Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Royal Heist (Heist, Book 2) by Laura Pauling

A Royal Heist

A Royal Heist by Laura Pauling 
Series: Heist, book #2
ebook, 167 pages
Published March 10th 2015 by Smashwords Edition

Alternate timelines collide.
Only one will steal the jewels.
Only one will have a happy ending.

Annabelle longs for freedom, trapped in a life where she feels like nothing more than a vapor, a ghost flitting through time. Under the strict and often cruel direction of her grandmother, she travels back to famous heists and steals art.

In a moment of utter despair and rage she commits an unforgiveable act. As a result, she’s sent back to the 1600s on a royal heist—to steal the Crown Jewels—in nothing more than a state-issued nightgown. A death sentence.

In a second reality, in that moment, she receives a weathered scroll with instructions not to kill her grandmother and to pass a message onto Fiasco. But who is Fiasco? And how can he help? On her next big royal heist, she faces the stark reality that she is in a race to steal the Crown Jewels with another version of herself from a different reality.

It’s a race for survival.

My thoughts about A Royal Heist ~~

I am not sure what it is about time travel that fascinates me but I love stories whose characters travel back and forth through time and potentially change their lives and the lives of those around them. Would that be something that you'd want to be able to do? I'm not sure if I would but those possibilities sure make a good story. 

A Royal Heist takes us back to the world that we discovered in book #1, Heist. This story centers on Jetta, or Annabelle, one of the somewhat minor characters in Heist. A Royal Heist is her story but we do run across characters from book #1, so it all feels familiar. 

Annabelle is just trying to survive, with a grandmother who makes her time travel and steal valuable art for her. When she is not time traveling and stealing, grandma keeps her locked up in an institution. 
'What I thought would be my escape, ended up sentencing me to something worse. How worse? I don't want to know.'
Laura does a wonderful job weaving several threads of this story together with characters running into each other in different time periods. Will their actions help or hinder their other selves? She also paints very descriptive pictures with her words and I could see and feel exactly what her characters were seeing and feeling.  
'My words are like a taser to his chest, a bolt to his brain. Horror leaks from his eyes, and he whips around and sprints away, as if I'm the devil himself. I stand unmoving, frozen to the spot. He knew something. He knew me. I could tell, the flash of recognition on his face. And now he's gone.'
It sounds like Laura maybe has another story in the works to continue this series, focusing on another character. I sure hope so. I love this series and I love discovering how all of it fits together. 
'A strange sense of deja-vu falls over me, like I'm living the wrong life; somewhere out there, in some other reality, is the real me. I'm a mirror image, a fraud.'

You can read my thoughts about Heist (book #1) here. 

About the author

Laura Pauling writes about spies, murder and mystery for the young at heart. She lives the cover of suburban mom/author perfectly, from the minivan to the home-baked snickerdoodles, while hiding her secret missions and covert operations. But shh. Don't tell anyone.

And her kids wonder what she does all day while they're at school; or why on Monday mornings she's a bit grumpy. Living the life of a secret agent isn't easy, but someone has to do it.

This may or may not be what she really looks like. And she may or may not actually bake cookies.

You decide.

A Spy Like Me, her YA debut novel, and the sequel, Heart of an Assassin are now available. The Almost Assassin, the prequel to A Spy Like Me is a short story also found in the In His Eyes Anthology but now available separately.

Connect with Laura

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

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Monday, April 27, 2015

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? April 27, 2015

Hello! Welcome to It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? This weekly meme, hosted by Book Journey, is where we share what we have read this past week and what our plans are for the upcoming week. It’s a great way to see what others are reading and to discover books to add to your own To Be Read list. You never know where that next great read may come from!

Click on the book image to read more on Goodreads. 

What I'm currently reading/listening to

A Royal Heist (Heist, Book 2)
by Laura Pauling
Loved book 1. Mystery and time travel, can it get any better than that?

Nearly Departed in Deadwood (Deadwood #1)
by Ann Charles (audio-book)
 I love Ann Charles and I know I am going to love listening to this series.

What I recently finished reading

A Land More Kind Than Home
by Wiley Cash
Another great book club selection!

Miramont's Ghost
by Elizabeth Hall (audio-book)
Very interesting read. My thoughts will be posted soon.

Inside the O'Briens
by Lisa Genova
Another thought provoking read by Genova. Read my thoughts here.

What I think I'll read next

Dear Carolina
by Kristy Woodson Harvey
I am so excited to start this one!

I love my reading world!
What's going on in your reading world this week?

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova

Inside the O'Briens

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova 
Print and e-book, 352 pages
Published April 7, 2015 by Gallery Books

From award-winning, New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist Lisa Genova comes a powerful new novel that does for Huntington’s Disease what her debut Still Alice did for Alzheimer’s.

Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.

Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?

As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.

Praised for writing that “explores the resilience of the human spirit” (The San Francisco Chronicle), Lisa Genova has once again delivered a novel as powerful and unforgettable as the human insights at its core.

My thoughts about Inside the O'Briens ~~

Oh my, what a beautifully written glimpse into the dark side of a horrible disease that allows us to see the way the O'Briens deny its existence in their lives, then learn to accept it, and then learn to live with it, the best way that they can.
'This is a room full of zombies. This is purgatory, a wretched place of indefinite and possibly interminable waiting between heaven and hell. Then again, Joe can't imagine anyone here destined for anything good. There is no heaven here. This room is a holding cell for the damned, and while Joe feels bad for the misfortune of these poor souls, he wants no part of it.'
The O'Briens have four adult children and each one of them reacts differently as they think about the impact this disease will have on their future. While we learn about all four, the author focuses on Katie and her life as she struggles with what this will mean to her and how it will affect those she loves. I love that we get to get inside her head and go through the process with her.

This story and what this family was going through really opened my eyes, not only to educate me about Huntington's Disease, in particular, but to also be more accepting of those around who may be suffering from HD or other diseases. We just never know what someone is going through and we should not judge people by what we see and perceive their life to be.
'To the uneducated or unloving eye, Joe is horrifying, unacceptable, and then invisible.'
About the author

I'm a Harvard-trained Neuroscientist, a Meisner-trained actress, and an entirely untrained writer!

My first novel, Still Alice, winner of the 2008 Bronte Prize, nominated for 2010 Indies Choice Debut Book of the Year by the American Booksellers Association, and winner of the 2011 Bexley Book of the Year Award spent over 40 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. There are over 2.1 million copies in print, and it has been translated into 31 languages. It was chosen as one of the thirty titles for World Book Night 2013. 

Originally self-published, I sold it out of the trunk of my car for almost a year before it was bought at auction by Simon & Schuster.

Still Alice is now a major motion picture from Sony Pictures Classics.

Left Neglected, also a New York Times Bestseller, was a #1 Indie Next Pick, the Borders “Book You’ll Love” for January 2011, and the #4 Indie Reading Group Pick for summer 2011, and a Richard & Judy Book Club Pick. 

Love Anthony, also a New York Times bestseller, is about autism. It was an October 2012 Indie Next pick and a People Magazine Great Read. USA Today calls it “beautifully written and poignant to the point of heartbreak.”

Connect with Lisa

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Book Spotlight and a Giveaway! The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

I have sooooo many books! I have a ton of print books and probably even more e-books. The Book Spotlight feature that I post every Saturday is a way for me to clear my shelves and to share some of the books I have. There are a lot of different reasons that I might be letting some of my books go, the biggest one is that when we moved I discovered how many books I really do have. This feature is a way for my to cull my collection and to give someone else the opportunity to enjoy them.

The book that I am featuring this week is one that I have had for awhile and I am just not getting to it. Someday, sigh..... In the meantime, I want someone else to enjoy it. So many books, so little time.    

Good luck and be sure to stop back next week!

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
Series: Sisterhood #1
Print and e-book, 294 pages 
Published by St. Martin's Press 

Carmen got the jeans at a thrift shop. They didn’t look all that great: they were worn, dirty, and speckled with bleach. On the night before she and her friends part for the summer, Carmen decides to toss them. But Tibby says they’re great. She'd love to have them. Lena and Bridget also think they’re fabulous. Lena decides that they should all try them on. Whoever they fit best will get them. 

Nobody knows why, but the pants fit everyone perfectly. Even Carmen (who never thinks she looks good in anything) thinks she looks good in the pants. Over a few bags of cheese puffs, they decide to form a sisterhood and take the vow of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants . . . the next morning, they say good-bye. And then the journey of the pants — and the most memorable summer of their lives — begins. 

About the author

Ann Brashares grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, with three brothers and attended a Quaker school in the D.C. area called Sidwell Friends. She studied Philosophy at Barnard College, part of Columbia University in New York City. Expecting to continue studying philosophy in graduate school, Ann took a year off after college to work as an editor, hoping to save money for school. Loving her job, she never went to graduate school, and instead, remained in New York City and worked as an editor for many years. Ann made the transition from editor to full-time writer with her first novel, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Ann and her husband live with their three children in New York.

Connect with Ann

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Friday, April 24, 2015

#StarletTour: The Starlet Series by Carla J.Hanna, Spotlight and a Giveaway!

Teen Santa Monica gets real...

Starlet's Web: A Hollywood Teen Romance
Publication Date: September 22, 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Romance
Series: Starlet #1

Teen Santa Monica GETS REAL. The start of the love story and characters from talented teen actress, Liana Marie's, point-of-view, showing readers an inside view of the lives of children of celebrities and the contradictions inherent in pursuing the dream to be a star.

Love. Lies. Acting. Discover the 2014 Readers' Favorite Gold Medal winning young adult Starlet Series and uncover the life of a talented actress caught in Hollywood's web of lies. Fans of Nicholas Sparks' A Walk to Remember will find a new hero to root for in the dedicated friend, Manuel, and cheer for the struggling Hollywood starlet, Liana Marie. 5-STARS review and summary by Faridah Nassozi for Readers' Favorite:

Starlet's Web, book one of The Starlet Series by Carla Hanna is a memoir of fictitious Hollywood teenage starlet Liana Marie. Seventeen-year-old Liana is on top of her game and has an Oscar to prove it. However, her success, like several in Hollywood, has a big price tag. It is not easy balancing the life of being a teenager and being a big star. She is trying to live her life the best way she can, hooking up with some cute boys along the way, and fighting off unwanted advances. Then she realizes that she is and always has been in love with her best friend, Manuel, a boy she has known since childhood. Fortunately, Liana has her mum, who has been in the same business for a long time, to guide her; that is, until her mother's best intentions have catastrophic results.

Starlet's Web is a captivating story about the life of Hollywood teenage star and the price she has had to pay.

Carla Hanna created a sweet main character who can do no wrong, a girl suffering the consequences of the need to keep up with the Hollywood standards and expectations. She is a kid who has messed up before but now knows better. Carla Hanna's style of writing is very eloquent and evokes vivid images. I could not help but fall in love with Liana as she struggled to stay grounded and fight the temptations that come with the Hollywood life. The book gave me a whole new take on Hollywood stars; their lives are not just about the glitz and glamour.

NOTE: The Starlet Series is not steamy romance. It is realistic fiction based on how children of celebrities are actually raised by their caring celebrity parents in a morally ambiguous environment.

Starlet's Man: A Young Hollywood Love Story
Publication Date: September 8, 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Romance
Series: Starlet #0.5

Teen Santa Monica GETS DRAMATIC. The start of the story and characters from Manny's point-of-view.

From the award-winning author of realistic teen fiction Starlet novels comes Starlet's Man. Lights. Cameras. Lies. High school student athlete, Manny Biro, is caught between the boy he should be and the man he wants to become. 5-STARS Foreword Reviews Rating: Starlet's Man Teen Book (Reviewed by Pallas Gates McCorquodale)

The protagonist's inner turmoil will resonate with today's youth who find spiritual conflict in celebrity culture and the party lifestyle.

Teenage Manuel Biro hates acting. He loathes the fake, plastic Hollywood scene and longs for something more meaningful than the glamor, glitter, fast cars and faster women that are so prevalent in his hometown, Santa Monica. There is only one problem. Manny is desperately in love with his best friend, superstar actress Marie Michael. Carla J. Hanna's Starlet's Man showcases all of the action and angst from Manny's point of view.

Still reeling from a horrible breakup with his girlfriend Kate, Manny tries to make sense of his tangled emotions while reconciling his moral and religious beliefs with the fast-paced, sex-crazed culture that surrounds him. To complicate matters, Manny experiences new feelings for his workout buddy Beth, dodges unwanted media attention from his "friend" Alan, and attempts to shield his fourteen-year-old sister, Janet, from the harsh realities of the party lifestyle, all while hiding his true passion for Marie.

Although Starlet's Man is the fourth novel in the Starlet series, the events begin prior to book one, separate from the rest, which are told in memoir style from Marie's point of view. However, as much as experiencing things through Manny's eyes will likely thrill and delight those familiar with the Starlet stories, it is obvious, from the dramatic opening scene onward, that Manny's world has already been established, and newcomers will have a bit of catching up to do. Some questions, such as the mysteriously secret tragedy surrounding Manny and Kate's breakup are answered piecemeal through the dialogue, while others are not revealed at all in this volume.

Regardless of when Manny first enters the scene, in Starlet's Man or elsewhere in the series, he is sure to be a favorite. Manny struggles daily to be true to himself in a world that prizes image over substance. Hanna explores spirituality and Christianity in a relatable, non-preachy style that encourages self-reflection and honesty. Affectionately dubbed "Señor Self-Righteous" for what Janet calls his "unrealistic idealism," Manny is a conflicted seventeen-year-old, and his inner turmoil should resonate with today's youth. Other issues of particular relevance in American culture, such as the abuse of social media, the role of women in the film industry, and the casual drug culture are all explored in a refreshingly nonjudgmental, authentic voice.

Starlet's Man offers a realistic, behind-the-scenes alternative for teens and young adults interested in the celebrity lifestyle.

Starlet's Run: A Coming-of-Age in Hollywood Novel 
Publication Date: November 14, 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Romance
Series: Starlet #2

From the award-winning author of the Starlet Series, comes Starlet's Run, a novel perfect for young adult or new adult readers who enjoyed Nicholas Sparks' A Walk to Remember, Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love, Gayle Forman's If I Stay, or John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. Discover why the Starlet Series took Gold and Silver medals in the Readers' Favorite 2014 International Book Awards.

Love. Intentions. Acting. Life is more complicated than a Hollywood story. Fictional actress Liana Marie Michael clutches to the only person she trusts, high school boyfriend Manuel Biro. She suffers through the Five Stages of Grief with his support and clings to his stability. But they are both teens in Hollywood. When Lia's scripts speak for her and drama becomes her life, can she find the strength to run her own lines and shape her new role?
~ - ~
I'm actress Liana Marie Michael. Hollywood's obsession with beauty made my actress-mother stay competitive. Athletes use steroids. Actors use plastic surgery and anti-aging drugs. So now I'm a physical mess inside, dealing with it, and starring in another major motion picture.

Of course I can't quit. I have brain surgery, feel alive at my Native American Grandma's Montana ranch, go back to Hollywood and act. My boyfriend, Manuel, and I want to get married. Everyone has an opinion. I ignore the millions of naysayers until consequences turn dire.

I believe that dwelling on pain is a waste of time. Indecision is exhausting. I want to write my own future. But I'm only eighteen years old and caught in a web of lies.

In a world where an actress is a product and everyone is a critic, can our young love survive? Should it?

Starlet's Light: A Hollywood Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: November 18, 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Romance
Series: Starlet #3

~ STARLET'S WEB GOLD Medal & STARLET'S LIGHT SILVER Medal: 2014 Readers' Favorite International Book Awards ~

Love. Trust. Acting. Actress Liana Marie struggles with trust and commitment as she shapes the role she plays in her own life. She gives up the fight until she sees the light in this third book of the young adult Starlet Series for new adult & college readers.

We are all flies and spiders in a web of stories. If I live a more authentic life, can love prevail despite my many faults? Can truth alter Hollywood's web?

5 STARS Readers' Favorite Book Review: Reviewed by Bil Howard

Facing who you truly are and what meaning your life has is never easy, but it is even more difficult when you’re an actress. Truth and lies get woven together in Starlet’s Light by Carla J. Hanna and sorting them out is a painful experience for cancer survivor and actress Liana Marie. Dishonesty and mistrust on the silver screen are multiplied in Liana’s life as she struggles to decide who and what to trust. While shooting in England, Liana decides to set Manuel free, realizing that he has a chance for a normal, happy life without her, though she can’t get him out of her mind. With an understanding of how her past has affected her future, thanks to her father, she begins to move forward in a whole new light, haunted by the decision to let Manuel go. Spending her weekends in the hospital, rather than out having fun with her friends and doing what normal people do on weekends, begins to take its toll and she begins to see through some of the drama in her life. Will love, trust, and commitment find her? Will she continue to be swept up in the lies that surround her?

Starlet’s Light takes a deeper look into the things that are manufactured not only for a Hollywood movie, but those that are manufactured in our lives. Carla J. Hanna does an excellent job of showing how a person navigates the paths of their falsehoods in an attempt to justify them, but always seems to come up short. The depth of thought and emotion becomes all too real for the reader and keeps them hooked as Carla unravels the story. Deep, emotional and thought provoking, Starlet’s Light will have you examining where the paths of your own life are leading you.

Carla J. Hanna lived in Santa Monica, CA where her children played with the children of celebrities. She mingled with plenty of nannies and a few good celebrity moms. Her award winning books, The Starlet Series, include Starlet's Man, Starlet's Web, Starlet's Run, & Starlet's Light. Starlet's End is scheduled to release September 2015, subject to change from publisher interest.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

It's My Birthday and I'll Party If I Want To!

Today is my birthday!! 

I love celebrating birthdays and I want to party with you! 
And I am going to give one of you a present. Whoo hoo!!

Comment on this post with your birthday greeting to me and you could win any book you want (up to $10) from either Amazon, B&N, or The Book Depository. 

I'll pick a winner sometime later this week, after my birthday week festivities slow down. 

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Fields of Elysium by A.B. Whelan - FREE for a limited time!

Fields of Elysium
by A.B. Whelan

Best seller in Teen & Young Adult Fantasy
4.3 stars on 86 reviews

Price: $0.00 Save $14.35
Monday and Tuesday

Award-Winning Author


Small town girl, Molly Bennett, moves to Los Angeles where she becomes an outsider while attending Beverly Hills High School. It seems life cannot be any more dreadful.

Then one day after school, something magical happens. On a secluded hike in the Hollywood Hills, Molly chases her disobedient mutt and only friend into a hidden cavern. She stumbles upon a strange glimmering gateway that transports her to Arkana, a planet that is the cradle of an advanced human race. There, teenagers navigate amazing flying vehicles, compete in perilous games for glory, and possess supernatural powers.

While Molly tries to wrap her mind around this unbelievable discovery, she meets the alluring and mysterious Victor Sorren. He is a Sentinel Apprentice, whose hatred toward people from Earth is beyond understanding. Yet every time Victor unpredictably saves Molly’s life, his heart draws closer to hers, no matter how much he tries to fight against it. It further complicates things that their growing friendship is strictly forbidden. Earth people are prohibited in Arkana, yet Molly continues to cross through the portal to Arkana to see Victor.

Torn between their double lives, they go down a dangerous path, from where there is no return and multiple endings.

Would you fight to be with the one you truly love? What cost would you be willing to sacrifice for that love?

Fields of Elysium Dream Cast

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After reading this story you will find your heart racing whenever you enter a cave.

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