April 16, 2014

After the Storm by Marie Landry (Review & Guest Post)

After the Storm by Marie Landry
Release Date: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 242
Series: Angel Island
Review Source: eARC for review from author

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

For most people, starting senior year at a new high school would be a nightmare, but for Ella O’Dell it’s the new beginning she desperately needs. Two months after her mother’s death, she’s ready to leave behind the rebellious, unhappy person she became when she found out her mom was dying.

When Ella meets River Maracle and Sadie Fitzgerald, she begins to learn it’s okay to be herself, even if that means being different. River and Sadie aren’t ashamed of their misfit status—River grew up on a reservation, and his mother is the school counselor; Sadie stands out with her funky homemade clothes, and is a master at ignoring the whispered rumors that have plagued her since the beginning of high school.

Ella finds a kindred spirit in Sadie, and something more in River. After almost a year of pretending to be someone she’s not, she finally embraces life and allows herself to have fun without constant guilt. But despite her budding happiness, something is off with her new life. She doesn’t want to dwell on the past, but Angel Island is a small place, and she soon realizes her demons are harder to outrun than she thought…

After the Storm is a standalone companion novel to Waiting for the Storm.
My Thoughts:
After the Storm is the story of Ella, a character we first got to know in Waiting for the Storm The good thing is that you can read this book as a standalone, as it gives you all the background information you need. However, I highly encourage you to read Waiting for the Storm. It’s such a sweet and sad and lovely book, and by reading it first you’ll get even more insight to Ella, and to the side characters, especially Ella’s sister Charlotte and Charlotte’s boyfriend, Ezra.

Ella is most definitely a complicated character. In the past she's been spiteful and harsh to her sister, acting out with boys and alcohol. Then one night that goes too far shakes Ella awake and brings her back from the brink, changing her and her relationship with her family. In the things we hear about Ella’s past we see how she was simply a young girl, lost, confused, and hurting. She was coping in the best way she knew how, which was to put on an act. The Ella we get to know in After the Storm is trying to reconcile the Ella of the past, the Gabriella she was pretending to be, and the Ella she is now.

This is definitely an internal journey sort of book, where Ella has to learn to love herself, to forgive herself, and to see that she's worth caring about. It’s a journey of self acceptance, and I loved the roles that both friends and trained adults had in this. It really showed how sometimes we need help and support, even with things that we ultimately need to decide and work out for ourselves.

Marie Landry knows how to write a fabulous romance, and After the Storm is no exception. River was such a sweet love interest for Ella. I loved how he encouraged her and treated her well. Their relationship was based on strong friendship, and that made it seem all the more real and strong. I also enjoyed the friendship that both Ella and River shared with Sadie. She was an interesting side character, one with a very well developed back story. I was saddened by her situation, and intrigued to know more about her. I’m glad that we’ll get to read about her story in the next Angel Island book.

The reason why I love the Angel Island books so much is that Marie has a great talent for emotional stories which tug at your heart strings. She really makes you feel like you know the characters. It’s so easy to think of Angel Island as a real place to visit where you could run across Charlotte and Ezra or Ella and River while on your travels.

I highly recommend Waiting for the Storm and After the Storm. If you’re at all a fan of contemporary romance and stories that combine romance, friendship, and family, I can almost guarantee that you’ll enjoy these books.

The Cover:


Purchase Links:
Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

Guest Post from Marie Landry:

Canadian authors & Canadian settings

I’ve noticed something over the years: a lot of Canadian authors don’t set their books in Canada. I don’t know why - whether it’s a personal preference, or they prefer other countries, or they feel people won’t know Canadian geography well enough and won’t be able to click with something they don’t recognize. Regardless of the reason, I’m always a bit disappointed when I read several books by a Canadian author and not a single one of them is set here.

This, plus just general Canadian pride, is why my books are set in Canada. I always create fictional towns - so far all in Ontario - but I mention real places to give people an idea where the book is taking place. For instance, in my debut novel, Blue Sky Days, Emma grew up in Toronto, but moved three hours north to Riverview to live with her aunt Daisy. In The Game Changer, Melody lived in the fictional city of Bellevue (which is based on my hometown, with a twist on the name), but her best friend Olivia, who moves home at the beginning of the book, was living two hours away in Toronto. Also, Melody visits Ottawa at one point in the book.

I never mention the setting in my holiday novella, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, but I imagine it being set in one of those picturesque little towns all over Ontario. And finally, Waiting for the Storm and After the Storm are set on Angel Island, a fictional island in the Thousand Islands area near Kingston. The O’Dell sisters are from Toronto (High Park specifically), and Toronto and Kingston are mentioned quite a bit throughout the books.

In After the Storm, Ella’s love interest, River, is from Tyendinaga, which is a real Mohawk reserve. We don’t actually see the reserve in the book, but River mentions it a lot, so I thought it was important to use a real place, especially since I live just ten minutes away from there and have been there countless times. Besides giving people a general idea where a story is taking place, I love throwing in cities like Toronto, Kingston, and Ottawa, because I know them well and think they’re amazing cities with so much to offer. I hope people who know those cities will be excited to see them in print, and for people who have never been there, maybe reading about those places will make them want to visit.

I love this great country of mine. I love its landscapes, its diversity, its history, its people. I’m proud to be Canadian, and I hope that comes through in my books. I also hope that fellow Canadians will appreciate seeing their homeland featured, and that people all over the world will enjoy learning a bit about this beautiful place.

Thanks so much for sharing, Marie! As a Canadian I totally agree with you that I love seeing Canadian settings in books, rather than just throw away mentions (the ones I see are usually making fun of us!). As a fellow Ontarian I loved that I've been to most of the areas you've described in the books, even if the actual towns are fictional.

About Marie:
Marie has always been a daydreamer; since early childhood she's had a passion for words and a desire to create imaginary worlds, so it only seemed natural for her to become a writer. She resides in Ontario, Canada, and most days you can find her writing, reading, blogging about writing and reading, listening to U2, watching copious amounts of TV on DVD, or having grand adventures with her nephews and niece. She's a hopeless romantic, an unapologetic eavesdropper (occupational hazard), an equally unapologetic squeeing fangirl, and a lover of swoonworthy book and TV characters. For more on Marie and her books please visit http://sweetmarie-83.blogspot.ca. She also loves to chat with fellow book lovers, so feel free to tweet her @SweetMarie any time!

Where to find Marie:
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

April 12, 2014

Imaginary Lines by Allison Parr (Review, Guest Post, & Giveaway)

Imaginary Lines by Allison Parr
Release Date: April 14, 2014
Publisher: Carina Press
Pages: 237
Series: New York Leopards
Review Source: eARC for review through InkSlinger PR

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

Tamar Rosenfeld has been in love with New York Leopards linebacker Abraham Krasner since they were twelve years old. She'd always considered it destiny that they'd end up together…until Abe was drafted and she professed her feelings in a moment of blind excitement. The sting of his rejection was like nothing she'd ever felt before, and it's nothing she'll ever forget.

Older and wiser, Tamar has landed a dream job as a reporter for one of New York's premier athletic websites. Determined to stop being the safe, boring girl she's felt like for most of her life, Tamar makes a list of all the things she wants to do and see in her new city, and Getting Over Abraham is priority number one.

But destiny has finally chosen to interfere. Just as Tamar's decided to move on, Abe's realized she's the only woman for him. When he confides the truth, Tamar has to decide if she can put her crush behind her, or take a chance on the very man who's been holding her back all these years.
My Thoughts:
I’m pretty sure my first reaction to this book was basically: swooooon. Swoon times a zillion. I really loved the first two books in this series (Rush Me and Running Back), but I think this is my new favourite.

First of all, I'm a sucker for friends to lovers romance, so this book was one I was really excited for. The family friends, growing up together aspect always gets me. But a great concept doesn’t always equal a great book. Thankfully, that is not the case here, as Imaginary Lines lived up to my expectations, and perhaps even surpassed them. I loved the vibe between Tamar and Abe right from their first conversation in New York.

What I really enjoy about Allison Parr’s New Adult books is that they’re quite unique in the category. They take place in post-college settings, examining the beginnings of careers for her protagonists. Here there was an interesting conflict with Tamar's job as a sports reporter and Abe being a football player.

Tamar was a really interesting main character, and I liked seeing her journey. Abe, our hero, was introduced in the first book of the series, so it was great to see this sweet guy get his own happily ever after. Romances that feature the “boy next door” type are another favourite of mine. The New York Leopards series features great secondary characters, and I definitely enjoyed catching up with the couples from the previous two books, as well as meeting both Abe and Tamar’s families.

This series is definitely one of my favourites in the New Adult category, and I recommend it to all romance fans. Imaginary Lines is an awesome book, and I can’t wait to read more from Allison Parr.

The Cover:
Don't necessarily love the colour, but good overall.


Purchase Links:
Kobo | Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble

Guest Post from Allison Parr:

Why Write About a Sports Team

I’ll tell you a secret: I didn’t set out to write about a sports team.

I set out to write about an artsy girl who fell for her exact opposite. As it happened, her exact opposite was a pro football player. And so the New York Leopards were born.

When I wrote Rush Me, the first book in the New York Leopards series, I was pretty clueless about the inner workings of professional football. I could tell you about the Patriots and whether or not they were in the playoffs that year, but little else. I started doing research. Ever seen someone watching football and taking diligent notes? It’s kind of weird. My friends spent a lot of time making fun if me. I spent a lot of time reading the NFL rulebook and press releases.

In fact, I spent almost as much time reading as I spent watching. I poured through every book my library had on football. I read articles by players, by doctors, and by wives. And I discovered that football – and team sports in general – deliver a wealth of material for fiction.

Not only are there 53 guys who are by definition, at the top of their game, there’s also crazy politics, controversial health issues, paparazzi, money and drinking and partying – all the things tailor made for stories. They don’t each have to be fictional to be intriguing, but through in some romance and these fields are flat out irresistible.

Football players make awesome characters. They’re motivated, they’re strong, and they’re fiercely loyal to their teammates. I had the time of my life writing about them, and I hope you enjoy reading about them just as much!

About Allison:
Allison Parr is the author of Rush Me, Running Back, and Imaginary Lines. She grew up in small town New England, where she developed an incurable case of wanderlust. After graduating with degrees in archaeology and creative writing, she spent the next several years living in San Francisco, Paris, Boston, and New York. When she’s not traveling or writing, she’s making a mean chocolate cake or bad historical jokes. She’s also amassing enough books to rival the library in Beauty and the Beast.

To learn more about Allison’s books and travels, visit her at www.allisonparr.com

Where to find Allison:
Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


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April 9, 2014

Cover Reveal: London Falling by Chanel Cleeton

I absolutely adored Chanel Cleeton's I See London, so I'm incredibly enthused to be participating in the cover reveal for its sequel, London Falling.

I know what you're here for, so here it is!

London Falling by Chanel Cleeton
Release Date: July 7, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin HQN (Digital First)
Series: I See London

We weren't a relationship, we were a ticking time bomb...

Maggie Carpenter walked away from the hottest encounter of her life when she left the seductive glitz of England for summer break in her South Carolina hometown. Now that she’s returned to the International School in London—and sexy, privileged Samir Khouri is once again close enough to touch—she can’t help but remember the attraction, the drama … the heartbreak.

She can’t help but want him even more.

Samir can’t afford to fall for someone so far removed from his world, not when his time in London is running out. It's his senior year—his last chance at freedom before he returns home to Lebanon. There, he’ll be expected to follow in his father’s footsteps—not follow his heart to Maggie. But when a scorching secret hookup becomes a temptation neither can resist, they’ll both have to fight to survive the consequences … and find a future together.

Don’t miss this explosive sequel to I See London, and the riveting conclusion to Maggie and Samir’s story. This is a New Adult romance recommended for readers 17 and up.

You can preorder London Falling on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Barnes & Noble.

Be sure to check out the first book.

You can purchase I See London here:

Kobo | Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble
About Chanel:
Originally a Florida girl, at seventeen Chanel Cleeton moved to London to attend an international university. In the four years that followed, she received her bachelor's and master's degrees, learned how to dance, travelled through Europe, and made lifelong friendships. Chanel fell in love with London and planned to stay there forever. But fate intervened on a Caribbean cruise, when an American fighter pilot with smooth dance moves, swept her off her feet.

Now, a happily ever after later, Chanel is living her next adventure in South Korea. An avid reader and hopeless romantic, she is happiest curled up with a book. She has a weakness for handbags, puppy cuddles, and her fighter pilot husband.

Chanel is the author of the New Adult books I See London and London Falling with Harlequin HQN.

Where to find Chanel:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

April 7, 2014

The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen (+ GIVEAWAY)

The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen
Release Date: March 24, 2014
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Pages: 268
Series: The Ivy Years
Review Source: purchased eBook

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

The sport she loves is out of reach. The boy she loves has someone else.

What now?

She expected to start Harkness College as a varsity ice hockey player. But a serious accident means that Corey Callahan will start school in a wheelchair instead.

Across the hall, in the other handicapped-accessible dorm room, lives the too-delicious-to-be real Adam Hartley, another would-be hockey star with his leg broken in two places. He’s way out of Corey’s league.

Also, he’s taken.

Nevertheless, an unlikely alliance blooms between Corey and Hartley in the “gimp ghetto” of McHerrin Hall. Over tequila, perilously balanced dining hall trays, and video games, the two cope with disappointments that nobody else understands.

They’re just friends, of course, until one night when things fall apart. Or fall together. All Corey knows is that she’s falling. Hard.

But will Hartley set aside his trophy girl to love someone as broken as Corey? If he won’t, she will need to find the courage to make a life for herself at Harkness — one which does not revolve around the sport she can no longer play, or the brown-eyed boy who’s afraid to love her back.
My Thoughts:
I absolutely loved The Year We Fell Down. The writing flowed, the subject matter was interesting, and the characters were layered. Plus, the book features my favourite kind of romance: the slow burn, friends first type of connection.

I adored the interactions between Corey (or "Callahan" as she's better known by our hero) and Hartley. They had a fabulous rapport and a penchant for cheering each other up and making the other person stronger.

While the romance was my favourite part of the book, I would be remiss not to mention the amazing journey that Corey goes through. She grows as a character with every interaction she has and every obstacle she faces. Her growth is really what makes the book so great, because the book is so much about her struggling with coming to terms with her situation. She's living a completely different life than she expected, and she feels lesser because of it. I loved seeing Corey's mind and attitude change regarding her abilities.

If you're looking for a New Adult novel that fits well in the category but offers a little something extra in heart, then I absolutely recommend you read The Year We Fell Down.

The Cover:
Kind of meh and kind of interesting at the same time? The image itself isn't that exciting, but I like the colour scheme and the title treatment.


Purchase Links:
Kobo | Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | iTunes


3 winners. Open internationally. U.S. winners will receive choice of paperback or ebook and handmade hockey-themed stationery from Unflappable on Etsy. Those without a U.S. mailing address will receive an ebook only.

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