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L is for Literary Fiction #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I'm discussing different book genres/categories. Each day, I will give a few details about the...

July 2, 2016

Harry Potter and More: New Books Coming in July

We have read the books (re-read them multiply times actually), attended midnight book releases, watched the movies (over and over again), attended midnight showings, plan trips to the theme park, and longingly wished for our own letters to Hogwarts. And this month we get to experience it all again. That's right there is a new book in the Harry Potter series coming out. But first let's take a look at other books coming out this month.

The Seventh Element
The action is on the page, on your device, and out of this world! This multiplatform series is part sci-fi, part eco-mystery, all action-adventure. And you don't have long to wait—six books are coming all in one year!

Earth is in danger! The only thing that can save our planet are six essential elements that can fuse into a new source of clean energy. But the elements are scattered throughout the galaxy. And it’s up to the Voyagers—a team of four remarkable kids and an alien—to gather them all and return to Earth.

The Voyagers have made it to the last planet. If they complete this mission, they can finally go home. But they’ve been in space a long time, and it’s starting to take its toll. When one of the crew falls deathly ill, the race back to Earth becomes even more urgent. They just have to combat fire-breathing dragons and an evil alien clone out to sabotage their every move. No big deal.

At least the Voyagers have almost every element they need. Only one more to go—six elements to make the Source and save the world. So why is there a space in the Element Fuser for a seventh?

Available July 5
Buy The Seventh Element at Amazon

This Savage Song
There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

Available July 5
Buy This Savage Song at Amazon

And I Darken
No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwyla likes it that way.

Ever since she and her brother were abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan’s courts, Lada has known that ruthlessness is the key to survival. For the lineage that makes her and her brother special also makes them targets.

Lada hones her skills as a warrior as she nurtures plans to wreak revenge on the empire that holds her captive. Then she and Radu meet the sultan’s son, Mehmed, and everything changes. Now Mehmed unwittingly stands between Lada and Radu as they transform from siblings to rivals, and the ties of love and loyalty that bind them together are stretched to breaking point.

The first of an epic new trilogy starring the ultimate anti-princess who does not have a gentle heart. Lada knows how to wield a sword, and she'll stop at nothing to keep herself and her brother alive.

Available in paperback July 7
Buy And I Darken at Amazon

Spirits, Beignets, and a Bayou Biker Gang

Spirits, Beignets, and a Bayou Biker Gang is the third book in the Pyper Rayne ghost mystery series.

Available July 12
Buy Spirits, Beignets, and a Bayou Biker Gang at Amazon

A World Without You
Seventeen-year-old Bo has always had delusions that he can travel through time. When he was ten, Bo claimed to have witnessed the Titanic hit an iceberg, and at fifteen, he found himself on a Civil War battlefield, horrified by the bodies surrounding him. So when his concerned parents send him to a school for troubled youth, Bo assumes he knows the truth: that he’s actually attending Berkshire Academy, a school for kids who, like Bo, have "superpowers."

At Berkshire, Bo falls in love with Sofia, a quiet girl with a tragic past and the superpower of invisibility. Sofia helps Bo open up in a way he never has before. In turn, Bo provides comfort to Sofia, who lost her mother and two sisters at a very young age.

But even the strength of their love isn’t enough to help Sofia escape her deep depression. After she commits suicide, Bo is convinced that she's not actually dead. He believes that she's stuck somewhere in time — that he somehow left her in the past, and now it's his job to save her.

Available July 19
Buy A World Without You at Amazon

Tell Us Somethng True
For fans of Sarah Dessen, Jennifer Smith, E.L. Lockhart, and John Green, this delightful, often comic coming-of-age novel stars the lovable, brokenhearted River, the streets of LA, and an irresistible cast of characters.

Seventeen-year-old River doesn’t know what to do with himself when Penny, the girl he adores, breaks up with him. He lives in LA, where nobody walks anywhere, and Penny was his ride; he never bothered getting a license. He’s stuck. He’s desperate. Okay . . . he’s got to learn to drive.

But first, he does the unthinkable—he starts walking. He stumbles upon a support group for teens with various addictions. He fakes his way into the meetings, and begins to connect with the other kids, especially an amazing girl. River wants to tell the truth, but he can’t stop lying, and his tangle of deception may unravel before he learns how to handle the most potent drug of all: true love.

Available in paperback July 20
Buy Tell Us Something True at Amazon

Into Dust
A Texas cowboy comes to her rescue but who is he really?

As the daughter of a presidential candidate, and an identical twin, Cassidy Hamilton left the Montana family ranch to escape the notoriety and live her own life. But when someone tries to abduct her off a Houston sidewalk, Cassidy longs for the cavalry. Which suddenly comes in the tall, dark and sexy form of cowboy Jack Durand. The gorgeous Texan doesn't recognize her, wants nothing from her and is determined to keep her safe. Cassidy's kind of man

As Jack takes Cassidy into hiding, he hates keeping secrets from the beautiful blonde. But Jack knows more about the kidnapping attempt than he's admitting. Forced on the run in the Lone Star State and Montana, Jack and Cassidy begin piecing together a jagged family puzzle, exposing a plot years in the making one that will either tear them apart or bring them closer together than ever.

Available July 26
Buy Into Dust at Amazon

Truly Madly Guilty
Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

Available July 26
Buy Truly Madly Guilty at Amazon

Dark Matter
“Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable--something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

Available July 26
Buy Dark Matter at Amazon

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a new play by Jack Thorne, is the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. It will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on 30th July 2016

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.

Available July 31
Buy Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Amazon

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July 1, 2016

Iconic Story in Children's Literature Hits the Big Screen: The BFG

by Chris

Spending the summer alone (when not working) has been difficult, being so far away from my family and the things I usually do. However, the lack of distraction has had its perks: I’ve done more writing in the past few months than in the whole year before that.

It’s also been an opportunity to see a lot more movies than I usually would, and this summer’s had plenty of good movies to see. Among them have been Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse, Finding Dory and Independence Day: Resurgence (a lot of sequels, actually, come to think of it). Coming up soon are Ghostbusters, Star Trek Beyond and Suicide Squad, all of which I’m excited to see. But one of the movies this summer I’m most anxious about is the one released today: Stephen Spielberg’s The BFG.

I say anxious with good reason: there’s a solid opportunity here to make good of one of the most beloved children’s stories ever (and one of my own favorites, too), but an equal opportunity to utterly destroy it. Tackling such monumental adaptations come with huge risks, and history has shown us that even a master as adept as Spielberg can sometimes mess things up. This comes with a special risk, too, since it’s not the first time The BFG has been adapted for film; it was made into an animated television film in 1989—a film which has plenty of charm in itself.

This is not a review of The BFG, either film or book (I haven’t seen the film yet, and wouldn’t dare review the book); rather, a discussion of the importance of The BFG as children’s literature, and how to adapt such an iconic story to the big screen.

What is The BFG?

There’s probably very little chance you haven’t heard of or read The BFG, being one of Roald Dahl’s best-known works of all time, along with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, and many, many others, but just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past fifty years, here’s a brief synopsis.

Sophie, an orphan, often stays up late (breaking the orphanage rules, of course), to see what comes out during the Witching Hour. One night, peering through her window, she sees something startling, surprising and terrifying: a real-life giant, twenty-five feet tall if an inch. What’s worse, the giant sees her, and of course no one is allowed to see a giant and get away. Sophie is abducted from her bed by the giant, swiftly carried off across the fields of England, across the sea, and to the far-flung Giant Country.

Here, she soon learns of her fate: she has been kidnapped by the Big Friendly Giant—to her great fortune, the only giant in Giant Country who isn’t out to devour children in the middle of the night. That being said, the Big Friendly Giant, or BFG, can’t exactly allow her to return and tell the world of Giants. To make matters worse, she has to be utterly quiet and secret, for the other nine giants in Giant Country, each twice as large as the BFG himself, are bloodthirsty man-eaters, and would crunch Sophie’s bones in an instant given half a chance.

So begins an incredible adventure of unlikely friendship, danger, dreams and nightmares, whizpoppers and snozzcumbers. Sophie and the BFG slowly hatch a plan to do away with—or at the very least capture—the nine gruesome man-eating giants, ultimately with the help of the British army, and even the queen of England. They are, of course, successful after many setbacks, and Sophie and the BFG settle finally in England, to live happily ever after.

The language of all of Roald Dahl’s stories are often magical, with fantastical, made-up words like scrumdiddlyumptious and rotsome to describe the taste of wonderful and terrible foods, as well as odd-sounding creatures such as quogwinkles and awful-sounding verbs like lixivate. But many, many of his linguistic inventions stem from this one book, and for good reason: the BFG only learned to read and write English from an old copy of Nicholas Nickelby by ‘Dahl’s Chickens’. Thus we are introduced to things such as phizzwizzards (wonderful dreams) and trogglehumpers (awful nightmares), as well as glorious passages such as this: “Titchy little snapperwhippers like you should not be higgling around with an old sage and onions who is hundreds of years more than you.”
That being said, it isn’t only the writing and language of The BFG that make it such a wonderful story; a large part of any children’s book is the illustrations (should there be any, and of course there ought to be in a children’s book of any merit), and Roald Dahl’s stories don’t disappoint.

Dahl’s Illustrations

The earliest books we are usually introduced to are dominated by pictures, and often contain very few words. As we grow, so does our ability to understand the written word, and so the images we learn to form in our heads can often outshine those that are painted on paper.

That being said, there are a select number of books that we begin to read in the few years between childhood and adulthood wherein we can form wonderful images in our heads, but need a little guidance from the author and/or their illustrator. Some books do a better job at this than others, but every once in a while there is a book (or if we’re lucky, a set of books) for which the illustrations seem to have been pre-made, so perfect are they.

There are a few different publications of Roald Dahl’s books out there by now, some with different illustrations (and possibly some without any). Some years ago I wrote on my own blog about Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, and how the illustrations in it were terrifying. This is because the edition we had was illustrated by Joseph Schindelman, who, I’m sure, is a wonderful artist. However, his scratch-like black and white style did no favors to the bright and colorful language of the book, and the caricatures were simply dismal. Others have tried to illustrate Dahl’s books too, from Faith Jacques to Michael Foreman. However, there are no artists in the world that were so perfect a match for Dahl’s inventive and sparkling prose than the one and only Quentin Blake.

Quentin Blake illustrated nearly twenty of Dahl’s children’s stories, including George’s Marvelous Medicine, The Twits, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (finally, in 1995), and of course, The BFG. Quentin Blake has a incredible, child-like style that so perfectly mirrors Dahl’s writing that, as a child, I scarcely recognized that the illustrations were done by someone other than the author himself. There is a coherence between text and image that, in my mind, is only matched by author-illustrator Dr. Seuss (for whom Quentin Blake once illustrated a book as well).

Although the majority of Quentin Blake’s illustrations are black-and-white (being, of course, inside the book), somehow they convey a deep, rich sense of color that bleeds into the text itself, and vice-versa. A brief Google search for his work reveals that many of them have been colorized (or, in reverse, were decolorized for print), but a comparison between the two shows an inherent instinct for the two mediums. After all, some color illustrations look appalling in black-and-white, and many monochrome drawings lend themselves poorly to colorization. With Quentin Blake, the two are simply sides of the same coin: what isn’t in color easily could be.

Stephen Spielberg’s The BFG

Because Quentin Blake’s illustrations are so intrinsic to Roald Dahl’s work, it’s difficult to appreciate versions and adaptations that don’t follow his stye. In 1989, a year before his death, British television channel ITV produced and released an animated version of The BFG. I’m sure that Roald Dahl approved of it, and in fact it was as whimsical and magical as I think it could be. I remember seeing it as a child and being enamored of the animation, thinking that it matched well to what I remembered from the book.

Looking back, now, I see that it isn’t quite the case: the BFG’s nose is too big, his ears too pointy, his vest too green … and while I realize that these may be minute points, they make for a significant difference; in the animated film, the BFG looks more like an oversized elf than a giant. The man-eating giants are gruesome, but not even remotely similar to Quentin Blake’s giant, hairy beasts. And all of this makes a huge difference, because of course as a child I became accustomed to Quentin Blake’s imagery, and assumed it was the only way for Roald Dahl’s characters to appear.

So it probably comes as no surprise that, when I heard Stephen Spielberg was making a live-action adaptation, I was instantly skeptical. Quentin Blake’s illustrations hardly look life-like, so how could anyone possibly translate his imagery into something at once similar yet realistic? While such things have been done before—perhaps most successfully with Peter Jackson’s Gollum from The Lord of the Rings—it’s rare that a cartoonish, childlike scene can be rendered in real life without seeming either pandering, cartoonish in itself, or simply trying too hard.

Then the previews started coming out. The teaser trailer smartly left most of the CGI to the imagination, working instead with promising newcomer Ruby Barnhill as the young Sophie, and casting everything else into dark shadows. This was a wise decision, because of course it allowed excitement to build around the movie without outright ruining it for anyone who was expecting Quentin Blake in real life. I started getting excited myself.

Then the longer trailers came out, and I took a long, hard look. And the more I re-watch it (I’ve seen it quite a few times now), the more I think—they actually did a good job. The voice actors seem to have been cast well, and the depiction of not only the giants but the entire environment, including Giant Country, seems to have been deeply inspired by the classic Quentin Blake illustrations. And I couldn’t be happier.

This isn’t to say, necessarily, that Stephen Spielberg’s vision is any better than Brian Cosgrove’s animated one, but it is different—and, I believe, respectful. This is probably the biggest gripe I have about wanton adaptations of all the wonderful books, both children’s and adults: respect for the author, and the material. Peter Jackson showed us that respect with The Lord of the Rings (though not so much with The Hobbit); Tim Burton, I believe, did not with his version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Roald Dahl’s Legacy

Roald Dahl died in November of 1990, at the age of 74 and in fact, this year marks the centenary of his birth in September of 1916. He left the world with a wealth of marvel and magic, through numerous books for adults and of course, his incredible stories for children. And whenever so great a giant leaves behind such a legacy, it becomes difficult to know how to respect it.

The books are, of course, the original material, and it goes without saying that they are, and will always be, untouchable. From Mathilda to The Witches, these stories of love, terror, happiness and tragedy are to a one utterly unique, and completely priceless. They will be published and republished, printed over and over again, and in time, there will probably come along an eager young illustrator ready to do his own justice to the tales left behind. And perhaps, for a new generation, these new illustrations will mark the definitive version for them.

For me, Quentin Blake will never be beaten, and I’m glad to see that Stephen Spielberg shares my understanding of that. In watching the trailers, it even feels like the whole film has a slightly ‘illustrated’ quality to it—even the fully live-action scenes. This to me shows a remarkable attention to detail that goes beyond the finesse of today’s GGI—an understanding that the best animation today’s technology can provide still can’t quite capture the essence of what Quentin Blake was trying to portray. Instead of trying to make the giants slightly more believable, he made the actors slightly more illustrated.

There’s a part of me that would like to see this approach applied to more of Roald Dahl’s books—especially the outrageously fantastical ones. The late 80s and 90s were a magical time for Roald Dahl adaptations, with some of the best (The Witches, Matilda) enduring to this day. Some others, like Danny, The Champion of the World (one of my secret favorites), only ever made it to television, and it would be great to see these on the big screen, and distributed to a wider audience.

That being said, I would hate to see Roald Dahl’s legacy tainted by Hollywood greed. The author never left me with the feeling that he wrote for anything other than the sheer joy of it, and so it should be with any future illustrations and adaptations of his works. Joy seems to me to be one of the primary themes central to his books, especially those for children; the joy that children ought to have and are so often deprived of.

The best adaptations have understood this, perhaps instinctively; Wes Anderson wisely chose stop-motion as the medium for 2009s Fantastic Mr. Fox, perhaps knowing that CGI would be a disservice to the characters themselves (he was nominated for an Oscar for this movie). There is something inarguably childlike about stop-motion, and I myself would like to see more of it.

If Roald Dahl left us with anything, it is this: a sense of childlike wonder and joy, and in this his stories are clearly not just for children. More adults, I think, could benefit from reading and rereading his novels, just to remember what it’s like to be a child. This is something Roald Dahl knew instinctively: that children are the masters of the world, and all adults tend to do is muck things up for them.

So go be a child, and read one of your favorite Roald Dahl books. Go watch The BFG tonight. And above all, tell me what your favorite books are!

Buy The BFG at Amazon

Chris, features writer. Raised between the soaring peaks of the Swiss Alps and the dark industrialism of northern England, beauty and darkness have been twin influences on Chris' creativity since his youth. Throughout his life he has expressed this through music, art and literature, delving deep into the darkest parts of human nature, and finding the elegance therein. These themes are central to his current literary project, The Redemption of ErĂ¢th. A dark epic fantasy, it is a tale of the bitter struggle against darkness and despair, and an acknowledgement that there are some things the mind cannot overcome. Written from a depth of personal experience, Chris' words are touching and powerful, the hallmark of someone who has walked alone through the night, and welcomes the final darkness of the soul. However, for now he lives in New Jersey with his wife and eleven-year-old son. You can also find him at

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It's a #BigBookGiveaway! Enter to Win Great #Books

What is more fun than summer? Getting a box full of books in the summer! If you love to read and love discovering new authors then this is the giveaway for you.

A total of 20 books have been donated for this Big Book Giveaway Event. That means 2 winners will receive 10 books each! (The giveaway is open to U.S. addresses only - I can only afford so much in postage). Also be sure to scroll all the way to the end for a bonus offer!

So what books might you win?

Thank you to the particpating authors for these books:
The Night Watchman Express by Alison DeLuca - read my review
Christmas O'Clock: an Anthology by Alison DeLuca et al.
Song of the Fairy Queen by Valerie Douglas
Crosscurrents by D.B. Sieders
Til Death Do Us Part by Stephanie Ayers
The Taming by A. M. Rycroft
The Photograph by Grant Leishman
Silent Slaughter by C.E. Lawrence
The Witch's Kiss by Tricia Schneider
The Master's Plan, A Novel by Stephany Tullis
Graveyard Shift by Angela Roquet
Blood Moon by Angela Roquet
Kitten Kaboodle by Kathi Daley
Rook (Allie's War) by J.C. Andrijeski - read a teaser.
Black in White by JC Andrijeski
Concealed by RJ Crayton
The Princess, the Pea and the Night of Passion by Rosetta Bloom

Thank you to Lucinda Literary for:
Course Correction by Ginny Gilder (Beacon Press)
How to Write Like Tolstoy by Richard Cohen (Random House)

Thank you Merl Moss Media for:
Into Dust by B.J. Daniels (Harlequin)

Thank you to Penguin for:
Bukowski in a Sundress by Kim Addonizio - Read an interview with Kim.

Learn more about the books

The blog hosts are featuring different books. See which ones in the giveaway are their favorites!

Life in the Realm of Fantasy - The Night Watchman Express by Alison DeLuca
The Broke Book Bank - Crosscurrents by D.B. Sieders
Words and Peace - Til Death Do Us Part by Stephanie Ayers
WiLoveBooks - Kitten Kaboodle by Kathi Daley  
Lynn's Romance Enthusiasm - The Night Watchman Express by Alison DeLuca 
Bookish Things & More - Black in White by J.C. Andrijeski
An Expatriate's Blog - Kitten Kaboodle by Kathi Daley
An Expatriate's Blog - Blood Moon by Angela Roquet
Shadows of Romance - The Witch's Kiss by Tricia Schneider
A Expatriate's Blog - Til Death Do Us Part by Stephanie Ayers
Girl Who Reads - Course Correction by Ginny Gilder
An Expatriate's Blog - Black in White by JC Andrijeski
Shadows of Romance - The Night Watchman Express by Alison DeLuca
An Expatriate's Blog - Silent Slaughter by C.E. Lawrence
Girl Who Reads - Kitten Kaboodle by Kathi Daley
An Expatriate's Blog - Song of the Fairy Queen by Valerie Douglas
Tonya's Losing It - Kitten Kaboodle by Kathi Daley
An Expatriates's Blog - The Witch's Kiss by Tricia Schneider
An Expatriate's Blog - The Master's Plan by Stephany Tullis
Girl Who Reads - The Photograph by Grant Leishman
An Expatriate's Blog - The Night Watchman Express by Alison DeLuca
Girl Who Reads - Concealed by R.J. Crayton
An Expatriate's Blog - Crosscurrents by D.B. Sieders
My Life, One Story at a Time - The Master's Plan by Stephany Tullis
Shadows of Romance - The Princess, the Pea and the Night of Passion by Rosetta Bloom
RJ Crayton The Master's Plan by Stephany Tullis
An Expatriate's Blog - The Taming by A.M. Rycroft
Girl Who Reads - Graveyard Shift by Angela Roquet
Living, Learning, and Loving Life - Concealed by R.J. Crayton
My Other Book Blog - Silent Slaughter by C.E. Lawrence
Girl Who Reads - How to Write Like Tolstoy by Richard Cohen
RJ Crayton - Silent Slaughter by C.E. Lawrence
RJ Crayton - The Princess, the Pea and the Night of Passion by Roseeta Bloom
Shadows of Romance - Blood Moon by Angela Roquet
Girl Who Reads - Christmas O'Clock anthology
The Broke Book Bank - Kitten Kaboodle by Kathi Daley
An Expatriate's Blog - Graveyard Shift by Angela Roquet
Nadaness in Motion - Song of the Fairy Queen by Valerie Douglas
Nadaness in Motion - Crosscurrents by D.B. Sieders
Rosetta Bloom Books - The Master's Plan by Stephany Tullis
TNBBC - Bukowski in a Sundress by Kim Addonizio
An Expatriate's Blog - How to Write Like Tolstoy by Richard Cohen
Girl Who Reads - Rook by JC Andrijeski
The Broke Book Bank - The Taming by A.M. Rycroft
Rosetta Bloom Books - Blood Moon by Angela Roquet
Rosetta Bloom Books - Concealed by R.J. Clayton
An Expatriate's Blog - Bukowski in a Sundress by Kim Addonizio
Girl Who Reads - Into Dust by B.J. Daniels
An Expatriate's Blog - The Photograph by Grant Leishman
Roquet's Reapings

Enter the Giveaway!
(2 winners will be selected on August 1)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bonus Offer:
(for those who can't wait until the end of the month to get their hands on some of these books)

Several of the authors participating have free ebooks available (if you are Kindle Unlimited member, even more are available to borrow). Check out the free ebooks:

The Night Watchman Express by Alison DeLuca at Amazon
Tiny Treats: A Holiday Collection with D.B. Sieders at Amazon
Tiny Treats 2: a St. Patrick's Day anthology with D.B. Sieders at Amazon
Graveyard Shift by Angela Roquet at Amazon and B&N
New York (Allie's War Early Years book 1) by JC Andrijeski at Amazon and B&N
The Princess, the Pea and the Night of Passion by Rosetta Bloom at Amazon and B&N
Romance: Trysts No. 1: Dr. Carter & Mrs. Sinn by Rosetta Bloom at Amazon and B&N

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

June 30, 2016

Review: Hidden by Stephanie St Klaire

by Elisa Hordon

Following on from Stephanie's debut romance Rescued (read my review) is Hidden, the story of Colton, McKenzie Ridge's hottest fireman and Megan, McKenzie Ridge's new resident.

Megan only arrived in town a few months ago with her little nephew in tow. Megan opened her florist shop up and settled into life in McKenzie Ridge, but there is something about Megan that has a few residents of McKenzie Ridge watching her closely and it's not just because she is new in town.

Colton saw Megan for the first time at Dawson and Sam's wedding. We met Dawson and Sam in Rescued and if you have not read rescued yet it is worth the read. Colton was gone the first time he met Megan. He just knew she was the one and he also knew he would wait forever to make her his.

My favourite Megan quote from Hidden:
'He was the kind of guy who wanted a white picket fence and a relationship full of forever’s. He already had the white picket fence, but she couldn't be his forever, no matter how tempting he was.'

Megan fell in love with McKenzie Ridge the moment she arrived She fell in lust with Colton the moment she saw him. No, it was more than lust Colton Sparks made her feel, really feel more than any other man ever had and for Megan that was dangerous because she didn't knew how long she would be in McKenzie Ridge.

My favourite Colton quote from Hidden:
'my heart stops at the sight of you. My world stops if you're not in it. Every promise I've made to you, I intend to keep. I have waited so long for you; I will fight to keep you, no matter the circumstances. You never have to worry , that's my job forever.'

What is Megan running from? Can she really trust Colton enough to give up her secrets? Is time running out for Megan?

So many questions, so much intrigue, so many secrets and you will find all of the answers in Hidden, the latest steamy romantic suspense novel by Stephanie St Klaire.

Stephanie St Klaire knows how to write a great steamy romance. I absolutely loved her debut story Rescued and now with the release of Hidden, I am even more in love with her work.

Hidden is more than just a romance. Because it is also set in McKenzie Ridge, reading Hidden was like coming back home. I do read a lot of romances and I have to say, I love a romance series set in a fictional town were each book brings together old favourite characters and new characters. You really get to know the place and the people and if the author is great at writing descriptions you can visualize the town and its residents as you read. With each new book you're adding to your visions of the town and the characters. Stephanie is a great descriptive writer. I also love how she adds a bit of mystery and a few twists and thrills to her stories. For me, this sets them apart from just being about romance.

My review would not be complete without a quote from Granny:
'Well, hot damn! If I knew there was going to be a show today, I would have brought my fan and some dollar bills!” Granny hollered'

I am really excited to read a lot more of her books in the future and in the meantime if you want to visit with Stephanie more join her Facebook group Men of McKenzie Ridge or her fan page.

Buy Hidden at Amazon

Elisa Hordon, reviewerElisa lives on the Southern Highlands of NSW, Australia were she spends her days reading, journaling, painting, cooking and home schooling her daughter. She has always been an avid reader, Elisa loves reading many genres of books except horror; her favourite genres would be mystery, romance and paranormal. Elisa also loves pursuing many creative outlets if she is not relaxing with a book she can be found writing, sketching, painting or cooking. Elisa loves to share her obsession with books especially with her family and friends. Reading and reviewing books is a favourite pastime of Elisa’s.

Book info:
available formats: ebook and print (306 pages)
published: June 2016
ISBN13: 9781533526960
genres: romance
source: author

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June 29, 2016

6 Newly Released Entertaining Young Adult Novels

Do you have a teen at home that is complaining about being bored? Or perhaps you are like me and enjoy theses tales as much as the younger generation. Either way, you won't want to miss these newly released young adult novels that will be sure to entertain.

My Lady Jane
The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane gets to be Queen of England.

Buy My Lady Jane at Amazon

Ivory and Bone
A prehistoric fantasy—with allusions to Pride and Prejudice.

Hunting, gathering, and keeping his family safe—that’s the life seventeen-year-old Kol knows. Then bold, enigmatic Mya arrives from the south with her family, and Kol is captivated. He wants her to like and trust him, but any hopes of impressing her are ruined when he makes a careless—and nearly grave—mistake. However, there’s something more to Mya’s cool disdain…a history wrought with loss that comes to light when another clan arrives. With them is Lo, an enemy from Mya’s past who Mya swears has ulterior motives.

As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along.

Buy Ivory and Bone at Amazon

The Museum of Heartbreak
In this ode to all the things we gain and lose and gain again, seventeen-year-old Penelope Marx curates her own mini-museum to deal with all the heartbreaks of love, friendship, and growing up.

Welcome to the Museum of Heartbreak.

Well, actually, to Penelope Marx’s personal museum. The one she creates after coming face to face with the devastating, lonely-making butt-kicking phenomenon known as heartbreak.

Heartbreak comes in all forms: There’s Keats, the charmingly handsome new guy who couldn’t be more perfect for her. There’s possibly the worst person in the world, Cherisse, whose mission in life is to make Penelope miserable. There’s Penelope’s increasingly distant best friend Audrey. And then there’s Penelope’s other best friend, the equal-parts-infuriating-and-yet-somehow-amazing Eph, who has been all kinds of confusing lately.

But sometimes the biggest heartbreak of all is learning to let go of that wondrous time before you ever knew things could be broken.

Buy The Museum of Heartbreak at Amazon

How it Feels to Fly
The movement is all that matters.

For as long as Samantha can remember, she’s wanted to be a professional ballerina. She’s lived for perfect pirouettes, sky-high extensions, and soaring leaps across the stage. Then her body betrayed her.

The change was gradual. Stealthy.

Failed diets. Disapproving looks. Whispers behind her back. The result: crippling anxiety about her appearance, which threatens to crush her dancing dreams entirely. On her dance teacher’s recommendation, Sam is sent to a summer treatment camp for teen artists and athletes who are struggling with mental and emotional obstacles. If she can make progress, she’ll be allowed to attend a crucial ballet intensive. But when asked to open up about her deepest insecurities, secret behaviors, and paralyzing fears to complete strangers, Sam can’t cope.

What I really need is a whole new body.

Sam forms an unlikely bond with Andrew, a former college football player who’s one of her camp counselors. As they grow closer, Andrew helps Sam see herself as he does—beautiful. But just as she starts to believe that there’s more between them than friendship, disappointing news from home sends her into a tailspin. With her future uncertain and her body against her, will Sam give in to the anxiety that imprisons her?

Buy How it Feels to Fly at Amazon

How to Disappear
This electric cross-country thriller follows the game of cat and mouse between a girl on the run from a murder she witnessed—or committed?—and the boy who’s sent to kill her.

Nicolette Holland is the girl everyone likes. Up for adventure. Loyal to a fault. And she’s pretty sure she can get away with anything...until a young woman is brutally murdered in the woods near Nicolette’s house. Which is why she has to disappear.

Jack Manx has always been the stand-up guy with the killer last name. But straight A’s and athletic trophies can’t make people forget that his father was a hit man and his brother is doing time for armed assault. Just when Jack is about to graduate from his Las Vegas high school and head east for college, his brother pulls him into the family business with inescapable instructions: find this ruthless Nicolette Holland and get rid of her. Or else Jack and everyone he loves will pay the price.

As Nicolette and Jack race to outsmart each other, tensions—and attractions—run high. Told in alternating voices, this tightly plotted mystery and tense love story challenges our assumptions about right and wrong, guilt and innocence, truth and lies.
Buy How to Disappear at Amazon

Cure for the Common Universe
Sixteen-year-old Jaxon is being committed to video game rehab ...

ten minutes after he met a girl. A living, breathing girl named Serena, who not only laughed at his jokes but actually kinda sorta seemed excited when she agreed to go out with him.

Jaxon's first date. Ever.

In rehab, he can't blast his way through galaxies to reach her. He can't slash through armies to kiss her sweet lips. Instead, he has just four days to earn one million points by learning real-life skills. And he'll do whatever it takes—lie, cheat, steal, even learn how to cross-stitch—in order to make it to his date.

If all else fails, Jaxon will have to bare his soul to the other teens in treatment, confront his mother's absence, and maybe admit that it's more than video games that stand in the way of a real connection.

Prepare to be cured.

Buy Cure for the Common Universe at Amazon

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June 28, 2016

Review: (Not So) Good in a Room by Dakota Madison

by Donna Huber

Not So Good in a Room

A bead of sweat drips from my temple and runs down my cheek. I want to swipe at it, but I am frozen with fear. I can't move.
A young movie producer whose name I can't remember stares at me from across the small table. He glances at his cellphone for what could be the tenth time then looks back up at me.

(Not So) Good in a Room is sort of a retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac. Nellie is an awkward 20-something that has horrible social anxiety, which you wouldn't guess by her quirky style of dress. She is a writer of action movies. Well, they would be movies if she could actually pitch her screenplays to producers. It's not for lack of trying.

It is while she is attending Pitchapoolza that she meets super charasmatic Roscoe. He too is a screenwriter. Well, he would be if he could get past the first 10 pages.

Then there is Chris, the playboy roommate and cousin of Roscoe. He is an actor/model. Well, if anyone would give him a part. Instead he is using his incredibly good looks and life-time supply of sparkling vitman water to sleep his way through the female population of L.A.

This ensemble of characters is supported by a handful of secondary characters that make for a fun cast of slightly exaggerated personalities.

I had great hopes for this romantic comedy even with its predictable plot. The personalities of the characters alone made for fun reading. However, I was disappointed with Madison's execution of the story. There was so much more that she could have done with both character and plot development. Instead it felt like she just hit the high points, which rushed the story.

I wanted more time to get to know Nellie, Roscoe and Chris. I wanted the everyday life stuff that makes fictional characters pop off the page and feel like they could be your best friend.

(Not So) Good in a Room is the first book in a series of interconnected novellas and I'm tempted to give Dakota Madison another chance as I really did like the characters she created. I just want a bit more story.

Buy (Not So) Good in a Room at Amazon

Donna Huber, founder & publisher. Donna is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour. She reads most genres, but her favorite books are psychological thrillers and stories that highlight the survival of the human spirit against unbelievable circumstances. Donna is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. 

Book info:
available formats: ebook (105 pages)
published: April 2016 by Short on Time Books
genres: romantic comedy
source: author

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: A free ebook was provided for this review. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

June 27, 2016

Travel Back in Time with These Well Researched Historical Novels #MondayBlogs

by Susan Roberts

When writing historical fiction, the author needs to diligently research the time period that they are writing about - the facts MUST be correct.  Once that is done, they are free to make up a story that might have happened.  Here are several well researched historical fiction books that I've read this year.  The time span is from the 19th century whaling expedition (The North Water) to the Vietnam War (Revenants).  Also included are two WWII books (One Man's War and the Lilac Girls) and a fantastic novel about women fighting to get the right to vote (Remember the Ladies).

Lilac Girls
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Just when you think that you have read everything that there is to read about WWII, a book like this comes along and you read about the effects of the war from an entirely new perspective. This is not only based on real people but it is a debut novel by an author that I predict we will be hearing from in the future. Its a fantastic novel and would be a great book not only for book clubs but for anyone who is interested in how badly people can treat others.

There are three main characters in the Lilac Girls:
-Caroline Ferriday, a NYC socialite and former actress who works in the French embassy in NYC.
-Kasia - a Polish teenager who works with the underground once the Nazis invade Poland and who is arrested, along with her mother and sister and sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp.
-Herta - a German doctor at Ravensbruck camp who convinces herself that she is doing the right thing at the camp.

The novel is told in alternating chapters by each of the three main characters and the reader gets a total picture of what is going on in the US during the war as well as the atrocities going on in the camps. Ravensbruck was well known because medical experiments were done on some of the prisoners that were so inhumane it is almost unbelievable.

As difficult as part I of the book was to read, parts 2 and 3 took place after the war as the three women tried to renew their old lives. Much of it was also very heartbreaking but there was also hope for the future after the war.

This is a wonderful book, difficult to read at times but one that needs to be read!

Buy Lilac Girls at Amazon

the North Water
The North Water by Ian McGuire takes place in 1857 aboard the whaling ship, the Volunteer, on a voyage to the Arctic Circle. On board the Volunteer are a dishonest captain, a disgraced Irish surgeon and a serial killer named Drax who is a man of pure evil along with the usual crew of misfits and rough sailors. 

What I liked about it: The author's writing is crisp and vivid. The characters are very well done and the story line is very realistic.

What I didn't like about it: The novel is very dark and gritty and extremely violent. The language, though representative of the lives of sailors of the day, was very vulgar at times.

Overall, I recommend this book if you enjoy reading a gritty realistic adventure book told by an author with fantastic skills. I enjoyed it and plan to look up some of his earlier books.

(This book was given to me by the author for a fair and unbiased review)

Buy The North Water at Amazon

One Man's War
One Man's War by P.M. Kippert

War is Hell and this book brings World War II to the reader with all of the grit and fear that goes with such a horrific experience.

The main character Bob Kafak, is on the front lines. He can't see the big picture, he has to endure the day to day shelling and rain and mud and cold and at times boredom. He is often close to the German lines and is involved in a lot of fighting from the beaches of Anzio to the south of France. He chooses not to be promoted to a higher rank because he sees so many of the officers get killed. So while the higher ups are controlling the moves of the armies, the reader is getting a day by day look at what actually goes on with an individual soldier whose goal is to stay alive despite all that is going on.

This is not my normal genre of book but I definitely enjoyed the novel. I thought that the main character was very well created and very real. He was definitely a good representation of a soldier of the time. I was also very interested in the parts of the story that took place in France. My father was in WWII and was in southern France and like the author's father, never talked about the war until very late in his life.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a gritty real story about WWII from the soldiers' point of view. But it can also be enjoyed by a reader who wants to read a real coming of age story about a young man who gets drafted and learns what's important in life during his time at war. 
(Thanks to the author for providing a copy of this book for a fair and honest review.)

Buy One Man's War at Amazon

Revenants: The Odyssey Home by Scott Kauffman  

This is a war novel but it's not about what happens to the soldiers in battles but what happens to the family of a soldier who doesn't return.

This is the story of Betsy, a teenage girl, whose brother Nathan dies in the Vietnam War. The entire family is overwhelmed with grief but it's Betsy that the novel centers on. She feels guilty because she never got to really say good bye to her brother and she misses him terribly. As a result of her feelings, she starts hanging out with a rough crowd at school and gets in trouble. As punishment, she is given the chance to work as a candy stripper at the local VA hospital. At first, she's very resentful of this but as she gets to know some of the patients, she starts to love the time that she spends at the hospital and makes a vow that they will all go home to their families, unlike her brother who never came home to his family.

There is also a mystery about a patient on the upper floor that no one is supposed to know about. The story behind the mystery patient is very intriguing and by getting to know him and his story, Betsy begins to heal from the loss of her brother.

I almost didn't read this book because I don't like novels about war but this book was fantastic. Yes, war is dangerous for the soldier but it also harms the family at home and that harm can cause scars that last for generations. So even if you avoid war novels, don't avoid this book - it's a book that will stay with you long after the last page is turned.
(Thanks to the author for a copy of this book for a fair and honest review.)

Buy Revenants: The Odyssey Home at Amazon

Remember the Ladies
Remember the Ladies by Gina Mulligan

I don't read a lot of historical fiction but I'm so glad that I decided to read this book. The time period of this book is the late 1800s but parts of it could be written about today's political struggles in the US.

I also found it very interesting to read about the early work of the women's suffrage movement and the work that they did to give women the right to vote.

Amelia was orphaned at four and raised in an orphanage where she was upset that boys could get schooling and girls were taught to keep a clean and orderly house. When she was emancipated from the orphanage at 18, she went to work at a textile mill where she once again saw women treated as second class citizens. After being fired, she decided that she wanted to be a person who could make a difference in the world. She took the train to Washington, DC and after much convincing and studying, she found a male lobbyist who would mentor her. She was one of the first female lobbyists and fought discrimination every day. Eventually she went to work for the National American Woman Suffrage Association to try to get a bill through Congress to allow women to vote. Through her struggle to be a person of importance in Washington, we learn all about the deals and tricks that were part of politics at the time - many of which still happen today.

I definitely enjoyed this book. I thought that the character of Amelia was very well done and she showed growth and change throughout the book. I also enjoyed learning more about what women had to go through to get the right to vote. So many people don't take advantage of this in today's world - they all need to read about the struggle for women to be able to cast their votes and be involved in government.

Buy Remember the Ladies at Amazon

While I historical fiction isn't something I readily pick up, these tales were so well researched and brought history to life that I'm really glad I took the chance. What novels have you read that were outisde your normal genres, but turned out to love?

Susan Roberts, reviewer. Susan grew up in the Detroit area but after deciding that city life wasn't for her she moved to North Carolina after college. She and her husband have several acres of land and they enjoy gardening and canning vegetables in the summer. They travel extensively. Susan reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook or Twitter.

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June 26, 2016

Summer Just Got a Little Hotter with these Romance Novels

Looking for a new romance this summer? Check out these hot titles.

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the orchard.

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.

Buy Bittersweet at Amazon


I found Killian drunk and sprawled out on my lawn like some lost prince. With the face of a god and the arrogance to match, the pest won’t leave. Sexy, charming, and just a little bit dirty, he’s slowly wearing me down, making me crave more.

He could be mine if I dare to claim him. Problem is, the world thinks he’s theirs. How do you keep an idol when everyone is intent on taking him away?


As lead singer for the biggest rock band in the world, I lived a life of dreams. It all fell apart with one fateful decision. Now everything is in shambles.

Until Liberty. She’s grouchy, a recluse—and kind of cute. Scratch that. When I get my hands on her, she is scorching hot and more addictive than all the fans who’ve screamed my name.

The world is clamoring for me to get back on stage, but I’m not willing to leave her. I’ve got to find a way to coax the hermit from her shell and keep her with me. Because, with Libby, everything has changed. Everything.

Buy Idol at Amazon

Breath of Malice
FBI special agent Paige Carson hoped she’d be able to start a new life in small-town South Carolina. But when a senator’s sister is murdered and a blank postcard is left next to the body, Paige realizes that a killer from her past has found her—and is sending her a very personal message.

From the moment he hired her, FBI special agent in charge Sam McKade knew Paige was hiding something. Prompted by this recent threat, she finally opens up: one year ago, she caught the eye of suspected serial killer Todd Thames. Now he’s come back to pull her into his game, whether she wants to play or not.

As the danger increases, Paige and Sam give in to their growing attraction, and he vows to protect her no matter the cost. But the murderer will stop at nothing to get to his intended prey, and the strong arm of the law—and the shelter of her new love—may not be enough to save her.

Buy Breath of Malice at Amazon

When a Boss Falls in Love
Meadow, Maci, and Melina were three sisters who didn't want for anything because they were born into money. None of them needed a man to give them anything but love; yet each of them had standards that no man could measure up to.

Meadow who is the oldest of the three gave up on men her freshman year in college when her ex cheated on her; causing her to lose focus and ending up on academic probation. She swore men off for the next few years because of it. Now that she's graduated, she decided to find someone to occupy her lonely nights. The man she falls for is a Boss with a secret that can destroy everything he was trying to build with her.

Melina found her knight and shining amour; however when she reveals something that she's been holding to he will turn his back on her, leaving her with a broken heart.

Maci is the youngest of the crew who is finally finished with high school and finds herself falling for her first bad boy. He is a few years older but can't seem to get enough of her and vows to make her his no matter what the cost.

These three sisters will take you on a ride with them and their men that will have you wondering what the hell just happened.

Buy When a Boss Falls in Love at Amazon

Unbreak My Heart
What do you do when your soul mate marries your best friend?

If you're Kate Evans, you keep your friend Rachel, bond with her kids, and bury your feelings for her husband. The fact that Shane's in the military and away for long periods helps-but when tragedy strikes, everything changes.

After Rachel, pregnant with her fourth child, dies in a car accident and the baby miraculously survives, Kate upends her entire life to share parenting duties. Then on the first anniversary of Rachel's death, Kate and Shane take comfort in each other in a night that they both soon regret.

Shane's been angry for a year, and now he feels guilty too - for sleeping with his wife's best friend and liking it . . . liking her. Kate's ability to read him like a book may have once sent Shane running, but their lives are forever entwined and they are growing closer.

Now with Shane deployed for seven months, Kate is on her own and struggling with being a single parent. Shane is loving and supportive from thousands of miles away, but his homecoming brings a betrayal Kate never saw coming. So Kate's only choice is to fight for the future she deserves - with or without Shane. . .

Buy Unbreak My Heart at Amazon

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