Updates and book recommendations!

Yesterday on Facebook, I admitted that I suck at multiple platforms (is that what we’d call them?). For some reason, I’m great at obsessing over my twitter feed, at posting on Facebook groups (but now my own feed?) and catching up on things on Goodreads (though note to self: DON’T READ REVIEWS. Lol).

Not much has gone on here that’s terrible exciting (related to my writing life). I went on the most beautiful beach vacation up in Caseville, Michigan with my family. Seriously.

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That is, no joke, an unfiltered picture I took from the deck of the cottage we were staying in. That was a lovely vacation– beach, sun (we’ll ignore the slight sun poisoning I got), sleep and BOOKS. I read so much great stuff! Zane Riley’s With or Without You which I reviewed here. It’s a follow up to Go Your Own Way from last year. It’s a series I so highly recommend. I re-read Avon Gale’s Power Play, and because I’m the luckiest girl alive, got to read an early copy of her upcoming book, Empty Net (which is currently available for Pre-order!! And it’s on sale right now). Y’all, this book is SPECIAL. This is by far the best thing I’ve read from Avon, and she’s an incredibly talented writer.

I also went on an L.A. Witt tear, and read two of hers: Ex Equals and For the Living, which I enjoyed quite a bit. And because I am OBSESSED, I re-read Fast Connection by Santino Hassell and Megan Erickson. I love this series, and my love for Dominic Costigan cannot be contained. Finally, I rounded out a week of great reading with Garret Leigh’s What Remains. LORD, I cannot. Please read it. And when you fall in love, go read Becca Burton’s Something Like a Love Song.

Otherwise, on the writing front, I’ve been outlining a new project I am very excited to write. It’ll probably take a while, with grad school coming up, and my first semester teaching at a college level starting. But I’m feeling very inspired, which is good news 😀 If you see me tweeting about #ProjectKeys, that’s it. Who knows what hints might get dropped?

Finally, in exciting news, the release date for Idlewild has been moved to December 1st! You might be wondering wny moving it back is exciting — first because that means I have extra time to really work on making this book as great as it can be. Also, December 1st is my birthday.

Okay, written down those seem like selfish reasons, LOL. Anyway, keep an eye out for stuff related to Idlewild in the coming months!

Finally, I am pondering putting together a book giveaway of some sort… must ponder. But if you’ve been wanting a paper copy of one of my books, stay tuned for more info!

~*~

Both Hush andWhat it Takes are available for purchase now at:  Interlude Press Web Store
AmazonAll RomanceBarnes & NobleBook Depository, Apple iBookstore, Smashwords, and Independent Bookstores

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Bang!

I’m gonna start July off with a bang! Or some other fireworks holiday kind of metaphor that’s terrible…

Rounding up some info: my books are 25% at Smashwords! So if you’ve been waiting for a great time to grab a copy of Hush or What it Takes, go for it!

If you want LOTS of great books, Interlude Press has some *amazing* books coming up that are on sale — all of their pre-order books — which includes Pene Henson’s upcoming novel, Into the Blue.

I have to write this book a proper review, but for now, just LOOK at the gorgeous cover.

This book is lush and beautiful and will just grab your heart. It got a starred review in Publishers Weekly and has gotten some great reviews ahead of it’s release — so I promise you, this book is really something very special.

You can preorder Into the Blue in print and e-book format, and I cannot recommend it more!

As for the rest, who knows? We are hard at work on Idlewild (yay!) and I am messing with an idea for a fourth book I am SO EXCITED FOR, which will be my Camp NaNo project. Wish me luck and motivation!

Finally, I am going to encourage everyone to get involved in the 1000 Book Challenge. Interlude Press and The Trevor Project have partnered to raise money for The Trevor Project and to get LGBT YA into libraries, head over here to find ways you can support this awesome project.

 

Series Recommendation: Avon Gale’s Scoring Chances

So, if y’all follow me on twitter (@judesierra), you know that I have a long standing love affair with Avon Gale’s Scoring Chances series. I’ve read and re-read the first two books in the series (Breakaway and Save of the Game) at least five times — no exaggeration.

This series follows hockey players (OMG HOCKEY ROMANCE, YAS) who play in the ECHL. I’ve been lucky enough to get an advance copy of her newest addition to the series, Power Play.

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I have so much love for this series, and this book was such a great addition. Gale has a gift with character voices: they are always clear and unique and each character is so well written. They’re flawed and funny and quirky and passionate and so deeply lovable.

Power Play is the story of Max Ashford and Misha Samarin, who are paired to coach the worst team in the ECHL, the Spartanburg Spitfires. They’re hired by a smarmy GM who is more interested in getting his team attention through sensational media, and Max and Misha’s past offers ample fodder. Years ago, Misha accidentally caused a freak accident in a Stanley Cup playoff game that ended Max’s career. Determined not to let their past — or their GM — affect their desire to help their team, Max and Misha slowly navigate their relationship, from being coworkers to friends to lovers, over the course of the novel.

Max is like sunshine in this book, and it doesn’t feel contrived. I love that he went through something heartbreaking but found a way to manage it, live his live, redirect with a positive attitude. I really loved that, because that’s a really realistic option for dealing with setbacks, but it can seem insurmountable. It’s not! Max makes that clear.

Misha is complicated and deep; he has a painful backstory he doesn’t know how to handle, and lingering guilt over the accident that ended Max’s career. The way he comes to trust Max and forgive himself is handled beautifully, as is his commitment to protecting and caring for his players (AKA Isaac Drake, who will be featured in her upcoming novel).

I have a weakness for hockey romance and this series hits every sweet spot. I cannot wait for book four, Empty Net, which will be available in the fall. I might cry in the interim months. I so highly recommend this series and this book!

Something Like A Love Song Book Review

Something Like a Love Song (print edition)

This story is love as a verb. I don’t even know if that will make sense to anyone, but that’s what it is.

It’s an emotionally difficult book to read, but I applaud Burton for tackling such a difficult story and just executing it brilliantly. There was nothing prettied up for this book about Landon’s injury or recovery; it was slow and difficult and there were successes and setbacks.

I really appreciated that Burton paid such good attention to Dylan’s emotional journey, beyond caring for and loving Landon so much. With Landon’s physical trauma, it could have been easy to create a more formulaic book that focused just on him and gave him a perfect partner. But Dylan isn’t perfect, he is just as damaged by the events of that night as Landon. And together and individually these men have to learn how to heal and to move on.

Underpinning this book is a constant and very beautiful sense of love and community. Their families are beautifully flawed, but also come together and love and support both Dylan and Landon in individually helpful and at times frustrating ways — but ultimately, without that community, none of them would have gotten through the experience as well as they did.

I have to admit I’ve never had a family member suffer a brain trauma, but I have cared for a parent in end of life transition who had multiple brain tumors that changed him completely (both his personality but also his abilities) and his decline was very painful to watch. I felt so much understanding and honesty and care from Burton for her characters, as well as honest portrayal of what people who love someone but are watching this happen to a family member/loved one are going through.

The icing on the cake is Burton’s writing which is clear, consistent, and lovely throughout.

Highly recommended, along with a box of Kleenex.

You can find Becca Burton here, and her books are available to order at

The Interlude Press bookstore (where you can currently get the paperback + e-book package for the price of the paperback, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Smashwords, All Romance, the iBookstore, and an Indie Bookseller near you!

 

 

Book Review: Small Wonders, by Courtney Lux

From the moment I read the excerpt of this novel, I knew this was a special book. There are so many things to praise, I’m not even sure how to organize my thoughts. The prose is beautiful; it just lit up the poet inside me. I love when I read a author whose voice is so clear and strong it stays with me for days.

The story pacing is excellent. The characters are each completely fleshed out and unique and integral to the story. It is hard to create a cast of multiple characters where each compels you in some way.

Trip Morgan himself is the most compelling part of this book. You fall hard for him even when he’s unlikable. Your heart breaks even when he’s being unlovable. Lux handles the trauma of his childhood skillfully and with great care. It’s not over dramatized, it’s not heavy handed or melodramatic; again, I think it takes a skilled writer to pull that off.

The structure, with alternating point of view chapters, worked so well — this is a hard sell for many people, but I think it was vital to this story. Trip is so closed off to the world that having his point of view so offered in the interim chapters gave us glimpses into his childhood and world we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. His voice is so clear, and his story is heartbreaking, and as the story unfolds, we learn just how beautiful and sweet and lovely he is despite everything he’s been through.

Watching him and Nate slowly unfold and fall for each other felt like an intimate privilege. In particular, the scene where they go out with Scarlett served to show us their growth very well. All through the story, we witness who these two men are when they are alone together. Putting them in the world with others as witness — particularly ones who know them so well — gave us such a sweet, kicky feet, romantic scene that felt completely right.

All in all, this book is a stunning debut from an author I cannot wait to read more from.

Book Review: Love Starved by Kate Fierro

Last week, I had the wonderful fortune to get an advanced copy of Fierro’s fantastic debut novel, Love Starved.

What I loved most about this book: it took me by surprise over and over. Is there anything more entertaining than a book that transports you, that takes turns you weren’t expecting and keeps you turning the pages because you just have to know? 

Love Starved is a story about Micah Geller, 27, a man who works in information security and lives an independent, successful, and slightly lonely life in Minneapolis. While he tells himself he isn’t lonely, and that he doesn’t need love, Fierro does an excellent job showing us that he is and does with restraint that makes us feel it. Early in the book, his friend Daphne challenges his assertions that he doesn’t need love or physical connection and gives him the name of a personal escort who specializes in creating custom fantasy scenarios for his clients.

The initial premise of the book — that Micah ends up asking Angel for one night to show him what it feels like to be loved — compelled me. This is the place where the book begins to step away from a common trope we’d be expecting in a romance about a lonely man calling an escort. How on earth was Angel going to pull this off?

I don’t want to give away the plot of the book, but I will say that this was the first of several turns the book took that elevated it from any expectations I had. I literally couldn’t put the book down — whenever I thought I could (mainly because my kids wanted to play or I had to make dinner) — I got sucked back in by a twist I didn’t see coming. It takes a great writer to pull this off effectively, while maintaining a believable chemistry and unfolding a relationship (or potential relationship).

There are many things I could praise Fierro for, but one in particular I wanted to single out: the way she handled Micah’s romantic history. It is incredibly hard to write about someone who has been burned by love without making it too cliched, too saccharine, or too expected. From the start I thought Micah’s heartbreak was going to be a story of a lost lover and longing for him. But it very much wasn’t. And what’s better, Fierro doesn’t just tell us what happened: she shows us slowly and organically. She doesn’t explicitly tell us that it Micah was emotionally manipulated or that he spent two years learning to believe that what he got — not much — was what love was, and what’s more painful, that that was the most love he could expect or deserved. Through this story, we get the privilege of watching Micah unpack this past in a natural progression that very much honors the real life work that is healing from an emotionally manipulative and painful relationship. Watching Micah learn just how much he’s worth and what love between two people can be — not just something he deserves, but something he has to give — felt like an honor.

This book is the perfect romantic read: well written, a plot that keeps you hooked, with a love story you can’t help but root for.

Also, high praise for her cover artist, who captured beautifully one of the highlights and themes of the book with her depiction of starlight behind the characters.

Love Starved is available for pre-order at the Interlude Press store, and will be released on April 21st. Order now and you’ll get the eBook bundle free with the purchase of the print book. For a chance to win a free copy of the book, enter giveaways here.

You can find Kate Fierro at Katefierro.com as well as @kate_fierro on twitter (which I recommend following, if only for her awesome daily plot bunny tweets!)

A case of the Sunday mornings

Oh my god, I just wrote a huge post and it got eaten. Fucking hell does that annoy me.

I doubt it would have been thrilling for you all, unless you have a hankering to hear about my real life, so we could do a little getting to know you thing. Speaking of which, should you have a burning desire to get to know me, you’ll learn that I quote movies and shows all the time. A *lot* of that might be quotes from Friends, which is like…the best thing ever. Hence, why I’m going to link you to this video. The quality is weird, but listen, old school musicals are just fantastic and if you haven’t seen this movie, do so. Yes, now. I once was in a production of The King and I, when I was ten. I even had a line: “And I do not believe Siam is this big”. I should have been an actress, I nailed the tone perfectly.

Winning.

I thought I’d use this space today to warn of of things you *might* be seeing on this blog that aren’t book related. Me talking about pop culture things, particularly TV shows I watch or songs I am obsessed with. I’ll talk about the *crazy* of my life, including the adventure of life with a threeteen year old (Yes, three. It’s a crazy age) and pantsing squirrel adventures (more on that later!).  Also, books I am reading. I read like crazy, especially when I’m not in school. You can always scroll down to see what I’ve recently reviewed on Goodreads, but I’ll always link in the blog post when I talk about what I’m reading.

Right now I’m enjoying Tea Rose, by Jennifer Donnelley. The prose style is fantastic, and I’m really interested to see what happens. I’ve only just started. The print is TINY though, fuck I’m so old (33) I can’t read it easily. I’m also re-reading Forever Man by A.J. DeWall. I love that story so much, I’ve read it several times. If you haven’t read it, I’m going to light a fire under you because fuck it’s great. (I won’t literally light a fire, I’m such a pacifist).

Today I have to see if the hubs is willing to watch the kids alone before going to work so I can buckle down on two projects I have looming deadlines for. I have a badass case of The Sunday Mornings though. Tonight is a party, and I’ll be making Sangria, so that’ll be lovely to look forward to as a reward.

Review: Load the Dice, by Moriah Gemel

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Episode 1: “Blind Bet”

“Whatever you’ve read, Jamie?” Eric says. “Forget it.”

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I’m going to pull out some tidbits from this preview because there was some intelligent and articulate stuff about BDSM said here that I really think will benefit those reading who might not be sure about the culture. 

“As someone interested in BDSM culture and the powerful bonds and experiences that can be shared between its participants, I recognize that these misconceptions can be frustrating and even potentially harmful.”… I do feel there’s a certain level of responsibility on the part of the author to try to portray the culture, its participants, and the activities that take place all in an honest light – if only to avoid perpetuating misinformation.

The dedication [Gemel] has to sharing information, and the respect she has for BDSM culture, there is truly no one I would trust more with a story like this than Moriah herself.” 

Personally, I could not recommend this book more. Even if you don’t think BDSM might be your thing, I encourage you to give the first installment a try — more than one person has commented that this book has swayed their opinion or interest in reading BDSM romance.