Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Feature: Mermaid Review! FLIPPING THE SCALES by Pete Tarsi

About the Book (from Goodreads):
Meredith and Marina’s lives have been flipped upside down.

When the translucent skirt that straight-A-student Meredith finds hidden on the beach gets wet, it transforms her legs into a mermaid tail. Despite the evidence in front of her, she insists that becoming a mythical creature isn’t scientifically possible.

Marina is allowed to experience one day per moon cycle among the humans. After hiding her tail on the beach that morning, she takes her first timid steps on land. When she returns at sunset to find it missing, she is left stranded and alone.

For the first time in her life, Meredith doesn’t have all the answers. As she searches for a way to return to normal before the next full moon, she makes waves among the school of mermaids. Meanwhile, Marina uncovers information about her past, and for the first time in her life, she must stand on her own two feet and take the lead on her own adventure.

As Meredith senses her human side slipping away, a forbidden way to change back entices her. But it comes with a consequence: Marina wouldn’t be able to return to the ocean.

Flipping the Scales is a switching places fantasy aimed at young adult readers. Although the characters are 17, the situations and language are very tame and suitable for ages 10 and up.

Meredith is a studious 17 year old, going into her senior year of high school and focused on getting into a good college. She doesn't spend a whole lot of time having fun, and packed mostly books in her suitcase for a two week summer vacation.  Her best friend Jill wants her to relax and have fun, to go with the flow at least for vacation at her cousin Hailey's house on a resort island.

Marina is also a 17 year old who is quiet and serious, with a best friend named Lorelei who tries to get her to lighten up and have fun on the same resort island. The difference is that Marina and Lorelei are mermaids, and their adventure entails transforming their tail into legs for one day during the full moon. Unfortunately, Meredith finds Marina's tail and mistakenly tries it on, transforming into a mermaid. Both are stuck impersonating the other until the next full moon when they can safely switch back.

Neither girl is familiar with the other's world, but with lots of help from their friends, this might just be the adventure of a lifetime.

It was fun to read another author's take on the mermaid world, and watch how his mermaids view the human world. Tarsi has fun with mermaid language, giving us teenage mer-slang as well as showing us there are still mean girl cliques under the sea, too.

Meredith is such a serious student that she describes things in textbook ways, or examines processes down at the scientific levels. Those parts made me chuckle as I know the author is a high school science teacher by day (mermaid author by night!)

My only critique would be the head hopping (a personal pet peeve), as the points of view are sometimes loose and interwoven. But all in all a solid debut from a new author with a fun new take on the mermaid world. I look forward to reading more books in this series, and totally recommend this for a fun, light read... and great for a beach read! 5 stars (in spite of the head hopping.)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Monday Book Review: NOW AND THEN, by Brenda Rothert

Now and Then, the Now series book 1
By Brenda  Rothert
Published 2013

About the Book (from Goodreads):
Now Emmaline Carson is a sharp, settled graphic designer who loves painting, cooking and girls’ night out with her older sister Layla. But then – in the years before she went to art school in Paris – she was a shy, awkward teenager with frizzy hair, a flat chest and a massive crush on the boy across the street, Cole Marlowe. Too bad her incredibly hot neighbor only had eyes for Layla.

Cole is now a confident, laid-back attorney who’s even hotter than he used to be. He’s planning to stay single while working his way up the corporate ladder – until he’s knocked off course by a chance run-in with Emma.

Everything is different between Cole and Emma now. He finally sees her in a way she only dreamed of, and their hot chemistry is fueled by a growing friendship. But Emma’s deception of her sister – who wants Cole for herself – and the secret Cole’s been keeping for more than a decade threaten to tear apart what’s only just begun. Because sometimes the only thing standing in the way of now is then.

My Take :

Emma Carson and Cole Marlowe were neighbors growing up. He was a few years older and dated her older sister once or twice, but Emma always harbored a secret crush for him. When they run into one another now, as adults, sparks fly between them. Can they overcome the secrets of their past to build a future together?

The idea of this book is that some of the chapters- the "now" - take place in the present and move chronologically forward from the first cute-meet. The other chapters- the "then"- take place in the past, from the first "then" where Cole's family moves into the house across the street from Emma and moving forward from there with relevant memories and glimpses into their shared past but told in a present tense way. Because the chapters are labeled now and then, it's not as confusing as it sounds, and works as a way to give tons of backstory without some sort of info dump. It works to explain complex motivations and painful memories for all the main characters by showing rather than telling.

We see both now and then chapters from both Emma and Cole's perspectives, although not every scene gets shown in multiple viewpoints. An engaging and interesting read, I enjoyed this light romance despite being annoyed by a few of the cardboard secondary characters, and Emma's unreasonable fear of and sublimation to her older sister.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Feature: Cover Reveal and #Giveaway for THE DARK DREAMER, coming March 24 from Heather Topham Wood

So Here I am, a week late to the party, but I had to share this awesomely gorgeous new cover, coming next month from my writerly friend Heather Topham Wood. She writes dark paranormal romance, and I'm so excited to add her new book to my Need to Read list! (NTR instead of TBR? What do you think?)

The cover design is by Marisa at Cover Me, Darling.

Have you seen this yet? Ready?
About the Book:
For as long as she can remember, Rebekah Clayton’s life has been dictated by her dreams. As a dream interpreter, she has become privy to her clients’ deepest and darkest secrets. Affairs, financial ruin, even murder—nothing shocks her anymore. But Grant Raskin’s dreams are unlike any she has heard before.

If Rebekah’s interpretation is right, Grant has foreseen the end of the world. A plague is coming and everyone Rebekah cares about will succumb to the illness. And Grant can trace the origin of the disease back to two men: Dr. Mark Holman and his son Drew.

Grant enlists Rebekah to track down the Holmans and determine their connection to the viral outbreak. But uncovering Drew Holman’s secrets will lead her down a dangerous path—unearthing a deadly conspiracy she never could have predicted.

The first book in a two-part series from bestselling romance author Heather Topham Wood.

Publication Date: March 24, 2015

About the Author:
Heather Topham Wood’s obsession with novels began in childhood while growing up in a shore town in New Jersey. Writing since her teens, she recently returned to penning novels after a successful career as a freelance writer. She loves creating imaginary worlds where people behave exactly how she wants them to.

Heather graduated from the College of New Jersey in 2005 and holds a bachelor's degree in English. Her freelance work has appeared in publications such as USA Today,, Outlook by the Bay and Step in Style magazine. She resides in Trenton, New Jersey with her husband and two sons. Besides writing, Heather is a pop culture fanatic and has an obsession with supernatural novels and TV shows.

Follow Heather on Facebook, Twitter and her blog to keep posted on her upcoming works:

And there's a Giveaway for $25 Amazon Gift Card and The Dark Dreamer Swag Pack! Enter the Rafflecopter today!

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Writing Wednesday: Time Out for the Birthday Boy

I'm not getting any writing done today. Sometimes, life is more important.

My middle child turns 17 today.

It may be a cliche, but sometimes it seems as if time actually, literally flies. Hard to even imagine he's old enough to drive himself and sibling to school, and now we're looking at colleges. Today we visit M.I.T.  It doesn't seem so long ago he was learning to talk... now he's at the top of his class and has all kinds of opportunities available to him.

...and Now.

Happy Birthday, Brian!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Monday Book Review: BREAKING UP WITH BARRETT, by Katy Regnery

Breaking Up With Barrett, The English Brothers Book 1
by Katy Regnery
Published 2014

About the Book (from Goodreads):
Breaking Up with Barrett is the first of six books about the Philadelphia-based, wildly-handsome English brothers who are all on the look-out for love.

(Except Alex. He's a womanizing manwhore. And maybe Stratton, because he's wicked hot, but super awkward around girls.)

Barrett English, aka "the Shark," is the fair-haired, first-born of the English brothers, and the CEO of the oldest, most prestigious investment banking firm in Philadelphia. He rules the boardroom with an iron fist, refusing to take no for an answer and always getting his way.

Emily Edwards, a first-year doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania, grew up in the gatehouse on the outskirts of Barrett's childhood estate. The daughter of his family's gardener and housekeeper, she was always looking through the window of privilege, but forced to remember her place at the very periphery of the kingdom.

When business partners suggest that a fiancee might soften Barrett's image over business dinners, he approaches Emily for the "job" of fiancee. And while love wasn't necessarily on Barrett's radar, he begins to realize that Emily always has been. But will his take-no-prisoners boardroom tactics work on the heart of the woman he loves?
My Take:

In this wonderful new contemporary series, Katy Regnery creates an interesting set of wealthy Philadelphia brothers, each with a unique personality and history.

This first book gives us the eldest brother, Barrett, the most serious and staid of the bunch and yet the one who's been hopelessly in love with the gardener's daughter since the day she was born. He is so focused on work that he doesn't really realize the extent of his emotions, or know how to act on them, compounded by the fact that its an Upstairs/Downstairs frowned upon relationship before it even begins. She is, after all, the Help.

The points of view are mostly from the perspective of Emily Edwards, said daughter, who attends grad school at UPenn, but accepted a position working for Barrett to earn extra cash, pretending to be his fiancé during certain social functions and business meetings. It has started feeling a little too real for Emily, and she plans to "break up" with him and move on with her life, but Barrett has other plans.

Sweet, sexy and engaging, this was a fast read that made me smile. Yes, full of cliches but somehow the author made it all seem new and it worked pretty well. Regnery did a great job creating believable characters and situations, and despite a few clunky scenes I thoroughly enjoyed this story.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Feature: #Excerpt from ONE MORE SECOND CHANCE, #New from Jana Richards #TWRP

About the Book:
Dr. Alex Campbell has an agenda—finish his contract to provide medical services in Maine, pay off his medical school debt, and head back to his real life in San Diego. But when he meets Julia, all his carefully laid plans are put in jeopardy.
Julia Stewart, Lobster Cove’s high school principal, swears she’ll never let another man drag her away from the home she loves. Her aging parents need her, and the Cove is where she wants to raise her daughter. When her mother’s illness brings her and the big city doctor closer together, panic sets in. Her marriage taught her men don’t stay.
Can she put aside the heartaches of the past and trust Alex enough to accept the love he’s offering? Or will her fear of abandonment mean she’ll send him away forever?

They drank their tea in silence, but the silence didn’t feel awkward. Julia felt soothed, the stress slowly leaving her body. Perhaps her grandmother had been onto something. The tea seemed to be working.

She finished the last of it and set down the cup. “I should be going. I left Ava with Tracy, and she’s probably hungry by now.” Julia got to her feet and headed to the front door, with Alex following her. “Thanks for the tea, and for listening. I guess I needed both today.”

“Anytime. Seriously, Julia, anytime you need to talk, about anything, give me a call.”

She wondered if he was speaking as a doctor, as a friend, or as a man. Which one did she want him to be? “Thank you.”

“I’ll try to keep an eye out for your folks, see if there’s anything I can do for them.”

She was touched by his offer. “I really appreciate that, but I know how busy you are.”

He waved away her concern. “It’s no big deal. I appreciate my grandmother’s neighbors checking in on her, and I’d be happy to do the same.” He really did understand how she felt.

“In that case, thank you.” She opened the front door and stepped outside. Turning to Alex, she smiled. His thick hair had begun to dry, and the dark strands gleamed in the spring sunshine. Her breath caught in her throat at his beauty.

“Bye, Alex.”

“Bye. Take care.”

Julia hurried down the steps and across the lawn to her car. An appreciation for his looks was as far she could take any relationship with him. Her life was too complicated, too full already. And she would never get involved with a man who planned to leave Lobster Cove in only a few more months.
* * * *
About the Author:
When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War II, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpingsof humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada with their Pug/Terrier cross Lou and several unnamed goldfish. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at

Stalk Find her online in theses spots...
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Find the book online HERE:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Writing Wednesday: Chatting with author Marin McGinnis and her historical romance, STIRRING UP THE VISCOUNT

My guest today is Marin McGinnis, who writes for The Wild Rose Press. Her new book STIRRING UP THE VISCOUNT released on January 30th - Congrats, Marin! She took a few minutes from her whirlwind schedule to answer a few questions...

Hi, Marin! Give us a brief bio and tell us what kind of books you like to read and write.

I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. After detours to Boston, northern England, and Washington, DC, I moved back, and now live with my husband and son, two poodles named Larry and Sneaky Pete, two gerbils, and a fish. I am a self-employed lawyer by day, and the rest of the time I write historical romance. My favorite genres to read are romance, romantic suspense, and mysteries.

What's your favorite part of being an author?

Good question. I love lots of things about being an author. I love to work for myself, on my own terms. I love spending time crafting stories. And I really love the awesome people I’ve met while learning how to be an author.

What’s the best piece of advice you received about being an author?

It sounds clichĂ©, but honestly, the best piece of advice was “butt in chair.” You can’t edit a blank page, so sit that ass down and write. I don’t always follow it, but I do try.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

I’d love to be invisible, the better for people watching.

Tell us about your new release!

Stirring Up the Viscount is a Victorian-era romance set in Northern England. It’s the story of a woman who flees an abusive relationship, assumes a false name, and falls in love again. It took me three months to write, and twenty-two months to edit!

Wow, I love the cover art! Okay, you’re casting the movie version of your novel – who would you choose for the main characters? We’re talking dream cast.

When I was writing this book, I had Jason Connery in mind for Jonathan—back in his Robin of Sherwood days (which probably just revealed how old I am)--and Rooney Mara as Theodora. She has the ethereal look I pictured for Theodora. For Lucien, I imagined Richard Armitage, as Sir Guy of Gisbourne, because, well, he’s Richard Armitage.

Totally understand - and would love to see that movie! Where can readers find your book and where can they find you online?

You can find me and my book at:


Thank you for having me today, Katie!

Thanks for stopping by, Marin! Best of luck with this new release! For an added bonus, here's a sneak peek excerpt from the book...

She watched, mesmerized, as the grease flared and flames began to lick the seasoned wood of the counter.

She blinked, as much from the smoke beginning to sting her eyes as from the realization she didn’t have to swim in the Thames. She hurried to the hole in the wall where she had stashed the satchel. She removed it and replaced the brick. Her gaze darted around the room as the smoke grew thicker. She spotted the cookery book her mother had given her when she married, and on an impulse she grabbed it, clasping it to her chest as she began to cough.

Theodora rushed toward the door and grabbed a light wrap off a peg. She stowed the book in her satchel and adjusted the wrap around her shoulders. When she opened the door, the fire behind her roared with the added oxygen. She closed it quickly and inhaled great gulps of air.

Her eyes burned, her head ached, but she walked quickly around the house to the street. Fortunately Christopher Street was nearly deserted at this late hour. She stole a glance at the house behind her and saw smoke starting to curl around the windows. She spared Lucien a thought. It wouldn’t be long before someone noticed the smoke, and he wasn’t a particularly heavy sleeper. The chances were excellent he would wake in time to escape.

She shook her head to clear her thoughts. There was no time for regret, and certainly no room for compassion. Not for him.

As she rounded the corner onto Back Hill, she heard someone cry, “Fire!”

* * * *

About the Author:

Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. She writes smart and sexy tales of Victorian-era romance.

When she's not chasing after big dogs or watching tween-aged children skate around Ohio hockey rinks, you can find her hanging out at, on her group blog at, on Twitter @MarinMcGinnis, or Facebook at