Friday, August 30, 2013

Anyone But You by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes: Promo and Giveaway

Authors Kim Askew and Amy Helmes are excited to offer a sneak peak at the third book in their “Twisted Lit” series of Shakespeare-inspired YA novels. This time around, they’ve put their unique spin on Romeo & Juliet. Published by Merit Press, Anyone But You will be released in January, and is currently available for pre-order at, Barnes & Noble and Powell’s.

Anyone But You: A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet
by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes
(Book #3 in the Twisted Lit series)

Two Italian restaurants, both alike in dignity, in Chicago’s Little Italy where we lay our scene... After her family’s struggling eatery, Cap’s, falls prey to another of the Monte clan’s vicious and destructive pranks, sixteen-year-old Gigi Caputo finds herself courting danger during a clandestine encounter with Roman Monte, the very boy whose relatives have brought her family such grief. When the daughter and son of these two warring factions fall for each other, their quest to mend this bitter family feud turns out to be a recipe for disaster. Their story is irrevocably linked to the summer of 1933, when two twelve-year-olds, Benny and Nick, hop the turnstile at the Chicago World’s Fair. While enjoying some of the fair’s legendary amusements, Nick has a “love at first sight” encounter with Stella, a young girl who unintentionally causes a lasting rift between the two boyhood pals. Deftly winding its way through past and present day, this modern take on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet has much to do with hate — but more with love.

About the Authors
Authors Kim Askew and Amy Helmes have been writing together since 2004, when they launched Romancing the Tome, a blog dedicated to their obsession with book-to-film adaptations. For more information on the books in their Shakespeare-inspired series, visit

Win a Twisted Lit novel!

Amy and Kim have generously offered a copy of Exposure: A Modern retelling of Shakespeare's Macbeth to one of my blog readers. 

To enter:
  Fill out the Rafflecopter below
You must be 16 or older to enter
U.S. Addresses only

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

SARA "Squared" Blog Tour: Guest Post and Giveaway

I'm pleased to host Sara Kocek and Sara Polsky for the Sara "Squared" Blog Tour. I've asked them to share the books that made them fall in love with reading. Please welcome as they share their bookish memories and then check out the giveaway for signed copies of their books below.

Welcome to day #3 of our debut YA blog tour, in which Sara and I discover that we have way more in common than just our names! Today’s subject: the books that turned us into readers. In talking about our favorite, most formative reading experiences, we realized a common thread—the books that we read out loud with our parents (or that they read out loud to us) played a huge role in instilling a love of reading that was instrumental in our becoming writers.

SK: My parents and I read so many books together growing up that it’s hard to pick out my favorites. But there are three children’s books in particular that I credit with planting in me the seed of a desire to become a writer.

1. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh – My mom read me Harriet the Spy even though I was old enough to read it myself. And that’s a good thing—if I had read it to myself, I probably would have gobbled it up too quickly to appreciate all the gems in the writing. Reading Harriet’s sharp, quirky, and often-hilarious observations convinced me that I could be a writer too. I started keeping a notebook just like her, only instead of jotting down notes about real people, I made up stories and characters out of thin air. To this day, I still play Harriet’s game in coffee shops: I try to guess what the people behind me look like, just based on overhearing their conversation. I even used that exercise as a homework assignment in a college-level creative writing class I taught. Thanks for the idea, Harriet!

2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – Like Harriet M. Welsh, Jo March played a major role in my imagination growing up. I remember my feeling of abject horror and indignation when Amy threw Jo’s manuscript pages into the fire, burning all her hard work. While I had never written anything longer than a 5-page short story—5 handwritten pages, mind you—the writer in me instantly empathized with Jo. If you’re an aspiring writer who hasn’t yet read Little Women—all I can say is run, don’t walk.

3. House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne – My copy of House at Pooh Corner is frayed at the edges, inscribed by my grandfather to my mother at age 6. He read it to her when she was little; she read it to me. My favorite memory involves sitting on her lap, choking with laughter as she read in Piglet’s squeaky voice, “Help, help, a horrible Heffalump! A herrible Hoffalump!” Not only was it the first time I realized that books could make people laugh; it was also the first time I realized authors were allowed to make things up out of thin air. Like Heffalumps. I wanted that kind of power for myself!

SP: My parents and I read together, too -- I would usually have one book in progress with each of my parents at any given time. Before I went to bed, we would read a little more of the current book. There are a few I particularly remember:

1. Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene. I have always loved strong, independent female characters, and I’m sure Nancy Drew set me on that path. Some of the Nanc Drew volumes we read were my mom’s copies from childhood, and that taught me something else important about books: that they are a way of building connections.

2. The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My dad and I read these together. The thing I loved most about these books was the description, which pulled me right into Laura’s life, the red mittens and wool dresses and wagon and fiddle. The little house, sitting forlornly in the big woods while the family rode away. I can only hope to make my own writing so vivid!

3. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. I don’t remember which parent first read Charlotte’s Web with me, but I remember everything else about reading this book. I was always the smallest kid in the class, so I identified with Wilbur, the runt of the litter, and with Fern’s sense that killing Wilbur would be a tremendous injustice. (And for aspiring writers, I highly recommend The Annotated Charlotte’s Web, which is full of notes about White’s revision process.)

Thanks for following along on our blog tour, and thanks for reading!

For the complete tour schedule, GO HERE.

Tomorrow's Stop
Joint Q&A and Signed Books Giveaway

This Is How I Find Her
by Sara Polsky
Available: Fall 2013
Pages: 262
Physical copies available from Albert Whitman & Company
E-books available from Open Road Media

This Is How I Find Her 
by Sara Kocek
Available: Fall 2013
Pages: 320
Physical copies available from Albert Whitman & Company 
E-books available from Open Road Media


          About the Authors

Sara Kocek is the author of Promise Me Something (Albert Whitman Teen, 2013). She received her BA in English from Yale University and her MFA in Creative Writing from New York University, where she taught fiction and poetry to undergraduates. A freelance editor and college essay coach, Sara has served as the Program Director at the Writers’ League of Texas, a literary nonprofit. She is also the founder of Yellow Bird Editors, a team of freelance editors and writing coaches based in Austin, Texas.

 Sara Polsky’s debut YA novel, This is How I Find Her, will be published by Albert Whitman in fall 2013. Her fiction has appeared in Fictitious Force and Behind the Wainscot. She is represented by Suzie Townsend. Sara is a writer and editor at Curbed NY, and her articles and essays have appeared in The Christian Science MonitorThe ForwardPoets & Writers, and other publications. She lives in New York City.

Now is your chance to win!!

Signed copies of Promise Me Something and This is How I Find Her

Giveaway Details 
Enter by Rafflecopter below
U.S. and Canada addresses only
must be 16 or older to enter 
prize provided by publisher
one winner will be selected and announced via Rafflecopter

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My Unexpected Forever by Heidi McLaughlin: Review

Good Choice Reading Blog Tours

My Unexpected Forever
by Heidi McLaughlin
Publication Date: September 2, 2013
Pages: 270
Series: Beaumont #2
Source: ARC provided by the author and Good Choice Reading Blog Tours
Purchase: Amazon

I expected a life of music.
I expected to raise my son.
It took one look to make everything change.
I never expected happiness.

I never expected to find her.
I never expected to feel desire.
I never expected I’d be a family man.
I never expected to be loved.
I never expected to fall in love.

They say you should expect the unexpected, I didn’t realize my unexpected would be the forever kind.

My Thoughts 

My Unexpected Forever is one of those books that you must have uninterrupted reading time from start until finish. You won't realize the world going on around you until someone tries to get your attention and talk to you. Then you will look at them with daggers in your eyes (ok, not really, but yes, really) because, how dare they break your trance of reading. And all you can say is PIVOTAL MOMENT, and they know not to interrupt you again. This may not be the typical experience, but it was mine while reading My Unexpected Forever

To say that I loved My Unexpected Forever would be an understatement. I'm not sure that I have adequate enough words to explain how much this story made me feel a part of the characters' lives and experiences and emotions. Like Forever My Girl, I swept up in the story from the very beginning to the very end. 

Heidi McLaughlin used the same writing techniques - alternate points of view and flashbacks - that I enjoyed so much in Forever My Girl. She also brought back Josie, Liam, and Noah, and Nick and Aubrey even made an appearance showing just how intertwined everyone's lives are in Beaumont. I liked reading scenes with Katelyn and Josie because it showed their close friendship and Josie was there to lay it down for Katelyn when she wasn't thinking clearly.

It is very easy to get caught up in the sexiness that is Harrison -tall, tattooed drummer. Yes, please. And you can't miss the chemistry between him and Katelyn, but it is the sentimental parts of the story that made me what to continue reading about them. The scenes with Harrison and the children really tugged at my heart and showed the sensitive side of him. The children play a huge role in the story and while they were really good kids (sometimes too good), I wanted to read scenes of them misbehaving or actin' up (as I like to say). 

Favorite Moments of My Unexpected Forever:

This is when I fell in love with Harrison:
I look down when I feel something brush against my thigh. It's her hand. I look at her and deduce that she's dreaming. She has to be. She'd never willingly touched me like this. I pick up her hand and lay it gently across her waist. My hand lingers longer then necessary, but I can't help it. Her fingers link with mine. I know I stop breathing while I wait for her to wake up and freak out. There's no way I'm pulling my hand away, even though I know it's wrong. She has to be dreaming about her husband, not me.
I slide my hand out from under hers, thankful that she doesn't wake. I need to get away from her and fast. As much as I'd love to take advantage of this sleeping beauty, it's not enough that I want to ruin any chance I have with her, if ever. (Ch. 9)
I don't even have to read what happens after. This right here is just enough. The image I can't get out of my head:
We stand in front of his bedroom mirror. I'm trying to put in my earring and he's trying to take off my dress. If we don't hurry, we'll be late. (Ch.28)

One thing that I did have a small issue with was the band's name: 4225 West. The problem isn't that I didn't like the name, but I wasn't sure how I was supposed to read it. Each time I read it a different way: Forty-two twenty five West or Four Two Two Five West or Four Two Twenty Five West. It was like reading a character's name I wasn't sure how to pronounce. Finally, I just had to go to the source and ask the author. The correct reading is Four Two Two Five West.

It hasn't been confirmed (at least I don't think it has), but there are parts in My Unexpected Forever that lead me to believe there will be more Beaumont books. Please, oh, please. There aren't any cliffhangers, many thanks to the author for not doing that to her readers, but there is another band member of 4225 West that needs some attention too. I will read it as soon as I can get my hands on it. Until then, I'll have to be satisfied with rereading this one (and I already have). 

Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the author and am providing this review as part of Good Choice Reading Book Tours.  I was not compensated in any way other than the ARC provided. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Tour Kick Off - My Unexpected Forever by Heidi McLaughlin

The tour for My Unexpected Forever by Heidi McLaughlin begins today!! My stop is tomorrow, but I wanted to go ahead you share the teasers again and a special contest that Heidi is hosting for everyone who pre-orders their copy of My Unexpected Forever.

My Unexpected Forever is now available for pre-order. Only $3.99. 

Cover have you interested? Want a little bit more? These teasers are just want you need until you can get a copy of your own. #4 is my favorite!!

If you haven't read Forever My Girl (Beaumont #1) yet, you can get it for only $1.99 from Amazon right now (at time of posting). 
Link to Amazon

Contest Details:
(hosted by the author)

 1) Pre-order My Unexpected Forever (even if you did this already, still enter)
2) Email your receipt to

3) 5 entries will be chosen for a signed set of The Beaumont Series (Forever My Girl, My Everything, My Unexpected Forever)

4) First 100 receive a copy of Harrison's song

(This contest will repeat for B&N/Kobo users)
Once you've entered, make sure to stop by these blogs and find out what everyone is saying about the second book of the Beaumont series.
Complete My Unexpected Forever Tour Schedule
August 26th
The Readiacs (
Step Into Fiction (
Happily Ever {Book} Hangover (

August 27th
Actin' Up with Books (
SMIBookClub (
My Daily Romance (

August 28th
Book Addict Mumma (

August 29th
A Novel Affair [book blog] (
Natasha is a Book Junkie (
Liezel’s Book Blog (

August 30th
Once Upon A Twilight (

September 2nd
White Zin Bookends (

September 3rd
Kindle Crack (
Love Between The Sheets (

September 4th

September 5th
Wolfel's World of Books (

September 6th
A Life Bound By Books (
A Book Lovers Review (


Thursday, August 22, 2013

That One Summer by C.J. Duggan: Cover Reveal

  That One Summer by C.J. Duggan
Series: Summer, #3
Publication date:  TBA 2014
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance 

Loving Chris Henderson would be wrong. Diabolically disastrous. I mean, what is there about him to love? He’s moody, bossy, brooding, a control freak, and that’s on a good day … but there was one achingly obvious fact that haunted my every thought, every minute of every day …
He sure could kiss.
As the countdown to the new millennium begins, there is one thing everyone agrees on: no one wants to be in Onslow for New Year’s Eve.
So that can only mean one thing: road trip!
No longer the mousey, invisible, shy girl from years ago, Tammy Maskala is finally making up for all those lost summers. A new year with new friends, which astoundingly includes the bossy boy behind the bar, Chris Henderson.
She likes her new friends (at least most of them), so why does she secretly feel so out of place?
After chickening out on the trip, a last-minute change of heart sees Tammy racing to the Onslow Hotel, fearing she’s missed her chance for a ride. The last thing she expected to meet was a less-than-happy Onslow Boy leaning against his black panel van.
Now the countdown begins to reach the others at Point Shank before the party is over and the new year has begun. Alone in a car with only the infuriating Chris Henderson, Tammy can’t help but feel this is a disastrous start to what could have been a great adventure. But when the awkward road trip takes an unexpected turn, Tammy soon discovers that the way her traitorous heart feels about Chris is the biggest disaster of all.
Fogged up windows, moonlight swimming, bad karaoke and unearthed secrets; after this one summer nothing will ever be the same again.

C.J. Duggan
C.J Duggan is an Australian author who lives with her husband in a rural border town of New South Wales, Australia.
The Boys of Summer is Book One in her Mature Young Adult Romance Series.
For more on C.J and ‘The Summer Series’, visit
Author Links:

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High 
by Laurie Boyle Crompton
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: February 1, 2014
Pages: 309

(from Goodreads)

Shannon’s ‘clique’ is just her and her best friend and she has a super-embarrassing nickname that won’t go away. It is no huge shock when her classmates vote her least likely to be crowned Prom Queen. What is shocking is the new hidden camera reality show she finds herself starring in, titled The Prom Queen Wannabes! Shannon and two other Wannabes must battle to be elected Prom Queen and snag the One! Million! Dollar! prize. After a summer of makeovers and training at Prom Queen Camp, the hidden cameras watch the three of them enter their senior year equipped with secret skills to help wage war on the popular set. Things at Westfield High are about to get ugly, and Shannon must decide how much she's willing to give up for a shot at winning that tiara.

Why I'm Waiting 

 The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High sounds like it's going to be a hot, fun mess. I want to find out how or why she is selected to be a Prom Queen Wannabe.

And I'm a fan of Laurie Boyle Crompton's Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains), read my review, and I want to see what she's come up with for her readers. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop

The Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop is hosted by Bookhounds and I Am a Reader, Not a Writer. For this giveaway, I'm giving away duplicate copies of books from my shelves. Books for this giveaway are "Used, but In a Good Way".

My Giveaway

So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti (Goodreads)
I Don't Want to Be Crazy by Samantha Schutz (Goodreads)

Giveaway Details

Enter by Rafflecopter below

U.S. addresses only

must be 16 or older to enter

one winner will be selected and announced via Rafflecopter
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I had to remove the linky to all of the participating blogs because it was causing problems on my blog. For a  list of all participants, please stop by the hosting blogs.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bout of Books 8.0: Goals

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 19th and runs through Sunday, August 25th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 8.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team
 I'm setting just a few goals for this week's Bout of Books read-a-thon. I expect to have a really busy week at work and we have friends in town, so I don't think I will get a lot of reading in, but I still want to participate and reconnect with other readers. 
So, here are my goals:
  • Finish Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (audiobook)
  • Finish Collateral by Ellen Hopkins
  • Read one review book
  • Read at least one book from my YALLFest TBR pile

I'll post my updates here and on Twitter: @ActinUpwb

Monday, Day 1: Listened to 3 chapters of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Tuesday, Day 2: Listened to 1 chapter of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Wednesday, Day 3: read between 30-40 pages of Collateral by Ellen Hopkins

Thursday, Day 4: Finish Collateral by Ellen Hopkins. I've read all of her (published) books and I think this one may be my favorite.

Friday, Day 5: Listened to a few chapters of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Saturday, Day 6: read Keeping Her (A LOSING IT novella) by Cora Carmack

Sunday, Day 7: Finished Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets audiobook


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