Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #77

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event splotlighting upcoming releases that we readers are eagerly anticipating and is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart
by Jenn Bennett
Publication Date: 11/3/15

From Goodreads:

Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she's spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Leonardo da Vinci’s footsteps, she's ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive . . . and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in Beatrix’s own family’s closet tear them apart?

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Release Day Blitz: FOREVER WITH YOU by Jennifer L. Armentrout

We are so excited to bring you the Release Week Blitz for Jennifer L. Armentrout's FOREVER WITH YOU! FOREVER WITH YOU is a standalone New Adult contemporary romance being released on September 29th, and is the fifth book in the Wait For You Series, published by Avon Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. Grab your copy of this incredible addition to Jennifer's Wait For You Series and see what everyone is talking about!


Blurb

In the irresistibly sexy series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout, two free spirits find their lives changed by a one-night stand…

Some things you just believe in, even if you've never experienced them. For Stephanie, that list includes love. It's out there. Somewhere. Eventually. Meanwhile she's got her job at the mixed martial arts training center and hot flings with gorgeous, temporary guys like Nick. Then a secret brings them closer, opening Steph's eyes to a future she never knew she wanted—until tragedy rips it away.

Nick's self-assured surface shields a past no one needs to know about. His mind-blowing connection with Steph changes all that. As fast as he's knocking down the walls that have kept him commitment-free, she's building them up again, determined to keep the hurt—and Nick—out. But he can't walk away. Not when she's the only one who's ever made him wish for forever . . .

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Excerpt

I cradled my drink as Cam sauntered back to the pool tables. My mind wasn’t made up on the whole visiting them thing yet. Maybe I would. Maybe I wouldn’t.

“Want another rum and coke?”

My lips curled up at the sound of Nick’s rich, deep voice. We’d been chatting on and off since I plopped my butt down on the stool, and he had seemed happy that I was there.

Total bonus points lottery with this guy.

“I’m good, but thanks.” The last thing I wanted to be was drunk. I smiled at him, pleased when his heavily hooded gaze dipped again. “Are you guys usually this busy on the weekend?”

I could see that small talk was something Nick excelled at, which made sense, considering his occupation. He was an equal opportunity charmer. Women flocked to him at the bar. The other bartender, the girl with the pink glasses, seemed to take it all in stride.

“Not sure if you really call this busy, but Saturdays usually bring a larger crowd.” He glanced down the bar before continuing. “So you went to school with them?” he asked, jerking his chin in the direction Cam had roamed off to.

“Yeah.” Leaning forward, I placed my elbows on the bar. “I had no idea they had connections here. Total surprise.”

“Small world,” he said, echoing my earlier thought. “But you’re not very close with them.”

It was a statement, not a question. “What makes you think that?”

“Well, if you were, I guess you’d be over there with them. Or …”

Nick was observant. “Or what?”

One side of his lips curled up as he folded his arms across his chest. The movement drew my attention. I was such a visual creature. Not that anyone would blame me right now. The black shirt he wore stretched around well-defined biceps. “Or you’d rather spend the time with me.”

The twisty motion in my belly cranked up a notch. “Am I that transparent?”

“In the best possible way.” He picked up a bottle. “I’m glad you did stop by. Every time the door opened last night, I looked up and hoped it was you.”

“Is that so?”

“I speak the truth.” His smile was lazy. “Did you finish unpacking?”

“Yep.”

“Were there any more rat bastard combinations?”

I laughed. “There were a few more.”

“Kind of mad I missed out on them.”

“There’s always later.” I toyed with my glass as I met and held his stare. “So, Nick, do you have a last name?”

“Blanco,” he replied after a brief hesitation. “Do you?”

“Keith.” I grinned as he unfolded those arms. “I have another question for you.”

Moving in, he placed his hands on the bar. “Ask away.”

“Do you have a girlfriend?” My breath caught a little when he leaned in suddenly. Our mouths were close enough that we were breathing the same tiny patch of oxygen. “Or a boyfriend?”

Nick didn’t bat an eyelash. “Nope to both. How about you?”

Bonus points explosion!

“None,” I said, welcoming the tingle that swirled down my spine as his breath warmed my lips.

He tilted his head to the side, lining up his mouth with mine with just a fraction of an inch between us. I started to feel a little flushed. “You have plans tonight, Stephanie Keith?” he asked, voice deeper and rougher.

I shook my head as my pulse tripped all over itself in a happy little dance.

Nick’s grin spread into the kind of smile I knew left a trail of women in its wake. “You do now.”

Praise for FOREVER WITH YOU:

“Armentrout packs a powerful emotional punch in her fifth Wait for You new adult contemporary (after Fall with Me)... Armentrout tugs at the heartstrings while delivering an intense, gripping tale.” –Publishers Weekly

“Armentrout presents an emotional installment in her Wait for You series…[she] does it again, presenting a fast-paced tearjerker that fans will devour.” –Booklist

And don’t miss the previous titles in the Wait for You Series!

Wait For You #1

Trust In Me #1.5

Be With Me #2

Stay With Me #3

Fall With Me #4

Dream Of You #4.5

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About Jennifer L. Armentrout


# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV.

She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

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Friday, September 25, 2015

October 2015 Releases

A Madness So Discreet Cover
A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
10/6/15

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Blurb

Grace Mae knows madness.

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us.

Gathering Deep Cover
Gathering Deep (Sweet Unrest) by Lisa Maxwell
10/8/15

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Blurb

When Chloe Sabourin wakes in a dark, New Orleans cemetery with no memory of the previous days, she can hardly believe the story her friends tell her. They say Chloe was possessed by a witch named Thisbe, who had used the darkest magic to keep herself alive for over a century. They tell her that the witch is the one responsible for the unspeakable murders that nearly claimed the life of Chloe's friend, Lucy. Most unbelievable of all, they say that Thisbe is Chloe’s own mother. As she struggles with this devastating revelation and tries to rebuilt her life, Chloe wants nothing to do with the magic that corrupted her mother…especially since she feels drawn to it.

Now, a new series of ritualistic killings suggests that Thisbe is plotting again, and Chloe is drawn unwillingly back into the mystical underworld of the French Quarter. To stop Thisbe before she kills again, Chloe and her friends must learn what they can from the mysterious Mama Legba. But when her boyfriend Piers vanishes, Chloe will have to risk everything and embrace her own power to save the one person she has left… even if that means bringing down her mother.

Always Second Best Cover
Always Second Best (Broken Dreams #2) by Elodie Nowodazkij
10/13/15

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Blurb

Seventeen-year-old ballerina Emilia Moretti is tired of always being second best. And she’s going to prove the world she deserves to be first. In her upcoming School of the Performing Arts showcase. In the eyes of her birth parents. And in the heart of the guy she loves. She spends hours rehearsing, hours dreaming about becoming number one, hours imagining how her entire life is about to change. But when nothing goes the way she planned, she’ll need to realize what it really means to be first.

Eighteen-year-old Nick Grawski doesn’t want to follow Daddy Dearest’s rules any longer. He's going to prove he's meant to be a dancer—not a lawyer—and he is not going to stay away from Em just because his father demands it. He needs to show Em that—this time around—he’s there to stay and that he won’t break her heart again. Even when her world goes down to shit, even when he finds out his dad may have been trying to protect him all along, even if being there for one another is harder than falling in love.

ALWAYS SECOND BEST is a novel of hope and heartbreak and broken dreams. It’s a novel about falling in love and discovering that being first isn’t always what matters.

The Immortal Heights Cover
The Immortal Heights (The Elemental Trilogy #3) by Sherry Thomas
10/13/15

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Blurb

In a pursuit that has spanned continents, Iolanthe, Titus, and their friends have always managed to remain one step ahead of the forces of Atlantis. But now the Bane, the monstrous tyrant who bestrides the entire mage world, has issued his ultimatum: Titus must hand over Iolanthe, or watch as his entire realm is destroyed in a deadly rampage. Running out of time and options, Iolanthe and Titus must act decisively to deliver a final blow to the Bane, ending his reign of terror for good.

However, getting to the Bane means accomplishing the impossible—finding a way to infiltrate his crypt in the deepest recesses of the most ferociously guarded fortress in Atlantis. And everything is only made more difficult when new prophecies come to light, foretelling a doomed effort....

Iolanthe and Titus will put their love and their lives on the line. But will it be enough?

With The Immortal Heights, Sherry Thomas brings the acclaimed Elemental Trilogy to its breathtaking conclusion.

Black Widow Cover
Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl
10/13/15

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Blurb

Enter the world of the Avengers' iconic master spy

Natasha Romanoff is one of the world's most lethal assassins. Trained from a young age in the arts of death and deception, Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room, Moscow's infamous academy for operatives.

Ava Orlova is just trying to fit in as an average Brooklyn teenager, but her life has been anything but average.The daughter of a missing Russian quantum physicist, Ava was once subjected to a series of ruthless military experiments-until she was rescued by Black Widow and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection. Ava has always longed to reconnect with her mysterious savior, but Black Widow isn't really the big sister type.

Until now.

When children all over Eastern Europe begin to go missing, and rumors of smuggled Red Room tech light up the dark net, Natasha suspects her old teacher has returned-and that Ava Orlova might be the only one who can stop him. To defeat the madman who threatens their future, Natasha and Ava must unravel their pasts. Only then will they discover the truth about the dark-eyed boy with an hourglass tattoo who haunts Ava's dreams. . . .

Black Widow:Forever Red features all the heart-pounding adventure readers expect from Marvel, written by #1 New York Times best-selling author Margaret Stohl. Uncover a new side of the Marvel Universe that will thrill loyal fans and newcomers alike, as Stohl reveals the untold story of Black Widow for the very first time.

Ice Like Fire Cover
Ice Like Fire (Snow Like Ashes #2) by Sara Raasch
10/13/15

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Blurb

It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell.

Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?

Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?

As the web of power and deception weaves tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter, but for the world.

Goddess Cover
Goddess (Calypso #2) by Julie Anne Lindsey
10/13/15

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Blurb

On the other side of death, is destiny.

Callie Ingram is spending her senior year focused on one thing: swimming. Her skill as a competitive swimmer is going to secure a scholarship and her future, or so she hopes. She has big plans, and Liam Hale, her gorgeous new neighbor, isn’t going to affect them. But when Callie sees Liam beheading someone, she learns his family has a secret that will change everything. The Hales are Vikings, demi-gods who’ve been charged by The Fates to find their new destined leader.

Callie’s caught in the middle of a budding Norse apocalypse, in love with Liam Hale and desperate to protect her best friend…who the Hales believe is marked for transformation. Putting the clues together as fast as she can, can discovers she has the power to rewrite destiny, for herself and all humankind.

Seek Me In Shadows Cover
Seek Me In Shadows (The Boundless Trilogy #2) by Danielle Ellison
10/20/15

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Blurb

Neely Ambrose thought she was done with secrets. When she escaped the Compound, she also believed she’d escaped a future built on lies and deceit. She was wrong; the world outside isn’t much better. In fact, it may be worse.

All Neely wants is to safely deliver the people of the Compound into Remnant camps so she can go start a life of her own with Thorne. But that’s before the Remnants start dying around her, before camps are destroyed just after she’s left them, before she notices a strange bird carving at the site of each attack, and before Thorne is taken.

The Mavericks believe Thorne is dead, taken by the Elders who will stop at nothing to find Neely, but she’s determined to prove them wrong.

But the only clue she has to find him is a bird carved into the last place where anyone saw Thorne. As she starts a journey to find him, she learns the birds are a symbol for a secret group that’s made a home in the shadows. A group that even Xenith doesn’t know about, that the Remnants won’t talk about, and that Neely feels may have a plan of their own — and that plan may involve her.

Illuminae Cover
Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
10/20/15

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Blurb

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Persuasion Cover
Persuasion (The Heirs of Watston Island #2) by Martina Boone
10/27/15

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Blurb

Romeo and Juliet meets The Raven Boys in the spellbinding second novel in the Heirs of Watson Island trilogy that “skillfully blends rich magic and folklore with adventure, sweeping romance, and hidden treasure” (Publishers Weekly, on Compulsion).

Grieving the death of her godfather and haunted by her cousin Cassie’s betrayal, Barrie returns from a trip to San Francisco to find the Watson plantation under siege. Ghost-hunters hope to glimpse the ancient spirit who sets the river on fire each night, and reporters chase rumors of a stolen shipment of Civil War gold that may be hidden at Colesworth Place. The chaos turns dangerous as Cassie hires a team of archeologists to excavate beneath the mansion ruins. Because more is buried there than treasure.

A stranger filled with magic arrives at Watson’s Landing claiming that the key to the Watson and Beaufort gifts—and the Colesworth curse—also lies beneath the mansion. With a mix of threats and promises, the man convinces Barrie and Cassie to cast a spell there at midnight. But what he conjures may have deadly consequences.

While Barrie struggles to make sense of the escalating peril and her growing and forbidden feelings for Eight Beaufort, it’s impossible to know whom to trust and what to fight for—Eight or herself. Millions of dollars and the fate of the founding families is at stake. Now Barrie must choose between what she feels deep in her heart and what will keep Watson’s Landing safe in this stunning addition to a series filled with “decadent settings, mysterious magic, and family histories rife with debauchery” (Kirkus Reviews, on Compulsion).

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #76

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event splotlighting upcoming releases that we readers are eagerly anticipating and is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Goddess (Calypso #2)
by Julie Anne Lindsey
Publication Date: 10/13/15

From Goodreads:

Two weeks ago, Callie Ingram was just another high school senior with her sights on a swimming scholarship. Now, she’s the resurrected leader of the Vikings, balancing her classes with learning mythological history—and sparring sessions with her gorgeous demigod boyfriend, Liam Hale.

When Zeus returns to collect the favor she owes him, Callie is tasked with uniting the warring Viking clans and leading them into battle against Gaia’s frost giants. If she fails, everything she risked her life for will be destroyed…and her best friend will die. But one teenage girl rallying all of the vengeful clans won’t be easy. And things only get more complicated when a new prophecy puts her future with Liam at risk. Now, Callie will not only have to win the battle, but she’ll have to take the fate of her heart into her own hands.

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Know Your Setting

Know your setting. This seems pretty straight forward. Right? Not always.

Hamilton Pool (Texas)
I had a critique partner from out of the country years ago who had a character visit Texas at one point in the manuscript. The character found herself there without knowing where she was, yes this makes sense in the manuscript. Thing is, it felt wrong. I grew up in Texas. Like from the time I was two weeks old until I was twenty-six, so I know a little about what living there is like. I suggested she have items in the kitchen with the state flag or the shape of Texas on items around the kitchen. If nothing, Texans are extremely proud of our state. We have stores dedicated to items with our state flag, shape, and anything Texas in general. This wasn't a very strange leap to take. I've been in those kitchens. Many times. But only in Texas. Never in my years living in New Jersey or visiting family in Utah and Wyoming. It's a Texas thing.

Flaming Gorge (Utah)
Speech is a big difference. Growing up I understood when someone asked if I wanted a Coke, it was a blanket term for any and all soft drinks. In NJ they looked at me like I was crazy calling them all Coke. My mom is from Utah, so growing up I knew to ask for a "pop" when I was visiting them. In NJ it's "soda." There are plenty of other little words that are different around the country. Knowing these little differences makes a huge difference in your manuscript.

Crystal Lake (Bayville, NJ)
One of the best stories I ever encountered was at my ex-sister-in-law's wedding. She had forgotten to mention one huge difference about getting gas in New Jersey. It's illegal for you to pump your own gas. At least that's what I was told. They have gas station attendants who do that for you. It's virtually impossible to pump your own gas without one of their authorization cards. There are shirts everywhere donning the phrase, "Jersey girls don't pump gas." So, her brother and his then pregnant wife (they're now divorced) drove into Jersey from out of state. He was sleeping while she drove, in the middle of the night. It was cold, dreary, and rainy. She pulled into a station to get gas. While she was fishing her credit card out of her purse a gas attendant walked up to her car window. It was cold and rainy. Naturally he had on a hoodie. She freaked out when she saw him, threw the car into gear, screamed, and screeched out of the parking lot. We all had quite a fun laugh.

But seriously, your characters cannot drive through New Jersey and pump their own gas. Likewise, your Jersey characters will have to get out of their cars in other states and pump their own gas. (This trips up Jersey girls, and irks them. lol) I have plenty other stories pertaining to getting gas in and outside of Jersey (with Jersey girls), which I may use in future manuscripts. Maybe. Getting gas is always more entertaining when it involves someone from Jersey. Trust me. 

The absolute last thing you want is a reader setting down the book because you've tripped them up with something that isn't plausible to them. This is why so many book settings are where the author is from. If you are going to place your book in a location you have never lived, you need to do your research.


And because I am now beyond curious. What is something unique to your state? 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #75

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event splotlighting upcoming releases that we readers are eagerly anticipating and is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Black Widow: Forever Red
by Margaret Stohl
Publication Date: 10/13/15

From Goodreads:

Enter the world of the Avengers' iconic master spy

Natasha Romanoff is one of the world's most lethal assassins. Trained from a young age in the arts of death and deception, Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room, Moscow's infamous academy for operatives.

Ava Orlova is just trying to fit in as an average Brooklyn teenager, but her life has been anything but average.The daughter of a missing Russian quantum physicist, Ava was once subjected to a series of ruthless military experiments-until she was rescued by Black Widow and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection. Ava has always longed to reconnect with her mysterious savior, but Black Widow isn't really the big sister type.

Until now.

When children all over Eastern Europe begin to go missing, and rumors of smuggled Red Room tech light up the dark net, Natasha suspects her old teacher has returned-and that Ava Orlova might be the only one who can stop him. To defeat the madman who threatens their future, Natasha and Ava must unravel their pasts. Only then will they discover the truth about the dark-eyed boy with an hourglass tattoo who haunts Ava's dreams. . . .

Black Widow:Forever Red features all the heart-pounding adventure readers expect from Marvel, written by #1 New York Times best-selling author Margaret Stohl. Uncover a new side of the Marvel Universe that will thrill loyal fans and newcomers alike, as Stohl reveals the untold story of Black Widow for the very first time.

Add it on Goodreads

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Release Blitz: THE PIRATE CODE by Heidi Schulz

I am so excited that THE PIRATE CODE by Heidi Schulz releases today and that I get to share the news, along with an awesome giveaway! If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful series by Heidi Schulz, be sure to check out all the details below. This blitz also includes a giveaway for copies of both HOOK’S REVENGE books! US only. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

Title: The Pirate Code Hook's Revenge #2
Author: Heidi Schulz
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover, eBook

Blurb

Fresh off a fearsome encounter with the Neverland crocodile, Jocelyn Hook decides the most practical plan is to hunt down her father's famous fortune. After all, she'll need the gold to fund her adventuring in the future. (And luckily, Hook left her the map.)

But the map proves to be a bit harder to crack than Jocelyn had hoped, and she's convinced that the horrible Peter Pan might be the only one with the answers. Of course, he doesn't really feel like helping her, so Jocelyn takes the only reasonable course of action left to her: she kidnaps his mother. Evie, though, is absolutely thrilled to be taken prisoner, so Jocelyn's daring ploy doesn't have quite the effect she'd planned for.

Along with the problem of her all-too-willing captive, Jocelyn must also contend with Captain Krueger, whose general policy is that no deed is too dastardly when it comes to stealing Hook's treasure. And with the ever-shifting Whens of the Neverland working against her as well, Jocelyn, Evie, Roger, and the rest of the Hook's Revenge crew have their work cut out for them.

In this rambunctious showdown between characters new and old, Jocelyn puts her own brand of pirating to the test in a quest to save her future and those she loves.

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About Heidi

Heidi Schulz is a writer, reader, and giraffe suspicioner. She lives in Salem, Oregon with her husband, co-captaining a crew made of their teen daughter, a terrible little dog, and five irascible chickens. Her debut novel for middle grade readers, HOOK’S REVENGE, published by Disney•Hyperion, was a Bank Street Best book, among the New York Public Library’s Top 100 Titles for Children in 2014, and an OCTE Oregon Spirit Honor Book. A sequel, HOOK’S REVENGE: THE PIRATE CODE, will follow in September 2015. Bloomsbury Kids will publish her picture book debut, GIRAFFES RUIN EVERYTHING, in Spring 2016.

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Beat Writer's Block

I don't believe in writer's block. At least not in the sense that others talk about it. Some writers say when their muse isn't there they can't write. For others if they don't know where to go with the story, or have taken a wrong turn with the plot, they claim writer's block.

The way I see it, the writer has created the block in the first place. Usually through taking a wrong turn with the story. It's not going to go where it shouldn't go. If it doesn't feel right, you went wrong somewhere. Figuring out where that was will usually cure it.

Of course, there is always that emotional road block, which isn't writer's block at all. It's an emotional block. I'm not talking about that particular block today. Mostly because I am not a trained therapist and any advice I could give on that front, might not be at all helpful.

So how do I beat this so called writer's block? 


Read Through Your Manuscript:

Most likely you have taken a wrong turn. There are two schools of writers; plot driven and character driven. I believe it's a mixture. For this reason I always create a tentative outline. More often than not, my characters do not like the plan I have presented to them. They will take off in another direction. I still keep the over all destination in place, but allow the characters to take a different route if needed. Some writers stick to their outline, even if it's not what should be happening. This will undoubtedly throw up a road block. So, reading through what you have written up to date, may help you to see where the issue is.

Dissect Your Outline:  

This is my go to method. As mentioned above I create a tentative outline before writing a rough draft. I don't always stick to it. Almost never, actually. This means I have to create a new outline. Every time. I have to read each chapter, noting what happens and why it is important. I need to know the purpose of each chapter. Every scene must have a purpose. If it doesn't propel the story forward, if I can take it out and nothing changes, then it doesn't need to be there. This also allows me to figure out where I possibly went wrong. Most times I will see a hole in the plot. For me something is usually missing. Occasionally I have also added a scene that doesn't need to be there. For me, this almost always works at deleting that blockade. 

Research: 

In some cases it could be that you simply do not have all of the information you need. By researching the topic you are writing about you could have that epiphany moment. I have even researched for a completely separate project and had a sudden understanding of exactly where I went wrong with the first project. You never know, it could be worth it simply to tweak a different aspect of your manuscript. 

Read: 

Other times I just need to step away from the project and come back to it with a different perspective. Reading something fun helps with this. It gives me a chance to get out of my own head, get away from my characters. It also is fun just because I love to read. I can study what another author has written, how they have progressed the plot, and what the other characters do. I have had a-ha moments when reading where I realize exactly where I went wrong and how to fix it.

I also have a good selection of books on the craft of writing. These can be very helpful tools to figure out where you went wrong. I am currently reading Story Trumps Structure by Steven James. Great stuff, so far. Even though I am not in the midst of a block, it is giving me ideas and I am having a-ha moments a lot more. It's great because at the moment I have a few minutes every day before I pick up my five year old from school to read. I can read short sections and not leave off at a high tension point like in a novel.

People Watch: 

This is a guilty pleasure. I have yet to find another writer who doesn't like people watching. It's fun and, oh man, the material you can gather. When writing for teens it's especially important to know how they interact and talk. They will spot an adult dressed as a teen in books at lightning speed. The best part, though, is that many times while people watching I will get an idea to change something little, and it will make all the difference. In the end, it's just plain fun to do. And people will write off your quirkiness because you're a writer. We're supposed to be odd. Embrace it.

Go Someplace New: 

This helps when there are too many distractions around you. There have been times that I couldn't focus on my writing or my story long enough to figure out what was wrong. I like to find a table at Starbucks, listen to music, drink a coffee, and dissect my outlines there. Sometimes I will take my computer with me. Usually I only take a pencil, a print out of my outline, and any notes relevant at the moment to that particular manuscript. I'm forced to look busy instead of signing along with my music or doing something around the house or moderating an argument between my five year old son and nine year old nephew. You'd think they were brothers with the way they argue. 

Switch Projects: 

This is my last resort. Absolute last resort. And, yes, I have turned to this one. In fact the one manuscript that I abandoned is still abandoned. That was about four years ago. I still have no clue where I went wrong with it. Then again, I'm having a hard time grasping the story goal. I know the opening scenes like the way to BookPeople. I just do not, for the life of me, know the why, or the how of anything else in that story. For this reason it has been shelved. I moved on to a different project. I still think about it from time to time, but I just don't feel I have a good enough grasp on it to give it much focus right now. As soon as I figure out more about it, I will be back into that project. But for now it's not a priority project. Like I said, it's a last resort option for me.

How do you beat writer's block?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #74

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event splotlighting upcoming releases that we readers are eagerly anticipating and is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children #3)
by Ransom Riggs
Publication Date: 9/22/15

From Goodreads:

The epic conclusion to the best-selling series!

Time is running out for the Peculiar Children. With a dangerous madman on the loose and their beloved Miss Peregrine still in danger, Jacob Portman and Emma Bloom are forced to stage the most daring of rescue missions. They’ll travel through a war-torn landscape, meet new allies, and face greater dangers than ever. . . . Will Jacob come into his own as the hero his fellow Peculiars know him to be? This action-packed adventure features more than 50 all-new Peculiar photographs

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Release Day Blitz: SWEET TEMPTATION by Wendy Higgins


I love when I stumble across sign ups for amazing blog tours, like this one. So excited to participate in the Sweet Temptation release blitz! Also, there's a giveaway included!

Title: Sweet Temptation
Author: Wendy Higgins
Release Date: September 8, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 485
Format: Paperback, eBook, audiobook

About Sweet Temptation

Bad boy Kaidan Rowe has never wanted for anything—money, popularity, musical talent…hot girls—but seducing them is part of his duty as a Nephilim, slave to the demon Dukes. As the son of the Duke of Lust, Kaidan has learned his father’s ways, becoming a master of passion, a manipulator of chemistry. Disobeying his father would mean certain death. Thankfully for Kaidan, he’s good at his job. And he enjoys it.

Until he meets Anna Whitt—sweet, smart, feisty, and inexplicably good—the one girl seemingly immune to his charms. The daughter of a guardian angel and a fallen one, she has a certain power over him, one that makes him wish for more than he could ever deserve.

Determined to save all the Neph from their dark lives as the influencers of sin, Anna joins forces with Kaidan to overcome the demons’ oppressive ways. In the light of her affections, Kaidan must undergo his toughest test of all, a battle of the heart.

Sensual and swoon worthy, this companion volume to the acclaimed Sweet Evil series from New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins, told from the perspective of the irresistibly sexy and mysterious Kaidan Rowe, gives readers revealing insights into his struggle, his intense connection to Anna, and most of all, the true emotions that drive him.


Author Note:
Sweet Temptation will encompass the entire trilogy in a condensed version, beginning with Kai's life before he met Anna, and taking readers through the epilogue of Sweet Reckoning. Sweet Temptation is a companion novel, not meant to be a stand alone story. It will definitely be a richer experience for those who have read the original trilogy.

Add it on Goodreads
 


So, I was given the option to include one of three things. Since I love to include teaser excerpts I thought I'd go with that one. But, it's a long excerpt. Like seriously long. So here's the link to it. But, only read it if you have already read the first three books in this series. Remember, Sweet Temptation is from Kai's perspective, and covers all three previous books.

Excerpt

Buy Sweet Temptation

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About Wendy

Wendy Higgins is the USA Today and NYT bestselling author of the Sweet Evil series from HarperTeen and her independently published Irish fantasy, See Me. She is a former high school English teacher who now writes full time, and lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her veterinarian husband, daughter, son, and doggie Rue.

Wendy earned a bachelor's in Creative Writing from George Mason University and a master's in Curriculum and Instruction from Radford. Writing Young Adult (YA) stories gives her the opportunity to delve into the ambiguities of those pivotal, daunting, and exciting years before adulthood.

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Giveaway Details:


1 Paperback of SWEET TEMPTATION and a signed bookplate and bookmarks. US Only.

Ends on September 18th at Midnight EST!

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Cover Reveal: ALWAYS SECOND BEST by Elodie Nowodazkij

Title: Always Second Best (Broken Dreams #2)
Author: Elodie Nowodazkij
Release Date: October 13, 2015

About Always Second Best

Sometimes being first isn’t what you expected.

Seventeen-year-old ballerina Emilia Moretti is tired of always being second best. And she’s going to prove the world she deserves to be first. In her upcoming School of the Performing Arts showcase. In the eyes of her birth parents. And in the heart of the guy she loves. She spends hours rehearsing, hours dreaming about becoming number one, hours imagining how her entire life is about to change. But when nothing goes the way she planned, she’ll need to realize what it really means to be first.

Eighteen-year-old Nick Grawski doesn’t want to follow Daddy Dearest’s rules any longer. He's going to prove he's meant to be a dancer—not a lawyer—and he is not going to stay away from Em just because his father demands it. He needs to show Em that—this time around—he’s there to stay and that he won’t break her heart again. Even when her world goes down to shit, even when he finds out his dad may have been trying to protect him all along, even if being there for one another is harder than falling in love.

ALWAYS SECOND BEST is a novel of hope and heartbreak and broken dreams. It’s a novel about falling in love and discovering that being first isn’t always what matters.

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Pre-Order on Amazon

About Elodie

Elodie Nowodazkij was raised in a tiny village in France, where she could always be found a book in hand. At nineteen, she moved to the US, where she learned she'd never lose her French accent. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Modern Language & Linguistics, and later earned master's degrees in German Cultural Studies and European Studies. Unbeknownst to her professors, she sometimes drafted stories in class. Now she lives in Germany with her husband and their cat (who doesn't seem to realize he's not human), and uses her commuting time to write the stories swirling in her head. She's also a serial smiley user.

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http://xpressobooktours.com/

Monday, September 7, 2015

MIRACLE MEGGIE by Toni De Palma - Interview and Giveaway

Today I have a very special interview. When I first started out writing it was just me, quietly, secretly writing. I only told a few close family members. Then I started venturing out into the online world of writers. I found so many other writers and authors. And they all said the same thing - Get a critique group or critique partners. So I signed up with the SCBWI and found a critique group that met near my home in New Jersey. Toni De Palma was one of the amazing authors in my firt critique group. I love her writing. If you haven't read any of her books, I order you to do so now. She is clever and witty and just all around awesome when it comes to writing.

To celebrate the release of her newest book, Miracle Meggie I decided to interview her and host a giveaway of Miracle Meggie.

Here's a little about Miracle Meggie:

When 10 year old Meggie hears Wanda announce that she’s setting up a summer business selling miracles, Meggie thinks Wanda’s finally gone off the deep end. But that’s before Meggie’s sister is born way too early. Now, the doctors aren’t sure if the baby will live and mom and dad are spending all their time at the hospital. Suddenly, Wanda’s miracles don’t look so crazy anymore. But Wanda doesn’t just sell Meggie a Miracle. She wants an assistant. If Meggie wants to save her sister, she’ll have to first help Wanda transform an elderly neighbor into Madame Butterfly and get her a gig singing at Carnegie Hall. Coordinating a concert at Carnegie Hall isn’t as simple as it sounds, but if Meggie can’t pull it off, she’ll never learn the secret to saving her little sister or making miracles.



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Q.
I love the idea of creating miracles. Especially for the middle grade age kids. They're at that place where they aren't a kid, not quite a teenager, and still trying to figure out where they fit in with the world. What was your inspiration for writing Miracle Meggie?

A.
Though my books are fiction, all of my stories are rooted in something personal. Miracle Meggie is based on my own son’s premature birth twenty-one years ago. Thinking back to that time, I was very young in my own thinking when I had him (though I was twenty-eight). I believed that if I did the right things – ate right, took my vitamins, etc. I would have a healthy baby. Well, what I came to find out is that, life has its own plans even when you believe you’re following the exact right recipe to create the ideal results. Thankfully, he pulled through (yay to the wonderful doctors and staff of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Jersey Shore Medical Center) and he’s a wonderful young man, currently pursuing his own creative dreams. But the experience made me realize the faultiness of my thinking, which was magical, and actually quite childlike. So, essentially, this story has been brewing in my mind for twenty-one years, perhaps because it’s taken me that long to understand that, while we can’t control what happens to us in our lives, we can choose our reactions to those circumstances, and it’s our reaction to hardship and our resilience and hope that is a miracle unto itself.

Q.
I've found that in some of my own manuscripts my favorite character isn't necessarily the main character, sometimes it is. Who was your favorite character to write in this book? (My favorite to read, about was Wanda. lol)

A.
Funny you say that! I love Wanda too! Many of my books have a pal or buddy character and that may be because, as a kid, I did have a best buddy or partner in crime. I would hope that every kid has that special friend that they feel they can share secrets with and go on adventures with.

Q.
Will there be other books within the world of Miracle Meggie? Possibly a companion novel?


A.
I haven’t considered what might come next in this story, but I am interested in writing Meggie’s Miracle Manual, which would be a kind of journal or guide to help kids explore what kinds of miracles they would like to create in their own lives. Before I wrote for children, I worked as a school social worker and always looked for tools that could give kids the resources they needed to feel more empowered.

Q.
Most of your books are for the young adult crowd, but you have a couple middle grade also. I have a really hard time writing middle grade as my writing voice is never young enough. What do you find the most rewarding writing for both of these audiences?

A.
I really let the stories dictate the audience. When I first started writing for kids, I wrote for the middle grade set, possibly because my son was that age and I was reminded of my own childhood by observing him. My Young Adult novels similarly coincided with his teen years. And now that he’s out of the house and in college, I find I’m gravitating toward more adult stories as well. What I love about being a writer is that there are no rules. I follow the muse wherever she takes me!

Q.
If you don't mind sharing, what do you have up your sleeve next for your books?


A.
After I wrote Miracle Meggie, I wrote a few short plays that were read in New York City. That was really exciting. Writing plays is very freeing because it’s all about the dialogue, which is probably the element of writing that I love best. For me, constructing plot feels like having a root canal 

Q.
One thing I've always noticed about your writing is that your characters are extremely vivid and full of life. What's your secret?

A.
Ha! I think a lot of that comes from having grown up in an Italian-American family where no emotion and definitely no opinion is ever held back. I am Southern Italian and the culture is typically very dramatic and expressive.

Q.
You have taught writing classes in the past, what is your favorite piece of advice to give aspiring authors?

A.
I think the best piece of writing I’ve ever been given and what I try to instill in my students is to have fun. If you are having fun with your story, most likely your reader will enjoy it as well. When did writing become so serious, I wonder?

Q.
Miracle Meggie is your first self-published piece of fiction. How was that process different from having a publisher? Did anything surprise you about the process?

A.
I resisted self-publishing for a very, very, very long time, mainly due to my own ego and the false belief that, if a traditional publisher didn’t choose to publish my book, then it probably wasn’t good enough. Then one day I realized that everything I’d put into my first traditionally published book – the skill, the heart – was what I’d put into Miracle Meggie (probably more so since my skills as a writer have definitely developed in the 8 years between both books). I realized it wasn’t me that had changed, but the publishing industry, which has made it close to impossible to get a rather quiet book like Miracle Meggie published. Now that I’ve finally taken the step, I am tremendously pleased. I love the final product and think it’s my best book yet. While I wish I could have the help of a marketing department to get more attention for my book, I’m enjoying doing my own marketing. I’ve walked into bookstores and libraries and have introduced myself and created some really nice connections. I’m also running a contest to give away a free classroom set of books. When it comes down to it, I believe in this story. Miracle Meggie has never really been about me promoting myself as a writer, so much as my desire to empower children through a strong story.

Q.
You recently started exploring the world of screenwriting. I'd love to try it out, but I don't know where to start. So for those of us too unsure of trying it yet, what has that been like? What are your plans for your future in screenwriting?

A.
Plans? LOL I don’t really plan anything when it comes to writing. I participated in a 48 hour film festival recently where I had 8 hours to write a short film. Nothing like a little pressure to motivate a writer. It was great. Very freeing. I think the trick to any writing is not to take your first draft too seriously. Just see where it takes you.

Q.
And because I'm always looking for book recommendations (not that my bookshelf needs more books). What are you currently reading, or what was the last book you read that you loved?

A.
Actually, I’m rereading The Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer. It’s not fiction obviously, but I love how he can always give me a good dose of positivity.

Check out all of Toni's books.


Under the Banyan Tree

Jeremy Owl

The Devil's Triangle (#1)

The Devil's Temptation (#2)

Miracle Meggie

The Character on the Couch

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About Toni

Toni De Palma was born in Brooklyn, New York. Her first middle grade novel, Under the Banyan Tree, was published in 2007. Under the Banyan Tree was selected as a Kirkus New Voices Pick and a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age. Her second middle grade novel, Jeremy Owl, was published in 2010. Toni holds her MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College and she is a recipient of a New Jersey Arts Fellowship. She currently resides in New Jersey.
 


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Friday, September 4, 2015

Make Time For Writing

It's been a long time since I've written a blog post about writing craft. I've missed it and thought about doing a new post for quite a while now. I decided to start out small, one post a week about the craft.

This week I thought I'd talk about making time for writing. As a writer we all hear others saying they would love to write a book, if they had the time. The thing is, we are writers because we make the time to writer. Not because we have the time to write. It's not a hobby we just do for fun. We bleed our souls onto the paper. We do it because we love it. We have to do it. It's like breathing for us. Words, characters, worlds - they need to be purged from our souls, onto the paper. This is a hard thing for non-writers to understand.

How do we make time?

Schedule Writing Time: 

This is a big one. Set aside time specifically for writing just as you would for working or exercising. I do my workouts every single night at the same time, right after my five year old goes to bed. It's the same for my writing. I am trying to rework my schedule now that school has started to have a set time every day just for writing. Reworking my schedule this year is a tad more difficult since I have two kids in two different schools. And I'm looking for a job, that's my full time priority at the moment.

I am very fortunate to be in the Austin area. This means I have access to The Writing Barn. Every month they host Write Away Days. These are days devoted to writing, with other writers, in a peaceful, serene location. It is distraction free. You know what I'm talking about. The phone, the doorbell, the laundry, and so on. All those little things around the house that you think you need to be doing instead of writing. I cannot tell you how much I love Write Away Days. Even if you do not have something similar you can still do your own version. Find a coffee shop and go hang out, all day, drinking coffee and writing. You have to make writing a priority, even if it's only for a short period of time a day. 

Make Writing a Routine: 

I've seen this around the internet a lot, Butt in Chair. Routine. The more you do it, the more routine it will be for you and you will just do it. There was a point in time that I stopped writing, life was just too crazy and I sort of fell off the wagon. It's like exercise. It's hard to get into the routine, but once you start and stick with it, you can't stop. I feel awful if I miss a workout. Same thing with my writing. When I set aside time for it every single day, I feel horrible and guilty for missing it when I do. Some days there is too much going on and I barely have time to breathe, those days I allow myself to skip writing, but only one day, and not often.

No Excuses: 

This goes along with the first two points above. If you are scheduling time and creating a routine for your writing, you probably are not making excuses not to write. Writer's block? Nope. But in chair. There are a million things you can do to jump start your writing. Take that time you have scheduled. Stick to your routine. Research your topic, update your synopsis, create a new outline, re-read previous chapters, pull out a writing craft book and read. Don't make excuses. We have all been there. "I just don't feel it right now." I have to remind myself it doesn't matter. There are other things related to writing that I can do if I'm not feeling the story at the moment. No excuses.

Turn off your Wi-Fi: 

Let's face it. We are writers and our number one favorite place to be is on Twitter. I see you all there. Because I'm there, too. Procrastination is our BFF. Another aspect I love about the Writing Barn is that you need a code to use the internet. I entered it into my phone, so I can post pictures of my day to Instagram and Twitter. I refuse to do so on my computer. The temptation is too great to go check in on my social media sites. If I am unplugged from the internet, I cannot procrastinate. I am forced to ignore the outside world. At home, just turn off your internet capabilities on your computer. Disconnect yourself. When I am at home writing, I close out all internet sites and refuse to open my browser until my time allotted for writing is over.

Reward Yourself: 

This is my favorite one. Set your goal. Writing every day for thirty minutes for a week. Write 10,000 words. Edit 10 chapters. Whatever your goal set one. Make sure your goals are attainable. Then set a reward for hitting that goal. My go to reward is stopping by a book store for books. I have the amazing Book People and Half Price Books in town to choose from. Then I set an amount for books and go buy a book. When I write a rough draft I don't read at all. I find it messes with my writing voice and story goals. So my reward for finishing a rough draft is to binge read.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #73

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event splotlighting upcoming releases that we readers are eagerly anticipating and is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Sweet Temptation (The Sweet Trilogy #4)
by Wendy Higgins
Publication Date: 9/8/15

From Goodreads:

Bad boy Kaidan Rowe has never wanted for anything—money, popularity, musical talent…hot girls—but seducing them is part of his duty as a Nephilim, slave to the demon Dukes. As the son of the Duke of Lust, Kaidan has learned his father’s ways, becoming a master of passion, a manipulator of chemistry. Disobeying his father would mean certain death. Thankfully for Kaidan, he’s good at his job. And he enjoys it.

Until he meets Anna Whitt—sweet, smart, feisty, and inexplicably good—the one girl seemingly immune to his charms. The daughter of a guardian angel and a fallen one, she has a certain power over him, one that makes him wish for more than he could ever deserve.

Determined to save all the Neph from their dark lives as the influencers of sin, Anna joins forces with Kaidan to overcome the demons’ oppressive ways. In the light of her affections, Kaidan must undergo his toughest test of all, a battle of the heart.

Sensual and swoon worthy, this companion volume to the acclaimed Sweet Evil series from New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins, told from the perspective of the irresistibly sexy and mysterious Kaidan Rowe, gives readers revealing insights into his struggle, his intense connection to Anna, and most of all, the true emotions that drive him.


Author Note:
Sweet Temptation will encompass the entire trilogy in a condensed version, beginning with Kai's life before he met Anna, and taking readers through the epilogue of Sweet Reckoning. Sweet Temptation is a companion novel, not meant to be a stand alone story. It will definitely be a richer experience for those who have read the original trilogy.

Add it on Goodreads