Wednesday, November 30, 2016

SOMETHING MORE Review Tour: NORMAL by Danielle Pearl

I am thrilled to share my review of NORMAL, Book 1 of the Something More box set by Danielle Pearl! This box set is FREE on Kindle Unlimited and contains three amazing new adult books that you need to read NOW!


I first met Rory and Sam as secondary characters in Danielle Pearl's new adult spin-off novel, IN RUINS. After reading IN RUINS, I had to read the originating story and find out how it all started. 

I'm glad to have had some background about Rory and Sam and that I read the blurb disclaimer "This is not a flowery romance - not for the faint of heart" because this book will legit wreck you if you're not prepared. It is brutal and parts were difficult to read, but they are so necessary to the story and understanding Rory and the challenges she faces as she starts her new life.

Oh, how I fell in love with Sam and Rory and how they grew together as a couple. He wasn't always perfect, but he came pretty close. And Rory, I wanted her to find the healing that she needed. She went through traumatic experiences that no one should ever have to experience and my heart hurt for her over and over again.

I liked how the story focused on the various ideas of what is NORMAL. And ultimately the realization that there isn't such a thing as NORMAL. There is just BEING. LIVING.

Favorite Quotes:

" . . Relax," he insists, and with his words, I do, I relax, clinging to the sound of Sam's voice calling me beautiful, and the burst of the emotion that feels an awful lot like hope."

" . . his mouth capturing mine in a kiss that promises love and passion, a future glimpse for the first time with earnest hope."

I love that in these moments Rory is able to recognize hope when in the past there didn't appear to be any. 

Even with all of the difficult moments, I really loved this book. I'm excited to know that there are more books in this series AND it's available in a complete set. 



Amazon US | Amazon UK



NORMAL (Book 1)

It's the kind of situation most people would dread. Starting at a new high school, in the middle of my senior year, in a new town, in a new state. I know no one. No one knows me. That's what I'm counting on. 

A year ago, Aurora "Rory" Pine was just a normal teenage girl - just as sweet and naive as the fairy tale princess she was named after. 

But this isn't a year ago. 

Rory is broken, and suffering from a new debilitating anxiety disorder, wrought with precarious triggers, she moves across the country to escape the source of her troubles. Her plan is anonymity, but that's easier said than achieved for the new girl having a panic episode outside of calculus. The worst part? There's a witness - and a gorgeous one at that. 

Sam is a walking trigger for Rory. Incredibly handsome, built like the star athlete he obviously is, and undoubtedly popular, Sam outwardly represents everything Rory despises about high school. But as the fates keep throwing them together, a connection sparks that neither ever expected, and certainly can’t ignore. 

But Sam has issues too, and Rory's past won't just stay in the damned past. When friendship evolves into something deeper, can a girl utterly destroyed by the worst kind of betrayal and a boy battling demons of his own ever have a normal relationship? Is that even what they want? Find out in NORMAL, a gritty story of trust and abuse, heartbreak and salvation, and if they're lucky - love. This is not a flowery romance - not for the faint of heart. 


 ReCAP (Book 1.5) 

Rory and Sam fell in love in NORMAL, and we all fell in love right along with them. Now see it all unfold through Sam's eyes, and learn just how the new girl with anxiety issues stole the heart of the gorgeous heartthrob, and turned his world upside down. 

You already heard the story. The one of how Rory and I fell in love, supposedly, even if she couldn't handle it in the end. You know how it all went. 

Or you think you do. 

You only know her side. But I have my own point of view, and even Rory couldn't know my thoughts in those few months it took for her to go from being a stranger to my whole entire world. 

Every moment is permanently ingrained in my memory. In my goddamned soul. From the moment I stumbled upon the girl panicking outside of calculus - the one with the tight little body, the angelic face, and the fierce attitude - to the night she abandoned me in Miami. It was the sum of those moments that changed me irrevocably. 

Our story isn't over. I won't let it be. But this, this is what happened so far, the way I saw it. 

I'm Cap. Or Sam, to Rory. And this is my story.


OKAY (Book 2)

After the horrors she’s survived over the past year, Rory never expected to find the one thing she certainly wasn’t looking for – love. But after the painful realization that her past has left her a dangerous liability to the person she cares for the most, she finally understands that for her and Sam, love means letting go.

Can two people hopelessly in love with one another ever revert back into just friends? Neither Rory nor Sam know for sure. But the one thing they do know – it’s the only choice they have. 

As Rory recovers from a devastating assault, Sam will do anything to make sure it never happens again. But how far will he go to keep her safe? Their choices will change everything, and they will either bring them back together, or destroy them irrevocably.


About the Author:

Danielle Pearl is the Amazon and iBooks best-selling author of the Something More series. She lives in New Jersey with her three delicious children and ever-supportive husband, who--luckily--doesn't mind sharing her with an array of fictional men. She did a brief stint at Boston University and worked in marketing before publishing her debut novel, Normal. She writes mature Young Adult and New Adult Contemporary Romance. Danielle enjoys coffee, wine, and cupcakes, and not in moderation.

Follow Danielle:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Instagram

Monday, November 28, 2016


by M.C. Lesh
Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Published by Publishing
Pages: 230
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Purchase Amazon


My friends are all strange.

Right now I’m living at Brookside, a place for people like me. I’ve met a kitty girl, a brooding beautiful boy, one who can’t be touched, and others. My new friends. Strange people. People like me.

I’ve always been different, but lately, more so. My hands sometimes don’t seem to be attached to the rest of me. I cut up all of my clothes. I’m hot, so hot, all of the time. If I sleep, a wizard haunts every dream. I don’t sleep. Sometimes I want to run, but where do you run to when you’re trying to escape your own mind? I don’t know if I’ll ever be the same. I’m smart. I’m nice, sometimes. I just want to be normal(ish). But, right now, my friends are all strange… Like me.

Dark, funny, snarky, seventeen-year-old Becca struggles to cope with mental illness in My Friends Are All Strange, the gripping contemporary young adult companion novel to Normalish.

My Thoughts

The title MY FRIENDS ARE ALL STRANGE grabbed my attention and I just knew this was a book I needed to read. 

MY FRIENDS ARE ALL STRANGE captures Becca's experience - one experience and her relationships with the people she meets. Nothing is simply explained - the doctor's aren't quick to diagnose. She can't be categorized and easily understood and this scares Becca more than anything.  Her wellness is a process - without a quick fix. 

One of the most touching things about this MY FRIENDS ARE ALL STRANGE is Becca's realization that the people she meets are worthy of friendship and of love. Their illnesses aren't easily explained and yes it affects their behavior, but that doesn't make them any less deserving of companionship. And she realizes it doesn't make her any less deserving either. 

I found MY FRIENDS ARE ALL STRANGE to be touching and moving with moments of joy and happiness. When I started reading it, I didn't realize that it was a companion novel to the book Normalish about Becca's younger sister Stacy. I enjoyed this book so much that I'll have to check out Normalish too. 

A great read!

Disclaimer:  I received this e-ARC from XPresso Book Tours for review.  I was not compensated in any way other than the e-ARC provided. Thoughts and opinions are my own.


California native Margaret Lesh lives in a narrow canyon populated by herds of wild burro and packs of coyote. The canyon is also populated with her creative, handsome husband, her feisty mother-in-law, her not-brave-at-all Border Collie, Echo, and sometimes her son (who is away at college. And she is not quite sure how that all happened so fast).

She writes books to entertain young and not-so-young readers as well as herself. She believes tacos are magic.

Author links:

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Guest Post with TRANSCENDENT Author Katelyn Detweiler

Today I am hosting author Katelyn Detweiler at Actin' Up with Books. Katelyn is the author of IMMACULATE and the recently published TRANSCENDENT. When I host authors, I love asking them to share books that made them fall in love with reading and writing.  I'm always fascinated by the variety of books that open up their world.

Welcome Katelyn!


Who couldn’t love Pippi?! She was weird and wonderful and fun and loving. She made it feel cool and okay to be totally quirky. Pippi walked to her own beat, always. Every book with her was a grand new adventure.

SWEET VALLEY TWINS by Francine Pasal
My very best friends growing up were twins, and I was obsessed with the idea of being a twin, too—I would wish for one every night before bed.  That wish never came true, sadly, but reading about Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield was the next best thing. I was totally an Elizabeth, though I secretly wanted to be more of a Jessica.

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Anne Shirley will forever hold a dear, dear place in my heart. Of all the many literary characters I’ve met, Anne is the one I would most want as a best friend. Life would never be boring with her at your side. Her whimsy, her bravery, her big heart –Anne is the girl you want in your corner, always.

MANDY by Julie Andrews
I read this book over and over (and over) again. For those who don’t know, Mandy was a lonely orphan who stumbled across a secret cottage in the woods that she claims as her own. This idea of a secret place, a secret garden, was so magical to me. I felt like I was right there in that garden. It was my happy place, too.

THE SECRET GARDEN by  Frances Hodgson Burnett
Based on these last three picks, I clearly have a soft spot for orphan stories. And gardens. It’s hard to say what I loved more, the book or the spectacular 1993 movie edition. I loved how Mary turned a nightmare new world into a beautiful dream life with friends and family. Ah, makes me weepy just thinking about it!

by Katelyn Detweiler
Published October 4, 2016
Viking Books for Young Readers


A beautiful work of magical realism, a story about a girl in the real world who is called upon to be a hero.
When terrorists bomb Disney World, seventeen-year-old Iris Spero is as horrified as anyone else. Then a stranger shows up on her stoop in Brooklyn, revealing a secret about the mysterious circumstances surrounding Iris’s birth, and throwing her entire identity into question. Everything she thought she knew about her parents, and about herself, is a lie. 
Suddenly, the press is confronting Iris with the wild notion that she might be “special.” More than just special: she could be the miracle the world now so desperately needs. Families all across the grieving nation are pinning their hopes on Iris like she is some kind of saint or savior. She’s no longer sure whom she can trust—except for Zane, a homeless boy who long ago abandoned any kind of hope. She knows she can’t possibly be the glorified person everyone wants her to be… but she also can’t go back to being safe and anonymous. When nobody knows her but they all want a piece of her, who is Iris Spero now? And how can she—one teenage girl—possibly heal a broken world?


“An inspirational story about finding the strength to believe in oneself.” —School Library Journal
"The chilling plausibility of the actions and reactions of an America dealing with the murders of thousands of children... A fascinating answer to the '…but then what?' that lingers at the end of Immaculate." —Kirkus

Transcendent is a beautiful and lovingly-written book about the power of hope. You’ll lose yourself in its pages. And when you emerge, you will see the miracles that surround you, and the ones you can create.”—Francisco X. Stork, author of The Memory of Light
"This uplifting book begins with a terrible tragedy and ends with a blessing. After Detweiler gracefully eases the reader into her astonishing “What if?” she explores the life-affirming power of hope and the soul-healing nature of forgiveness."—Todd Strasser, author of Give a Boy a Gun
"Iris's tale is one of faith, courage, and connection. But the miracle in Transcendent isn't just the miracle of Iris's birth. It's the everyday miracles we are all capable of performing—love, compassion, understanding. Ultimately it's a story about the miracle of humanity."—Jennifer Brown, author of Hate List

Friday, November 18, 2016

Review: BLOW - A Virtuous Paradox Novel by Heidi McLaughlin

Virtuous Paradox #1
by Heidi McLaughlin
Publication Date: November 8, 2016
Published by Loveswept
Pages: 209
Source: Publisher |Netgalley


Meet the complicated men behind the sexiest boy band in America! In Blow, the start of an emotionally charged series from bestselling author Heidi McLaughlin, an insatiable heartthrob gets blinded by the spotlight—and learns to fight for love.
Bodhi McKnight has always had everything handed to him on a silver platter: fame, success, money, girls. The raven-haired, blue-eyed hottie is the son of Hollywood A-listers, and when he’s asked to join the boy band Virtuous Paradox, his star shoots even higher. But so do expectations, leading Bodhi down a destructive path of addiction—until a drop-dead gorgeous guardian angel shows him her sizzling brand of tough love.
When Bodhi ends up in rehab, he doesn’t expect to meet someone as cool and down-to-earth as Kimberly Gordon. Although he’s enjoyed the company of beautiful, charming women before, none of them have tried to get to know the “real” Bodhi. But Kimberly isn’t fazed by his stardom. She’d rather go horseback riding, teach Bodhi to play guitar, or ask him about his feelings. Soon Bodhi realizes he’s fallen head over heels for her. He just hopes that he’s strong enough to protect what they have from all the pressures and temptations of the outside world.

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed BLOW the first book in this new series Virtuous Paradox. I've looked forward to this boy band story since it was first announced.

There is a lot of passion in this story. Something that I liked was that they didn't fight their attraction. We weren't tortured with the will they or won't they, should they or shouldn't they get together. Bodhi and Kim just went for it. It was pretty awesome.

I've read BLOW twice and while Bodhi is the one with the issues - the addiction to overcome, the fame to deal with, Kim is the character who I was most interested in. It seemed like she was dealing with something from her past. I wanted to know more about her and her journey working at the rehab center.

I loved it when the other members of Virtuous Paradox made their appearance in the story. It introduced a new energy and we got to know more of Bodhi's personality. It's obvious that the guys care about him, but I did wonder what the other members thought of his drug use and will his struggles be addressed in future books. I'll just have to wait and see.

I liked entering to world of Virtuous Paradox and I'm looking forward to reading more books in this series.

Disclaimer:  I received this e-ARC from the publisher via Netgalley. I was not compensated in any way other than the e-ARC provided. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


This week Liza Wiemer, author of 2015's HELLO?, is launching a new initiative, I HOPE YOU FORGIVE ME. IHYFM is a revolutionary website that asks teens and adults to anonymously share moments from their teen years they wish they could ask forgiveness for but have never had the courage to. Until now.

During your teen years…
Who hasn’t done something stupid? Thoughtless? Rude? Cruel? Mean?
Who hasn’t made mistakes? Done things they regret?
Who hasn’t been afraid to ask forgiveness, but instead chose silence?
Who hasn’t wished they had said, “I’m sorry,” but now it’s too late?

It’s not.

I HOPE YOU FORGIVE ME is the opportunity to share your burden. To admit what you’ve done. Anonymously. So that teens can learn from your experience.
Let’s make a difference. Together.

Readey to submit your story? Go to 

All stories shared are anonymous - no telling details save for details you provide are shared publicly. The goal is the bring people together and help today's teens realize they are not alone by reading the experiences of others.

Review: MORE THAN FRIENDS by Monica Murphy

by Monica Murphy
Publication Date: November 14, 2016
Published by EM Publishing
Pages: 320
Source: SocialButterflyPR
Purchase links: Amazon  | iBooks | Nook | Kobo


He's not perfect, but he's all I want...

I’m your average girl at your average high school, trying to figure out my place in life. After catching my now ex-boyfriend messing around with my now ex-best friend, I’ve made some big changes. No more band, no more backstabbing friends and no more boring old life. Now I have new friends, a new job and new interests.

But there’s a certain someone who’s interested in me, and I don’t get it. Jordan Tuttle could have anyone he wants. He’s the most popular boy in school. Rich, gorgeous, smart and the star quarterback, he’s perfect. Yet he acts like he wants no one else but…me.

So despite my fears and doubt, I let him get close. Probably too close. I discover that he’s not so perfect after all, but it doesn’t matter. I’m falling for him, even though he runs so hot and cold. I know someday he’s going to break my heart.

And I’m going to let him.

My Thoughts

I loved MORE THAN FRIENDS! Amanda was a favorite character in JUST FRIENDS and her relationship with Jordan “Tuttle” was a mystery that I wanted to know more about. When I found out MORE THAN FRIENDS was their story, I was super pumped.

MORE THAN FRIENDS isn’t as drama-filled as JUST FRIENDS was. It’s more about the uncertainty of giving your whole heart to someone and falling in love and fearing of having your heart broken and the fearing of breaking someone’s heart. Amanda and Jordan are so sweet together and I loved seeing them figure out what they want - experiencing firsts and deciding to experience firsts together.

I liked that there was more about Em and Livvy’s failed friendship and glimpses of Em’s regret. There is still a lot more of their story from JUST FRIENDS that needs to be resolved which I hope will be addressed in the next book.

A favorite scene: Amanda wearing Jordan’s jersey and snapping the photo for #CuddlewithTuttle (and the moments after!)

A favorite quote: "I'd give her every piece of me. All she has to do is say the word and I'm hers." 

MORE THAN FRIENDS was a great book to escape into. It’s a fun book to bring back those butterflies in your stomach feelings and think about first loves. It does end with a big, fat, in your face cliffhanger, but those don’t bother me. It just makes me look forward to the next book even more.

Disclaimer:  I received this e-ARC from SocialButterflyPR. I was not compensated in any way other than the e-ARC provided. Quotes were taken from the e-ARC and may differ from the final published version. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Cover Reveal: LUNA RISING by Selene Castrovilla

Luna Rising by Selene Castrovilla | Cover Reveal |

I'm thrilled to take part in the cover reveal for LUNA RISING by Selene Castrovilla, organized by JenHalliganPR! Check out the cover below, enter the giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comments!

Luna Rising by Selene Castrovilla 

Publisher: Last Syllable Books 

Expected Release: April 25, 2017

Luna Rising by Selene Castrovilla |

Life begins at thirty-eight for Long Island mom and writer Luna Lampanelli, when she kicks her secretly gay husband to the curb. She’s got her freedom, but what she wants is love. 

  Luna knows she doesn’t need a man to exist, but try telling that to her heart. Against the advice of Sunny, her snarky best friend, and Jiminy, the cautioning voice in Luna’s head that just won’t shut up, Luna sets course to find a mate. 

  Luna speed and on-line dates her way into several short-lived, surreal relationships. There’s Ari, the humorless Israeli who refuses to assimilate – to America, and to humanity. There’s Alex, the young and handsome ex-crackhead who informs Luna he doesn’t want to be monogamous while they’re in bed. There’s Memphis, the wild-eyed sadomasochist. There’s Red, angry and crippled, who becomes the catalyst for Luna to join Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. 

  But before Luna can proceed to recovery, she meets the elusive but oh so appealing Trip. He’s emotionally unavailable and has the Madonna-Whore Complex, but how can Luna (aka “whore”) let him go when she enjoys his dry wit so much, and his naked body even more? 

  Humorously haunting and packed with unspeakable truths, Luna Rising follows a woman’s funny and heart-breaking struggle to relate with un-relatable men and an un-relatable world, and to figure out something even more un-relatable: herself.

What do you think of the cover?

Selene Castrovilla

About Selene Castrovilla

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest

Selene Castrovilla is the award-winning author of multiple narrative nonfiction picture books and young adult novels. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School and a BA in English from New York University. She lives on Long Island with her two sons and too many cats. Visit her website:


Monday, November 14, 2016

Review: THE GIRL IN THE PICTURE by Alexandra Monir

by Alexandra Monir
Publication Date: November 15, 2016
Published by Delacorte Press/Random House
Pages: 272


Nicole Morgan has been labeled many things — the geeky music girl, the shy sidekick to Miss Popularity, and the girl with the scar. Now only one name haunts her through the halls of Oyster Bay Prep.

The Girl in the Picture.

After high school heartthrob Chace Porter is found dead in the woods near the school, the police are in search of the girl whose picture with Chace is the only clue found amongst his personal belongings. A girl who no one knew was even close to Chace–and whose dormmate, Lana Rivera, was Chace's girlfriend.

Nicole is that girl and now she's the primary suspect in his murder.

But what really happened that night? Were Nicole and Chace dating behind Lana’s back; were he and Lana over? Could either of them have killed him?

Told in alternating points of view, that of our suspect, Nicole Morgan, and her former best friend and roommate, Lana Rivera, readers will piece together the story of a starcrossed love, a fractured friendship–and what really happened the night Chace was killed.

My Thoughts

I decided to read THE GIRL IN THE PICTURE because I was in the mood to read a young adult mystery. I'd read some adult mystery/thrillers and a lot of YA contemporary/adult contemporary with very similar themes recently and I wanted something different. THE GIRL IN THE PICTURE gave me just what I was looking for - mystery and suspense and some additional drama between friends.

I liked the method of story telling with multiple narrators and alternating story lines from the past and the present because I got to know Nicole and Lana from their own thoughts and actions. And I was able to understand the dynamics of the friendship and their individual motivations. 

THE GIRL IN THE PICTURE is a thrilling read. I questioned everything. Were Nicole and Lana reliable narrators? And everyone was a suspect. There were times, in the beginning of the book, that I was trying to figure everything out. I had to tell myself to stop playing detective and let the story reveal itself.  

I was caught up in the story and only did I figure out the "great reveal" right before I read it. There were enough questionable actions to make everyone a likely suspect. My only complaint is that resolution was abrupt. The suspense could have been drawn out more for a greater shock value. 

Favorite Quote:

"The world can take nearly everything away from me -- my face, my friends, my love -- but as long as I have my music, I have something worth living and fighting for. I have a purpose." - Nicole (pg. 103)

I enjoyed THE GIRL IN THE PICTURE and would recommend it to readers who like YA mysteries and thrillers.

Disclaimer:  I received this ARC from the publisher. I was not compensated in any way other than the ARC provided. Quotes shared in this review were taken from the ARC and may differ from the final published version. Thoughts and opinions are my own.


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