Monthly Archive: September 2017

Review: WHO IS RICH? by Matthew Klam

Who is Rich?

by Matthew Klam

Published by Random House
337 pages
Genre: fiction
3 / 5

My Review:

Several layers comprise the titular question here.

The most obvious is our hero, Rich Fischer, a cartoonist on the verge of becoming a has-been. His novel, with all of its accolades and sales figures, has gone out of print, and the magazine at which he works might go out of business. Rich is both a devoted husband and father and a philanderer (who happens to be devoted to his girlfriend). He’s an engaging professor at an annual summer conference and utterly ambivalent about the gig. He knows better, yet he makes some truly ridiculous decisions.

There is a social class layer, too. Matthew Klam describes his wealthy characters and enclaves with precision. Rich seems to be surrounded by people with money, whereas he has nothing. Less than nothing, actually, because Rich owes a lot of people a lot of money. Rich is decidedly not rich, at least not financially speaking.

Rich’s girlfriend Amy adds another layer. You have a far stronger sense of what her house looks like than Rich’s. She’s married to a man who makes 120 million a year. That’s right. He makes ten million a MONTH. He’s also bald and fat, and he treats her deplorably. This seems to be an intentional symbol on Klam’s part. Amy tries to combat her flagrant wealth by performing Good Works, but those seem more self-serving than anything else.

You could even argue that Rich’s love life reflects the title. He has both a wife and a lover, albeit a lover he only seems to see on a yearly basis at the writing conference. Believing his marriage to be stale (his wife seems to have a tad of hypochondria), he justifies his affair by pointing out the poverty of his sex (and love) life. When he’s with Amy, he gets to have the sex he wants.

The irony is that you finish the book fundamentally unable to answer its question. Who is Rich? I still have no idea. He tries to do the right thing, but he doesn’t really want to. He wants to do what he wants. When his conscience kicks in, he’s almost bitter about it. I wasn’t sure what to think of Rich at the end of the book. He doesn’t seem as if he’s broken any cycles, let’s just say.

Klam uses humor and pathos to tell his story, which at times feels like a satire and at others more like a socioeconomic screed. This isn’t so much a fun book to read as one you will enjoy, largely due to its layers.

Blurb:

A provocative and hilarious satire of love, sex, money, and politics in our new gilded age—the long-awaited first novel from the the acclaimed author of Sam the Cat

Every summer, a once-sort-of-famous middle-aged cartoonist named Rich Fischer leaves his wife and two kids behind to teach a class at a weeklong arts conference in a charming New England beachside town. It’s a place where, every year, students—nature poets and driftwood sculptors, widowed seniors, teenagers away from home for the first time—show up to study with an esteemed faculty made up of prizewinning playwrights, actors, and historians; drunkards and perverts; members of the cultural elite; unknown nobodies, midlist somebodies, and legitimate stars—a place where drum circles happen on the beach at midnight, clothing optional. One of the attendees is a forty-one-year-old painting student named Amy O’Donnell. Amy is a mother of three, unhappily married to a brutish Wall Street titan who runs a multibillion-dollar investment fund and commutes to work via helicopter. Rich and Amy met at the conference a year ago, shared a moment of passion, then spent the winter exchanging inappropriate texts and emails and counting the days until they could see each other again. Now they’re back.

Once more, Rich finds himself, in this seaside paradise, worrying about his family’s nights without him and trying not to think about his book, now out of print, or his existence as an illustrator at a glossy magazine about to go under, or his back taxes, or the shameless shenanigans of his colleagues at this summer make-out festival, or his own very real desire for love and human contact. He can’t decide whether Amy is going to rescue or destroy him.

Who Is Rich? is a warped and exhilarating tale of love and adultery, a study in midlife alienation, erotic pleasure, envy, and bitterness in the new gilded age that goes far beyond humor and satire to address deeper questions: of family, monogamy, the intoxicating beauty of children, and the challenging interdependence of two soulful, sensitive creatures in a confusing domestic alliance.

About the Author:

Matthew Klam was named one of the twenty best fiction writers in America under 40 by The New Yorker. He’s a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Robert Bingham/PEN Award, a Whiting Writer’s Award, and a National Endowment of the Arts. His first book, Sam The Cat and Other Stories, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book of the Year in the category of first fiction, was selected as a Notable Book of the Year by The New York TimesEsquire MagazineThe Los Angeles TimesThe Kansas City Star, and by the Borders for their New Voices series. His work has been featured in The New YorkerHarper’s MagazineEsquireGQ Magazine, andThe New York Times Magazine. He is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire and Hollins College, and has taught creative writing in many places including Johns Hopkins University, St. Albans School, American University, and Stockholm University in Sweden.

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Cover Reveal: FIELD-TRIPPED by Nicole Archer

Field-Tripped

Release Date: October 30, 2017

A new standalone holiday romance from Nicole Archer.

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I was done with games. But playing with her is so much fun.

Ten years ago, I was all set to compete in the winter Olympics. Then I lost everything—my career, my best friend, and my girlfriend.

After that, I stopped playing games for good. I swore never to go back to Colorado. Too many bad memories. Plus, she’s still there.

Now I live a simple life as a creative director at Shimura Advertising in New York. All is good, until my boss cons me and my coworkers into spending two weeks in Colorado at Proton Sports’ sleep-away camp for adults, pitching their business. Turns out Proton’s idea of a pitch is making the agencies battle each other in a bunch of ridiculous winter games.

Guess who owns the rival company? Her. And she’s out to get me. I might just let her win.

*Field-Tripped is Book 3 in the in the Ad Agency Series and can be read as a standalone.

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Cover Reveal: THE PLAN by Ella James

The Plan by Ella James

Release Date: November 6th

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Designer: Letitia Hasser from RBA Designs

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SYNOPSIS

You’ve heard this story before. Woman feels her biological clock ticking and gets someone to knock her up.

Not for love, for baby.

Crazy, right?

That’s what I thought.

Then I found out my fiancé had a vasectomy. The life I thought I had? Nope. Suddenly I’m 33, and I don’t even have a kissing buddy.

When my mom’s health takes a turn and I wind up back in my hometown of Fate, Alabama, I tell myself to leave things up to…well, you know.

Then I see Gabriel McKellan. He’s Fate’s most famous son, a bestselling author who is beautiful, complicated, and living just below me. In addition to his plus-sized brain, Gabe’s well-endowed in other ways, and great in bed to boot. I would know. He’s my ex husband.

When I suggest The Plan, I don’t imagine that he’ll take the bait. It’s been ten years, and we don’t work. But Fate has other plans for both of us.

 

 

 

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Release Blitz & Review: ONLY EVER YOU (A Little Like Destiny 2) by Lisa Suzanne

 

Title: Only Ever You
Series: A Little Like Destiny #2
Author: Lisa Suzanne
Genre: Contemporary Romance
 Release Date: September 28, 2017

My Review:

At the end of A Little Like Destinyour heroine, Reese, has just had sex with her boyfriend Brian, who has left to go to work. The minute he vacates the premises, his brother Mark, the rock god with whom Reese has been “in love” for years, fills the void.

And by “fills the void,” I mean exactly what you think I mean.

The good news about Only Ever You is that you get to understand why Reese feels such a connection with Mark, something other than the realization of a fantasy.

The bad news is that Reese is still, sadly, Reese. She acts like she’s seventeen, not twenty-seven, and if there is a ridiculous decision to make, rest assured that she will make it.

Reese spends most of this book in a sort of internal debate. Which brother should she choose? She tries to convince herself that she loves Brian, whereas everyone else in her life seems to try to convince herself that Mark is the man for her.

Lisa Suzanne begins to paint one of these men with a darker brush, so the hints she threw at you in A Little Like Destiny begin to bear fruit. You likely won’t be surprised by much of this. What will rattle you is that this book? This book is not the end of the story. Oh, no, Dear Reader. There is another one, so gird thy loins in preparation for a cliffhanger.

I have no idea is the next one is the conclusion or not.

So this book presents many of the same problems as its predecessors. Reese is ridiculous and Suzanne’s heavy-handed approach to characterization will drive you nuts. But I couldn’t put it down, and I can’t wait for the next one. I need to know if Reese will ever make a smart decision or if she’ll keep doing the dumbest things possible.

And I need to know what happens next.

 

Blurb
Torn between two brothers, Reese Brady must choose whether to live out her fantasies or opt for stability. She bears the load of her guilt to the point of exhaustion, excusing unsavory behavior as a form of self-punishment. Despite the temptation of one man, she commits to the other. When a family crisis strikes, Reese is forced into the arms of the wrong man. How will she comfort him when she longs to be with his brother?
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Releasing October 26, 2017
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Author Bio


Lisa Suzanne is a romance author who resides in Arizona with her husband and baby boy. She’s a former high school English teacher and
college composition instructor. When she’s not cuddling baby Mason, she can be found working on her latest book or watching reruns of Friends.  
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Cover Reveal: AMERICAN KING by Sierra Simone

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Enthralling and drop dead gasp-worthy.

– CD Reiss, New York Times Bestselling Author

American King, the stunning conclusion to the New Camelot Trilogy by Sierra Simone is coming October 31st!!

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American King by Sierra Simone
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Cover Designer: Hang Le

Photographer: Braadyn Penrod

Cover Model: Endi Zalic

They say that every tragic hero has a fatal flaw, a secret sin, a tiny stitch sewn into his future since birth. And here I am. My sins are no longer secret. My flaws have never been more fatal. And I’ve never been closer to tragedy than I am now.

I am a man who loves, a man whose love demands much in return. I am a king, a king who was foolish enough to build a kingdom on the bones of the past. I am a husband and a lover and a soldier and a father and a president.

And I will survive this.

Long live the king.

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American Queen

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American Prince

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About the Author:

Sierra Simone is a former librarian who spent too much time reading romance novels at the information desk. She lives with her husband and family in Kansas City.

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Review: 16 Ways to Break a Heart by Lauren Strasnick

16 Ways to Break a Heart

by Lauren Strasnick

Published by Katherine Tegen Books
208 pages
Genre: YA
2 / 5

My Review:

I debated whether or not to write a review for this book. I tend to not review books which earn less than three stars, largely because I respect the work that authors do, and I respect the courage it takes to write a book.

But, Dear Reader, I had to review this one so that you know what you’re in for if you choose to read it.

Lauren Strasnick follows a familiar gimmick of revealing plot and characters through emails and text messages, with an occasional letter. The problem with the gimmick is that it doesn’t work, and it doesn’t work because every character in this book – and I stress, EVERY CHARACTER IN THIS BOOK – is utterly, completely, and resolutely awful.

Dan is self-involved and with such a heavy dose of entitlement that he thinks everything he does is just dandy, and he pays no regard to the feelings of others. Natalie is a sociopath. Like, for real. She is a sociopath. The supporting cast is equally reprehensible. This makes it pretty difficult to read this book because you cannot emotionally connect with anything in it.

So why two stars and not fewer than that? Lauren Strasnick deserves something for giving me enough reason to keep reading. And that reason, oddly enough, was Dan. I was curious about him. I wanted to see if what I suspected about him was true (it was), and I wanted to see how he would react to Natalie’s increasingly unhinged behavior.

I guess that makes it worth two stars.

Blurb:

Told through letters, texts, and emails, 16 WAYS TO BREAK A HEART is a sophisticated, sexy read with a he said/she said theme that centers on the fateful moment a relationship shifts and breaks irrevocably.

Natalie and Dan were electric from the moment they met. Witty banter and sizzling chemistry made falling in love easy, inevitable. He was in awe of her subversive art and contagious zest for life; she was drawn to his good-guy charm and drive to succeed as a documentary filmmaker.

But that was before. Before a few little lies turned to broken trust. Before hot tempers turned to blowout arguments. Before a hundred tiny slights broke them open and exposed the ugly truth of their relationship.

And now Natalie wants Dan to know just how much he broke her.

Over the course of one fateful day, Dan reads the sixteen letters that Natalie has secretly, brilliantly, hid in places only he would find. As Dan pieces together the story she’s trying to tell, he realizes that Natalie has one more message for him. And it just might send his carefully-constructed life tumbling down.

About the Author:

Hi. I’m Lauren and I write books about doomed love, toxic friendship, and existential dread. My first novel, NOTHING LIKE YOU (Simon & Schuster, 2009), was an RWA RITA Award Finalist in two categories, Best First Book and YA Romance. My second novel, HER AND ME AND YOU (Simon & Schuster, 2010), was a 2012 ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. I teach fiction in the MFA program at Antioch University, and also lead weekly novel workshops at Writing Pad in Los Angeles. 16 WAYS TO BREAK A HEART, my next book, will be published by HarperCollins’s Katherine Tegen Books in 2017, and will also be published by HarperCollins in Italy and France.

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Review copy provided from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

 

Release Blitz: SCANDALOUS by LJ Shen

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Scandalous, the highly anticipated next standalone in the Sinners of Saint Series by LJ Shen is LIVE!

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Scandalous by LJ Shen

Publishing Date: September 29th, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Romance

They call him The Mute for a reason.

Hard, cold and calculated, he rarely speaks.

When he does, it’s with disdain.

When he does, his words aren’t meant for me.

When he does, my stomach flips and my world tilts on its axis.

He is thirty-three.

I am eighteen.

He’s a single dad and my father’s business partner.

I’m just a kid to him and his enemy’s daughter.

He’s emotionally unavailable.

And I am…feeling. Feeling things I shouldn’t feel for him.

Trent Rexroth is going to break my heart. The writing isn’t just on the wall, it’s inked on my soul.

And yet, I can’t stay away.

A scandal is the last thing my family needs. But a scandal is what we’re going to give them.

And oh, what a beautiful chaos it will be.

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About LJ Shen:

L.J. Shen is an International #1 best-selling author of Contemporary Romance and New Adult novels. She lives in Northern California with her husband, young son and chubby cat.

Before she’d settled down, L.J. (who thinks referring to herself in the third person is really silly, by the way) traveled the world, and collected friends from all across the globe. Friends who’d be happy to report that she is a rubbish companion, always forgets peoples’ birthdays and never sends Christmas cards.

She enjoys the simple things in life, like spending time with her family and friends, reading, HBO, Netflix and internet-stalking Stephen James. She reads between three to five books a week and firmly believes Crocs shoes and mullets should be outlawed.

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Review: THE BLACKBIRD SEASON by Kate Moretti

The Blackbird Season

by Kate Moretti

Published by Atria Books
352 pages
Genre: mystery; suspense
3 / 5

My Review:

A thousand starlings fall from the sky onto a baseball field in Mt. Oanoke, Pennsylvania, and this turns out to be the least disturbing thing to happen in this book.

Kate Moretti, known for her nail-biting psychological thrillers, stocks this book with characters who seem familiar. Perhaps too familiar at times.

You have the Troubled Teenage Girl, the one who uses sexuality to solve her problems. (The reasons for this are also a bit familiar.) You have the Jealous Teenage Girl, who sticks close to her best friend even as she finds herself occasionally coveting what the BFF has. You have the Entitled Boyfriend, who takes what he thinks is his to take. You have the Isolated Wife, whose preoccupation with her special needs son makes her keep everyone else at bay. You have the Creative Writing Teacher, whose job is to find drama and stories yet who turns out to be the most stalwart character in the book. And, lastly, you have the Teacher Hero, a man who lives to help others even at the disadvantage of his family.

Nate, the Hero Teacher, is a good guy. Moretti establishes this fairly early. He makes mistakes, and he allows his knight-in-shining-armor complex to get the best of him, but he’s a good guy. He’s also been accused of an inappropriate relationship with Lucia, the Troubled Teenage Girl. As if that isn’t bad enough, she goes missing, which means that Nate is suspect number one. Enter Bridget, Creative Writing Teacher, to the rescue. She’s the only one who believes in Nate, perhaps because she taught Lucia and could see the girl for what she was.

Moretti splits up the perspectives, letting you see the story unfold through Nate, Bridget, Alecia (Nate’s wife), and Lucia. You find yourself wondering if any of them is an unreliable narrator, and, if so, who is it? If not–if this is how these people really are–what does this say about them?

The central mystery is not as gripping a mystery as I’m used to from Moretti. I had a feeling about Who Did It and why that person did it, which was a bit of a disappointment. I found myself more intrigued by the interpersonal dynamics between the characters. Some of them pick the recipients of their honesty, others lie only to themselves.

One thing Kate Moretti makes you wonder if how you would respond if 1,000 birds dropped onto a baseball field. How would that affect your behavior? Let’s hope not as direly as it does the people in this book.

Blurb:

Known for novels featuring “great pacing and true surprises” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) and “nerve-shattering suspense” (Heather Gudenkauf, New York Time bestselling author), New York Times bestselling author Kate Moretti’s latest is the story of a scandal-torn Pennsylvania town and the aftermath of a troubled girl gone missing.

“Where did they come from? Why did they fall? The question would be asked a thousand times…

Until, of course, more important question arose, at which time everyone promptly forgot that a thousand birds fell on the town of Mount Oanoke at all.”

In a quiet Pennsylvania town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school baseball field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community.

Beloved baseball coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alicia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the many reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a wayward student, Lucia Hamm, in front of a sleazy motel. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are engaged in an affair, throwing the town into an uproar…and leaving Alicia to wonder if her husband has a second life.

And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police only to have one suspect: Nate.

Nate’s coworker and sole supporter, Bridget Harris, Lucia’s creative writing teacher, is determined to prove his innocence. She has Lucia’s class journal, and while some of the entries appear particularly damning to Nate’s case, others just don’t add up. Bridget knows the key to Nate’s exoneration and the truth of Lucia’s disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of that journal.

Told from the alternating points of view of Alicia, Nate, Lucia, and Bridget, The Blackbird Season is a haunting, psychologically nuanced suspense, filled with Kate Moretti’s signature “chillingly satisfying” (Publishers Weekly) twists and turns.

 

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About the Author:

Kate Moretti is the New York Times Bestselling author of four novels and a novella, including Thought I Knew YouWhile You Were GoneBinds That TieThe Vanishing Year, and Blackbird SeasonHer first novel THOUGHT I KNEW YOU, was a New York Times bestseller. THE VANISHING YEAR was a nominee in the Goodreads Choice Awards Mystery/Thriller category for 2016 and was called “chillingly satisfying.” (Publisher’s Weekly) with “superb” closing twists (New York Times Book Review). 

​Kate has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for twenty years as a scientist and enjoys traveling and cooking. She lives in Pennsylvania in an old farmhouse with her husband, two children and no known ghosts. Her lifelong dream is to find a secret passageway.

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Review copy provided from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

 

Review: A SHORT HISTORY OF THE GIRL NEXT DOOR by Jared Reck

A Short History of the Girl Next Door

by Jared Reck

Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
272 pages
Genre: YA; teens
4 / 5

My Review:

Grab your tissues, Dear Readers. Jared Reck will make you cry either due to laughter or because HE BREAKS YOUR HEART.

Matt and Tabby grew up together, and, over the course of their years of friendship, he’s come to care for her. In That Way. By the time their freshman year rolls around, it might even seem like she cares about him, too, at least until Liam Branson, a SENIOR. He’s also a basketball star and, unfortunately for Matt, a decent guy. Prepare yourself, because in those small scenes when Matt watches Tabby move further away from him, you will feel so sad.

Matt loves her. Maybe you could minimize it by saying that he loves her in the way that teenagers love someone, but it’s more than that. Matt’s mother recognizes this, and she even asks him if he wants to be her first love – something that likely will end – or if he wants to be her last love. When you’re fifteen, though, all you want is for that person to love you because it all seems like forever.

As the blurb points out, a tragedy occurs, and Matt feels even more relegated, dismissed as if he lacked importance to Tabby. He tries to understand what’s happening, and he tries to respond the way he thinks he should, but he loves her. It devastates him that he is not recognized as someone important to her.

If this sounds like a heavy story, understand that it is indeed that, but Reck never makes you feel overwhelmed. He peppers his tale with laugh-out-loud moments, too. So, yes, while you will be sad, you also will feel lighter, happier.

One of my favorite parts of this book is how Reck characterized Matt’s parents. They are not painted as your average YA adult, distant and unsympathetic. They understand how their son feels, and they try to guide and help him. Because of them, you are hopeful that Matt will come through all of this and be fine. That he will be happy.

I loved reading this through Matt’s perspective. His mind thinks differently from how you might think a YA hero would think, and that’s what makes him – and this story – one to love.

Blurb:

Equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, this unrequited love story will appeal to fans of Jennifer Niven, John Green, and Jesse Andrews.
 
Seriously, how can you see a person nearly every day of your life and never think a thing of it, then all of a sudden, one day, it’s different? You see that goofy grin a thousand times and just laugh. But goofy grin #1,001 nearly stops your heart? 
 
Right. That sounds like a bad movie already.
 
Matt Wainwright is constantly sabotaged by the overdramatic movie director in his head. He can’t tell his best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her, he implodes on the JV basketball team, and the only place he feels normal is in Mr. Ellis’s English class, discussing the greatest fart scenes in literature and writing poems about pissed-off candy-cane lumberjacks.

If this were a movie, everything would work out perfectly. Tabby would discover that Matt’s madly in love with her, be overcome with emotion, and would fall into his arms. Maybe in the rain.

But that’s not how it works. Matt watches Tabby get swept away by senior basketball star and all-around great guy Liam Branson. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough, but screwing up and losing her as a friend is even worse.

After a tragic accident, Matt finds himself left on the sidelines, on the verge of spiraling out of control and losing everything that matters to him. From debut author Jared Reck comes a fiercely funny and heart-wrenching novel about love, longing, and what happens when life as you know it changes in an instant.

About the Author:

Short version:

Jared Reck lives in Hanover, Pennsylvania, with his wife and two daughters. He teaches 8th grade Language Arts, where he has been reading awesome books and writing alongside his students for the past twelve years. A SHORT HISTORY OF THE GIRL NEXT DOOR is his debut novel.

Longer Version:

The truth is, I wouldn’t be a writer if I hadn’t first been a teacher. It just wouldn’t have happened. In my classroom is where I fell in love with YA lit, devouring Crutcher and Laurie Halse Anderson, John Green and Sara Zarr and A.S. King, right alongside my students. And it was with these same students that I learned how published writers write, soaking in the lessons of Nancie Atwell’s Writing Workshop and trying them out with my students. If I hadn’t spent those years playing with memoir and poetry and short fiction in front of my students, I’d have never even considered attempting a novel.

I’m glad I did.

I grew up in Hanover, Pennsylvania, the youngest son of two teachers who taught me to love laughter and to love stories. In elementary school, I checked out Dr. Seuss’s Oh Say Can You Say? about a bajillion times from the school library—even when I was clearly too old to be perusing the blue-dot section—just to hear my dad try to get through “Pete Pats Pigs” without tripping up, then to hear him belly-laugh when he inevitably would.

I attended Clemson University, first for architecture, then fine arts, and finally received a B.A. in English, with hopes of writing and illustrating picture books (though I was too scared to ever submit anything). After a short time as a production editor for medical journals, I went back for my teaching certification, which is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Since then, I’ve received a Masters in Educational Leadership from Shippensburg University, and I’ve completed graduate coursework in McDaniel College’s Writing for Children and Young Adults Program.

You can still find me in Hanover, probably either having early-morning breakfast with my dad or toting my daughters to their myriad extracurriculars. ​

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Cover Reveal & Giveaway: SHOW ME THE WAY by A L Jennings

Show Me the Way

The first stand-alone novel in A.L. Jackson’s brand-new Fight for Me series…

Coming October 2nd

“This book is absolutely perfect.” – Corinne Michaels, New York Times Bestselling Author

The first sexy, captivating, stand-alone novel in the brand-new FIGHT FOR ME series from NYT & USA Today Bestselling Author A.L. Jackson . . .
Rex Gunner. As bitter as he is beautiful.
The owner of the largest construction company in Gingham Lakes has been burned one too many times. His wife leaving him to raise their daughter was the last blow this single dad could take. The only woman he’ll let into his heart is his little girl.
Rynna Dayne. As vulnerable as she is tempting.
She ran from Gingham Lakes when she was seventeen. She swore to herself she would never return. Then her grandmother passed away and left her the deed to the diner that she once loved.
When Rex meets his new neighbor, he knows he’s in trouble.
She’s gorgeous and sweet and everything he can’t trust.
Until she becomes the one thing he can’t resist.
One kiss sends them tumbling toward ecstasy.
But in a town this size, pasts are bound to collide. Caught in a web of lies, betrayal, and disloyalty, Rex must make a choice.
Will he hide behind his walls or will he take the chance . . .

© 2017 A.L. Jackson Books
Tension roiled between us. That tether pulled taut. Drawing us closer. I swallowed around it and reached for the latch. He was quick to open his door, jumping out and rounding to my side before I had time to step out of his massive truck. He helped me down, and his hand scorched where he aided me by holding on to my elbow.
“Let me walk you to the door. Last thing I need to be worried about is you here by yourself and some asshole taking advantage of you.”
He quirked this belly-flopping grin that pierced me like an arrow. “Unless of course that asshole is me.”
He barely angled his head to the side. There was something so endearing and self-deprecating about it. Everything about him right then was at odds with the surly, bear of a man I’d met weeks ago, the man exposing himself, layer by layer.
I lifted my chin, both in strength and vulnerability, tossing all the uncertainties and questions out into the open. “Should I be afraid?”
“Yeah, you should be.” His response was hard, but there was no missing the fact his irritation was aimed at himself. He set his palm on the small of my back, helping me through the gravel drive in my heels, an inch behind as we ascended the porch steps.
We crossed the planks. That tension wound higher with each step until we were nothing but needy pants at my door. Slowly, I turned around to face him.
His presence sent a ripple of energy vibrating across the floorboards, the overwhelming sight of him the owner of my breath.
He stood beneath the faint glow of the hurricane lamp that hung outside the door. A sculpture of sinewy muscle and raw strength, forged through years of obvious physical labor. Every inch of him was rugged, from those roughened, callused hands to the crinkles set deep at the edges of his eyes.
The man was a carving of pure, daunting beauty.
“What exactly am I supposed to be afraid of, Rex?” My brow twisted, and my voice quieted with the admission. “Because when I’m around you, the last thing I feel is afraid.”
“I fuck everything up, Rynna, and the only thing I’ve got to offer you is my mess. I can’t do this.”
Restraint rumbled in his chest, the sound so deep I felt it shake the ground beneath my feet.
I gently cupped one side of his rugged face. “I’m not afraid.”
It was a promise.
An appeal.
“You should be,” he grated. “Warned you, my shit doesn’t ever end well.”
“Maybe that’s a chance I’m willing to take.”
He groaned and he planted his hands high above my head. The man panted above me, torn, desperate, his nose just brushing mine. “God damn it, Rynna. God damn it.”
I felt the moment he broke. When the thread pulled too tight and this mesmerizing man snapped. His mouth descended on mine.
Overpowering.
Overwhelming.
Dizzying.
Lips and tongue and nips of teeth.
And those hands. They were on my face. My neck. My waist. Somehow, I managed to hold on to him and spin away as I fumbled with the lock. He pressed against my backside, his cock against my bottom, and his mouth leaving a trail of fire at the side of my neck. We stumbled into the darkness of my house, breaking apart as I turned to face him.
The only light trickled down from the lamp I’d left on upstairs.
Slowly, he clicked the door shut behind him. We stood there, two feet away from each other, staring.
Chests heaving.
Before we collided.
A tangle of tongues and bodies.
The man frantic, trying to touch me everywhere.
“What am I doing? Fuck, what am I doing?” he muttered incoherently, kissing me deeper. Madder. Wilder.
I pushed up on my toes and tore my mouth from his so I could kiss down the strong column of his throat. His head thudded back against the door, his entire body pressing against it as if he needed it to keep him standing.
He grated my name, and I kept kissing at his throat while I worked free the button on his jeans, hands shaking.
Every reservation spun out of control.
Out of reach.
It was only spurred further when the defined muscles of his abdomen jumped and twitched beneath my touch, when he mumbled, “You’re killing me, Rynna. Fucking killing me.”
Desire rippled from him in heady waves.
And I felt so brave and bold, my kisses brazen as I nipped at the hollow of his throat.
Before I could consider it—the ramifications and the repercussions and the distinct threat to my heart—I dropped to my knees.
I refused to think of anything but setting him free.
Hoping he’d find a little of that freedom in me.

Giveaway

 

A.L. Jackson is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance. She writes emotional, sexy, heart-filled stories about boys who usually like to be a little bit bad.
Her bestselling series include THE REGRET SERIES, CLOSER TO YOU, and BLEEDING STARS novels. Watch for A.L. Jackson’s upcoming novel, SHOW ME THE WAY, the first stand-alone novel in her brand-new FIGHT FOR ME SERIES.
If she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the pool with her family, sipping cocktails with her friends, or of course with her nose buried in a book.
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