Sunday, June 30, 2013

Xpresso Presents A Book Blitz For Precious Things by Stephanie Parent

Precious Things by Stephanie Parent 
Publication date: June 4th 2013
Genre: New Adult Contemporary


Isabelle Andrews isn’t supposed to be here. She isn’t supposed to be a freshman at Hartford Community College, she isn't supposed to be living at home and working at her dad’s failing bakery, and she definitely isn’t supposed to be taking Intro to Electronic Music Production, a class that will get her nowhere toward her goal of an English Lit Ph.D. by age twenty-five. But when her dad’s latest business fiasco eats up her college fund, Hartford Community College is exactly where Isabelle finds herself—and thanks to her late enrollment, she doesn’t even get to choose her classes. Stuck with Electronic Music and way-too-easy English courses, Isabelle is determined to wallow in all the misery she feels entitled to.

But community college brings some unexpected benefits…like the fact that a certain overworked, over-scheduled Electronic Music professor hands over most of his duties to his teaching assistant. His tall, green-eyed, absolutely gorgeous teaching assistant. When TA Evan Strauss discovers Isabelle’s apathy toward electronic music—and, well, all music—he makes it his mission to convert her. The music Evan composes stirs something inside Isabelle, but she can’t get involved—after all, she’ll be transferring out as soon as possible.

Still, no matter how tightly Isabelle holds on to her misery, she finds it slipping away in the wake of all Hartford Community offers: new friendships, a surprisingly cool poetry professor, and most of all, Evan. But Evan’s dream of owning his own music studio is as impractical as Isabelle’s dad’s bakery, and when Evan makes a terrible decision, everything Isabelle has gained threatens to unravel. Soon Isabelle discovers that some of the most important lessons take place outside the classroom…and that in life, as in Evan’s favorite Depeche Mode song, the most precious things can be the hardest to hold on to


What the Heck Is the College Experience, Anyway? 

In Precious Things, I really wanted to capture the so-called “college experience”…but the fact is that the college experience encompasses many different things, and is different for every person. There are the classes themselves, the social aspect, the dorms, being away from home for the first time, just to name a few. For me personally, since I am an extremely private person, the whole dorm culture/roommate aspect was so overwhelming (in a bad way) that it completely dominated my first semester. I know I had some great classes, was able to participate in a dance company for the first time in my life, and met some amazing people…but when I think back on that time, I get an overwhelmingly negative feeling, mostly because of all the dorm ickiness. (September 11th also happened right after I started college, which certainly didn’t help, but that’s a whole different post…) 

My experience with dorm life is actually one of the reasons I chose to set Precious Things at a community college without dorms, with my main character still living at home. I wanted to show that not everyone has the same stereotypical “college experience,” and that missing out on it isn’t necessarily such a bad thing—and I also wanted to focus on other aspects of college, like the classes and the people. 

At the same time, I tried to show hints of alternate “college experiences” through Isabelle’s interactions with her high school friends. Because of over-enrollment, Isabelle’s friend Jenny ends up sharing a two-person dorm room with two other people at the University of Maryland—and believe me, those dorm rooms are tiny enough with just the two people they’re meant for! This actually happened to a few high-school friends of mine, and they were absolutely miserable. And even at a top-tier school like Stanford, where Isabelle’s ex-boyfriend Andrew enrolls, roommates cause problems, with Andrew spending almost every night in the library to avoid his roomie (and especially his roomies “guests”). I knew plenty of people who went through this kind of thing as well, and at a time in your life when you’re dealing with a completely new environment, separation from parents and home, and most likely a much greater amount of academic work than you’re used to, it can be completely overwhelming. Contrary to popular belief, college students do need sleep, and that can be a challenge with strange people coming in and out of your room at all hours of the night! 

And then there’s the whole social aspect of college…the frat parties, the drinking. Late in the book, Jenny explains to Isabelle why she decided to join a sorority, and her feelings about the situation pretty much match mine. (Although no, I never considered joining a sorority—I am way too much of a loner for that!) Here’s what Jenny says: 

“I guess rushing was…it’s been my way of coping, and I’m glad I did it. College isn’t exactly like I thought it would be. It’s like…” She thinks for a moment. “Remember those huge parties in Ajel Cho’s basement, when he would invite the entire school?” 

“Unfortunately, yes.” 

“You know how we acted like everything was so great, like we were so happy and excited to be there, when really we’d rather have been home watching movies and eating ice cream?” 

I laugh. “Yeah.” 

“Well, college is sort of like that, but…all the time. You have all this freedom and you’re supposed to be having the time of your life, but sometimes you just want to escape and curl up on the couch to watch a movie, except you can’t, because…the party’s in your bedroom. And besides, there is no couch other than the ratty stained one in the dorm common room, which people are probably either hooking up or passed out on. Oh, and you’re also supposed to read more than you ever have in your life, and write twenty-page papers, and study for exams while all this is going on.” 

So for Jenny, and Isabelle—and me—college is a lot more complicated than just having “the time of your life.” I hope I reflected that in Precious Things…and yes, I just might be courageous enough to tackle the dorm environment in more detail in my next NA novel!

Precious Things is on sale for .99 for a LIMITED time!



College Is Expensive…Financial Aid Is Weird…and How My Own Financial Experiences in College Inspired Precious Things 

In my NA novel Precious Things, main character Isabelle Andrews ends up at a community college, even though she’s been accepted to schools like Georgetown and Johns Hopkins, after her father’s mismanagement of his business leads to the loss of her college fund. Readers who aren’t too familiar with the American college system (especially private colleges, but state schools too) might wonder why she doesn’t just apply for more financial aid…but unfortunately, it’s not nearly that simple. Isabelle’s experience was actually inspired by my own past as an overachieving, somewhat naïve teen, and by my own struggles with the application process. Now I did go through this process in 2001, over ten years ago (eek, I’m old!), but my sister went through it much more recently, and I can say that it’s only gotten harder, and colleges have only become more expensive. 

American colleges determine financial aid packages through the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which students need to fill out every year before the deadline set by their particular college, usually sometime in May. The FAFSA looks only at your family’s income for the previous year, which doesn’t always provide an entirely accurate picture of your finances. In the case of my family, my father had gotten a substantial raise the previous year, and my mother had gone back to work only a few years earlier, so the FAFSA made our family’s financial situation look better than it actually was. In addition, unless you come from a very lower-class background, the FAFSA expects your family to contribute a LOT of money toward college tuition—so much that, if I had attended one of my top-choice colleges, my sister would have had to drop out of private school. Looking back now, I realize that attending one of the top-choice schools where I was accepted—NYU, Barnard, Sarah Lawrence, Bryn Mawr—probably wouldn’t have made a huge difference to my college experience. But at the time, going to a college I felt very unsure about felt like the end of the world. (If you’re wondering, I went to Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, with the help of a merit-based scholarship.) 

In Precious Things, Isabelle’s situation is a little different: her father used her college fund to refinance his business’s mortgage in July, way after she would have filed the FAFSA and had any financial aid awarded. At that point, she’d have to wait an entire year to re-file the FAFSA and maybe be offered more aid. (Isabelle actually does try to get around this in the book, but I don’t want to give too much away!) And even if she was given more aid, there’s still the fact that the FAFSA’s calculations often expect the family to pay more than is really possible. For Isabelle, who has a younger brother and comes from a single-parent household, this would definitely be an issue. There are also the college-related costs that financial aid doesn’t necessarily cover, such as books, which can easily run several hundred dollars a semester, and living expenses. And yes, there are student loans—but considering the cost of private colleges, that’s a lot of debt to saddle yourself with at such a young age. As for merit-based scholarships…no matter how good a student you are, there are a lot of good students out there, and it’s incredibly hard to get substantial scholarships, particularly at the more prestigious schools. 

While I wanted Precious Things to be a fun novel, I also wanted it to be a realistic reflection of the college experience—and for many college students, finances are a huge issue. It’s unfortunate that getting a higher education in the U.S. is so incredibly expensive…but I hope that reading about Isabelle’s situation strikes a chord with some readers, and serves as a reminder that a change of plans isn’t always as bad as it seems!


Stephanie Parent is a graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC and attended the Baltimore School for the Arts as a piano major. She moved to Los Angeles because of Francesca Lia Block's WEETZIE BAT books, which might give you some idea of how much books mean to her. She also loves dogs, books about dogs, and sugary coffee drinks both hot and cold.

Author Links:

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Lady Amber Tours Presents A Book Release For Branded (Sinners #1) by Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki

Title: Branded
Author: Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki
Release Date: June 28, 2013
Genre: Mature YA/NA, Dystopian

Blitz Host: Lady Amber's Tours

Book Description:

Twenty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best.

Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home.

Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain.

Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.

The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me.

I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter.

My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.


My Review

5 of 5 Branded

HOLY HADES is my first thought and then HOLY S^%& is my second because I have never ever read such a crazy story that grabbed me right from page one and kept me reading and sitting at the edge of my chair because I was like oh holy F%^& is that what is going down and holy F*&^ is she gonna make it......

Man I am going to try and do this review without any spoilers and let me tell you this is going to be very HARD because I loved LOVED this story and anyone who loves Dystopian stories this is the one for 2013 to beat because it is so kick A$! 

Lexi lives in a world where the seven sins have destroyed her world and in order to clean her world The Commander has forbidden the seven sins to be allowed. So if anyone is caught doing any and I mean ANY of the seven sins they are apprehended and brought in front of the commander and sentenced to the hole. Yes you read right the hole. It is a prison of the worst kind man when you read what it is you will be like holy Mother F^&%$#! You will not want to commit any of the seven deadly sins.

Then the unthinkable happens and Lexi is accused of one of the sins and she is sentenced to the hole. It is there that she is assigned a guard Cole lord I love me some Cole. He is a hard a$ but he will protect Lexi from everything bad while she is in the hole. The hole is a dangerous place where violent criminals are and death is what you beg for because that place is not one you want to be in.

Thank God Lexi is a fighter because she is determined to get out of the hole. Although escape has never been accomplished she will wait her time out and devise a plan and get the hell out of doge. Plus there are a few people she meets and friendships are formed and together they all hope the impossible........ ESCAPE! Can they do it? What will happen to Cole? What will happen to Lexi? This is a must read and I want to give a huge I mean HUGE THANK YOU to Bella over at Paranormal Book Club for allowing me to read such a KICK A$ BOOK!

What are you waiting for Dystopian lovers or not this is the next summer 2013 MUST READ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Author Bios:

Abi Ketner Is a registered nurse with a passion for novels, the beaches of St. John, and her Philadelphia Phillies. A talented singer, Abi loves to go running and spend lots of time with her family. She currently resides in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with her husband, triplet daughters and two very spoiled dogs.

Author Bios:

Melissa Kalicicki received her bachelor’s degree from Millersville University in 2003. She married, had two boys and currently lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Aside from reading and writing, her interests include running and mixed martial arts. She also remains an avid Cleveland sports fan.

Abi and Missy met in the summer of 1999 at college orientation and have been best friends ever since. After college, they added jobs, husbands and kids to their lives, but they still found time for their friendship. Instead of hanging out on weekends, they went to dinner once a month and reviewed books. What started out as an enjoyable hobby has now become an incredible adventure.


website and blog

Branded Book Trailer:

Chapter One: 

I’m buried six feet under, and no one hears my screams. 

The rope chafes as I loop it around my neck. I pull down, making sure the knot is secure. It seems sturdy enough. My legs shake. My heart beats heavy in my throat. Sweat pours down my back. 

Death and I glare at each other through my tears.

I take one last look at the crystal chandelier, the foyer outlined with mirrors, and the flawless decorations. No photographs adorn the walls. No happy memories here. 

I’m ready to go. On the count of three.

I inhale, preparing myself for the finality of it all. Dropping my hands, a glimmer catches my eye. It’s my ring, the last precious gift my father gave me. I twist it around to read the inscription. Picturing his face forces me to reconsider my choice. He’d be heartbroken if he could see me now.

A door slams in the hallway, almost causing me to lose my balance. My thoughts already muddled, I stand waiting with the rope hanging around my neck. Voices I don’t recognize creep through the walls. 

Curiosity overshadows my current thoughts. It’s late at night, and this is a secure building in High Society. No one disturbs the peace here—ever. I tug on the noose and pull it back over my head. 

Peering through the eyehole in our doorway, I see a large group of armed guards banging on my neighbors’ door. A heated conversation ensues, and my neighbors point toward my family’s home. 

It hits me. I’ve been accused and they’re here to arrest me. 

My father would want me to run, and in that split second, I decide to listen to his voice within me. Flinging myself forward in fear, I scramble up the marble staircase and into my brother’s old bedroom. The door is partially covered, but it exists. Pushing his dresser aside, my fingers claw at the opening. Breathing hard, I lodge myself against it. Nothing. I step back and kick it with all my strength. The wood splinters open, and my foot gets caught. I wrench it backward, scraping my calf, but adrenaline pushes me forward. The voices at the front door shout my name. 

On hands and knees, I squeeze through the jagged opening. My brother left through this passage, and now it’s my escape too. Cobwebs entangle my face, hands, and hair. At the end, I feel for the knob, twisting it clockwise. It swings open, creaking from disuse. I sprint into the hallway and smash through the large fire escape doors at the end. A burst of cool air strikes me in the face as I jump down the ladder.

Reaching the fifth floor, I knock on a friend’s window. The lights flicker on, and I see the curtains move, but no one answers. I bang on the window harder.

“Let me in! Please!” I say, but the lights darken. They know I’ve been accused and refuse to help me. Fear and adrenaline rush through my veins as I keep running, knocking on more windows along the way. No one has mercy. They all know what happens to sinners. 

Another flight of stairs passes in a blur when I hear the guards’ heavy footfalls from above. I can’t hide, but I don’t want to go without trying. 

Help me, Daddy. I need your strength now. 

My previous desolation evolves into a will to survive. I have to keep running, but I tremble and gasp for air. I steel my nerves and force my body to keep moving. In a matter of minutes, my legs cramp and my chest burns. I plunge to the ground, scraping my knee and elbow. A moan escapes from my chest. 

Gotta keep going. 

“Stop!” Their voices bounce off the buildings. “Lexi Hamilton, surrender yourself,” they command. They’re gaining on me. 

I resist the urge to glance back, running into what I assume is an alley. I’m far from our high-rise in High Society as I plunge into a poorer section of the city where the streets all look the same and the darkness prevents me from recognizing anything. I’m lost. 

My first instinct is to leap into a dumpster, but I retain enough sense to stay still. I crouch and peek around it, watching them dash by. The abhorrent smell leaves me vomiting until nothing remains in my stomach. Desperation overtakes me, as I know my retching was anything but silent. My last few seconds tick away before they find me. Everyone knows about their special means of tracking sinners.

I push myself to my feet and look left, right, and left again. Their batons click against their black leather belts, and their boots stomp the cement on both sides of me. I shrink into myself. Their heavy steps mock my fear, growing closer and closer until I know I’m trapped. 

Never did I imagine they’d come for me. Never did I imagine all those nights I heard them dragging someone else away that I’d join them.

“You’re a sinner,” they say. “Time to leave our society.” 

I stand defiant. I refuse to bend or break before them, even as I shiver with fear. 

“There’s no reason to make this difficult. The more you cooperate, the smoother this will be for everyone,” a guard says. 

I cringe into the blackness along the wall. I’m innocent, but they won’t believe me or care.

The next instant, my face slams into the pavement as one guard plants a knee in my back and another handcuffs me. A warm liquid trails into my mouth. Blood. Their fingers grip my arms like steel traps as they peel me off the cement. The tops of my shoes scrape along the ground as I’m dragged behind them until they discard me into the back of a black vehicle. The doors slam in unison with one guard stationed on each side of me, my shoulders digging into their arms.

Swallowing hard, I stare ahead to avoid their eyes. My dignity is all I have left. The handcuffs dig into my wrists, so I clasp them together hard behind me and press my back into the seat, unwilling to admit how much it hurts. 

Did they need so many guards to capture me?

I’m not carrying any weapons, nor do I own any. I don’t even know self-defense. High Society frowns on activities like that. 

The driver jerks the vehicle around and I try to keep my bearings, but it’s dark and the scenery changes too fast. Hours pass, and the air grows warmer, more humid the farther we drive. The landscape mutates from city to rolling hills. They don’t bother blindfolding me because they escort all the sinners to the same place—the Hole. Twenty-foot cement walls encase the chaos within. There’s no way out and no way in unless they transport you. They say the Hole is a prison with no rules. We learned about it last year in twelfth grade. 

To the outside, I’m filth now. I’ll never be allowed to return to the life I knew. No one ever does.

“All sinners go through a transformation,” one of the guards says to me. His smirk infuriates me. “I’m sure you’ve heard all kinds of stories.” I don’t respond. I don’t want to think about the things I’ve been told. 

“You won’t last too long, though. Young girls like you get eaten alive.” He pulls a strand of my hair up to his face.

Get your hands off me, you pig. I want to lash out, but resist. The punishment for disobeying authority is severe, and I’m not positioned to defy him.

They’re the Guards of the Commander. They’re chosen from a young age and trained in combat. They keep the order of society by using violent methods of intimidation. No one befriends a guard. Relationships with them are forbidden inside the Hole. 

Few have seen the commander. His identity stays under lock and key. His own paranoia and desire to stay pure drove him to live this way. He controls our depraved society and believes sinners make the human race unforgivable. His power is a crushing fist, rendering all beneath him helpless. So much so, even family members turn on each other when an accusation surfaces. Just an accusation. No trial, no evidence, nothing but an accusation. 

I lose myself in thoughts of my father. 

“Never show fear, Lexi,” my father said to me before he was taken. “They’ll use it against you.” His compassionate eyes filled with warning as he commanded me to be strong. That was many years ago, but I remember it clearly. My father. My rock. The one person in my life who provided unconditional love. 

“Get out,” the guard says while pulling me to my feet. The vehicle stops, and I’m jerked back to reality. The doors slide open and the two guards lift me up and out into the night. A windowless cement building looms in front of us, looking barren in the darkness. 

The coolness of the air sends a shiver up my spine. This is really happening. I’ve been labeled a sinner. My lip starts to quiver, but I bite it before anyone sees. They shove me in line, and I realize I’m not alone. Women and men stand with faces frozen white with fear. A guard grabs my finger, pricks it, and dabs my blood on a tiny microchip. 

I follow the man in front of me into the next room where we’re lined up facing the wall. Glancing right, I see one of the men crying. 

“Spread your legs,” one of the guards says.

They remove my outer layers and their hands roam up and down my body. 

What do they think I can possibly be hiding? I press my head into the wall, trying to block out what they’re doing to me. 

“MOVE!” a guard commands. So I shuffle across the room, trying to cover up.





Five of us sit in the holding room. One by one, they pull people into the next room, forcing the rest of us to wonder what torture we’ll endure. An agonizing amount of time passes. I lean my head back and try to imagine a place far away. The door opens.

“Lexi Hamilton.” 

A guard escorts me out of the room, and I don’t have time to look back. As soon as the door closes, they pick me up and place me on a table. It’s cold and my skin sticks to it slightly, like wet fingers on an ice cube. Then they exit in procession, and I lie on the table with a doctor standing over me. His hands are busy as he speaks.

“Don’t move. This will only take a few minutes. It’s time for you to be branded.” 

A wet cloth that smells like rubbing alcohol is used to clean my skin. Then he places a metal collar around my neck.

Click. Click. Click. 

The collar locks into place, and I struggle to breathe. The doctor loosens it some as I focus on the painted black words above me. 

The Seven Deadly Sins:

Lust ¾ Blue

Gluttony ¾ Orange

Greed ¾ Yellow

Sloth ¾ Black

Wrath ¾ Red

Envy ¾ Green

Pride ¾ Purple

“Memorize it. Might keep you alive longer if you know who to stay away from.” He opens my mouth, placing a bit inside. “Bite this.” 

Within seconds, the collar heats from hot to scorching. The smell of flesh sizzling makes my head spin. I bite down so hard a tooth cracks. 

“GRRRRRRRRR,” escapes from deep within my chest. Just when I’m about to pass out, the temperature drops, and the doctor loosens the collar. 

He removes it and sits me up. Excruciating pain rips through me, and I’m on the verge of a mental and physical breakdown. Focus. Don’t pass out. 

Stainless steel counters and boring white walls press in on me. A guard laughs at me from an observation room above and yells, “Blue. It’s a great color for a pretty young thing like yourself.” His eyes dance with suggestion. The others meander around like it’s business as usual. 

I finally find my voice and turn to the doctor.

“Are you going to give me clothes?” A burning pain spreads like fire up from my neck to my jaw, making me wince. 

He points to a set of folded grey scrubs on a chair. I cover myself as much as I can and scurry sideways. Grabbing my clothes and pulling the shirt over my head, I try to avoid the raw meat around my throat. I quickly knot the cord of my pants around my waist and slide my feet into the hospital-issue slippers as the doctor observes. He hands me a bag labeled with my name. 

“Nothing is allowed through the door but what we’ve given you,” he says.

I hide my right hand behind me, hoping no one notices. A guard scans my body and opens his hand. 

“Give it to me,” he says. “Don’t make me rip off your finger.” He crouches down and I turn to stone. I don’t know what to do, so I beg.

“My father gave this to me. Please, let me keep it.” I smash my eyes shut and think of the moment my father handed the golden ring to me. 

“It was my mother’s ring,” he’d said. “She’s the strongest woman I ever knew.” With tears in his eyes, he reached for my hand and said, “Lexi, you’re exactly like her. She’d want you to wear this. No matter how this world changes, you can survive.” I turned the gold band over in my palm and read the engraving.

You can overcome anything… short of death.

“You’re going to take the one thing that matters the most to me?” I say, glaring into the guard’s emotionless eyes. “Isn’t it enough taking my life, dignity, and respect?” 

A hard blow falls upon my back. As I fall, my hands shoot out to stop me from smashing into the wall in front of me. The guard bends down and grabs my chin with his meaty fist.

“Look at me,” he commands. I look up and he smiles with arrogance. 

“What the hell?” He staggers a step backward. “What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with your eyes?” 

“Nothing,” I respond, confused.

“What color are they?”

“Turquoise.” I glower at him.

“Interesting,” he says, regaining his composure. “Now those’ll get you in trouble.” 

Reality slaps me across the face. I have my father’s eyes. They can't take them from me. I twist the ring off my finger and drop it in his hand. 

“Take the damn ring,” I say. I walk to the door. He swipes a card and the massive door slides open to the outside. 

“You have to wear your hair back at all times, so everyone knows what you are.” He hands me a tie, so I pull my frizzy hair away from my face and secure it into a ponytail. My neck burns and itches as my hand traces the scabs that have already begun to form. Squinting ahead in the darkness, I almost run into a guard standing on the sidewalk. 

“Watch where you’re going,” he says, shoving me backward. His stiff figure stands tall and I cringe at the sharpness of his voice.

“Cole, this is your new assignment, Lexi Hamilton. See to it she feels welcome in her new home.” The guard departs with a salute. 

“Let’s move,” Cole says. 

I take two steps and collapse, my knees giving out. The unforgiving pavement reopens the scrapes from earlier and I struggle to stand. A powerful arm snatches me up, and I see his face for the first time.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Plunge by Sindhu S. Book Highlight


Love is madness…

When a thirty-something journalist Anjali meets the charismatic Siddharth, she has no intention of becoming romantically involved with him. Anjali is a strong, independent woman, angered by the man’s world she lives in and traumatised by events in her past. 

She has no desire to fall in love. Anjali is certain that, after months of chatting online, when she finally meets Siddharth the charm will be broken. But she is surprised to find herself attracted to him – and shocked when they fall into bed together on their first date. 

Seized by new emotions that go against everything she believes in, Anjali is caught in a battle between her head and her heart, between love and self-protection. For the first time in her life, Anjali is at the mercy of her emotions and desires…and as she plunges into an affair with a man she knows little about, she risks losing everything.

 Set in India, The Plunge is a frank and powerful examination of modern relationships that every woman will identify with. Told with astonishing emotional insight, this debut novel will take your breath away.

Author Bio:

Born in 1966, Indian writer Sindhu drew inspiration for 'The Plunge' from her days as a journalist in her home country. She loves writing human interest stories and is drawn to women centric issues.As a child she "had suffered from the ugly duckling syndrome", she says. She quit her job as a school teacher on realising it was beyond her ability to discipline students, and switched over to journalism.She moved to the Gulf (Middle East) six years ago. Currently based in Bahrain, she is currently working on her new book, a non-fiction on relationships, and two more projects, among them a novel set in the Middle East. 


ATOMR Presents A Love Like This by Kahlen Aymes Promotion Event

Title: A Love Like This, The Remembrance Trilogy, Book 3
Author: Kahlen Aymes
Publisher: Telemachus Press
Release date: June 24, 2013
Genre: Adult Contemporary/Erotic Romance
Age Group: Adult

Event organized by: AToMR Tours

Book Description:

Settled in New York City, Ryan and Julia Matthews seek to enjoy their idyllic newlywed life together. Julia’s high-profile job at Vogue and Ryan’s promising career in medicine will surely set them up for everything they could ever want. Their only obstacle seems to be finding enough time to spend together.

When a scuffle at Ryan’s hospital puts his life in danger, a colleague steps in to save him but is critically injured in the process. In a heroic and unwavering effort, Ryan manages to save her life, but her injuries irrevocably change her future forever.

What happens next will push Ryan beyond human endurance, when he is forced to decide how much he will pay for his new friendship and Julia, what she is willing to sacrifice in order to spare herself the unspeakable pain of watching someone else try to replace her in Ryan’s heart.

Join Ryan and Julia in the heart-wrenching conclusion to the unforgettable story of an incredible love, worth every single sacrifice…

For there is nothing more sacred than… A Love Like This…

Excerpt #1

I wanted to give her pleasure, after the past few days, and to reinforce my devotion and

unselfishness in my love for her and to totally obliterate any doubt. The delicious ache began to

build at my intention, while I reached beneath the edge of the sheet. Her body heat had warmed

them, and the closer my hand got to her, the warmth intensified. My hand slid up her thigh to her

hip then back down to curl around the back of her knee. I pulled Julia’s lower body toward me

and moaned softly.

I didn’t want to talk. I didn’t want to hear that I needed sleep or how I should let her take

care of me. I wanted to taste her, to hear her moan my name as I made her come under my


Her head moved to one side as both hands slid up her smooth thighs. My hands closed

around them and I slid her closer, bringing her horizontal on the bed and perpendicular to where

I was at its side, pulling her closer and draping her legs over my shoulders. I turned my head,

kissing the inside of her right knee with my open mouth, slightly sucking on her skin.

Julia lifted her head slightly, but she knew what I intended to do. “Ryan.” She sighed softly,

her legs stiffening as conflict crossed her beautiful features. I could almost hear the words telling

me to stop and just hold her before she said them “You don’t need…”

“Hush. I do need…” I murmured as I continued a delicious path of the same wet kisses up

her leg and toward my goal. She knew how much going down on her excited me, and I knew I

could make her writhe and moan within a couple of minutes, or I could take my time and draw it

out. I moved, slowly repeating the kisses up her other leg, and she fell back, her legs falling open

in surrender. I smiled against the tender flesh of her inner thigh, intoxicated by her scent as one

hand flattened on her stomach and then slid up to fold around a full breast, kneading and then

teasing the nipple with my fingers. It was already puckered, but it grew beneath my touch. I let

her anticipation grow, kissing the flat plane of her abdomen below her navel and letting the

warmth of my breath blow over her moist, tender flesh. She tensed, the fingers of both hands

burying in my hair.

About the Author:

Kahlen is an award-winning author of sizzling hot, deeply moving contemporary romance. Her stories are filled with intense love, passion, angst and emotion that breathes life into her characters and leaves her readers captivated. She lives near Omaha, Nebraska with her daughter, Olivia and their three dogs. Creative by nature, she enjoys the arts, music and theater... But the love of her life is writing! 

Represented by Elizabeth Winick-Rubinstein of McIntosh & Otis Literary Agency, the first two books in her series; The Remembrance Trilogy are available now. Come and experience Ryan and Julia's mad, mad love.

Author social media links:

A Love Like This by Kahlen Aymes
Excerpt #2

I held the colored chalk between my thumb and index finger and used my ring finger of the

same hand to carefully blend, blowing the excess dust off as I went. I concentrated hard on each

feature individually, but when I finally lay the colors aside, I was able to look at it as a whole.

The baby was breathtakingly beautiful, and my heart literally stopped as I wiped my stained

fingers on a towel.

My heart filled with overwhelming love and longing for the baby yet to be conceived;

remembering Ryan’s words about his little soul waiting for us in heaven. Wow. I prayed I could

give him a baby as beautiful as the one I’d created on paper. Excitement raced through me in

anticipation of Ryan’s reaction when he opened it. I imagined a Christmas as magical as the first

one we spent in Estes Park when he’d given me the ‘I Love You Because…’ poem. My intent was

to hang it, right beside this portrait in the nursery. It seemed fitting, and I was certain Ryan

would agree.

By the time I was ready for bed, the picture was framed and matted. Since I only had two

gifts for him this year, I made sure this one was beautifully wrapped with gold foil paper and red

gossamer ribbons.

Turning a small circle in the middle of the apartment, I looked for a place to hide it so Ryan

wouldn’t find it. Under the tree were the gifts the families had sent, along with the pair of shoes I

bought Ryan, but this package would be recognizable as a framed picture, so it wanted to keep it

out of site until the very last minute. A big smile slid across my mouth. I couldn’t wait to give

this to him.

(1) $25 Amazon gift card, (1) Signed complete set of The Remembrance Trilogy, (1) Ryan is Mine T-shirt, (1) A Ryan’s Favorite Chef’s Apron, and (1) Coffee Sunday Mug.
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A Love Like This by Kahlen Aymes
Excerpt #3

The doorman buzzed into the apartment and broke into our bubble. We were both startled, and Julia jumped in my arms. I let out a low groan in protest. “It’s probably something from my folks. But the timing blows.”

“I’ll be right back.” She dropped a brief kiss on my mouth. My head fell back as Julia

jumped off my lap and ran to the door, pressing down the button and speaking into it.


“Mrs. Matthews, you have a visitor, ma’am.”

“Who is it, please?”

“Miss Cooper, ma’am.”

Are you fucking kidding me! What was Jane doing here? I watched Julia’s happy mood fall off her with the suddenness of an avalanche, and she turned a stony face toward me. Seconds later, her expression was an angry mask as she waited for me to say something.

“Ma’am?” the attendant asked again. Her finger let go of the intercom.

I took a breath and shook my head, getting up to walk over to stand beside Julia.

Her eyes shot daggers at me, but she didn’t say a damn word and stomped away when I reached her. “Babe, I didn’t invite her.”

“It doesn’t seem to matter, Ryan!” She turned back to me and hissed. “She takes too much for granted!” I opened my mouth to respond, but Julia cut me off. “Don’t you dare say we owe her!”

“I was going to say… it’s Christmas. And she has no one, now.”

Julia laughed bitterly. “Wrong. Obviously, she has you!” she huffed and stormed off down the hall.

I stood there struggling with what to do next. It would be rude to ignore Jane now that she knew we were home. The door to the bedroom slammed with a resounding bang that shook the walls. I couldn’t help the flinch it elicited.

I pushed the buzzer. “Okay. Please send her up.”

Ryan and Julia
Excerpt #4

I set the glass down at a sound by the door. Ryan was helping Jane on with her coat. I

walked over to lean on the doorjamb that connected the kitchen to the front entryway and

watched Ryan hand Jane thirty dollars cash and give her a brief hug before opening the door.

What the fuck?

“Goodbye, Jane.” I forced myself to speak to her, but my words sounded a bit slurred. My

head was starting to swim.

Jane offered me an acid smile that I could see right through. I returned it with equal venom.

When did sweet little Jane turn into this? I laughed bitterly, my shoulder slipping off the wall.

Ryan caught me, but I moved away, not wanting him to touch me. His expression soured, his

brow furrowing, and jaw hardening. Well fuck him. Let him go play with Jane and his ugly damn


“Merry Christmas, Julia. I hope you enjoy the perfume.”

Wait, what? My chin jutted out and I glanced between Ryan and Jane as he opened the door,

carefully watching Ryan’s reactions. He looked pissed.

“Jane, seriously?” Ryan motioned to the wrapped packages under the tree.

“Oh, sorry.” Her cloying response didn’t fool either one of us.

Ryan opened the door. “Make sure to get a cab, Jane. No subway tonight.” Ryan’s voice was


She reached out to touch the front of his shirt, her fingers lingering on the fabric a little too

long. I watched it happen in slow motion. She nodded and murmured something I couldn’t hear

past the blood rushing in my ears. When the door closed behind her, I turned abruptly to go find

more wine.

“Julia, you’ve had enough.” Ryan’s voice was soft but firm behind me.

I finished the wine and reached for the bottle, laughing lightly. “Oh, you can say that again.”

GCR Presents A Cover Reveal For MY UNEXPECTED FOREVER by Heidi McLaughlin


I expected a life of music. I expected to raise my son. It took one look to make everything change. I never expected happiness. I never expected to find her. I never expected to feel desire. I never expected I’d be a family man. I never expected to be loved. I never expected to fall in love. They say you should expect the unexpected. I didn’t realize my unexpected would be the forever kind.

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Heidi McLaughling is offering My Unexpected Forever up for pre-buy for those attending the Naughty Mafia Rocks Vegas 2013. Pre-buy:
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Heidi is the author of USA Today, Digital Book World, Amazon and Barnes & Noble Bestselling novel, Forever My Girl. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in picturesque Vermont, with her husband and two daughters. Also renting space in their home is an over-hyper Beagle/Jack Russell and two Parakeets. During the day Heidi is behind a desk talking about Land Use. At night, she's writing one of the many stories planned for release or sitting court-side during either daughter's basketball games.

Lost in You - Out Now! 

 Forever My Girl - The Beaumont Series #1

 My Everything - A Beaumont Series Novella

 My Unexpected Forever - The Beaumont Series #2 - September 2, 2013

 A USA Today Best Selling Author An Amazon Best Seller A Barnes and Noble Best Seller

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

InkSlinger Presents A Matter of Heart (Fate #2) by Heather Lyons Blog Tour Stop


No longer in high school, Chloe Lilywhite is now living and working in Annar, the Magicals' city-state plane of existence. Since moving, she's joined the Council, gone on missions with the Guard, moved into her own apartment, and enrolled at the University of Annar. Plus, she's happily engaged to be married to Jonah Whitecomb, the literal man from her dreams, not to mention her Connection. While she still struggles with aspects of her craft, Chloe feels like she's finally coming into her own, especially after a difficult year that had her questioning nearly everything in her life.

After a brutal attack by the Elders, her life is turned upside down once more. Accusations fly throughout the Council and Guard, forcing Chloe to confront her worst fears about what's she's capable of as a Creator. And then there's the matter of Kellan Whitecomb, Jonah's twin brother and Chloe's ex, who resurfaces after disappearing months before. Although Chloe chose Jonah, and despite their best efforts, the two find it hard to stay away from one another.

But no matter what Fate throws at her, Chloe is determined to take charge of her life, even as it begins to spiral out of control.

A MATTER OF HEART is book 2 in the Fate Series, a mature Young Adult/New Adult fantasy.

My Review

5 of 5 A Matter Of Heart

A Matter Of Heart is simply an amazing follow up to A Matter Of Fate. Let me just start out by saying Heather Lyons you are a cruel cruel women with this book! (hahaha just kidding) Lord I had so much emotion reading this book. I laughed, I cried, and I screamed at my Kindle like a nut job. I have to say I love love triangles because it is like watching a train wreck happen and you want no need to see what happens next. Heather has done a GREAT job with this triangle because if you have read the first book you know one of the guys walked away and she chose the other but the heart knows what it wants and her heart is greedy as all hell because Chloe wants both boys.

Chloe is no longer in school and she has joined the council and has her own apartment and she has even enrolled at the University Of Annar. She is with Jonah and they are engaged. This all seems like everything is going good right? Well think again because looks are deceiving and Chloe is about to learn that the hard way. She has gone out with the guards on missions and she is still trying to hone her skills but it is hard.

That is when S^&* hits the fan and a brutal attack on the council has everyone in an uproar. Chloe still as a creator has no idea what she is capable of but she knows she wants to keep her people safe and Jonah safe. Her love for him in never dying or is it? Because Kellan comes back and Chloe's traitorous heart beats fast and furious for Kellan and she wants him back as well. But she is engaged to Jonah and he is the perfect match for her or is someone else perfect for her?

What will happen with Chloe and the council? What will happen between her and Jonah? What will happen between her and Kellan? Want to know well get to reading then! Happy Reading!

Playlist For A Matter Of Heart:

I am, without a doubt, an utter music junkie. I’m not afraid to say it: I LOVE MUSIC. If you talk to me for more than five minutes, you’re going to come away with some recommendations of awesome bands to check out or songs to fall in love with. I am married to a music snob, we have music obsessed children, and there isn’t a single day in which I’m not playing good tunes or searching for my next crush I can play on repeat until I find the next to replace it with. Music is a crucial part of my life—so therefore, it makes complete sense that music is crucial to my writing.

While drafting a story, I build extensive playlists to match scenes, themes, characters, and feelings. Lyrics and subject matter don’t always need to match exactly what I’m working on, but the essence of the song—what it makes me feel—does. I’ll listen to these playlists even when I’m not writing, just to keep the story fresh in my mind.

I’ve built a mini-playlist over on 8 tracks for A Matter of Heart. I say mini, because this playlist is 16 songs long when the one on my iPod has 62. Eek! Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll find on the Greatest Hits version of the AMOH playlist, plus a mostly non-spoiler-y description of whereabouts in the story you can find the song’s influence:

1. White Corolla by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone

This is a great intro song for the book and Annar.

2. Anthems for a 17 Year Old Girl by Broken Social Scene

It’s tough being 18 and having the weight of the worlds on your shoulders.

3. It’s the Chemicals (featuring Scarub) by Inspired Flight

Connections are powerful things.

4. Edge of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks

In India, with Karl.

5. White Rabbit by Emiliana Torrini

In the cave.

6. Change of Time by Josh Ritter

Turning an adversary into a friend.

7. Smokers Outside of The Hospital Doors by the Editors

At the annual Guard party.

8. Magic by Colbie Cailat

In Costa Rica.

9. Transatlanticism by Death Cab for Cutie

In Rome.

10. The Book of Love by Peter Gabriel

Flowers and snow.

11. One October Song by Nico Stai

In New York for a Girls’ weekend, during the middle of the week.

12. My Backwards Walk (acoustic/Daytrotter version) by Frightened Rabbit

K, in relation to C; conversely, C, in relation to K.

13. This Tornado Loves You by Neko Case

In Tahiti.

14. With or Without You (live cover) by Utada Hikaru

The Nā Pali coast.

15. Crank Resolutions by Meursault

Last two chapters.

16. Hem Me In by Amy Seeley

Chloe’s theme song for AMOH, by the end of the story.

****note: here’s the webpage for the 8 track playlist****

Author Bio:

Heather Lyons has always had a thing for words—She’s been writing stories since she was a kid. In addition to writing, she’s also been an archaeologist and a teacher. Heather is a rabid music fan, as evidenced by her (mostly) music-centric blog, and she’s married to an even larger music snob. They’re happily raising three kids who are mini music fiends who love to read and be read to.


Author Goodreads: