Book Endings that Linda Grimes {All Fixed Up} Would Change if She Could

We’ve all been there. The book was going great {amazing, spellbinding, awesome, hellstotheyesplease, ect.} but the ending totally killed the vibe. I know I’m guilty of knocking a whole star off the book rating if the ending angered me. I’m not saying I need a happily ever after all the time (I like a good old tragedy as much as the next girl) but I do like what I like.

I mean, don’t we all? It’s why we like different book. Uniformity is boring. Let’s embrace that. But if we could change the ending…given half the chance…well, that’s what Linda Grimes, author of All Fixed Up, is going to explore this lovely Friday Morning.

(P.S: I GRADUATE TODAY, BABES!)

Goodreads || Amazon

LINDA GRIMES is a former English teacher and ex-actress now channeling her love of words and drama into writing. She grew up in Texas and currently resides in northern Virginia with her husband.

Her series, CIEL HALLIGAN, is in stores now.

Book Endings I’d (Presumptuously) Rewrite If Given Half a Chance


Author’s Note: SPOILER ALERT: Actual book endings may be revealed in the course of this shameful confession. Read at your own risk.

1. Gone With The Wind. I first read GWTW when I was about eleven or twelve, on the recommendation of one of my fellow book-nerd friends. I must have read it ten times before I was sixteen, always secretly hoping Scarlett would somehow get a happily ever after with Rhett. In my version, Rhett does give a damn, and actually says, “Thank God you finally came to your senses, Scarlett!”

2. Old Yeller. Why does the dog always die in children’s books?! Gaah. Couldn’t it, just once, come close to death but narrowly avoid it and miraculously rally? Is that really asking too much? In my version, the dog saves everyone and lives to wag its tail to a ripe old age. 

3. Little Women. Jo should have wound up with Laurie. End of story. Because, seriously, Professor Bhaer? Can we say daddy issues? Also, bor-ing. Ho-hum city. The Big Yawn. Jo and Laurie were the best of friends, and I firmly believe a solid friendship is the basis of a good marriage. They were obviously meant for each other, and in my version that’s exactly how they wind up. Oh, yeah, and Beth doesn’t die. She gets really sick, but miraculously recovers. Kind of like Old Yeller (see above).

4. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Really? It was all just a dream? Come. On. You lead me through all those wild and whimsical happenings, introducing me to magnificently imaginative characters, and then tell me none of it was real? Please. In my version every last part of it actually happens. That would be surprising. Perhaps a bit frightening, yes, but at least you wouldn’t get a cold splash of “real life” thrown in your face before you even close the book.

5. Gone Girl. Okay, this may exhibit more of my vindictive nature than I generally like to, but frankly these characters don’t deserve to live. Sure, the book is a gripping read, but frankly I wanted to throw it against a wall when I found out that last “surprise.” In my version, the baby is born, after which its parents die tragically in a car wreck. Then the baby is raised by a nice, normal, loving couple and lives happily ever after. The End.

Now, I’m not saying my versions would make any of these books better. In fact, I’d venture to say they’d probably ruin the books entirely. I fully admit that. I’m just being honest about how the books, as written, made me feel while reading them. So please take it with the proverbial grain of salt.

How about you? Are there any books you, in you heart of hearts, would like to change the ending to? Do share! Even if they happen to be mine. Well, except this latest one (All Fixed Up), because I agonized over that ending, and I’m rather fond of it.

All Fixed Up by Linda Grimes
(Ciel Halligan #4)
Published May 24, 2016 || Tor Books
The hilarious adventures of human chameleon Ciel Halligan continue in the fourth installment of this original urban fantasy series from Linda Grimes, All Fixed Up.
Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire, has a lot of experience filling in for her clients–as them. A rare genetic quirk gives her the ability to absorb human energy and project it back out in a flawless imitation. She’s hard at work, posing as a well-known and celebrated astronaut, about to make a stunning announcement on behalf of the space program…when the photographer documenting the job sees right through her aura. Worse, it soon becomes apparent that he not only knows Ciel’s not who she’s supposed to be, but means her harm.
When Ciel’s elderly Aunt Helen—also an aura adaptor—is murdered in Central Park, and the same photographer shows up at the funeral, Ciel starts to feel even more exposed. Then more adaptors are killed in the same way, and she becomes terrified her friends and family are being systematically exterminated … and it’s starting to look like she’s the ultimate target. She turns to Billy Doyle, her best-friend-turned-boyfriend, for help, but when an unexpected crisis causes him to take off without a word, she’s left to rely on her not-so-former crush, CIA agent Mark Fielding.
Staying alive, keeping control of her romantic life, and unraveling the mystery of why adaptors are being pursued becomes a harder balancing act than ever in this new Ciel Halligan adventure from Linda Grimes.
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Julie Buxbaum (Tell Me Three Things) on Coffee and Music

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaun
April 2016


What if the person you need the most is someone you’ve never met?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel whose characters will come to feel like friends. Tell Me Three Things will appeal to fans of Rainbow Rowell, Jennifer Niven, and E. Lockhart.  
Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago—the closest place she has to something like home—she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

The thing is, Jessie does need help. It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live in LA with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?


Interview

Hello, darling! I thought wed begin with a little about you and then a little about your book.
How do you take your coffee? Personally, I think you can tell a whole bunch about a person by how they like their coffee made.
Totally agree. Honestly? Just a splash of coconut milk. But I was tempted to lie on this one, because this makes me sound super fussy and Im not. Secretly, I’m a half-and-half and two large scoops of sugar type of person who was just born with the wrong metabolism.
Describe yourself in 3 songs. Why did you pick those? Do any of these songs play a part in your writing?
Anna Begins (Counting Crows): Theres this great line—“every time she sneezes I believe its love”—and its just such a romantic and gushy song, but also so full of a fear of commitment and for a long time I was like that: Just a huge terrified romantic.
Blackbird  (The Beatles): No idea why, but I find this song deeply comforting. Something so calming and pedestrian about it.
The Book of Love:(I think this was originally by The Magnetic Fields but I happen to love the Steve Goldberg version.) Anyhow, it starts “The book of love is long and boring. No one can lift the damn thing. Its full of charts and facts and figures…” If Anna Begins represents who I was when I was younger, this song is who I am now. Still a romantic, but I now find romance in more mundane things. Theres a line I love it when you read to me. You can read me anything. And thats how I feel about my husband. Theres romance when we are talking about incredible boring things, like whether my daughter did her math homework. But he can read me anything. He really can.
What 3 books would you take with you on your Save the World rampage? 
1. The Secret Garden because this book has seen me through many a hard time.
2. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, which is so melodic and beautifully written and sort of like reading a novel length poem. It’s a masterpiece.
3.Wonder by R.J. Palacio, which is heartbreaking and charming and an exercise in empathy, as all the best books are.
ONTO THE BOOK
What are 3 songs that describe Jessie?
Royal (Lorde):I think this song perfectly describes how Jessie feels at her new school. She’s a normal girl stuck in an upside-down fancypants world. (“And we’ll never be royals/It don’t run in our blood/That kind of luxe just ain’t for us/We crave a different kind of love)
Carry On (Fun):This seems as good an anthem as any for someone who is grieving and trying to pick themselves back up. She has no choice, but to, you know, ahem…carry on. (“I’ve closed enough windows to know you can never look back. If you’re lost and alone. Or you’re sinking like a stone. Carry on. May your past be the sound of your feet upon the ground. Carry on.”)
When You Were Young (The Killers): I picture Jessie lying down on her new bed, with headphones, listening to this song on repeat. I imagine Oville sounding a little bit like The Killers, actually. (“And sometimes you close your eyes and see the place where you used to live when you were young.”)
What are 3 songs that describe S/N?
Under The Bridge (Red Hot Chili Peppers): Actually, pretty much any Chili Peppers. SN is SoCal through and through. (“Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a partner. Sometimes I feel like my only friend is the city I live in. The city of angels Lonely as I am. Together we cry.”)
Fake Plastic Trees (Radiohead):  I’ll let the lyrics speak for themselves on this one. (“But I can’t help the feeling I could blow through the ceiling. If I just turn and run. And it wears me out, it wears me out. It wears me out, it wears me out. If I could be who you wanted. If I could be who you wanted all the time, all the time.)
Hallelujah (Jeff Buckley version): A broken song for a broken person. (“And it’s not a cry that you hear at night. It’s not somebody who’s seen the light. It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.”)
What do you want a reader to get from reading TELL ME THREE THINGS?
Oh man, this is always a tough question, because I like to think of the reader’s experience as being something terribly personal and not at all dictated by me.  That being said, I hope that people realize that there are many layers to the book, and that they take pleasure in unpeeling them. On the surface, TELL ME THREE THINGS is a love story, but it also delves into heavier issues like loss and grief. If there is even just one person out there who reads the book and takes comfort from seeing their own feelings and experiences echoed in some way by Jessie’s, I’ll be happy.



A List For the Lovers of the Creepy…some #WickedReads

HAPPY IT’S SORT OF ALMOST HALLOWEEN! Wow. Where in the world did this year go? I remember when I was back to school shopping. And beginning to apply to colleges. And wondering what to eat while my best friend shouted different recipes. SPOILER: I chose none of what she suggested.

I love the creepy. Like, darling, you don’t understand. The creepier, the better. Usually, I’m let down on the creepy aspect. I did this twisted romance recommendation back in May that got a bunch of hits, so I figured I might as well give you a few more to read. With a flash light in the dark while munching of chocolate covered potato chips, of course. Is there really another way?

Onto the list. Because I know that’s what you’re really anticipating.

THE TRADITIONAL CREEPY 

Oooooh. Children of the Corn meets Romeo and Juliet? I loooved this one! I like the idea of carving your heart out and throwing it into the ocean. Possession and skin carving. A little (fine, a whole love) of black magic. Hot guys. Hot guys with secrets. Death. Corn being very not corn-like. Cults. A little bit of romance (okay, a lot). 
That first sentence told me it was everything I’ve ever dreamed of. Everything. And more; I won’t lie.

The dead girl hung upside down over our kitchen table” (ARC).

I can’t wait for Kim’s next book.

Amazon // B&N // Goodreads

So this book, although I love it (particularly beginning and the end), it wasn’t always creepy. It was more erie. Like the next traditional recommendation will be. More than anything, I love that Gavriel (the evil + hot vampire who I am totally in love with) is an actual vampire. Like he is savage and bloody and brutal. And I love it. I love him. I love him from beginning to end.

I totally get it. You don’t get why I love him. Well. Me being the prepared maniac I am, I have a quote. And I hope you love it as much as I do.

I am used to girls screaming, and your screams- your screams will be sweeter than another’s cries of love(ARC).

*shudders* I love him. And I think you will too. Because he is actually evil.

Amazon // B&N // Goodreads

There’s not going to be a big long rant for this one. BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA is gorgeous. And I want April’s newest coming novel (Wink Poppy Midnight) like crazy. Her writing is erie. It isn’t creepy. It catches you like a spider in a web.

It sucks you dry after your caught. And you can’t get out.

Liars and Lovers and Secrets. This one is a definite October-worthy read.

THE NON-TRADITIONAL CREEPY 
OFF WITH HER HANDS, THE CRAZY PROPHET SAID! And so went her hands, now on the ground. And she- left with bloody stumps. And there- her bones cloaked in silver, now resting upon the prophets mantel. Like a trophy. 
Granted, those are my words, not the lovely words composed by Stephanie. But you get the point. And the kicker? The kicker is who actually cut off her hands. *gags* Sorry, babe. But I ain’t the forgiving type. Cults, man. Cults.

. . . others that’ll have you shakin’ in your boots

Goodreads // Amazon

“There are no ghosts; only the dust in the light, our breath and the wind in the quiet, and the feeling that something, or a lot of somethings, are watching us. So maybe there are ghosts after all.”

Why don’t we have a little love mixed with everything that could go wrong?
Bones breaking.
Skin tearing.
Bruises blooming.

It’s madness, y’all. Of the most lovely sort.

(This lovely is a #WickedRead! Thanks so much for Penguin for allowing me to review a copy–review to come! And for contacting me to be on the Wicked Reads tour!)

Goodreads // Amazon

It’s not killing, my lovely little darling. Don’t say that or heads will indeed roll.
It’s culling. And off with your head, the moth mother said. Let me drink your blood.
No. Wait.
How about your soul?

—-

What are some spooky recs for me? And what do you think of the list? 

Strong Females in YA with S. Usher Evans

Thanks to Jackie for letting me hang out today! I’m really excited to write a guest blog about something near and dear to my heart – favorite strong female protags.

A strong female, or really, a strong character in general, is one that faces an insurmountable problem and deals with it. Perhaps they dally a bit and make a few mistakes, but they don’t shy away from their responsibilities (at the end, anyway). They don’t rely on anyone else to solve The Problem (though they get help). They just Do.

And often times, my favorites do it with more than a healthy bit of sass. So without further ado, here’s my top list of gals:

Meda

Soul Eater Series Eliza Crewe

Meda is hands-down one of my favorite characters. The author captures such a fun and devilish voice with her and the book is hard to put down. She’s a half-demon, so her strength is resisting that evil side of her, the one that hungers for souls. Temptation is everywhere, and while she doesn’t always make the right call, when the real hard stuff is on the line, she does. Watching her struggle to remain good in the face of pure evil is delightful, and I just can’t say enough about these books.
Buy on Amazon

Lizzie Bennett

Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen

Let’s talk about my never-not-reread book, Pride and Prejudice. First of all, Lizzie takes your patriarchy and tells you to shove it. She’s not interested in marrying for money (however ill-advised for a woman in 19th century England that may be). She’s also not interested in your shade, Mr. Darcy nor your drama, Caroline Bingley. She will do what she’s going to do and that’s that.

Lauren Dailey

Sorry, had to stick one of mine in here. It might surprise you that I chose Lauren over Lyssa, as the latter is a pirate butt-kicking bounty hunter. Lauren is the epitome of what I consider strength, because she legit has none at the beginning of the book. She is drowning in her own depression but is too scared to let anyone know. She’d prefer that a man come in and solve all her problems, and one very handsome guy does. But what she learns is that unless she, herself, takes charge and deals with her problems, they will never go away. And buried problems, like dragons in mountains, will always resurface.
Buy on Amazon

Elisa

Fire and Thorns Series Rae Carson

Elisa is another girl who starts off not-so-strong, but finds it. She’s pudgy, she’s whiny, and in the opening scenes, she’s off to marry a king that she doesn’t know. But one kidnapping and trudge through the desert later, she suddenly realizes that you find strength when it’s all you have. The series continues as she grows and struggles with political infighting and wars. She doesn’t always make the right call, but she learns from it. And at the end of the series, she’s basically all, “I’m in charge. Deal with it.” Girl after my own heart.
Buy on Amazon

Jesse Sullivan

Jessie Sullivan Series Kory M. Shrum

Yet another girl who takes none of your nonsense. Jesse will die so you don’t have to, then she wakes up a few hours later and you continue on your lovely life. Yes, she has actually died 67 times–and she’s more perturbed that she keeps losing her shoes when she wakes up later. Throw in a heck of a lot more intrigue, religious implications, and more than enough snark. Jesse’s got a bit of an “eff it” attitude, but she also does the right thing when it counts. I’m dying for the rest of this series…pun intended.
Buy on Amazon

About the Author

S. Usher Evans is an author, blogger, and witty banter aficionado. Born in Pensacola, Florida, she left the sleepy town behind for the fast-paced world of Washington, D.C.. There, she somehow landed jobs with BBC, Discovery Channel, and National Geographic Television before finally settling into a “real job” as an IT consultant. After a quarter life crisis at age 27, she decided consulting was for the birds and rekindled a childhood passion for writing novels. She sold everything she owned and moved back to Pensacola, where she currently resides with her two dogs, Zoe and Mr. Biscuit. Evans is the author of the Razia series and Empath, both published by Sun’s Golden Ray Publishing.
Be sure to check her out on the below social media sites:
 

Excerpt: See Me by Nicholas Sparks {Giveaway- 2 Winners)

Buy it now! Barnes and Nobel 

See me just as I see you . . .

Colin Hancock is giving his second chance his best shot. With a history of violence and bad decisions behind him and the threat of prison dogging his every step, he’s determined to walk a straight line. To Colin, that means applying himself single-mindedly toward his teaching degree and avoiding everything that proved destructive in his earlier life. Reminding himself daily of his hard-earned lessons, the last thing he is looking for is a serious relationship.

Maria Sanchez, the hardworking daughter of Mexican immigrants, is the picture of conventional success. With a degree from Duke Law School and a job at a prestigious firm in Wilmington, she is a dark-haired beauty with a seemingly flawless professional track record. And yet Maria has a traumatic history of her own, one that compelled her to return to her hometown and left her questioning so much of what she once believed.

A chance encounter on a rain-swept road will alter the course of both Colin and Maria’s lives, challenging deeply held assumptions about each other and ultimately, themselves. As love unexpectedly takes hold between them, they dare to envision what a future together could possibly look like . . . until menacing reminders of events in Maria’s past begin to surface.

As a series of threatening incidents wreaks chaos in Maria’s life, Maria and Colin will be tested in increasingly terrifying ways. Will demons from their past destroy the tenuous relationship they’ve begun to build, or will their love protect them, even in the darkest hour?

I’m checking all the entries! So please actually do what you say you’re doing.
This ends OCTOBER 30 at midnight.
Reply to the email with in 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen.
This giveaway is fulfilled by Grand Central Publishing. 

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Colin was leaning against the side of his car as she pulled in behind him, and when he waved, all she could do was stare. He wore a gray T‑shirt that clung from his sculpted shoulders all the way down to his narrow waist. The sleeves could barely contain his well-​defined arms, and even from a distance, the deep blue-​gray color of his eyes was visible, set off by his sharp cheekbones.

As improbable as it seemed, her first thought was that he was getting more handsome by the day. When he pushed away from the car and smiled, she felt something jump inside her while a little voice whispered, If I’m not careful, I could get in serious trouble with this guy.

Forcing the thought away, she waved from inside the car, then took a deep breath as she shut the engine down. When she opened the door, the heat assailed her almost immediately. Thankfully, the humidity was minimal and a slight breeze stirred the air, making it a bit more bearable.

“Hey there,” she called out. “You’re right on time.”

She saw that he had brought a backpack, a small cooler, and a pair of towels. He leaned over, picking up the backpack and flinging it over his shoulder. “I got here early,” he said. “I wasn’t sure that I was parking in the right place. There aren’t any other cars around.”

“It’s always quieter on the tip of the island,” she said. “People don’t like to feed the meters, which is good, since it means we don’t have so far to walk.” She shaded her eyes. “How did sparring go?”

“It was a little more intense than usual, but no bruising or broken noses.”

“I can tell,” she said with a smile. “How about the other guys? You didn’t hurt them, did you?”

“They’re fine.” He squinted into the glare. “Your turn. How was brunch with your family?”

“No broken noses or bruising, either,” she teased, and when she heard him laugh, she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, reminding herself not to get too carried away. “On a more serious note, though, I should probably warn you that I told Serena we were going out on the water today. In case she hunts you down after class and asks you for lots of personal details.”

“Will she do that?”

For sure, Maria thought. “Probably.”

“Why doesn’t she ask you?”

“I’m sure she’ll be calling me later. She considers it her duty to be heavily involved in my personal life.”

“Okay.” He grinned. “You look beautiful, by the way.”

She felt a flash of heat in her cheeks. “Thank you,” she said. Then, trying to keep things light, she added, “You ready for today?”

“I can’t wait.”

With over 100 million copies of his books sold, Nicholas Sparks is one of the world’s most beloved storytellers. His novels include 12 #1 New York Times bestsellers. All his books have been New York Times and international bestsellers, and were translated into more than 50 languages. Ten Sparks novels have been adapted into major motion pictures, with The Choice coming in February 2016.
This may contain confidential material. If you are not an intended recipient, please notify the sender, delete immediately, and understand that no disclosure or reliance on the information herein is permitted. Hachette Book Group may monitor email to and from our network.
Website //

The Perfect Holiday Breakfast (recipie) with Debbie Mason

Barnes and Noble // Goodreads

Surviving the holidays will take a Christmas miracle…

Ex-cop Cat O’Connor is bored working for her sister, Chloe, as a personal assistant on the set of her soap opera. Until Chloe gets an opportunity to audition for the role of a lifetime and asks her identical twin to substitute for her on the soap with no one the wiser. It’s a perfect switch—until Cat attracts the attention of the mysterious Mr. Tall, Dark, and Way-too-handsome leading man.

Grayson Alexander never thought being snowbound in the charming town of Christmas, Colorado, for the holiday would get so hot. But between working with sexy, tough Cat on set and keeping his real reason for being there under wraps, he’s definitely feeling the heat. And if there’s one thing they’ll learn as they bring out the mistletoe, it’s that in this town, true love is always in season…

You would think, since I write a series set in the small town of Christmas, Colorado, that my perfect holiday morning would show up in at least one of my books. So far it hasn’t. All three holiday stories end on Christmas Eve. One with a Christmas pageant at the church, the next with a wedding, and my latest release, Snowbound at Christmas, with the McBrides and O’Connors arriving en masse at the ranch. Much to our hero’s chagrin.


Grayson kissed her, not a kiss that would embarrass her family and friends, but one that promised a future. Lifting his mouth from hers, he said, “What are the chances we’re going to get some time alone?”
“Slim to none. They’re all sleeping over.”
His eyes scanned the room. “All of them?”

~Snowbound at Christmas
It’s possible I haven’t included my perfect holiday morning in my books because some people might think it’s . . . perfectly boring:) I’ll let you decide.

My family is a lot like the McBrides and O’Connors, so Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are fun-filled and a little crazy. By the twenty-sixth, no matter how much I love my extended family, I’m ready for a break. It’s why we came up with my favorite, long-standing tradition. We stay in our pajamas and pretend we’re not home. While hubby makes bacon and eggs to order, I make stuffed French toast while sipping on coffee with Baileys. Once the kids and hubby are settled in front of the fire for a TV marathon, I sneak upstairs and crawl into bed with the books I received for Christmas and get started on my reading marathon. To-date, five books is my record. And that’s because my perfect holiday morning doesn’t end until the wee hours of the next day.

Now thanks to No Bent Spine for reminding me, I should probably start making this year’s book list. After all, there’s only 75 days till my next perfect holiday morning:)

Stuffed French Toast

·       can of sliced peaches
·       1/2 cup sugar
·       4 pinches ground nutmeg
·       1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
·       Loaf of French bread
·       1 cup mascarpone cheese or cream cheese
·       6 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
·       1 lemon zested
·       6 eggs
·       3/4 cup milk
·       1/2 tsp vanilla extract
·       2 tsps butter
·       2 tsps vegetable oil
Place peach slices and juice into a heavy saucepan. Stir in sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and cook over medium heat until bubbly. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reaches a syrupy consistency, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, cut off and discard the ends of the French bread. Slice into 1 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut a pocket into each slice.

Stir together the mascarpone, confectioners’ sugar, and lemon zest until smooth. Scoop mixture into a small plastic bag. Cut off one corner of the bag, and pipe as much filling into the pocket in each slice of bread as will fit without overflowing.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla. Melt butter with oil over medium heat in a large non-stick skillet. Dip each stuffed piece of bread into the egg mixture and cook until browned on both sides. Serve hot with the warm peach sauce.

You can also substitute fresh berries for the peaches. Sprinkle the warm fresh toast with confectioners’ sugar, top with berries, then drizzle with chocolate sauce and add a dollop of whipped cream.


Christmas Love with Jessica Lemmon (a guest post)

Hey, y’all!

Sorry I’ve been less active on the web of late. Who knew homework and studying and writing college essays and applying to colleges and writing essays and looking for a job could take so much out of a person. And time. It takes time too.

Keeping up the blog (and reviewing books, writing original posts) has been a little more difficult. You know what makes that al better though? (besides y’all, obvs). IT’S THE FACT THAT THE HOLIDAYS ARE RAPIDLY APPROACHING.

Here with us today is GCP author, Jessica Lemmon, and her newest book, A Bad Boy for Christmas, and her post about an ideal Christmas morning!

TELL ME: what is your idea of a perfect holiday morning?

JESSICA LEMMON: 

Ahh, the holidays. No Bent Spines asked me here today to talk about my perfect holiday. Now, for me, it’s a little early to be thinking about the world blanketed in fluffy, white snow, but you guys are worth it. And, I’ll let you in on a little secret. *whispers* I actually don’t hate the winter.
I mean, okay, it gets really old in the Midwest say, around February, but that first dusting of snow and waking to find morning sunlight bouncing off its glittering surface? Priceless.
When I started thinking about what my perfect holiday might look like, I have to admit, it looked a lot like Connor’s and Faith’s Christmas morning in A Bad Boy for Christmas. Which, I suppose is no surprise since it came out of my head.
So without giving away spoilers for the book, I’ll describe my ideal day.
The gift exchanges and family hoopla will have been handled on Christmas Eve, leaving me to spend Christmas morning in my jammies. I awaken in a sea of puffy blankets, dog sprawled at my feet and, oh, what’s this? A very attractive man bringing me a steaming cup of perfectly-creamed coffee. It’s Mr. Lemmony, of course, but if pressed, I could also list a Top 5 of who else it could be. (*cough* Henry Cavill *cough*) But for this scenario, we’ll stick with the husband.
Coffee in bed will of course be followed by breakfast in bed. Roasted, seared potatoes (similar to the recipe for Hangover Hash I included in Bringing Home the Bad Boy), dotted with green peppers and onions, melted cheddar cheese on top and a few fried eggs on top of that. Since this is my perfect morning, I’ll also have a stack of warm chocolate chip pancakes and enough real maple syrup to swim in. And peanut butter. Because that’s the only way to do it. I’ll have a side plate of homemade biscuits as well, slathered in butter and topped with fresh strawberry jam. Oh, and more coffee.
Once I wake from my pancake-induced nap, the hubs and I will settle around the Christmas tree to drink mimosas and help the dog unwrap her giant Milkbone. We’ll look over the ornaments and reminisce about when and where we purchased them. I keep a Christmas journal every year, so we’ll go through it and remember friends and family—some who aren’t with us any longer.
No need to get dressed or go out, since a freak storm has snowed us in. (Told you this was similar to A Bad Boy for Christmas!) The only thing left to do is snuggle on the couch with a good book, and then later enjoy a bottle of Layer Cake Primitivo (also in the book) and watch our favorite wintertime movies: Just Friends and Beautiful Girls. Or, I guess we could change out of our pajamas and into our swimsuits and take a dip in the hot tub. And since it’s snowing again, I think that’s the best course of action.
Huh. My perfect holiday closely resembles the things the hubs and I do anyway. Write what you know, right? 😉
What’s your ideal holiday like?


After four harrowing years in Afghanistan, all Connor McClain wants is a quiet life in the lakeside town of Evergreen Cove. But coming home has land mines of its own—like long-legged bombshell Faith Garrett. Getting her into his arms this holiday is going to require more than mistletoe. With a cheating ex behind her, Faith is hoping for a holiday free from man drama. Even though every moment with Connor is a sweet temptation, Faith is determined not to give in. But soon Faith and Connor are snowbound in a winter wonderland with only the sparks flying between them to keep them warm. As one hot kiss leads to another, they’ll have to decide if they’re ready to give each other the best gift of all—love. 









GUYS GUYS GUYS.
DID YOU ADD IT TO YOUR TBR LIST?
Doesn’t it look lovely? It makes me want hot chocolate. With marshmallows. Also a fireplace.

Mia Marlowe on her new book + superpowers

M I A  H A R L O W E
on superpowers and The Madness of Lord Westfall

Welcome all you lovely people! I hope you’re having a delightful morning. Today we’re going to listen to Mia talk about the top five superpowers she wish she would have. AND THEN we’re going to look at her newest book that has a regency lord with powers other than human. *squeals*

It sounds so good.

—-

If I could only…  by Mia Marlowe, author of THE MADNESS OF LORD WESTFALL
Have you ever wanted to be able to do something beyond your normal abilities? Me, too. (Being able to twitch my nose like Samantha the Witch and have my house miraculously clean itself comes to mind!) But seriously Jackie has asked me to share what top five “abilities” I would choose if I could.
Empathy: I always envied Deanna Troy, the empathy from Star Trek, Next Gen. She always had a window into the souls around her and knew how to help them. I wish I could sense how people are feeling. It would make me a better friend and probably a better person. When we know what’s going on inside someone else, it builds a connection between us because we’ve likely felt that way some time, too.
Healing: Who hasn’t wished for the ability to touch someone and have disease leave their body? It would be such a blessing to be able to heal people miraculously. But since I’m not likely to be gifted with the healing touch any time soon, I’ll have to rely on prayer and our wonderful doctors, nurses and medical researchers.
Teleportation: Let me preface this by saying I love to travel. I’ve visited 49 states and ticked off a number of countries around the globe. But whoever said getting there is half the fun, never flew coach for 14 hours! If I could “think” myself someplace else, I surely would. Imagine being able to visit the Louvre and then zip home to sleep in my own bed that night!
Language: I would love to be fluent in multiple languages. I know just enough to get myself in trouble in French, German, Italian and Spanish, but not enough to have a real conversation. Some scientists claim we think in images at the most basic level, but I believe a person’s thoughts are framed by their words. Knowing someone’s language is the first step to knowing them.
The ability to breath underwater:  Yes, if I had the discipline and athletic ability, I could learn to scuba. My oldest daughter earned her certificate and recently celebrated a birthday by swimming with the whale sharks at the Atlanta Aquarium. But I’m talking about just being able to breathe like a fish. No tanks, no gauges, no limits. It would be as liberating as being able to fly without a plane and the closest thing to being weightless without leaving the planet.
Of course, some of the characters in my Order of the M.U.S.E series don’t have to wonder what extra ability they’d like to have. They already have it. For example, Pierce Langdon, Lord Westfall, the hero in THE MADNESS OF LORD WESTFALL, is able to hear the thoughts of those around him. But it’s not as much of a blessing as you might think. “Hearing voices” landed him in Bedlam and he was only released on the Duke of Camden’s insistence. Now Westfall serves the duke’s Order, whose purpose is to protect the royal family. Unfortunately, the thoughts of the woman he loves sound a lot like treason.

Hope you enjoy my band of Regency Extraordinaires!  


B&N // Amazon //  

Pierce Langdon, Viscount Westfall is mad. Everyone knows it. He fell from a tree when he was a boy and woke to hear strange voices. When the voices grow stronger as he grows older, his family commits him to Bedlam. But what he hears are the thoughts of those around him—a gift to be used in service to the Order of the M.U.S.E. Until he falls again…this time for a totally unsuitable woman.

Lady Nora Claremont  hides her heartbreak behind the facade of a carefree courtesan. Viscount Westfall is the most confusing man she’s ever met. He seems to know exactly what she wants…and what she’s thinking.

Which is a dangerous thing, because what Nora wants is Pierce.

And what she’s thinking could expose her as a traitor to the crown…


A B O U T   M I A 
Website // Blog // Twitter // 

Mia’s work was featured in the Best of 2010 issue of PEOPLE magazine. One of her books was on display at the Museum of London Docklands next to Johnny Depp memorabilia. The RITA nominated author has over 25 books in print with more on the way! For more info, please visit her website!


Day 1 Self-Worth Week: Deirdre Riordan Hall

Welcome! How are you today? I hope it super sunny and you have a nice cup of coffee or tea in your hand. Maybe a bagel too. What kind of fixings are on your bagel? I’m totally digging the lox and cucumber with tomatoes and cream cheese. *takes a really big bite* 
Today we have Deirdre Riordan Hall, the author of SUGAR. This is a book I read first on Kindle First and I feel in freaking love. It broke my heart and built it again and broke it and built it. It, for the lack of a better word, is stunning. Seriously y’all, do yourself a favor and buy yourself a copy. 
Thank you, Jackie, for having me by to discuss self-worth. Here are some of my thoughts on bullying and body image…and how we can rise above self-doubt, comparison, and learn to value ourselves and each other.


Sometimes the cruelest, harshest, and most hurtful voice is a quiet one, creeping in when we catch our reflection in a shop window, when seated next to a friend whose thighs are smaller/larger, or flipping through our Instagram feed where there’s just so much bronzed skin to scroll past.
For a long time “the voice” was LOUD in my ears.
At times, it sounded like my parents:
“Fat head.”
“Stand up straighter.”
“Your hair is so oily.”
I heard that I wasn’t good enough, didn’t measure up, and had to be better.
Other times it sounded like my friends:
“I wish I had thighs like that.”
“If only my nose were smaller.”
“What did you eat today?”
If they thought these things about themselves, then surely my thighs needed slimming, along with my nose, and possibly every other part of me.
It also sounded like celebrities on the TV screen, made up and decked out by a team of stylists. It morphed from an image in a magazine to a paper doll of what I should look like. It came on strong when in crowds of people, gatherings with friends, swimming pools, the beach, anywhere and everywhere (*Except, interestingly, I realize as I reread this, when I was/am reading fiction.) It fed me a constant message of inadequacies: too big, too little, too flat, too round, too bumpy, too smooth, not enough, too much, and on and on and on.
AHHHH.
Girls hear it. Boys hear it. Young and old, fat and thin, black and white, and everyone in between and along the seams.
Close your eyes. Listen.
Do you hear it? I hope you don’t. But if there is a pernicious voice telling you that your arms are too skinny, that your ankles are too fat, that your hair isn’t shiny enough, that you’re too short, too tall, too freckled, your hair isn’t straight enough…
Take a moment.
Take a breath.
How do you feel? Crappy? Lousy? Inadequate?
Listen again; really hear it this time. Is the voice an octave too high or low? Are the -ing’s are missing or are they there to begin with? Is it husky or shrill?
What you’re hearing isn’t your voice. It’s a bully. A “perfection pusher.” A liar and a thief, stealing moments away when you could be splashing in the pool, showing up at the party wearing that dress, enjoying a cupcake because it tastes good. When you could be thinking up the next big thing, writing your song, creating your dreams. It robs us of the truth of who we are.
We can blame the media and companies for perpetuating the model perfect body, for telling us we need longer lashes, fuller lips, and silkier hair. We can blame our parents, our friends, strangers on the street…
We can ask ourselves why. Why do I want to look like her with those wide eyes, the guy on the football team with the big pecs, or the girl who can get away with wearing anything?
We can hire therapists, doctors, a team of people to poke and prod and figure out why. Sometimes that’s necessary. It has been for me. It might be for you and that’s okay.
We can search for approval, seek likes, favorites, and followers. We can insult others. We can change ourselves: new clothes, less food, more exercise, self-tanner, extensions, make up. But the high is temporary. The voice comes back. More, more, more. Or as the case may be, less, less, less.
Over the years, I’ve listed the accused and the reasons I’ve struggled with food and my figure and how it’s associated with my self-worth and how looking in the mirror is an exercise in deflecting criticism. I’ve listened to the voice; I’ve told it to shut up and told it where to go; I’ve ignored it. In my experience, it only mutes the voice temporarily. The bully came back. The messages kept coming, some days louder than others. I’ve written about my relationship to my body/self-worth publically and privately. I’ve dug deep and then deeper trying to understand why and what and where.
And one truth has emerged…
Comparison is a trap.
I’m me. I have thisbody. This brain, heart, lungs…skin, hair, fingers, chin, tummy…
This brain that helps me create worlds on paper, this heart that is so full of love, these lungs that move me through every day. My skin that holds it all together, my hair that is, despite my attempts to make it otherwise, greasy, a chin that is sweetly round, and a tummy, well, that too. And if I took any of that away, even just one part of it, somehow I wouldn’t look like me anymore, and worse, I wouldn’t feellike me.
So what do we do?
Instead of the shoulds, the criticism, the body judgments and the booty judgements and the eyes, nose, mouth judgments—instead of focusing on all of the things that we think we don’t like, what if we listed and told “the voice” what we do like?
Close your eyes. Pick one thing. I like my fingernails.
How did that feel?
Try again. I like my wrists.
Keep going. My elbows are pretty cool. I have nice eyes. My neck is lovely. My backside is a top-notch cushion, baby.
Try for one more. Maybe two. Do this again in an hour. Again, next time you hear the voice of comparison, the bully, the harsh critic. Tomorrow and the next day. Keep going. You can say the same things over and over. Then, if you’re feeling brave, do it in the mirror. Look at that gorgeous, buxom, slender, athletic, brave reflection of yours. You can do it. You, my darling, are worth it. You’re worth the effort to change the sound of that voice, one syllable,—that becomes a word that is strung into a sentence—one compliment at a time, until it’s tuned to the same pitch of your own voice, reminding you that you are beautiful, just as you are.
And you might say, but my nose IS big. I AM fat. My arms ARE short. And I say to you, compared to who? Surely, not compared to you, the only measurement that matters, because you are imperfectly, perfectly you already, no changes necessary.
Why is this important? Because you were put here for reasons, big, small, and in-between, amazing reasons. You have a gift, a voice other than the sound of the bully. And that voice is meant to be heard. You may be meant to sing, or have fingers that were meant to sew, or a brain that can figure out something so mind boggling no one else can perceive it yet. Or you’ll mend broken arms, or help other girls or boys who look in the mirror and see someone other than gorgeous, or write a book, a play, a song. You are unique, inside and out, and they are related, interconnected to how you see yourself—the big and intimate picture of you, and when we shortchange one, we spite the other.
The truth is, we deserve better than a bully. We’ve got this vessel, this body, our gifts, secret talents—whatever they are and whenever they emerge, now or in ten years—and it is up to each of us to be a super hero, whether we wear our capes in a quiet gray or boldly with sequins and streamers.
I hope there’s a quiet whistling, a raucous applause whenever you walk into the room and not because you’ve whittled your waistline, or lifted your booty, or fit your form into someone else’s mold. But that voice in your head, in your own unique tone, who isn’t a bully, but a best friend.
I’m here to tell you that you’re beautiful. As you are. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow. You’re beautiful because you’re you. There isn’t anyone on the planet exactly like you, inside or out. So what if. What if instead of comparing, criticizing, and listening to the voice that tells us to—fill in the blank—we accept ourselves, where we are, now.
So what if?
A revolution, I suspect. Be the change, the revolutionary, because your self-worth matters.
Over to you. How do you practice self-love? How do you stop the body shaming? How can we, together, lift each other up? And thanks again, Jackie and everyone who’s read this far.


Sugar by Deirdre Riordan Hall
Genre: Contemporary Fiction // Age Group: Young Adult
I’m the fat Puerto Rican–Polish girl who doesn’t feel like she belongs in her skin, or anywhere else for that matter. I’ve always been too much and yet not enough.

Sugar Legowski-Gracia wasn’t always fat, but fat is what she is now at age seventeen. Not as fat as her mama, who is so big she hasn’t gotten out of bed in months. Not as heavy as her brother, Skunk, who has more meanness in him than fat, which is saying something. But she’s large enough to be the object of ridicule wherever she is: at the grocery store, walking down the street, at school. Sugar’s life is dictated by taking care of Mama in their run-down home—cooking, shopping, and, well, eating. A lot of eating, which Sugar hates as much as she loves.

When Sugar meets Even (not Evan—his nearly illiterate father misspelled his name on the birth certificate), she has the new experience of someone seeing her and not her body. As their unlikely friendship builds, Sugar allows herself to think about the future for the first time, a future not weighed down by her body or her mother.

Soon Sugar will have to decide whether to become the girl she sees in the mirror or sink into the darkness of the skin-deep role her family and her life have created for her.



Deirdre Riordan Hall is the author of upper young adult and new adult fiction. She spends her days writing at the custom-made desk her husband crafted, with her family, or seaside, pretending she’s a mermaid.

Get your copy of Sugar: Amazon// Barnes & Noble

ARC Review: Turn of the Moon by L. P. Dover

Published August 24, 2015 // L. P. Dover
Amazon // Goodreads 
ARC via author for an honest review

One girl. Two wolves. Promised to one. Destined for the other. 

To escape the cruel, overbearing, Kade, the Yukon Pack alpha she’s been promised to, Bailey Whitehill flees her home in search of a new life, one of freedom where she can make her own choices. However, Kade will stop at nothing to make her his and begins the hunt. 

As Bailey starts her new life, everything she’s known to be true, is not. Time is of the essence and choices have to be made or consequences suffered. Not only does Bailey fear Kade, but another danger lurks deep in the recesses of the forest. Unbeknownst to her, that danger is what she’s been searching for all along. At the turn of the moon, her fate hangs in the balance . . . and it’s up to her to make the right choice.

Want to know a secret? It’s really not that big of a secrets, but come on, who doesn’t love that kind of beginning. Okay. Okay. FINE! I’ll get to it. Ready? I FREAKING LOVE WEREWOLVES. There I said it! Wow. I can’t believe how free I feel now that I got that off my chest. Is this how people feel after they admit to murder? Not that I have anything to admit. . .
Okay! New subject! Wait-no. Back to werewolves.
So I may have an obsession with wolves who can turn into people. I may have a secret board on Pinterest for all things wolfy. And it may be my favorite board. TURN OF THE MOON did nothing to curb this obsession. None what so ever. That cover drew me in, and the writing kept the pages turning. One sitting? Why, yes I did. AND I REGRET NOTHING.
For me, this was actually a little different take on werewolves than I’m used to. Their actually changing was a kind of magic, like you could see it running out, instead of just being. If that makes sense. I liked it. It was different.
About halfway though the book, it felt like it was all coming to an end. But it wasn’t. The story continued and suddenly everything wasn’t all roses and daisies. Thing happened. Things like dead people not being dead and the whole crazy people gifted with magical abilities. Things like sexist pigs *grumbles about equality and grins a little bit a lot* and redemption. Ah, redemption. Such a delightful concept.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book. It was cute with drama (but not a total overdose in a not-so-wonderful way) and a dash of true love. What can I say? I’m a romantic.