Pregnant mothers are imprisoned until their babies are born, then the infants are taken away.
Emma Whisperer is the last child to survive. She is the last child born in lower-class Territory L before the law was instituted in the year 2080. She is the last eighteen-year-old.
Emma struggles to understand why she was spared while others weren’t. She doesn’t like the laws and believes they should be repealed. Her family doesn’t agree with her; they discourage her rebellious streak. Yet, she helps them to cover up their own family rebellion. She helps them to hide a big secret, a secret that could be both disastrous and deadly for members of their family.
As she meets new people along the way, Emma learns who she can and cannot trust. And, in the end, she makes a gut-wrenching decision that may be disastrous for everyone.
She finds herself in danger for doing what she feels is right.

My brain checks back in on the conversation. My mother is still going on about her day.
“I was able to pick up some fruit from the market. The apples and pears were fresh. We can have them for dessert on Sunday, along with the whipped cream Emma picked up.” She puts on a fake smile. “They don’t always have it, since it is only for special occasions. Thanks for going back to the store to get it. I forgot it when I was there earlier. I hope you didn’t have a hard time finding it.”
“It is fine, Mother,” I say, softly.
Sundays are special in Territory L. It is the day families are supposed to stay in and enjoy each other’s company. The day we get to eat chicken or fish, instead of beans and soup. It is the day we play old board games and read old books. Pears and apples are what my mother considers dessert. Maybe this Sunday will be even more special because we’re going to have whipped cream on our fruit. We never had it before. I guess whipped cream will make it look more desirable. So, while Territory U has pie and cake, we’ll have fruit with whipped cream topping.
“Is there any more milk?” Theodore asks.
“I had your sister pick some up on her way back.”
“Yes, T,” I say, chiming in. I always call him T, for short. “There is a fresh carton in the fridge. Try not to drink it all. It has to last for at least the next week.”
I watch as he narrows his eyes in my direction, then he stands with his glass in hand and goes to the kitchen. He is such a child, sometimes I can’t even tell he is nineteen.
“So, how was your day, Emma?” My father turns to me. He just put a spoonful of beans in his mouth. He clears his throat and continues. “I mean, before you ran that errand.”
Every time someone talks about the errand, I cringe. It is as if a knife has been put through my stomach because we have such a hard time even saying what the errand is. And the whole thing leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I try to forget about the errand, for now, and dwell on his question—how my day was.
“If you’re asking me if I found a job yet, I haven’t.” I take a sip of water. “There is not much to do around here.”
“There is, if you want to be cashier at the market or a salesperson at the clothing store.”
“Those aren’t real jobs. Sorry,” I add, glancing over at him.
He has always said it didn’t matter what the job is because any job, even if it isn’t glamorous, should be respected. Judging by the slant in his eyebrows that makes the lines in his forehead crease, he didn’t take kindly to what I just said.
“What I meant to say,” I continue, “is I want to go to college and be a doctor like you, Dad, or a teacher like Mom was. It is not fair—”
“We can’t keep having this discussion every night,” Mother cuts in, her voice curt. “I know it is disappointing that there are no colleges and no continued education for you. And I also know you don’t want any of the jobs the territory has to offer—”
“But that is the way it is, and you have to deal with it,” says Father, cutting her off.
“I’m not hungry anymore.” I push my plate aside.
I know it is foolish because around here you don’t always know where your next meal is coming from, but I can’t stomach the same conversation along with the same dry food every night.
“May I be excused?” I lower my head.
“Yes, Emma. You may.” My mother’s tone is soft. “And Em, things will get better,” she says with sad eyes.
She always says that. I think, more for herself than for me. But things never get better. They always stay the same, or get worse.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“Fans of dystopian fantasy will devour this book. L. J. Epps writes a story that, while dealing with heavy subject matter, is still a light, enjoyable read. This dystopian fantasy novel ignites the imagination, and is a must read for fans of The Hunger Games and the Divergent Trilogy.” ~ Kristina Gemmell, Beta Reader
The Extinction of All Children has an interesting plot and engaging characters. The storyline is so captivating that you’ll want to keep reading it to find out what will happen next on Emma’s journey. Overall, this book is highly recommended, especially if you’re fascinated by dystopian novels.” ~ Rev. Stephen R. Wilson
“Every reader will find relatable messages within these pages. Written toward a young adult audience, this dystopian fiction hits pretty close to come universal truths that readers of any age will find disturbing and thought provoking.” ~ Catherine Grainger
“Stumbled across this book by happy accident and was immediately hooked. I absolutely could not put it down. This story is a special twist on post apocalyptic era. I loved it. I can not wait to find out what's next for Emma. I have already purchased book 2, and it's taking every ounce of will power I have not to start it tonight!” ~ J.Fulfer
“Enjoyable read. The characters were well described and the story moved smoothly. I enjoyed this first book enough for me to get the sequel.” ~ Laurie

About the Author
L. J. Epps is a lover of all things related to books: fiction and nonfiction novels, as well as biographies and autobiographies. She has also been known to sit and read comic books from cover to cover, several times over.
Over the last few years, L. J. has written several manuscripts; her mission is to publish all of them. She enjoys writing fiction in several genres, including contemporary romance and women’s fiction, as well as young adult dystopian, science fiction, and fantasy. She loves to write because it immerses her into another world that is not her own.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

Amazon (Kindle Unlimited)

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