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With Kisses From Cécile

With Kisses From Cécile follows two young women, Ruth and her French pen pal, Cécile. Through their letters we get a glimpse of their lives and the beautiful bond that is shared between two friends. Authors Anne Armistead and Jan Agnello have written a historical novel of friendship, loss, and forgiveness.

This book is a delightfully sweet historical fiction novel. The story between Ruth and Cecile is wonderful to follow. The book follows two timelines, one in the present and one in the past. The authors did a fantastic job distinguishing the two timelines. The characters are skillfully crafted and well developed. You admire both women and their strength and admire their friendship. The history in the book does not take away from the story, if anything it adds to it. Reading the historical events that each character witnessed you begin to understand and appreciate them. I would’ve liked to have read more about Clinton and Ruth. Ruth had so much more going on in her life that I would have liked to see loose ends tied up. I came to care for Ruth and the trials she faced, her emotions, and the way she lived life.

While I enjoyed the emotional depth of the book, I felt that the pacing of the story was slow when it came to Gran and Maggie but I pushed on because I wanted to read more about Ruth. The authors included pictures at the end of the book which was an added bonus. With Kisses From Cécile is a heart warming read that explores a beautiful friendship of two women who live worlds apart.

Pages: 269 | ASIN: B07WNY78W6

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It Can Be You

Nikki Haase Author Interview
Nikki Haase Author Interview

Broken Melody follows Sunshine as she struggles with addiction while avoiding a dealer she owes a lot of money to. This is a change from your normal SciFi books, what inspired the change in genre?

I actually wrote this book originally when I was struggling with addiction myself. It was the first full-length novel I really took seriously, but I just didn’t publish it. I wasn’t ready yet. It was one of the few stories that my best friend Casey was actually intrigued by. The smiley face you see in the dedication page was one that she drew on the original many years ago after she ‘stole’ it from me. I re-wrote it when I got sober as a sort of therapy and after some heart wrenching events, to honor her. I only wish that I would’ve done it sooner.

I might revisit topics like this, but in different ways. The rawness of this took a lot out of me.

How much of this book was informed by real life and how much was fiction?

There’s a bit that’s embellished, but a lot of it is real. I pulled a lot, if not all, of Alana’s cocaine addiction and undiagnosed mental illness struggles from my own, first-hand experiences. However, a lot of the more ‘hardcore’ stuff, like owing the biggest drug dealer in town a bunch of money, is fiction.

What is a common misconception you feel people have about addiction?

That only ‘bad’ people can become addicted to drugs. That it’s only a certain group of people that can fall victim to it. It can be anyone. It can be you. You probably love someone who is suffering from addiction and don’t even know it. So, reach out to your friends, let them know you’ll support them, and tell them you love them.

What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m actually going back to my roots. 🙂 I’m working on the Experiment X Prequel, which is told from Jack’s POV. I don’t have a date yet though…sorry.
Broken Melody was a way to heal old wounds and hopefully help people understand addiction and mental illness without any fluff.

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I think a demon lives in me. Her name is Sunshine and she wants the numbing chemicals of cocaine. She craves the sweet, disgusting taste of heroin and the sharp flavors of crystal meth. We’re often told that drug addicts are lowly humans that drop out of school, can’t hold down a job, and they always come from a life of abuse and pain. I have friends who love me, parents who care about me, and a beautiful girlfriend who I adore. I was a straight-A student in high school. I was at the top of my class. I’ve been getting high since I was a kid to self-medicate mood swings that feel like whiplash on a good day. And I’ve messed up. Big time. Now, I owe the biggest dealer in town thousands of dollars! If he finds me, I’m dead. I can’t get the money and I can only hide out for so long. I have to get sober so I can get my head straight and figure this out. All I need is one more hit.

Broken Melody

Broken Melody by [Nikki Haase]

Broken Melody is a contemporary fiction novel that follows the life of Alana, alias Sunshine, and her assorted friends. Nikki Haase drew motivation for writing this book from Casey Clayton, her friend’s journey of addiction, recovery and death. The book is a voice for those struggling with drug addiction, depression and other mental illnesses. Alana was the perfect daughter and student, acing her grades and making her parents proud. But deep down she was fighting monsters that only she knew of.

Nikki Haase has an enthralling way of introducing fascinating characters to readers. This book is an invitation into the mind and life of a young person struggling with addiction. It is heart-wrenching to see the potential in a person slowly chipped away at.

The main theme of the book is drug addiction. Nikki Haase has captured the struggles and raw emotions that most addicts grapple with, and I appreciated the unfiltered view we’re given. Alana’s journey is a sad one, although not a completely lonely one as she has her friends like Skylar and Xavier and her girlfriend Casey. The prose captures the voice of new adult angst and gives the characters an authenticity that makes them endearing and their stories all the more tragic. I think that by the second or third chapter I was interested in Alana’s character, by the mid point I wanted to know more, and by the end I was desperate to know more. Will she survive her addiction? Will her friends stick with her throughout the process? Will Casey love her beside all her inner demons?

The author shows the importance of friendships and speaking out when going through hard times in life. The story seemed too real to be cliché and the author has done a good job of incorporating supporting themes like mental illness, love and friendship. Nikki Haase has a unique way of bringing out serious issues through humor. The other unique thing about Broken Melody is that the author shows the other side of addiction, one that most people do not know about. For instance at the end of the book, readers are introduced to the other side of Rabbit. Throughout the book, Rabbit is known to be a hardcore drug dealer but he does something at the end that surprised me. I would recommend the book to fiction lovers, people struggling with substance abuse and those living with addicts.

Pages: 302 | ASIN: B08B2Q5YDP

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The World’s Greatest Mousetrap

The World's Greatest Mousetrap by [Fegan, B.C.R.]

Mice don’t grin. Mice certainly don’t chuckle. Or do they? For dear old Reginald, devoted reader and shopkeeper, a grinning mouse in his bookshop simply won’t do. Children and adults alike will delight in reading along as Reginald makes several hapless attempts to catch the cleverest mouse of all time in B.C.R Fegan’s The World’s Greatest Mousetrap. Will Reginald’s madcap quest to construct increasingly elaborate traps succeed in catching one tiny mouse, or, will he end up catching his customers instead!?

In this warm and humorous tale of determination and unlikely friendship, Fegan offers a look at what could happen if humans let go of preconceived notions and open their minds to new ideas. Fanny Liem’s illustrations are instantly engaging for children and, importantly, intriguing for adults. Readers’ will enjoy Liem’s drawings and Fegan’s writing of the distinctively bespectacled Reginald as a slightly zany and lovable bibliophile whose expressive eyes tell of excitement, resolve, and kindness. Fegan has a knack for turning a small story in a small setting into a laugh-out-loud epic battle between mouse and man. Can you guess who wins? This is a cozy, funny, and heart-warming tale for all ages.

Pages: 44 | ASIN: B07PB4NHBY

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Chasing The Red Queen

Chasing the Red Queen by [Glista, Karen]

Chasing the Red Queen opens with the recently turned 18-year-old Donja, a self-proclaimed goth who is uprooted from the normalcy of teenage life. Her mother remarries, giving Donja a new home, a new father and a new stepsister. What starts out as an angsty teens tribulations quickly shifts to darker elements as violent murders begin to hit close to home. New characters emerge, friendships are made, and lovers unite exposing a history of supernatural elements and family secrets Donja never expected.

Karen Glista offers an urban fantasy with a dash of crime, horror and steamy romance all set to the backdrop of vampire lore. A perfect weekend read for those favoring the genre. The author also provides new components to these otherwise over told stories with well researched historical content and fleshed out explanations for the mystical aspects. The mix of first nation cultural and detailed locational history give a fresh twist to this vampire romance which kept me intrigued to the very end.

I found Donja to be likable as the main character. Although the constant reminder of her gothic reputation is repeated one too many times, otherwise her emotional response and reactions are believable throughout the story. I adored the character development between Donja and her stepsister Makayla, from beginning to end they share a bond that unites them through a roller-coaster of emotional events.

Unlike Donja, where she shines in the first half of the book, her counterpart Torin unfolds as the main player towards the end of the book. Once Torin takes center stage I found myself more invested in his story and the account of his mysterious past as well as that of his kind.

I felt that the timeline was a little vague; how much time did everything take, was it days, hours, weeks? I also felt that their were quick leaps in character changes (ie. Frankie, I didn’t know what was happening to him until it was already over). These are the only minor things holding the book back. 

However, the story surprised me with well thought out action scenes and gritty dialog. While some secondary characters faded into the background a few shown through and had my full attention. Chasing the Red Queen is a quick read with an equally fast-paced plot, yet will still give the reader enough time to establish a connection to the story, characters and paranormal features.

Pages: 277 | ASIN: B079KJFJW8

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Rock Hard: Chord Brothers

Rock Hard: Chord Brothers, Book 1 by [Roberts, Mariah J., Roberts, M. J. ]

Ryder is the drummer in a popular band along with his best friend and his bestie’s hot sister, Lexi, and a few other colorful members. I love this great cast of characters. The dynamic among the group is unique yet believable. I’ve never been in a band but it seems like a realistic portrayal of life as a band on the road.

The action in the story starts when Ryder and Lexi break the number one rule of band membership… do not hook-up with anyone in the band. Ryder is doubly nervous because she is also his best friend’s sister!

This story starts with some excellent sexual tension that builds slowly and enticingly! The reader has to wait patiently for the first physical experience between the two. The author does a fantastic job with erotic descriptions. The sex scenes are lusty but not trashy. The strength of desire between the two is palpable. I do admire Ryder’s dedication to making sure Lexi was sufficiently satisfied! He even does research!

We also learn about deep pain and loss in our characters’ lives. The author weaves in nicely these back stories that then helps explain these characters’ drives and motivations.

This is a great book about relationships, love, loss and the power and importance of human connection. There is a good amount of erotic scenes however the author sets the tone as romantic and loving, never vulgar. I love the modern music and movie references. It gave it a very up-to-date and realistic feel. I Also loved the inside look at life on the road in a band.

The writing is fluid and easy to read without feeling juvenile. There are some great moments of humor but also real moments of pain and struggle. There were some points I wanted more action or was waiting for something to happen but overall I was engaged throughout.

This is a fun and sexy read for anyone looking for something quick and enjoyable with great characters and a romantic and interesting story line.

Pages: 399 | ASIN: B07MDHXT8C

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Ellie’s Redemption – Trailer

The comforting aroma of fresh baked-and-buttered bread. The hearty spice of cinnamon-oatmeal bars and hot coffee. In 1912 Ohio, The Amish Charm Bakery is the sweet sustaining center of a faith-abiding town built on peace, forgiveness—and ever-surprising love . . .

Ellie Graber couldn’t be happier working at Amish Charm—and making good on a precious chance to reunite with her Amish community. Grief over her mother’s death made her rebel and try the Englischer world, but now she’s home to start again. And quiet, thoughtful Joel Wenger is one of the few willing to understand her as their unexpected friendship develops into something much more . . .

But no matter how hard Ellie tries, Joel’s mother resolutely refuses to approve of her—much less accept her as a potential daughter-in-law. And as painful misunderstandings and a beautiful rival for Joel’s affections threaten to separate the couple for good, can they bridge the gap between distrust and faith to secure a lifetime of love?

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Really Real

Ellie G. Collins Author Interview

Ellie G. Collins Author Interview

Mylee in the Mirror explores young romance and school drama with an infusion of Greek Mythology. What were some themes you wanted to continue from your first book and what were some new ideas you wanted to explore?

Well, in Daisy, Bold & Beautiful I wanted to create a situation for my main character that would demonstrate the same moral of the story that I find within Persephone’s story – it is important to stand up for yourself. The story in Mylee In The Mirror is very different, but I arrived at it in the same manner – I wanted a story that would demonstrate the moral of the story I find in Aphrodite’s story – you can’t force someone to love someone else. I hope to do that with all the books in this series – decide on a moral of the story for each god/goddess featured in the book and create a story that demonstrates that moral.

I enjoyed Ty and My’s characters and interactions. What was the inspiration for their relationship?

Hmmm… well, I didn’t really have a specific relationship in mind when I was writing it. I developed each character (for instance, Ty is loose combination of my [real life] Trampoline & Tumbling teammate, Ty, my dad, and my brother, Will), then had them interact the way I imagined those characters would interact with each other. I have a friend, Peter, who I joke around with, kinda like Mylee and Ty joked around together, but My & Ty were friends longer than Pete and I have been and they’re closer than Pete and I are.

How has your writing developed and changed from book one in your Greek Mythology Fantasy Series?

I don’t know exactly how my writing developed and changed from Daisy to Mylee, but this book was really different to write because Daisy was all about 6th graders and I was a 6th grader when I was writing it, so I could really relate to what they were doing and how they were acting. Mylee is about ninth graders AND Ty was my first male main character. Obviously, I don’t know anything about being a boy, and certainly not a 9th grade boy, so I had to talk with my brother quite a bit to decide what Ty would do and how he would act. I also talked quite a bit with my mom about the two moms in the story and Grammy Jean. Grammy Jean was based on my real-life great grandmother, who passed away last winter. The character wasn’t exactly like my Grammy Jean, but pretty close. So, I guess I can say I worked more and worked harder this time trying to understand motivations to make the characters feel really real, know what I mean?

What are you currently writing and when will it be published?

I’m just starting work on book 3. This will feature my first god (instead of a goddess), and the main character will be a boy this time. I hope to be done with it sometime this spring, so hopefully it’ll be published sometime in the summer. I’ve been busy, though, because this is competition season for both my gymnastics team and my tramp & tumble team. Last weekend we traveled down to Oregon for a meet and this weekend we fly to Reno, Nevada for another one. Between all that and school there isn’t a ton of time for writing, but I’m really anxious to share this next story, so I’ll find the time! 😊

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Mylee in the Mirror (Greek Mythology Fantasy Series Book 2) by [Collins, Ellie]

Freshman year is just starting, and already Mylee fears her family is falling apart. She’s not interested in dating or any of the high-school drama it brings, but that’s just what she gets when Sam, the most popular guy at school, invites her to the Homecoming dance. Mylee needs advice, so she summons Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Beauty, her secret confidant.

Tyler is worried about Mylee, his best friend and teammate. Already sad about her family woes, he’s livid that Slimeball Sam is trying to ooze his way into her life. And she seems to be falling for Sam’s act! Worse, Ty is worried all this attention from such a popular guy will place Mylee officially out of his league.

What does an ancient Greek goddess know about modern teenage romance? Can My and Ty save their friendship and discover what matters most?

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