Cephalopod Coffeehouse November 2013–The Grave Danger of Loving Darynda Jones’s Fiction

Hi there and welcome to my review for this month’s Cephalopod Coffeehouse–a book review forum hosted by the Armchair Squid. I had a surprisingly hard time choosing a book for this month’s feature.

As usual I read a killer ton–thirty books, I think. Most I reviewed for my blog, a few for NetGalley, the others for my own guilty pleasure…

I had considered His Name is Sir by Deena Ward. This is absolutely what Pride and Prejudice would have been if Jane Austen wrote BDSM romance. I adored it–and all four books in her Power to Please Collection.

I also considered Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning–the first of her uber-steamy Sinners on Tour series–which delivers EXACTLY what the tagline of the book promises: Love, Sex and Rock-n-Roll.

Fifth Grave Past the Light (Charley Davidson #5)But I think I’ll go with Darynda Jones’s FIFTH GRAVE PAST THE LIGHT. This is the newest installment of the Charley Davidson series. I reviewed First Grave on the Right last month in my Halloween Spooktacular of paranormal romance features, and the fifth book in the series is not a let down.

If anything, I’m trying to locate the lovely Ms. Jones’s net server so I can hack in for her e-galley of the next book in the series.

Why?

Because she–somehow–made a gal raised in a christian home fall in love with the son of Satan.

That’s right. I love her super-Alpha love interest Reyes Alexander Farrow. I may have some competition from Charley, but hey…

Here’s what happens. Charley is a reaper–actually the only living one in existence. Her humor is Outer Limits–I crack up reading her deadpan observations–which takes a bit of the “grimness” out of her reaper duties: being a portal through which the dead cross into the afterlife. When they pass through her, she absorbs some of their memories. Communicating with the dead is handy for Charley’s private investigator work. Especially when she helps her uncle solve crimes in his job as a Detective for the Albuquerque PD.

In this book, Charley’s longstanding attraction to Reyes Farrow is tested to the limit. See, Reyes has moved into her building–right next door. And he keeps leaving her these sexy Post-its telling her to come over. Charley would like to–but she’s nervous. First, as the son of Satan Reyes may be able to lead Lucifer’s army straight into Heaven by breaching Charley’s portal. Also, Charley suspects Reyes is behind a string of arsons that inexplicably have destroyed every dwelling Reyes ever shared with his sexually abusive step-father. Places where photographic evidence of Reyes’ molestation had been hidden in the walls…

At her core, Charley is an honest soul. She won’t hesitate to turn Reyes in if he’s a criminal. As she isn’t sure, she continues to search for evidence. In the meantime she and Reyes share some heated (read: smoking hot) encounters. Because–did I mention he makes me swoon?–he’s delicious. Intelligent, strong, virile, compassionate and head-over-heels for Charley without losing his magnetic charisma.

In the midst of her Reyes-confusion, Charley works on solving a newly-discovered serial killer case. She follows a few dead leads, and aids nearly thirty lost souls to find their eternal rest. Her discovery of the arsonist seemed more obvious (to me) but handily removes the tension betwixt herself and Reyes. It seems Charley’s life will move to the next level with Reyes into Happily Ever Land–until she’s kidnapped by a maniac.

The book ends with an arrangement I hope Charley will not refuse–even if it means the end of civilization as we know it.

These books are housed under Mystery at my library–only because they don’t have a “Smoking-Hot-Dead-Funny-Paranormal-Romance-Mystery” section in the stacks. If you’re interested, schedule some vacation time and read this series from the start. I think you’ll lose sleep. I know I have.

You can find these books at Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, booksellers worldwide, or any library system worth its bricks.

If you check these out–let me know what you think in the comments.

And, as always, keep reading my friends!

Now, follow these links to check out the reviews of my fellow coffeehousers…
1. The Armchair Squid                       7. Trisha @ WORD STUFF

2. Scouring Monk                               8. Kate O’Sullivan Read, Write, Repeat 

3. mainewords                                     9. Bird’s Nest

4. Huntress                                          10. Hungry Enough to Eat Six

5. Denise C Covey                               11. The Random Book Review

6. A Creative Exercise                         12. Words Incorporated

13. Defending the Pen

Make an EXCEPTION–Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Exception-Banner

Hi there and welcome to my stop on the EXCEPTION blog tour organized by AToMR Book Tours. For other stops on the tour click here. Today’s Adult Contemporary romance is a new work by Patty Maximini.

Exception CoverBook Description:

When all hope for moving on from a life filled with pain was gone, Emily Watson closed herself off to the world, packed her bags, and moved across the country in search of a new life. What she found was a career she adored and friends whom she loved. It wasn’t a full and complete life, but it was definitely better than what she knew before.

When all hope for being loved and accepted for who he was instead of what he had was gone, Taylor Carter decided that trusting people outside of his family wasn’t really smart and would only lead to disappointment. With his world turned upside down, his life became about his work, and every new relationship was meaningless and superficial. He was safe, and definitely content, but never truly happy.

When all hope for staying awake during a long day was gone, Emily and Taylor found themselves at the same coffee cart. Little did they know then that the worst coffee they’d ever drank would forever change their lives.

When hopeless people are blinded by an endless pain. When contentment and safety feels like the best option, and love seems impossible, they may just find an EXCEPTION.

My Review:
I can appreciate the emotional baggage these two characters bring to the table. Emily has PTSD following years of physical and emotional abuse. She’s reluctant to let people close, but knows she needs to find support where she can. In her case, it’s platonic friendships with her gay neighbor Zack and his best friend, a marriage-averse engaged gal named Jody. Together they are a great trio. All that Emily requires, but somehow a chance encounter brings Taylor into her sphere–and the gravity is too much to bear.

Taylor’s been burned by a gold digger–and doesn’t want to let anyone close as a result. But Emily’s kind nature and unassuming charm captivate him. His need to protect her from all harm surpasses his own resolution to keep women away. It’s easier as Emily only desires his friendship.

Through months of closeness and connection, it’s clear that a romance is brewing. Zack and Jody are overjoyed to see the love grow, but hesitate to point it out–afraid Emily will pull away from the one man who seems to fill all her empty spaces. More fits than starts keeps the relationship from progression…though the bond between Emily and Taylor tightens deliciously.

The dramatic curveball at the end only solidifies the connection between Taylor and Emily. That each of them would sacrifice life for the other’s safety is the true measure of their bond.

The romance builds slowly, and at times the pacing of the novel seemed too slow. I am always a little impatient for the HEA, so a slow-burning romance is murder on me. (It’s the prefect book for my sis, who loves to get into a character’s head and stay there forever…) Also, I tend to struggle with novels where the point of view shifts from character to character rapidly–head-hopping, as it is called, which is how this story is told. Nonetheless, it’s a heartwarming story of two brokenhearted souls finding the one person they needed, but were too afraid to hope they’d find. Smexy factor: Warm and satisfied, not slippery and graphic.

Interested?  You can find EXCEPTION at Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo.

What Patty Says for Herself:

I’m Patty, and words have always been a passion of mine. I’ve always loved to read them, write them and learn them in other languages. Last year, I’ve decided to take that passion and turn it into a book, the result was Exception, my very first novel.

Whenever I’m not sitting behind my computer, I’m either enjoying the company of my dear hubby, Alex, and our four four-legged babies or reading. I’m a firm believer in long hand written letters, love of any kind and good stories.You can find me on my blog, Facebook or twitter.

****GIVEAWAY****
Giveaway: 1 – $15 Amazon Gift Card,  5-Exception ebooks
Click the Rafflecopter link to enter.
Code: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and, as always, keep reading my friends!

AToMRTours_mdm

SUBMERGED–Book Blitz and Giveaway

Submerged (Outbreak #1)
Release Date: 02/14/13
Summary from Goodreads:

After a mysterious virus makes its way into the United States, the government demands that states seal themselves off from one another and do their best to protect their surviving residents. When the state of Florida is bordered off from the surrounding states, Taylen Fincher, a seventeen-year-old girl with a yearning for her former life finds herself wondering how much of what they’ve been told is true.

When Troum took control of the state, he told the residents that the other states had fallen to the virus and that he wouldn’t allow the same thing to happen to them. But Taylen doesn’t believe it. She insists that there is still life outside of the state, and she is going to do whatever it takes to prove it… but her actions will cost her more than she ever expected.

Troum kidnaps Taylen’s sister, Penelope, in hopes of coaxing her into behaving–-into being a submissive resident, much like the others. But Taylen isn’t one to give in that easily.

Eager to rescue her sister, Taylen will set out on an adventure that’ll force her to open her heart to the unexpected and to uncover secrets that will change everything.

SUBMERGED is the first book in a YA dystopian duology.

How about a little taste?
“Milo, can I ask you something?” I asked, lifting my hand to my lip.
“Not here.” He looked back at Penelope and signaled for me to follow him outside. “Come on.”
I followed Milo out of the Hovercopter, nearly running into him when he stopped suddenly at the end of the walkway. “If you’re wondering if I knew, I didn’t,” he paused, lowering himself onto the ground, “My parents were faithful followers, unwilling to believe things could only get worse after the Outbreak. Though I can’t say much, after all, I was just as naive as they were.”
You weren’t the only one, I thought.
“I had a twin sister,” he said after a moment of silence.
“What happened to her?”
“She died.” He lowered his head as if not sure he wanted to discuss it, but he continued, “Our parents insisted that we join the guard on our seventeenth birthday. She did her best to follow Troum, but over time, she began to grow tired of fighting for a system that clearly didn’t care for its people. She’d spent most of her time serving the Widowed Sector, where she met a boy her age.”
“They fell in love,” I said, knowing exactly where this story was headed.
“I don’t think that it was love. I’d say it was longing more than anything,” he corrected. “She knew what would happen if she began a relationship with a resident, especially one from the Widowed Sector, but she didn’t care.”
“What was her name?” I took a seat next to Milo, resting my head in my hand.
“Miranda,” he said, smiling. “She was a lot like you, you know.”
“I’m not entirely sure that is a good thing.”
“It is.” Milo reached for my hand.

Wow! This one sounds great!

Available from: (only $.99!)
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About the Author
Nicole Sobon is the
author of the Emile Reed Chronicles, Capture, No Place Like Home, and various
short stories.
***Author
Links***

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***GIVEAWAY***
2 signed copies of Submerged in paperback
plus swag (Program 13 and Deprogrammed bookmarks) (INT)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Blitz
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SIA is Unforgettable–Review and Giveaway!

SIA banner copy

Hi there and welcome to my stop on the SIA Blog Tour sponsored by YA Bound Book Tours. For other stops on the tour click here. Today’s book on review is a YA romance by debut author Josh Greyson and it’s a good one!

sia coverSummary from Goodreads:
When seventeen-year-old Sia wakes up on a park bench, she has no idea who or where she is. Yet after a week of being homeless, she’s reunited with her family. At school, she’s powerful and popular. At home, she’s wealthy beyond her dreams. But she quickly realizes her perfect life is a lie. Her family is falling apart and her friends are snobby, cruel and plastic. Worse yet, she discovers she was the cruelest one. Mortified by her past, she embarks on a journey of redemption and falls for Kyle, the “geek” she once tormented. Yet all the time she wonders if, when her memories return, she’ll become the bully she was before…and if she’ll lose Kyle.

My Review:
This YA adventure is fast-paced and captivating. Sia comes to awareness in a park wearing nothing but a hot-pink bra top and running shorts and her gym shoes. She has an iPod, no ID, no money, and no idea who (or where) she is. For the next eight days her life is all about survival. After being propositioned by many and nearly kidnapped by a pimp, Sia is cared for by Carol, a homeless woman who helps as best she can.

Through her friendship with Carol, Sia learns the skills she needs to survive on the streets. They sleep under bridges and make the rounds of soup kitchens, aiming to find day work to make a little cash. One morning, a boy from her high school sees Sia in line at the soup kitchen and accuses her of pranking everyone. Scared, Sia flees the shelter and is hit by a car. When she wakes in the hospital, the doctors recognize Sia’s condition–dissociative fugue–a rare type of temporary amnesia that has wiped out all of Sia’s memories.

Her parents come to claim her and she’s unsettled and mystified, but she’s apparently very wealthy. Resuming her old life, Sia learns she was the high school mean girl: beautiful and nasty wrapped in a designer label. The new Sia can’t reconcile the way she now feels with the person she used to be. Her friends and boyfriend are stunned by her new sensitivity, and really don’t want to accept this tidal wave of social change, so Sia helps them out. By moving on. She tries to strike up new friendships, with mixed success, and is certain that there’s something about Kyle that she really likes. He’s the boy from the shelter. The one who smells like his parents’ bakery. The one who volunteers his time helping the homeless and recent earthquake victims.

For the new Sia, this world where a thin veneer of “perfection” overlays her father’s dismal financial state and her mother’s alcoholism, is something she can strive to overcome. A world she can make better. This is Sia’s “Do Over” and she makes the most of it. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and read it in one sitting. It’s YA, but will appeal to upper MG grade readers and adults who love a good YA redemption tale.

Interested? You can find SIA at Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.  

What others think about SIA…
“A compelling read full of intrigue, romance, and lots of surprises. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next!” – Jennifer Read Hawthorne, #1 New York Times bestselling author 

“There have been very few books that made me think they made to someday become a movie (i.e. Warm Bodies, The Host). And I guess Sia can join the club, because this book, I say, is perfect for it. I felt like I was reading a script for a movie, the plot is fantastic and the characters are great, there’s a little of humor as well as tragic situations.” -Bookish Randomness—I agree!  The book read like a screenplay–V

“Well I finished this book amazingly fast. This whole book will leave you amused, intrigued, in awe, and most importantly in love with the whole story line until the very last word. I’ll have to go with 5 stars for this book.”  – Lovely Reads

“Beautifully written…this one will have you reflecting on your current and past actions. Although a fiction, Sia inspires.” –A Starry-eyed Heart Review 

Josh Author PicAbout the Author
Josh Grayson was born in Mexico, raised in Massachusetts, and now lives in Martinsville, Virginia. It was his move to the South that stirred his imagination and gave him the courage to start writing. During his free time, Josh enjoys reading, jogging, swimming, and watching YouTube videos.

Josh currently works as a medical driver, shuttling people all over Virginia and North Carolina. He has also worked as a machinist, film sales rep, administrative assistant, and telemarketer (he apologizes if he called you). You can catch up with Josh on his website, Goodreads, Facebook, and twitter.

Sia is his debut YA novel.

***GIVEAWAY***

Click the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win:

5 print copies of SIA (US only)

5 ebooks copies of SIA (INT)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Best of luck and, as always, keep reading my friends!

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Check out REAP–Book Blitz and Giveaway!

Reap (YA Paranormal Romance Novella)
Now Available!
Summary from Goodreads:
Foreign, or rather unfamiliar, would be the word I would use to describe how I felt.Faintly, I could hear the glimmer of voices surrounding me in this dark haze, caressing my ears like skin against silk. I felt like I was in a cocoon of sorts, protectively enveloped, quietly drifting in some far-off place. I wanted to stay that way forever.But we all know that what you want never really seems to happen in the real world.
Something’s not right in Mia’s head.

The first thing is that her name isn’t Mia. In fact, she has no clue what her name is—who she is. All that she knows is that she’s not like the ones who found her: Dante with his kind blue eyes, Amy with her child-like demeanor, James with his questioning gaze.

And Briggs.

The one she cannot decipher no matter how hard she tries.

As Mia tries to fit in with these people, a strange occurrence is amidst outside. And as she finally remembers who she is …

Well, let’s just say that things get a little more complicated.

How about a tease?Teaser Tuesday #4
I opened my eyes but had to squeeze them shut against the harsh lights. My lids felt swollen, heavy with fatigue. My eyes burned, tears leaking from their corners.
It was the most uncomfortable of feelings.
I must have been dreaming.
“Hello?”
Although the word seemed alien to me, almost as if I had never heard it before, I instantly understood its meaning. The voice that had spoken was warm, making me feel as if I were suddenly sitting in front of a fireplace, wrapped in a heavy blanket, flames crackling. The heat of the word practically licked my skin.
Again, I tried opening my eyes, this time a bit more cautiously. Blinking, I slowly adjusted to the artificial lights, now able to see.
I found myself staring back into a pair of bright blue eyes, a look of wariness in their depths. For a brief moment I couldn’t look away as I stared up at him. Then he cleared his throat and glanced away, as if uncomfortable with my gaze. With the spell of his eyes broken, it was then that I noticed I was lying on the ground—no, on hardwood floor.
And with not one, but three interested faces peering down at me.
I sat up, then winced at the abruptness of my movement, bringing my hand to the back of my head.
Pain, my mind whispered.
“Careful now.”
I directed my eyes toward the person who had spoken such kind words. It was the first person I had noticed, the one with the blue eyes and the warm voice. His voice was deep and calming, and as I sat there I tried to think of the emotion I should be experiencing. Inhaling softly, I closed my eyes, ignored the painful throb in my head, and waited for the proper term to flutter into my mind.
Gratitude.
“Where did you come from?”
Satisfied I had found the correct word, I opened my eyes again to the voice speaking to me. It was a pleasant voice, reassuring to say the least, and immediately captured my attention.
At that moment, I didn’t notice the black hair atop his head, a striking contrast against his blue eyes that looked like I was staring into an ocean. I didn’t notice that the corners of his eyes crinkled up when he smiled kindly at me, complementing the single dimple in his right cheek. By just looking at him, anyone could tell that he was someone who knew how to laugh. But I didn’t notice any of that.
All those things I would notice later.

Available from: (only $.99!)
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About the Author

A dreamer, Christina Channelle holds two degrees in health sciences but has always had a passion for writing. You will find her reading other young adult novels, or typing up a new story on her computer. When not writing, Christina spends her free time at the movies, listening to music, or eating sushi. She’s a reality TV junkie and has a close relationship with many characters on TV that have been a topic of many heated discussions among friends. She resides in Ontario, Canada.

Her newest project is the YA Paranormal Romance, REAP, was released October 11, 2013.

 
Author Links:
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*GIVEAWAY*
3 – Ebooks of Reap with bookmark (INT)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Blitz
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Saving THE CHEESECAKE QUEEN–Review and Giveaway!

Cheesecake Queen banner copy

Hi there and welcome to my stop on THE CHEESECAKE QUEEN blog tour, sponsored by YA Bound Book Tours. For other stops on the tour click here. This contemporary romance is newly released from Miranda Koerner.

thecheesecakequeen-v1-finalSugar Rule 1: Christmas is the perfect time for cheesecake.

Sugar Rule 2: Men are as useful as burnt cookies.

Book Summary:
After losing her reporting job to layoffs at the local paper, Caeleah Turner’s pity party at the airport is interrupted by a woman claiming to know the location of the world’s best cheesecake. Intrigued, Caeleah trades plane tickets with the woman and finds herself in Chestnut, Colorado, a tiny town hiding a woman known as the Cheesecake Queen. The Cheesecake Queen not only bakes the best cheesecakes in the country, but her cheesecake is known to cure everything from infertility to baldness—one woman even loses 100 pounds on it! There is a thick batter of secrets behind The Cheesecake Queen and her two sisters, who operate all the bakeries in town.

But as the mayor’s efforts to shut down the Sugar sisters before Christmas gear up, Caeleah finds herself wanting to sample his own treats.

There’s a bigger secret than love to Cinnamon’s cheesecakes. And Caeleah is determined to find out what it is.

My review:
This romp with the mystical Sugar family is a hoot! Caeleah is an unemployed food writer on her way back to Chicago following a failed interview when a strange woman convinces her to switch planes in the hunt for America’s best cheesecake.

In tiny Chestnut, Colorado, the Sugar sisters, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Ginger, have been baking up prize desserts under the tutelage of Sugar Mama for years. Unfortunately, Mayor Nathan Watson (a Mayor Bloomberg parody, no doubt) is preparing to shut down their bakeries as a health menace. All that sugar and white flour and fat will surely cause diabetes or heart disease in the population if left unregulated, right?

In the quest for her story Caeleah learns the unsavory secrets between Ginger Sugar and Mayor Watson. They once had a blazing passion, but it soured after the High School prom. Caeleah, a lover all culinary delights, attempts to sway the mayor into being reasonable–a few sweets can’t possibly be that bad, right? Nonetheless, the mayor pursues his health initiative and Caeleah with equal vigor–even shutting down Cinnamon’s cheesecake bakery on Christmas Eve.

Caeleah is pretty sure she can end the small-town bitterness by reversing the effects of a botched love spell Ginger cooked up on prom night seventeen years ago–a disastrous recipe that turned Nathan against the Sugar sisters and all that they bake. The secret lay in the closely-guarded Black Book. Caeleah puts her job and new friendships on the line to discover the secret behind the Sugar family and their cursed love affairs. Of course, getting the mayor to stand down his calorie crusade will be difficult…and yummy!

For an adult romance it’s a surprisingly innocent tale with plenty of misdirection and lots and lots of cheesecake. Make sure to brush your teeth after reading or you’ll end up with a toothache.

Interested? You can find THE CHEESECAKE QUEEN at Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

About the Author
Miranda Koerner is a writer living in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband and two Chihuahuas. A former children’s magazine editor and reporter for Prime Time Newspapers and the Express-News, Miranda has written for The Current, Taste, Chicken Soup for the Soul and many other publications. Her YA novel The Butterfly Dress was published by Girl E books and is available through Amazon.com and Smashwords. She is anticipating her next novel, Blue Mermaid, with Turquoise Morning Press in April 2013.

You can find more about Miranda on Facebook and twitter.

***GIVEAWAY***

3 ebook copies of The Cheesecake Queen (INT)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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He can ANIMATE ME!–A Review

Animate MeHi there!  Wanted to share something fun I picked up as an Amazon Freebie a couple weeks ago. This fun New Adult romance by Ruth Clampett is everything I look for in a book–solid love story, some realistic complications, and a resolution that leaves me swoony.

ANIMATE ME does it animal-style. (more on that below!)

Here’s what happens:

Twenty-four year old animator Nathan Evans has the biggest crush on Brooke, an executive at his studio. Not only does he admire her from afar, he names is comic book character B-Girl after her.

One day their paths cross in the elevator and there’s some banter about Brooke wanting a coffee. As Nathan was on his way out for coffee anyway he buys one for Brooke, too. Being the shy-romantic he is, he draws her a tiny cartoon on the paper cup. Something to make her flash that megawatt smile he adores.

They chat a bit and he’s so into it he decides to repeat this encounter the next day. And the next. Soon it becomes an afternoon ritual they both enjoy. It’s a giant leap for Nathan–he’s a bit (deliciously) socially awkward–to reach out to a woman. See Nathan’s only had two “relationships” in his life and neither was actually consummated…that’s right. Nathan’s a 24 y/o virgin.

I love how Clampett turns the innocence tables here–having Nathan be the fumbling novice and Brooke the savvy instructor! Genius!

In fact, Brooke thinks their flirtation is designed to attract another co-worker Nathan desires. Too shy to correct her–and wanting more than anything to spend more time with Brooke–he proceeds with Brooke’s Love Lessons all the while getting more action than he’d ever dreamed. Not that it’s all roses. Cause it ain’t.

Brooke’s pseudo-boyfriend, Arnauld, is the president of their animation studio. And when he learns that Brooke is falling hard for Nathan, Arnauld’s not willing to let her go. His attempt to destroy Nathan’s career is vicious and yet perfectly believable.

Through the flame war that erupts, Nathan and Brooke get separated. The longing, anguish and anger that Nathan experiences are so poignant–I wanted to jump into the book and hug him. Tell him, “Hold on baby, it’ll all work out!”

And it does, so HEA’s for everyone.

ANIMATE ME is a home run for me. I loved the male viewpoint! I loved Nathan’s innocence and excitement and steadfastness. He’s the kind of guy I hope my sons grow into–the kind that look for a special girl to cherish and then pour their whole soul into loving her. And, bonus, we get cute little cartoons that build on the love story!

Here’s where you can find ANIMATE ME:   Goodreads   AMAZON

New books are coming out from Ruth Clampett and they sound just as fun.  I’ll keep you posted when I get my eyes on them…

Let me know if you pick up ANIMATE ME and drop me a comment on how you liked it.

And, as always, keep reading my friends!