The time it was my 3 year blogiversary

You guys.  It’s been another year! Technically, it’s officially 3 years on Sunday, but I just couldn’t wait.

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This has been quite a year of growth.  I moved from Blogger to WordPress {thank you, Kassiah!}, I was invited to moderate two signings for Harper Collins, I was asked to blurb a book, I met lots of new authors and saw tons of favorites.  Not to mention,  making lots of new friends and gaining some awesome followers.

As always, I can’t thank you guys enough.  This is sort of a giant train of crazy and I know that I’m different from the majority of the blogs out there, so your support really means a lot.   Thank you for coming along with me on this amazing ride.

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And now the good stuff…

You can’t have a blogiversary celebration without a giveaway and this year, I’ve got some good stuff.  Since it’s my third year, I’ve got 3 signed trilogies up for grabs:

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Yep.  That’s happening.

Under the Never Sky, Through the Ever Night and Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

Shatter Me, Unravel Me and Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Days of Blood and Starlight and Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

There will be three winners.  All three will be contacted at the same time via email; winners will get to choose the trilogy they want in the order that they respond.  Contest is international and additional rules are here.

Before I let you run amok {amok, amok, amok!}, let’s look at this odd gif that I couldn’t resist because Matt and Karen are so adorable.

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**Good Luck!!**

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The time it was about Mara’s Retribution {2}

Hi everyone! Are you done with The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer?

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Today is the official day that you should be done.  I’ll be completely honest, I’m not done.  As you may or may not know, I spent the weekend in Vegas and started reading it on the way home this morning.  Never fear, I’ve read Unbecoming a handful of times and I’ve been finding some excellent questions for the trivia game this afternoon…

So really, my discussion post isn’t going to be super discussion-y.  Maybe a bit flaily, but I think you guys all expect that, right?

We all know my undying and maybe a bit obsessive love for Noah Shaw, yes? {He’s mine.  See here for proof.}

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It’s been a few years since I read Unbecoming.  I think I read it in 2012, right before reading Evolution.  But, I forgot some things…

Like how he loves to open the car door for Mara:

When Noah pulled into my driveway, he got out of the car and strode quickly to the passenger door to open it for me. I gave him a look, but he interrupted me before I had the chance to speak.

“I like doing it for you. Try to remember so I don’t have to sprint every time.”

Every time. {Unbecoming, pg 241}

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Or how he ties Mara’s shoes:

Suddenly, he crouched down.

“What are you –”

In my rush, I hadn’t tied my shoelaces.

Noah was now tying them for me.  He looked up at me through his dark fringe of lashes and smiled.

The expression on his face melted me completely. I knew I had the goofiest grin plastered on my lips, and didn’t care.

“There,” he said as he finished tying the laces on my left shoe. “Now you won’t fall.”

Too late. {Unbecoming, pg 246-247}

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But wait.  This is one of the best:

“Have you kissed many boys before?” he asked quietly.

His question brought my mind back into focus. I raised an eyebrow. “Boys? That’s an assumption.”

Noah laughed, the sound low and husky. “Girls, then?”

“No.”

“Not many girls? Or not many boys?”

“Neither,” I said. Let him make of that what he would.

“How many?’

“Why?”

“I am taking away that word. You are no longer allowed to use it. How many?”

My cheeks flushed, but my voice was steady as I answered. “One.”

At this, Noah leaned in impossibly closer, the slender muscles in his forearm flexing as he bent his elbow to bring himself nearer to me, almost touching. I was heady with the proximity of him and grew legitimately concerned that my heart might explode. Maybe Noah wasn’t asking. Maybe I didn’t mind. I closed my eyes and felt Noah’s five o’clock graze my jaw, and the faintest whisper of his lips at my ear.

“He was doing it wrong.” {Unbecoming, pg 259}

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That’s about as far as I’ve gotten so far.  I know there’s some extra good stuff coming up.  And some even better stuff in Evolution.

So, what did you think of Unbecoming?  What was your favorite scene or line?

Don’t forget to have your discussion post up by 11/2 and go here for more details on the readalong and to add the link to the rafflecopter for more entries to win the complete set of Michelle’s books!

The time it was a weekend in Vegas {2}

After going to VVBF last year and seeing how awesome it was, I knew to was going to be a yearly trip to make. This year’s line up was just as amazing, so I was really excited to go.

We had a friend in town from London, so we were able to stay at his house. Friday night had us at the Hard Rock Hotel eating delicious food and vanilla shakes.

Saturday we went to the event area fairly early to check it all out. The set up was a bit different.  Instead of all of the signings being after the entire event, they were going to be held after each panel.

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I bought the books I needed and then went back to the car to get my bags. Hubs was just dropping me off, so it was a little daunting to maneuver around by myself with the amount of books I had.  This year, I only had 25 or so.  Last year it was around 60, so it was a huge difference.

I listened to the 10am panel called The Future’s So Bright, We Have to Be Saved. It had Jodi Meadows, Elizabeth Fama, Lynne Matson, Mindy McGinnis, Lissa Price, Demitria Lunetta and Amy Tintera.

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They answered questions about their books and how they started writing, their writing process, world building in their books and the best fan reactions they’ve gotten.

The panel signing started at 11 and it was a long table and we just went from author to author.

I got up to Jodi first and she pulled out her calligraphy pen to sign my arc of Orphan Queen. We chatted a bit about how she had only signed about 3 arcs, so she didn’t have her tag line figured out.

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While I was with Jodi, Stacie was next to me with Lynne Matson and when Lynne saw Stacie’s post it, I heard her ask if she was book junkee. I said it was me, and we quickly shook hands before I went back to Jodi.

So, of course I went to Lynne next. It was so exciting to actually get to meet her after talking with her for so long on twitter.

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Demitria Lunetta was next. I had arcs of both of her books and she laughed that each of them had several title pages.

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The last author of the 10am panel was Elizabeth Fama. We was surprised that I had an arc and asked if I was a blogger. When I told her the blog name, she told me that she had heard of it. [SQUEEEEEEEE]

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I needed to regroup and get organized, so I sat over by the 11 panel called Discover a New World. The authors were Renee Collins, Christina Farley, Tessa Gratton, Sara B. Larson, Lori M. Lee, Sara Raasch, Kathryn Rose and Sherry Thomas.

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They talked about becoming an author, world building, what tv shows they loved the most, if they were artsy and if they’re consumed by scenes when they’re not working on them.

The signing started at 12 and I only had books for Sara B. Larson, so I quickly ran over to her to get my stuff signed. I did have my twitter handle on the post it, so we both said it was great to finally meet each other.

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The 12 pm panel was The Magic of the Paranormal. The authors were Brodi Ashton, Sarah Rees Brennan, Tracy Deebs, Nancy Holder, Brigid Kemmerer and Emily McKay.

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They talked about their books, what they thought paranormal meant and where the idea for their books came from, what they’re working on next and getting fan mail.

I snuck over to the other tent to listen to The Thrill of a Good Mystery panel. The authors were Ted Goeglein, Abigail Haas, Stephanie Kuehn, Michelle Madow, Gretchen McNeil, Brooklyn Skye, Ann Stampler and Allen Zadoff.

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I got there right when Gretchen was saying that she wasn’t as ambitious as the rest of the authors on the panel. That she couldn’t have written a book in school, that she was a music major and they were a group of people who partied.

She also pointed at me and gave me a snarky look because I saw her in flip flops and tweeted about it. :D

For 12 pm panels, I only had books for Sarah Rees Brennan.  When I got up to her, she gave me a present since I had the entire trilogy to have signed. {It’s a really awesome looking necklace that I put away before I took a photo of it.  Sorry.}  She told me that it was illegal to deface the Queen’s coin, so I would be wearing an illegal necklace.

Somehow our entire conversation was totally random. We talked about bowler hats {she loved my post it notes and I gave them to her}, how sharks equal happiness, her ability to sign while not looking at the book and how all of the inscriptions were going to be inside jokes.

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From there, I went over to Gretchen just to say hi because it’s Gretchen and I have to. She had to show me her shoes to prove that she had heels on and as always, they were amazing.

I ended up listening to the last 30 minutes of the Tween Reads panel. The authors were Jen Calonita, Varian Johnson, Lisa Schroeder, Ally Carter, DJ MacHale, Bruce Hale and Elizabeth Eulberg.

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They talked about coming up with their ideas, if they read their reviews, the most difficult part of writing, the best part of school visits, the type of scene that is the hardest to write, what sort of superheroes they would be, and the accents they would want to have.

I didn’t have any books for the 1pm panel, so I hovered to get a seat for the 2pm panel. Unfortunately, there were people I wanted to hear talk on both panels, so it was quite a dilemma.

I started at the Who’s Afraid of These Authors panel. The authors were Courtney Alameda, Natalie C Parker, Hilary Monahan, Whitney Miller, April Genevieve Tucholke, JR Johansson, Kate Karyus Quinn, Sean Beaudoin.

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Courtney was the moderator and she introduced them and then each author had to read a few lines from their book.

They talked about the horror genre and if they liked horror movies.

Around 2:30, Hubs brought my copy of Breakable by Tammara Weber. When I was flapping the books the night before, I had seen that the book was already signed, so I didn’t bring it with me.

I ran over to Tammara to get it personalized. And when I explained my little back story, she also resigned it.

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I then snuck over to the other tent to see some of the More Than a Love Story panel. The authors were Sarah Tregay, Kelly Fiore, Lisa Schroeder, Angie Stanton, Carrie Mesrobian, and Rachel M. Wilson.

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They talked about the authors that influenced them, having other jobs besides writing, getting fan mail, finding out their book sold and what is coming up next.

One of the panels were done right at 3 and the authors went over to the tables right away.

I got up to Rachel M. Wilson first. I told her my twitter handle and told her that I was irrationally excited to see her. She signed my books and thanked me for all of the support that I had given her. When Nicole asked if I had read it, I said yes, that it was only of my top books of the year. And Rachel thanked me again.

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I went to Lisa Schroeder next. She asked if I had read The Bridge from Me to You yet and I said yes, that I loved it.

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Sara was next. She showed me that the arc had sketches in it — which I didn’t get to see in the e-arc. And then showed me the final sketches from the artist.

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We chatted for a bit about how in the arc she left out one of the word bubbles.

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JR Johansson was next. I had just gotten an arc of her new book Cut Me Free from Macmillan a few days ago, so I was really excited to be able to bring it with. JR was just as excited to see it and got out a different sharpee to sign it.

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And then there was April. If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’m mildly stalking April and that I’m horribly in love with River West her books. She gave me River when I asked, but I was ridiculously excited to see her and get River in writing.

When I got up to her, I told her my twitter handle and I generally acted like a damn fool. We shook hands to meet properly and then I asked her to properly give me River in writing. She asked what I wanted it to say and I said I didn’t care, just that I needed it to say he was mine.  The my arc of Devil was already signed, thanks to a friend, but April resigned it.

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Afterwards, I asked if I could get a photo and April had me come around the table. She said that she needed to fix her scarf to make it proper looking. Another author said I could come around the table, so I did. April picked up one of her books and said to look mysterious.

My fangirl heart almost exploded.

The 3pm signing panels were my last ones to attend. Thankfully, I had seen Suzanne Young earlier in passing, so I was able to chat with her for a second.

The line up this year was amazing. It was so awesome to see this group of authors and as always, I can’t wait to see what next year brings.

Huge thanks to Nicole for hanging out and taking photos for me. And squishy hugs to Stacie and her friend for letting me leave my books with them while I ran around.

The time they were fast talkers

Going to see Sara Raasch was always a sure thing. When she was announced at Mysterious Galaxy, it was added to the calendar, even before I had read Snow Like Ashes. And then when I had? I was so so so excited for the event.

Michelle and I both ditched work early and met up at Starbucks for drinks and yummies. We headed over to the bookstore around 4:30 and chatted it up with Rob before buying our books and finally settling into the front row.

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Sara and Kathryn got to the store around 5:30, Kiersten was running a little late because of traffic, but got there right after 6.   Sara started out by saying that since it was her event, she came up with a 5 second game for all of the authors.  The had 5 seconds to explain the MC, love interest, bad guy, antagonist, setting, culture, song, favorite scene, least favorite scene, plot, author. This went by way too fast and I didn’t get any of it.

Then Kiersten said that she wanted to hear more about Sara and her writing.

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S: I started writing when I was 12 or 13 and it was so terrible. I was so in love with this book and tried so hard to get it published.

KW: When I met you during Paranormalcy, you were trying to get it published.  I think you were about 19.

S: I started rewriting it when the pirate book tanked. I fell in love with the characters again and I hope that you guys will feel it.  I poured a lot of love into it.

KW: I always say that no writing is a waste. This is a perfect example.

How did the book come about?

KR: I watched the 1953 version of Nights of the Round Table and I thought that Merlin would be a great stream punk character.

S: And he’s super hot

KR: I loved the characters and they just came to me. This was the first book that made me think I would give up.

KW: This is my 8th novel. It came out in September. I was in the middle of writing Perfect Lies. It’s very dark and includes real world violence and I needed a break, so I wrote a book.  It was a magical experience because I got an idea and sat down and had a book in 7 days. All of the elements came together.

Kiersten talked about her new book coming out next year. She talks really fast, so I didn’t any of it: epic historical fiction with a gender swap, based on Vlad the Impaler.

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What do you have coming up next?

S: Book 2. Book one was aaah: world building. Book 2 is aaaahhh: sequel. Book 3 is aaaah: feelings.

KR: I just sold the third book.

This went off on a tangent about a taser, Meira’s weapon {I have no idea what it’s called} and a cross bow and the MCs going clubbing together and people dropping on the dance floor.

It was then opened up to audience questions.  Sara said that she had 2 swag packs to get things started.

You wake up and you’re Bella from Twilight.  What do you do differently? {Thanks to Bookish Broads for letting me steal this question!}

This led to a lot of clarifying questions: which Bella? Because waking up as pregnant Bella is an entirely different set of problems. I said that it would be Bella from Twilight.

S: Jacob. I was Jacobing from the beginning.

KW: I like how you made that a verb.

Patrick: You grow a pair and move on.

KW: I liked Twilight. I thought it was a good story.  I would say let’s skip middle book twice and go right to the end.

KR: Maybe ask for a new chemistry partner.  Then it’s a whole new story.

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What’s the most drastic thing you’ve ever done for a deadline?

KW: I get so panicked about my deadlines, that I get focused on my word count. It’s not a good thing because it sets a precedent.  Then my editor thinks I can get things done in a month.

S: I also turn in things early, but then my editor thinks I didn’t edit enough, so I’ll get a huge edit letter. Now I know to wait so she thinks I’ve taken that long.

KR: I’m good with time. I will write another book.

With your love interest do you generally base them on someone else?

KW: My first characters tend to burst out of my brain, fully formed. Isadora was that way. My love interests I tend to learn while my MC does. I try to write to challenges. I wanted to write a fantasy novel where the chosen one didn’t have any magic.  I don’t base my characters on other people, but inspiration.

S: I wanted to write a MC who wanted to be the hero and save the world. She’s a 16 year old girl and not a very good fighter, so they keep telling her no.

KR: I based her on Q in James Bond. She cannot be who she should be or who she wants to be, so a lot of it is behind the scenes. She’s not a great fighter at first. She’s smart and can build things.

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Any kind of themes or ideas that you love to talk about?

S: A lot of the books I’ve written are about being enough on your own. Not needing magic or anything else. It’s something I unintentionally have in my mind.

KR: I like writing about hope. It’s a central theme. I like to play with creative characters and seeing the world in ways that maybe I wouldn’t be able to see. Oh and beautiful men.

KW: I never intend to, but then I always do. Fate vs free will and the nature of mortality. I also like writing girls with attitude.

Do you have any triggers that will make you write?

S: Music, which is funny because I can’t listen to anything while I’m writing.  But I can get inspired by something in the song and then go work on it.

KR: I watch a lot of Discovery Channel and we’re always pausing it so I can writes stuff down.

KW: Deadlines. Or a song. You know how songs can tell you a story in 4 minutes? Like that.

Mindgames came from from PIRATES 4. The move was horrible, but I loved the mermaid and how she was beautiful and vulnerable, but in the water she could kill you.

KW: Do you guys have ideas that you know you’re not ready to write?

S: Yes. I have a contemporary idea and it frightens me. No one is getting stabbed, I don’t know what to do.

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How much outlining do you guys do?

S: So much. Especially with fantasy because there’s so much world building. There’s a map that came from something I made from Microsoft Paint. I’m horrible with architecture, so I have to draw everything first.

KR: It’s a big thing for me. I outline as much as I can. Then I can draft faster. What really helped me with book 1 was writing book 2.

KW: It depends on the book. This one had no outlining. The collaboration I did with Jim for In the Shadows was specific. It’s a chapter of art and then a chapter of text and we had to have the same amount of chapters.

I will write literally one line so I know where I’m heading next.

From then, it was time for the signing.  Michelle and I were able to be the first in line, so Michelle went up to Kiersten and I went to Sara.  I told Kiersten that I didn’t have anything for her because I just saw her.  When Sara opened my book, she saw my post it and I had my Twitter handled written down.  She said, “You’re The Stacee!”

And I do love my inscription!

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These three ladies were hilarious together.  I wish I would have been fast enough to get all of the tangent stories and giggles, but I wasn’t that fast.  Just go get all of their books and go see them!

The time it was a book blast {4}

I’ve been a fan of Brighton Walsh since her early days.  When she had a couple of novellas published, I invited myself onto her blog tour.  So, it sort of goes without saying that when her new book, Caged in Winter, was getting published, I let her know that I was going to be part of all of the things.  Thankfully, Brighton isn’t afraid of my fangirling enthusiasm.

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The book doesn’t come out until next month, but today we have some goodies to help tide you over, including an excerpt.  But, before we get to that {and the giveaway}, let’s check out the book, shall we?

9780425276488_medium_Caged_in_WinterIn this emotional and sexy New Adult debut from Brighton Walsh, the only thing more frightening than commitment is hope…

Aspiring chef Cade Maxwell is immediately, viscerally attracted to Winter Jacobson. But it’s not her mouthwatering curves he’s drawn to—it’s the strange emptiness in her eyes. When Cade saves her from a drunken customer with grabby hands, he’s shocked at her response…

Winter doesn’t need Cade’s help. After a lifetime of getting by on her own, she’s happy to rely on herself. She’s exactly seventy-six days away from graduating college, and if she can hold it together that long, she’ll finally be able to rise above the crappy hand she was dealt.

But now, every time she turns around, Cade is there, ready to push her, smile at her, distract her from her plans. Winter knows she can’t afford to open up—especially to a man she’s terrified to actually want…

Sounds good, right? {Hint: it absolutely is}

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And now the excerpt… Oh, and maybe there should be a disclaimer.  If you can’t vote, you might want to keep scrolling.

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“Okay, now add the flour, but—” It’s too late, a puff of white exploding in Winter’s face before I can get the words out or reach to flip the switch. “You need to turn the mixer to low.”

She spins around, her cheeks covered in random white spots, some of the flour dusting her hair. “You couldn’t say that before, ‘Now add the flour’?” Her voice is low, her eyes narrowed, and I take a step back.

“Well, yeah, I guess I could’ve, but I just sort of figured you’d know enough not to add loose flour to a wildly spinning mixer.”

“Oh, you figured I’d know enough for that, huh? Even after I told you I’ve never made cookies before? Even then?”

She’s advancing on me now, and I shouldn’t be retreating like a scared animal. I have more than a foot on her, a hundred-plus pounds, but she looks pissed. And that glint in her eye tells me she’s up to something. I glance down at her hand, seeing a measuring cup half filled with flour, and I realize what she’s going to do a split-second before she does, but not soon enough to dodge it.

A cloud of white powder hits me straight in the face, and I cough as I inhale some. Wiping away the dust from my eyes, I say, “I can’t believe you did that.”

“Oh, well, I just figured you’d know enough to duck.” She shrugs and offers me a saccharine smile.

“I don’t think you want to start this with me, baby.”

“In case you missed the flour in your face a second ago, I already started it, baby.”

I stare her down, then reach over, grabbing the bowl of melted chocolate—my mom’s secret ingredient in her cookies—and dip my fingers into it. Winter narrows her eyes at me and takes a step back. “Don’t you dare.”

“Where you goin’? I thought you wanted to get messy.”

“No, I wanted you to get messy. I didn’t have a choice with this,” she says as she gestures to where the flour hit her. She darts her eyes down to the bowl of chocolate, then back up to my face. “Don’t, Cade. You’re going to get me dirty, and I have to be at work soon.”

“You maybe should’ve thought about that before you threw a scoop of flour in my face.” I don’t wait for her response before I smear the chocolate down her cheek to her jaw, then all the way down her neck and into the deep V of her shirt, stopping when I feel the swell of her breasts. “Whoops.”

“You did not just do that.”

“Looks like I did.” I shrug, putting the bowl back on the counter before I lick the chocolate from my fingers. She focuses on the act, her lips parted. I lean closer to her, drop my voice, and gesture to the spots of her skin that are covered. “You want me to clean you up, too?”

Glaring, she gives a jerky shake of her head, but a flush works its way up her chest to her neck—one of the tells she’s getting turned on.

I step closer, backing her into the corner until she’s pressed against the cabinets behind her. “Sure about that? It wouldn’t take much. Just a lick or two. Maybe a couple sucks. We’d probably have to take your shirt off, though, and your bra, too. I really got down in there.”

Her head’s tilted back as she stares up at me, her chest rising and falling in quick succession from her labored breathing.

I lean into her space, lick up a path from her neck to her ear. “I think you do. I think you want my tongue all over you, don’t you, baby? I got you all dirty. Seems only fair I clean you up.” Before she can respond, my mouth closes over her shoulder, my tongue tracing along the chocolate I smeared there. By the time I’ve dipped into the neckline of her shirt, my tongue in the valley of her breasts, her nipples are pressed tight against the material, and she’s got a white-knuckled grip on the countertop behind her.

“Want me to stop?”

I wait a second. Two. And when she gives the slightest shake of her head, I take. Gripping her face in my hands, my mouth covers hers, my tongue slipping inside. She groans into the kiss, her hands finally coming up to clutch my forearms.

“Wait.” She wrenches her mouth from mine, turning her head to the side. “Cade, wait. Your sister.”

I focus on licking every stray ounce of chocolate I can find, her hands a counterpoint to her words as she holds me close. “Not home. Gone till four.”

“Shit! Four. I have to be at work at four!”

“We’ve got time. Now stop talking.”

I peel her jeans and panties off, then lift her onto the counter, desperate to feel her around me. With one hand, I fumble with the button of my jeans, the other busy between Winter’s thighs, rubbing soft circles around her clit, getting her ready for me. She’s moaning, her head resting back on the cabinets, and the sight of her there, half naked in my kitchen, is too much. Too fucking much, and I can’t get my goddamn jeans off.

When she notices, her hands are there, opening my jeans and yanking my boxers down just far enough to pull me out. Her hands are around my cock, pumping slowly, and I need inside her now.

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Brighton Author Photo_ColorBrighton Walsh spent nearly a decade as a professional photographer before deciding to take her storytelling in a different direction and reconnect with her first love: writing. When she’s not pounding away at the keyboard, she’s probably either reading or shopping—maybe even both at once. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children, and, yes, she considers forty degrees to be hoodie weather. Her home is the setting for frequent dance parties, Lego battles, and more laughter than she thought possible.

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Huge thanks to Jessica for letting me force my way into this.  Make sure you’re checking out Brighton’s website, following her on Twitter, liking her Facebook page and adding all of her books to your Goodreads TBR shelf.

Caged in Winter comes out November 4th.  You can preorder it at: B&N, Amazon, iBooks and Kobo.

Now.  Can’t wait to get your greedy hands on a copy?  Berkley is giving away 5 arcs! Contest is US only.

**Good Luck!!**

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The time it was about Snow Like Ashes

I immediately signed up for the Snow Like Ashes tour as soon as I saw it.  I hadn’t read the book at that point, but it was so highly recommended by people I trust.  Some of you may know how picky I am about fantasy, but let me tell you, this book was amazing.

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Before we get to my interview with Sara, let’s check out the book!

SnowLikeAshesA heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

Sounds good, right?

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1. Where did the idea for Snow Like Ashes come from?

I always feel so lame when people ask me this question, because all I remember is that I wanted to write a version of winter that was portrayed as the “good guys.” I started SLA so long ago that all the other origin memories are lost to my very, very poor memory.

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2. I know why I love Meira. Why do you love her and why should readers root for her?

OH GOSH. This question could easily spawn an essay-like response, so I’ll try to keep it short.

I love Meira because she’s always been there for me. I know, I know, cheesy, but I first started writing her when I was a preteen and kept at her story throughout high school and a little bit of college, so she was there through my “formative years.” No matter what horrible things happened, I had Meira, this spunky, stubborn, ferocious white-haired girl who was everything I wanted to be. She gave me hope.

As for why readers should root for her: one of the many, many reason I love Meira is her own ability to love. She loves Winter so much (to her own disadvantage sometimes), and that capacity for emotion should, I hope, endear her to readers.

3. How did you come up with the world and the way magic works?

The original draft of SLA involved a magic locket of Winter’s and a magic staff of Spring’s. No other kingdoms had magic objects, which, when I went back and started rewriting SLA, was a huge plot issue. Why just Winter and Spring? What if every kingdom had a magic object? And it all just kind of exploded from there, evolving into eight magic items, eight kingdoms, four Season, four Rhythm. A lot of world building is asking the right questions.

4. What makes a good villain and how did you incorporate that into the story?

A good villain never thinks he’s the villain. In SLA, a lot of the villain, Angra, is mysterious—Meira hasn’t met him, so to her, he’s this dark, evil figure who enslaved her people. But as the trilogy progresses, a lot more about Angra is brought into the light—his motivations, his ultimate goal. It just takes awhile to get there because he’s certainly not going to bare his soul to a 16-year-old enemy girl. At least, not easily ;)

evil-laugh

5. Describe Snow Like Ashes in 5 words.

Spunky soldier girl seeking freedom.

Speed [ish] round:

1. You get the call/email/letter that says you’re being published for the first time. What happens next?

Massive, sobbing, ugly tears.

2. What three things would you take to a desert island?

A fairly hefty yacht, a compass, and Bear Grylls. Ain’t no way I’m staying on that island.

3. You can only read one book for the rest of your life. What is it?

Any of the books in Sharon Shinn’s the Twelve Houses series.

4. Who are your favorite swoony boys?

Top Three: Kartik from the Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray, Elias from AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir, and Fred from POISON by Bridget Zinn.

5. What is the one thing about publishing you wish someone would have told you?

Trust your gut. There is SO much advice in publishing, especially once you sell—do this or don’t do this or do this but only after this. It gets super overwhelming, and you can run yourself into the ground trying to do everything “right.” But there is NO right way of doing things—there’s only YOUR way of doing things. So if you don’t want to do something, don’t do it. If you DO want to do something, do it. It’s your career, your ride, so do it how you feel is best!

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SaraSara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy, SNOW LIKE ASHES, the first in a trilogy, comes out October 14, 2014 from Balzer + Bray. It does not feature her hand-drawn pictures.

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Huge thanks to the ladies at Rockstar Book Tours for letting me be a part of this.  And squishy hugs to Sara for taking the time! Make sure you’re checking out her website, following her on Twitter, liking her Facebook page and adding Snow Like Ashes to your Goodreads TBR shelf.

Snow Like Ashes comes out on 10/14.  You can pre-order it at Indiebound, The Book Depository, B&N and Amazon.

Definitely check out the other tour stops for all sorts of awesome.

Ready for the fun giveaway?   4 Winners will receive SNOW LIKE ASHES swag packs: two post cards, two bookmarks, SLA buttons, and a bag of instant snow.

Giveaway

**Good Luck!!**

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The time it was about Afterparty

When Alethea invited me to be part of the blog tour for Afterparty, I was pretty excited.  I haven’t had a chance to get my greedy hands on a copy of this book yet, but I’m super intrigued by the premise.

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There’s all sorts of stuff and two {that’s right, TWO!} giveaways down there, but before we get to that, let’s check out the book.

afterparty_hires_smallEmma is tired of being good. Always the dutiful daughter to an overprotective father, she is the antithesis of her mother — whose name her dad won’t even say out loud. That’s why meeting Siobhan is the best thing that ever happened to her…and the most dangerous. Because Siobhan is fun and alluring and experienced and lives on the edge. In other words, she’s everything Emma is not.

And it may be more than Emma can handle.

Because as intoxicating as her secret life may be, when Emma begins to make her own decisions, Siobhan starts to unravel. It’s more than just Dylan, the boy who comes between them. Their high-stakes pacts are spinning out of control. Elaborate lies become second nature. Loyalties and boundaries are blurred. And it all comes to a head at the infamous Afterparty, where debauchery rages and an intense, inescapable confrontation ends in a plummet from the rooftop…

This explosive, sexy, and harrowing follow-up to Ann Redisch Stampler’s spectacular teen debut, Where It Began, reveals how those who know us best can hurt us most.

Afterparty is out now. You can get it at IndieBound, Book Depository, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.

Ready for an excerpt?

Afterparty by Ann Redisch Stampler (Excerpt)

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annstampler_bio_photoAnn Redisch Stampler is the author of young adult novels Where It Began and Afterparty, as well as several picture books, including The Rooster Prince of Breslov. Her books have been an Aesop Accolade winner, Sydney Taylor notable books and an honor book, a National Jewish Book Awards finalist and winner, and Bank Street Best Books of the Year. Ann has two adult children and lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband.

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Make sure you’re checking out Ann’s website, following her on Twitter, liking her Facebook page and adding her books to your Goodreads TBR shelf.

Definitely check out the other tour stops for all sorts of awesome and extra chances to win.

And now the good stuff…

Giveaway #1 – Grand Prize US only, ends November 14, 2014, please use the Rafflecopter widget to enter!

afterparty_grandprize

The grand prize includes: A hardcover copy of Afterparty, Emma’€™s contraband Sephora make-up, Emma’€™s Kate Spade make-up bag, Emma’€™s Bob Marley tee shirt, Emma’€™s vintage mother-of-pearl barrette, Emma’€™s cat€™ eyes sunglasses, Emma’€™s ice blue nail polish, the sparkly hair pins Dylan pulls out of Emma’€™s hair, Dylan’€™s Kurt Cobain tee shirt, Siobhan’€™s gold nail polish, Mara’€™s Bakelite-style orange bracelet (+ two more), Mara’€™s (tiny) Felix-the-Cat ring.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway #2 – Hardcover copy of Afterparty with matching tote.  Giveaway is US only, additional rules are here. IMG_4832(1) a Rafflecopter giveaway