Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: Thick Love (Thin Love #2) by Eden Butler

 Thick Love (Thin Love, #2)

Author: Eden Butler

Genre: NA | Contemporary Romance
Release Date: August 31, 2015

Hosted by As the Pages Turn
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Synopsis
He doesn’t ask their names.
He doesn’t deserve to know them.
Ransom Riley Hale’s friends think his life is charmed: first string as a freshman on a championship-winning college football team. A father with two Super Bowl rings. A mother with platinum albums and multiple Grammies under her belt. But that brilliant shine on the surface hides the darkness beneath; it’s all Ransom has ever known.
Despite the shadows he walked in, once there was a blinding light fracturing the darkness. It brought the promise of hope and happiness. He’d been careless, filled with pride and stupidity and lost that light. Ripped it from the world.
Now, the shadows are dimming again. Aly King surges into his life threatening to pull him from the darkness. She is everything Ransom can never be again. Her light feels too warm, promises him that there is more waiting for him beyond the shadows.
But the shadows are relentless, resurfacing when he thinks he is safe, and Ransom knows he must keep Aly from them too before he pulls her down into the darkness with him.
Purchase Thick Love
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Thick Love – Excerpt

“Dance with me,” I said. He only stared up at me blankly.
“I don’t feel like practicing.”
“I’m not asking you to practice. I’m asking you to dance.”
Ransom’s body stiffened when I picked up his hand, but he didn’t fight me. “Just be here with me. Me and you and the music.”
We came together in the center of my living room with that slow, soothing music wrapping around us. There was no Kizomba, no prequel to a seduction we both wanted to avoid. There was just Ransom bending low, arms around me, hand taking mine to hold against his chest. After a few seconds, the tension lessened, and his body did not feel as rigid. It felt peaceful, and safe, and simple—just two people, holding each other, swaying to the music.
His mouth hovered near my forehead and as we moved together with no form or practiced steps, Ransom’s grip on my waist got tighter. “I wish I could breathe again. I want that so bad.” The words were whispered, low.
I closed my eyes, reminding myself that I couldn’t touch him.
“Ransom. You can.”
He looked down at me and right then I saw just how lost he was. This realization didn’t come from flippant comments he made to me or desperate excuses I overheard him make. It was all there right in his eyes—the loneliness, the pain, as though each mistake he’d made was etched into the rise of his cheekbones and the worried, faint lines on his forehead. He was still drifting; he had been drifting for so damn long.
The pain in his eyes drew me in. There was nothing I could say that would make his hurt lessen. There was nothing that would take him from the lingering sorrow he’d created for himself. So I didn’t speak, didn’t give him advice I knew he’d never take. I just watched Ransom’s eyes, and felt the slow way he moved. And then with my hand on the back of his neck, I pulled his face towards me, I took his lips, kissing him, pouring into that kiss everything I’d held back from him since we first met.
This is who I am. This is what I want. That voice came from someplace hidden and secret inside me.
It was minutes, minutes of nothing but my mouth on his, nothing but two people finding solace in each other, before
I realized I’d messed up.
He didn’t seem to want me to pull away, but didn’t stop me when I did. Shaking my head, I smoothed the collar on his shirt, unable to look at him. “I’m…modi, Ransom, I’m sorry.”
Ransom pulled my chin up and smoothed his thumb over my cheek, down the slope of my chin before he returned his attention to my eyes. “I don’t think I am.”
It was a moment I thought I’d always wanted. Him looking at me like I was real, like he saw me, finally saw me. I’d seen that look once before, just as Ransom whispered my name and kissed me over and over the first time. It wasn’t the look of someone hopeless. It was open and raw and I realized right then that I’d give anything for Ransom to never stop looking at me.
But this was against our rules. This wasn’t how we were supposed to be. I took his hand, thought of pulling it away from my face but didn’t have the strength, liked how it felt on my face too much. “Friends don’t kiss, Ransom.”
A small nod, and his eyes narrowed. His grip around me tightened. The music around us swelled. “No, they don’t,” he said, still touching my face, inching closer and I knew, right then, he was definitely not my friend.

What I thought about Thick Love

I knew going into this that Ransom's story wasn't going to be an easy one.  He's impulsive, sometimes angry, not always rational, much like his parents at that age. When the book opens, he's locked down tight with guilt, so tight that he's unable to function. Oh, he goes through the motions but he really isn't living.

Then there's Aly.  She's in love with Ransom and he doesn't know it, and she's wise enough to understand that getting tangled up with him wouldn't do her good either.  She values the struggle she had to get where she is, but in the end, she's drawn to Ransom and he's drawn to her.  There are some lovely and sweet flirting scenes between them, and when he helps her with her audition, these scenes are just a beautiful depiction of falling in love.

I loved Aly -- she was a woman in love and a woman finding her strengths and those two things didn't always work well together, which Eden Butler showed very well with Aly questioning following her love or logic.

But Ransom's guilt becomes a bit oppressive after a while, and I was waiting for him to cut himself a break. It made me think this is what Kona must have been like after Luka's tragedy.  

It was great to get a view of Kiera and Kona and their growing family and Kona was a breath of fresh air in this tale. I wished he could have helped Ransom more.  I was waiting for that one conversation that Eden Butler delivers that just knocks my socks of with its honesty and emotion but it got sidetracked here with another crisis. 

Thick Love just didn't flow for me like other Eden Butler books, and I don't know if that was because of Ransom's dark point of view or just a missed opportunity for tightening things up.  There's more  internal narration than action sequences -- it's really about Ransom dealing with some significant demons. I liked how those demons are gradually revealed, but I thought the pacing was a bit uneven in the beginning. Even with these minor issues, I still loved this story.

As for the ending... I LOVED IT!  It's a chapter I want to read again,it was so unexpected and the circumstances rang true for me. Trying not to spoil here because I think it's one of the most significant moments in the book.

I love this series.  The characters are unique and they deal with some scary emotions like anger and guilt in an honest way. I thought this story suited Ransom very well and it made sense that it was different than Kona's book, but yet there were some threads tying them together. 

Recommended. 

ARC provided for review.


Giveaway

(1) $20 gift card (Amazon or B&N) (Intl)
(1) Signed set of Thin Love series (US only)

(1) eBook set of Thin Love series (Intl)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Books in the Thin Love Series


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About Eden Butler

Eden Butler PicEden Butler is an editor and writer of New Adult Romance and SciFi and Fantasy novels and the nine-times great-granddaughter of an honest-to-God English pirate. This could explain her affinity for rule breaking and rum. Her debut novel, a New Adult, Contemporary (no cliffie) Romance, “Chasing Serenity” launched in October 2013 and quickly became an Amazon bestseller.

When she’s not writing or wondering about her possibly Jack Sparrowesque ancestor, Eden edits, reads and spends way too much time watching rugby, Doctor Who and New Orleans Saints football.

She is currently imprisoned under teenage rule alongside her husband in southeast Louisiana.

Please send help.

Release Day Excerpt & Giveaway: Uneasy in New Orleans by Carol Carson

UiNO_BlitzBadge
It’s a Big Easy Mystery with
Uneasy In New Orleans
UNEASY IN NEW ORLEANS has everything you love about the French Quarter, delicious food, sexy men, mystery, gossip, trouble, and dead bodies…Well maybe not all of what people love about the city. However Finnigan Jones is dealing with all of these things and more.

UNEASY IN NEW ORLEANS is the first in a new series called the Big Easy Mysteries from multi-published author Carol Carson.

To learn more about Carol Carson and her books check out her new website!

Giveaway:

Grand Prize: 2 Winners Will Receive 2 $35 gift card to Amazon or B&N

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Read on for an excerpt from 
Uneasy In New Orleans



Uneasy in New Orleans
About UNEASY IN NEW ORLEANS
FINNIGAN JONES HAS A PASSION FOR COOKING AND
A PENCHANT FOR TROUBLE.
Dead bodies aren’t on Finn’s New Orleans walking tour of cemeteries and haunted houses. Ditto disappearing bodies. Now she has to explain to Detective Jack Boyle how her missing corpse has turned up in the Mississippi putting her smack-dab in the middle of a murder investigation.

Unfortunately, another of Finn’s odd jobs is taking questionable photos for Jack’s PI brother, Tommy. After she snaps shots of a dubious pair of lovebirds, they stalk her, then kidnap her. Now Finn’s dealing with two lunatics intent on killing her. Or driving her crazy. She’s not sure which.

Because lunatics and smokin’-hot brothers aren’t enough trouble, she’s gossiping, yes gossiping, with a chef ghost at culinary school, cat-sitting her aunt’s six felines and attempting to corral her wayward teenage sister.
All Finn wants is to survive school and become the best chef in the world.

FINN’S LIFE IS ABOUT TO GET EVEN MORE COMPLICATED.

EXCERPT


"Yep." She knelt again, then caressed his cheek. "Can I do anything to make you more comfortable?"


"Kiss me."

Her heart lurched. "What?"

"Kiss me. It'll take my mind off the pain."

Without even thinking about it, she leaned over and pressed her lips to his. He reached one arm around her neck, pulled her close and kissed her in return. Using his tongue and lips with proficiency, he didn't kiss like a man in pain. He kissed like a man looking for more. He massaged her neck with one hand, his other came around to hold her waist. He smelled clean, tasted of Coke and kissed like a champion.

She quivered from her girly parts all the way down to her toes. Wow. Who knew?

She couldn't have been more surprised if he'd gotten up and performed the River Dance.

When the sound of sirens echoed in the distance, he dropped his hand from her neck and whispered in her ear, "Finn, honey, I feel like I could run a marathon."

She sat back on her heels, her lips tingling, her breath catching in her throat. "Glad I could help."

He chuckled, struggling to sit up. She put her arm around his shoulder and helped him. "Better?"

"This is embarrassing." He slanted an eye at her, his mouth quirking in a crooked smile. "What'll the paramedics say?"

She patted his back, attempting to regain her equilibrium after a kiss that left her reeling. "Hey, it could have happened to anyone and besides, it was all my fault.

Falling down those steps, you're lucky you didn't break your neck, both legs, and half a dozen other bones. You've got nothing to be embarrassed about."

He grinned, then spread both hands over the bulge in his lap. "I wasn't talking about my damned leg."        


On Sale in Digital Now:
Add UNEASY IN NEW ORLEANS to your TBR pile on Goodreads!
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Author Bio:
Multi-published author Carol Carson was born and raised in central Iowa. She is a former finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart contest and is an avid bookworm who actually enjoys doing research. Her other passions include travel, American history, the Kansas City Chiefs, the St. Louis Cardinals and dark chocolate. She has lived in Colorado and Kansas, and currently lives with her husband in a log home on the outskirts of St. Louis, Missouri. Write to her at carol.carson@centurytel.net or check out her website at carolcarsonbooks.com
Connect with Carol: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

Monday, August 31, 2015

Release Day Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: The Dogs by Allan Stratton



The Dogs
By Allan Stratton
September 1, 2015
; ISBN 9781492609384

Book Info:
Title: The Dogs
Author: Allan Stratton
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Praise for The Dogs:


“Stratton masterfully constructs a creepy gothic setting…A monstrous, stalking father, unhinging nightmares, a ghostly boy, wild dogs, and a moldy basement add creepy deliciousness to a murder mystery and tale of a boy who, in trying to solve a mystery, may just discover what a loving family might be. An engrossing blend of murder mystery and family story.” –Kirkus STARRED Review
 
"There’s fear aplenty in Allan Stratton’s The Dogs and a tantalizingly uncertain element of the supernatural… refreshingly like an old-fashioned mystery, but the passion and terror underlying (our hero's) own family give it emotional complexity and suspense." - Toronto Star 

“A real page-turner... [The Dogs] stayed with me for days, author Allan Stratton having created an unsettled aura the likes of which Alfred Hitchcock and Stephen King routinely built into their work, too... Stratton’s depiction of setting and characters is masterful, and his ability to create tension and keep readers on edge is equally strong.” – Montreal Gazette

“A chilling tale of a mother and son on the run, from the author of the award-winning Chanda’s Secrets…Written in accessible prose, The Dogs manages to thrill while exploring the mindset of the victim in ways that are both insightful and affecting, artfully portraying permanent state of dread and a creeping self-doubt. This is an accomplished, gripping and thoughtful story, whose dramatic ending delivers on every level.” –The Guardian


“Brilliant, page-turning, and eerie. Had me guessing to the very end.” –Joseph Delaney, author of The Last Apprentice series.

“An Agatha Christie mystery novel on cocaine” –SLJ Teen Newsletter

Summary:

Constantly on the run from a dangerous father, Cameron’s used to pushing away the trauma of his past. But when his mother moves them to an old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, he discovers that there are some things you can’t escape.

His new schoolmates taunt him about the bloodthirsty dogs that supposedly haunt the farm, and Cameron soon stumbles upon a child’s drawings in the cellar that depict a violent history. The line between reality and nightmare begins to blur as the house’s horrifying secrets mix with fragments of Cameron’s own memories—some best left forgotten.

 
Goodreads Link


Buy Links:


iBooks  || !ndigo  || Indiebound  

Excerpt from The Dogs:

I go up to my bedroom. It’s at the top of the living-­room stairs, next to a small bathroom and near the big room over the kitchen. That’s the room Mom thought I’d pick, and I would have, except for the trapdoor in the ceiling. It’s sealed up with nails and paint. When I saw it, I asked Mom what she thought was up there.

“An attic.”

“Yeah, but what’s in it?” I pictured a dried-­up body, half eaten by mice. I mean, who seals up an empty attic? Anyway, that’s why I didn’t choose the big room. If I don’t see the hatch, it’s easier not to think about what’s on the other side.

The bedroom I picked came with an oak desk, a wooden chair, a night table with a lamp, and a metal-­frame bed. The mattress is new, unlike the wallpaper, which is stained and peeling along the seams near the window. Under the peels are layers of older wallpaper, one with little orange canaries on it.

The window over my desk is the one good thing about my room. Looking out, I can see the barn with the fields all around and the woods in the distance. At night, the stars and the glow of the porch-­lamp light up bits of the barn and the first row of cornstalks.

I start to do my homework. Pretty soon, though, I’m looking out the window, watching the stars come out and trying to forget my life. I wonder who all are staring up at the moon right now. Are they wondering the same thing?

Out of the corner of my eye, I catch something moving by the barn. When I look, it disappears. Wait. There it is again at the cornfield. Some movement, some thing.

I count to twenty. Nothing. I relax. Then—­did that stalk move? I turn off my light so whatever’s out there can’t see in.

It’s probably just a breeze.

Or Mr. Sinclair. Or Cody and his gang.

Don’t be nuts. If it’s anything, it’s an animal. A coyote or a dog.

The dogs. I close my curtains. If I don’t look out, whatever’s there will go away. But I can’t not look. I sneak a peek. Nothing. Wait. By the barn. Is that a boy?

I blink. The boy is gone.

My eyes scan the barn. There’s a missing board up in the loft area. The more I stare, the more I think I see the boy staring back at me from the shadows behind the hole. He’s maybe ten, very pale, and he’s wearing one of those old Davy Crockett hats with the raccoon tail hanging from the back. Are those freckles on his cheeks?

Don’t be crazy. The barn’s too far away to see stuff like that.

The face disappears. I stare till I see double. The face swims back into view.

This is too weird. I close my eyes and try to clear my head by thinking about the bus and the Cheerios between Benjie’s teeth. When I open my eyes, everything’s normal. There’s no face. Nothing. Just the night.

And that’s how it stays.

I close my curtains, get ready for bed, and crawl under the covers. I hate the way I scare myself. It’s always the same and it’s always stupid. And the scared-­er I get, the more I talk to myself, which is even stupider.

Besides, even if there was a boy in the barn, what’s scary about that? Maybe he just likes exploring places like I do. Still, it’s weird he’s on our property, especially so late. I wonder where he lives.

Who says he lives anywhere? Who says he’s real? What parents let a kid that young wander around at night?

Mom knocks on my door. “Cameron?”

“Yeah?”

“May I come in?”

“Sure.”

I know she wants to give me a good-­night hug, but I told her to stop it when I was twelve, so she just stands in the doorway. “I know you didn’t mean anything. You’ve had a hard day. I’m sorry I overreacted.”

I hate it when she’s all understanding. It makes me feel like an even bigger jerk. “That’s okay. Mom, I really am sorry.”

“I know.” She pauses. “’Night, then. I love you.”

I want to say the l-­word back, but I feel dumb, so I just say,
“You too.”

Mom closes the door. I go to turn off my lamp and get flashes of Mr. Sinclair and the dogs and the kid I maybe saw in the barn. What’s out there in the dark, circling the house when we’re asleep? What could be out there?

I leave the light on.

What I thought about The Dogs
Every now and then I get the urge to read a good ghost story, and this one looked interesting.  Since I also read mostly female romance authors, I was interested in reading something really different from what I've been reading. I was not disappointed. 

The book opens with Cameron and his mom moving yet again to avoid discovery by Cameron's abusive father.  They move miles away to an old farm house in a very rural area.  This book gets creepy right from the start, with a basement full of boxes, a strange neighbor, and the boys on the school bus calling Cameron dog food.

Cameron is intrigued by the history of the house, especially when he find some artwork in a folder in the old coal room in the basement. The pictures tell a story and Cameron starts to ask questions. Things get even more serious when a spectre of a boy his age comes to talk to him, dropping little clues about what happened at the house like breadcrumbs on a trail.  

When Cameron's investigation gets him in trouble and the some of the truth is revealed to his mother, she's naturally concerned that what is happening is a manifestation of the stress of being on the run from Cameron's father.  But is it?  Or is Cameron's mom the one exaggerating their danger?  I loved the parallel stories here and the ongoing doubt about just what was happening in the present and what had happened in the past. Was Cameron going crazy? Or did something serious happen at that farmhouse? Is Cameron's dad a good guy ... or not?

The Dogs is a bit mystery and a bit ghost story. I like them both. Even though it didn't give me the creeps as much as wanting to know what really happened to the McTavish boy, I really enjoyed this story.  I like a good ghost story and The Dogs held my interest until the end.  I especially like how Cameron went about solving the mystery.  A word of warning that there are mature themes in this, such as the  subject matter of infidelity and abuse and this book is definitely for the older YA audience. 

So if you are interested in an intriguing ghost story with a nicely crafted mystery, this might be the book for you.

ARC provided for review.

Giveaway
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About the Author:

Allan Stratton is an internationally published playwright and author. His awards include a Michael L. Printz Honor Award, multiple ALA picks and the Independent Publisher Book Award.

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