Friday, August 18, 2017

[Review] The Dark Tower I: Gunslinger (Dark Tower #1) by Stephen King

Source: Received a copy from the publisher for an honest review.
Publisher: Scribner
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Number of Pages: 288 (Paperback)


Description:
Soon to be a major motion picture starring Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba

“An impressive work of mythic magnitude that may turn out to be Stephen King’s greatest literary achievement” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution), The Gunslinger is the first volume in the epic Dark Tower Series.

A #1 national bestseller, The Gunslinger introduces readers to one of Stephen King’s most powerful creations, Roland of Gilead: The Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting figure, a loner on a spellbinding journey into good and evil. In his desolate world, which mirrors our own in frightening ways, Roland tracks The Man in Black, encounters an enticing woman named Alice, and begins a friendship with the boy from New York named Jake.

Inspired in part by the Robert Browning narrative poem, “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,” The Gunslinger is “a compelling whirlpool of a story that draws one irretrievable to its center” (Milwaukee Sentinel). It is “brilliant and fresh…and will leave you panting for more” (Booklist).

REVIEW

  I'm not much of a horror reader, so for the most part I've kind of skipped any and everything Stephen King. I've watched quite a few adaptations of his books so I did already know that he was an amazing storyteller, but until The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger, I hadn't actually ever tried to read one of his books. While I'm not a horror reader, I do love fantasy, so I've had this book recommended to me a few times in the past few years, and I've been considering reading it for a while. When I was asked if I would like to review it right around the movie adaptation's release I jumped at the chance to finally read it! 

I'm a little conflicted over this book just because it left me with so many questions, but I did definitely like it! I especially enjoyed the writing style, and I can see why Stephen King is such a beloved author amongst so many readers⎯if I loved horror, I'd be reading ALL his books now! Story-wise, I felt a little all over the place while reading The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger. The characters were intriguing and very mysterious, but the way that the narrative jumped around back and forth between flashbacks had me a little lost at first⎯it took me about 100-pages before I was hooked, but once I got that far, I didn't want to put it down. I really loved the writing style and characters though. Both aspects of the story had me hooked, and I was compelled to see what would happen for Roland next! 

Overall, I thought that The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger could've been a bit tighter as a story and I felt that left me hanging as a reader in a lot of ways, but it did captivate my interest and it has me very curious about the other books in the series! I'm not sure when I'll get to them, but I definitely think that I'll continue on with the series because I need to know how the prophecy surrounding Roland pans out. If you're a fan of fantasy, and you like a bit of mystery, some alternate universes/realms, and books that have chosen ones, prophecies, and oracles, then you should definitely give this series a shot! Don't get discouraged if you're a bit lost at first though. :)





Thoughts??
Have you read started The Dark Tower series yet?
Have you seen the movie yet?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

[Review] Dating You / Hating You by Christina Lauren

Source: Received an ARC from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Number of Pages: 350 (Paperback)


Description:
All’s fair in love and work. The first standalone romance by New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Beautiful Bastard) is a sexy, compulsively readable romantic comedy that dives headlong into the thrill and doubt of modern love.

Despite the odds against them from an embarrassing meet-awkward at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, Carter and Evie immediately hit it off. Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire.

But when their two agencies merge—causing the pair to vie for the same position—all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals—so why can’t they act like it?

Can Carter stop trying to please everyone and see how their mutual boss is really playing the game? Can Evie put aside her competitive nature long enough to figure out what she really wants in life? Can their actor clients just be something close to human? Whether these two Hollywood love/hatebirds get the storybook Hollywood ending or just a dramedy of epic proportions, you will get to enjoy Christina Lauren’s heartfelt, raucous, and hilarious romance style at its finest.


Well I had to take a pause while reading this one because of some blog tours, but I'm so glad that I was able to get back to DATING YOU / HATING YOU! I definitely didn't want to stop reading either times that I picked it up and it was constantly making me chuckle, gasp, grin, and smirk. While it wasn't my favourite Christina Lauren book, and I'd probably give it a 4.5 rather than a 5 (but I love this writing duo so I'm always going to round up for them :P), I did love Evie and Carter and their story was fantastic!

The things that held me back for this one honestly had to do with the fact that I've loved their Beautiful series and Wild Seasons series so much. This is the only place I'd take off that half a star. Both series have a wide cast and the further you get into the series, the more you love all of the characters and that's what I missed here. The characters were all fantastic and vibrant and I loved them, but I would've loved more of them! I wanted more of Steph, Michael and their daughter, Morgan. I wanted more Amelia and Daryl...and maybe to know more about Eric, too. I think I've just been spoiled by their other books that way or maybe they're so skilled at writing compelling side characters that I want all that I can get. Haha

As far as the romance goes, it wasn't quite what I expected actually. I was expecting a dynamic similar to Beautiful Bastard, but that's not even close. Evie and Carter had fantastic chemistry. They did great banter, had some adorkable flirtations going on, and were just downright amazing together. I was expecting them to have a hate-to-love type story but it was more new fledging lovers to reluctant rivals, which I actually really enjoyed. It made their dynamics really interesting and I loved seeing them get together. I loved the moments that we got of them together so much. Dating You/Hating You definitely isn't Christina Lauren's steamiest book, but the parts that are there are fantastic and they didn't disappoint! ;)

Overall, I absolutely adored this romance and while I could've done with more moments with the side characters and I wouldn't have minded a bit more steamy parts, I was extremely happy with Evie and Carter as a couple!!! I can't wait to read what Christina Lauren comes up with next!




What do you think?
Are you a fan of Christina Lauren?
Does Dating You/Hating You sound like something you'd like to read?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Release Day Blitz: The Soul Mate (Roommates #4) by Kendall Ryan


I've gushed about her on Twitter, but I don't think I've shared my love of all things Kendall Ryan on my blog yet, but that changes today!! I finally read one of her books earlier this year, and I've been hooked ever since!!! I've really started to love her Roommates series, and guess what?! The newest book in the series releases today! 

That's right, today is the "due date" for her Kendall's new book, The Soul Mate

Is anyone else as ridiculously excited as I am? I've had this book pre-ordered for months now and I'm so glad that I can finally read it! 

In case Kendall Ryan and The Soul Mate are new to you, here's a bit about them:

THE SOUL MATE
By Kendall Ryan
Release Day – August 14, 2017

From New York Times Bestseller Kendall Ryan comes a sexy new stand-alone novel in her Roommates series.

The smoking-hot one-night stand I was never supposed to see again?

Yeah, well, I might be pregnant, and he’s my OB-GYN.

Get ready to fall head over heels madly in love with the hottest OBGYN doctor you have ever met! This full-length standalone contains the most hilariously awkward lady-doctor visit, lots of playful banter and some good ol' fashioned baby-makin'!

Goodreads | Amazon | iBooks | Nook | 
Kobo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen titles, Kendall Ryan has sold over 1.5 million books and her books have been translated into several languages in countries around the world. She's a traditionally published author with Simon & Schuster and Harper Collins UK, as well as an independently published author. Since she first began self-publishing in 2012, she's appeared at #1 on Barnes & Noble and iBooks charts around the world. Her books have also appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists more than three dozen times. Ryan has been featured in such publications as USA Today, Newsweek, and InTouch Magazine.

Visit her at: www.kendallryanbooks.com for the latest book news, and fun extras

Now to get you just as excited as I am, here are some teasers!!!

TEASERS









 What do you think?
 Are you planning to add The Soul Mate to your TBR?
Is anyone already as excited about this one as I am?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

[Review] Checkmate: This is Dangerous (Logan & Kayla #1) by Kennedy Fox

Source: Received a copy from the authors in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: July 6, 2017
Number of Pages: 232 (Kindle)


DESCRIPTION:

Logan Knight is a real life knight in shining armor. 
A detective godsend in a sleek black suit has me thinking less than secretive thoughts. Brooding and mysterious, he's the kind of guy every girl instantly notices. Between his seductive smirk and charming good looks, it's no wonder I can't help the way he makes me feel whenever I'm near him. 
Too bad he's unavailable—or so he says.

He thinks I'm a do-gooder who shouldn't get involved with a guy like him. His past is messy and relationships just add to that. He insists the timing is all wrong and he's devoted to his career, but I don't buy that excuse for a second. I see the way his body tenses and his jaw ticks every time another guy is around me. He just won't admit it, but I'm more determined than ever to show him what he's missing.

I'm a devoted animal rescuer and I'll risk everything to save them, but when a dramatic turn of events puts both our lives at risk, I'm positive Logan will write me off for good. But when he asks for my help with a personal crisis, I know it's my last chance to finally show him I can handle anything he throws my way—messy past and all.

He might think he has me all figured out, but I'll prove him wrong no matter what he thinks. This game of push and pull has me running in circles. One wrong move and we could both lose.

Checkmate, Knight.

PURCHASE LINKS:

iBooks | Kobo | B&N
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

A secret duo of romance authors team up under the USA Today Bestselling pseudonym, Kennedy Fox who share a love of You’ve Got Mail and The Holiday. When they aren’t bonding over romantic comedies, they like to brainstorm new book ideas. One day, they decided to collaborate and have some fun creating new characters that’ll make your lady bits tingle and your heart melt. If you enjoy romance stories with sexy, tattooed alpha males and smart, independent women, then a Kennedy Fox book is for you!

CONNECT WITH KENNEDY FOX:
Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Merch Shop | Email | Newsletter


REVIEW

I've been hooked on Kennedy Fox's books for a while now, so when I had the chance to sign up to read and review their newest book...the one that started Kayla and Logan's romance, This is Dangerous, I was so there!! 

Right from the first time we saw Kayla and Logan interact, I knew I would love their romance! And sure enough, once I started This is Dangerous, I couldn't put it down!


Wowzers!!! 

I've loved/really enjoyed the previous Checkmate books, but this one is definitely my favourite so far!! I absolutely adored Kayla and felt a major kinship with her. Her love of dogs, indulgence in bath bombs, and just overall love of all things donuts made me recognize her as a kindred spirit immediately! And Logan....oh, Logan. *dreamy sigh* I love Travis and Drew...but Logan, Logan is my man. I've always been a sucker for the broody guys, and my love of Veronica Mars Logan and Gilmore Girls Logan makes me immediately gravitate towards any other hunks named Logan, too, so this book was clearly meant to make its way into my hands. :P

The romance was AMAZING!!! The story was fast-paced and riveting--I didn't want to put the book down at all!! And the build-up and development of their relationship was absolutely wonderful! I've loved the idea of Kayla and Logan together from the first time we see them together in the previous books, but getting to see them actually come together in This is Dangerous was wonderful! They both have some darkness in their pasts, but they bring out the best in one another, and I love seeing them together soooo much!

Overall, I loved This is Dangerous! As always, the cliffhanger was soooo brutal, but this one is definitely my favourite of Kennedy Fox's Checkmate books so far and I can't wait to read the conclusion to Logan and Kayla's story, This is Beautiful!!!




Romance fans!! Have you started reading Kennedy Fox's books yet?
If you have, how are you liking them?
Which couple is your fave?
If you haven't, do you plan to start?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

[#Giveaway]
The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King (Movie Tie-in Edition)




I'm going to start this giveaway post with a confessions...I have NEVER read a Stephen King book!

The Dark Tower movie releases this Friday, so the amazing Simon & Schuster Canada offered to send me a copy of the book to read, and I jumped at the chance!

I've been told to read The Dark Tower before, so now that I've gotten my hands on a copy of the new movie-tie in, I'm finally going to read it. I'm ridiculously excited to dig into this book...and guess what?!

Simon & Schuster Canada has generously offered to sponsor a giveaway, so I'm also giving away a copy, now if you're the lucky winner, you'll be able to start the series, too!

I'm going to keep this giveaway super simple!

Here are the terms:
- Must be 13 years or older
- Canada Only
- Giveaway ends on August 9th at 11:59 pm EST!
- Winner will be drawn randomly using Rafflecopter
- Winner will be contacted via email, and will have 48 hours to claim their prize before a new winner is drawn.

ENTER USING THE RAFFLECOPTER WIDGET BELOW:





Any other Stephen King newbies out there?
 If you win, will you keep the book or give it away?
And are you excited for the movie?

GOOD LUCK!!!

Monday, July 31, 2017

[Review] Rogue (Croak #3)
by Gina Damico

Source: Received a copy from the Canadian distributor in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Graphia (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Number of Pages: 326 (Paperback)


Description from Goodreads:
Lex is a teenage Grim Reaper with the power to Damn souls, and it’s getting out of control. She’s a fugitive, on the run from the maniacal new mayor of Croak and the townspeople who want to see her pay the price for her misdeeds. Uncle Mort rounds up the Junior Grims to flee Croak once again, but this time they’re joined by Grotton, the most powerful Grim of all time. Their new mission is clear: Fix his mistakes, or the Afterlife will cease to exist, along with all the souls in it. 

The gang heads for Necropolis, the labyrinth-like capital city of the Grimsphere. There, they discover that the Grimsphere needs a reboot. To do that, the portals to the Afterlife must be destroyed…but even that may not be enough to fix the damage. Things go from bad to worse, and when at last the fate of the Afterlife and all the souls of the Damned hang in the balance, it falls to Lex and her friends to make one final, impossible choice.

This review is a long, long, long time coming!

Back when the first book in the series, Croak, came out my friend Zoë and I decided to read it together as a read-a-long, and we continued that trend all the way until Rogue...unfortunately when it first came our we were too buy to read it together, so it got swept aside, but we finally did it!! We finished the Croak trilogy. :P

I always struggle a bit writing reviews for final books in trilogies or series because I don't want to spoil anything, so forgive me for being SUPER vague, and for my brevity! After finishing Rogue, I was so conflicted!!! I loved it sooo much, but it also broke my heart! The characters are just as fantastic as they've always been, it was just as funny as the first two books (although this one was definitely much more sobering than the others), and the story still kept me absolutely hooked right up until the last page! 

Overall, Rogue was a wonderful conclusion to this trilogy! It had me on edge the entire time, made me laugh, and it made me cry...I was absolutely WRECKED when I finished reading it, but I was also very satisfied with the story, and I think if you loved the first two you've definitely love this one! If you're new to this trilogy I think it's perfect for fans of the TV show Dead Like Me, and for anyone who likes their humour a bit on the morbid side. ;)

Have you read any of the Croak trilogy yet?
If you have, have you finished Rogue yet?
And if you haven't started yet, do you think it sounds like something you would like?


Thursday, July 6, 2017

[Release Day Blitz] CHECKMATE: THIS IS DANGEROUS (Logan & Kayla #1) by Kennedy Fox


Today is the day!!! 

It's release day for Kennedy Fox's latest book, CHECKMATE: THIS IS DANGEROUS! This book starts of their latest Checkmate Duet, featuring Logan and Kayla's story! I've already read it you guys and I absolutely LOVED it! It's my favourite out of all of their books so far!!!

Title: Checkmate: This is Dangerous
Series: Checkmate Duet Series (Logan & Kayla, #1)
Author: Kennedy Fox
Designer & Photographer: Sara Eirew
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Trope: Second-Chance Romance
Release Date: July 6,  2017
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2opDUMz

SYNOPSIS

Introducing book 1 in the Logan & Kayla saga of the Checkmate series from a secret duo of romance authors who teamed up under the USA Today Bestselling pseudonym, Kennedy Fox! This second-chance romance will have you gasping and cheering this two on from the first to the last page! Are you ready to play the final game?

***

Logan Knight is a real life knight in shining armor.

A detective godsend in a sleek black suit has me thinking less than secretive thoughts. Brooding and mysterious, he’s the kind of guy every girl instantly notices. Between his seductive smirk and charming good looks, it’s no wonder I can’t help the way he makes me feel whenever I’m near him.
Too bad he’s unavailable—or so he says.

He thinks I’m a do-gooder who shouldn’t get involved with a guy like him. His past is messy and relationships just add to that. He insists the timing is all wrong and he’s devoted to his career, but I don’t buy that excuse for a second. I see the way his body tenses and his jaw ticks every time another guy is around me. He just won’t admit it, but I’m more determined than ever to show him what he’s missing.

I’m a devoted animal rescuer and I’ll risk everything to save them, but when a dramatic turn of events puts both our lives at risk, I’m positive Logan will write me off for good. But when he asks for my help with a personal crisis, I know it’s my last chance to finally show him I can handle anything he throws my way—messy past and all.
He might think he has me all figured out, but I’ll prove him wrong no matter what he thinks. This game of push and pull has me running in circles. One wrong move and we could both lose.
Checkmate, Knight.

*Recommend for ages 18+ due to sexual content and adult language.*

**This is book 1 in the Logan & Kayla Saga–a second-chance romance. You don’t need to read any of the other Checkmate series to enjoy this one, but is always recommended as they are both introduced in the earlier books.**



PURCHASE LINKS:

iBooks | Kobo | B&N
Amazon US
| Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA




GIVEAWAY

Enter Kennedy Fox's release day giveaway, here:
https://gleam.io/pVg2I/release-day-giveaway

GOOD LUCK!



THE GRANDE FINALE OF THE CHECKMATE DUET SERIES IS COMING SOON!

Title: Checkmate: This is Beautiful
Series: Checkmate Duet Series (Logan & Kayla, #2)
Author: Kennedy Fox
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Trope: Second Chance Romance
Photographer & Designer: Sara Eirew
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2pbTtV1

PURCHASE LINKS

iBooks Preorder | Kobo Pre-order | Nook Pre-order | Amazon Pre-order Notification
To get a one time notification when Checkmate: This is Dangerous is live on all platforms, please sign up here!


OTHER BOOKS BY 

KENNEDY FOX:

CHECKMATE: THIS IS WAR (Travis & Viola #1): BUY NOW
CHECKMATE: THIS IS LOVE (Travis & Viola #2): BUY NOW
CHECKMATE: THIS IS RECKLESS (Drew & Courtney #1): BUY NOW
CHECKMATE: THIS IS EFFORTLESS (Drew & Courtney #2): BUY NOW

ALSO AVAILABLE IN AUDIO FORMAT: CLICK HERE!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A secret duo of romance authors team up under the USA Today Bestselling pseudonym, Kennedy Fox who share a love of You’ve Got Mail and The Holiday. When they aren’t bonding over romantic comedies, they like to brainstorm new book ideas. One day, they decided to collaborate and have some fun creating new characters that’ll make your lady bits tingle and your heart melt. If you enjoy romance stories with sexy, tattooed alpha males and smart, independent women, then a Kennedy Fox book is for you!

CONNECT WITH KENNEDY FOX:
Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Merch Shop | Email | Newsletter


What do you think?
Does This is Dangerous sound like a book you'd like?
Have you read any of Kennedy Fox's books yet?

Friday, June 30, 2017

Blog Tour #Review: Until it Fades by K.A. Tucker #Giveaway

Source: Received an ARC from Simon & Schuster Canada to participate in the blog tour,
and give an honest review.
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: June 27, 2017
Number of Pages: 356 (Paperback)


Description:

Twenty-four-year-old truck stop waitress and single mother Catherine Wright has simple goals: to give her five-year-old daughter a happy life and to never again be the talk of the town in Balsam, Pennsylvania (population three thousand outside of tourist season).

And then one foggy night, on a lonely road back from another failed date, Catherine saves a man’s life. It isn’t until after the police have arrived that Catherine realizes exactly who it is she has rescued: Brett Madden, hockey icon and media darling.

Catherine has already had her fifteen minutes of fame and the last thing she wants is to have her past dragged back into the spotlight, only this time on a national stage. So she hides her identity. It works. For a time.

But when she finds the man she saved standing on her doorstep, desperate to thank her, all that changes. There’s an immediate connection, and it’s more electric than the bond of two people who endured a traumatic event. It’s something neither of them expected. Something that Catherine isn’t sure she can handle; something she is afraid to trust.

Because how long can an extraordinary man like Brett be interested in an ordinary woman like Catherine...before the spark fades?
 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

K.A. Tucker is the author of He Will Be My Ruin and the Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series. She currently resides outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and a Chug.


FIND K.A. TUCKER ONLINE:

REVIEW

As soon as I heard about UNTIL IT FADES, I knew that I wanted to read it! This was my first K.A. Tucker book, but I've been wanting to read her books for quite a while, so I thought that starting with her new sweet, contemporary romance featuring a hockey star as the leading man was the perfect place for me...if you don't know already, I have a serious soft spot for sports romances, so I was definitely here for that! Once I started the book, I was quickly swept up in Catherine's story and I'm so glad that I read it!

As far as characters go, I couldn't have asked for better ones! I loved Catherine and Brett! They were both so genuine, and I loved seeing them get to know one another. I also absolutely adored seeing them interact with the other characters. I loved Cath's relationship with her best friend, Kieth, her boss, Lou, and her brother, Jack, and I really loved seeing Brett with his parents. I also adored Cath's daughter, Brenna. All of Brenna's moments in the book were adorable and they were an absolute delight...even when she was cutting in on romantic moments, she was cute enough that you didn't mind!

I thought that the story was really interesting, and I liked that there were little twists to keep you guessing, but I did feel like the romance was a little rushed. I would've liked to see more moments between Brett and Cath where we were able to see their relationship develop. I didn't mind that the sexy bits were more fade-to-black, but I would've liked to see more of their conversations. The parts of their relationship that we did see, I absolutely loved though, and I really, really loved seeing their moments with Brenna...Brett was so adorable with her! Brett was pretty much adorable and amazing the entire book though. He's definitely major book boyfriend material. ;)

Overall, I thought that UNTIL IT FADES was a great romance! It was sweet, and had some absolutely swoon-worthy moments. It's the perfect light romance for the start of summer, and an absolute delight to read. If you're looking for a contemporary romance with an independent single mom and a hunky hockey hero, you'll love this one!


TOUR GIVEAWAY:





What do you think?
Does UNTIL IT FADES sound like something you'd like to read?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Internet Famous Blog Tour: Guest Post & Excerpt


Happy Thursday, everybody!!!

I'm EXTREMELY excited to share this post with you all! I don't know if you recall, but last year I read Danika Stone's ALL THE FEELS and I was absolutely smitten with it, so as soon as I heard about her newest book, INTERNET FAMOUS, I was sold!

I've been eagerly waiting for it for months, and guess what?! The wait is over! INTERNET FAMOUS is now on sale, and to celebrate, I'm taking part in Raincoast Book's blog tour, and I have a guest post from Danika and an excerpt to share with you all!

Just in case you haven't been counting down the days for this book like I have, here's what it's all about:


ABOUT THE BOOK

INTERNET FAMOUS

Author: Danika Stone
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Number of Pages: 320 (Paperback)

Description:

High school senior and internet sensation Madison Nakama seems to have it all: a happy family, good grades, and a massive online following for her pop-culture blog. But when her mother suddenly abandons the family, Madi finds herself struggling to keep up with all of her commitments.

Fandom to the rescue! As her online fans band together to help, an online/offline flirtation sparks with Laurent, a French exchange student. Their internet romance—played out in the comments section of her MadLibs blog—attracts the attention of an internet troll who threatens the separation of Madi’s real and online personas. With her carefully constructed life unraveling, Madi must uncover the hacker’s identity before he can do any more damage, or risk losing the people she loves the most… Laurent included.



GUEST POST

A BOX FULL OF CHARACTERS

By Danika Stone

       When I was a child, I watched a Canadian children’s television show called Mr. Dress-up. On it were a menagerie of puppets, Mr. Dress-up – the host, and a “tickle trunk”. Now, while I enjoyed the antics of the puppets, Casey and Finnegan, and Mr. Dress-up always felt like another grandpa, the thing I really enjoyed was that flower-painted box of goodies. In it was every type of object imaginable! It was a veritable Canadian-Mary-Poppins box of treasures.

       As a writer, I often think back to the tickle trunk. When we write, we ask our muses to come up with a whole world of details, from the particular shade of the characters hair, to the name of their long-lost love, to their absolute dislike of the taste of radishes. The small, meaningless details are what build a living, breathing character, and the ability to do so differentiates the mediocre story-teller from the weaver of words.

       Knowing that details make the difference, how might a writer apply this approach to character development?

       For me, it involves an actual box. It’s an everyday shoebox. I write the name of the character on a piece of paper, trying if I can to match the imagined handwriting. It sits in my office on a shelf. At first, it’s empty. I don’t know the character at all. But one day – while I’m doing dishes, perhaps – it strikes me that the spoon I’m drying is one of the heirlooms she’s inherited from her mother’s family. Without a second thought, I run and deposit it into the box. The character appears for a split-second, then fades.

       Another day passes, maybe more. This time, I’m in my living room, half-listening to the news as I flip through a magazine. Distracted, I run across a photograph of a house overlooking the water. My breath catches. This, I think, is where she used to spend her summers as a child. The character’s image appears like a candle in the dark, brightly glowing. Before the commercial break ends (and the character disappears), I put this object into the box, too.

       The next day it’s a scarf of iridescent pink fabric. (The one I’ve had forever, but only today noticed.) That night, it’s a half-used tube of Chapstick. The next morning, an earring back, left on the toilet tank. One by one, they arrive, quite on their own, and become part of the box. With each object, the vision of the character glows a little brighter, lasts a little longer.

       By the time the box is full, I have a snapshot of a real person. There are flea-market finds and everyday items along with the hints of their stories. I finally sit down at the computer and begin to type.

       The words that arrive on the page aren’t nebulous guesses at “who” I’m writing. They are tethered in reality, and they have a whole history attached to them. Over the months of writing that follow as I write the book, the box flexes. Some objects join it, while others – no longer needed – disappear. And in the end, the soul that has lived there becomes a living, breathing character who I know with the same intuitive rightness as myself. The tickle-trunk’s magic is real.

       So how about you? What are YOUR tricks to writing a realistic character? Do you have any other writing advice that you follow? Give your thoughts in the comments below!



EXCERPT

       Eyes closed, Madi stumbled blindly forward.

       “Where are you taking me?”

       She shivered as Laurent’s mouth brushed the shell of her ear. “Just trust me. Alright?” His fingers tightened around hers. “Almost there.”

       “Okay.”

       In the last minutes, Laurent had slipped on her backpack, taking one of her hands in his, the other hand sliding around her waist. She wasn’t sure where they were, but she could smell damp cement, mildew and decay. The sound of the city had dimmed in the last seconds, the red glow of sun through her eyelids replaced by darkness.

       “You know I don’t like scary movies, right? No screamers on my dashboard. No trolls in the dungeon.” She shuddered. “Definitely no trolls!”

       Laurent laughed. “This is good, chérie. I promise.” His scruff brushed her cheek, voice low. “Just a little further. Here. Take a step down. Don’t let go of me.”

       Madi stumbled, but he caught her, the faint scent of cologne reaching her nostrils as he helped her regain her footing.

       “And one more step,” he said. “A little to your left. Aha, almost there now. Hold on.”

       He put a hand on either shoulder, turning her slightly. When he let go of her, Madi’s arms rose in sudden fear, but Laurent came back at her side.

       “You ready?”

       Madi nodded.

       “Open your eyes.”

       Her lashes fluttered open to discover they were standing in the damaged interior of a building. She guessed it had been a brick apartment building, but a fire, sometime in the last years, had gutted the interior. Now it was a roughly rectangular box forming a massive chimney, three or four stories high, with charred beams and the wilting remains of fire-bent stairs clinging to one side. Below their feet, the floor was warped and uneven, but apparently sound. Above them, the wide open sky.

       Madi gasped as her eyes adjusted to the light.

       Light poured in from many glassless windows highlighting an explosion of imagery. Faces rose from floorboards. Intricate words twisted into strangely foreign shapes. Round and round the interior walls had been painted into a massive mosaic of light and color.
“Oh my God. Did you paint this stuff?”

       “Oh no, not me,” Laurent said. “Though I’ve met the artists who did.” His arm slid over her shoulders. “One of them is a MadLibber, actually.”

       “Who?”

       He winked. “I’m pretty sure you can figure out which artist would have the attitude to do something like this.”

       Madi’s eyes widened. “ArtWithAttitude? This was painted by Ava?!”

       “Among others.” Laurent said. “This is one of my special places. One of the hidden gems in the city. It’s one of the places I wanted to take you.” He stared up at the broken-down walls and vibrant graffiti with the reverence some people saved for church. “I love this place. I’ve photographed almost all of it.” He looked down at her and grinned. “The murals are always changing. Come back in a week, this’ll be new again.”

       Madi smiled. “This is the inspiration for your photographs.”

       He nodded.

       “And the… the feeling of it is what you want to capture?”

       Laurent’s eyes widened, gold dancing in the green. “Exactement! I want to photograph the life and spirit of a place. Not just the structure, but what a building is because people have put their lives into it.” His hand rose to cup Madi’s cheek. “Because they’ve loved it. Their vision is imprinted on it for— for— always.”

       “Forever?”

       “Yes. Forever… Inaliénable. Indélébile.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Danika Stone is an author, artist, and educator who discovered a passion for writing fiction while in the throes of her Masters thesis. A self-declared bibliophile, Danika now writes novels for both teens (All the Feels and Internet Famous) adults (Edge of Wild and Intaglio). When not writing, Danika can be found hiking in the Rockies, planning grand adventures, and spending far too much time online. She lives with her husband, three sons, and a houseful of imaginary characters in a windy corner of Alberta, Canada.

Follow Danika:
Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Website


Just so you don't forget after her guest post, Danika asked:
  So how about you? What are YOUR tricks to writing a realistic character? Do you have any other writing advice that you follow? Give your thoughts in the comments below!

----

 And I want to know:

Are you as excited for INTERNET FAMOUS as I am? 
What did you think of that excerpt?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Double #KennedyFox Cover Reveal:
THIS IS DANGEROUS
&
THIS IS BEAUTIFUL


It's an exciting day today! Today I get to share the cover reveals for the next Duet in Kennedy Fox's Checkmate series! This duet is all about Kayla and Logan!!! :D Their books, This is Dangerous and This is Beautiful will be releasing in July and September, respectively...and you just got to see a sneak peek in the cover reveal header, but scroll down further for a better look, some teasers and excerpt, and a giveaway, too!!

Without further ado, here are the covers for CHECKMATE: THIS IS DANGEROUS and CHECKMATE: THIS IS BEAUTIFUL...keep scrolling for more details and extras!! ;)


Title: Checkmate: This is Dangerous
Series: Checkmate Duet Series (Logan & Kayla, #1)
Author: Kennedy Fox
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Trope: Second Chance Romance
Photographer & Designer: Sara Eirew
Release Date: July 11, 2017

SYNOPSIS

Introducing book 1 in the Logan & Kayla saga of the Checkmate series from a secret duo of romance authors who teamed up under the USA Today Bestselling pseudonym, Kennedy Fox! This second-chance romance will have you gasping and cheering this two on from the first to the last page! Are you ready to play the final game?
***

Logan Knight is a real life knight in shining armor.

A detective godsend in a sleek black suit has me thinking less than secretive thoughts. Brooding and mysterious, he’s the kind of guy every girl instantly notices. Between his seductive smirk and charming good looks, it’s no wonder I can’t help the way he makes me feel whenever I’m near him.

Too bad he’s unavailable—or so he says.

He thinks I’m a do-gooder who shouldn’t get involved with a guy like him. His past is messy and relationships just add to that. He insists the timing is all wrong and he’s devoted to his career, but I don’t buy that excuse for a second. I see the way his body tenses and his jaw ticks every time another guy is around me. He just won’t admit it, but I’m more determined than ever to show him what he’s missing.

I’m a devoted animal rescuer and I’ll risk everything to save them, but when a dramatic turn of events puts both our lives at risk, I’m positive Logan will write me off for good. But when he asks for my help with a personal crisis, I know it’s my last chance to finally show him I can handle anything he throws my way—messy past and all.

He might think he has me all figured out, but I’ll prove him wrong no matter what he thinks. This game of push and pull has me running in circles. One wrong move and we could both lose.

Checkmate, Knight.

*Recommend for ages 18+ due to sexual content and adult language.*
**This is book 1 in the Logan & Kayla Saga–a second-chance romance. You don’t need to read any of the other Checkmate series to enjoy this one, but is always recommended as they are both introduced in the earlier books.**

TEASERS



EXCERPT

Every part of my body is on fire, fueled by the electricity between Logan and me as his lips glide across the softness of mine. The low hum in my stomach aches when he pulls us apart, and I fight the urge to press my lips back to his.

His lips are red and swollen, probably just like mine are right now. I don’t know what got into him, but Logan and I have never, ever kissed before. Hell, we’ve slow danced before at weddings, but nothing this intimate—ever.

“I think that did the trick,” he finally says, catching his breath. Fred left over two minutes ago.

“Yeah, I think so.” I take a small step back, trying to act unaffected, but the hard beating in my chest gives me away. I know he feels it, too. I just don’t understand why he pretends he doesn’t. “Thanks for your help,” I say, breaking the tension.

“Anytime. It was fun watching him sweat.” He grins, rocking back and forth on his feet, gripping the coffee cup tight in his hand. He’s just as nervous as I am.

“Don’t you get enough of that at work?” I tease.

“Can never have enough.” He flashes a pleased smile.

“You do have some sick fetish for that, don’t you?”

“I do. Gets all my juices flowing,” he quips.

And just like that, we’re back to our platonic friendship as if the kiss never happened. However, the ache between my legs knows otherwise. It happened, and it was hot as hell.

“What are you doing on a dating website anyway?” he asks after I grab another cup of coffee and sit across from him at the table.

“How else am I supposed to meet guys?” I ask, although it’s really a rhetorical question. “Guys in bars just want sex and one-night stands. I have a strict no dating guys from work rule and everyone else is taken or just wants me to be a part of their menage a trois.”

His brows lift. “What kind of people are you hanging out with?”

I sigh. “This city literally has no available, decent, single men. I might as well just move to another planet. Like Pluto. Get as far away from here as possible.”

“Actually, Pluto isn’t a planet anymore,” he tells me matter-of-factly.

I blink, unamused. “Great. I can’t escape this damn city.”

He chuckles, and I only slightly hate that he finds my pathetic dating life entertaining. “You’re still young. No need to panic until you’re like…thirty.”

I grab a piece of his pastry and throw it at him. “You suck.” I scowl. “I’m twenty-six, which means I’m almost thirty, and almost thirty means I should be with the guy I’m planning on marrying. Otherwise, I’ll be forty, my looks will be gone, my boobs will have fallen to my feet, and I’ll have gray hair,” I ramble, knowing I’m over exaggerating, but right now it feels true. Every date is a disaster. More than the last.

PURCHASE LINKS

To get a one time notification when
Checkmate: This is Dangerous is live on all platforms,
please sign up here
!

GIVEAWAY


ENTER KENNEDY FOX'S ARC GIVEAWAY: 


Title: Checkmate: This is Beautiful
Series: Checkmate Duet Series (Logan & Kayla, #2)
Author: Kennedy Fox
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Trope: Second Chance Romance
Photographer & Designer: Sara Eirew
Release Date: September 12, 2017

PURCHASE LINKS

To get a one time notification when
Checkmate: This is Dangerous is live on all platforms,
please sign up here
!


GET THE PREVIOUS BOOKS IN THE SERIES NOW: 
THE CHECKMATE DUET SERIES IS ALSO AVAILABLE IN AUDIO FORMAT:
CLICK HERE!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A secret duo of romance authors team up under the USA Today Bestselling pseudonym, Kennedy Fox who share a love of You’ve Got Mail and The Holiday. When they aren’t bonding over romantic comedies, they like to brainstorm new book ideas. One day, they decided to collaborate and have some fun creating new characters that’ll make your lady bits tingle and your heart melt. If you enjoy romance stories with sexy, tattooed alpha males and smart, independent women, then a Kennedy Fox book is for you!

Connect with Kennedy Fox:


What do you think?
Are you a fan of Kennedy Fox's books?
Do you love the covers for This is Dangerous and This is Beautiful?