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17 April, 2014

Short Story Review: The Affair by Lily Maxton

Author: Lily Maxton
Publication Date: April 14, 2014
Publisher: Entangled: Scandalous
Genre: Adult Historical Romance
Find It: GoodreadsAmazonB&N
Source: Publisher

She was his for one week only...

When a beautiful stranger ducks into his bookshop during a rainstorm, Cale Cameron, well-known rake, is instantly attracted to her.

Elizabeth, Lady Thornhill, is restless and hungers for something she cannot name. Society would never accept a countess and a mere bookseller, so they agree to a one week affair to indulge their desire.

As their passion ignites and their connection grows, Elizabeth threatens the one thing Cale has protected above all else—his heart. Letting her go is the only solution...and the one thing he is not prepared to do.

As an avid romance reader, there is something so satisfying about a novella that gets down to business quickly. The Affair is that kind of story. Lily Maxton quickly sets up the scene: a widowed and impoverished countess with nothing to lose who stumbles into a relationship with a completely inappropriate and rakishly handsome self-made man. Elizabeth struggles to reconcile society's values versus her needs; it's not difficult for the reader to figure out that love and lust will win out in the end (bringing financial security with it). As it is with so many novellas, this predictability is The Affair's greatest weakness.

Thrown into the mix is the new Lord Thornhill, her late husband's cousin, who is kind enough in his way and has made enough of a fortune abroad to restore the estate, but fails to incite the kind of passion that Cale can immediately kindle within Elizabeth. After a second brief and steamy encounter, a gift to make any booklover swoon, and a surprisingly pleasant evening spent in unsuitable company, she cannot resist his offer. Just as soon as she begins the affair, it is over.

The way Maxton builds the emotional stakes and just as swiftly knocks them down again is what kept me riveted and will keep me coming back to this novella. While Elizabeth takes some unusual risks (especially given her station and shaky financial situation) she never fully compromises her own integrity, and comes out stronger for it at the end. Cale is at once smoldering and sympathetic--and does it hurt that he owns a lending library, bookshop, and publishing house? In a longer novel, the new Lord Thornhill might have been a true contender, as there is nothing really despicable about him; in novella format, he clearly has no chance. Only the first of Elizabeth and Cale's encounters is fully described, but it was enough for me--definitely quality versus quantity.

Overall, I enjoyed this debut novella. While it doesn't hold any surprises, it delivers the three H's I usually look for in a romance: Heat, Heartbreak, and a Happy Ending. Maxton also sets up a few side characters that I hope she will explore in future novellas: in particular Elizabeth's bookish sister Olivia and the soon-to-be infamous courtesan Miss Forsythe (who is penning a tell-all for Cale's press). I'll definitely watch out for future releases (she has two more novellas coming out this year).


*I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.




Visit the author online at www.lilymaxton.com, Facebook and follow her on Twitter @lilymaxton

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16 April, 2014

Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop (US - Ends 4/24)

4th Annual Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop
April 17th to 24th
Hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Read Now Sleep Later

Hi, everyone. We are participating in the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Read Now Sleep Later. We are giving a away a signed paperback of Code Name Verity. This is for US residents only (sorry - we will do another international giveaway soon). You have until April 24 to enter. Please follow all of the giveaway rules below. Thanks and good luck!


Giveaway Rules:
  1. Open to US residents only
  2. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items. 
  3. One set of entries per household please. 
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!

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Teaser Trailer: Gone Girl


I am probably one of the few people left who has not yet read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It's on my bookshelf though, promise! I am a big fan of David Fincher though and I think this trailer definitely gives us that creepy vibe he's so good at.  Excited to see this one and plan on reading it before the film comes out.



Gone Girl hits theaters in October.





15 April, 2014

Don't Look Back Release Day Launch


Hi, everyone. I am back again with a fun post for the release of Jennifer Armentrout's Don't Look Back. I am a huge fan of Jennifer Armentrout's and am amazed with how many books she writes every year. But more books is better for me and I am really excited about her newest release, Don't Look Back, which sounds like a really creepy read and I love a good scary story. Keep reading to learn a little bit more about this book and read an excerpt.



Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all—popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it's one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took "mean girl" to a whole new level, and it's clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She's getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she's falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her—even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn't just buried deep inside of Sam's memory—someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

EXCERPT:

I didn’t recognize the name on the street sign. Nothing about the rural road looked familiar or
friendly. Tall, imposing trees and overgrown weeds choked the front of the dilapidated home.
Windows were boarded up. There was a gaping hole where the front door had been. I shivered,
wanting to be far away from here…wherever here was.
Walking felt harder than it should be, and I stumbled off the chilly asphalt, wincing as
sharp gravel dug into my feet.
My bare feet?
I stopped and looked down. Chipped pink nail polish peeked through the dirt…and blood.
Mud caked the legs of my pants, leaving the hems stiff. It made sense, seeing as how I wasn’t
wearing any shoes, but the blood…I didn’t understand why there was blood staining the knees of
my jeans.
My vision clouded and dulled, as if a gray film had been dropped over my eyes. As I
stared at the weathered asphalt under my feet, large and smooth rocks replaced the tiny stones.
Something dark and oily seeped over the rocks, slipping through the cracks.
Sucking in a sharp gasp, I blinked and the image was gone.
Hands trembling, I raised them. They were also covered with dirt and scratches. My nails
were broken, bloodied. A silver ring wrapped, encased in soil, around my thumb. Air froze in my
chest as my gaze crawled over my arms. The sleeves of my sweater were torn, revealing pale
flesh covered in bruises and gashes. My legs started to shake as I swayed forward. I tried to
remember how this had happened, but my head was empty—a black void where nothing existed.
A car drove by, coasting to a stop a few feet in front of me. Somewhere in the trenches of
my subconscious, I recognized the flashing red and blue lights as a source of safety. Elegantly
scrawled along the black-and-gray side of the cruiser were the words ADAMS COUNTY SHERIFF’S
DEPARTMENT.
Adams County? A flash of familiarity came and went.
The driver’s door opened, and a deputy stepped out. He said something into the radio on
his shoulder before he looked at me.
“Miss?” He started around the cruiser, taking tentative steps. He looked young for a
deputy. Barely out of high school and able to carry a gun seemed wrong somehow. Was I in high
school? I didn’t know. “We’ve received some calls into dispatch concerning you,” he said
gently. “Are you okay?”
I tried to respond, but only a hoarse squeak came out. Clearing my throat, I winced as the
motion scratched and pulled. “I…I don’t know.”
“Okay.” The deputy held up his hands as he approached me, as if I were a skittish deer
about to bolt. “My name is Deputy Rhode. I’m here to help you. Do you know what you’re doing
out here?”
“No.” Knots formed in my belly. I didn’t even know where here was.
His smile strained. “What’s your name?”
My name? Everyone knew their name, but as I stared at the deputy, I couldn’t answer his
question. The knots started twisting more. “I don’t…I don’t know what my name is.”
He blinked, and the smile was completely gone. “You don’t remember anything?”
I tried again, concentrating on the empty space between my ears. That was how it felt.
And I knew that wasn’t good. My eyes started to tear up.
“Miss, it’s okay. We’ll get you taken care of.” He reached out, lightly taking hold of my
arm. “We’ll get this sorted.”
Deputy Rhode led me around the back of his cruiser. I didn’t want to sit behind the
Plexiglas, because I knew that wasn’t good. Only bad people sat behind the glass in police
cruisers. I wanted to object, but before I could say anything, he settled me into the seat and
wrapped a coarse blanket around my shoulders.
Before he locked me in the bad part of the car, he knelt and smiled reassuringly.
“Everything’s going to be okay.”
But I knew he was lying, trying to make me feel better. It didn’t work. How could
everything be okay when I didn’t know my own name?


Spooky, right? I cannot wait to read this one!

About Jennifer L. Armentrout:

# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV.

She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

Find Jennifer:




Pasadena Teen Book Festival Spotlight on Allen Zadoff


Hi, guys. I am back with another spotlight post for the Pasadena Teen Book Festival. We hope that you can come out to this awesome event. Today I have an interview with author Allen Zadoff. Hope you like it and remember to scroll down to the bottom of the post for some giveaways. :)

Event date: Saturday, April 26, 2014 from 12pm-4pm
Venue: Pasadena Public Library, 285 E Walnut St, Pasadena, CA 91101
Follow Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Blogspot
T-Shirt sign-ups at CustomInk


Tue March 25 - Read Now Sleep Later - Spotlight on Catherine Linka
Mon March 31 - The Windy Pages - Spotlight on Gretchen McNeil
and Holly Goldberg Sloan
Wed April 2 - FangirlFeeels - Spotlight on Jesse Andrews
Fri April 4 - What a Nerd Girl Says - Spotlight on Margaret Stohl
Mon April 7 - What a Nerd Girl Says - Spotlight on Andrew Smith
Tue April 8 - Adventures of a Book Junkie - Spotlight on Amy Tintera
Thu April 10 - The Consummate Reader - Bridge to Books Guest Post
Mon April 14 - Nite Lite Book Reviews - Spotlight on Sarah Skilton
Tue April 15 - Nite Lite Book Reviews - Spotlight on Allen Zadoff
Wed April 16 - The Reader's Antidote - Spotlight on Elizabeth Ross
Fri April 18 - A Bookish Escape - Spotlight on Ann Redisch Stampler
Tue April 22 - The Book Twins - Spotlight on Carrie Arcos
Thu April 24 - Birth of a New Witch - Spotlight on Katherine Ewell


NL: I read in an interview that your first love was theater, not writing, and that you did not start writing until your twenties. Had you been interested in writing before then? what made you shift from acting to writing and do you find any similarities between the two art forms?

AZ: It’s true that I was a theater guy, first as an actor in high school, then as a director. I went to graduate school in directing at the Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. Looking back, I was always writing—short stories in high school, adapting plays in college, etc.  But I never thought of myself as a writer until much later. In hindsight, I didn’t have the courage to be a writer until my late 20s when I began writing personal essays.  It was then that my voice began to develop. How did I see the world, what did I believe, what was my point of view? Those essays led to me writing my first book, a memoir about food addiction called Hungry. I didn’t write my first novel Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have until a couple years later.

Directing is an interpretive art. Someone else’s text and story form the foundation of what you create.  Being a writer is more like being a singer-songwriter. It’s you alone at the microphone performing your own material. That takes an enormous amount of courage, and quite frankly, I didn’t have the self-esteem to do that until much later in my life.

NL: You write books that are categorized as young adult. Did you set out to write for a YA audience or did that come just by the nature of what you wanted to write about?

AZ: A friend recently described his career trajectory as “divine intervention” rather than personal choice. I think the same thing about my own. When I wrote my first novel, it happened to feature a 14-year-old protagonist. People read it and said, “This is YA.”  I said, “What’s YA?”  I actually didn’t know there was a genre called young adult until after I’d written the book

NL: Your most recent book, The Unknown Assassin seems to be a little bit of a departure for you. Your other books are all contemporary but none of them involve assassins. What inspired you to write about a teenager assassin?

AZ: The character of the The Unknown Assassin inspired me. One day I had an idea about a boy who had no home and no parents, who traveled from place to place pretending to fit in, while in fact he was a highly trained assassin on a perpetual mission.  I’ve always secretly loved thrillers, and I instantly recognized that I was onto something big. What if your new best friend was an undercover assassin sent to kill your parents? When you wake up with an idea like that, you’d be crazy not to explore it. 

NL: Did you do any kind of research in order to write authentically from the POV of a trained killer?

AZ: None at all. I understood the character on a deep level. I often felt like a stranger in high school, emulating the people around me to try and fit in, while carrying on a secret life in my head. “I’m here, but I’m not one of you.” That was a very powerful and false belief for me. It’s taken years and lots of therapy to break that down to the point where I feel like I’m like you and you’re like me. We are all human beings doing our best to live and get what we want from the world, but often our strategies bring us into conflict with one another.  Today I see myself as a small part of a much larger world.  But The Unknown Assassin feels isolated and different from everyone around him. I lived with that mindset for a long time.

NL: If you were going to get rid or someone and make it look like an accident, how would you do it (RNSL cannot guarantee that what is said here will not be used against you should something terrible befall someone of your acquaintance).

AZ: That’s very difficult to do these days with forensic science being as sophisticated as it is. The most ingenious way to get rid of someone would be to somehow convince them to get rid of themselves. Hmmm…

NL: The Unknown Assassin was originally titled Boy Nobody. I think both titles are pretty cool but can you tell us why the title was changed? Did you have any input in the change?

AZ: With my publisher’s blessing, I created the new series title and the titles for the books.  We wanted to find a new identity because one book was becoming a series, and the original title felt less and less like it would work for the whole story.  So I decided to call the series The Unknown Assassin. The new book titles will be I AM THE WEAPON (Book #1), I AM THE MISSION (Book #2), and Book #3 is still a secret.  The big news:  Book #1 is coming out in paperback in May, and Book #2 debuts on June 17 in the U.S.

NL: What can we expect in Book 2 of The Unknown Assassin series, I Am the Mission?

AZ: Book 2 is bigger, more complex, and filled with action.  We learn a lot more about our assassin hero and the origins of what made him who he is. One of my favorite characters, Howard, returns.  There’s also a new love complication, because I am fascinated by the idea of an assassin who is torn between his duty and his humanity.

Lightning round!

NL: Favorite snack or beverage while writing?

AZ: Nitroglycerin.

NL: Do you have any strange writing habits?

AZ: I listen to music obsessively, usually through noise-cancelling headphones.

NL: Favorite assassin (fiction or non-fictional)?

AZ: Bourne.

NL: What’s on your night stand?

AZ: My iPad, charged and ready for action.

NL: Cake or pie and what kind?

AZ: Cronuts.

NL: Thanks, Allen! Look forward to seeing you at the Festival!


Giveaways
#1: ARC of A Girl Called Fearless
Winner may request personalization/autograph
Open to US residents only - ends 4/25/2014
Enter with Rafflecopter #1
#2: Choose from 1 of the books featured at the Pasadena Teen Book Festival
Winner may request personalization/autograph
Open to US residents only - ends 4/25/2014
Enter with Rafflecopter #2
a Rafflecopter giveaway

#3: $50 Gift Card to Vroman’s BookstoreOpen to attendees of the Pasadena Book Festival only! – ends 4/21/2014
To enter, suggest a new, unique/clever/fun name for the Pasadena Teen Book Festival. Examples of other cool names for teen book fests include (already taken, unfortunately)Teen Author CarnivalYALLFest, and YABFest. What should we call our event from now on? Email your top 3 best name suggestions to info@pasadenateenbookfest.com OR fill out this form! A panel of judges will choose the best name from all of the submissions. The winner will be announced at the Festival!