Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Virtual Book Tour Events: Week of 3/31 - 4/6/13

Virtual Book Tour Events: Week of 3/31 - 4/6/13

Monday 4/1/13

Back From The Dead by Peter Leonard

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

Author Guest Post / Book Review

Book Description: Back From The Dead

Peter Leonard’s jaw-dropping VOICES OF THE DEAD introduced us to two mortal enemies: Holocaust survivor Harry Levin and Nazi death angel Ernst Hess. Now, their struggle reaches its dramatic conclusion in BACK FROM THE DEAD.

Bahamas, 1971. Ernst Hess, missing and presumed dead, regains consciousness to find himself stuck in a hospital bed on a strange ward in a foreign country. He must do what he needs to do to get his life back and to finish the job he has been doing for decades.

Harry believes he has already stopped Hess. When he finds out that the war criminal has somehow survived, Harry must do the only thing he can do – kill Hess again – even if it means crossing continents and putting his life and the lives of those that matter to him on the line.

Action-packed and darkly humorous, BACK FROM THE DEAD is the unforgettable conclusion to a story that launches Peter Leonard into the pantheon of great suspense novelists.


Evidence of Life by Barbara Taylor Sissel

In association with Author Barbara Taylor Sissel

Author Interview / Book Review

Book Description: Evidence Of Life

How quickly can you lose everything that matters?

On the last ordinary day of her life, Abby Bennett feels like the luckiest woman alive. But everyone knows that luck doesn't last forever.… As her husband, Nick, and daughter, Lindsey, embark on a weekend camping trip to the Texas Hill Country, Abby looks forward to having some quiet time to herself. She braids Lindsey's hair, reminds Nick to drive safely and kisses them both goodbye. For a brief moment, Abby thinks she has it all—a perfect marriage, a perfect life—until a devastating storm rips through the region, and her family vanishes without a trace.

When Nick and Lindsey are presumed dead, lost in the raging waters, Abby refuses to give up hope. Consumed by grief and clinging to her belief that her family is still alive, she sets out to find them. But as disturbing clues begin to surface, Abby realizes that the truth may be far more sinister than she imagined. Soon she finds herself caught in a current of lies that threaten to unhinge her and challenge everything she once believed about her marriage and family.

With a voice that resonates with stunning clarity, Barbara Taylor Sissel delivers a taut and chilling mystery about a mother's love, a wife's obsession and the invisible fractures that can shatter a family.


Losing It All by Marsha Cornelius

In association with Author Marsha Cornelius

Virtual Book Promo Blast

Book Description: Losing It All

Frank Barnes is content living on the streets of Atlanta. A soup kitchen and a makeshift shanty sure beat his days as a POW in Vietnam. But Chloe Roberts can’t handle the eviction that sends her into the hell of homelessness. With no family or friends to turn to, Chloe and her children are sucked into the traumatic world of night shelters, and dangerous predators.

When they bump into each other at the soup kitchen, Frank offers Chloe a glimmer of hope that she can pull her life back together. She rekindles his lost sense of self-worth by taking his mind off his own problems. But they will not meet again until Frank is riding high as a working man, and Chloe has hit rock bottom.

By helping Chloe rebuild her broken life, Frank banishes the demons from his own past. Unfortunately, the past comes strolling back into their lives, threatening to destroy the happiness they have finally found.

Tuesday 4/2/13

Just Remember To Breathe by Charles Sheehan-Miles

In association with AToMR Tours

Book Review 

Book Description: Just Remember To Breathe

Alex Thompson’s life is following the script. A pre-law student at Columbia University, she’s focused on her grades, her life and her future. The last thing she needs is to reconnect with the boy who broke her heart.

Dylan Paris comes home from Afghanistan severely injured and knows that the one thing he cannot do is drag Alex into the mess he’s made of his life.

When Dylan and Alex are assigned to the same work study program and are forced to work side by side, they have to make new ground rules to keep from killing each other.

Only problem is, they keep breaking the rules.

The first rule is to never, ever talk about how they fell in love.

Wednesday 4/3/13

High Stakes by Cheryl Douglas

In association with Goddess Fish Promotions

Author Interview / Book Review / Contest Giveaway

Book Description: High Stakes

Former party girl, Alisa Turner, made a deal with her daddy, Trey. He’ll provide the seed money for her new business venture as long as she promises to stay out of trouble. Too bad her good intentions tumble 30,000 feet when she meets a sexy stranger on a flight to sin city.

Hotel mogul, Liam Bryson, has never believed in love at first sight, but when a sexy little siren twenty years his junior tempts him into a night of high stakes Blackjack, he’s suddenly playing for keeps.

Alisa wakes up in Liam’s bed the next morning, cursing Tequila and the five carat diamond on her left hand. She demands an annulment before her over-protective father finds out she reneged on their agreement, but her new hubby isn’t prepared to let her go without a fight.


Hidden In The Heart by Catherine West

In association with Litfuse Publicity Blog Tours

Book Review

Book Description: Hidden In The Heart

Everything Claire wants seems to be beyond her reach…

After losing her mother to cancer and suffering a miscarriage soon after, Claire Ferguson numbs the pain with alcohol and pills, and wonders if her own life is worth living.

Adopted at birth, Claire is convinced she has some unknown genetic flaw that may have been the cause of her miscarriage. She must find a way to deal with the guilt she harbors. But exoneration will come with a price. With her marriage in trouble and her father refusing to answer any questions about her adoption, Claire begins the search for her birth mother. For the first time in her life, she really wants to know where she came from. But what if the woman who gave her life doesn’t want to be found?

Hidden in the Heart has been nominated for a 2013 Grace Award and is on the long list for an INSPY award.

Friday 4/5/13

Someone Else's Fairytale by E.M. Tippetts

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours

Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway

Book Description: Someone Else's Fairytale

Jason Vanderholt, Hollywood's hottest actor, falls head over heels for everygirl, Chloe Winters, who hasn't gotten around to watching most of his movies. She becomes the woman every other woman in America is dying to be, but it just isn't her fairytale.

When Girlfriends Step Up by Savannah Page (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

I association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Savannah Page, author of When Girlfriends Step Up!

Author Guest Post

How many times have you found yourself turning to your BFF and going, "Omigod. Will we ever find our true loves?"

How often have you looked to your girlfriends and said, "I need your advice. What do you think?"

More times than you can count, right? And thank goodness you have your best mates there for you, whether it's just to commiserate with over a lousy date (or maybe a disaster at the hairdresser), or to have a serious heart-to-heart. When the road starts to get bumpy, for whatever reason, it's always reassuring to know that if you just look next to you you've got a friend there to help out in the best way she can.

Without her group of girlfriends, the leading lady in When Girlfriends Step Up, Robin Sinclair, would find herself in quite a bind. Robin's not exactly very confident, she hasn't found her Mr. Right (or anyone who remotely comes close), and just when she thinks her love life is as pathetic as it can get, well…she finds out that she's pregnant. Single and pregnant and trying to track down the father…definitely not Robin's idea of a sure-fire way to a happily-ever-after.

With an unexpected bundle on the way, Robin needs her friends now more than ever. Instead of daydreaming about the perfect future wedding, it's making a birthing plan and going to Lamaze class. It’s not fashionable new dresses, it's maternity clothes. And champagne and parties? It's all about midnight feedings and diaper changes now. Life is changing quickly, whether Robin is ready or not. She has to step up to the plate, reach down deep inside and find her confidence, and know that even though there may not be a Prince Charming by her side, she has her best girlfriends who love her and support her all the way.

It's the roughest of times, like discovering you're single and pregnant and clueless as to what to do with your life, that the truest of friendships come to light. Even though Lara, Robin's fellow unlucky-in-love BFF, is a high-powered and busy career woman, she doesn't think twice about having Robin and baby move in with her. Friends Jackie and Emily wouldn't dream of being anywhere else when Robin's baby is born. Gal pal Claire insists on throwing a baby shower for the mom-to-be. And long-time friend Sophie puts aside past indifferences to help out a friend in need. It's true friendship that helps see Robin through this difficult time. And she can find that self-assurance with her friends' encouragement and support, from the "Omigod! I'm going to have a baby!" moment all the way to the, well…you'll just have to find out for yourself. ;)

And, when it comes to that plaguing question, "Will I ever find true love?" When Girlfriends Step Up is a chick lit, after all, and with such a rocking protagonist like Robin, she definitely deserves to find a little love. A traditional love story? This book is all about writing your own happily-ever-after.

Thank you for dropping by this fantastic stop during my Chick Lit Plus Blog Tour. And thank you to Kathleen for inviting me here today! When Girlfriends Step Up is the second installment in my When Girlfriends… collection.

If you want to know if fellow loveless friend, Lara, finds her own Mr. Right, then you just might want to check out When Girlfriends Make Choices, which I'm pleased to share I'll be touring with in April, and will be making another lovely appearance right here at Jersey Girl Book Reviews!

About The Author

Savannah Page is the author of the continuing When Girlfriends ... collection and her travelogue and first book, Bumped to Berlin. When she isn’t writing, Savannah enjoys a good book with a latte and jazz tunes, Pilates, and exploring her home of Berlin as an American expat.

When Girlfriends Step Up by Savannah Page ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours

Book Review

When Girlfriends Step Up by Savannah Page
Book 2: When Girlfriends ... collection
Publisher: Pearls and Pages
Publication Date: September 27, 2012
Format: Paperback - 340 pages / Kindle - 462 KB 
ISBN: 147931014X
Genre: Chick Lit / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: When Girlfriends Step Up

BUY THE COLLECTION: When Girlfriends ...
Book 1: When Girlfriends Break Hearts
Book 2: When Girlfriends Step Up
Book 3: When Girlfriends Make Choices 
Book 4: When Girlfriends Chase Dreams

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

A novel about love and support, and learning that with enduring friendships, no woman is ever alone.

Robin Sinclair is young, determined, and has a promising career at a small publishing house in Seattle. Even though she considers herself unlucky in love, Robin still dreams of eventually meeting Mr. Right and having a happily-ever-after kind of life. And at twenty-five, the world of opportunity is wide. But it's been a difficult year filled with trials...and it's only just begun.

While long-time friendships are finally on the mend, and things are starting to look up again, Robin is faced with her biggest challenge yet. She's single and pregnant.

Uncertain now of her future and scared of being alone, Robin must re-examine her life and choices, and summon the courage to step up.

With the love and support of her best girlfriends from college, especially her best friend and roommate, Lara, Robin will learn that when the going gets tough, the best of friends become family. And, perhaps, with their encouragement, Robin can mature and gain the confidence needed to become a single mother. And, who knows about being unlucky in love. Things are suddenly getting interesting with Robin's attractive co-worker, Bobby.

This is an endearing story about maturity and perseverance. It's a story about friends coming together as family, about finding the strength within and around, and about writing your own happily-ever-after. About what happens when girlfriends step up.

Book Excerpt:

It was a beautiful spring Sunday in Seattle. The May sun was shining, the sky a vibrant blue, and all of the flowers in full bloom; the grass, trees, and shrubs were a radiant green, and the fragrant aromas of gardenia and honeysuckle hung in the air. Yet while the great outdoors was singing its cheerful spring song, a dark and heavy cloud had settled in my apartment, and bad news and awkward vibes were raining down. Torrentially. Luckily the storm itself hadn’t lasted too long, but the ominous cloud still loomed overhead. Bad news likes to hang around like that.

For the past several hours I’d been both making amends with my long-time friend, Sophie Wharton (the storm that had settled), and explaining my latest conundrum (that ominous cloud of bad news). Sophie had unexpectedly arrived at my doorstep earlier that afternoon in an effort to repair the friendship both of us had been giving quite a beating since my sleeping with her boyfriend, Brandon. (Yes, I know. Horrible. Really horrible stuff.) I was completely taken aback by her visit, because we weren’t supposed to get together to talk about the elephant in the room until later that week. But Sophie didn’t want another lost minute between us, and, at that time, I couldn’t have needed a friend more.

You see, for the past week…week-and-a-half or so…I’d had the dreadfully awful, sneaking suspicion that I was pregnant (now enter the latest conundrum). Going on two months without a period, a girl knows something’s not right. Especially when the nasty little visitor normally arrives as scheduled month in and month out. Two months—no visitor. Serious problem.

And as daunting a situation it might be to find yourself in when you’re not married or in a committed relationship, or when you’re a single girl, or when your boyfriend will most likely high-tail it on out when he hears the news, it doesn’t get much worse than my case. I’m unlucky in love (something that my best friend Lara Kearns and I sadly have in common, which we often lament together), and I’d made a really bad decision one night. So not only was I a single girl who might have been knocked up, but I was a single girl possibly carrying the baby not of an ex-boyfriend, not even of some John Doe I slipped up with from a bar. No. I could very well have been pregnant with the baby of one of my best friend’s ex-boyfriends.

Six pregnancy tests later, each one as positive as jolly Mister Rogers, the guessing game was over. I, Robin Sinclair, was going to be a mother.

“I still can’t believe this,” Sophie said, pacing my cramped living room. “I still cannot believe this.” The shocking news of my pregnancy was still as true now as it had been just two hours ago when I sprang the news on Sophie.

I sat on the sofa, clutching one of the light yellow pillows that one of my best friends, Claire Linley, had made for me as a housewarming present when I moved into this apartment four years ago. God, those were the easy times. All any of us had to worry about back then was passing our mid-terms…or if that guy from the party last night would call us like he said he would…

“Maybe the test gave you a false reading,” Sophie said, stopping abruptly in the center of the living room. “Those things can be faulty, right?” Her face read of hope. Mine, however, had panic and fear written all over it. I know it did because the churning in my gut and the dryness of my mouth told me that I was making the face of a panicked pig going to slaughter. And the worst thing was that in a few months time I probably would actually look like a panicked pig going to slaughter. I let out a groan and pulled the pillow in tighter to my chest.

“Where’s the kit box?” Sophie walked towards the kitchen.

“There are three of them,” I said, no life behind my words.

With all three boxes in hand Sophie started to read over each set of instructions. She looked determined. That was Sophie—always taking (and needing) control. This was one particular thing, however, over which she would have no control. Neither would I.

“Honestly, Robin,” she said, not looking up from the instruction sheets. “These home kit thingies can be faulty. I’ve read many stories about girls who take these tests and get false positives. It happens a lot. Just pick up a copy of Cosmo and those kinds of stories are all over the place. Or tune in to MTV.”

“Oh forget it,” I said, a hint of life coming back into my voice. “I’ve taken six tests, Sophie. Six. Every single one of them is positive. Who am I kidding?” She looked over at me. “I’m pregnant.”

Sophie took a seat next to me. “I took four of those stupid tests before you got here,” I said. “All of them positive. And you saw for yourself those last two. Positive, positive.”

It hadn’t taken long to break the news of my possible pregnancy to Sophie when she arrived that afternoon to make amends. A girl can’t keep that kind of news to herself, even if the woman with whom she was sharing such news played a difficult role in the whole ordeal. Once the initial shock subsided, Sophie did what I least expected she would do in such a desperately pathetic situation. Instead of running out of my apartment, screaming profanities and calling me every whorish name in the book, she embraced me in a tight hug and promised that everything would work out fine. Then she handed me one of her homemade cupcakes she’d brought over. “Comfort food,” she’d said, as I picked at the sweet frosting.

Then, finally, came the sudden moment of shock for Sophie: One of her best friends was pregnant with her ex-boyfriend's baby. Damn. She looked fearful for a while, scratching her head and pacing the floor, as if trying to figure out a solution to a problem that had no solution. Then a calm settled once again, and good ol’ Sophie came around. Before I knew it she was whisking me back to the local drug store to pick up another home pregnancy kit because “there is just no way this is possible, Robin. We need to make sure!”

“I’m pregnant, Sophie,” I said, resting my head on her shoulder, limply holding the two most recently positive test strips. “I know it.” I waved around the strips. “You know it. Now what the hell am I going to do?”

After a brief moment of silence, Sophie said, “We are going to take care of this. We are going to figure this out.” She ran her fingers along my back, giving me some relaxing chills. “Robin? I have to ask something.”


“Are you positive it’s Brandon’s baby?”

“As positive as all those damn tests, Sophie.” I sighed heavily, tossing the strips aside. “You know me. Unlucky in love. I’ve been closed for business for a long time. The only misstep was that night with Brandon.” I stopped speaking, not wanting to inflict any more harm on Sophie. Having had a one-night stand with Brandon was enough damage; I didn’t need to draw her a picture of the night’s events.

“Well then, there’s just one thing we have to do for starters,” she said, still running her fingers along my back. “We have to tell him.”

My Book Review:

"But, I'll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour. I'll be there for you, like I've been there before. I'll be there for you, cause you're there for me too." 
- I'll Be There for You by the Rembrandts - Friends Theme 

Twenty-five year old Robin Sinclair works at a small publishing house in Seattle. She thinks that she is unlucky at love but believes that Mr. Right is still out there, and she has a great core of girlfriends to lean on ... and boy is she going to need them when she finds out that she is pregnant after a one night stand! Single, pregnant and unsure of what the future will hold, Robin relies on her five girlfriends: Sophie, Claire, Lara, Emily, and Jackie to lend support during her pregnancy. Robin's journey of self-discovery will teach her life lessons, show her how valuable good friends really are, and might even bring Mr. Right in the form of a co-worker her way!

When Girlfriends Step Up is a lighthearted and fun story about friendships that will provide the reader with a warm and fuzzy feeling. In the second installment of the When Girlfriends ... collection, author Savannah Page weaves a wonderful tale about the beauty and dynamics that make up friendships. Written in the first person narrative, the reader follows Robin's journey of being single and pregnant, learning life lessons, and finding out the meaning of true friendship when her five girlfriends rally around her at a time when she needs them the most.

This sweet story provides a message with a gentle reminder that friends may come and go, but a true core group of girlfriends will always be with you through thick and thin, good and bad times, to always give their love and support. This is a truly enjoyable read that is witty, humorous and emotional, it draws you in from the beginning and keeps you enthralled to the end.

I loved how Robin and her five girlfriends dealt with a variety of life issues with a mixture of friendship, love and forgiveness. Friends help each other grow and teach each other the beauty of what it truly means to be friends.

With a lovable cast of characters; quirky dialogue and interactions; and a realistic storyline about friendships that any group of girlfriends can relate to; When Girlfriends Step Up is a wonderful story that shows how priceless the bond of friendships are to everyone, especially girlfriends!

When Girlfriends Step Up is the second book in the When Girlfriends ... collection.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Elly in Bloom by Colleen Oakes (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Colleen Oakes, author of Elly in Bloom!

Author Guest Post

It's been just about seven months since Elly in Bloom, my debut novel, was released. In that time I've obsessed, cried, and laughed like a mental patient on crazy pills. It has been triumphant and depressing and melancholy and elating. As a new author, I would love to share with you some of the strange things I’ve learned along the way.

*Good reviews are akin to a moonbeam from heaven. They lift you up and give you a happy buzz that lasts a few days. To know that my words brought someone a smile, a laugh, or even some mild entertainment on a rainy day is such a deep satisfaction that it's unlike anything I've known before. I've gotten dozens of emails from people who have read my book and who just wanted to reach out and connect. That's amazing. Those few words, that connection made, it's so far above any professional happiness that any other job has brought me. I've also learned that it was super silly to assume it would be easy to get reviews. I figured, "Hey, people read it and review it, right?" WRONG! I do that because I blog. In fact, I've learned that for every 1,000 people who read your book about six will review it. That makes each and every review a little more hard won and something to be proud of.

*Bad reviews, on the other hand, are like getting punched in the face with brass knuckles. The first hit is the worst. It takes your breath away, makes you cry, makes you shaky, and knocks out any delusions of writing grandeur. It immediately triggers a protective feeling in you, one that makes you want to snatch your book back and hide it from the world where it is safe and loved. The second punch hurts too. But by the third, as a writer, you become numb. You begin to see the constructive criticism through the words. You take it in without feeling like you swallowed broken glass. It's still painful, but now it's also helpful. It feels good to get over that bad review mountain. I think my next books will be much easier in this realm now that' I've been through it.

* Amazon is confusing. Also, Amazon can give you a complex. In addition to the constant lists and rankings that put your book into a thousand different categories (all ranked), they now have Author Rank. See, if you are an author, you can go onto your Amazon author central page and see where you rank with all the authors in all the world. It's the popularity contest of your worst nightmares. Top Ten? (*Cue hysterical laughter*) Dream on. Those spots are reserved for the Kings, the Martins, Tolkiens and Rowlings. Top 100? No way. Your repeat bestsellers reside there. Patterson. Weiner. Roberts. You, my friend, are more of the 1,300 - 50,000ish ranking, depending on the day. And it changes, every single day. At first I checked it all the time, but it only served to confuse and humble me. Now, I might check it once a month. The internet is a wide world for authors, but not everything is productive.

*I've discovered that I need a community of writers. I need more people who speak this weird language of authors. "Word count. Query. Tracker. POD. India royalty rate." I'm a newbie whose feet are barely wet, and I need some seasoned mentors who have done this already to give me advice. I need women with long braids to pass on their wisdom as we sit around a fire and play tambourines and eat pot-spiked brownies that are now TOTALLY legal in Colorado. We will dance in the flame with our ink quills. Okay, I would never do this, not really, but I do need to go to a writer's conferences and meet some people who have similar experiences and tips.

*I got my first royalty payment. And it was awesome.

*Finally, I have learned that hammering out a writing schedule for myself was of the utmost importance. Not only that, but I learned that I needed to separate out my writing days, so everything gets a fair shake. If writing is your job, you must TREAT it as your job. You must write when you don’t want to. You must write when you don’t feel good, or when you are overwhelmed with other things. The fantasy of padding downstairs in your pj to your beautiful writing nook and churning out a novel in no time is exactly that: a fantasy. Save the imagination for your writing and put your pen to the paper.

About The Author

Colleen Oakes is a passionate Colorado native who really enjoys living in other places. She attended college in Bronxville, NY where she received her degree in Creative Writing. After college, she opened up a successful wedding florist before the writing urge came knocking. Now she is a night owl who does most of her writing in pajamas. When not drowsily hitting the keys, Colleen enjoys swimming, reading, and immersing herself in nerdy pop culture. Elly in Bloom debuted in September, 2012 via Amazon Publishing. She now lives with her husband in North Denver, where they are awaiting their first child through adoption. Colleen blogs about life (good, bad, and awkward) pretty frequently over at The Ranunculus Adventures: She is currently at work on the sequel to Elly in Bloom.

Elly in Bloom by Colleen Oakes ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours

Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

Win A $20 Amazon Gift Card

Contest Dates: March 25 - April 15

Everyone who leaves a comment on Elly in Bloom by Colleen Oakes ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Elly in Bloom before April 15 and sends their receipt to, will get five bonus entries.

Book Review

Elly in Bloom by Colleen Oakes
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Self-Publishing
Publication Date: September 5, 2012
Format: Paperback - 324 pages / Kindle - 573 KB 
ISBN: 1477514120
Genre: Chick Lit / Contemporary Romance / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: Elly in Bloom

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

The #1 Kindle Bestseller in Contemporary Fiction!

Surrounded by lush flowers and neurotic brides, chubby 32-year old Elly Jordan has carved out a sweet little life for herself as the owner of Posies, a boutique wedding florist in St. Louis. It's not bad for a woman who drove away from her entire life just two years ago when she found her husband entwined with a red-headed artist.

Sure, Elly has an embarrassingly beautiful best friend, a terribly behaved sheepdog and a sarcastic assistant who she simply calls "Snarky Teenager", but overall her days are pleasantly uneventful. As a bonus, her new next door neighbor just happens to be an unnervingly handsome musician who has an eye for curvy Elly. Just when she feels that she is finally moving on from her past, she discovers that an extravagant wedding contract, one that could change her financial future, is more than she bargained for.

With the help of her friends, staff and the occasional well-made sandwich, Elly bravely agrees to take on the event that threatens to merge her painful history with her bright new life, and finds herself blooming in a direction she never imagined.

Elly's voice, both charming and hilarious, will appeal to those readers who have been looking for a new voice in chick-lit, and will give women of all sizes the realistic heroine they've been waiting for.

Book Excerpt:


Georgia, two years ago, daybreak.

Early morning nauseated Elly.

That was normal, at least.

Her steering wheel smelled like spoiled milk and rotten freesia.

Gross. That was not normal.

Through the dirty windshield, she watched the creeping fingers of dawn overtaking the horizon. Bright rays approached her car slowly, blasted through the muddy glass, and turned her dark leather seats into blinding mirrors of light that hurt her swollen eyes.

Elly hated the dawn; the insects chirping, the hazy mist. It turned her stomach. And for once, the thought of food was unappealing to her. She pressed her forehead against the pungent wheel and whimpered. It had only been one day, one crappy stinking day, since her whole life had melted down, and now she was in her car having a nervous breakdown. It was getting unbearably hot. The blazing Georgia sun peeked over the hackberry trees that held steady as a slight breeze tossed their leaves. Her eyes, stinging from the sun and from the hysterical tears she’d indulged in the night before, welcomed the moisture. She had cried for twelve hours straight, drunk an entire bottle of wine, trashed a painting, and now she was here.

Sweating in her car.

She was filled with something stronger than anger, something more pathetic than sadness. Elly exhaled, feeling the breath stutter out of her lungs, stretched thin after hours of grieving. She hated her sad little life, hated what she had become in this last day, hated the man who was her husband. Who WAS her husband. She gave a whimper. Hated she’d been forced to see everything she’d believed about her life was a lie.

More than that, at the moment, she hated being hot. She was hot so often.

With a sigh, she turned the key and the toy-sized engine of her Toyota Tercel roared to life. After a blast of scorching heat, crisp air puffed her face and dried the mixture of tears and sweat on her cheeks. With the heat retreating, she could think a little more clearly. She glanced at the bags in the backseat: one giant suitcase with orange and blue ribbons dangling from the handle, a couple of plastic bags stuffed with hair and make-up supplies, a cooler filled with apples and sandwiches – a stupid decision, now that she thought about it and her lace wedding dress that lay crumpled in the corner. Elly pursed her lips and whipped around. She couldn’t think about that. Not now. She would find a therapist later to tell about the dress. Elly glanced nervously at the clock. She knew what she should do. She should drive to her job. She should talk to her boss Jeff, who constantly picked at his shirt near his stomach. She should call her best friend, Cassie, and talk her into skipping work. They would cry – no, she would cry – and talk about that moment, that horrible moment again and again. The creak of stairs. A hand clutching white sheets. The moment when she’d found her husband staring enamored at another woman. They would eat ice cream until she was too exhausted from emotion and dairy to move.

Cassie would pretend to be amazed that he would cheat. She would insist that Elly storm back into the house – she muffled a sob –and demand that he be the one who leave. Demand the house. Demand faithfulness. Demand love and bury what happened in a cemetery at the back of her mind, never speaking of it again. 

Yes, that sounded great…but that confrontation would require removing her head from the steering wheel, and her neck seemed unable to do so at the moment. She couldn’t move from this moment. Not now, not ever. She heard a slam and jerked her head up. Her next-door neighbor Jen was taking her son to school. Jen, looking confused as to why Elly was sitting in her car, unmoving, waved enthusiastically. Elly rolled her eyes back in her head and lifted her hand weakly. Filled with self-pity, she loathed Jen, who was actually a nice person. Yes, act like nothing is wrong. Act like you didn’t hear me screaming and wailing like a banshee until the sun came up. Act like this is totally normal, sitting in my car at six in the morning, with a cooler full of roast beef and suicidal thoughts. Jen’s tow-headed little boy climbed into the backseat, and she lovingly buckled him in.

The tears Elly didn’t think she had left inside her snuck up so suddenly that she didn’t even have time to prepare. A wail, an unwomanly, unattractive wail escaped from her lips and she wept with liberal abandon. Grief spread before her. Her perfect future, her imaginary child, a little boy who climbed happily into his car seat was not here. That future was not in this house, the one she had built for that purpose. It was not with the man she had trusted to see her dreams through. It was not in the office where she’d worked for years, where she’d happily gossiped with friends about the love of her life. It wasn’t in the park where she’d envisioned pushing a baby stroller, her artistic husband at her side. Her life as she’d dreamed it would be had imploded yesterday. The shards had gone flying inward, into her body, the moment she had seen them together. That life had fallen out of her fingers before she understood what was happening to her.

How was it that a love story so beautifully constructed, so perfectly executed, could be so flawed, so breakable? How, with a single act, could two years of marriage burn to the ground, leaving only flecks of ash behind? Her future as she’d imagined it was gone forever. It could not be fixed.

He had not chosen her.

She would later exaggerate, telling people it was inner strength, or her great faith that propelled her forward into the unknown. She had no such strength, no such faith. What she had was the desperation of having nothing ahead of her and the total decimation of a dream behind her.Elly closed her eyes and banged her skull against the headrest. She saw them again, his face elated with joy, his green eyes flashing up at the woman on top of him, a bead of sweat running down her naked spine. The mane of red hair.

Tears threatened to fall again.

Push it down.

With that thought, she made the decision, turned the key, her heart still shattering into sharp, jagged pieces. Elly shifted the now-trembling car into first gear and turned around on her cul-de-sac. She propelled the car onto the road that led out of her perfect neighborhood, turned northwest, and headed for the freeway. She cranked up the radio, found her favorite station. And then she drove, and drove, and drove. With the sounds of NPR mingling with her wrenching sobs, Elly drove until the sun set in front of her.

She refused to look back.

My Book Review:

When Elly Jordan catches her husband cheating, she packs her life up and leaves their home in Georgia to start over in St. Louis. Flowers are her passion, and when she has settled into her new life, she opens up Posies, a boutique florist shop catering to weddings. Life is going well for Elly, and just when she thinks she has moved on from her past, an extravagant wedding contract for a "wedding of the year event" for a person from her past puts everything into perspective, making Elly's journey of self-discovery come full circle.

Elly in Bloom is a heartwarming and enjoyable story about a woman whose journey of self-discovery comes full circle as she learns forgiveness, healing, and the ability to move on with her life. Author Colleen Oakes weaves an entertaining tale written in the third person narrative that follows the journey of thirty-two year old Elly Jordan as she moves on from a painful past into a second chance at a good life.

You can't help but love Elly, she is a realistic woman with flaws and normal life issues that the reader can relate to. Elly restarts her life with a new found independence that has some hilarious laugh-out-loud episodes of clumsiness, mishaps and bantering with her quirky friends, employees and customers. The author provides the reader with some really wonderful descriptions about St. Louis, weddings and the florist shop industry.

This story is a breath of fresh air, everyone can relate to Elly in some way, I think there is a little bit of her in each of us. Elly in Bloom is a delightful story that is thoroughly entertaining, and will give the reader a warm and fuzzy feeling and put a smile on their face.


January Justice by Athol Dickson (Virtual Book Blast / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the Virtual Book Blast for January Justice by Athol Dickson!

January Justice by Athol Dickson
Book 1: The Malcolm Cutter Memoirs Series
Publisher: Independent Self-Publishing
Publication Date: November 30, 2012
Format: eBook - 307 pages / Kindle - 701 KB
ISBN: 9780985430290
Genre: Murder Mystery

BUY THE BOOK: January Justice

Book Description:

Reeling from his wife's unsolved murder, Malcolm Cutter is just going through the motions as a chauffeur and bodyguard for Hollywood's rich and famous. Then a pair of Guatemalan tough guys offer him a job. It's an open question whether they're patriotic revolutionaries or vicious terrorists. Either way, Cutter doesn't much care until he gets a bomb through his window, a gangland beating on the streets of L.A., and three bullets in the chest. Now there's another murder on Cutter's Mind. His own.

Book Excerpt:

ONE OF THE STRANGEST THINGS ABOUT THE CITY was the sudden way it disappeared around the edges. One minute you were down on Sunset Boulevard surrounded by glass and concrete, and the next thing you knew you were up on Mulholland Drive, alone in the rough country. From a high window or a rooftop almost anywhere in Los Angeles you could see the mountains, and there was always something ravenous up there looking down.

I was up among the hungry creatures, standing at the edge of a cliff, with Hollywood and Santa Monica far below me in the distance. One step forward and I would be in midair. I was looking down and wondering if Haley had considered how suddenly you could go from city to wilderness. Then I wondered if it was a distinction without a difference, if the city might be the wilderness and the wilderness the city, and maybe Los Angeles’s edges seemed to disappear so suddenly because there really was no separation between sidewalks and mountain paths, buildings and boulders. Up in the mountains or down in the city, either way the carnivores were in control.

I imagined Haley, out of her mind, running full speed off the cliff. I wondered what it had been like, that final second or two before she hit. Had she realized what was happening? Did she recognize the city lights below for what they were, or did she really think she was flying toward the stars? And did she think of me? 

Stepping closer to the edge, I slid the toes of my shoes into the air. I looked down two hundred feet, toward the spot where she had broken on the rocks. I stood one inch from eternity and tried to imagine life without her. I could not summon up a single reason why I shouldn’t take that final step, except for one. I thought about the kind of animal who would drive someone to do what my wife had done. Predators like that were everywhere. I should know. I had trained for half my life to be one of them. I was hungry, looking down on the city. If I was going to live, the hunger would have to be enough, for now. But I would sink my teeth into him, sooner or later. I would do that for Haley, and for myself, and then maybe it would be my turn to see if I could fly.

I stepped back from the edge.

About The Author

A master of profound suspense.

Athol Dickson's mystery, suspense, and literary novels have won three Christy Awards and an Audie Award. Suspense fans who enjoyed Athol's They Shall See God will love his latest novel, January Justice, the first installment in a new mystery series called The Malcolm Cutter Memoirs. The second and third novels in the series, Free Fall in February, and A March Murder, are coming in 2013.

Critics have favorably compared Athol's work to such diverse authors as Octavia Butler (Publisher's Weekly), Hermann Hesse (The New York Journal of Books) and Flannery O'Connor (The New York Times). Athol lives with his wife in southern California.

Praise for Athol Dickson's novels:

"Atmospheric, well-paced and powerfully imagined . . . a highly entertaining nail-biter." (Publishers Weekly)

". . . richly imagined . . . lyrically written . . . artfully constructed." (Bookwire)

". . . well-written . . . intelligent . . . suspenseful . . . engrossing." (Library Journal)

". . . elegant prose . . . very well written." (The New York Review of Books )


Virtual Book Blast Contest Giveaway

Win A Copy of January Justice 


$10 Amazon Gift Card

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell (Book Review / Kindle Fire Contest Giveaway)

In association with Litfuse Publicity Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell!

Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Publication Date: March 1, 2013
Format: Paperback - 384 pages / Kindle - 777 KB / Nook - 2 MB
ISBN: 0764207970
Genre: Christian Historical Romance

BUY THE BOOK: Unrivaled

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Litfuse Publicity Blog Tours.

Book Description:

Lucy Kendall returns from a tour of the Continent, her luggage filled with the latest fashions and a mind fired by inspiration. After tasting Europe’s best confections, she’s sure she’ll come up with a recipe that will save her father’s struggling candy business and reverse their fortunes. But she soon discovers that their biggest competitor, the cheat who swindled her father out of his prize recipe, has now hired a promotions manager–a cocky, handsome out-of-towner who gets under Lucy’s skin.

Charlie Clarke’s new role at Standard Manufacturing is the chance of a lifetime. He can put some rough times behind him and reconnect with the father he’s never known. The one thing he never counted on, however, was tenacious Lucy Kendall. She’s making his work life miserable…and making herself impossible for him to forget.

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1


Soon, soon, soon. My thoughts kept tempo with the horses’ hooves. It was all I could do not to stare as the carriage passed the sites of my beloved St. Louis: the brown brick Cave Ballroom; the tall Morgens Brothers Building with its deep bay windows; Ford Motor Company. And all the shoe and boot stores lining the district. If I looked out the other side of the carriage, I knew I would see the St. Louis Club.

An advertisement for Royal Taffy candy caught my attention. Give the Queen of Your Heart a Royal Gift. The brazen red of its oblong wrapper was echoed in the border of the poster. It was the third of its kind that I had seen on our journey down Olive Street. I wondered how many more of them had been put up around the city. And I wondered, too, why I hadn’t seen any for my father’s candy, Fancy Crunch.

The carriage lurched to a stop again. My, but there were so many more automobiles on the streets than there had been when I’d left for Europe. And it had only been a little over a year! Such a bother they were.

And it was so hot! I’d forgotten about Missouri’s humidity. Though it had been made in the new open style, my white silk collar was sticking to my neck, and I suspected my Denmark blue blouse-waist was already damp at the back. I shifted forward on the seat as the streetcars and automobiles sailed past us, reminding me of all the ships I had seen on the Mediterranean.

Awnings shaded shop windows while men and women hurried up and down the street. I noted how tall all the buildings were. Pride bloomed in my breast: Even Europe with all her splendors had nothing to rival my native city.

I had worried that I would find my home too dull and provincial, that it would be diminished by the grandeur of all the things I had seen and the places I had visited on the Continent. To the contrary! Dear, sweet home. I wanted to embrace it all, every piece of it. There were dozens of things I couldn’t wait to do. And there were a hundred things I wanted to tell of: eating linzer torte in Austria; viewing glaciers in Switzerland; drinking coffee at the cafés in Italy.

Soon, soon, soon.

I’d voyaged halfway around the world, but this last journey from Union Station to my house was interminable.

Glancing down at the newspaper I’d twisted between my hands, I determined to at least look as if I were patiently waiting. It was a discarded copy of the Chicago Tribune someone had left on the train. A headline in bold type declared Suspect in South Side Murder Arrested. The article went on to explain beneath: A twenty-two-year-old member of one of the South Side’s notorious athletic clubs was arrested for the murder of Micky Callahan. How gruesome! My eyes strayed from the article to the face of the hardened criminal, which stared back at me with beady eyes. It was enough to make me shudder. I hoped they kept him in that jail for a very long time! I folded it up and laid my hands atop it.

My aunt and uncle exchanged a glance as they sat on the bench across from me. I’d grown used to such glances on the Continent. But more than that, I had grown used to their exchange of tender gestures. I could only hope that I would someday find myself in a marriage as loving as theirs.

Four blocks more.

Three blocks more.

Oh!—there it was. The gracefully curving, columned gate that guarded Vandeventer Place from the world outside it. I knew every twist of the metal flowers that scrolled up the ironwork. The carriage left off its jarring bounce as it glided onto the smooth granite flagstones that lined the threshold of the gate. My heart thrilled to hear the splash of the fountain beyond and tears pricked my eyes at the sight of the statue that topped it. Leda and her swan. And—look! Old Mr. Carleton was still sitting in that same wicker chair on his porch, supervising the pruning of his roses. I could not help but grin and wave my handkerchief at him.

“Perhaps you should settle yourself more fully on the seat, my dear.” Though her words were corrective, my aunt smiled as she said them. She had often helped to guide my behavior while we were in Europe. But she was right. Perhaps I should sit back. I wouldn’t want Father and Mother to think that my manners had suffered in Europe while I was gone.

I could not wait to see them!

Though . . . the thought of my father brought with it a pang of guilt. I’d been allowed to accompany my aunt and uncle on their tour in the hopes that it would turn me into a lady. A lady didn’t succumb to enthusiasms, and she didn’t go about waving handkerchiefs, and most of all, she did not join her father in his business.

Not even when the best and happiest parts of her childhood had been spent with him by a stove, as they created new candies, anticipating the glorious success of his efforts.

How long we’d been waiting for that success.

But now I’d been to Europe. I’d seen her delights. And I had also tasted of her many sweets. In doing so, my resolve to join him in the business had only hardened, and I’d concocted a plan. I was going to share with him all that I had discovered. I’d collected labels from candy boxes and wrappers to paste into my scrapbook to show him. And I’d saved some samples for him as well. Perhaps that’s what I would do first: Let him taste my treasures. And then I’d talk to him about adding a new line of candies to City Confectionery’s offerings: Premium European Sweets. “How many new candies do you think Father created while I was gone?”

“Well . . .” My aunt’s glance veered away from mine and a frown tugged at the corners of her mouth. “I don’t know . . . but . . . Lucy, dear? There’s something I think you should know.” She looked again at my uncle.

There it was at the end of the street: my own dear house. The one Grandfather had built, with its gabled roofline and porticoed entry. It took all the strength I had to restrain myself from leaping out and dashing up the steps.


I wrenched my shoulders back and put up a hand to adjust my new straw picture hat. I felt the mound of white ostrich feathers atop it sway as I looked down and folded my gloved hands once more atop my lap. “Yes, Auntie?”

“There’s something that . . . well . . .”

My uncle cleared his throat. “Something’s happened to your father.”

My Book Review:

Lucy Kendall returns home to St. Louis from a grand European tour with a collection of candies that she hopes will create new candy ideas that will save City Confections, her family's struggling candy business. But her hopes are dashed when she is told that her father has suffered a heart attack, and her Mother has decided to sell the business because of the competition from a rival candy business. But Lucy isn't willing to give up, she comes up with a plan to create a new candy that she hopes will revive the sales for her family's candy business.

Charlie Clarke is summoned to St. Louis by his estranged father who had left his mother and family when Charlie was seven years old. His father has built an empire with Standard Manufacturing, the largest candy factory in St. Louis, and he wants to pass the company onto his son. This factory used to be owned by Lucy's father, but he had lost the factory as well as a recipe for Royal Taffy to Charlie's father. Charlie wants to get his father's approval, he is determined to help is father dominate the candy industry.

When Lucy and Charlie meet there is a mutual attraction, but can a relationship develop and survive when their families are rival candy makers?

In Unrivaled, author Siri Mitchel weaves an entertaining historical romance tale written in the first person narrative with alternating points of view by Lucy and Charlie, who transports the reader back to the turn of the century (early 1900s) St. Louis with a rousing story of family rivalry, love and confectionery sweets. In this captivating story, both young people want nothing more than to help their family's businesses. They are filled with dreams and schemes of building their respective businesses while having a mutual attraction, but as their rivalry escalates and they try to top each other's efforts, eventually someone will need to fold.

The author's attention to historical detail is richly described and offers fascinating insight into the turn of the century early 1900s St. Louis society, and the candy making process and industry. The storyline is filled with a mixture of humor and drama. Lucy and Charlie are both strong-willed but likable characters, who are rivals in the candy business, while also fighting a mutual personal attraction. Their schemes to outdo the other's candy company often create humorous situations. I thought that Lucy's behavior and actions to be exasperating. She becomes so focused on achieving her goals, that she is blinded to the impacts her actions have on others, but as the story unfolds she exhibits an inner growth. Charlie is more open-minded and empathetic than Lucy, but he has his own inner struggles with forgiveness and pride. Despite a slightly tainted criminal past, Charlie desires love, genuineness and fairness. The reader can't help but get drawn as Lucy and Charlie's story unfolds.

With a storyline that wraps itself around a tapestry of society functions, candy making, and business battles; the messages of love, truth, and forgiveness comes shining through and makes Unrivaled a thoroughly enjoyable read.


About The Author

Siri Mitchell is the author of nearly a dozen novels, among them the critically acclaimed Christy Award finalists Chateau of Echoes and The Cubicle Next Door. A graduate of the University of Washington with a degree in business, she has worked in many different levels of government. As military spouse, she has lived in places as varied as Tokyo and Paris. Siri currently lives in the DC-metro area.

Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Litfuse Publicity

Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway 

Win A Kindle Fire 

Celebrate Unrivaled with Siri Mitchell by entering to win a Kindle Fire and joining her on April 18th for a Facebook Author Chat Party!

One "swooning" winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • Vintage Candy Kit
  • Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell (one for you and one for a friend!)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 17th. Winner will be announced at the "Unrivaled" Author Chat Facebook Party on 4/18. Connect with Siri, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at a trivia contest, and chat with readers just like yourself. There will also be gift certificates, books, vintage candy kits, and more!

So grab your copy of Unrivaled and join Siri on the evening of the April 18th for a chance to connect with Siri and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 18th!