Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mega Giveaway!! Win the complete Temptation Series by Karen Ann Hopkins

I am beyond excited to share this post with you today. Karen Ann Hopkins, author of the YA Temptation series and the Amish Murder Myster, Lamb to the Slaughter, has stopped by with a guest post and a mega-huge giveaway!

Today Karen shares her observations and thoughts on Amish Love and Marriage and how she incorporated it in her Temptation Series and Lamb to the Slaughter

I loved all of the books in the Temptation series and you, dear readers, will have a chance to win signed copies of THE ENTIRE SERIES. I'm so jealous, I wish I could win this giveaway! You can check out my reviews by selecting the book cover images. I have to warn you though, they are a bit spoiler-y.

Welcome Karen!!!

Amish Love & Marriage
Living in an Amish community in northern Kentucky for five years has given me the opportunity to observe many interesting things about their culture.  Sometimes I’m shocked at their strict beliefs and behavior, but usually I’m humbled and impressed with the Plain People.

The Amish are always willing to come to the aid of their neighbors, whether Amish or not, and they hold their personal relationships in the highest esteem.  These are admirable traits for anyone, but I’ve witnessed firsthand that the basis for their success in life is their strong religious faith and their solid and loving relationships with their spouses.

Granted, the Amish culture is a man’s society and you’d think that would cause all kinds of problems with the women, but it doesn’t seem to.  Most of the Amish women I know are quite satisfied of their role within the marriage.  They run the household and oftentimes are full and respected partners in the family business.  They care for the children and participate in church activities.  They get together regularly with other women within the community to quilt or clean house together.  Amish women seem busy and content within their lives.

I think the contentment begins with the giving nature I’ve witnessed from most of the men toward their wives.  Even though they may be the ‘boss,’ Amish men tend to continue to display acts of romance long after the wedding ceremony.  Flowers, extravagant gifts and vacations are commonplace from the men of the community to their wives.  They recognize and respect the hard work that their wives do and are ever thankful for their partner in life.

When troubles do arise within an Amish marriage, the community will jump in and help through counseling to repair the damage.  Very rarely do the Amish divorce, which shows their ultimate dedication in the vows they spoke to each other.

Because the Amish live a life without the entertainment of television, radio, movies and internet, they seem to place more emphasis on romance and that’s one of the reasons they may have up to twelve children or more within a family.  Their religion prevents them from using birth control, which obviously contributes to the large number of pregnancies, but since there are few other things to do in the evenings, the Amish are focused on the pleasures between a man and a wife.  So much intimacy keeps Amish couples close.  Having so many children would be a nightmare to most outsiders, but the Amish women appear to enjoy having large families and have grown accustomed to it. 

The Amish don’t hold hands and would never be caught showing public displays of affection, but the simplicity of their lives lends to a quiet and hidden romance that lasts forever.

But how does romance even begin within such a strict society?  By courting of course!  Yes, there still is a place in the world where the process of a boy and a girl getting to know each other is called ‘courting.’  In Amish communities throughout the Midwest and stretching into other regions of the United States, dating is called courting and breaking up is referred to as ‘quitting’ each other.

Because of my years of contact with Amish teens coming to my farm to participate in horse-back riding activities, babysitting my children or hanging out with my own teenagers, I’ve come to understand their secretive world of courtship very well.  

First of all, Amish teens do get to pick their partners, contrary to popular belief.  But they must choose another Amish member or they’ll get into heaps of trouble as seen in TEMPTATION where Noah, an Amish teen, falls for Rose, an outsider.   The boys and girls of a community spend their entire lives together; meeting as toddlers, going through school together until the eighth grade and participating in church and weekly youth activities, such as singings and volleyball or softball games.  

By age fifteen or sixteen, many of the Amish have already decided on their future spouse.  Courting is serious business for the Amish.  ‘Dating around’ is not acceptable behavior within the Amish society.  A person chooses carefully who they will commit to courting, because they know that they will be expected to stay in the relationship due to problems that can arise within the community when couples ‘quit’ each other.  Also, as I said earlier, divorce is almost unheard in the Amish world, so teens tread lightly with the opposite sex until they decide on the right person.

The Amish youth are encouraged by their parents and Church members to begin romantic relationships to insure that they will remain Amish.  Since the teens aren’t allowed to court until they’ve officially gone through the ceremony to join their church, many young ones who might have reservations about living their lives the Amish way, will commit to it in order to be with the person they’re fond of.  With courting, comes the prospect of marriage and a jump into adulthood, which satisfies the hope of more freedom.

Each community has its own set of courting rules.  The community I live in for instance, has a-hands-off courting policy.  This basically means that a couple will get in HUGE trouble if they get caught holding hands, kissing or going any further physically within the relationship.  Punishment includes reciting their sins before their entire community on Sunday and possibly being ‘shunned’ for a length of time, usually lasting one to six weeks, depending on the conduct.  Shunning is especially painful to the couple, because it means they won’t be able to see each other until the time is up.  Some communities are a bit more relaxed on the matter, but Amish teens are always held to a high standard when courting.  This doesn’t mean that couples aren’t getting a kiss in here and there behind the woodshed or even going much further into a physical relationship, but they are watched carefully and learn early on to either abstain or be extremely stealthy in their liaisons. 

Although, the courtship rituals of the Amish society might sound harsh to those of us on the outside, there are many positives to their strict structure.  Most couples will begin courting at the age of sixteen and marry by the time they’re nineteen or twenty.  Because the teens have a deep sense of responsibility and meaning about entering a relationship, they don’t play games, and there is much less drama and heartbreak involved.  They enjoy support from their families and community and begin their lives together on solid ground. 
I’ve witnessed many teens go through the process of courting and each couple eventually married.   In the end, they were in love and happy…and isn’t that what we all strive to achieve?

You can read firsthand about Rose and Noah’s courting experience in TEMPTATION, where they meet secretly and struggle to find a way to be together.  Their story continues in BELONGING, when they finally have the opportunity to court in the Amish way, but are torn apart again when Rose’s family puts a stop to it.  In FOREVER, you find out once and for all if Rose and Noah find their happily-ever-after.  
LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER also deals with Amish teen romance, but in a much darker and grittier way, showing the devastating results when one rebellious Amish girl becomes involved with both an Amish boy and an outsider.     

You can learn about a fascinating culture while taking an emotional roller coaster ride in the TEMPTATION series and SERENITY’S PLAIN SECRETS!  I love to hear from readers!  You can contact me at my website: or on Facebook or Goodreads.
Happy reading!
Karen Ann Hopkins

For a limited time Lamb to the Slaughter is currently only $2.99
The Temptation Series
 Purchase from Amazon
 Purchase from Barnes & Noble

About Karen Ann Hopkins:

A native of New York State, Karen Ann Hopkins now lives with her family on a farm in northern Kentucky, where her neighbors in all directions are members of a strict Amish community. Her unique perspective became the inspiration for the story of star-crossed lovers Rose and Noah. When she’s not homeschooling her kids, giving riding lessons or tending to a menagerie of horses, goats, peacocks, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and cats, she is dreaming up her next romantic novel.

Giveaway Details

Must be 16 years or Older to enter

Open to U.S. AND International 

To enter, fill out Rafflecopter below

Giveaway ends June 9, 2014
3 winners will be selected randomly. The first name selected will win the signed Temptation series. 
The second and third names selected will win a Kindle e-book of Lamb to the Slaughter.

Now in Paperback!! Impostor by Susanne Winnacker

Last summer I read Impostor and it made me a fan of science fiction - a genre that I normally didn't pay much mind. It quickly changed my opinion of science fiction and left me wanting more.  From my review:

"Impostor is a thrilling read - full of danger, suspense, horror, and a little bit of romance (because you can't leave that out). If this is science fiction, then give me more please."

Title: Imposter
Author: Susanne Winnacker
Series: Variants #1
Genre: Young Adult, thriller

Can Tessa pose as Madison . . . and stop a killer before it’s too late? 

Tessa is a Variant, able to absorb the DNA of anyone she touches and mimic their appearance. Shunned by her family, she’s spent the last two years training with the Forces with Extraordinary Abilities, a secret branch of the FBI. When a serial killer rocks a small town in Oregon, Tessa is given a mission: she must impersonate Madison, a local teen, to find the killer before he strikes again.

Tessa hates everything about being an impostor—the stress, the danger, the deceit—but loves playing the role of a normal girl. As Madison, she finds friends, romance, and the kind of loving family she’d do anything to keep. Amid action, suspense, and a ticking clock, this super-human comes to a very human conclusion: even a girl who can look like anyone struggles the most with being herself.

"An unpredictable page turner with shades of terror reminiscent of a Stephen King novel."—VOYA

"Fresh and inventive. . . . the strongly-written mystery component takes center stage.“—BCCB



I went over to the window and pried it open. The frame groaned but with a jerk the window slid up and cool air streamed in. The fresh smell of rain in the night was one of my absolute favorites.
A shadow shifted on the street. I poked my head out. Even in the rain, the hooded stranger waited on the other side, staring at my window. I grabbed my cell phone from the nightstand and the pepper spray from my purse, slipped into my ballet flats and rushed out of the room and down the stairs. Devon appeared in the hall, his eyes bleary. I didn’t stop to explain.
My feet carried me outside where the rain plastered my hair down and soaked through my clothes. The stranger turned the corner as I crossed our front yard.
I pumped my legs. I heard Devon’s steps behind me and his shouts of confusion, but I turned a corner and then another until it appeared that I’d lost him. I stormed into the forest at the edge of our neighborhood, where the stranger had disappeared just moments before.
From up ahead, the sound of twigs breaking kept me on the trail. Devon must have given up or lost sight of me because I didn’t hear him behind me.
Without streetlights, the forest’s darkness was absolute. Rain rattled the leaves, and twigs snapped under my shoes. Shape-shifting while running was difficult and straining, but with Madison’s short legs I’d never catch the guy. Who was he? The killer? And I was alone in a dark forest with him. Maybe not my best plan.
I let the rippling wash over me. Tearing, stretching, twisting, remodeling. My clothes strained and ripped. I stumbled a few times over my lengthening legs but then, with Alec’s body, I gained on the stranger. Wind howled in my ears and for a moment I lost my bearings as he disappeared from view.
Up ahead, something flashed in the blackness like a beacon. He’d turned around to check if I was still following. My breath rasped in my throat as I jumped over a fallen trunk. The forest was cloaked in mist, concealing the outline of the mysterious figure.


About Susanne

Susanne Winnacker studied law before she became a full-time writer. She lives with her husband, two dogs and two bunnies in Germany. She loves coffee (in every shape and form), traveling and animals. When she isn't writing, you can usually find her in the kitchen, experimenting with new vegan dishes.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone

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 Unfinished Life of Addison Stone
by Adele Griffin
Publication Date: August 12, 2014

Published by Soho Teen
Add to Goodreads

from Goodreads

Two-time National Book Award finalist Adele Griffin offers an ingenious fictional take on the "oral history" celebrity bio that defined a bestselling genre: Edie, American Girl by Jean Stein and George Plimpton. In presenting herself as interviewer and curator of memories, Adele paints the portrait of a tragic young celebrity who allegedly committed suicide—presented in a series of brief first-person recollections—that ultimately results in the solving of a murder. 

Adele's words: "From the moment she burst into the downtown art scene, seventeen-year-old Addison Stone was someone to watch. Her trademark subversive street art and her violent drowning left her fans and critics craving to know more about this brilliant wild-child who shone so bright and was gone too soon. By means of more than one hundred interviews with those who knew her best—including close friends, family, teachers, mentors, art dealers, boyfriends, and critics—I have retraced the tumultuous path of Addison's life, with research that sheds new evidence on what really happened the night of July 28, 2013. With photo inserts and previously unpublished supplemental material."

Why I'm Waiting
  • The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone sounds different from anything I've read in both style and content. 
  • I'm becoming a fan of murder mysteries - I don't need sweet romances all the time 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Meet the Cast of Make It Count by Megan Erickson

Get a Sneak Peek at two characters from Megan Erickson's Bowler University Novel
Make It Count available on June 3rd!

Camilo “Cam” Ruiz
The Player
“We’re in college. We have hot girls in tight 
 jeans and cleavage-baring shirts at our fingertips. Don’t tie yourself down.”

Danica Owens
The Chameleon
“Monica says my idea of romance is ‘Take off your shirt.’”


Bowler University Series #1
Genre: New Adult Romance
Publisher: William Morrow Impulse/HarperCollins
Release Date: June 3, 2014
Add to Goodreads

Kat Caruso wishes her brain had a return policy, or at least a complaint hot-line. The defective organ is constantly distracted, terrible at statistics, and absolutely flooded with inappropriate thoughts about her boyfriend's gorgeous best friend, Alec...who just so happens to be her brand new college math tutor. Who knew nerd was so hot?

Kat usually goes through tutors like she does boyfriends--both always seem to bail when they realize how hopeless she is. It's safer for her heart to keep everyone at arm's reach. But Alec is always stepping just a little too close.

Alec Stone should not be fantasizing about Kat. She's adorable, unbelievably witty, and completely off limits. He'd never stab his best friend in the back...

But when secrets are revealed, the lines of loyalty are blurred. To make it count, Alec must learn messy human emotions can't be solved like a trigonometry function. And Kat has to trust Alec may be the first guy to want her for who she is, and not in spite of it.

Preorder Links:

Megan Erickson grew up in a family that averages 5’3” on a good day and started writing to create characters who could reach the top kitchen shelf.
She’s got a couple of tattoos, has a thing for gladiators, and has been called a crazy cat lady. After working as a journalist for years, she decided she liked creating her own endings better and switched back to fiction.
She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and two cats. And no, she still can’t reach the stupid top shelf.

Author Website / Facebook / Twitter

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (17)

This week I'm joining Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews and sharing the books that I acquired throughout the week.

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord (Purchased) - I can't lie, the cover made me buy it. I hope that it is good.

The One by Kiera Cass (Purchased) - Picked up this one for Kiera's signing that I am going to in a couple of weeks. 

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour (Purchased) - "A love letter to the craft and romance of film and fate in front of—and behind—the camera." This is why I wanted to read this book.

Middle Ground by Katie Kacvinsky (Purchased) - This is book 2 of the YA series Awaken. The final book will be out in September. I'm a huge fan of Katie's NA series (see below) that I need to find out what these books are about.

Finally, Forever by Katie Kacvinsky (Purchased) - The final book of the First Comes Love Series that can be read as a stand-alone. I have so much love for this series and this author. You can read my review here.

Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols (Purchased) - From the new Superlatives series by Jennifer Echols. I think there are a lot of laughs in my future with this one.

Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park (e-book, For Review) - My book club read Flat-Out Love and Celeste was a favorite character. I'm excited to know her story. Read Flat-Out Love then get this book!

The Mean Girl Apologies by Stephanie Monahan (e-book, For Review) -My current read.
Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally (e-book, For Review) - Really looking forward to this one.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Author Interview and Giveaway: Oblivion by Sasha Dawn

Today kicks off the Oblivion Blog Tour. Oblivion by Sasha Dawn is described as "Lisa McMann's Dead to You meets Kate Ellison's The Butterfly Clues" This description immediately hooked me and I knew I had to read it. Both of these books messed with my head and had me on edge. I can't wait to discover what a mind scramble Oblivion will be. 

 For my tour stop, Sasha Dawn shares her thoughts on writing and tells us a few random things about herself. Find out some of her likes and dislikes and then enter for a chance to win a copy of Oblivion.

by Sasha Dawn
Published by EgmontUSA
Paperback Publication Date: May 27, 2014
  400 Pages

About Oblivion

Lisa McMann's Dead to You meets Kate Ellison's The Butterfly Clues in a psychological thriller full of romance, intrigue, and mystery.

One year ago, Callie was found in an abandoned apartment, scrawling words on the wall: "I KILLED HIM. His blood is on my hands. His heart is in my soul. I KILLED HIM." But she remembers nothing of that night or of the previous thirty-six hours. All she knows is that her father, the reverend at the Church of the Holy Promise, is missing, as is Hannah, a young girl from the parish. Their disappearances have to be connected and Callie knows that her father was not a righteous man.

Since that fateful night, she's been plagued by graphomania -- an unending and debilitating compulsion to write. The words that flow from Callie's mind and through her pen don't seem to make sense -- until now.

As the anniversary of Hannah's vanishing approaches, more words and memories bubble to the surface and a new guy in school might be the key to Callie putting together the puzzle. But digging up the secrets she's buried for so long might be her biggest mistake.

Welcome Sasha Dawn!!

Have you always been a writer? Did you keep a journal or write stories when you were younger? I have been writing since I could hold a pencil. Words have always made sense to me, despite the fact that I didn’t start speaking as early as my parents thought I should’ve. But by the time I was seven, I was combing through dictionaries to broaden my vocabulary when the rest of my classmates—except Alan N**n, who was working alongside me—were putting lists in alphabetical order. I am an advocate for journaling, and I don’t remember a time I wasn’t writing a story…or eleven or twelve.

How long do you think about a story or characters until you finally decide what you want to write about it/them?
Usually, characters and their plights haunt me for a week or two before I start mapping out a canvas on which to tell their tales. In the case of Calliope Knowles and Oblivion, however, I thought about her for decades before I found the appropriate milieu for her story. Sometimes, paths are clearer than others, but I always want to write the stories. It’s trial and error for me. Some characters take hold; others don’t.
What is your favorite writing environment? Is it also your most productive?
I’m a busy girl. I teach, I volunteer, I take tap and ballet. I have a family, extended family, pets, and neighbors and friends. My favorite writing environment is a quiet one, but that rarely happens. Often, I’m jotting a few sentences here, a few phrases there, throughout the course of the day, amongst the general hullabaloo of motherhood: while waiting for one of my girls to exit the dance studio, when the water is just about to boil, but I can’t yet put the linguini in the pot, when I’m on hold with the insurance company.  The White Sox are probably on the television, Joshua’s on a conference call in the next room, I’m late to pick up my dad for his doctor’s appointment, and someone can’t find the right hair tie or leotard. But I manage to write productively, regardless.
That said, I’m an insomniac. I often write between 2 and 5 a.m. And it’s heaven.

What is the best piece of writing advice you've received? 
People may love your work. People may hate it, misunderstand it, or shred it. It doesn’t matter. Write from the heart.

What one piece of advice you would give to aspiring writers?
Write. It’s that simple. You won’t improve without constant effort, and I don’t know of anyone’s who has finished a novel while avoiding the act of writing.

Tell me five random things about yourself.
· I’m afraid of frogs. Don’t judge me. They’re creepy.

· When I was a little girl, I dreamed of dancing on television. If I’m ever famous, I’ll try out for Dancing with the Stars. Or maybe I’ll just continue dancing at the grocery store.

· I could really use a chocolate shake right about now. I’d love a cherry on top, too. Nice of you to offer to deliver one to my door, as I don’t feel like going out.

· The television show Friends never bores me. I own all ten seasons and I watch them over and over again. Joey Tribiani has to be one of the most entertaining characters ever! “How you doin’?”

· My favorite color is pink. Our master bathroom is a lovely shade (Tara) of Pepto Bismal.

 About Sasha Dawn

Sasha Dawn teaches college composition to America’s youth at McHenry County College and the College of Lake County. She’s drawn to suspense, the survival instinct in people, and has a crush on Thomas Jefferson. She lives in a suburb of Chicago.

Giveaway Details
Must be 13 years or Older to enter
U.S./Canada addresses only
To enter, fill out Rafflecopter below
Giveaway ends May 31, 2014

Tomorrow's Tour Stop
Live to Read
review and giveaway
Don't miss it!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review: Lamb to the Slaughter by Karen Ann Hopkins

Lamb to the Slaughter
by Karen Ann Hopkins
Publication Date: March 14, 2014
Pages: 336
Source: Kismet Book Touring

About Lamb to the Slaughter

Some Amish communities aren't so cozy.
Lamb to the Slaughter is a story about the intertwining lives of three unlikely people in an Indiana Amish Community and the devastating results when a rebellious teenage girl is found shot to death in a corn field during the harvest.
Serenity Adams is the newly elected young sheriff in the country town of Blood Rock and besides dealing with the threatening behavior of her predecessor, she now has a dead Amish girl on her plate.  At first glance, the case seems obvious.  The poor girl was probably accidently shot during hunting season, but when the elders of the Amish community and even the girl’s parents react with uncaring subdued behavior, Serenity becomes suspicious.  As she delves deeper into the secretive community that she grew up beside, she discovers a gruesome crime from the past that may very well be related to the Amish girl’s shooting.
Serenity enlists the help of the handsome bad-boy building contractor, Daniel Bachman, who left the Amish when he was nineteen and has his own dark reasons to help the spunky sheriff solve the crime that the family and friends who shunned him are trying desperately to cover up.  Serenity’s persistence leads her to a stunning discovery that not only threatens to destroy her blossoming romance with Daniel, but may even take her life in the end.
*Lamb to the Slaughter is book one of Serenity’s Plain Secrets.

My Thoughts

Karen Ann Hopkins is an author whose books I have come to love. Who knew that reading books with Amish characters in an Amish setting could be so interesting? At first, not me. What I like about Karen's books is how she intertwines the lives the of Amish and the English, exposing their differences as well as their similarities.

Lamb to the Slaughter captured my attention from the Prologue with Naomi's death and never let up until I finished. The story is told from alternating perspectives of Serenity and Daniel, both in first person, and from Naomi's perspective, told in third person. This technique kept the story fresh and let readers in the minds of the characters. Even though I knew Naomi's fate, I enjoyed reading the chapters with her story. I got to know about her, her friends, her enemies (the mean girls), and about her family. Reading the scenes with her mother and the punishments she suffered for her transgressions were the worst, but it also exposed the ugliness of the supposed plain and peaceful Amish life.

There is a wide variety of characters in Lamb to the Slaughter. Some will make you laugh and some will make your skin crawl. There are many connections between the people of the Amish and English communities but the connections aren't always obvious and I was amazed time and time again as the pieces of the murder mystery began to fall into place. With so many people involved, almost anyone could have been a suspect. I had my suspicions of who the murderer was and whether I was right or wrong, I was on edge as it all unfolded.

Lamb to the Slaughter is a must read for fans of mystery novels. Karen Ann Hopkins made me a fan with her YA Temptation series, and she's made me an even bigger fan with this murder mystery. I enjoyed the story, the characters, and the writing. I hope to read more books with Serenity Adams and Daniel Bachman and find if their connection becomes more than a working relationship.

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

For a limited time, Lamb to the Slaughter is available for $2.99 from Amazon and Barnes & Noble so get your copy now!

Contest Info:
We have a really exciting prize package for this tour, so make sure to follow along for more chances to win every day! What’s up for grabs:

• A $100 Amazon Gift Card
• An autographed set of Karen’s YA Temptation series
• A traditional Amish style hand stitched wall hanging/lap quilt with the lone star pattern in country colors

Please enter via the Rafflecopter form. Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY. 


About Karen Ann Hopkins:

A native of New York State, Karen Ann Hopkins now lives with her family on a farm in northern Kentucky, where her neighbors in all directions are members of a strict Amish community. Her unique perspective became the inspiration for the story of star-crossed lovers Rose and Noah. When she’s not homeschooling her kids, giving riding lessons or tending to a menagerie of horses, goats, peacocks, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and cats, she is dreaming up her next romantic novel.

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