A Case of Serendipity, Author Events

Enter for a chance to win 30 Romantic Women’s Fiction & Chick Lit Novels!

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I’ve teamed up with 29 fantastic authors to give away a huge collection of romantic women’s fiction and chick lit novels, PLUS a brand new eReader, to to one lucky winner!

You can win my novel A CASE OF SERENDIPITY, plus books from authors like Micki Fredricks, Helena Hunting, and K.A. Tucker.

Click here to enter the contest. –> https://booksweeps.com/book-giveaway/romantic-womens-fiction-chick-lit-bookbub-april-2019/

Good luck!

~KJ
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Book Reviews

Book Review: Honesty by Seth King

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Honesty by Seth King is a tragic yet beautiful story about love and loss. When I think about my first love, I remember the butterflies and longing that often consumed me. I also remember the angst and heartache. King conveyed all of these things perfectly in Coley and Nicky’s love story.

“He leaned in and kissed me hard, and the lights went out. I had never kissed a boy before, and it was…everything, really. His soft lips and coarse stubble felt like a poisoned daisy, just the wrong kind of right. Part of it felt so bad, worse than anything I’d ever done, but that badness felt beautiful, imperial even.” ❤

King’s writing is poignant and poetic. I found myself rereading certain lines multiple times either to ponder, reflect on how I could relate, or simply to enjoy again and again. How can I possibly relate to a story about love blossoming between two men? Because love is love. Every pulse-pounding moment, including the moments when Coley and Nicky were questioning their relationship or arguing, took me back.

Some reviewers have said they didn’t like the back and forth between the men. All the arguments and making up. All the I love yous and I hate yous. All the ‘we can never be together’ and the ‘let’s be together forever’ talk. Whatever. That’s what young love is often like. That’s real. And I commend King for keeping it real.

AMAZON

GOODREADS

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Bright Effect by Autumn Doughton and Erica Cope

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If I had to describe The Bright Effect with one word, it would be WOW.

Without warning, this book ripped my heart apart. I felt sadness, anger, and disbelief. Out. Of. Nowhere. All after I spent more than half of the book getting to know and falling in love with three key characters. But then Doughton and Cope did something extraordinary. They slowly put my heart (and one of the characters) back together again.

During the first half, we are introduced to twins Amelia and Daphne Bright. While both girls are popular, Amelia is serious and studious, and Daphne is fun and the life of the party. These characters are so well developed, each with distinctive personalities and mannerisms. I loved both and felt as though I was right there next to them when they joked around and when they shared more tender, sisterly moments. We also get to know Sebastian (Bash), who has taken a step back from the social scene due to responsibilities at home. When Amelia and Bash cross paths, sparks fly. To my delight, their relationship develops slowly, and everything they think and say and do while they get to know each other is sweet and gives me butterflies. Knowing these three characters so well is what makes what happens midway through unbearable in so many ways.

At the beginning of the second part, I had no idea what to expect. And to be honest, the shift in mood was jarring, so I worried that I would not be okay with the ending. Well, it turns out I didn’t need to worry because Doughton and Cope knew exactly what they were doing. Bravo for handling such a sensitive topic with depth and for not glossing over the pain involved.

I should also mention how much I enjoyed the writing style of these two authors. I don’t know who wrote what, but it doesn’t even matter because the style was consistent throughout. The dialogue was great too. It was realistic and flowed beautifully.

There are so many awesome quotes in this book. Here are a few of my favorites:

“Like everyone else, she wants to pry and handle my misery like a coat that she can put on and discard whenever she feels like it.”

“The memories whisper across my arms and back, bringing up goose bumps on my flesh, haunting me like a shadow that I can never outrun.”

“The past is a condemned building we’re being evicted from and the future is nothing but a forwarding address to a place we’ve never been.”

Even though this book might break your heart like it broke mine, it’s a must-read.

GOODREADS

AMAZON

*Many thanks to the authors for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Pieces of It All by Tracy Krimmer

Pieces of It All gives readers a realistic look at young love. (Or should I say lust?) It took me back to a time when I wondered what it felt like to be in love and reminded me of all the times I realized what it wasn’t.

Beth is a high school graduate preparing to head off to college. She’s book smart, responsible, and a good daughter and friend. She’s also innocent and naive. Harvey, on the other hand, comes from a broken family, is a recovering alcoholic, and is much more experienced with dating than Beth. When Harvey and Beth meet, there is an instant attraction. Beth tries to take things slow despite her intense feelings for Havey, but things end up heating up quickly.

The story is told from the alternating perspectives of Beth and Harvey. I really liked Beth because she’s a good girl with a good head on her shoulders. Sure, there were times when her actions annoyed me, but this is a new adult novel, so I expected a few poor decisions that would ultimately lead to personal growth. I felt that her thoughts and actions were realistic for a girl her age. For example, she followed her heart against the advice of family and friends. That’s what most young people do in real life, and that’s how they learn! And then there’s Harvey–another realistically drawn character. Harvey is the bad boy, the boy girls want to fix. Goodness, knows I dated my fair share of Harveys.

“Every girl has one–the bad boy who just drives her crazy.”

While I felt sad for Harvey given the home life he grew up with, I didn’t like him at all near the end. Some of his perverted thoughts about Beth bothered me (even though most young men probably think that way), and he did something that made me question his character. After that particular event, my opinion of him continued to go downhill. I even noted the following while reading: “This guy is an immature a$$hole. He’s more than just flawed. He’s a complete a$$hole. And how old is he? I’d expect these actions from a teen, not a guy in his twenties.” So, that about sums up how I felt about Harvey.

When I got to chapter twenty-four, it sort of felt like part two. This is where Beth really starts to grow and where Harvey proves who he really is. His behavior saddened me because he reminded me of people who’ve been dealt a crappy hand in life and instead of working hard to turn things around, they use it as an excuse to treat others poorly. I’m glad Beth was smart enough to do what was best for her in the end.

GOODREADS

AMAZON

Book Reviews

Book Review: Never Never Part Two by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

Immediately after I finished Never Never part one, I purchased part two. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t immediate. I did spend a few seconds lamenting the fact that it was over and then another few seconds cursing the authors for making me buy the next part to find out WTH is going on, but part two was definitely on my Kindle within 30 seconds. That’s how good part one is.

Here I am, 12 hours later, writing my review. And if I didn’t have kids, I would have written it six hours ago.

Never Never part two picks up exactly where part one leaves off, with Silas as the narrator. Not a beat was skipped–not for us anyway. But for Silas and Charlie, they are pretty much back to square one with trying to figure out why they are suffering from memory loss. They’re also faced with an additional obstacle; they’re separated in this book! (Boooo!) So Silas is forced to work alone to discover more pieces to the puzzle.

I must admit that I was even more miffed when this one ended than I was with part one, partly because I need to buy yet another book to find out what’s going on and partly because I have to wait until next year. 😦

I love these characters (even Charlie who can be kinda bitchy at times), and I’m crossing my fingers hoping for a happily ever after for them.

GOODREADS

AMAZON

Book Reviews

Book Review: Never Never Part One by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

Over the last couple of years, I’ve purchased several Colleen Hoover books for my Kindle. The funny thing is, the more I kept hearing about them, the less urgency I felt to read them. Sometimes I’m just weird like that–not in a hurry to check out whatever is trending. Big mistake this time–HUGE–because this book is brilliant, and I have no doubt I will enjoy the rest of Hoover’s (and Fisher’s) books. Why did I wait so long to jump on the CoHo bandwagon?!

I love a good mystery, so Never Never sucked me in from the get-go. It begins with a disoriented Charlie who has no clue where she is or who she is. She quickly realizes that she’s a high school student and must go about her day gathering info (such as her own name) from fellow classmates in hopes of understanding the haze of confusion she’s under. Things become even more interesting when Charlie realizes she’s not alone. Silas, her apparent boyfriend, seems to be suffering from the same inexplicable memory loss. From that point on, Charlie and Silas know they have to work together to figure out what’s going on.

This story is fast-paced and written in a way that made me feel like I was watching a movie. Now that’s good writing. Pieces of the puzzle are expertly revealed via the alternating perspectives of Charlie and Silas. Not only was I dying to find out what has caused the couple to lose their memories, but I also wanted so badly to know the status of their relationship. You see, they’re a couple, yet they aren’t. What’s even more intriguing is that their relationship seems to be tied to whatever has caused the memory loss.

Now, even if I was one to share spoilers, I wouldn’t be able to in this case because you have to buy parts two and three to find out exactly what’s going on! And that’s the only gripe I have with Never Never. It ends with the worst possible cliffhanger EVER! Or maybe worst isn’t the right word. Maybe I should say best because I one-clicked part 2 immediately.

If you enjoy mystery, suspense and young, rapturous love (and don’t mind cliffhangers that require you to purchase subsequent parts to find out what happens), I highly recommend Never Never.

Memorable Quotes:

“Her eyes are like two open books and I suddenly want to devour every page.”

“It’s strange how money seems to silence a neighborhood.”

GOODREADS

AMAZON

Book Reviews

Book Review: I Zombie by Jo Michaels

I Zombie surprised me. From my experience, zombie books are typically filled with thrills, chills and LOTS of gore, but Jo Michaels offers a different experience.

First of all, there’s more emphasis on the storyline as opposed to violence and gory details. Don’t get me wrong, there are some cringe-worthy moments, but nothing beyond PG-13. I should also mention that a specific cause for the outbreak is identified, which is an aspect that is often underdeveloped in zombie books.

Second, the zombie/human dynamic in this story is very unique; the infected are actually harmless while a large majority of the uninfected are hellbent on destroying anyone with zombie-like symptoms. Seeing this role reversal actually made me think of discrimination in the real world, which is something I’ve never reflected on while reading a zombie novel!

Trixie, the main (zombie) character was very likable. I especially loved the fact that she has a special ability, which is another unique aspect of this book. What a cool twist! In fact, the ending had me feeling a bit upset until Trixie’s ability fixed things for me. Phew. (You’ll have to read it all the way to the end to find out what I mean!)

If you are a fan of YA fiction and zombie novels and are interested in checking out something that strays from the expected norm, I recommend this book.

GOODREADS

AMAZON

Book Reviews

Book Review: Wire (Pierce Securities #2) by Anne Conley

After reading and loving Anne Conley’s The Fixer Upper, I jumped at the chance to receive an ARC of Wire.

What surprised me most about Wire is how different it is from The Fixer Upper, which I would label as a dramatic romance with touches of humor (basically chick lit). Wire, on the other hand, is a unique blend of various genres including romance, humor, mystery and suspense, as well as insight in to the world of online gaming. In fact, there were times when I was so caught up in the mystery and suspense that I completely forgot about the romance. What a cool book!

Not only is the storyline in this book unique and engaging, but so are the characters. I’m amazed by all the details Conley provides about her MCs, making them both complex and memorable. She also has a knack for creating smart, free-flowing dialogue with punches of wit.

As for the romance aspect of the book, let’s just say lovers of the genre will not be disappointed. From chapter one, Conley never lets us forget how hot the MCs (Evan and Paige) are for each other, especially during the blush-worthy intimate scenes. Wow.

Anne Conley is a must-read author. I will definitely be reading Craze (Pierce Securities Book 1) along with any other books she adds to the series.


I usually provide a brief summary in lieu of a book’s description, but there was just so much going on in this one (albeit in an easy-to-follow manner), that I think the official description would be better:

Evan Rocco has been a hero to Paige Lawson for as long as she could remember. So when she runs into him in a bar after a major professional coup, she’s feeling celebratory and reckless. But it can’t go anywhere, because after all, he’s Evan Rocco. When she finds her gaming company in trouble, there’s only one man she can turn to.

Evan can’t get the woman who disappeared after their one-night-stand six months ago out of his head. He’d honestly thought there was more between them besides just sex—a connection he’d never felt before. When PSL, his favorite game software company is the victim of sabotage, he jumps at the chance to help them solve the mystery behind The Crimson Lady, the fan-made character who’s taking credit for murder. Maybe it will get his mind off the woman of his dreams.

When he realizes who the CEO of PSL actually is, he has to get over his own issues or else he’ll put the one woman in danger he never wanted to hurt.

This is book two in the Pierce Securities series, a stand-alone story. The first book, while not necessary to read, is Craze.

GOODREADS

AMAZON

Book Reviews

Book Review: More than a Moment by Kristin Albright

More than a Moment starts out with Julia’s boyfriend (Tyler) abruptly breaking up with her just before their senior year in high school. As if that isn’t enough, Julia is also a bit on the outs with her friends after being laid up with a horseback riding injury over the summer, and one of her so-called best friends appears to have grown much closer to Tyler than normal. Luckily, she strikes up a friendship with Lucas (a classmate and immigrant farmhand who works for Tyler’s parents) and, in doing so, learns a lot about true friendship, love, following your heart and standing up for what you believe in.

“For anyone who has ever wanted more time.”

I suspected from the opening line that this book would touch my heart, and I was right. However, I wasn’t expecting to feel so many different emotions—from sadness, anger and anticipation to embarrassment for the characters and relief. All a result of the themes covered in this lovely YA novel: friendship, peer pressure, bullying, stereotypes, racism, immigration, young love and romance.

Aside from the range of emotions I felt while reading, I loved the realistic interactions between the characters, all of the interesting information about horses, and the way Albright tackles the topic of illegal immigration. This is the first fictional book for teens I’ve encountered that highlights several current points related to the issue, all of which are seamlessly woven into the storyline so as not to make the book seem like a lesson in sociology or politics.

Two final things that really tugged at my heart strings were the romance between Julia and Lucas, and Albright’s focus on the significance of blinks (and all that can occur with just one) throughout the story. Here are some of my favorite romance- and blink-related quotes:

“Maybe that’s what life is—one giant series of blinks. The problem is you never know which ones will become your story until after they pass. It can make you want to squeeze your eyes shut with fear, never to blink again, or flutter your eyelashes like crazy, just to see what’s ahead.”

“But there’s no rewind and no fast-forward—just blink after unexpected blink. It doesn’t seem fair how fast the good blinks seem to pass us by.”

“His eyes sparkled like a guy who hadn’t had a bad blink day in a long time.”

“I stared at our fingers as they intertwined with one another—a zigzag of caramel and cream.”

“So, in a perfect world we’d say lots of hellos and goodbyes?” I teased. “Millions—all back to back—so we’d never be apart.”

“There are as many little stories in you as stars in the sky,’ he sighed, “and I want to know them all.”

If you’re looking for a clean YA read with serious everyday themes, then I highly recommend this one.

GOODREADS

AMAZON

Book Reviews

Book Review: Love Nouveau by B.L. Berry

Love Nouveau is a beautifully written new adult novel that rocked my heart and soul. It details the budding relationship (complete with sweet romance, passion and pitfalls) between Ivy and Phoenix.

Ivy, a new college graduate born into a life of privilege, is a somewhat depressing character with serious flaws. She is constantly bullied by her over-bearing ice queen of a mother and her bitchy snob of a sister, but she never sticks up for herself. While some readers might not feel very sorry for her after finding out why her mom and sister treat her the way they do, I despised the way she was treated and couldn’t help but root for her. (Maybe it’s because I believe people deserve forgiveness and second chances.)

Right before Ivy is about to choose her post-college path, she meets Phoenix, and they are instantly attracted to each other. The inexplicable attraction is totally believable. It’s the kind that makes you feel like you NEED to be near someone, an undeniable connection that MUST be explored. It’s the beginning of young love. *sigh* Before you know it, Ivy and Phoenix become emotionally involved with one another, communicating largely via text and phone conversations. However, given Ivy’s past mistakes and the way she is used to being treated by her mom and sister, she is weary of allowing Phoenix into her heart.

The characters in this story are all flawed in some way. A few make terrible decisions and some choose to grow and change, just like in real life. Something else I love about this story is the way Berry scattered poignant insights throughout. There were times when I reread portions just to soak in the words.

Here are some of my favorites:

“…you aren’t rich until you have something that money can’t buy.”

“Even after being repeatedly pushed away from the shoreline, the water always comes back, beating its rocky edges, smoothing them out, wearing them down over time. It’s kind of romantic—after an infinite number of rejections, the water doesn’t give up. Nature wills it to return. Beyond its control, it just keeps coming back. It’s a bit like love.”

“…lies are truths that you convince yourself are real.”

“…as you get older you learn that time will make a fool out of everyone. But in the end, only love will make a fool out of time.”

If you like stories centered around young, can’t-live-without-you love and can appreciate a few twists and turns that get in the way of the HEA you’re hoping for, then you should give this book a shot. I will definitely be reading part two: Love Abstract.

GOODREADS

AMAZON

 

Disclosure: I attended a book signing a few months ago in Waterloo, Iowa, where I picked up an autographed copy of Love Nouveau and had the pleasure of meeting B.L. Berry. My opinion of this book has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that she is an absolute gem.