Friday, 30 August 2013

Reaper by L.S. Murphy

About the Author:

L.S. Murphy lives in the Greater St. Louis area where she watches Cardinals baseball, reads every book she can find, and weaves tales for teens and adults. When not doing all of the above, she tends to The Bean (aka her daughter), her husband and a menagerie of pets.

She is a member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and the St. Louis Writer’s Guild.

Contact L.S. Murphy:




Title: Reaper

L.S. Murphy

Genre:  YA Paranormal

Page Count:  212

Published:  January 7th 2013 by J. Taylor Publishing

Book Description: 
There's no way sixteen year old Quincy Amarante will become the fifth grim reaper. None. Not over her shiny blue Mustang. Her Jimmy Choos. Or her dead body.

She’s supposed to enjoy her sophomore year, not learn about some freaky future Destiny says she has no choice but to fulfill.

It doesn’t take long for Quincy to realize the only way out of the game is to play along especially since Death can find her anyway, anywhere, anytime. And does.

Like when she’s reassuring her friends she wants nothing to do with former best friend Ben Moorland, who’s returned from god-knows-where, and fails. Miserably.

Instead of maintaining her coveted popularity status, Quincy’s goes down like the Titanic.

Maybe ... just maybe ... that’s okay.

It seems, perhaps, becoming a grim reaper isn’t just about the dead but more about a much needed shift in Quincy’s priorities—from who she thinks she wants to be to who she really is.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Stage Fright by Michelle Scott

Stage FrightStage Fright by Michelle Scott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After a nightmare of an audition that chases her off the stage, Cassie is back in the theater working behind the scenes. But plagued by nightmares and unexplainable crippling fear, Cassie is determined to find out just what happened to her the last time she was on stage. Enter dark and mysterious Isaiah, and Cassie's life may never be the same.

Being a fan of Michelle Scott's previous work, I was excited to see the release of her newest novel, Stage Fright. I always say the characters make a story, and in this case they did not disappoint. I positively love Cassie. She is smart, tough, and passionate, but she is very human, which is her best quality. She is not perfect – but she realizes this and doesn't try to be something she's not. The story is written from Cassie's point of view, and her head was a fun place to be. What then can I say about Andrew? Every girl needs a friend like him. He is a great friend to Cassie, and they complement each other's personalities. Isaiah is a bit enigmatic, but that of course is part of his charm. Together with his sidekick, Perry, they save the world, one damsel in distress at a time. I love Isaiah, especially once he starts opening up a bit, but Perry is definitely the fun one of the group.

The concept of the book is unique with just enough mystery, suspense, and intrigue to make me keep guessing to the end. There were a lot of other characters in this novel besides those mentioned above, and their lives were so intertwined I never knew who Cassie should be trusting – in the end I guess it is probably better not to trust anyone because no one is as they seem.

Thank you to the author for providing me with a copy of this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will be looking for more in the series.

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Friday, 23 August 2013

Pieces of Me by Ann Garner

Pieces of MePieces of Me by Ann Garner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pieces of Me is about learning to love, and learning to trust – others as well as yourself. It is about picking up the broken pieces and trying to make them fit together to create a whole again.

And you carefully gather the pieces of yourself. You collect them together in your mind. The old pieces, the new pieces, the ones that are too shattered for you to tell what they are. You collect them and hold them close. You will need these pieces one day.

Delaney is a fabulous but heartbreaking character. She moved across the country to go to college in an attempt to get away from her past, but because the past was in her head she never really truly could put it behind her. We watch her through the story as she tries to make herself over into a new person so she can attempt to be a "normal" teenage girl again, but the memories of her past continually get in her way.

Grace is the kind of friend every girl needs. She is fun and outgoing and tries to help Delaney come out of her shell. Sometimes she may push too far, but only because she cares and cannot really understand what Delaney was going through. But how could she? Grace had everything in life Delaney didn't, a loving home, a great family, and a really great guy.

Cole…holy crap what to say about Cole? He is the kind of guy your momma warned you about. He doesn't "do" relationships and is all about moving from one girl to the next. However, he's not your typical "bad boy" screw 'em and leave 'em type of character, which I think is what I love most about him. He is honest about what he wants and is open, friendly, and a lot of fun.

I truly believe that the characters make the story. Besides the three mentioned above, the rest of the supporting characters were all made interesting and engaging as well. Each brought their own personality to the story and helped it come together into a meaningful narrative. And, while the story told here is not new, the author's execution of the tale was fabulous. Not only did Ann Garner do a wonderful job creating her characters, the rest of the story, the setting, the mood, and just all the small detail, was great as well. The underlying theme of the story was dark and painful, but the author was able to turn it into something beautiful. There was so much emotion infused in the story - I will warn you that it is definitely a tear jerker, so be prepared, but it also had its laugh out loud moments as well.

As a first book for Ann Garner I would say this one is a winner. I have no idea what she has planned for the future, but I really would love to see more of her characters (Robby anyone?). So I would just like to wish you good luck and say thank you for the opportunity to read your story.

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Monday, 19 August 2013

When Smiles Fade by Paige Dearth

About the Author:

Born and raised in Plymouth Meeting, a small town west of Philadelphia, Paige Dearth was a victim of child rape and spent her early years yearning for a better life. To escape the unwanted attentions of her molester, a pedophile uncle who lived with the family, she married at the age of nineteen and moved with her new husband to Chula Vista, California. After two years of marriage during which she struggled to make ends meet, she became pregnant, only to discover that her husband was a heroin addict. Paige waited for the birth of her daughter and when the baby was just eight months old, moved back to Pennsylvania. With no formal education or money to fall back on, she courageously set out to pick up the pieces of her shattered life and make it whole once more.

Living through the fear and isolation of her youth, Paige developed the ability to create stories that would help her cope and finally put them to use by embarking on a series of novels. BELIEVE LIKE A CHILD, the author’s debut offering, is the darkest version of who she could have become, had fate not intervened in the nick of time.

WHEN SMILES FADE Paige’s second novel is a tale of endurance, perseverance, courage and the overwhelming desire of one child to fight back.

Paige’s novels always present a fine balance between what lives on in her imagination and the evil that lurks in the real world.


See all of Paige Dearth's books

Title: When Smiles Fade

Author: Paige Dearth

Published: January 23, 2013

Page Count: 470

Emma was unloved from the moment she was born. Her earliest memory is being severely beaten by her father, Pepper Murphy, when she was eight-years-old. Seething with resentment over the sacrifice of his dreams for a woman he cares little about and children he never wanted, Pepper chooses to blame his oldest daughter. Her mother, Valerie, makes matters worse with her verbal abuse, leaving Emma isolated with a man that had no boundaries in punishing his daughter, taking his abuse to unimaginable levels.

Emma's father's coldblooded beatings and the ultimate abuse to which he subjects her, lays the foundation of the person she becomes. As she matures into a resourceful teenager, she is unwilling and unable to stifle her desire for revenge. Reaching her breaking point she can no longer control the impulse to fight back and finally takes matters into her own hands.

Having learned the art of hatred from her father and the mastery of manipulation from her mother, young Emma now sets out to make a better life for herself, leaving the memory of the abused child she had once been behind her. Hardened by the heartless brutality she encounters and the dangerous situations she must overcome in the course of her journey, she faces every challenge that comes her way in her quest for a normal life for herself and for those she loves.

Finally a person emerges from within that guides her toward a better life until she learns of a secret that sets her on the path of ultimate redemption.

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5 out of 5 stars
Paige Dearth has a way of writing about tough subjects that most people either gloss over or simply skip altogether. She does not pretty it up; she just writes what needs to be said. And although the books she writes are fiction, I have no doubt that there are girls and women out in the world who can relate to what she is not afraid to write about.

When Smiles Fade is the story of Emma, a young girl growing up in an unloving, abusive family. Her father blamed her for his own mistakes; her mother lived in a fantasy world. The only love she receives is from her little sister, Grace, who she tries to protect from the worst of the abuse. Years of abuse leave Emma untrusting and wary, and her choices in the years to come reflect those feelings. While Emma does not always make the right choices, she makes the ones she can live with and she feels are the best for her and those she loves.

Once again, Paige Dearth's characters come alive in this book. The emotion she is able to elicit from her characters and pass on through her words is incredible. I love how the characters' lives in this story intertwined with the characters from her previous story, Believe Like a Child. While the two books are completely stand alone, the story lines overlap, and it was fun to see the interaction between the two.

While this book is not for the faint of heart, I am once again glad that I had the chance to read it. A story like this sticks with you long after the last page and makes you grateful for the life you have.

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Title: Believe Like a Child

Author: Paige Dearth

Published: June 22, 1011

Page Count: 426

Alessa is just seven years old when her uncle rapes her for the first time. As the years pass, his sexual appetite becomes more voracious and his perversion more twisted, until the abuse has become almost a daily ritual, with the unspoken involvement of the girl's mother.

At the age of sixteen, after the death of her only friend, Alessa finds herself at the mercy of her real-life monster, with no relief in sight. She flees her home to escape this hell, only to find herself descending into a more dangerous one. Alone and helpless in the streets of North Philadelphia, she encounters more human predators who want to take over her life and devour her. About to hit rock bottom, Alessa manages to break away from her new tormentors and finds refuge in a shelter for homeless and abused women.

Wherever she goes, however, trouble keeps seeking her out, until she meets three people who change the course of her life forever. Though Alessa's bittersweet journey is perpetually fraught with challenges, she does, nevertheless, manage to find fleeting moments of joy along the way. But as she begins to settle down, a ghost from the past comes to haunt her again, threatening to destroy the very foundation of her small world and plunging her back into an abyss of despair, until she makes her final bid for escape.

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5 out of 5 stars
Believe Like a Child is the story of Alessa, a young girl who has been sexually, physically, and emotionally abused her whole life. The story starts out right in the first paragraph when Alessa was 7 years old and is being raped by her uncle. We get to watch her over the next few years as she grows up so we understand her background and where she's coming from so that later in the story we can maybe empathize and understand some of the decisions she makes throughout her life.

I'm not quite sure where to even start with this book. I knew just from the book description that this would not be a light, easy read, and boy was I right. It was an emotional rollercoaster, going through each and every emotion you could possibly think of with such rapid succession at times it made my mind spin. At times this book had me laughing out loud, and the next chapter over I would be in tears. It was an engrossing read that I found hard to put down. I just had to know what was going to happen next.

The characters were amazingly written. Alessa was so easy to love as a person. There were times I just wanted to be able to reach into the book and hug her or help her or just tell her it was going to be okay. Watching her go through her struggles and making the decisions she did sometimes based her low self-worth was heart wrenching, and the ending…wow! Definitely not what I thought was going to happen. I won't say anything else about it here because there's nothing I can say that won't give too much away…I'll just leave it at wow!

The third person narrative really worked in that we got to see so many different perspectives, some just for a short time, but those were times where there were things that we really needed to see from a different perspective. As I was reading the book, I was pretty sure I was going to give it a four-star rating rather than five-star, simply because the dialogue did not flow as nicely as I would have liked it to. It seemed just choppy and not realistic, but the more I read the easier it got to read and I did not notice it as much. It also seemed to fit it well with the overall feeling of the story.

The only thing that I was questioning is the time setting of the story. I would love to know what year this is supposed to be set in. Most of the time I thought it was pretty current, as the characters had cell phones and there were other things to make me think that it was a contemporary setting, but at the same time minimum wage was only $3.35, which confused me.

The topics in this book are not things that are usually written about openly and candidly. I think that is one of the things I enjoyed so much about Believe Like a Child, the frank and genuine openness of it. Overall, I enjoyed this story very, very much and am glad I had the opportunity to read it.

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Thursday, 15 August 2013

That First Kiss by J.C. Valentine

That First Kiss (Night Calls, #2)That First Kiss by J.C. Valentine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

That First Kiss is a fun, sexy story full of humor and emotional ups and downs. Piper is in desperate need of a job, and after landing her last hope she goes out with the girls to celebrate. A few drinks and a hot and heavy encounter with Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome later, Piper is ready to get serious about her new career. That is until she walks in on her first day to find her new boss is Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome.

I liked Piper a lot. She was strong willed, confident, stubborn and not afraid to tell off Tate when he got out of line. She knew what she wanted out of life and was not afraid to go after it. Tate was completely charming and sexy when he wanted to be and a complete jerk the rest of the time. He was demanding and kept everyone at a distance. But when you get them together, watch out! I loved the interactions between Tate and Piper. They had definite chemistry from first site. Their working relationship was obviously edgy as they tried to keep it professional – well, at least Piper tried to keep it professional. Of course, the incredible sexual tension between the two did not help her at all. Throughout the story their relationship was all over the place. One never knew from one scene to the next what the other would want – minds would change, feelings would get hurt, and then it would start all over again. It was too hard to keep track of it all. All you need to know to read the story is that it was a fun read.

I should mention that though this is the second book in the series, it can be read as a stand alone.  I did not read the first book and did not lose anything from the story because of it.  However, I am going to go back now and read it now just so I know Poppy and Felix's beginning! 

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

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Saturday, 10 August 2013

Silencing Joy by Amy Rachiele

Silencing JoySilencing Joy by Amy Rachiele
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Being a fan of Amy Rachiele's previous work, I went into Silencing Joy with high expectations. I was definitely not disappointed. Silencing Joy is an intriguing, complicated story. Through most of the story you have no idea who you should really be trusting and who is double-crossing. The good guys seem trustworthy, but then something happens to make you question them. It definitely makes you want to keep reading!

Joy is an art student, a photographer, who normally stays out of the spotlight and keeps people at a distance. After witnessing something she was not meant to see, Joy goes home feeling shaken but determined to put it behind her and forget it - until a few nights later when she returns home to find someone in her apartment. Now on the run for her life and not knowing who she can trust, Joy's world is flipped upsidedown and she is introduced to a whole new scene she never wanted any part of.

Each of the characters was well written and each brought their own personality to the story. Joy was a bit shy and reserved, but she was able to come out of her shell when a situation called for it. Her friend Jen was a lot of fun. She was loud and outspoken and was not afraid to let everyone know what was on her mind. She was also a great friend, standing by Joy when she needed her. The guys were all great, too, but I don't want to say too much about them for fear of giving away part of the plot!

The overall tone of this story was a bit on the darker side, touching on subjects such as drug use and human trafficking. The author did a great job, though, of incorporating these ideas into the storyline without making it somber. Though there was a lot of danger and suspense, there were moments that had me smiling and laughing as well. Overall, the story was well thought out and believable.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Tattoos: A Novel by Denise Mathew

Tattoos: A NovelTattoos: A Novel by Denise Mathew
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Marilee had a perfect life. Everything was going her way until the day she was diagnosed with cancer. After losing not only her health but the emotional support from her family and friends, she turns to Jax, a hospital volunteer. Jax was everything Marilee would have stayed away from Before Cancer – he had the bad boy looks and the bad boy attitude. Together they work to try to make a difference in their small corner of the world.

So this book was pretty much awesome. I liked Marilee, though I suspect if I would have met her Before Cancer I might not have. She had the kind of perfect life everyone dreams of. She never gave a thought to anyone else. Not to say she was a bad person – I really can't say since we really didn't get to see her before – but she seemed like your typical teenage girl, worrying about clothes, parties, boys, etc. Along with her diagnosis Marilee's life was changed in the way that only cancer can. Her future became murky, her priorities shifted, and she began to wonder what she would be leaving behind should she not make it through the treatments.

Jax was a nobody in Marilee's world – a hospital orderly sent in to clean up the mess left behind. However, when she took a good look at him he became so much more. I loved that they met when Marilee was at her worst. It is in this that we realize how wonderful he truly is. I do wish we would have gotten more of them together in the hospital. All of Marilee's treatment/sickness and their reactions to such were glossed over. It felt to me as part of their relationship was missing that I would have loved to see.

While I loved the romance in this story, there is so much to it than that. We see both Marilee and Jax grow as individuals as they try to use the resources at their disposal to help others. The emotions the author was able to put into these pages was amazing – I laughed, I cried (consider this a warning if you are reading in public or just applied mascara), and at one memorable moment I wanted to stop reading altogether because I knew what was coming and I wanted to stop it. I couldn't stop it and I didn't stop reading, and the ending made it all worth it.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Where I End and You Begin by Andra Brynn

Where I End and You BeginWhere I End and You Begin by Andra Brynn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

On the verge of failing out of college, Bianca is faced with getting help or returning home – the last place she wants to go. When she enters his life like a storm, Daniel sees the opportunity to help someone in need, but Bianca is pretty sure she can't be helped.

Bianca is a ghost of herself. She feels alone in the world. She drinks herself numb so she does not have to think and has sex with any guy willing to feel connected and loved, if only for a brief moment. The author does an exemplary job of bringing out Bianca's pain. I have never suffered from depression, but reading Bianca's thoughts and feelings and emotions I felt as if I completely understood her.

Daniel became a quiet presence in Bianca's whirlwind of a life. He is there when she needs him, never saying much, just being her quiet presence. He does not push her to change her life, but rather silently guides her into wanting to be a better person. Though dealing with his own inner struggles, Daniel never lets his smooth, calm mask slip out of place. Bianca and Daniel are perfect for each other. From the very beginning, he is the constant she needs in her life, and she is the chaos he needs in his.

The rest of the characters in the story were a great addition. They were able to contribute to the story and make it better for them being there rather than just being a secondary presence. You don't really think about that much when reading a book, but the secondary characters are very important and often fall flat. Bianca's roommates were a presence that gave her a reason to go on when she probably would not have otherwise.

There was so much depth to this story, and it was so beautifully written. The author has a way of weaving her words to create this stunning narrative. It is a love story, no doubt, but it is not overwhelmingly romance. The elements of dark depression and addiction are much more prominent, and the romance comes to play as a secondary role. Overall, I loved the story and am pleased I had the opportunity to read it.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

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