Monday, February 8, 2016

Cover Reveal: "My Senior Year of Awesome" by Jennifer DiGiovanni with Giveaway - Presented by Swoon Romance

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Welcome to the cover reveal for
My Senior Year of Awesome by Jennifer DiGiovanni
presented by Swoon Romance!
Be on the lookout for this YA contemporary romance about the awesome, not-so-awesome senior year in high school!

MY Senior Year of Awesome
A girl desperately tries to avoid the boy she was voted most likely to marry by her senior classmates. To prove senior superlative votes are meaningless, she and her best friend create their own list of awesome high-school achievements to be completed by graduation.

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My Senior Year of Awesome by Jennifer DiGiovanni
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: Swoon Romance
About-the-Author2
Jennifer DiGiovanni

Jennifer lives in a small town near Philadelphia, PA, with her husband and three children. In college, she double-majored in English and business, and later went back to school for her MBA. She currently works as a freelance writer and owns a small business. She also spends time cheering at her kids’ soccer games, re-learning algebra to help with homework assignments, and cooking up healthy dinners that nobody eats. When she’s not doing any of those things, you can find her reading, working on home-design projects, or running (though she's much better at walking). At night, when her house is finally quiet, she brings her YA characters to life. My Senior Year of Awesome is her first novel.

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 Disclaimer: Susan Heim on Writing is not responsible for Rafflecopter content or prize fulfillment.

Cover Reveal: The Rise of Genesis, by M.R. Merrick

Announcing a new book by M.R. Merrick!


In a world where being Supernatural means you’re in danger, Ash Lawson is front and center. After years of helping others escape ATOM -- a government entity known for abusing Supernaturals -- he’s captured, and saving himself will prove to be the most difficult task he’s undertaken.

Tryst Rivera is a Succubus and veteran at the Academy, a facility tasked with converting underage Supernaturals into cooperative ATOM soldiers. She’s endured her time mostly unscathed, but when Ash arrives and their lives are tethered to one another, she’s placed in immediate danger.

With escape at the forefront of his mind, Ash struggles with the idea of life under ATOM’s thumb. He’ll die before he converts, but his life isn’t the only one he’s responsible for, and he already has more blood on his hands than he can bear. When a chance for freedom arises, Ash needs to decide how much -- and who -- he’s willing to risk for a second chance.



Coming March 15, 2016



About the Author

M.R. Merrick is a Canadian writer and author of The Protector Series and The Rise of Genesis. Having never traveled, he adventures to far-off lands through his imagination and between cups of coffee. As a music lover and proud breakfast enthusiast, he's usually found at the computer between a pair of headphones and a large bowl of cereal.

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Winners in January 2016

The Resilience Reflex Book Tour: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash and Book


Congratulations to the winners: Sandra W. (Gift Card) and Janet L. (Book)!

Roman's Holiday Book Tour: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash


Congratulations to the winner: Ty B.!

The Secret Life of Daydreams Book Blast: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash


Congratulations to the winner: Charlene S.!

Broken Things to Mend Book Blast: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash


Congratulations to the winner: Jennifer R.!

Temper, by Beck Nicholas (eBook)


Congratulations to the winner: Tammy V.!

The Busy Person's Guide to Everyday Enlightenment Book Tour: $100 Amazon Gift Card


Congratulations to the winner: Bessamy S.!

Serpentine, by Cindy Pon and Nameless, by Jennifer Jenkins (eBooks)


Congratulations to the winners: Agus Z., Danielle H., and Natasha S.!

The Lost Heir Book Blitz: $40 Amazon Gift Card


Congratulations to the winner: Lisa B.!

Fear My Mortality, by Everly Frost (eGalley)


Congratulations to the winner: Natalie B.!

The Artisans, by Julie Reece and The Perilous Journey of the Not So Innocuous Girl, by Leigh Statham (eBooks)


Congratulations to the winners: Amie S., Esperanza G., and Ron P.!

Genesis Girl, by Jennifer Bardsley (eGalley)


Congratulations to the winner: Robin A.!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Book Review: "The Secret of Pembrooke Park," by Julie Klassen


About the book:
Abigail Foster is the practical daughter. She fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry, and the one man she thought might marry her seems to have fallen for her younger, prettier sister.

Facing financial ruin, Abigail and her father search for more affordable lodgings, until a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll's house left mid-play...

The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem acquainted with the manor's past, the only information they offer is a stern warning: Beware trespassers drawn by rumors that Pembrooke Park contains a secret room filled with treasure.

This catches Abigail's attention. Hoping to restore her family's finances -- and her dowry -- Abigail looks for this supposed treasure. But eerie sounds at night and footprints in the dust reveal she isn't the only one secretly searching the house.

Then Abigail begins receiving anonymous letters containing clues about the hidden room and startling discoveries about the past.

As old friends and new foes come calling at Pembrooke Park, secrets come to light. Will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks ... or very real danger?

My thoughts:
I've read several books by Julie Klassen, and this is one of her most mysterious and complex. Many characters seem to have secrets, all tied to a murder that happened many years ago. Although Abigail is a level-headed young woman and not a typical treasure hunter, she can't resist the allure of the stories told about her distant relatives and the beautiful home they once occupied but deserted so abruptly. I loved the character of William, the curate, who is kind and hard-working, and manages to see Abigail's good heart under her pleasing looks. His and Abigail's slow-burning romance added to the suspense as many obstacles were in the way. The plot contained many twists and turns, and kept me guessing until the very end. The Secret of Pembrooke Park is a page-turner filled with mystery, interesting characters, and romance. It's a must-read for fans of historical fiction.
©Farrow Media

About the author:
Julie Klassen loves all things Jane -- Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full-time. Three of her books, The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She has also won the Midwest Book Award and Christian Retailing's BEST Award, and has been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America's RITA Awards, Minnesota Book Awards, and ACFW's Carol Awards. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. For more information, visit www.julieklassen.com.



Disclosure: I borrowed this book from the library. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Giveaway for Chicken Soup for the Soul's New Books for Pet Lovers!

I recently had the opportunity to work with Chicken Soup for the Soul on editing their newest books for cat and dog fans. I absolutely loved reading all of the humorous and heartfelt true stories about the pets we adore. I'm also thrilled to be able to offer some copies in a giveaway. Read on to learn more about these books, and then CLICK HERE to enter the giveaway!

Chicken Soup for the Soul:
My Very Good, Very Bad Cat
101 Heartwarming Stories About Our Happy, Heroic & Hilarious Pets
What has the cat done now? You’ll recognize your own cat in this collection of stories about how very good and very bad our cats can be.

From cats with nine lives to cats that save lives -- from cats that wreck houses to cats that repair families -- from cats that crack us up to cats that act like therapists -- you’ll see your own cat with new appreciation for its unique skills and intuition.

With a special emphasis on the benefits and joys of adopting abandoned cats, these stories will make you laugh out loud, nod your head in recognition, and maybe even shed a tear or two.

Chicken Soup for the Soul:
My Very Good, Very Bad Dog
101 Heartwarming Stories About Our Happy, Heroic & Hilarious Pets
What has that dog done now? You’ll recognize your own canine companion in this collection of stories about how very good and very bad our dogs can be.

From clever dogs that sneak food to heroic dogs that save lives -- from mischievous dogs that chew shoes to intuitive dogs that repair families -- from goofy dogs that crack us up to nurturing dogs that act like therapists -- you’ll have a new appreciation for your own dog’s unique skills.

With a special emphasis on the joy of adopting dogs from shelters, these stories will make you laugh out loud and maybe even shed a tear or two.

**Royalties from the sale of these books help support the great work of the American Humane Association.**

Click on the pictures above and order copies of these books for everyone in your life who loves dogs or cats -- including yourself!


Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of these books, which I am donating for the giveaway. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link.

Cover Reveal and Giveaway: "There Once Were Stars," by Melanie McFarlane


Today, Melanie McFarlane and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for THERE ONCE WERE STARS, which releases April 26, 2016! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive an eGalley!

A quick note from the author:
I have anticipated this moment for months -- the moment I would be able to share my cover with all of you! When I first laid eyes on the cover for THERE ONCE WERE STARS, I was immediately drawn to the stars and how they are escaping their glass prison. In my novel, the main character, Natalia Greyes, is also locked in a glass prison: her home, Dome 1618. During Nat’s childhood, the stars became more visible in the sky after being blocked by darkness for decades after the Cleansing Wars. Like the stars, Nat is a symbol of change as she transforms from a na├»ve youth into a strong teen, who searches for her place in her tiny world of Dome 1618, and dreams of escaping to the outside one day. But my favorite detail of all is the grass and how cool and inviting it is in contrast to the hard sheen of the glass jar. It can be seen as a symbol of how mankind can never capture or truly duplicate the beauty of nature, or the wonder of life itself.

Don’t forget to check out my trailer on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuTOuBPX11k

On to the reveal! 


Title: THERE ONCE WERE STARS
Author: Melanie McFarlane
Pub. Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback & eBook
Find it:  Goodreads

Peace. Love. Order. Dome. That’s the motto that the Order has given the residents of Dome 1618 to live by. Natalia Greyes is a resident of Dome 1618, a covered city protected from the deadly radiation that has poisoned the world outside for four generations. Nat never questioned the Order, until one day she sees a stranger on the outside of the dome. Now Nat wants answers. Is there life outside the dome, and if so, what has the Order been hiding from everyone?

Exclusive Excerpt


Chapter One


I stretch my arms across my bed, running my fingers along the same sheets I’ve had since I was a child. The stiffness was beaten out of them long ago, but they still carry the memory of my mother carefully stitching the first tear back together when I was seven. The tiny x’s remind me of her long fingers, moving the needle back and forth with the same care as when she worked with samples in her laboratory.


I trace the row stitches, squeezing my eyes shut as I make a wish; it is my eighteenth birthday, after all. But when I open them, the same scene shows from my bedroom window that always does—the grid of our dome. Nothing changes. It doesn’t matter how many birthday wishes are made; I always wake up trapped inside the dome. The grid of thick glass and steel arcs far above our apartment, stretching to where the great Axis, a tower of government offices, meets the peak of our home—Dome 1618.


I crawl out of bed and let my gaze trail down the Axis to the rooftops of the other apartment buildings, row upon row of housing for blue-collar workers. Closer to the Axis are townhouses of the business owners, hidden from the rest of us, but that’s not where I long to be. My eyes drift to the base of the dome, far away from my window where the Outer Forest lies, my only saving grace. It’s forbidden to hike among the trees, but sometimes rules need to be broken.


“Natalia!” Grandmother’s piercing voice comes from the other side of my bedroom door. “Get up. You’re wasting the day away.”


The clock on my dresser reads eight o’clock in the morning. Seriously? It’s been nine years since I moved in with my grandparents, and saying Grandmother and I have differing opinions barely touches the surface. Her rules are sometimes worse than those of the Order, who police the dome. With any luck, I’ll be assigned my own apartment soon and can finally restart my life, again.


I run my brush through my long brown hair, although by the time I go outside it will look unruly once again. It’s my curse; I have thick hair like my mother, with waves that look more like oddly-placed kinks, unlike the smooth-flowing locks worn by some of the other girls at my school. But I won’t have to go back to the Learning Institute again. Today I’m an adult.


My jeans are on the floor where I left them last night, and I manage to find a clean T-shirt in my drawer. Both have the same tiny stitches as my sheets, covering up the wear and tear over the years, but I sewed these back together myself. Grandmother is firm on the fact that if I don’t take care of what I have, I don’t get a replacement. There’s no point in arguing when her opinions are as deep as the wrinkles on her face, and honestly, it’s hard to tell which she has more of. Before I leave my room, I grab my mother’s notebook. It’s filled with her sketches and work notes on different projects she was involved in. But my favorites are the tiny notes, squeezed in the margins, excerpt of her personal thoughts, hopes, and dreams. The biggest of these was to move her family outside the dome.


“I know you were out last night,” Grandmother says, eyeing me suspiciously between the milk and dry toast as I slip into my seat at the table.


“Must we have this conversation every morning?” Grandfather speaks up.


“You know the ramifications!” Grandmother shrills, and he shrinks in his chair. “Do you want to let her stroll around at night past curfew? One day she won’t come home, and then we will be questioned.” Grandmother redirects her attention to me. “What are you doing out there that’s important enough to risk everything? Haven’t I warned you? If the Order catches you, you will wish you had listened to me.”


“That’s my problem.” I fold my arms across my chest. She always makes me back down with her words. If I’m going to be an adult, I need to learn how to take a stand.


“If your parents could only see you now,” she says unsympathetically. “They would wonder how they got a daughter so determined to get herself detained. You know what they do with little girls who don’t follow the rules.”


“Yes,” I say through gritted teeth. She’s given these lectures many times. Girls who don’t follow the rules are sent back to the Learning Institute for retraining, where they come out all prim and proper, ready to take their place as functional citizens of the dome. I’m not going back there; I know how to stay under the radar.


“Come on, now.” Grandfather finally steps in. “It’s Nat’s birthday.”


“Yes.” Her tone softens. “You’re eighteen now. Hurry and eat; we got you a little something.”


I gobble down the toast, stale as it is, but fresh food is not something that our dome has had in a long time. Since the accident that caused my parents’ death, the Order stopped all excursions for scientific research, completely cutting off the outside world. Prior to this, there were plenty of rations from the farms due to uncontaminated seeds the expedition teams found, along with new plant life for supplementing the crops. But those stockpiles have slowly depleted.


When I finish breakfast, I look at my grandparents in anticipation. Grandfather’s face is beaming, and though Grandmother looks like she is trying to be serious, I can see a small sparkle in her eyes as she hands me a tiny green box with a little purple bow. The bow is smooth, made from fabric nicer than anything I own. I gently untie it, and put the silky strand safely in my pocket, before opening the box to see what is inside.


A silver, heart-shaped locket sits on top of fine tissue paper, so delicate I don’t dare touch it in case it rips. An image of two hands holding a smaller heart is engraved into the center of the locket. This is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen—I’ve never owned jewelry of my own. My hands are shaking so bad I almost drop the box.


“Careful!” Grandmother’s voice snaps me from my awe. She grabs the box from me, and it takes all my inner strength to let it go.


She removes the necklace from the box and opens the locket, holding it out to me. Inside, is a photo of my parents on their wedding day. Photos are luxuries. I only own one other— a photo of me with my parents when I turned three—and it stays safe on my nightstand. But this locket—I can take it with me anywhere. I hold up my hair, allowing Grandmother to secure it around my neck, then grasp the tiny keepsake in my hand. I will cherish it forever.


“I’m going to show this to Jak and Xara,” I say, leaving the table.


“Don’t forget, you have to report to work today.” Grandmother reminds me.


“But it’s Saturday.” I groan.


“You’re eighteen now,” she says, her eyes vacant of the compassion they held only seconds ago. “Your time to contribute to the dome begins today. Plus, any experience is good to have if you want to be a scientist one day, like your parents.”


“I don’t see how cleaning toilets at the Axis will do me any good in the future,” I complain. “And I never said I want to be a scientist.”


“You’ll find where you’re meant to be.” Grandfather smiles. “Understanding everything from the bottom-up will help you make a better decision about what you want to do to make your contribution.”


I sigh as I lace up my sneakers, now feeling the pressure of the future. I have no idea what I want to do today, let alone the rest of my life. But it definitely does not involve cleaning up after those in the Axis. I wave good-bye as I leave the apartment, but only Grandfather waves back. My number one fan; he always tries to keep the peace between Grandmother and I. But no matter how close we are, I still have to lie about where I’m really going. No one can know about my secret place.


Outside, I stretch my arms up toward the top of the dome. The sun shines through the dust covered glass of the dome, with sections of blue sky showing here and there. I sneak around the back of our apartment building, and begin my stealthy weave through alleyways. I have hours before my first shift starts at the Axis. Hours to spend somewhere the Order can’t find me.


When I reach the Outer Forest, I sneak in a break in the fence and move between the trunks of trees, inhaling the last of the old world. The rich combination of musk and earth fills my lungs as I run as fast as I can from the fence. Running is one of the few things that make me feel free. When I reach my destination, I’m out of breath, but exactly where I belong—a hidden clearing at the edge of the dome.


I crawl inside a hollowed-out tree I’ve claimed as my own. How did the Order miss this lone tree, dying amidst the perfection of the Outer Forest? It should have been torn down long ago, to make room for larger, healthier, oxygen bearing trees. Decay doesn’t coincide with the Order’s pursuit for perfection and efficiency, but it’s ideal for me: hidden, empty, and alone. I accept this tree’s imperfections and it offers me solace.


I clutch my locket again, this time removing it from my neck so I can look inside. A twinge of pain prickles my throat as my parents’ faces stare back at me. They look so happy and in love. I remember that about them. The in love part. I haven’t thought about people in love for so long.


I lean back, holding the locket against my chest, intent on enjoying the morning sun. Unfortunately, the heat of the sun doesn’t penetrate the cold glass of the dome, but something about that glowing orb in those blue skies makes me feel better. Mom wrote in her notebook about the first time she felt the sun on her skin: warm and, bright, as if it gave her a new life with its rays, just like it did to the world, after the Cleansing Wars. I close my eyes, imagining myself bathed in sunlight, and finally give in to the peace of the forest.


I wake up, feeling something sharp poking my side. I can’t believe I drifted off. My hand shoots behind me, to find the source of the pain. My mother’s notebook is jutting awkwardly from my back pocket. I stand up to tuck it back in, and my gaze slips above a line of bushes growing wildly along the base of the dome. At the same time, something flashes above them, and my breath catches in my throat. My reflection stares back at me from the glass, revealing my locket shining in the sunlight. Relax, Dacie, it’s only you. A nervous laugh escapes my throat, as I finish putting the notebook away.


Another light flashes, but this time it’s in the distance, on the other side of the glass. I lean forward, focusing on the light, and see a shadow move on the other side. My entire body goes rigid, and my heart beat thunders in my ears. No one could be out there—unless—could it be an Infected? No, that’s impossible. They were all killed by the Cleansing War—everything was. If the nukes didn’t kill them, the nuclear fallout afterward would have.


Something moves again—closer this time. A gasp escapes my lips, as a shudder rips through my body. That’s when I see it—the faint outline of a person standing in the open. He’s camouflaged by a layer of dust, blending him into the barren landscape that surrounds the dome. The figure’s shadow stretches across the ground, reaching toward me.


I rub my eyes, as if something in them could be making me see the figure, but when I open them I’m startled to see the figure again, only now there are two. One stays farther back, toward the rockier land, silhouetted against the foothills in the distance. The other stands a short distance from the dome. My heart skips a beat—they’re both human, and they’re both staring in my direction.




About Melanie: 
Whether it’s uncovering the corruption of the future or traveling to other worlds to save the universe, Melanie McFarlane jumps in with both hands on her keyboard. Though she can be found obsessing over zombies and orcs from time to time, Melanie has focused her powers on her two upcoming YA novels: THERE ONCE WERE STARS and SUMMONER
RISING.

Website 
|Twitter | Facebook | InstagramGoodreads




Giveaway Details:
One winner will receive the FIRST eGalley of THERE ONCE WERE STARS. Open internationally. Enter through the Rafflecopter form below.

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Melanie is also giving away some swag. Enter that giveaway, too!

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Disclaimer: Susan Heim on Writing is not responsible for Rafflecopter content or prize fulfillment.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Sense of Touch Book Blast: Giveaway for a $100 Amazon Gift Card

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Title:  The Sense of Touch
Author:  Ron Parsons
Published:  May 1, 2013
Publisher:   Aqueous Books
Genre:  Literary Fiction – a collection of short stories
Recommended Age:  15+

Synopsis:  Sprung from the variously lush, rugged, and frozen emotional landscapes of the north country, this luminous collection of stories captures the progress of a diverse ensemble of souls as they struggle to uncover themselves and negotiate a meaningful communion, of any kind, with the world around them.

A brilliant but troubled Bangladeshi physics student searches for balance, acceptance, and his own extraordinary destiny after his father disappears.

When a Halloween blizzard immobilizes Minneapolis, a young woman is forced to confront the snow-bound nature of her own relationships and emotions.

During an excursion to an idyllic swimming hole hidden in the Black Hills, two old friends unexpectedly compete for the affections of an irresistible, though married, Lakota woman.

Like a mythical expedition to reach the horizon or the quest to distill truth from the beauty around us, the revelation confirmed by these imaginative stories -- elegant, sometimes jarring, always wonderfully absurd -- is that the very act of reaching is itself a form of touch.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GoodReads

Excerpt from The Sense of Touch:


For no reason that she could discern, she put down the novel and picked up her cell phone. She was lonely, yes, but had been so for as long as she cared to remember, and nothing seemed to be pressing that particular bruise, one of many, at the moment. Her loneliness was at a comfortable echelon: not growing like a tree, nor multiplying as a moss, but just simply there. A permanent, weathered, embedded rock. A boulder in the wheat field. A bullet inside of a body, too dangerous to remove, around which tissue grows.


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About the Author:
RON PARSONS is a writer living in Sioux Falls. Born in Michigan and raised in South Dakota, he was inspired to begin writing fiction in Minneapolis while attending the University of Minnesota. His short stories have appeared in many literary magazines and venues, including The Gettysburg Review, Indiana Review, Storyville App, The Briar Cliff Review, Flyway, and The Onion. His debut collection of stories, THE SENSE OF TOUCH, was released by Aqueous Books.



Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • A $100 Amazon gift card.
Giveaway is international. Enter through the Rafflecopter form below. Ends February 12, 2016, at 11:59 PM (ET).

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Disclaimer: Susan Heim on Writing is not responsible for Rafflecopter content or prize fulfillment.