It’s Showtime for REALITY NATALIE–A Review and Giveaway!

Hi all! Today I have the pleasure to review a book for a dear friend and fellow writer, Katie Sparks. Her first published book, REALITY NATALIE is a Middle Grade story about a girl who gets into a good bit of trouble with her parents and friends on her way to winning a spot on a local TV show.

Reality NatalieAbout the book:

CAMERAS ROLLING…ACTION! The most popular kids’ TV show, Kidz Konnection, decides to hold auditions for a guest host spot, and the show’s BIGGEST fan decides to audition.

[Cue Natalie Greyson]

Eleven-year-old Natalie is determined to overcome her habit of turning into a tongue-tied, air ball burping, runny-nose disaster whenever something embarrassing happens in front of an audience so she can audition for the coveted role. As the show’s biggest fan, no one could possibly deserve it more than her. Except a giant obstacle stands in her way: her parents, who deny her permission, think she is too young to be on TV. To make matters even worse, Natalie’s naturally talented best friend, Kailyn, decides to audition too, and will stop at nothing to win – like lying during a practice session and tearing up their friendship pact.

With their friendship suddenly in question, Natalie turns to her blog, In A “Nat” Shell, to vent her frustrations about Kailyn’s spiteful actions, but Natalie’s emotional outpouring and lies only creates more anxiety for herself. With the stakes high, Natalie goes against her parent’s wishes and decides to audition, but Kailyn has her own secret plan to be Number One, even if it means doing so at the expense of her best friend. Can Natalie find a way out of the drama and into the spotlight? Or will the competitive pressure cause her to lose her ultimate dream along with her best friend?

My Review:
Natalie is an ordinary girl with big dreams. Hearing that her favorite TV show is having auditions for a guest host, she’s ready to spring into action. Unfortunately, her skeptical parents are overwhelmed with work. Realizing the audition date falls on the same day her 4 year old siblings (twin terrors) are scheduled for a magazine cover shoot, they put the kibosh on. Oh, and to add to this disappointment Natalie’s friend, the uber-talented Kailyn who wins every talent show, has decided to audition for the part.

Life is so unfair!

Natalie doesn’t want to give up on her dream, however, and strives to find a way to get on the TV set. A school field trip to a local TV news studio seems to be Natalie’s best chance at practicing for stardom, but, alas, Natalie suffers a humiliation almost beyond bearing. Relying on Kailyn to help her chances isn’t a good idea either–it seems Kailyn is all about winning, even if it hurts their friendship.

With the audition days away, Natalie’s guilty of lying, sneaking, and impersonating a parent–not to mention losing a good friend and stage fright. How can Natalie make amends, and get the part? Well, Natalie’s in for a big dose of reality, and earns some second chances.

I like Natalie. She’s a real kid–the kind who’ll try to sneak a second cookie into her lunch, or get angry at a friend, or offer her second-best pencil to a classmate in need. She has issues with her parents, thinking she’s the odd-kid-out as they deal with the stress of twins and careers, but she has a good relationship with them, nonetheless. They talk. They work stuff out. Natalie knows she can voice her fears and be heard–when she tries find a good time for conversation, anyway.

The secondary characters are also very well-written and playful, adding humor, burping, and general social ickyness. Hey, they’re 11. They’re entitled. ;) Natalie and Kailyn are also friends with Maggie, who helps them work through the competition aspect of their friendship. And, Gross Robbie is part confidante, part comic relief. He has some keen insight, and some muddy sneakers.

This is a story suited for girls in that 4-5-6th grade age group, where the dynamics of friendship are changing and cliques are developing. Natalie questions her friendship with Kailyn and if the loss would be outweighed by gaining the TV show spot. I think she makes some good decisions here. Natalie’s fervent wish to be chosen for the TV show, even ahead of Kailyn, is a very genuine desire to which readers can relate. Natalie has the chance to be mean, and sabotage Kailyn, but chooses the higher ground and I admired her for that. It’s a fun read sure to entertain middle grade/tween readers.

Interested? You can find REALITY NATALIE on Goodreads and Amazon. I received this book from the author because we’re friends, and I begged for a final copy after I spent years hearing pieces of if read aloud in our writers critique group. Congrats, Katie! I’m so glad to watch your dream come true.

WIN A COPY on Goodreads by entering HERE!

Katie SparksAbout the Author:
At a very young age, Katie Sparks discovered the magic of books. She counted on weekly library visits and treasured receiving her first library card at the age of five. At six, she wrote her first story called Baby Carrie (still in her collection today!)

Katie knew then that writing would be in her future. By day, she is an editor for the parent consumer line at a non-profit medical association and enjoys working closely with authors and industry professionals. Immersed in the publishing industry in both her professional and personal life is a dream come true. On weekends you will often find her writing and sipping coffee at one of the many unique coffee shops in Chicago, spending time with family and friends, or curled up with a new book.

Katie has been an active member of SCBWI for the past seven years. She lives in Chicago with her devoted and extremely vocal cat Moe. Reality Natalie, published by Firedrake Books, is her first novel.

You can catch up with Katie online on her website, Goodreads, and twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Futuristic Erotica–A CLOCKWORK BUTTERFLY–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m reviewing a new release from Tabitha Rayne. I’m a big fan of steampunk, and erotica, and dystopian futures so this was a perfect book for me. A CLOCKWORK BUTTERFLY is an intriguing mix of genres with a whole lot of smexy. (Not for kiddos!)

A Clockwork Butterfly (The Clockwork Butterfly Trilogy, #1)About the book:

Lovers torn apart by duty…will Angelo and Lena be reunited?

Mankind is close to extinction. Toxins have all but wiped out the male population. The remaining fertile men are housed in manors where their seed is collected.

Lena Lee is a new collector with a rare pheromone believed to reignite human fertility. She’s assigned a male who’s predicted to be her perfect match.

Angelo, a clockwork butterfly maker, is held captive, his essence harvested daily by Lena. Over time, the couple begins to fall in love, something which is strictly prohibited. When their forbidden love is discovered, Lena is banished from the manor.

Torn apart by the duty that brought them together, Lena and Angelo must find a way back to each other. But even if Angelo manages to escape, he doesn’t know where to find Lena. Will following the path of the clockwork butterfly lead him to his true love?

(Content Warning: strong language, BDSM, and graphic sexual content, including m/f, f/f, and f/f/m sexual interaction)

My Review:

I really loved the concept of this world. It’s almost completely female. Even of different species it’s rare to find a male. The women are sorted into Donors (for eggs) Birthers (who gestate the embryos) and Mothers. Young women are tested to determine if they are capable of arousing ejaculation from what few men remain. If so, they are sent to be trained in the arts of Collection at manors where men are essentially pampered prisoners.

Lena has been chosen to become a Collector. If she graduates from training she may actually interact with a man. Along the way of her training, a fellow trainee, Mae, seduces Lena. Mae is perhaps not the friend Lena believes her to be–and this is verified when Lena is told that her training has been accelerated. Mae’s discoveries of Lena’s genetic compatibility with one of the manor’s males causes Lena to get bumped to the front of the queue for his Collections.

Angelo is a tentative lover. He isn’t interested in a constant barrage of women–he only wants one with whom he can connect. In his opulent room, he is virtually isolated; his only contact with humanity is through his visits with Lena. Lena cherishes their time together, which inflames Mae’s jealousy–and further sparks Angelo’s possessiveness. He commits a crime of passion–one which gets Lena banished from the manor.

Angelo’s despondence at losing Lena is great. He refuses all attempts at Collection until Mae arrives in his room. They strike a bargain: he submits for her Collection and she helps him to escape the Manor. Meanwhile Lena pines for her lost lovers in a prison. Her punishment is to accept sex with new lovers without growing attached–this is easy, she only cares for Mae and Angelo. Any pleasure she gains from her punishments is enhanced by imagining it is they who are with her, not her captors.

There’s a lot of sex, and I wasn’t put off by the F/F, mostly because the writing had such a fantastical quality about it–I liken it to Ann Rice’s BEAUTY series in that regard. While it’s a future society, the modern trappings have mostly disintegrated and people have gone back to the land to survive. Science does exist, because all the technology of IVF is present by necessity, however the people live much like pre-Industrial times, in small close-knit communities with horse transport and limited rail. Angelo spends his free time inventing clockwork animals, among them a clockwork butterfly which can home in on the person whose DNA it last sampled. By releasing Lena’s butterfly, Mae and Angelo endeavor to follow it to Lena’s prison and rescue her.

It’s an interesting read, and gave me a lot to think about with regard to our overchemicalized Earth and the loss of species we are already experiencing (thanks Monsanto!). Plus, I mentioned the lots of sex, part, right? It wasn’t gruesome or sloppy. I enjoyed Lena’s seduction by Mae, and Angelo’s seduction by Lena. It becomes clear about two-thirds in that this will become a menage, and that doesn’t disappoint, either.

Interested? You can find A CLOCKWORK BUTTERFLY on Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I received a copy via the author after winning a raffle.

About the Author:

Tabitha Rayne has been told she is quirky, lovely and kinky – not necessarily in that order or by the same person. She writes erotic romance and as long as there’s a love scene – she’ll explore any genre.

Her short stories, are included in anthologies from Xcite, Oysters & Chocolate, Cliess, Ravenous Romance, Burning Books Press, Velvet Books and House of Erotica. She has novels Beachwalk Press and Xcite Books.

She can be found online on Facebook, Twitter on her own blog and guest-posting on the Brit Babes Blog and the Spicy Author Blog.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Breast Cancer Awareness Blog Tour–with Giveaway

As some of you may remember, I passed my 40th birthday last month! My gift to me? A mammogram. That sucker hurt, but I’m glad I did it, and encourage any readers out there to speak openly about mammograms to the women in their life. In my professional life I undertake clinical research in breast cancer patients and survivors. Every one of them is glad for the early detection they experienced by having regular screenings. It’s my pleasure to host Shirley Alarie’s memoirs surrounding her experiences as a breast cancer patient and survivor. Best to all of you reading today, and good health!



Non Fiction – Memoir – Self Help – Breast Cancer Now Available!

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Readers can delve into the breast cancer journey and beyond in Losing the Girls, a unique memoir differentiated by the author’s cutting-edge nipple-sparing mastectomy (NSM)—a little-known breast cancer surgery technique that leaves the breast completely whole. Shirley Alarie shares her story to boost awareness of this specialized procedure, which is only offered at select hospitals. She believes that women facing mastectomies deserve to know all of their options.

Shirley found that the biggest challenge of her life began with a convoluted breast cancer diagnosis; and then there was the overwhelming array of surgery options. Mastectomy or lumpectomy? Single mastectomy or double? Reconstruction or no reconstruction? She worried about making the right choice and how her decision would affect her both in the short and long term. How would it affect her marriage? Was it crazy to choose a hospital three hours from home?

After the surgery, Shirley’s determination to beat the cancer triggered a lifestyle transformation that resulted in a stronger, more empowered woman. Her deep faith in God and her peace with the afterlife helped shape her response to this life-changing ordeal with cancer—and the love and support of an amazing posse of family and friends, along with a liberal dose of humor and hope, pulled her through the darkness and back into the warm, sunny light.

Losing the Girls is a powerful and uplifting book for every woman—and the people who love them—to read.

Praise for LOSING MY GIRLS:

As I read ‘Losing the Girls- My Journey Through Nipple Sparring Mastectomy and Beyond’, I was touched by Ms. Alarie’s honesty, humor and spirit that shone through her written words. I cried, laughed and at times held my breath as she took the necessary steps to face her fears and come out the other side of the journey, strong and healthy. Ms. Alarie faced the gut wrenching reality of hearing – you have breast cancer, and now she is a survivor sharing her story with the world. A must read.

Lucinda Race

What a fantastic read! From the very first pages Shirley opens up and gives honest glimpses of her life to her readers. Knowing she has a family history does little to take the sting out of her diagnosis. The way she deals with her tests, results, doctor visits and eventual surgery is truly an inspiration for any woman dealing with this disease. Along with writing about her emotional journey, Shirley shares with her readers all the information she has gained from researching breast cancer and what she has learned through her support system of Drs., nurses and the like. Great knowledge for anyone who many deal with breast cancer themselves or have a family member go through it. I found her reliance on God through her ordeal comforting and inspiring. Any reader will feel that they’ve gained a friend by the end.

P Walker


Non Fiction – Memoir – Self Help – Breast Cancer Now Available!
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Lovey’s nightmare has begun. She’s been thrust into a terrifying and confusing journey, joining the nearly 250,000 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. If Lovey is fortunate, she has an excellent support team, also known as Angels. The Road Paved in Pink: A Practical and Personal Guide for Breast Cancer Patients and Their Loved Ones offers Lovey and her Angels the comprehensive guidance needed to withstand the challenges ahead.

Readers will be empowered by the love and support of the many others who have already traveled the same bumpy road.

The Road Paved in Pink is offered with a unique “Pay it Forward” program designed to reach as many people in need as possible. By request via her website, Shirley Alarie will provide a free book to people recently affected by breast cancer, with the stipulation that they forward it to someone else in need when they are finished with it, and so on.

If someone agrees to take a booklet from the Pay it Forward program, they will be asked to sign in to the website and log their first name and location, so we can watch the books travel around the country – and hopefully, the world!

Request a copy of The Road Paved in Pink – Pay it Forward Program click here.

Praise for THE ROAD PAVED IN PINK:

This is a very worthwhile read. The author does an excellent job of giving useful information that is very understandable, which doesn’t always happen in the medical field. She is able to tell her story as well as provide the reader with an understanding of the many choices available for their own journey. Also a great guide for families and friends to help them be helpful in what can be a truly difficult time.

P Walker

A moving and to the point awesome guide. If you don’t know someone with breast cancer odds are in your lifetime you will. Have this book on hand, everyone involved will need it, as will you. Twenty seven years ago my mother had her first breast removed only to have the other one worked on seven years later. I was there, so wish I had this guide. I have it now and have already highlighted my “talking points”, when I’m faced with being an angel for someone.

Marion Brenan


About the Author
I spent the first twenty years of my career in an industrial manufacturing environment, running around the hamster wheel as fast as my legs would carry me. My breast cancer diagnosis jammed on the brakes and forced me to put life in perspective. My journey since breast cancer has been focused on making a positive difference in the world. Stepping off the hamster wheel has brought greater harmony to me and my home. My husband and furry baby appreciate that the “Crazy Lady” of the house is gone and a more “Mellow Mama” has taken her place.

My writing adventure began with Losing the Girls: My Journey Through Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy and Beyond, my memoir, written with the intention to entertain as well as spread awareness of nipple-sparing mastectomy (NSM). My website identifies some of the hospitals that perform this surgery, through the “What is NSM?” and “Where is NSM?” links.

My follow-up, The Road Paved in Pink: A Practical and Personal Guide for Breast Cancer Patients and Their Loved Ones serves to heighten awareness of reconstruction options, among other key topics specific to a breast cancer challenge. I am thrilled to offer the “Pay it Forward” program in conjunction with this book promotion.

Another tool I’ve created to help further the awareness of breast cancer surgery options is a free 11-minute video that describes and shows the various options. Since studies have shown women undergoing treatment for breast cancer aren’t always informed of all of their options, I’m striving to ensure women facing this challenge are able to make fully informed choices. I invite all women to become educated on this topic, as this information might make a huge difference for someone they love. The video can be found on my website: http://shirleyalarie.com/2014/08/breast-cancer-surgery-options-video/

I’d love to have you join me in my journey to making a positive difference in the world!

Connect with Shirley online on website, Facebook, her blog, Linked In, or her Ezine.

Interested? You can find the Losing the Girls books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

***GIVEAWAY
Click on the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win
EBooks from Shirley Alarie
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Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

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