Friday, March 24, 2017

Frida Kahlo: An Illustrated Biography by Zena Alkayat

Library of Luminaries:
Frida Kahlo: An Illustrated Biography

by Zena Alkayat
illustrated by Nina Cosford

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2016
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Genre: Biography, Art
Hardback: 128 pages
Rating: 5

Library of Luminaries series:
Jane Austen
Coco Chanel
Frida Kahlo
Virginia Woolf

First sentence(s):
"i paint myself because i am so often alone, because i am the subject i know best." -Frida Kahlo

Step into the world of one of history's most celebrated artists and feminist icons: Frida Kahlo. This beautifully illustrated biography is full of colorful details that illuminate the woman behind the artwork, including excerpts from Kahlo's personal letters and diaries on her childhood dreams of becoming a doctor, the accident that changed the course of her life, and her love affairs with famous artists. Featuring handwritten text alongside lovely illustrations in a charming case with foil stamping and debossed details, Library of Luminaries: Frida Kahlo provides a captivating window into the vibrant life, work, and creative vision of the beloved Mexican artist.


My two-bits:

This is a gem of a book with colorful whimsical illustrations presenting Frida Kahlo's life. The text is brief and basic which was a great quick way to learn about Frida.

Not really a part of the baby book or children's genre.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

The Vegetarian
by Han Kang

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2016
Publisher: Hogarth
Genre: Literary
Hardback: 192 pages
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
Before my wife turned vegetarian, I'd always thought of her as completely unremarkable in every way.

A beautiful, unsettling novel about rebellion and taboo, violence and eroticism, and the twisting metamorphosis of a soul

Before the nightmares began, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary, controlled life. But the dreams—invasive images of blood and brutality—torture her, driving Yeong-hye to purge her mind and renounce eating meat altogether. It’s a small act of independence, but it interrupts her marriage and sets into motion an increasingly grotesque chain of events at home. As her husband, her brother-in-law and sister each fight to reassert their control, Yeong-hye obsessively defends the choice that’s become sacred to her. Soon their attempts turn desperate, subjecting first her mind, and then her body, to ever more intrusive and perverse violations, sending Yeong-hye spiraling into a dangerous, bizarre estrangement, not only from those closest to her, but also from herself.

Celebrated by critics around the world, The Vegetarian is a darkly allegorical, Kafka-esque tale of power, obsession, and one woman’s struggle to break free from the violence both without and within her.

My two-bits:

I found this to be a surreal read with some colorful artsy scenes and stark medical depicted images.

Themes of body image, oppression of women, dreams and freedom run throughout.

One of those books where I am not quite sure I like it but agree that it is written well.


* part of Tournament of Books 2017 (here)

* part of Book Passage Literary Prize Book Group (here)

* part of Korean Book Challenge (here)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday - 3.22.17

Waiting on Wednesday
hosted by Breaking the Spine
Spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


I'm waiting for...

A Ring of Truth
(A Henrietta and Inspector Clive Novel, #2)
by Michelle Cox
-Historical, Mystery
Release date: April 4, 2017
Amazon | Goodreads

In this second book of the series, Henrietta and Clive delightfully rewrite Pride and Prejudice―with a hint of mystery!

Newly engaged, Clive and Henrietta now begin the difficult task of meeting each other’s family. “Difficult” because Clive has neglected to tell Henrietta that he is in fact the heir to the Howard estate and fortune, and Henrietta has just discovered that her mother has been hiding secrets about her past as well. When Clive brings Henrietta to the family estate to meet his parents, they are less than enthused about his impoverished intended. Left alone in this extravagant new world when Clive returns to the city, Henrietta finds herself more at home with the servants than his family, much to the disapproval of Mrs. Howard―and soon gets caught up in the disappearance of an elderly servant’s ring, not realizing that in doing so she has become part of a bigger, darker plot.

As Clive and Henrietta attempt to discover the truth in the two very different worlds unraveling around them, they both begin to wonder: Are they meant for each other after all?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Winners for March

Here are the winners for giveaways that
ended March 19, 2017

Thanks to all contestants!


Piper Perish
by Kayla Cagan
Amazon | Goodreads | Giveaway

Winner: Danielle

AND as I have two review copies, I decided to give them to the runner-up contestants:

Winner: Sophia Rose

Winner: Midnight Cowgirl


* I will email winners for mailing addresses within two weeks.
Winners, feel free to contact me with your info if you don't get my email
or if you are just too darn excited and want to let me know -- like NOW ;-D

* contest policy

* if not this time, maybe next time

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Stacking the Shelves & Sunday Post - 3.18.17

Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews (details)
Sunday Post hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer (details)


Author event and Bought:

Book Passage of San Francisco hosted an author event with Mohsin Hamid to celebrate the release of his latest, Exit West, which is a timely story of immigrants. Loved the readings (more than one passage) and the Q&A was enlightening on thoughts of migration and the world of fiction vs. reality.

Exit West
by Mohsin Hamid
Amazon | Goodreads

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through.

Exit West follows these characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.

For Review:

Fighting to Breathe
(Shooting Stars #1)
by Aurora Rose Reynolds
-New Adult, Romance
courtesy of Romance Read-of-the-Month Club -Thanks!
BarnesNoble | Goodreads


THANKS to MAD of MAD Writes (and Reads) for sending me a surprise package of goodies! A couple of these are perfect for my Foodie Read challenge ;-)

Mrs. Lee & Mrs. Gray by Dorothy Love - Amazon | Goodreads
Bread of the Dead by Ann Myers Amazon | Goodreads
Cinco de Mayhem by Ann Myers Amazon | Goodreads
Museum postcards and notebook (tea party theme)

AND watched: in theatre

Bad Rap (2016)
Director: Salima Koroma
Starring: Dumbfounded (Jonathan Park), Awkwafina (Nora Lum), Rekstizzy (David Lee), Lyricks (Richard Lee)
-Documentary | imdb | my rating: 5

Four Asian-American rappers run into tough obstacles as they try to make it big in Hip Hop, a genre rooted in black culture.

PART of CAAMFest 2017 (Celebrating Asian American Film, Music and Food - here) I was treated to a Q&A with Salima Koroma (Director), Jaeki Cho (Co-producer), Awkwafina, Rekstizzy and Lyricks after the film showing. AND there were live performances from the three rappers present.

The film did well in presenting the Asian American experience in the Hip Hop world. Unfortunately, there is a small audience for these performers and they remain unknown to the mainstream. It's films like these that help introduce these artists to the world.

Meet Awkwafina...

Current Giveaway Offers

Block & Tackle by Elise Faber, Stephanie Fournet & Kristin Vayden
(signup here)

Piper Perish by Kayla Cagan
(signup here)


* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day with Sally Rooney and Karl Geary

CELEBRATE today with Irish authors!

These two are from Dublin.

Conversations with Friends: A Novel
by Sally Rooney
Release date: July 11, 2017
Amazon | Goodreads

A sharply intelligent novel about two college students and the strange, unexpected connection they forge with a married couple.

Frances is twenty-one years old, cool-headed, and darkly observant. A college student and aspiring writer, she devotes herself to a life of the mind--and to the beautiful and endlessly self-possessed Bobbi, her best friend and comrade-in-arms. Lovers at school, the two young women now perform spoken-word poetry together in Dublin, where a journalist named Melissa spots their potential. Drawn into Melissa's orbit, Frances is reluctantly impressed by the older woman's sophisticated home and tall, handsome husband. Private property, Frances believes, is a cultural evil--and Nick, a bored actor who never quite lived up to his potential, looks like patriarchy made flesh. But however amusing their flirtation seems at first, it gives way to a strange intimacy neither of them expect.As Frances tries to keep her life in check, her relationships increasingly resist her control: with Nick, with her difficult and unhappy father, and finally even with Bobbi. Desperate to reconcile herself to the desires and vulnerabilities of her body, Frances's intellectual certainties begin to yield to something new: a painful and disorienting way of living from moment to moment.

Written with gem-like precision and probing intelligence, Conversations With Friends is wonderfully alive to the pleasures and dangers of youth."


Montpelier Parade
by Karl Geary
Just published: January 2017
Amazon | Goodreads

The house is on Montpelier Parade: just across town, but it might as well be a different world. Working on the garden with his father one Saturday, Sonny is full of curiosity. Then the back door eases open and she comes down the path toward him. Vera.

Chance meetings become shy arrangements, and soon Sonny is in love for the first time. Casting off his lonely life of dreams and quiet violence for this new, intoxicating encounter, he longs to know Vera, even to save her. But what is that Vera isn’t telling him?

Unfolding in the sea-bright, rain-soaked Dublin of early spring, Montpelier Parade is a beautiful, cinematic novel about desire, longing, grief, hope and the things that remain unspoken. It is about how deeply we can connect with one another, and the choices we must also make alone.


* found these authors amongst a The Guardian's list of new faces in fiction 2017 (here)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Happy release: Block & Tackle by Elise Faber, Stephanie Fournet & Kristin Vayden

Football, hockey, and everything in between! Things are about to heat up on the ice and between the sheets. Each book is a fully fledged, standalone novel about forbidden love. What happens when you get your dream job and temptation is your ex-hockey-star boss? Or when the league’s top wide receiver has his eyes on you and he’s supposed to be just a client? Perhaps you find yourself in enemy territory because the woman you love is your best friend’s sister? Find out all the dirt in Block & Tackle, from Elise Faber, Kristin Vayden, and Stephanie Fournet.

Block & Tackle
by Elise Faber, Stephanie Fournet, Kristin Vayden
-Contemporary Romance/Sports Romance
Release date: March 12, 2017
Publisher: Blue Tulip Publishing
Amazon | Goodreads
Amazon UK | Amazon AU Amazon CA
iBooks | B&N

Find out all the dirt in Block & Tackle!

Offsides by Elise Faber

Job title:
Executive Assistant for CEO of Prestige Media Group

Job description:
(1) Deal with a massive amount of emails.
(2) Schedule conference calls and meetings with top athletes and other hugely important people.
(3) Pick up dry cleaning and food, consult on tie selection, make dinner reservations, and book flights . . . basically act as a wife-on-steroids.
(4) THE IMPORTANT ONE: Do not, under any circumstances, fall in love with Devon Scott—demanding boss, former NHL player, and all-around gorgeous specimen of the male persuasion.

Job performance:

Absolutely failing at number four.

If ever a time existed for a curse word, this was it.

Becca was five minutes late. Five entire minutes late, and the little screen on the printer was flashing at her with a paper jam.

“Becca! Those files need to be on my desk now.”

Devon Scott. CEO of Prestige Media Group and her boss. Her very demanding boss.

Hence, curse words. Particularly the four-letter one Becca saved for only very special occasions.

The one that began with “f” and ended with a perfectly timed and heartfelt “uck.”

Yeah. The word pretty much summed up her day. No — her week. Heck, if she was already cursing, it might as well sum up her month.

She yanked the tray from the printer, cleared the jam, and shoved it back in. The printer whirred to life, spitting out pages in a flurry.


“Coming,” she called before dropping her voice and muttering, “Hurry up. Hurry up.”

“Becca. So help me—”

The last page dropped into the tray. She snatched it up, fit it into the proper place of the file, and all but sprinted through the doorway of her boss’s office.

“The printer—” she began.

Devon’s eyes locked with hers, and Becca shivered. Not for the same reason that most people did when they met Mr. Scott. Not because his cool, businesslike expression was attributed to icicles or frozen seawater.

She shivered because of chocolate ice cream.

His eyes conjured thoughts of delicious, rich, melt-on-her-tongue sweetness that made her insides go all squirmy.

And along came that four-letter word again, blaring across her mind.

One winged brow arched, dark brown and perfectly formed. It made a crease on Devon’s forehead, a rainbow of little lines leading up, up, up almost to his hairline.

Which was the precise moment Becca realized she’d said that curse word aloud.

She clamped a hand over her mouth, smacking herself in the face with the manila cardstock in the process and dropping every single paper she’d so painstakingly fought the printer over.

This was not happening. Devon didn’t allow mistakes and… she sighed. She really needed this job.

The phone rang, and Becca lowered the folder, reaching out a hand to grab the receiver.

Devon beat her to it, snatching the phone up and snapping a terse “Hello” into it. But his eyes didn’t leave hers as the conversation went on. They sharpened, holding her in place as effectively as handcuffs—

And oh God. Now her cheeks were burning.

Trust her mind to take her straight on a journey to FSOG.

She bent, hurriedly collecting and ordering the papers before gingerly setting the file on his desk and beginning to back from the room.

Warm fingers on her wrist stopped her.

Becca’s eyes flashed down, and she shivered again. Tanned skin against porcelain. Thick, strong fingers dwarfing hers.

Devon Scott was a former hockey player, and it was easy to see why. He was every inch an athlete.

Every. Inch.

Oh good Lord.

About the author: ELISE FABER
Aside from writing romance, Elise’s passions are chocolate, Star Wars, and hockey (the order depending on the day and how well her team — the Sharks! — are playing). She and her husband also play as much hockey as they can squeeze into their schedules, so much so that their typical date night is spent on the ice. Elise is the mom to two exuberant boys and is thoroughly addicted to Dancing With the Stars.
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Off Guard by Stephanie Fournet

Life couldn’t be better for Charlie Woodruff.

After a year of holding out, she’s finally landed the job she’s always wanted in the city of her dreams. An apartment she can afford and new friends at work make the transition easy.

When she meets a gorgeous stranger who makes her laugh and steals her breath, it seems like the icing on the cake…

Until Charlie discovers he’s a client.

Hutch Barlow — newly drafted wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders — looks like an avenging angel, hangs on her every word, and is completely off-limits. The trouble is he also refuses to take “no” for an answer.

And if she’s being honest, Charlie doesn’t want him to.

But seeing him means she could lose everything — including her heart.

She sounded much more composed than she felt. His presence, his attention, his eyes, everything about him weakened her resolve, and Charlie found herself wanting to reach for him.

That could not happen.

Hutch gently set her fork down on her abandoned plate and then leaned into the back of her couch. He watched her for a long moment. So long the silence grew awkward. The look in his eyes was completely unreadable.

“Are you wishing I hadn’t come?”

The question shocked the truth out of her. “No. Not at all.”

His elegant brow rose just a fraction. “But you want me to leave.” It wasn’t a question, but he sought her face for an answer, and, again, Charlie felt compelled to speak the truth.

“I don’t want you to leave. I need you to leave.” Saying it aloud filled her with regret, so much so she nearly panicked. Please don’t leave, she wanted to tell him.

The light in his eyes changed. “You don’t want me to leave?” She watched him fight a smile. Seeing that made her happy in a way she couldn’t explain. And at the same time, the happiness stung in a way that almost made her eyes water.

She took a measured breath. “You heard me,” she said, unwilling to give away anything else.

Hutch brought his elbow to the back of her couch and leaned his head against his knuckles. He looked at her. No one in her whole life had ever looked at her so openly.

“I don’t want to leave.” His voice was soft, deep, and it penetrated her skin and buried itself deep into her bones. She felt like she’d carry its resonance in her ribs and her sternum and her spine for the rest of her days.

Charlie swallowed and leaned against the back of her couch, matching his posture almost exactly. It was comfortable like this, resting her head against her hand and staring at an impossibly beautiful man. “What do you want?” she heard herself whisper.

“I want permission,” he whispered back.

Her breath tripped, stopped, and started again. “Permission for what?”

“To kiss you.”

About the author: STEPHANIE FOURNET
Stephanie Fournet, author of five novels including Leave a Mark and You First, lives in Lafayette, Louisiana — not far from the Saint Streets where her novels are set. She shares her home with her husband John and their needy dogs Gladys and Mabel, and sometimes their daughter Hannah even comes home from college to visit them. When she isn’t writing romance novels, Stephanie is usually helping students get into college or running. She loves hearing from fans.
Amazon | Goodreads
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Off Limits by Kristin Vayden

Everything about Ava screams off limits.

To want her is to invite disaster.

To pursue her is to risk my job.

To kiss her might cost me my best friend.

But all those risks seem small in light of the first problem.

She hates me.

To her I’m a sell out, choosing to advance my career rather than protect my biggest client.

Her brother.

And my best friend.

She hasn’t spoken to me in over a year, but that ends now.

Because I’m done with holding back.

To hell with the consequences.

Wish me luck . . .

This would do nothing but boost Bryce’s ability to market his brand. With any luck, he’d clench the Sprite deal we’d been working on. It was all about name recognition, and tonight’s game had given his a huge boost.

“I swear if you turn around, and I see dollar signs where your eyes should be, I’m not going to be held responsible for my actions.” Her tone was acidic, grating on my final nerve. “That’s my brother. Don’t forget that.”

“What the hell is your problem?” I turned, wishing I could take the words back as soon as they filled the room. Because it wasn’t going to help anything — not her, not Bryce. Sure as hell not me.

“You!” She gave a sarcastic neck twist, eyes blazing.

“Really? Because I’ve never had a problem with you, Ava. Ever.”

Her gaze flickered to the ground then back to me, just enough hesitation in her expression to tempt me to push my luck. “And maybe… maybe if you’d stop focusing on your own assumptions, you might see that I’m not your enemy. But I get it. It’s easier to be pissed at me than Bryce. And I’m good with that. I’ll pretend with you because he did make the choice to play when you asked him to quit. I’ll take the heat for that every damn day.” I started to walk toward her, each step slow and measured as her caramel-colored eyes studied me, but she didn’t back away.

“Just don’t delude yourself into thinking that I have anything against you, Ava. I never have. Never will. So… deal with it.” I shrugged, stopping just before her, yet close enough for her floral perfume to assault me with lethal force.

“As if you see anything past his bank account.” She gave a cold glare.

“You really have no clue, do you?” I shook my head, intense frustration warring against the insane ideas that kept popping into my mind. “Everything — everything — that Bryce does is for you. And even if he didn’t take every step with you in mind, I would.” The words were soft, but the heavy nature filled the room, weighing it down. I was pushing my luck to the limit.

Ava tilted her chin lightly, her expression shifting. The light from the kitchen illuminated her lips as her pink tongue darted out to lick them. “What do you mean that you would?”

I shook my head, a slight smile teasing my lips. “And you say that I’m dense.” Without giving her a chance to respond, I gently nipped her lower lip, breathing in her small gasp at the contact before meeting her lips once more before pulling away. Part of me was tense, waiting for the slap that would inevitably come, but rather than a hard smack, her hand reached up and cupped my chin, pulling me in tighter. And my body reacted like a match to the flame.

About the author: KRISTIN VAYDEN
Kristin’s inspiration for the romance she writes comes from her tall, dark and handsome husband with killer blue eyes. With five children to chase, she is never at a loss for someone to kiss, something to cook or some mess to clean but she loves every moment of it! Life is full — of blessings and adventure! Needless to say she’s a big fan of coffee and wine… and living in Washington she’s within walking distance of both!
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--~ Blog Tour Giveaway ~--

WIN a $150 Amazon GC!
SIGN up (here)
Offer ends: March 21, 2017

What made you want to write this anthology?
Elise: Well, it’s selfish really! Stephanie and Kristin are fantastic writers and I wanted the opportunity to work with them! Also, I love sports but wanted to do something that was a bit different than my Gold Hockey books. We decided to focus on the management side, which has been a blast to write!

Stephanie: When Elise Faber approached me and Kristen Vayden about doing the collection, I was definitely nervous because I’d never written a sports romance, and I haven’t written anything shorter than a full length novel in a long time. But it was because I was nervous that I knew I had to do it. When you push yourself out of your comfort zone, all kinds of cool, magical things happen.

Kristin: I wish I could take credit for such a great idea, but I can’t! It was a concept developed by our publisher and spear headed by Elise Faber—sexy librarian extrodianare( and Bad ass Hockey player!)

What is this anthology about? Are the stories related/interconnected?
Elise: Hot alpha athletes, inter-office complications, forbidden love. We’ve got a taste of it all! The stories all take place within the largest athlete management firm in the states, Prestige Media Group.

Stephanie: The anthology is made up of three, sexy sports romances. Characters from each story work at Prestige Media Group, a west coast sports agency with offices in Seattle and San Francisco. In all three stories, love is off limits because of either professional boundaries or personal ties.

Kristin: Love! Wait, you meant more specific. Got it. It’s about guys who are on top of their game in life, and how love tackles them, and the women that dominate these alpha males by winning their hearts.
All these guys work in the same agency or are with the same agency.

Did you guys write the stories independently? Or discuss them with each other?
Elise: We discussed theme and our story basics before writing, then off we went. I can say that I LOVED the way Kristin and Stephanie’s stories turned out! They’re awesome!

Stephanie: After we hashed out the particulars about Prestige, we each chose a basic plot premises for our stories, and we got to work. Early on, we shared our initial chapters to make sure we all felt like our stories would work together, and then we went from there.

Kristin: We correlated on specific themes, but each story is very original and different from the others. We all have different voices, and I think the great part about anthologies is that you can hear that difference in voice as you read.

How different was it for you to write a sports romance? What do you typically write?
Elise: I write hockey romance (Blocked and Backhand Gold Hockey #1 and #2, out and releasing 4/4/17, respectively) but those are more team based. It was fun to focus on the business side! And I’ve always wanted to write a hot boss-secretary romance (my story in this is Offsides). Kristin and Stephanie threw me a bone and let me explore that!

Stephanie: For me, writing a sports romance was completely new territory. All of my other novels are contemporary or new adult, standalone romances that are set in the Saint Streets, a quirky neighborhood in my hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana. My heroes run the gamut from angsty college professors (Fall Semester), to lovesick landscapers (Butterfly Ginger), to drop-dead gorgeous doctors (Leave a Mark). But just like Hutch, they are sweet to the core and will do anything to capture the hearts of the women they love. Writing a sports romance meant that I had to do some research about sports agencies, the football draft process, summer training camps, and the like, but I learned a lot and it was fun!

Kristin: It was a different genre for me, but not a stretch. I write both contemporary romance ( The ONE) and historical romance ( What the Duke Wants). Writing a sports anthology was fun, and I really enjoyed it! I plan on writing more in this genre later—right now I’m finishing up a story about a sexy cowboy. Life’s hard 😉 😉

What is your favorite sport/team? Did you ever play sports growing up? Do you play now?
Elise: HOCKEY! (sense the enthusiasm there?) San Jose Sharks! I played a ton of sports growing (soccer, basketball, volleyball, hockey) and I still play hockey. It’s a blast!

Stephanie: Personally, I’m not very sporty. My theory is that Super Bowl Sunday is a great day to go to the movies because nobody is there. If I had to pick a favorite sport, it would be running because I am a runner. I definitely tune in to the track and long distance events during the summer Olympics, so I guess I’d have to say my favorite team is Team USA.

Kristin: My favorite sport — Cheerleading and Yes. IT IS A SPORT! Team — Seahawks 12th MAN! Did I play — Yes! Though my hubby teases me about not being coordinated enough to play! While there is some truth to that—ok a lot of truth to that—I did play softball and I cheered both in high school and college. Love cheerleading!

What genre/trope can you currently not stay away from?
Elise: I’m devouring contemporary and historical romance! I love it so much!

Kristin: Right now I’m reading Cheater by Rachel Van Dyken. Dear Lord. Anything contemporary is my poison at the moment.

What is YOUR story about?
Elise: My story follows Becca and Devon. Becca is Devon’s executive assistant on a short-term contract while his normal assistant is on maternity leave. They’re both attracted to each other but can’t risk acting on anything, not when it breaks all the HR rules out there. Unfortunately, or really fortunately for them, the heart (and body) sometimes don’t listen to the best intentions of your brain!

Stephanie: Off Guard is about Charlie Woodruff, who has just landed the PR job of her dreams at Prestige Media Group in San Francisco. She’s found a decent apartment and made friends at work, so when she meets a gorgeous stranger who makes her laugh and steals her breath, it seems like icing on the cake — until Charlie discovers he’s a client. Hutch Barlow Hutch Barlow — newly drafted wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders — looks like an avenging angel, hangs on her every word, and is completely off-limits. The trouble is he also refuses to take “no” for an answer. And if she’s being honest, Charlie doesn’t want him to. But seeing him means she could lose everything — including her heart.

Kristin: Markus is fully aware that Ava is off limits. Not only is she his best friend, and biggest client’s twin sister. But she also hates him—ever since her brother, Bryce, chose to play football again after his injury. Ava blames Markus, going as far as calling him a sell out to all his colleagues. But that doesn’t stop him from kissing her, even when it might cost him his best friend. It doesn’t’ stop him from pursuing her, even when it might cost his career. And it certainly doesn’t stop him from stopping at nothing to win her over, because life’s all about risks, And she’s the biggest risk he’ll ever take.

Do you write in silence or to music?
Elise: To music! My hockey playlist is (here).

Stephanie: While music features pretty heavily in most of my work, I write in silence because I’m easily distracted. My current WIP is about a rising rock star and super-shy bookworm, and I listen to songs that crop up in the novel in between writing scenes, like while I drive to work or cook dinner. That playlist is going to be a doozy!

Kristin: Both. I have little ones that tend to flit in and out of my work space needing juice, snacks, etc so I tend to have more than enough noise to keep me busy, but when I have a block that’s just my time to write, I like to have a spotify play list on, especially if its in a particularly emotional, or steamy part of the book.


* tour hosted by Love Affair with Fiction

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Piper Perish by Kayla Cagan (with giveaway)

Piper Perish
by Kayla Cagan

Find out more about this book and author:
Instagram | Twitter

Just released: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Genre: YA, Art, Contemporary
Hardback: 416 pages
Rating: 4

Piper Perish inhales air and exhales art. The sooner she and her best friends can get out of Houston and get to New York City, the better. Art school has been Piper's dream her whole life, and now that senior year is halfway over, she's never felt more ready. But in the final months before graduation, things are weird with her friends and stressful with three different guys, and Piper's sister's tyrannical mental state seems to thwart every attempt at happiness for the close-knit Perish family. Piper's art just might be enough to get her out. But is she brave enough to seize that power when it means giving up so much?

Debut author Kayla Cagan breathes new life into fiction in this dynamic, utterly authentic work featuring interior art from Rookie magazine illustrator Maria Ines Gul. Piper will have readers asking big questions along with her. What is love? What is friendship? What is family? What is home? And who is a person when she's missing any one of these things?

My two-bits:

This novel takes a look at the tumultuous life of a popular teen, Piper, in her senior year in high school. In particular, a student who is talented in art, primarily painting. Piper's creative process and influences come to play. I liked these parts as I find it fascinating to learn about people's creative side in general including inspirations.

Piper's family relationships play a big unsettling part in the story. She suffers growing pains while contending with family dynamics.

Piper's friends are artists as well and represent other forms of art and experiences. One is particular is into fashion design. It was a treat to read about the various outfit ensembles and "looks" he created for Piper.

The story is told mostly by way of journal entries with lists and emails. Also, quotes from contemporary artists (especially from Andy Warhol) along with black and white doodles, sketches and brush strokes are sprinkled throughout these pages to pull you into an artist perspective.

Excerpt: chapter 1

1/1 1:04 pm

It was official: I was blind.

At least that’s what I thought until Kit rolled over and helped me pluck my puffy eyes apart. “I told you not to wear false eyelashes in bed,” she said.

I started crying all over again and pouted at her.

“Just help me unstick my whole face. My eyeballs hurt!”

“It’s not your fault,” she said. “It’s freaking Enzo.” (That’s why she remains my best friend and I will love her forever and ever because she always knows just what to say and also she saw the whole freaking thing happen.)

“I have eyelash glue on my eyeballs.”

“That’s impossible, and even if you did it would be dry by now, not wet. Does it feel like glitter?”

I nod.

“Your eyes are all big and gluey and have gold glitter stickered on ’em because New Year’s Eve sucked, except for I finally made out with French Marcel, until we like, almost passed out. But,” she added, “that was before I saw the very worst breakup of all times.”

I couldn’t even begin to talk about it because my eyes hurt and my heart hurt and I refused for it to be true. Because this is not how my senior year will end. I’m not going through spring semester or the rest of my life without Enzo. Did he completely forget about New York? Is he really assuming Kit and I will go without him?

Andy Warhol said, “Everyone winds up kissing the wrong person goodnight.”

About the author:
Kayla Cagan is a writer and dramaturge who has run social media and content for events like the LA Times Festival of Books and The Taste. She has several published plays in Smith and Kraus anthologies, two award-winning comic books, and various essays. Her work is also included in a One on One anthology from Applause Theatre and Cinema Books, as well as 25 10-Minute Plays for Teens. She and her husband, who wrote the screenplay for the popular 2015 movie THE DUFF, live in Los Angeles.

--~ Blog Tour Giveaway ~--

WIN a copy of Piper Perish + a cool tote bag, pencil and bookmark!

Open to US only.

Offer ends: March 19, 2016


1. ADD this book to your Want To Read list on Goodreads (here).

2. LEAVE a comment with your email.


Contest has ended - (winner is here)



* review copy and excerpt courtesy of tour

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Separation by Katie Kitamura

A Separation
by Katie Kitamura
narrated by Katherine Waterston

Find out more about this book and author:

Just released: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Genre: Literary, Thriller
Hardback: 240 pages
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
It began with a telephone call from Isabella. She wanted to know where Christopher was, and I was put in the awkward position of having to tell her that I didn't know.

This is her story. About the end of her marriage. About what happened when Christopher went missing and she went to find him. These are her secrets, this is what happened...

A young woman has agreed with her faithless husband: it's time for them to separate. For the moment it's a private matter, a secret between the two of them. As she begins her new life, she gets word that Christopher has gone missing in a remote region in the rugged south of Greece; she reluctantly agrees to go look for him, still keeping their split to herself. In her heart, she's not even sure if she wants to find him. As her search comes to a shocking breaking point, she discovers she understands less than she thought she did about her relationship and the man she used to love.

A searing, suspenseful story of intimacy and infidelity, A Separation lays bare what divides us from the inner lives of others. With exquisitely cool precision, Katie Kitamura propels us into the experience of a woman on edge, with a fiercely mesmerizing story to tell.

My two-bits:

Said to have a Gone Girl vibe. It certainly does. But takes on its own unique identity.

I liked doing some arm-chair traveling to Greece.

The introspection and gradual mystery reveals makes this thriller stand out.

The protagonist is not very likable. However, her actions and motives were a draw as well.

Got me thinking of the dilemma the main character found herself in. One of those, what would I do if in that predicament.


* Listened to audiobook version.

* part of Cloak & Dagger Challenge (here)

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Stacking the Shelves & Sunday Post - 3.11.17

Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews (details)
Sunday Post hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer (details)


I have been in a mystery, thriller mode with my recent reading. Nothing like a nail biter story to keep you on your toes.

I am also sneaking in a page or two a day from Wonder Women by Sam Maggs and Bad Girls Throughout History by Ann Shen for a dose of Women's history for this month.

My audiobook listening is going steadily which is compiled of titles from the Tournament of Books list (here). The discussions started last Wednesday (here). I know I will not have completed reading/hearing the lot before the end of the month, but I am so excited to read the dailies.

Although I have a kindle, I am considering getting a nook e-reader. Would love to hear any comments on the nook if you have one.

Going to work on organizing my shelves to pull out candidates for the TBR Pile challenge. MUST create a donation pile while I am at it.


For Review:

A Contrary Wind
by Lona Manning
-Romance, Jane Austen theme
courtesy of author -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

The Roanoake Girls
by Amy Engel
-Mystery, Suspense
courtesy of publisher -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

by Kelley Armstrong
-Mystery, Thriller, YA
courtesy of tour -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

AND watched: in theatre

T2 Trainspotting (2017)
Director: Danny Boyle
Screenplay: John Hodge
Based on book by: Irving Welsh
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewen Bremner
-Drama | imdb | my rating: 5

After 20 years abroad, Mark Renton returns to Scotland and reunites with his old friends Sick Boy, Spud, and Begbie.

I loved Trainspotting and its characters (Ewan!) style and music. And this sequel, T2, was more of the goodness. And, there is a cameo of author, Irvine Welsh ;-)

I was treated to a preview screening of this sequel which included a guest appearance and interview with director Danny Boyle afterwards. Loved hearing his thoughts on finally getting this sequel created.

AND watched: special screening

Girl Rising (2013)
Director: Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri, Richard Robbins
Marie Arana - Peru
Doreen Baingana - Uganda
Edwidge Dantical - Haiti
Mona Eltahawy - Egypt
Aminatta Forna - Sierra Leone
Zarghuna Kargar - Afghanistan
Maaza Mengiste - Ethiopia
Ranjan Nautiyal
Vipul Rathore
Sooni Taraporevala - India
Manjushree Thapa - Nepal
Loung Ung - Cambodia
-Documentary, Drama | imdb | my rating: 5

This film follows 9 girls from Haiti, Nepal, Ethiopia, India, Egypt, Peru, Cambodia, Sierra Leone, and Afghanistan on their journey to education.

SAD to know the status of girls and women in other countries due to the lack of education. This film does well in presenting the importance of education in order to change things for the better all-around the world.

AND watched: on DVD

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016)
Director: Jake Szymanski
Writers: Andrew Jay Cohen, Brendan O'Brien
Starring: Zac Efron, Adam Devine, Aubrey Plaza, Anna Kendrick
-Adventure, Comedy, Romance | imdb | my rating: 4

Two hard-partying brothers place an online ad to find the perfect dates for their sister's Hawaiian wedding. Hoping for a wild getaway, the boys instead find themselves out-hustled by an uncontrollable duo.

BECAUSE sometimes something silly and funny is needed.

Currently flipping through: from the library

In the Company of Women:
Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs
by Grace Bonney
-Art, Business, Feminism
Amazon | Goodreads

Across the globe, women are embracing the entrepreneurial spirit and starting creative businesses. In the Company of Women profiles over 100 of these influential and creative women from all ages, races, backgrounds, and industries. Chock-full of practical, inspirational advice for those looking to forge their own paths, these interviews detail the keys to success (for example, going with your gut; maintaining meaningful and lasting relationships), highlight the importance of everyday rituals (meditating; creating a daily to-do list), and dispense advice for the next generation of women entrepreneurs and makers (stay true to what you believe in; have patience). The book is rounded out with hundreds of lush, original photographs of the women in their work spaces.

THIS gem has present day women who inspire with color photos and a Q&A format per profile.


* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

Friday, March 10, 2017

Excerpt: The Good Dictator by Gonçalo J. Nunes Dias

The Good Dictator
by Gonçalo J. Nunes Dias
-SciFic, Dystopia
Amazon | Goodreads -giveaway offer ends March 21

An unidentified object parked on the moon - and no one seems to know where it came from. Gustavo, a middle-aged computer programmer with a comfortable and grey life, decides to make a list of what he would need to survive a hypothetical attack. He becomes obsessed with the list, spends a fortune, robs a drugstore: his own family thinks he is going insane. However, after the attack, it’s the insane who are well prepared for a new era in society. First book of a trilogy.


I’ll ask you something and you may not decline. – Said Rute with a seductive look.

Tell me.

Today, you will have to have dinner with me as a way to repay you for all of your work.

Gustavo gave a little laugh and placed his right hand on Rute's left arm.

You don’t have to repay me; I did it because I like your company.

I won't accept a no, please.At that moment, Gustavo felt like kissing her thin lips, but he thought that perhaps he was misreading her signs and feared being rejected.

I accept the invitation, then. But first, I will go home, take a shower, change, and bring some wine to water the food.

Perfect. – Rute answered with a pleasant smile.

While he dressed up for dinner, Gustavo found himself a little nervous, he liked Rute and felt attracted to her, but he wonder if she felt the same way and it everything seemed so fast and recent that it was best to just have a single peaceful, relaxed night, in good company, and not to try any foolishness. He left home very elegant, with two bottles of red wine and with his hands sweating in anxiety.

When he arrived, Rute was already dressed with one of Marta's beautiful dresses, which was somewhat weird for Gustavo. She was still cooking dinner, and they had an exciting talk which lasted the entire dinner, always watered with red wine, which soon made Rute a little tipsy, since she had not drunk for a long time. They talked about the past and their previous relationships. Rute confessed that she missed her two daughters and her father a lot, but she did not mention her grandson, because she did not want to give the image of being grandmother, she didn't even mentioned having missed her husband, because she actually did not feel that way. Gustavo talked about the list, his obsession with the attack, his idiotic parents-in-law, how they had gotten hold of power and the complicated political situation in which he was involved. He did not know whether or not he should kiss her, if he should make a move, if he was mistaking things; Rute on the other hand, felt like kissing him, but she was afraid he took her as an old woman, that the nine year difference would be too much for him. A little after finishing dinner, there was an uncomfortable silence; Gustavo did not know what to say, nor what subject to bring up, he thought silence was a signal it was time to depart, besides, tomorrow he would have to wake up early for the agricultural tasks. He got up, and when he was ready to speak, Rute got up with him and caught his hand softly; she thought of saying something to keep him from going, but she simply looked at Gustavo’s blue eyes; he was filled with courage and approached Rute’s face and lips slowly. After the first kiss, many others came and their hands ran across both of their bodies with more and more intensity; they got into the small bedroom without stopping their kisses as they took off their clothes as they took off their clothes in a clumsy manner and ended up naked on the old bed that Gustavo had brought a few hours ago.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

River Road by Carol Goodman

River Road
by Carol Goodman

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @C_Goodmania

Just released (paperback): January 3, 2017
Publisher: Touchstone
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Paperback: 304 pages
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
She came out of nowhere.

Zombie sighting:
A group of students came out of the diner clutching paper coffee cups and shuffled to the bus stop in a zombie-like trance. -chapter 9, page 80

From the award-winning author of The Lake of Dead Languages comes a chilling new psychological thriller about a professor accused of killing her favorite student in a hit-and-run accident.

Nan Lewis—a creative writing professor at a state university in upstate New York—is driving home from a faculty holiday party after finding out she’s been denied tenure. On her way, she hits a deer, but when she gets out of her car to look for it, the deer is nowhere to be found. Eager to get home and out of the oncoming snowstorm, Nan is forced to leave her car at the bottom of her snowy driveway to wait out the longest night of the year—and the lowest point of her life…

The next morning, Nan is woken up by a police officer at her door with terrible news—one of her students, Leia Dawson, was killed in a hit-and-run on River Road the night before. And because of the damage to her car, Nan is a suspect. In the days following the accident, Nan finds herself shunned by the same community that rallied around her when her own daughter was killed in an eerily similar accident six years prior. When Nan begins finding disturbing tokens that recall the death of Nan’s own daughter, Nan suspects that the two accidents are connected.

As she begins to dig further, she discovers that everyone around her, including Leia, is hiding secrets. But can she uncover them, clear her name, and figure out who really killed Leia before her reputation is destroyed for good?

My two-bits:

Starts off with a protagonist who is unreliable and unlikable in a small college town setting. However, she is forced to pull herself together to figure out the mystery that she has been pulled into. And in so doing slowly had me sympathetic.

Loved learning about some aspects of being a writer and student writers.

Greek mythology plays a part so there are easter eggs to find if you are familiar. If not, you can still enjoy the story for what it is. Or you can enhance this reading by getting quick details from wikipedia.


* review copy courtesy of publisher

* part of Cloak & Dagger Challenge (here)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday - 3.8.17

Waiting on Wednesday
hosted by Breaking the Spine
Spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


I'm waiting for...

Big Mushy Happy Lump:
A Sarah's Scribbles Collection
by Sarah Andersen
-Comics, Humor
Release date: March 7, 2017
Amazon | Goodreads

Swimsuit season is coming up! Better get beach-body ready! Work on those abs! Lift those butts!

...Um, or how about never mind to all that and just be a lump. Big Mushy Happy Lump!

Sarah Andersen's hugely popular, world-famous Sarah's Scribbles comics are for those of us who boast bookstore-ready bodies and Netflix-ready hair, who are always down for all-night reading-in-bed parties and extremely exclusive after-hour one-person music festivals.

In addition to the most recent Sarah's Scribbles fan favorites and dozens of all-new comics, this volume contains illustrated personal essays on Sarah's real-life experiences with anxiety, career, relationships and other adulthood challenges that will remind readers of Allie Brosh's Hyperbole and a Half and Jenny Lawson's Let's Pretend This Never Happened. The same uniquely frank, real, yet humorous and uplifting tone that makes Sarah's Scribbles so relatable blooms beautifully in this new longer form.

LOVED Sarah's Adulthood is a Myth. Have a feeling this one will be just as entertaining with lots of chuckles.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Happy Release: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

The Bone Witch
by Rin Chupeco
-Fantasy, YA
Release date: March 7, 2017
Amazon | Goodreads

Let me be clear: I never intended to raise my brother from his grave, though he may claim otherwise. If there's anything I've learned from him in the years since, it's that the dead hide truths as well as the living.

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she's a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha―one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles...and make a powerful choice.



Arhen-Kosho (ahr·hen·koh·shoh)
Following the breakup of the Yadoshan kingdom, their defeated royalty were exiled to the island now known as Arhen-Kosho, inadvertently making the current rulers of this kingdom the oldest hereditary monarchy in the world. Living on an island has made Arhen-Koshons excellent seafarers, and it is known for its ships and expert sailors. Their control over trade routes and their strategic position makes them one of the richest kingdoms in the land, and they enjoy close alliances with many of the other nations, the Yadosha city-states and Odalia in particular. Currently ruled by Queen Lynoria of House Imperial, it is also notable for having the most number of runic magic-users after Kion, most of whom would go on to become asha in the latter.



* characters courtesy of author

Monday, March 6, 2017

Hidden by the Leaves by SDL Curry

Hidden by the Leaves
by SDL Curry

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2016
Publisher: Book Guild Publishing Ltd
Genre: Historical, Christian, Japan
Paperback: 272 pages
Rating: 4

The Hidden Trilogy:
Hidden Leaves
book 2 - tba

First sentence(s):
"Shigemasa is coming! Shigemasa is coming!" shouted a panic-stricken farmer into Father Joaquim's quarters.

The first in Curry’s Hidden trilogy, Hidden by the Leaves follows Father Joaquim Martinez, a Jesuit Priest in Japan, as he and his catechists risk their lives to defy a 17th Century Shogun order of execution.

Inspired by real-life events and enriched by the author’s extensive research, this epic tale of good vs. evil is the ultimate historical novel.

Rooted in history and hidden by the leaves. Can Fr. Martinez and his small village stand against an oppressive regime to find freedom through the power of faith?

My two-bits:

After watching the recent Martin Scorsese film, Silence, I found this story fascinating in that it got into other details of what went on during the struggle with Christianity in Japan. It is a good piece of history to know.

Each character encounter questions of faith, endurance and love.

This story follows characters who journey through persecution, torture and death with hope in their hearts.


* review copy courtesy of author

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The River at Night by Erica Ferencik

The River at Night
by Erica Ferencik

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @EricaFerencik

Just released: January 10, 2017
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Genre: Thriller
Hardback: 304 pages
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
Early one morning in late March, Pia forced my hand.

A high stakes drama set against the harsh beauty of the Maine wilderness, charting the journey of four friends as they fight to survive the aftermath of a white water rafting accident, The River at Night is a nonstop and unforgettable thriller by a stunning new voice in fiction.

Winifred Allen needs a vacation.

Stifled by a soul-crushing job, devastated by the death of her beloved brother, and lonely after the end of a fifteen-year marriage, Wini is feeling vulnerable. So when her three best friends insist on a high-octane getaway for their annual girls’ trip, she signs on, despite her misgivings.

What starts out as an invigorating hiking and rafting excursion in the remote Allagash Wilderness soon becomes an all-too-real nightmare: A freak accident leaves the women stranded, separating them from their raft and everything they need to survive. When night descends, a fire on the mountainside lures them to a ramshackle camp that appears to be their lifeline. But as Wini and her friends grasp the true intent of their supposed saviors, long buried secrets emerge and lifelong allegiances are put to the test. To survive, Wini must reach beyond the world she knows to harness an inner strength she never knew she possessed.

With intimately observed characters, visceral prose, and pacing as ruthless as the river itself, The River at Night is a dark exploration of creatures—both friend and foe—that you won’t soon forget.

My two-bits:

Not so interested in river rafting after reading this one. OR if I do, must do some research about the place and take some survival courses. And have back up plans for those "what if" moments.

This scary thriller takes you on a white water river rafting trip gone wrong - and then worse.

Friendship between women and issues when traveling together are explored as well.


* review copy courtesy of publisher

* part of Cloak & Dagger Challenge (here)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Our Shared Shelf 2017

Our Shared Shelf
aka Emma Watson Book Club
Details | Goodreads


STILL have intentions to follow this book club and include the books in my reading rotation.


The Vagina Monologues
by Eve Ensler
-Feminism, Play
Amazon | Goodreads

Women Who Run With the Wolves:
Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype
by Clarissa Pinkola Estés
-Feminism, Spirituality
Amazon | Goodreads

Imagination Designs
Images from: Lovelytocu