Category: Giveaway

Christie’s Auction House, Art, & A Trace of Deceit by Karen Odden | Author Guest Post (+Giveaway)

Posted February 20, 2020 by Jana in Giveaway, Guest Post / 4 Comments

I’m pleased to welcome to Karen Odden, author of A Dangerous Duet, to the blog today to talk about the next book in her Victorian Mystery series, A Trace of Deceit! I love art (I minored in art history during undergrad), so this entire post is just fascinating to me. Read more about Karen and A Trace of Deceit below, and enter to win a copy of your own!


Christie’s Auction House, Art, & A Trace of Deceit
by Karen Odden

On my 29th birthday, November 11, 1994, I was standing in the main sales room at Christie’s auction house in New York City. The elegant room was crowded for the rare book auction scheduled to begin at 10 o’clock. On an elevated stage at the front stood Stephen Massey, the head of the Rare Books department, behind a podium. I stood along one wall surveying the rows of chairs, filled with potential buyers and some gawkers. On the opposite wall was a bank of tables draped with black fabric, with phones for other Christie’s employees who’d be taking the bids of people calling in. The star of the auction that day was Leonardo Da Vinci’s Codex Hammer, one of his notebooks, 32 pages, written right to left, in his mirror handwriting, and featuring the famous image of the Vitruvian Man, among others.

A page from the Codex Leicester (a.k.a. Codex Hammer) by da Vinci, 1510

People who attend Christie’s auctions are generally well behaved. They speak in soft tones, if they speak at all. No one shouts out or flaps their paddle around. But that day people could not stop murmuring. Rare manuscripts, signed copies and first editions sold as expected. But everyone was waiting for the Da Vinci notebook.

As usual the auctioneer started the bidding below the presale estimate. Between buyers in the room and on the phones, the bid began to climb: 6 million, 6.5, 7, 7.5 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 20. Soon it became a duel between two bidders, one in the room and one on the phone, and the employee at the phone bank just kept raising her hand. Eventually the hammer came down at 28 million dollars to a phone bidder whose identity was kept confidential. Later, I heard one of the Christie’s employees say, “It went to someone named Cates.” His friend replied, “Not Cates, Gates. I think he does something with computers.” Back in 1994, Windows 95 was still months away, and Bill Gates wasn’t a household name yet.

That morning was the first time I felt down to my bones the way suspense and story could swirl around art.

I wasn’t at Christie’s because of my art expertise. I was a media buyer, purchasing print ad space to support sales of everything from paintings and photographs to silver, coins and Faberge eggs, Chinese and Latin American art, and antique furniture. I placed ads in publications such as the New York Times, New Yorker, Architectural Digest, Art and Auction, and ArtNews. Because I was buying ad space, I had to read these publications in order to know what art to advertise where, and for the first few weeks of my job, I sat in my cubicle and read magazines. It was fun. (My dad always said, you’re never going to find a job that pays you to read! Ha!)

So like many things in my life I came to art through reading. And while I enjoy art, it’s the stories around art that captivate me. The precious manuscripts smuggled out of Wartime Germany by an American soldier, only to be found by his grandchildren forty years later, after his death. The art heists and dramatic thefts out of museums. The Renaissance painting by Cimabue that a 90-year-old Frenchwoman had hung over her kitchen stove for years because she thought it was a knock off. The painter who fell in love with his subject and then couldn’t bring himself to sell the painting to her husband. So when it came time to write my third book, I had a whole backlog of interest in stories about art.

Kate Greenaway, “Diamonds and Toads,” 1871

I write mysteries set in Victorian England, specifically the 1870s, largely because I wrote my dissertation at NYU on British literature from 1850-1890. It’s my happy time and place. (My son, who is called upon to help me with my iPhone teases me that I belong there.) But if I wanted to write another novel about a young woman in 1870s London, I needed to find a place for her to study. Fortunately, the Slade School, now world-renowned and part of the University College London, was opened in 1871, after a bequest by a very forward-thinking gentleman named Felix Slade, who wanted a school where men and women could study art together. This was met with resistance from the men. Still, women entered with the first class, and early students included Kate Greenaway who became famous for her exquisite illustrations for children’s books.

At the time I began to write, I was thinking a lot about memory—how memory isn’t static, like a painting. You can’t come back to it and see the exact same image. Memory changes with time; and sometimes we unconsciously suppress memories or alter them, depending on the kinds of stories we want to tell about ourselves or people we love or our lives. I also wanted to write about how talent or genius can sometimes be a burden, or even something that is put to use by parents of the gifted child.

With this, Annabel’s story started taking shape. She has an older brother named Edwin, an outrageously talented painter, and his father started to push him, hard, when Edwin was seven. As a result Edwin became a troublemaker and rebellious. He went to school at age 12, and when he returned he had deeply changed. Troubled and angry, he visited opium dens down by the Thames, forging paintings to support himself. He stumbled home more times than Annabel can remember, swearing he was going to do better. This cycle of what we would now call addiction and relapse recurred again and again, until he was arrested for forging and thrown in prison for a year.

As the book begins, Edwin has been out of prison for four months. He has sworn to Annabel that he is going to stay away from opium and to live within the law. When Annabel and Edwin meet, he appears on time; he’s clear eyed; he talks responsibly about his paintings and his work. Slowly Annabel begins to trust him. Besides, he is her only family, and she wants desperately to believe in him.

In the first chapter, Annabel is at her easel at the Slade. Her work finished for the day, she retrieves her umbrella from the stand and ventures out in the rain. At the terraced house where Edwin rented rooms, she climbs the stairs to the top floor, and sees the door open. That’s odd, she thinks. Odder still is the sight of two strange men riffling through Edwin’s paintings and papers. She bursts out, “What are you doing? Where’s Edwin?” They turn, and she sees the truncheon that one of them carries. She realizes they’re plainclothes detectives, and Annabel feels her heart sink, for she assumes that Edwin has fallen back into his old patterns. Unhappily, she sighs and asks, “What has Edwin done now?”

But in fact, Edwin has been murdered.

Christie’s Auction Rooms, engraving from ‘The Microcosm of London’ published by Rudolph Ackermann, 1808

Within hours, Annabel discovers that a priceless painting of Madame de Pompadour, by the French master Francois Boucher, has gone missing from her brother’s studio. Edwin was cleaning it in preparation for an auction to take place in two weeks, at Bettridge’s, an up-and-coming house trying to compete with Christie’s and Sotheby’s, both of which were established in London in the eighteenth century. The painting I’ve described is fictional—but Boucher painted nearly a dozen of Madame de Pompadour, who was King Louis XV’s mistress from 1745-1751. In my novel, this Boucher painting is the star of the auction—like Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex—but then its true owner appears, claiming the original was destroyed a fire in 1874.

François Boucher, “Madame de Pompadour”, 1756

So the questions begin. Was the painting that Edwin was cleaning a forgery? Had Edwin made the forgery? Was he murdered because his past had caught up to him? But even more important than learning why Edwin was murdered, Annabel longs to discover the truth about who her brother was before he died. Was he lying to her about reforming, or sincere? She wants to fix his character in her mind, render it as something stable, the way she paints her portraits and small scenes, so she can find some closure and peace. But what complicates Annabel’s inquiry is that in the process of investigating Edwin’s past, she comes to recognize a general truth: that there is a trace of deceit in many of our memories, both our happiest ones and our most painful; and that memories are not like paintings. They shift and sideslip, depending on the stories we want to tell ourselves—and the ones we want to conceal. Annabel learns that her memories both enable and limit what she can know about Edwin. Indeed, the closure and peace she seeks won’t come through fixing her brother’s character as in a portrait, but in weaving together her brother’s story and her own, and accepting—and grieving—that there are pieces missing. But that perhaps a sincere effort to understand, founded in love, is enough.

 


About Karen Odden

After writing her PhD dissertation on Victorian railway disasters, Karen became trapped in the era. (Her teenage son, who helps her with tech, teases that she belongs there.) Before turning to fiction, Karen taught at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and her essays on literature have appeared in numerous academic journals and books. Her three novels, set in 1870s London, feature young women who solve mysteries with personal stakes. Her first, A Lady in the Smoke, was a USA Today bestseller; A Dangerous Duet won best Historical Fiction at the New Mexico/Arizona book awards; and A Trace of Deceit (Harper Collins) was published in December. She lives in Arizona with her family and beagle-muse Rosy. Visit www.karenodden.com, or find her on twitter: @karen_odden and instagram: @karen_m_odden.


A Trace of Deceit by Karen Odden
Series: Victorian Mystery #2
Other books in the series: A Dangerous Duet (#1)
Publisher: William Morrow
Genres: Adult Fiction — Historical, Mystery
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A young painter digs beneath the veneer of Victorian London’s art world to learn the truth behind her brother’s murder…

Edwin is dead. That’s what Inspector Matthew Hallam of Scotland Yard tells Annabel Rowe when she discovers him searching her brother’s flat for clues. While the news is shocking, Annabel can’t say it’s wholly unexpected, given Edwin’s past as a dissolute risk-taker and art forger, although he swore he’d reformed. After years spent blaming his reckless behavior for their parents’ deaths, Annabel is now faced with the question of who murdered him—because Edwin’s death was both violent and deliberate. A valuable French painting he’d been restoring for an auction house is missing from his studio: find the painting, find the murderer. But the owner of the artwork claims it was destroyed in a warehouse fire years ago.

As a painter at the prestigious Slade School of Art and as Edwin’s closest relative, Annabel makes the case that she is crucial to Matthew’s investigation. But in their search for the painting, Matthew and Annabel trace a path of deceit and viciousness that reaches far beyond the elegant rooms of the auction house, into an underworld of politics, corruption, and secrets someone will kill to keep.



New Traditions for a Beloved Holiday by Tracey Garvis Graves | Author Guest Post (+Giveaway)

Posted December 20, 2019 by Jana in Giveaway, Guest Post / 13 Comments

I’m happy to welcome my friend, author Tracey Garvis-Graves to the blog today to share a special guest post about spending her last Christmas in her home before moving to a new one. Read more about her newest release, The Girl He Use to Know, and enter to win a signed copy!


New Traditions for a Beloved Holiday

As I’ve mentioned in my past Bookish Little Christmas posts, Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. A white Christmas is even more exciting, and because it’s already snowed twice in October, the odds are good that we’ll have a nice layer of fresh powder on the ground for the holidays this year. Whether or not we’ll have snow is the only unknown; all of our other traditions will remain the same. The baking! The decorating! The family gathered around the table for our annual surf-and-turf Christmas Eve dinner. But there is one thing that’s changing and it will add a bittersweet element because this is the last year we will celebrate Christmas in this house.

It seems like just yesterday that the kids were babies, and now our son is 20 and our daughter is 17. I guess it’s true what they say because I blinked once and then somehow, twenty years had gone by.

No one can deny that the nest is emptying. Our son has already moved into his first home, and in less than two years our daughter will be off to college. I have pined for an urban neighborhood ever since I wrote Heart-Shaped Hack and immersed myself in Minneapolis’s St. Anthony Main neighborhood. That was back in 2015 and at the time, I’d never actually contemplated leaving my suburban environment. The kids were still too young. It wasn’t time yet.

Fast forward almost five years, and the new urban empty-nest condo is under construction with a tentative move-in date of late August 2020. Next year, Christmas will be spent in a space that is half as big as what we’re used to. I find this both exciting and panic-inducing! How will I ever put out all of my decorations? The answer is that I won’t be able to. I will be forced to keep only what I love and want to take with me. From now until late August it’s going to be all Marie Kondo, all the time up in here. I’ve been applying those principles to my closets for the last couple of years, and I’m already on board. If an item no longer sparks joy, out it goes!

I did have a couple of non-negotiables when purchasing the new condo. For one, there had to be a dining space large enough for the new table that will seat all of us. I also wanted a kitchen big enough for us to cook together, the way we do every year on Christmas Eve. I’m happy to say that these items were checked off with ease. And next year, we’ll have the added bonus of a wonderful view of the downtown skyline when it’s all lit up. Maybe we’ll start a new tradition and go for a walk after dinner so we can enjoy the holiday lights.

Things definitely change when the birds start leaving the nest. A suburban home with its large backyard is no longer necessary. This two-story house with all of its stairs is more of a headache than anything. And, of course, there’s the lawn care in the summer and the snow that must be shoveled in the winter. Downtown Des Moines has so much more to offer for this stage of my life and I can’t wait to be part of an urban neighborhood. Next year, we will kick off a fresh cycle of new traditions and I find that very exciting.

But this year, things will go on as they have for the last fourteen years, and I will take great joy in sticking to the traditions we’ve been adhering to since the kids were six and two, respectively. Home is where the heart is and this year, I believe that more than ever.


The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves
Published by St. Martin’s Press on April 2, 2019
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What if you had a second chance at first love?

Annika Rose likes being alone.
She feels lost in social situations, saying the wrong thing or acting the wrong way. She just can’t read people. She prefers the quiet solitude of books or playing chess to being around others. Apart from Jonathan. She liked being around him, but she hasn’t seen him for ten years. Until now that is. And she’s not sure he’ll want to see her again after what happened all those years ago.

Annika Rose likes being alone.
Except that, actually, she doesn’t like being alone at all.

 


About Tracey Garvis Graves

Tracey Garvis Graves is the New York TimesWall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction. Her debut novel, On the Island, spent 9 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has been translated into thirty-one languages, and is in development with MGM and Temple Hill Productions for a feature film. She is also the author of Uncharted, Covet, Every Time I Think of You, Cherish, Heart-Shaped Hack, White-Hot Hack, and The Girl He Used to Know. She is hard at work on her next book.

Tracey loves to interact with her readers and can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Darla’s Holiday Party Planning Guide by Sara Richardson | Author Guest Post (+Giveaway)

Posted December 19, 2019 by Jana in Giveaway, Guest Post / 4 Comments

I’m happy to welcome Sara Richardson to the blog today to share Darla’s holiday party planning guide! Darla is the heroine in Sara’s recent Christmas release, A Cowboy for Christmas, and she loves to throw a good party! Read more about the book and enter to win it (and the other books in the Rocky Mountain Riders series) below!


Darla’s Holiday Party Planning Guide

Hi everyone, and welcome to my party planning blog! Since I’m known as the social diva in Topaz Falls (an official title), I’ve gotten a ton of requests to outline my party planning secrets in order to host a successful holiday shindig this Christmas season. I’ve hosted every kind of party, from a Great Gatsby themed birthday party to a last-minute meet the fake future in-laws party (long story, you’ll have to read the book!), and now I’ve sharing all my secrets for how to plan a fun, stress-free event, no matter what your theme or your budget.

Invitations
Fist, invitations set the tone for any event! Are you keeping it casual? Go with a simple text or email. If you want to jazz things up with a special theme or a fancier evening, you can custom design an invitation to fit your event online. These days most people actually don’t want more paper. Of course, if you happen to live in Topaz Falls, you can simply tell Ginny Eckles you’re having a party and she’ll get the word out for you.

Ambiance and Décor
The wonderful thing about having a party during the holidays is that you don’t have to do much in the way of decorating. Hopefully you’ve already put up a few Christmas decorations. At the wine bar I own, I always keep it simple but elegant with fresh greenery, some white lights to provide the mood lighting, and pops of color in big red velvet bows and oversized ornaments hanging from the ceiling. And if you need a little bling, there’s always silver or gold tinsel. Just make sure you keep it away from open flames!

Drinks
Yes, we’re covering the drinks before we’re covering the food, and that’s not just because I own a wine bar! In my humble opinion, the drinks are one of the most important elements of a successful party, especially during the holidays. While you can go simple with the decorations, this is an area you don’t want to skimp on! Nothing kills a festive vibe like bad wine. I always select the wines for a party first, and then take great care in pairing them with the food. I’ll have to write another post on that later (or maybe a book). Of course, for those friends and family who aren’t wine drinkers, or for anyone underage, it’s important to have some other options. I always include a few local beers in my offerings, as well as fruit-infused water and different types of soda. If children are coming to the party, I highly recommend a hot chocolate bar—I promise the kids will love you forever.

Food
After you’ve selected your drink menu, it’s time to plan the food. If you know me at all, you know I always start with dessert. There is no better treat than good-quality chocolate. I make my own chocolate truffles from scratch and specifically formulate them to pair with certain wines. (If you’re interested in ordering a few boxes, feel free to contact me.) Other than dessert, I highly recommend keeping the food offering simple and customizable, with appetizers like a charcuterie board, allowing people to select different meats, cheeses, crackers, nuts and fruits. Limiting food to appetizers keeps everyone mingling, and it also means less preparation and clean up.

Entertainment
If you live in Topaz Falls, the cowboys provide all the entertainment you need. Trust me, ladies! Inviting a few cowboys to your party can really liven things up…just don’t expect them to wear anything except their jeans and boots. If you’re not lucky enough to have a town full of cowboys, you can always hire some. Kidding! You don’t have to have shirtless cowboys there in order to have a successful party. (Though I highly recommend it. ) Aside from cowboys, music is the most important aspect of entertainment at any party. That’s why I recommend you make some time to create a playlist that helps to build a progression through the party. Starting with more mellow songs at the beginning is always good as people are mingling and getting to know each other. Then you want to move more into the lively songs that are better for dancing. What’s a party without dancing, am I right? Personally, I recommend going with a country western playlist that includes a few holiday hits in with a couple of line dancing classics. Nothing gets a party going like the Boot Scootin’ Boogie!

I hope you all find these ideas helpful as you prepare for you Christmas parties! I would love to hear your ideas too! Leave a comment with a party-planning idea or bit of party planning advice and you’ll be entered into our giveaway!


A Cowboy for Christmas by Sara Richardson
Series: Rocky Mountain Riders #6
Published by Forever on October 26, 2019
AmazonAdd to Goodreads 

Come home to Topaz Falls, Colorado, where the best way to spend Christmas is in the arms of a cowboy!

When the beloved Farm Café in Topaz Falls burns to the ground, widow Darla Michaels comes up with the perfect plan to help her friends rebuild — a Cowboy Christmas Festival complete with a sexy bachelor auction and a benefit rodeo. But to pull it off, she has to pretend to be engaged to Ty Forrester, the irresistible bull rider who keeps testing her keep-things-casual policy.

A fake fiancée wasn’t on Ty’s Christmas list this year, but it’s the only way to get his family to visit over the holidays so his NFL-star brother can draw more tourists to the festival. The engagement wouldn’t be such a problem if Ty wasn’t starting to have real feelings for Darla. Knowing he can’t go on pretending, Ty prepares to tell his family the truth–but then he and Darla discover a precious little Christmas surprise that just might help them embrace a whole new life together.


About Sara Richardson

Contemporary romance author Sara Richardson has been a communications manager, copy writer, magazine editor, and whitewater rafting guide. The day after graduating with a master’s degree in journalism, Sara realized she was too empathetic to be a journalist and starting writing her first novel instead. A lifelong fascination with true love quickly led her to the romance genre.

Her Heart of the Rockies series was published by Grand Central Forever in 2015. In 2016, her debut novel, No Better Man, was nominated for a RITA in the best first book category. Sara is passionate about writing stories that inspire people to believe in love and always enjoys connecting with readers. Learn more at www.sararichardson.com.

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5 Pet-Friendly Gift-Giving Ideas by Melinda Curtis | Author Guest Post (+Giveaway)

Posted December 12, 2019 by Jana in Giveaway, Guest Post / 5 Comments

In honor of Melinda Curtis’s recent release, The Christmas Wish (which has a puppy-loving heroine), Melinda is here to share her 5 pet-friendly gift-giving ideas with us! Read more about her book and enter to win an awesome Forever Books prize pack.


Melinda Curtis’s 5 Pet-Friendly Gift-Giving Ideas

When you think pets and the holidays, you might only think of buying for your pets. Well, think again! Gifts for pet and animal lovers are a wonderful way to solve the dilemma of what to get for that person who has everything.

1. Gift Cards. You can give them a gift card from your local pet store or an IOU certificate to pet-sit the next time they go out of town. There is nothing as comforting as the feeling of having your pet stay at home while you’re away.

(Meet Melinda’s dog, Duke, in his cute bed!)

2. Pet Beds. No matter what kind of pet they have, there’s probably a pet bed available. I have pet beds in nearly every room of the house, and one is always in need of replacing.

3. Breed-Specific Items. From calendars to magnets to ornaments to coffee mugs to mouse pads, you can find pet-themed merchandise on just about anything nowadays. Just don’t wait to the last minute to find a Hamster-themed calendar!

4. Pet Toys. Is their pet a toy lover? Does their dog have strong ball-drive? Or perhaps their cat can’t resist catnip-filled toys? These are simple items that can be used every day.

5. Donations. If they have an animal cause near and dear to their heart, make a donation in their name. What better way to fulfill the reason for the holiday season?


The Christmas Wish by Melinda Curtis
Series: Sunshine Valley #0.5
Published by Forever on November 26, 2019
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It’s beginning to look a lot like a Christmas in thisSunshine Valley novella from USA Today bestselling authorMelinda Curtis that will appeal to fans of RaeAnne Thayne and Sheila Roberts.

Everyone in Sunshine Valley, Colorado, is in the Christmas spirit except forEverett Bollinger, the new town manager. With money tighter than ever, Everet thas had to make some tough decisions about the local holiday celebration. And taking the blame has put him in a very un-festive mood.

Rosalie Reyes has big plans to open her new pet shop during the Christmas parade. But it seems like Everett is determined to sabotage the parade and her business too. With the help of the local matchmakers and a rambunctious SaintBernard named Remy, Rosalie is about to unleash the town’s holiday cheer and make it a paws-itively amazing Christmas for all. Including a certain town manager who’s about to discover the reason for the season…is love.


About Melinda Curtis

Melinda Curtis is the USA Today bestselling author of light‐hearted contemporary romance. In addition to her Sunshine Valley series from Forever, she’s published independently and with Harlequin Heartwarming, including her book Dandelion Wishes, which is currently being made into a TV movie. She lives in California’s hot central valley with her hot husband – her basketball-playing college sweetheart. While raising three kids, the couple did the soccer thing, the karate thing, the dance thing, the Little League thing and, of course, the basketball thing. Between books, Melinda spends time with her husband remodeling their home by swinging a hammer, grouting tile, and wielding a paintbrush with other family members.

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Dear Santa, From Chief of Police, Alex Baker of Snowfall On Cedar Trail by Annie Rains | Author Guest Post (+Giveaway)

Posted December 11, 2019 by Jana in Giveaway, Guest Post / 3 Comments

I’m so happy to have Annie Rains on the blog today to share Alex Baker’s letter to Santa. Alex is the Chief of Police and hero of Annie’s latest book, Snowfall On Cedar Trail. Read more about the book and enter to win copies of the first three Sweetwater Springs books (the 4th comes out in February 2020)!


Dear Santa,

I stopped believing in you a long time ago. Sorry about that, but you stopped delivering on what I needed most.
After my father died ten years ago, all I wanted was to have him back. Yeah, I know that even Santa can’t bring back the people we’ve lost. A new pair of boots or tie isn’t going to lift my spirits anymore though—not when I’ve lost the most important person in my life. And if I can’t have Dad back, can I at least find the person who left him dying in the snow? Justice for the man who taught me everything. Is that too much to ask?

I also need to find a good home for this little puppy I’m fostering. We’re calling this naughty pup Officer Chew around the station because the little guy is teething on everything at his level. So Santa, if you’re listening, a few chew toys would be welcome at the Sweetwater Springs Police Station. And a good home if you know one. Officer Chew needs someone gentle and caring. He’s been through a lot, as you know, and deserves some TLC.

So does Halona Locklear, whether she’s willing to admit it or not. Santa, Halona is the most giving person I know. She gives her son, Theo, everything, and she never takes time for herself. I’m not sure you can give Halona what she needs this year either. I suspect it’s a lot more than a piece of jewelry or some chocolates. She’s so strong on the outside, but everyone needs someone to lean on every now and then. If I’m honest (and you’d know if I tried to lie, right?), I want to be that person for her. I’ve always wanted to be that guy. She’s my best friend’s little sister though… but over the past month, I’ve felt a buzz in the air between us. I look in her eyes and I know she feels something too. She makes my heart beat a little faster, a little harder. And she makes these cold days in the mountain valley seem so much warmer.
So Santa, if you’re real and if I’m not too far down on your naughty list, can I have a chance with Halona? She has been through a lot as well. All I want to do is to make her smile and laugh. I want to make her days warmer and brighter too—just like she does for me.

There you have it. All I want for Christmas this year is to solve my Dad’s cold case, find a home for this loveable, albeit naughty puppy, and to win Halona’s heart forever. It’s a tall order, but if you can deliver on that, I’ll start believing in the magic of Christmas again.

Your long-lost believer,
Chief of Police Alex Baker


Snowfall On Cedar Trail by Annie Rains
Series: Sweetwater Springs #3
Published by Forever on October 8, 2019
Genres: Adult Fiction — Contemporary, Romance, Holiday – Christmas
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Last Christmas was tough for Halona Locklear and her seven-year-old son Theo, who hasn’t spoken a word since his father’s death. This year, Halona wants nothing more than to give him a good holiday and to hear his sweet voice again. Enrolling him in the Mentor Match program might help, but when Theo gets matched with Sweetwater Springs Chief of Police, Alex Baker, Halona realizes that the handsome hero might know secrets about her past that she is determined to keep buried.

Chief of Police, Alex Baker, re-opens his father’s hit-and-run cold case every December, hoping to finally solve it. This year, his plate is full with being a Mentor Match to a young seven-year-old boy as well. His biggest obstacle, however, is fighting his attraction to the boy’s mother, Halona. As Alex gets close to solving his father’s cold case, he learns that those closest to him may be in danger — including Halona. Alex has already lost one of the most important people in his life; he isn’t about to lose her too, even if it means walking away to keep her safe.


About Annie Rains

Annie Rains is a contemporary romance author who writes small town love stories set in fictional towns on the coast of North Carolina. Raised in one of America’s largest military communities, Annie often features heroes who fight for their countries, while also fighting for a place to call home and a good woman to love. When Annie isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her husband and 3 children, or reading a book by one of her favorite authors.

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Miranda Liasson’s Favorite Children’s Holiday Books | Author Guest Post (+Giveaway)

Posted December 6, 2019 by Jana in Giveaway, Guest Post / 22 Comments

I’m so excited to have Miranda Liasson on the blog today to share her favorite children’s Christmas books! When I dreamed up Bookish Little Christmas 8 years ago and began inviting authors to participate with guest posts, this post here is the exact kind of post I was hoping to receive. I love the cozy books she chose and the memories she shared of her childhood and her life as a mother. Make sure you read about her latest release and enter to win the entire Angel Falls series!

Miranda’s Favorite Children’s Holiday Books

My first thought at revisiting my favorite kids’ holiday books was—I’d LOVE to talk about that! Such happy times, such good memories.

As all of you who love books know, our memories of books are often bonded to our souls.

But a funny thing happened as I pulled out the old bin of kids’ books from my attic. I came to realize that my wonderful memories of books—some from my own childhood, others from my kids’ time—are overshadowed by even more powerful memories—of my mom, who’s been gone a long time, and of my kids, all now in their 20’s. I still see them all lined up next to me on our crazily-patterned couch with their blankies and sippy cups—and the dog, just another one of the kids, ready to snuggle in too.

Great times!

At this time of the year, we crack open books for our kids that imbue a special sense of hope and the meaning of the holiday (whichever ones we celebrate). We want to pass on that legacy of love and giving. And as we enjoy them with our children, we feel their sense of wonder and awe spread to us as well.

I hope you enjoy my little trip down memory lane as you create your own memories this season with your families!

1960 Edition of The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore, Illustrated by Catherine Barnes

This is a large book—10 by 13 inches, to be exact. And it deserves this big, sumptuous size so we can fully appreciate the amazing illustrations. This book, which I own from my childhood, is sadly out of print. I did find a copy for $250 somewhere on the Internet if you’re interested!

Even better, I found this amazing YouTube video done a few years ago by an amazing music teacher wanting her second graders to learn in a fun way the lines to the famous poem. You can appreciate it—and her own love for this book—here.

On my copy, as the teacher’s in the video, the binding is taped and the pages may have a few smudges, evidence of how beloved this book was not only by me but by my children too.

As the tale unfolds, we experience in sharp detail that the narrator of Moore’s famous poem is the dad of his sleeping family, and we discover Santa along with him, during one wild night of interrupted sleep.

My love of Victorian homes probably started here, as they are shown, beautiful and snow-covered in the sleepy gray light of the moon.

I still remember my mom pretending to pull out a cookie from the gorgeous display, saying things like, that dad’s feet must’ve been cold when they hit that floor, and the inflection of her voice as she said Doooown the chimney he came with a bound!

It is no wonder I am a writer. With an expressive mom like that, what else could I possibly be?

The teacher reading the story in the video does it beautifully. But her narration made me realize that everyone’s experience of a great story is unique—different inflections, different pauses. And, of course, surely different commentary. Yet another amazing thing about books!

Little Golden Book Edition of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, original copyright 1958

Rudolph is the classic underdog story. In this edition, passed down to me from my dear neighbors, Rudolph, ashamed to have Santa see his red nose, decides to hide where no one would find him—in a toy pirate chest with a heavy wooden lid and brass hinges. An illustration shows him, nose glowing, climbing deep into a giant green box.

Yes, there is a wealth of take-home lessons here—be yourself, take pride in your differences, etc. But again, it’s my mom’s wise take on Rudolph’s temporary act of cowardice that has stuck with me over the years…

“You see,” I can still hear her saying, “even heroes have moments where they need time to regroup.”

Renee Graef’s Illustrations of Picture Books based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books

Every girl my age in the 70’s read the wildly popular Laura Ingalls Wilder books.

Picture books published years later, when my kids were little (which are still in print today, including a hardcover anthology of all the picture books together), illustrated by Renee Graef, paid homage to the stories and the classic black-and-white Garth Williams illustrations.

Each little picture book re-tells part of the original stories. The illustrations are in color and gorgeous, and Laura’s same heartwarming tone is present in a simpler form. In the book Christmas in the Big Woods, the Ingalls family gets company from afar for and Laura gets a beloved rag doll she names Charlotte.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, Illustrated by P.J. Lynch

This book will soon celebrate its 25th anniversary. I bought it for my kids but it is one of my favorite picture books of all time, period.

This book has perfect storytelling married to amazing illustrations, and both create a marriage made in heaven. It is about a broken man who has lost his wife and lives as a woodcarver at the edge of town. He is visited by a young boy and his widowed mother because she has lost her manger set and would like another made. Eventually she asks if her son could watch him work because he’s interested in becoming a woodcarver too. Jonathan begrudgingly lets them in to his home—and his life. The story unfolds with perfect pacing and is so filled with emotion, I usually start crying on the first page and don’t stop until it’s over. This is a haunting, beautiful story about the healing power of love. If you haven’t read it, please do yourself a favor and experience this book!

Little Rabbit’s Christmas, a cloth storybook Illustrated by Brian Bartle, 2000

This is an ingenious little cloth book that zips up for a child to carry around, which my son did A LOT. It has a tiny quilted rabbit on the inside on an attached string that can be moved from page to page as Little Rabbit gets himself into various Christmas situations. The reason this one goes on my favorite list, besides being vey cleverly put together, is that there is a page where Little Rabbit is allowed to sleep in the living room so he can listen for Santa, prompting my then-young son to ask (over and over) to do the same.

Sadly, I was not as lenient as Little Rabbit’s mom, putting MY little rabbit to bed upstairs, far away from the Christmas tree.

Lastly, I wanted to share a photo with you, taken on the very same crazy couch I told you about. You can’t see the ever-present basket of library books, many of which I just told you about. And you can only see the reflected lights in the window behind the kids from our Christmas tree that year.

But what you do notice is the shock and awe on my three kids’ faces.

This particular year, through a friend, we were able to procure a puppy from a litter that just happened to be ready right before Christmas. (The only reason we were able to do that was because the breeder knew my brother well.) My husband drove an hour to pick this little dog up in a snowstorm. I stayed behind, and I clearly remember reading a boatload of Christmas stories, trying to keep everyone busy and hold in my own anticipation. Then at last my husband walked in.

I don’t know how I managed to capture this moment on film, but it is priceless to me.

Maggie went on to become a member of our family for the next fifteen years, often curling up with the gang to listen to many books being read aloud too.

I wish you all a happy holiday season filled with love, hope, and great stories!

Check out Miranda’s latest Christmas novel, All I Want for Christmas Is You, book #3 in the Angel Falls series.
Enter to win a copy of the entire series at the bottom of this post.

All I Want for Christmas Is You by Miranda Liasson
Series: Angel Falls #3
Published by Forever on October 29, 2019
Genres: Adult Fiction — Contemporary, Romance, Holiday – Christmas
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Being naughty was nice, but now these friends-turned-lovers are in for an unforgettable Christmas…

Just when Kaitlyn Barnes vows to get over her longtime crush on Rafe Langdon, they share a sizzling evening that delivers an epic holiday surprise: Kaitlyn is pregnant. And if that weren’t life-changing enough, everyone assumes they’re engaged — a charade they must keep alive through the holiday season. But Kaitlyn knows Rafe better than anyone, and Rafe settling down is about as likely as Santa skipping Angel Falls this year…

Rafe would rather Kaitlyn believe a lie — that their night together was a fling — than face his own dangerous truth: he’s falling for her, hard. After a devastating loss, Rafe swore he’d never risk his heart again. Yet the longer they pretend to be engaged the more Rafe starts to want the real thing. But now he has to convince Kaitlyn he wants to be by her side — and their baby’s — for all the Christmases to come.

About Miranda Liasson

Miranda Liasson loves to write stories about everyday people who find love despite themselves, because there’s nothing like a great love story. And if there are a few laughs along the way, even better!

She’s a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart winner and an Amazon bestselling author whose heartwarming and humorous small–town romances have won accolades such as the National Readers’ Choice Award and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and have been Harlequin Junkie and Night Owl Reviews Top Picks.

She lives in the Midwest with her husband and three kids in a charming old neighborhood which is the inspiration for many of the homes in her books.

Miranda loves to hear from readers! Find her at Facebook.com/MirandaLiassonAuthor, and on Instagram and Twitter @mirandaliasson. For information about new releases and other news, feel free to sign up for her newsletter at https://mirandaliasson.com/#mailing-list.

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Interview with Lauren Mansy | The Memory Thief Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted October 14, 2019 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 6 Comments

Interview with Lauren Mansy | The Memory Thief Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour for The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy! As the organizer for this tour, I got the opportunity to interview Lauren!


Interview with Lauren Mansy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

1. Your bio says you’ve spent years working with youth of all ages. How has this impacted your writing career?

LM: It has definitely had a huge impact on my writing! I’ve been very fortunate to have had the chance to work with youth since I was fourteen. I started out as a day camp helper then became a counselor when I was older. In college, I was involved in various activities with younger students, and after graduating, I began working with a local high school program. These were all wonderful experiences, and I’m constantly amazed by the youth of today. Their passion for what they believe in and willingness to take steps to make this world a better place is very moving to me. That grit and determination inspired many of the characters in TMT, and I couldn’t more grateful for the relationships I’ve made along the way.

2. Tell us what your debut year has been like! What have you learned so far?

LM: Incredible! Such a whirlwind of wonderful and surreal moments. I think one of the main things I’ve learned is how a writer’s journey can be so much like the stories we love to read. There are up’s and down’s, moments of difficulty and doubt, and faithful allies who help along the way. This year has been filled with a lot of reflection on my path to publication, and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for all the support and encouragement – there have been a lot of happy cry moments, and I’m totally not a crier! Writing fiction helped me express myself in ways I’d never done before, and it gave me a voice when I was still struggling to find mine. I’ll be forever grateful for that!

3. Where were you when you found out your book was being published?

LM: I remember this moment very clearly! I was actually driving in my car with my mom when the offer came through, and we both just started screaming. Then once I pulled over, the tears came! I spent the day celebrating with my family and I must’ve said, “I can’t believe this is happening!” a thousand times — those memories still bring the biggest smile to my face!

4. Which book(s) do you feel everyone should read?

LM: Ooo, great question! I’m going to throw us back to a classic and say The Chronicles of Narnia. Those books made me fall in love with storytelling, so they’ll always have a very special place in my heart.

5. What’s next for you?

LM: I’m currently working on a few projects that I’m very excited about! Now that TMT is on shelves (!!), I’m really looking forward to focusing on some new ideas that I’ve had rolling around in my head for a while. It’s so fun to be at the stage where I can really let my mind wander and see what happens!

ABOUT THE BOOK

1. Describe your book in five words or less.

LM: Betrayal, family, secrets, identity, and hope.

2. I understand that The Memory Thief was inspired by your mother. Can you tell us more about that?

LM: Absolutely! When I was a teenager, my mom was diagnosed with a heart condition, which led to an unexpected heart surgery. On the way to the operating room, her heart stopped six times, and the doctors warned my family that it was unlikely she’d survive. And if she did, she may not remember us due to the trauma she’d experienced throughout the ordeal.

I was sitting at her bedside when she first began to stir after her surgery, and I slipped my hand into hers and told her that it was me. Then she began to squeeze my hand three times, our signal for I love you! That collision of fear and joy was the moment which first sparked the idea for The Memory Thief.

Ever since, I’ve been fascinated by how memories make up so much of our identity and influence our relationships. It terrified me that my mom wouldn’t remember me, but I’m so thankful to say that she made a full-recovery. Though it was a long and difficult process, she never gave up hope that things would one day get better. Her unwavering courage inspired me to want to share this story.

COMMENT FROM JANA: Literal tears are flowing. This is so sweet and powerful!

3. Tell us about the kind of person Etta, our heroine, is.

LM: Etta is very much a flawed character, who has made a lot of mistakes in the past and struggles with how to deal with that. She’s haunted by guilt, but at the same time, she never stops fighting to save the people she loves. Etta is by no means perfect, but she’s definitely someone I’d want on my side :)

4. What’s your favorite thing about the world in The Memory Thief?

LM: My favorite thing would probably be how nothing is ever quite what it seems. This is a world where memories reign over everything, and the fact that they can be passed from person to person has created a society where one’s memories aren’t necessarily their own. Sometimes this can be good a thing (such as when someone who has lost their sight is given the chance to “see” a sunset through a memory), but other times, a person’s true identity can be all too easily lost as their own thoughts are buried by foreign memories. I really enjoyed brainstorming this element of the world, as well.

5. What message do you hope readers receive from reading The Memory Thief?

LM: There’s a line in the book that says, “It isn’t the hardships of the past which define us, but the strength we find in overcoming them.” I hope readers will be inspired by Etta’s journey to never lose hope, even in the midst of impossible odds.


The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy
Published by BLINK on October 1, 2019
Genres: Young Adult Fiction — Fantasy
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In the city of Craewick, memories reign. The power-obsessed ruler of the city, Madame, has cultivated a society in which memories are currency, citizens are divided by ability, and Gifted individuals can take memories from others through touch as they please.

Seventeen-year-old Etta Lark is desperate to live outside of the corrupt culture, but grapples with the guilt of an accident that has left her mother bedridden in the city’s asylum. When Madame threatens to put her mother up for auction, a Craewick practice in which a “criminal’s” memories are sold to the highest bidder before being killed, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her. Even if it means rejoining the Shadows, the rebel group she swore off in the wake of the accident years earlier.

To prove her allegiance to the Shadows and rescue her mother, Etta must steal a memorized map of the Maze, a formidable prison created by the bloodthirsty ruler of a neighboring Realm. So she sets out on a journey in which she faces startling attacks, unexpected romance, and, above all, her own past in order to set things right in her world.


About Lauren Mansy

Lauren lives in the Chicago area, where she’s spent years working with youth, from young children to high schoolers. When she’s not writing, Lauren is usually with her family or exploring the city to find the best deep dish pizza. The Memory Thief, which was inspired by Lauren’s own journey with her mother, is her first novel.

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Interview with Annie Sullivan | Tiger Queen Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted September 4, 2019 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 5 Comments

Interview with Annie Sullivan | Tiger Queen Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour for Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan! As the organizer for this tour, I got the opportunity to interview Annie!


Interview with Annie Sullivan

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

1. Your bio says that you teach at the Indiana Writers Center. How does this job impact your writing career?

I taught a couple classes there and love teaching there. I love giving back to writers—especially local writers—who are trying to break into publishing. I know how hard it is to break into this business, so any tips I can give them can go a long way to helping them achieve that goal.

I have a real day job at Wiley Publishing. I work in their marketing department. I love my team their. However, it can be hard to fit in writing time around my real work. But, I’ve mastered writing late into the night and then getting up for work the next day. Who knew all it took to become published was never sleeping again [I’m joking of course ;) ].

2. What have you learned since your debut novel, A Touch of Gold?

I’ve learned to trust my own writing more. I know when something isn’t working. I don’t have to wait for someone else to tell me that. I’ve also learned how amazing it is to have other friends in this business who you can go to when you need a listening ear or word of advice. It’s such a great community.

3. What are some books you think everyone (teen or not) should read?

Ahh!!! How do I choose? I’m just going to give you a long list of books that I love and that have impact:

1.) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
2.) Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
3.) Caraval by Stephanie Garber
4.) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
5.) Cinder by Marissa Meyer
6.) The Giver by Lois Lowry
7.) Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

4. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing/working?

I’m a runner, so I enjoy running and working out. That also helps me work through story ideas. I also love traveling! I’m always off on a new adventure, which is probably why I’ve visited every continent! Outside of that, you can find me reading and watching TV!

5. What’s next for you?

The sequel to A Touch of Gold—called A CURSE OF GOLD—comes out in October 2020. It’s going to be filled with even more adventure, Greek mythology, and heart-pounding action!!! I cannot wait for readers to see what’s next for Princess Kora…and they might just meet some new characters along the way—one of which has been one of my favorite ones to write EVER!

ABOUT THE BOOK

1. What about “The Lady, Or the Tiger?” by Frank R. Stockton inspired you to retell it? What does the original mean to you?

I read Stockton’s tale in grade school, and it has a cliffhanger ending. That one time reading it really set my mind ablaze. How did the story end? What choice did the princess make? I just knew that I had to give the story the ending that it always should have had…at least the ending it should have had in my opinion anyway!

2. How does an author successfully retell a story and add something new, while remaining true to its inspiration?

I think you’ve hit it right on the head in your question. You keep the vast majority of the story like the bones of a body. Then, you have to build the flesh and blood around it so that it comes to life in a new way. You always have to give it something new so that readers have a reason to read the story because you don’t want it to be too similar to the original. I think in my version, I’m hoping having the Princess have to fight in the arena against suitors to win her throne is enough of a twist to the original to get readers interested!

3. Tell us about Princess Kateri. What kind of heroine is she?

Princess Kateri was practically born with a sword in her hand, and she is ready to enter the arena to win her right to rule—which she has to do because of an old law. She’s talented yet stubborn. She doesn’t think she needs anyone’s help…until her last opponent in the arena is announced as the one man she’s never been able to beat in a fight. Then, she has to scramble to figure out how she’s going to win her throne! She’s a character that I love and that I can’t wait for the world to meet!

4. What do you hope readers take away from Tiger Queen?

Empowerment. I want readers to see Princess Kateri facing her biggest fears with sword in hand, and I hope they take away that they too have the strength to face whatever it is life throws at them. I want them to enter the fantasy worlds I create and come out of them believing a little more in themselves and their place in the world. I want them to find the tiger within.


Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan
Published by BLINK on September 10, 2019
Genres: Young Adult Fiction  —  Fantasy, Retelling, Romance
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From Annie Sullivan, author of A Touch of Gold, comes Tiger Queen, a sweeping YA fantasy adventure that tells the story of a fierce desert princess battling to save her kingdom. Fans of Rebel of the Sands and Meagan Spooner will devour this retelling of Frank Stockton’s famous short story, “The Lady, or the Tiger?”

In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.

But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger.


About Annie Sullivan

Annie Sullivan is a Young Adult author from Indianapolis, Indiana. Her work has been featured in Curly Red Stories and Punchnels. She loves fairytales, everything Jane Austen, and traveling and exploring new cultures. When she’s not off on her own adventures, she’s teaching classes at the Indiana Writers Center and working as the Copy Specialist at John Wiley and Sons, Inc. publishing company, having also worked there in Editorial and Publicity roles. You can follow her adventures on Twitter and Instagram (@annsulliva).

Website | Twitter

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Tomb of the Ancients (House of Furies #3) by Madeleine Roux Spotlight and Giveaway

Posted July 26, 2019 by Jana in Book Spotlight, Giveaway / 2 Comments

Tomb of the Ancients, the third and final book in the House of Furies trilogy, came out this past May and Wunderkind PR is graciously offering up a finished copy to one of my readers! Read more about the book below, and enter to win!


Tomb of the Ancients by Madeleine Roux
Series: House of Furies #3
Published by HarperTeen on May 14, 2019
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The war between old gods and monsters comes to a thrilling climax in this final book in the “darkly delightful”* House of Furies series, from the New York Times bestselling author of Asylum. (*Publishers Weekly)

Free from the nightmares of Coldthistle House, Louisa and her friends have taken up a posh new London residence. But there’s no rest for the wicked. Religious zealots from the shepherd’s flock are gathering in the city, and ominous warnings are being left on Louisa’s doorstep. With the evil influence of her father’s spirit growing stronger—trying to take over—Louisa knows she will be forced to pick a side in the coming war between the old gods, whether she’d like to or not.

To save herself, Louisa is desperate enough to do whatever it takes—even if it means returning to Coldthistle House and striking another deal with Mr. Morningside. To uphold her end of the bargain, Louisa will have to rejoin his supernatural staff to venture to a gateway between worlds, a place of legend: the Tomb of Ancients. But, as always, there’s a catch…

Have you read any of the books in this series yet? What did you think?

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BLINK Summer Reading Tour Event Kick-Off (+ Giveaway)

Posted July 22, 2019 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Spotlight, Giveaway / 9 Comments

BLINK Summer Reading Tour Event Kick-Off (+ Giveaway)

It has been an absolute pleasure organizing and coordinating this absolutely HUGE blog tour, featuring five amazing books and the authors that wrote them. This two-week long tour will feature book reviews, author guest posts and interviews, and creative content dreamed up by our FFBC dream team of bloggers and bookstagrammers. I’m kicking things off today by highlighting the books and authors on tour! Enter the giveaway below for your chance to win one of five summer reading bundles that include all five books! Follow the tour (click the banner above) for more opportunities to win.


A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan
Published by BLINK on August 14, 2018
Genres: Young Adult Fiction — Mythology, Retelling
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King Midas once had the ability to turn all he touched into gold. But after his gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, Midas relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide.

Kora spends her days locked in the palace, concealed behind gloves and veils, trying to ignore the stares and gossip of courtiers. It isn’t until a charming young duke arrives that Kora realizes there may be someone out there who doesn’t fear her or her curse. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, leaving the treasury depleted and King Midas vulnerable. Thanks to her unique ability to sense gold, Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems—not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold—and the power it brings—is more dangerous than she’d ever believed.

Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost?

About Annie Sullivan

Annie Sullivan is a Young Adult author from Indianapolis, Indiana. Her work has been featured in Curly Red Stories and Punchnels. She loves fairytales, everything Jane Austen, and traveling and exploring new cultures. When she’s not off on her own adventures, she’s teaching classes at the Indiana Writers Center and working as the Copy Specialist at John Wiley and Sons, Inc. publishing company, having also worked there in Editorial and Publicity roles. You can follow her adventures on Twitter and Instagram (@annsulliva).

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Meet the Sky by McCall Hoyle
Published by BLINK on September 4, 2018
Genres: Young Adult Fiction — Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance
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It all started with the accident. The one that caused Sophie’s dad to walk out of her life. The one that left Sophie’s older sister, Meredith, barely able to walk at all.

With nothing but pain in her past, all Sophie wants is to plan for the future—keep the family business running, get accepted to veterinary school, and protect her mom and sister from another disaster. But when a hurricane forms off the coast of North Carolina’s Outer Banks and heads right toward their island, Sophie realizes nature is one thing she can’t control.

After she gets separated from her family during the evacuation, Sophie finds herself trapped on the island with the last person she’d have chosen—the reckless and wild Finn Sanders, who broke her heart freshman year. As they struggle to find safety, Sophie learns that Finn has suffered his own heartbreak; but instead of playing it safe, Finn’s become the kind of guy who goes surfing in the eye of the hurricane. He may be the perfect person to remind Sophie how to embrace life again, but only if their newfound friendship can survive the storm.

About McCall Hoyle

McCall Hoyle writes honest YA novels about friendship, first love, and girls finding the strength to overcome great challenges. She is a high school English teacher. Her own less-than-perfect teenage experiences and those of the girls she teaches inspire many of the struggles in her books. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s spending time with her family and their odd assortment of pets—a food-obsessed beagle, a grumpy rescue cat, and a three-and-a-half-legged kitten. She has an English degree from Columbia College and a master’s degree from Georgia State University. She lives in a cottage in the woods in North Georgia where she reads and writes every day.

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No Place Like Here by Christina June
Published by BLINK on May 21, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Retelling
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Ashlyn Zanotti has big plans for the summer. She’s just spent a year at boarding school and can’t wait to get home. But when Ashlyn’s father is arrested for tax evasion and her mother enters a rehab facility for “exhaustion,” a.k.a. depression, her life is turned upside down.

The cherry on top? Ashlyn’s father sends her to work with a cousin she doesn’t even know at a rustic team-building retreat center in the middle of nowhere. A self-proclaimed “indoor girl,” not even Ash’s habit of leaving breadcrumb quotes—inspirational sayings she scribbles everywhere—can help her cope.

With a dangerously careless camp manager doling out grunt work, an overbearing father trying to control her even from prison, and more than a little boy drama to struggle with, the summer is full of challenges. And Ashlyn must make the toughest decision of her life: keep quiet and follow her dad’s marching orders, or find the courage to finally stand up to her father to have any hope of finding her way back home.

About Christina June

Christina June writes young adult contemporary fiction when she’s not writing college recommendation letters during her day job as a school counselor. She loves the little moments in life that help someone discover who they’re meant to become – whether it’s her students or her characters. Christina is a voracious reader, loves to travel, and hopes to one day be bicoastal – the east coast of the US and the east coast of Scotland. She lives just outside Washington DC with her husband and daughter.

She is the author of IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE, EVERYWHERE YOU WANT TO BE, and NO PLACE LIKE HERE.

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Pretty In Punxsutawney by Laurie Boyle Crompton
Published by BLINK on January 22, 2019
Genres: Young Adult — Contemporary, Romance
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A Groundhog Day meets Pretty in Pink mashup from author Laurie Boyle Crompton, Pretty in Punxsutawney tells the tale of a girl willing to look beneath the surface to see people for who they really are.

Andie is the type of girl who always comes up with the perfect thing to say…after it’s too late to say it. She’s addicted to romance movies—okay, all movies—but has yet to experience her first kiss. After a move to Punxsutawney, PA, for her senior year, she gets caught in an endless loop of her first day at her new school, reliving those 24 hours again and again.

Convinced the curse will be broken when she meets her true love, Andie embarks on a mission: infiltrating the various cliques to find the one boy who can break the spell. What she discovers along the way is that people who seem completely different can often share the very same hopes, dreams, and hang-ups. And that even a day that has been lived over and over can be filled with unexpected connections and plenty of happy endings.

About Laurie Boyle Crompton

Laurie Boyle Crompton is the YA author of the upcoming PRETTY IN PUNXSUTAWNEY (Blink/HarperCollins 2019) as well as ADRENALINE CRUSH (Macmillan/2014, Square Fish/2016), BLAZE (or Love in the Time of Supervillains), THE REAL PROM QUEENS OF WESTFIELD HIGH and LOVE AND VANDALISM (Sourcebooks/2013, 2014, 2017). Growing up in ‘Pennsyltucky’ in the 1980s, Laurie couldn’t wait to escape rural life. After saving up her tips from waitressing at a local greasy spoon at 18 she packed up her acid wash jeans and moved to NY. Where everyone else had stopped wearing acid wash.

She graduated first in her class from St. John’s University with a BA in English and Journalism. Since then she’s written for national magazines like ALLURE, survived a teaching stint at an all-boy high school, and appeared on Good Day New York several times as a Toy Expert. And yes, ‘toy expert’ is an actual profession. Really.

She has lived in places like Orlando, Florida where she and her husband spent all of their spare time and money visiting theme parks before moving to the Cotswolds in England for six months, which was every bit as cool as that sounds. The Cromptons are now back in New York where their two children resent never going to Disney.

Laurie occasionally enjoys hanging out in fields of blooming flowers and also referring to herself in the third person.

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Swing by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess
Published by BLINK on October 2, 2018
Genres: Young Adult Fiction — Poetry, Realistic Fiction, Sports
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Things usually do not go as planned for seventeen-year-old Noah. He and his best friend Walt (aka Swing) have been cut from the high school baseball team for the third year in a row, and it looks like Noah’s love interest since third grade, Sam, will never take it past the “best friend” zone. Noah would love to retire his bat and accept the status quo, but Walt has big plans for them both, which include making the best baseball comeback ever, getting the girl, and finally finding cool.

To go from lovelorn to ladies’ men, Walt introduces Noah to a relationship guru—his Dairy Queen-employed cousin, Floyd—and the always informative Woohoo Woman Podcast. Noah is reluctant, but decides fate may be intervening when he discovers more than just his mom’s birthday gift at the thrift shop. Inside the vintage Keepall is a gold mine of love letters from the 1960s. Walt is sure these letters and the podcasts are just what Noah needs to communicate his true feelings to Sam. To Noah, the letters are more: an initiation to the curious rhythms of love and jazz, as well as a way for him and Walt to embrace their own kind of cool. While Walt is hitting balls out of the park and catching the eye of the baseball coach, Noah composes anonymous love letters to Sam in an attempt to write his way into her heart. But as things are looking up for Noah and Walt, a chain of events alters everything Noah knows to be true about love, friendship, sacrifice, and fate.

In Swing, bestselling authors Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess (Solo) present a free-verse poetic story that will speak to anyone who’s struggled to find their voice and take a swing at life.

About Kwame Alexander

Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and New York Times Bestselling author of 21 books, including THE CROSSOVER, which received the 2015 John Newbery Medal for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American literature for Children, the Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor, The NCTE Charlotte Huck Honor, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, and the Passaic Poetry Prize. Kwame writes for children of all ages. His other works include SURF’S UP, a picture book; BOOKED, a middle grade novel; and He Said She Said, a YA novel.

Kwame believes that poetry can change the world, and he uses it to inspire and empower young people through his PAGE TO STAGE Writing and Publishing Program released by Scholastic. A regular speaker at colleges and conferences in the U.S., he also travels the world planting seeds of literary love (Singapore, Brazil, Italy, France, Shanghai, etc.). Recently, Alexander led a delegation of 20 writers and activists to Ghana, where they delivered books, built a library, and provided literacy professional development to 300 teachers, as a part of LEAP for Ghana, an International literacy program he co-founded.

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About Mary Rand Hess

Mary Rand Hess is a poet, screenwriter, mixed-media artist, and New York Times bestselling author of notable and award-winning books such as Solo and Swing(Blink YA), coauthored with Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander, Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures (National Geographic Children’s Books), also coauthored with Kwame Alexander and Deanna Nikaido, Little Larry Goes to School (National Geographic Children’s Books), written with renowned photographer and filmmaker, Gerry Ellis, and the forthcoming picture book, The One and Only Wolfgang: From Pet Rescue to One Big Happy Family, coauthored with Steve Greig of @wolfgang2242 Instagram fame. She is currently at work on a few novels in verse, picture books, and screenplays.

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