ARC REVIEW + EXCERPT: It Started With Goodbye by Christina June + INT Giveaway!!

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It Started With Goodbye

Christina June

Published May 9th 2017 by Blink/HarperCollins

YAContemporary | Romance

Purchase links: Amazon | BN | TBD

4 ★★★★

 

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:

Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.

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[tour schedule

 

REVIEW:

“I cried for the girl constantly trying to force a connection, to find someone who took her at face value and didn’t ask her to be something she wasn’t. cried out for the doors that had closed and cried for the ones that might never open..”

I didn’t even know this was a retelling! Come to think of it, while I was reading the book I have this bubble of thought that says ‘Gosh she’s so much like Cinderella with what’s happening to her lol’ I love how Christina June got a lot of the books scenarios and character attitudes from the original Cinderella and modernized it but not in a way that it will lost the FEELS of the original story.

What I love about ISWG is that it’s not a love story. But it’s full of love. It’s romantic. It’s swoony. And most importantly, it’s full of heart. It started With Goodbye starts with our main character having the baddest day of her life and I like that. Because it just says that everything happens for a reason and bad things happening are actually a sign that GREAT things are ahead. Which is what happened with Tatums story. And Christina June made such a readable story with a relatable set of characters. Tatum is quirky, sweet, funny and authentic. She’s not perfect. You’ll scratch your head by some of her actions sometimes but that is the most wonderful part of reading a story, right? Getting affected by the characters actions that you’re connected with them. Now, I’m not sure if I’m the only one who felt this way but Tate’s parents are the only characters who I didn’t like much (her father is present here unlike from the original and she also has a stepmother) but I guess the author really designed them that way. The important thing though was that they helped a lot with Tatums character development.

The book has a lovestory as well that will also make you think of the original Cinderella. I don’t want to tell here how they met (hella cute), how did their love story progressed (swooooony) and what happened to their lovestory. You need to read the story for that, but one thing I can tell you is that even though the romance is not the highlight of the book, you won’t stop talking and thinking about it (like what I’m doing right now) just because it was done beautifully. There are a lot of winning relationships that is also part of the book such as friendships and family relationship. I specifically love the bond of Tatum and her abuela which is so delightfully sweet.

My rating is missing one star because ISWG started slow for me but despite of that, I would still recommend this book for contemporary lovers like me. It Started With Goodbye is well written and full of charm that will just touch your heartstrings. The characters are authentic and the story will make you believe that you could be a Tatum as well who is still lovable and fearless despite the unfortunate circumstances surrounding her.

 

EXCERPT:

I started crafting a letter, each key cool and hard under my fingers.

Hi Ashlyn,

Would she get stabby if I was formal, or would she think I was being contrite? I took off the lyn.

Hi Ash,

I heard through the grapevine that you enrolled at Blue Valley. I checked out the website, and it pretty much looks too good to be true. Do you ride to class on horseback? I bet they feed you nothing but ambrosia and Perrier too. We miss your face around here.

We or I? I left it we.

You aren’t missing anything at all at Henderson. Three more finals and then hello, junior year.

Remember the logo I was working on for Abby Gold’s blog? I finished it, and it turned out pretty well. Abby thinks I should make this a regular thing and launch my own business. What do you think?

Maybe she’d bite and give me her opinion. I did actually want it—she was pretty savvy when it came to people-oriented things, Chase excepted. I really just hoped she’d write me back.

Anywho, hope things are going okay. Do you have a roommate? If yes, if she annoys you, you can always freeze her bra or something. My intel says that’s the kind of prank people pull at all-girls schools.

Tatum

Or should I sign it Tate? Ashlyn was the only person who ever called me that. Again with the formal name or not. I looked back up at the top of the email. I supposed they should match, so I changed it.

Tate

Oh crud. What about a closing? Did I say Love or Sincerely? Warmly? Yours truly? The cheeky but effective Cheers? Or, my least favorite of all because it was so sadly insincere and fake, Best? Why was this so difficult? I closed my eyes for a moment, the pores on my hands prickling. I googled “how to close a letter,” determined to find exactly the right way to show my friend that I missed her and wanted to talk with her, but that I wasn’t going to apologize because I’d done nothing wrong and acted out of self-preservation. Google would know the right answer.

I read the almighty Wikipedia page titled “Valedictions”—apparently, that was the fancy word that meant how to say goodbye—and laughed at some of the phrases people used to write in old letters. “Yours aye”—which meant “yours always”—made me think of a pirate. The list of more casual closings suggested TTFN. That was too childish. Yours hopefully? Plain desperate, and too obvious. Couldn’t give it all away. And then I saw it. Be well. It made the most sense, as I was innocently hoping she was settling in at her new school. It wasn’t reciprocal. With a simple Be well, I was offering my personal goodwill without asking for anything in return. And it wasn’t too stiff or laid-back. Just right, as Goldilocks would say.

Be well,

Tate

AUTHOR:

  Twitter | Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Instagram

Christina June writes young adult contemporary fiction when she’s not writing college recommendation letters during her day job as a school counselor. She loves the little moments in life that help someone discover who they’re meant to become – whether it’s her students or her characters.

Christina is a voracious reader, loves to travel, eats too many cupcakes, and hopes to one day be bicoastal – the east coast of the US and the east coast of Scotland. She lives just outside Washington DC with her husband and daughter.

Her debut novel, IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE, will be published by Blink/HarperCollins on May 9, 2017.

   

 

 

GIVEAWAY:

 

5 Winners will receive a Copy of IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE by Christina June

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BOOK EXCERPT: Seven Days Of You by Cecilia Vinesse

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Seven Days Of You

Cecilia Vinesse

Published March 7th 2017 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

YA > Contemporary | Romance

Purchase links: Amazon | BN | TBD | itunes | Kobo

 

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:

Sophia has seven days left in Tokyo before she moves back to the States. Seven days to say good-bye to the electric city, her wild best friend, and the boy she’s harbored a semi-secret crush on for years. Seven perfect days…until Jamie Foster-Collins moves back to Japan and ruins everything.

Jamie and Sophia have a history of heartbreak, and the last thing Sophia wants is for him to steal her leaving thunder with his stupid arriving thunder. Yet as the week counts down, the relationships she thought were stable begin to explode around her. And Jamie is the one who helps her pick up the pieces. Sophia is forced to admit she may have misjudged Jamie, but can their seven short days of Tokyo adventures end in anything but good-bye?

 

1

[tour schedule

 

EXCERPT:

 

07:00:00:00 
DAYS   HOURS     MINS     SECS  

AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SUMMER, I tried to get on top of the whole moving-continents thing by reminding myself I still had time. Days and hours and seconds all piled on top of one another, stretching out in front of me as expansive as a galaxy. And the stuff I couldn’t deal with—packing my room and saying good-bye to my friends and leaving Tokyo—all that hovered at some indistinct point in the indistinct future. 

So I ignored it. Every morning, I’d meet Mika and David in Shibuya, and we’d spend our days eating in ramen shops or browsing tiny boutiques that smelled like incense. Or, when it rained, we’d run down umbrella-crowded streets and watch anime I couldn’t understand on Mika’s couch. Some nights, we’d dance in strobe-lit clubs and go to karaoke at four in the morning. Then, the next day, we’d sit at train-station donut shops for hours, drinking milky coffee and watching the sea of commuters come and go and come and go again. 

Once, I stayed home and tried dragging boxes up the stairs, but it stressed me out so much, I had to leave. I walked around Yoyogi-Uehara until the sight of the same cramped streets made me dizzy. Until I had to stop and fold myself into an alcove between buildings, trying to memorize the kanji on street signs. Trying to count my breaths. 

And then it was August fourteenth. And I only had one week left, and it was hot, and I wasn’t even close to being packed. But the thing was, I should have known how to do this. I’d spent my whole life ping-ponging across the globe, moving to new cities, leaving people and places drifting in my wake. 

Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this good-bye—to Tokyo, to the first friends I’d ever had, to the only life that felt like it even remotely belonged to me—was the kind that would swallow me whole. That would collapse around me like a star imploding. 

And the only thing I knew how to do was to hold on as tightly as possible and count every single second until I reached the last one. The one I dreaded most. 

Sudden, violent, final. 

The end.  

Chapter 1 

Sunday:  
06:19:04:25 
DAYS     HOURS     MINS     SECS 

I WAS LYING ON THE LIVING-ROOM floor reading Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries when our air‐conditioning made a sputtering sound and died. Swampy heat spread through the room as I held my hand over the box by the window. Nothing. Not even a gasp of cold air. I pressed a couple of buttons and hoped for the best. Still nothing. 

“Mom,” I said. She was sitting in the doorway to the kitchen, wrapping metal pots in sheets of newspaper. “Not to freak you out or anything, but the air-conditioning just broke.” 

She dropped some newspaper shreds on the ground, and our cat—Dorothea Brooks—came over to sniff them. “It’s been doing that. Just press the big orange button and hold it.” 

“I did. But I think it’s serious this time. I think I felt its spirit passing.” 

Mom unhooked a panel from the back of the air‐ conditioning unit and poked around. “Damn. The landlord said this system might go soon. It’s so old, they’ll have to replace it for the next tenant.” 

August was always hot in Tokyo, but this summer was approaching unbearable. A grand total of five minutes without air-conditioning and all my bodily fluids were evaporating from my skin. Mom and I opened some windows, plugged in a bunch of fans, and stood in front of the open refrigerator. 

“We should call a repairman,” I said, “or it’s possible we’ll die here.” 

Mom shook her head, going into full-on Professor Wachowski mode. Even though we’re both short, she looks a lot more intimidating than I do, with her square jaw and serious eyes. She looks like the type of person who won’t lose an argument, who can’t take a joke. 

I look like my dad. 

“No,” Mom said. “I’m not dealing with this the week before we leave. The movers are coming on Friday.” She turned and leaned into the fridge door. “Why don’t you go out? See your friends. Come back tonight when it’s cooled down.” 

I twisted my watch around my wrist. “Nah, that’s okay.” 

“You don’t want to?” she asked. “Did something happen with Mika and David?” 

“Of course not,” I said. “I just don’t feel like going out. I feel like staying home, and helping, and being the good daughter.” 

God, I sounded suspicious, even to myself. 

But Mom didn’t notice. She held out a few one-hundred-yen coins. “In that case, go to the konbini and buy some of those towels you put in the freezer and wrap around your neck.” 

I contemplated the money in her hand, but the heat made it swim across my vision. Going outside meant walking into the boiling air. It meant walking down the little streets I knew so well, past humming vending machines and stray cats stretched out in apartment-building entrances. Every time I did that, I was reminded of all the little things I loved about this city and how they were about to slip away forever. And today, of all days, I really didn’t need that reminder. 

“Or,” I said, trying to sound upbeat, “I could pack.” 

 

 Packing was, of course, a terrible idea. 

Even the thought of it was oppressive. Like if I stood in my room too long, the walls would start tightening around me, trash-compacting me in. I stood in the doorway and focused on how familiar it all was. Our house was small and semi-dilapidated, and my room was predictably small to match, with only a twin bed, a desk pushed against the window, and a few red bookshelves running along the walls. But the problem wasn’t the size—it was the stuff. The physics books I’d bought and the ones Dad had sent me cluttering up the shelves, patterned headbands and tangled necklaces hanging from tacks in the wall, towers of unfolded laundry built precariously all over the floor. Even the ceiling was crowded, crisscrossed with string after string of star-shaped twinkly lights. 

There was a WET PAIN! sign (it was supposed to say WET PAINT!) propped against my closet that Mika had stolen from outside her apartment building, a Rutgers University flag pinned above my bed, Totoro stuffed toys on my pillow, and boxes and boxes of platinum-blond hair dye everywhere. (Those, I needed to get rid of. I’d stopped dyeing my hair blond since the last touch-up had turned it an attractive shade of Fanta orange.) It was so much—too much—to have to deal with. And I might have stayed there for hours, paralyzed in the doorway, if Alison hadn’t come up behind me. 

“Packed already?” 

I spun around. My older sister had on the same clothes she’d been wearing all weekend–black T‐shirt, black leggings–and she was holding an empty coffee mug. 

I crossed my arms and tried to block her view of the room. “It’s getting there.” 

“Clearly.” 

“And what have you been doing?” I asked. “Sulking? Scowling? Both at the same time?” 

She narrowed her eyes but didn’t say anything. Alison was in Tokyo for the summer after her first year at Sarah Lawrence. She’d spent the past three months staying up all night and drinking coffee and barely leaving her bedroom during sunlight hours. The unspoken reason for this was that she’d broken up with her girlfriend at the end of last year. Something no one was allowed to mention. 

“You have so much crap,” Alison said, stepping over a pile of thrift‐store dresses and sitting on my unmade bed. She balanced the coffee mug between her knees. “I think you might be a hoarder.” 

“I’m not a hoarder,” I said. “This is not hoarding.” 

She arched an eyebrow. “Lest you forget, little sister, I’ve been by your side for many a move. I’ve witnessed the hoarder’s struggle.” 

It was true. My sister had been by my side for most of our moves, avoiding her packing just as much as I’d been avoiding mine. This year, though, she only had the one suitcase she’d brought with her from the States—no doubt full of sad, sad poetry books and sad, sad scarves. 

“You’re one to talk,” I said. “You threw approximately nine thousand tantrums when you were packing last summer.” 

“I was going to college.” Alison shrugged. “I knew it would suck.” 

“And look at you now,” I said. “You’re a walking endorsement for the college experience.” 

The corners of her lips moved like she was deciding whether to laugh or not. But she decided not to. (Of course she decided not to.) 

I climbed onto my desk, pushing aside an oversize paper‐ back called Unlocking the MIT Application! and a stuffed koala with a small Australian flag clasped between its paws. Through the window behind me, I could see directly into someone else’s living room. Our house wasn’t just small lit was surrounded on three sides by apartment buildings. Like a way less interesting version of Rear Window. 

Alison reached over and grabbed the pile of photos and postcards sitting on my nightstand. “Hey!” I said. “Enough with the stuff-touching.” 

But she was already flipping through them, examining each picture one at a time. “Christ,” she said. “I can’t believe you kept these.” 

“Of course I kept them,” I said, grabbing my watch. “Dad sent them to me. He sent the same ones to you, in case that important fact slipped your mind.” 

She held up a photo of the Eiffel Tower, Dad standing in front of it and looking pretty touristy for someone who actually lived in Paris. “A letter a year does not a father make.” 

“You’re so unfair,” I said. “He sends tons of e‐mails. Like, twice a week.” 

“Oh my God!” She waved another photo at me, this one of a woman sitting on a wood-framed couch holding twin babies on her lap. “The Wife and Kids? Really? Please don’t tell me you still daydream about going to live with them.” 

“Aren’t you late for sitting in your room all day?” I asked. 

“Seriously,” she said. “You’re one creepy step away from Photoshopping yourself in here.” 

I kept the face of my watch covered with my hand, hoping she wouldn’t start on that as well. 

She didn’t. She moved on to another picture: me and Alison in green and yellow raincoats, standing on a balcony messy with cracked clay flowerpots. In the picture, I am clutching a kokeshi—a wooden Japanese doll—and Alison is pointing at the camera. My dad stands next to her, pulling a goofy face. 

“God,” she muttered. “That shitty old apartment.” 

“It wasn’t shitty. It was—palatial.” Maybe. We’d moved from that apartment when I was five, after my parents split, so honestly, I barely remembered it. Although I did still like the idea of it. Of one country and one place and one family living there. Of home. 

Alison threw the pictures back on the nightstand and stood up, all her dark hair spilling over her shoulders. 

“Whatever,” she said. “I don’t have the energy to argue with you right now. You have fun with all your”—she gestured around the room—“stuff.” 

And then she was gone, and I was hurling a pen at my bed, angry because this just confirmed everything she thought. She was the Adult; I was still the Little Kid. 

Dorothea Brooks padded into the room and curled up on a pile of clean laundry in a big gray heap. 

“Fine,” I said. “Ignore me. Pretend I’m not even here.” 

Her ears didn’t so much as twitch. I reached up to yank open the window, letting the sounds of Tokyo waft in: a train squealing into Yoyogi‐Uehara Station, children shouting as they ran through alleyways, cicadas croaking a tired song like something from a rusted music box. 

Since our house was surrounded by apartment buildings, I had to crane my neck to look above them at this bright blue strip of sky. There was an object about the size of a fingernail moving through the clouds, leaving a streak of white in its wake that grew longer and then broke apart. 

I watched the plane until there was no trace of it left. Then I held up my hand to blot out the sliver of sky where it had been—but wasn’t anymore. 

 

 

AUTHOR:

 

 Caroline-Patti-225x300

Twitter | Website  | Instagram

PI was born in France but then moved to Japan. And then to the States. And then back to Japan. And then back to the States. When I was 18, I moved to New York where I was homesick for nearly seven years. After that, I got a job in a cold, snowy city in northern Japan and, from there, I headed to Scotland where I got my master’s in creative writing and lived off tea, writer tears, and Hobnobs.
I still live in the U.K. and spend most of my time writing, reading, baking, and getting emotional over Tori Amos albums. Hobbies include pretending Buffy the Vampire Slayer is real, collecting a lipstick to match every Skittle flavor, and listening to a thousand podcasts a day.
A pup named Malfi and a Renaissancist named Rachel are my favorite things in the world. That, and books. I should probably mention the books again.

 

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SNEAK-A-PEEK: Nora and Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor + Giveaway!!

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Nora & Kettle

Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Published February 29th 2016 by Clean Teen Publishing

YA > Historical Fiction | Retelling

Purchase links: Amazon | BN  | itunes | Kobo

 

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:

“What if Peter Pan was a homeless kid just trying to survive, and Wendy flew away for a really good reason?”

Seventeen-year-old Kettle has had his share of adversity. As an orphaned Japanese American struggling to make a life in the aftermath of an event in history not often referred to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the removal of children from orphanages for having “one drop of Japanese blood in them” things are finally looking up. He has his hideout in an abandoned subway tunnel, a job, and his gang of Lost Boys.

Desperate to run away, the world outside her oppressive brownstone calls to naive, eighteen-year-old Nora the privileged daughter of a controlling and violent civil rights lawyer who is building a compensation case for the interned Japanese Americans. But she is trapped, enduring abuse to protect her younger sister Frankie and wishing on the stars every night for things to change.

For months, they’ve lived side by side, their paths crossing yet never meeting. But when Nora is nearly killed and her sister taken away, their worlds collide as Kettle, grief stricken at the loss of a friend, angrily pulls Nora from her window.

In her honeyed eyes, Kettle sees sadness and suffering. In his, Nora sees the chance to take to the window and fly away.

Set in 1953, Nora & Kettle explores the collision of two teenagers facing extraordinary hardship. Their meeting is inevitable, devastating, and ultimately healing. Their stories, “a collection of events, are each on their own harmless. But together, one after the other, they change the world.””

 

1

[tour schedule

 

EXCERPT:

I snort, push my sleeves up, and lean back on my forearms. She watches me, her eyes on my bare skin, and I wonder what she’s thinking. “Dances. Really? What’s to miss?” My experience with dances was one forced event in the camps where we watched the grownups awkwardly shift in lines to scratchy music. It didn’t look very enjoyable.

She releases the button she’s been playing with and smirks. “Says someone who’s clearly never been to one.”

“How do you know that?” I say, raising an eyebrow and touching my chest, mock offended.

She laughs. It’s starlight in a jar. I blink slowly. “Oh, I can tell just by looking at you, the way you move. You,” she says, pointing at me accusingly. “Can’t dance.”

The candlelight twinkles like it’s chuckling at me. “I can dance,” I say, not sure why I’m lying to defend myself. I’ve never danced in my life.

She stands up and beckons me with her finger, and I think there’s something wrong with my heart. It’s hurting… but the pain feels good.

She looks like a pirate’s cabin boy, shirt billowing around her small waist, ill-fitting pants rolled over at her hips to stop them from falling down. She points her bare foot at me. “Prove it!”

Shit!

I cough and stand nervously. I don’t know what to do with my hands, so I put them behind my back. She giggles. Touches me. Runs her fingers lightly down my arms until she finds my hands. She grasps my wrists and I gulp as she places one on the small dip between her hips and her ribs, extending the other out like the bow of a boat. Her hand in mine.

I follow her small steps and we wind in circles, avoiding the clumps of debris, painting patterns in the dust.

I stare at my socks and her narrow bare feet, listening to the swish of them across the dirt. “You know, this is pretty weird without music,” I mutter, looking up for a moment and suddenly losing my balance.

She exhales and brings us back to equilibrium. She starts humming softly. It’s a song I’ve heard before, but I pretend it’s the first time. Her voice is sweet, cracked and croaky, but in tune as she gazes at the ground and leads us up and down the back of the tunnel.

This moment is killing me. I don’t want it, but I do. Because I know it won’t be enough and it’s all I’ll get.

The end of the song is coming. It rises and rises and then softly peters out. We look at each other, understanding that something is changing between us, and we have to decide whether to let it. Please, let it.

She sings the last few bars. “And if you sing this melody, you’ll be pretending just like me. The world is mine. It can be yours, my friend. So why don’t you pretend?”

Her voice is like the dust of a comet’s tail. Full of a thousand things I don’t understand but want to.

She stops and starts to step away. She’s so fragile. Not on the outside. On the outside, her body is strong, tougher than it should have to be. It’s inside that’s very breakable. I’m scared to touch her, but I don’t want to avoid touching her because of what she’s been through. That seems worse.

So I do it, because I want to and I don’t think she doesn’t want me to. Her breath catches as I pull her closer. I just want to press my cheek to hers, feel her skin against mine. There is no music, just the rhythm of two barely functioning hearts trying to reach each other through miles of scar tissue.

She presses her ear to my chest and listens, then she pulls back to meet my eyes, her expression a mixture of confusion and comfort. She breathes out, her lips not wanting to close but not wanting to speak. She settles on a nervous smile and puts her arms around my neck. I inhale and look up at the ceiling, counting the stars I know are up there somewhere, and then rest my cheek in her hair.

I don’t know how she is here. I don’t know when she’ll disappear.

We sway back and forth, and it feels like we might break. That we will break if we step apart from each other.

I can’t let her go.

I think I love dancing.

 

a

 

 

AUTHOR:

 Caroline-Patti-225x300

Twitter | Website  | Facebook

Lauren Nicolle Taylor lives in the lush Adelaide Hills. The daughter of a Malaysian nuclear physicist and an Australian scientist, she was expected to follow a science career path, attending Adelaide University and completing a Health Science degree with Honours in obstetrics and gynaecology.

She then worked in health research for a short time before having her first child. Due to their extensive health issues, Lauren spent her twenties as a full-time mother/carer to her three children. When her family life settled down, she turned to writing.

She is a 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semi-finalist and a USA Best Book Awards Finalist.

 

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SNEAK-A-PEEK: Racing Hearts: Compilation by Laura Lascarso + Giveaway!!

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Racing Hearts: Compilation

Laura Lascarso

Published October 26th 2015 by Leap Books, LLC

YA/NA > Contemporary | Romance

 

Purchase links: Amazon | BN 

 

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:

Book One:

Eighteen-year-old Jesse Copeland learns of a local car race sponsored by his father’s nemesis, Shep Bradley, and the prize money might be enough to keep his family from losing their home–if he can win. Brooke, Shep’s daughter, is also aiming to compete, with or without her father’s approval. She’ll do whatever it takes to persuade Jesse to make her car race ready. Both are driven, both are risk-takers, and soon it’s more than engines getting fired up. Jesse tells himself their relationship is strictly business, until it isn’t. Can two star-crossed lovers overcome a family feud as old as Ford vs. Chevy, or will the competition become too explosive for these racing hearts?

Book Two:

See you at the finish line… With the big race weeks away, eighteen-year-old Jesse Copeland struggles to keep his head in the game and his hands off his smoking hot competition. But when Brooke reveals a secret that could destroy Jesse’s family, it sends him into a tailspin of self-doubt. Jesse must pull himself together if he hopes to have a shot at the prize money, save his home, and win the heart of the girl he loves. Can these two competitors overcome the sins of their fathers or will a shadowed history destroy their dreams forever?1

[tour schedule

 EXCERPT:

RH1 two scenes from Brooke’s perspective, first-person

By Laura Lascarso

Not many things held my attention, but that Cobra did, especially speeding down the highway in broad daylight like it was the Daytona 500.

I adjusted my rearview mirror to get a better look. From the shape of the hood I guessed it to be a ‘69 and I might add that the driver was easy on the eyes as well. He pulled up next to me and revved his engine, which roused me from my afternoon daydream. Maybe it was a tease or maybe it was a challenge. There was only one thing I could do—I revved my engine back.

“Nice ride,” he called out, checking me out with just the right amount of discretion. I appraised his lines—powder blue paint job polished to a high shine and not a scratch or dent on her. I appreciated a man who took care of his car. That Cobra was a beloved machine.

“Back at ya, Hotshot,” I called. “Want to race?”

He tilted his head and seemed to give it some thought—for an entire half-second.

“I don’t race girls,” he called. I smiled even though I’d like to slap the smug grin off his face. A lot of guys make the mistake of underestimating me on the racetrack, and then I cream them. And then I laugh.

“Oh no?” I revved my engine again. The sound was like a drug to those of us who chase the thrill of victory. Racing was an addiction like any other and the possibility of an unexpected challenge gave me goose bumps all over. My adrenaline kicked into high gear. “Just this once?”

He might have been reconsidering when the light turned green. I gunned it, slithering in front of him like a snake. I saw his stunned expression in my rearview. Now I had his attention. It took him half a beat to recover and then he was chasing after me.

I darted in and out of a few cars—they seemed happy to oblige. The wind was in my hair and my endorphins were flowing—the best feeling in the world. I was soaring near 60, free as a jaybird.

He finally caught up, or maybe I slowed down a bit to let him catch me, because after all, he was pretty cute and his taste in cars was something to be admired. Maybe if I got to know him, he’d let me drive his Cobra. We could take our cars down to the Circle-Circle and race for real. There I could beat him proper, maybe put some money on it, just to make it interesting, Mr. I-Don’t-Race-Girls.

“What’s your name?” he called out. Distraction was a method my brother Junior often employed, one I’d trained myself to become immune to. I pulled ahead just a tad, making sure he couldn’t overtake me.

“Brooke,” I shouted, keeping an eye on the road. My exit was coming up fast. No more time for small talk.

I sprinted ahead and dirt-tracked a turn onto the bridge. My tires burned some rubber and an oncoming car laid on their horn like a demon. A thrill of panic raced through me—I nearly sideswiped the car—and then my backend straightened out and I was safely in my lane. I blew my racing partner a kiss and drove on.

I thought maybe he’d follow me, but alas…

Sure it was fun, but this small time stuff was for amateurs. I needed a real racecar on a real track—a professional outfit. That’s where I needed to focus my energy. I had two months before my father’s race, and whether he liked it or not, I was going to enter. Now, all I needed was to find someone to make my car race ready, and fast.

This summer I’d prove to my father that I was a contender. I’d make it so that he couldn’t do anything but sponsor me in the racing circuit. Other girls might have opportunities—marriage, college, career… But for me, there was only racing. That was the one thing I was good at. And everything else was just a blur outside my window.

 

*****

 

I went to visit Jesse that Sunday, despite my brother’s warning, partly because I wanted to see him again, but more because I saw his potential—his potential to help me, that is. Here under my very nose was a first-rate mechanic who wasn’t in my father’s pocket, who could not only make my car race-ready, but who might also be able to keep it under wraps—something unheard of in my family.

I found him in the back garage, banging away at the inside of his Mustang with the music on full-blast. I may have paused for a moment to admire his arms, which were ripped with muscles from hard labor, and his shoulders, broad as an ironing board. His thin t-shirt clung to his back and outlined the V-shape of his torso. I may have noticed those things, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say I was distracted by them.

“Hiyah, Hotshot.” I had to shout to be heard above the music.

He looked surprised and stopped what he was doing mid-swing. He climbed out of the car—sweaty, grimy and completely adorable.

“Hey, yourself,” he said with a little half-smile, one of those you don’t even know you’re giving.

“Don’t you ever get a day off?” He seemed to always be working, and though I didn’t know for sure, the fact that he didn’t have his own car or cell phone made me think that he wasn’t too well-off. Maybe he spent all his money on cars. Or drugs. I hoped not drugs.

“This is my day off.” He walked over to the sink and turned on the water, splashing his face and running his hands through his hair. It still stuck out every which way. He pulled up his t-shirt to wipe the sweat from his neck, affording me a glimpse of his finely chiseled midsection. Can I get an order of fries with that?

“Your brother know you’re here?” he said, completely ruining the moment.

This was a delicate situation. My brother could be pretty intimidating and my father would blow a gasket if he found out I was building myself a racecar. Jesse would be taking a risk to help me out, which meant I’d have to offer him something in return, something he needed.

“No, and I’d like to keep it that way.”

I took a tour around the garage, stalling for time while checking out his Mustang. It looked like a hell of a lot of work, and the way he was swinging that crowbar made me think that it would take me three times as long to complete a job like this.

Time was not on my side.

“Looks like you’ve done this before,” I said.

“A couple times. Well, I helped my dad. Sam helped him. They always worked as a team. Sam was my dad’s pit boss, when he was still racing.”

“Was he now?”

He nodded and turned over two buckets, offering me a seat. It was such a gentlemanly thing to do without any thought to what reward he might get in return. I’d noticed that about him. The way he was generous for no reason. In my family, it was always tit for tat—what’s in it for me? With Jesse, he seemed so trusting and open. It gnawed at me a little bit, knowing what I was about to ask him.

“I’ve got a proposition for you, Jesse.” I’d be up front about it. He seemed to be the type to appreciate directness.

“I’m listening.” He slouched back a bit and crossed his arms. I took a deep breath.

“It would require me divulging some information that I’d like to keep private.”

“You got a secret?”

“I do.”

“I’m no gossip.”

I believed that he wasn’t, but Sam seemed like the head biddy in the henhouse with the way he scratched at the dirt. I glanced over to where he was chatting up another mechanic.

“Sam? Yeah, he’s a blabbermouth, but he can keep quiet, if it matters.”

I’d have to take the risk. I had no other options. “I’ve got a racecar.”

“The ’97 Camaro?” He had a good memory for cars.

“Yep. But it isn’t a racecar just yet.”

His grin faded a little like I might have hurt his feelings. Maybe he liked me. Maybe I liked him too, but that was beside the point.

“You need someone to make it race ready?” he guessed.

I nodded, doing my best to appear as a damsel in distress. It wasn’t my favorite look, but it worked so often that I couldn’t give it up.

Jesse groaned. “What for?” he asked. I knew he was entering the race, and I didn’t want him to worry about me being his competition, so I decided to keep it vague.

“I’d like to have a little practice behind the wheel.”

“Why don’t you ask your dad? He’s got plenty of mechanics at the dealership. I’m sure they take on side work.”

Because if my dad knew about this, he’d ground me for life or send me to some boarding school run by nuns or worst of all, take away my cars—both of them. “The truth is, Jesse, he doesn’t want me racing.”

I had a little pout, poor me. He narrowed his eyes and studied me—seeing right through my act. I could see he was having some inner argument with himself. It seemed this wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought.

“I don’t think I can help you,” he said at last.

I sighed, all slow and dramatic-like. He checked out my boobs, but tried to act like he wasn’t, and though I didn’t want to have to resort to this, it seemed he was giving me no alternative.

I did my sexy walk over to his car and laid my hands on the hood. I’d deliver him a two-fer. If my looks didn’t persuade him, then maybe my pocketbook would.

“Must be expensive,” I said, “doing all this work to a car, just for one race. I’d pay you, of course, for your time and labor.”

He didn’t say anything, but I knew I’d piqued his interest. I tossed my hair over my shoulder and bent over a little. I’m not proud, but like my father always says, you got to use whatever advantages you’ve got. Being the daughter of a car salesman I’d learned a few things in that regard.

“I know the realities of racing Jesse. It’s expensive and it’s dangerous, but what can I say? I love it—like our fathers, and like you. If you’re trying to protect me from the big, bad world of racing, you’re about ten years too late.”

He groaned and I knew I was wearing him down. “You know the heap of trouble I’d be in, if your father caught wind of this?”

“I’m very good at keeping secrets.” I gave him my most innocent look.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea.” He stood, but I could already tell he was coming around. Some kind of sixth sense, I suppose. I reached into my back pocket and pulled out a scrap of paper that had my phone number on it.

“I could really use your help, Jesse. You’re the only person I can trust with this.” I took his hand in mine—big and calloused and caked with grease—the hands of a working man or a race car driver. “Here’s my number. Think about it.”

I smiled and walked away, praying that he’d swing my way. I needed him to get my car in shape. That’s all there was to it. Without him, I was sunk. And if we had to spend a little more time together, if I had to watch him work in his garage with his muscles slick with oil and his hair all disheveled like he just got out of bed. Well, I suppose it was a sacrifice I was willing to make.

So long as it didn’t become a distraction.

 

AUTHOR:

 
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Laura Lascarso aims to inspire more questions than answers in her young adult fiction. Her debut novel COUNTING BACKWARDS, which deals with mental illness, was awarded the Florida Book Award gold medal for YA lit in 2012. Her most recent novel, RACING HEARTS, tells the story of two star-crossed lovers set in Daytona Beach, the mecca of motorsports, and has been described as a Romeo & Juliet on wheels.

She lives in North Florida with her husband, two children and a menagerie of animals.

 

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SNEAK-A-PEEK: Forever Night Stand by Ysa Arcangel + Giveaway!!

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Forever Night Stand

Ysa Arcangel

Published December 20th 2015 by Blvnp Publishing Inc

A > Romance | Contemporary

 

Purchase links: Amazon 

 

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:

“What the mind forgets, the heart remembers.”

Brandy Curtis is a strong and independent career woman who does not care for commitment. She prefers no strings-attached, one night stands because that’s all she can give with what little free time she has. This is the life she has chosen and the life she is used to.

However, everything changed when she met Ivo, a gorgeous doctor with irresistible charm. He was just supposed to be another hookup, but he quickly became so much more. The more nights they spent together, the more Brandy felt that life had given her something to live for.
Things seemed perfect… until a visit to the doctor sends her world crashing. The timing couldn’t be worse. As her heart gets closer to Ivo, her memories begin to fade.

Will Brandy be able to actually live her life with Ivo… or will she succumb to the condition that threatens to claim her forever? Find out how this touching journey of life and love turns out. Grab your copy now!

1

[tour schedule

 

EXCERPT:

 

“Come, take a walk with me.”

We ambled through the side roads through the farmlands and eventually ended up in a barn. We walked inside in silence and saw some hay blocks. Ivo started to arrange the hay blocks into a bed and pillows, not making much of a mess. I just stood there watching him work.

“What are you doing?”

“Making a makeshift bed, can’t you see?”

“Ivo, what are you planning to do?” I asked, narrowing my eyes at him.

“I don’t have plans to have sex with you here, Brandy, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

“Nah, you like me too much to make me sit on the cold hard ground.” I rolled my eyes playfully.

“But if you keep on doing that I might just change my mind,” Ivo said and I quickly let out a laugh. “Let’s just sit and relax and talk maybe. My feet hurts, we’ve been strolling around for hours now. Are you just gonna watch me make our bed?”

Ivo pulled me in and I instantly snuggled beside him.

“So far how do you like it here?”

“I love it here. It’s stress-free, the life here so far is tranquil and fun.”

“That’s why I always wanted to go back here even when I was in Atlanta.”

“I know, right? Everything here is just so peaceful and quiet. The people are nice except that Bettina.”

Ivo let out a soft chuckle. “She didn’t do anything bad to you.”

“Well, she threatened me with that text. She’ll ruin everything that we have, you know.”

“We have nothing,” he stated.

“Arrangement…  we have an arrangement, Ivo,” I reiterated. “Can we not talk about her, so how was your trip to Rome?”

“Everything went well. We have a promising case. The subject is quite hesitant to talk about her condition but hopefully she’ll open up so I can help her get through her situation.”

“Good. I’m glad you accomplished something in that small amount of time.”

“Did you miss me when I was away?”

I blushed and crossed my arms over my chest. “No,” I quickly answered. “I was too busy having fun with the kids.”

“I’m glad you’re happy around them. You miss having a sister, do you?”

“Yeah, I haven’t had any since mom started to—” I dared not continue. “Let’s not talk about me, Ivo. You’re not going to get anything out of me.”

Ivo took my hand from my chest and held it. “It’s okay to talk Brandy. If you don’t like this ‘thing’ we have taken to the next level so do I, but I could be your friend. You can tell me anything.”

I pulled my hand back. “Friends with benefits, huh?”

“Yeah, apparently it’s a thing nowadays,” he said and we both chuckled.

I sat up and played with some of the hay blocks beside me. “I grew up in a family of boys, Ivo. I grew up strong. Independent. I don’t want to cling to anyone and depend on anyone except myself.”

Ivo listened attentively to me.

“My family has a history of Alzheimer’s, Ivo. I am next in line. I know better than to have a boyfriend, start a family, raise kids…”

“I can help you Brandy,” he cut me off and took my trembling hands. “If you’ll just let me.”

“Nobody can help me.”

“I will. Trust me. You’re going to be okay,” he assured and held me close to him.

“No!” I stood up and shouted at him. “I’m not gonna be okay, Ivo! I’m not gonna be okay! I can feel it. It’s coming for me, Ivo. I can feel it.” I broke down.

Ivo came up to me, cupped my face and sat me down on the make shift bed. “Sshh…  sshh, it’s okay. It’s okay just relax.”

Ivo held me in his arms like I was the most fragile thing in the world until my cries turned into faint sobs.

“Doesn’t it get boring?” Ivo said in a deep drawl as he glowered at me

I suddenly realized he still had me in a tight embrace, so I quickly drew away from him.

His smirk widened and his eyes narrowed dangerously as he grabbed my hand and pressed me against the barn wall.

I frowned and stuck my tongue out. Ivo flicked his tongue against mine, quickly taking my tongue in his mouth and sucking gently.

I pulled away and pretended I was disgusted at his actions. “Ivo, I’m serious! I don’t want to do it here!”

Ivo merely chuckled and pressed his lips against mine. “Shut up, Brandy,” He mumbled when we parted. I groaned inwardly. He was being such a tease and I knew that if Ivo pushed me far enough I’d let him do whatever he wanted with me.

Unfortunately, he also knew this, and I knew he was ready to hear me say, “I want you inside me.”

While I was lost in my thoughts, Ivo had brought my hands above my head, holding both of them in his larger hand while the other roamed my body, caressing every curve.

I gasped when Ivo’s hand cupped my breast through my shirt. I squirmed slightly as he began licking my neck, giggling occasionally as it tickled my face. I arched a little, allowing him more room to suckle my neck. I vaguely registered his hand gripping my thigh and lifting it upwards to curl around his waist.

He smirked triumphantly when a lusty moan crept out of my throat as he slowly grind against me.

“See, you do want this.” Ivo said as he let go of my hands. I wrapped them around his neck and kissed him.

“Be quiet and make love to me.” I giggled at my boldness. He seemed to like it, though.

He slid my shirt off, leaving me in my underwear. Ivo quickly flicked the button of my pants and unzipped them, letting them fall to the floor. He stood back to stare down at the half-naked woman that stood before him. I blushed and crossed my arms over my chest.

“Don’t stare at me like that, I feel like a piece of meat.”

Ivo chuckled at my words and began to undress until he leaned against me once more, this time clad in only his boxers.

As we made out against the wall of the barn I realized something was pressing against my tummy, I lowered my hand to touch his arousal gently through the silky fabric of his boxers. Ivo swatted my hand away quickly, and hurriedly unclasped my bra and buried his face between my breasts. As Ivo sucked my nipple, one of his hands lowered and cupped my panty-clad sex, making me breathe in sharply. He pushed a finger into me through the cotton fabric and watched my face in delight as I moaned softly.

I began panting heavily as he brought his lips down against my throat and his hand steadily pinched and pulled at my nipple.

I gripped his shoulders and dug my nails into them as I gasped and rocked myself against his fast-moving fingers. With a loud cry I shuddered as I felt myself release. Ivo slid my now wet underwear down my hips and carried me over the make shift bed bridal style and lay me down.

He reached for his pants and grabbed his wallet, pulling out a tiny foil packet.

He removed his boxers and I bit my lip. He rolled the condom down on his now fully hard member, and then he gently pushed my thighs apart.

“You’re so ready,” I breathed. I was waiting for him to thrust into me, but instead, he just rubbed it up and down my wetness. “Oooh,” I let out a high-pitched moan as his manhood pressed ever so slightly into me. I tried to move my hips forward and close my eyes. I didn’t even care that we were in a barn anymore.

“A boy scout is always prepared. I don’t want you reminding me about your 4Ns rule anymore,” he said and gave me a wicked grin. “Brandy, watch me,” he ordered.

I opened one eye, ever so slightly then opened both and sat up, supporting myself on my elbows as I watched him press his erection between my legs. Ivo entered slowly as he watched me watch him, and I had to admit, it was more arousing.

When he had entered his whole length into me, he pushed me back into a laying position pulling my hips up to his waist. He plunged himself deeper inside me. I gasped and moaned as he pumped at a frantic pace. I tightened my legs around his waist, allowing my hips to smoothly rock along with him as my arms circled around his neck. I arched my back and grabbed handfuls of golden hay as I brought my arms above my head.

The sensation was washing over me and I mustered up my voice to push Ivo over the edge. “Come on, Ivo. I want it so bad.”

He cried out my name as he pulled out and came intensely. I felt his warm liquid inside me. I sighed pleasurably, my legs wound around his waist once more, he pulled my hips closer to him.

Ivo leaned forward on top of me, and let out a contented sigh. He plucked out pieces of straw from my hair and kissed my tired lips. “I love fucking you,” he whispered.

“You mean ‘I fucking love you.’”

Ivo rolled off me and began picking up our discarded clothes.

“Definitely, maybe.”

I blushed but didn’t bother objecting.

We returned to the house and I walked into the kitchen to drink some water. I felt so dehydrated after a long day of walking and our intense sack session in the barn. I smiled at that thought.

As I opened the refrigerator, a cute little notebook fell from the top. The notebook fell open on the floor. I crouched, picking it up carefully. I should have never done that, but I couldn’t stop right then. I couldn’t put it back, not when I saw my name written over it.

 

Patient Name: Brandy Curtis

Case #220: Suspected onset of Alzheimer’s

11:45AM — While Brandy was helping me prepare for lunch, I asked her to pass me the eggplant. It took her quite a while before she took the tomato and passed it on me. She doesn’t know which vegetable is which.

2:30PM — Brandy asked me thrice the name of the triplets on different occasions.

5:00PM — Brandy tried and tasted the Lake Garda olive oil. After she turned her back from the personnel, she again asked me if she could try to taste the oil. She didn’t remember she tasted it already.

6:30PM — We went to the wine festival in Bardolino on the shores of Lake Garda where we enjoyed wine tasting. Brandy had at least four wines tasted in a row. She was all smiles and happy then she turned to look at me and asked what we were doing at that place.

 

The room started to spin around me as I fell to the ground, the notebook falling on my chest. I took a deep breath and forced myself to get up off the ground. I pulled my hand across my eyes trying to wipe away the quiet emotions inscribed in my mind.  Did it really happen? Why can’t I remember any of this?

I tried to settle the emotions inside me. But they were fighting their way out, fluttering in my stomach and came hand in hand with the realization I was being used for some sort of research and how pathetic that made me feel.

I stormed outside and Ivo looked at me, a question in his eyes, as if to ask me what is wrong.

“I’m not a case that you need to solve, Ivo! Damn you!” I felt the tears start to roll down my cheeks leaving a warm trail underneath my icy glare.

Ivo moved closer to me, scaring me even more. He attempted to talk but shut his mouth and the shocked expression on his face morphed into one of concern. He pulled me in and tried to wrap me in his arms. I was having none of it and I pushed him away. My feet stepped onto the slick sidewalk, and I left with no particular destination in mind.

The rain started to pour. Hard. The winds were so strong that the rain fell nearly horizontally. The howling winds deafened my thoughts.

“Brandy, stop!” Ivo ran after me and pulled me into a tight embrace as the rain soaked our clothes.

Even his warmth couldn’t stop the shivers. The cold has seeped too deeply into my bones.

His fingers gripped my arms and shook me gently to make me open my eyes. “Let’s talk, don’t just go. Let me get you a towel. You need to get out of those clothes.” He moved away, but I grasped the back of his shirt, he spun around and at that moment everything turned pitch black.

 

 

AUTHOR:

 Caroline-Patti-225x300Twitter | Goodreads | Website 

Ysa Arcangel is a Filipino author based in Manila. She works as a Spanish-English GDS Helpdesk by day and a writer by night. She is a loving partner to a chef and a mom to three amazing kids.

She enjoys creative writing and uses her obsessive nature by writing contemporary paranormal and romance fiction with lots of laughs, tears and sighs showcasing sweet, funny and badass female leads with raunchy and hot male love interests whether human or supernatural.

She’s a lover of coffee, tattoos, and giant dogs. She is also an extreme sports enthusiast. When she’s not writing, you can see her spending time with her family, reading, or having TV series marathons.

Her debut novel is titled Forever Night Stand.

In this enthralling debut novel, you will find out about the heart that never forgets and the disease which has the power to rob, damage, and destroy yet cannot vanquish the feeling of love and being loved.

   

 

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