Thursday, December 18, 2014

This Holiday Season, Give Joy, Donate a Book!

Help the Salvation Army reach 

by December 22nd, with


I have always loved this time of year. I was one of those kids that searched out for their unwrapped christmas presents around the house (until my Mom caught and started leaving them at friends and family's houses - I'm ashamed that I'm not even joking about this haha)

I would come home for lunch, with my sister, and sit by the Tree shaking the wrapped presents trying to guess what was in each. I'd wake up at 4-5am every Christmas morning eager to see what Santa left under the tree or in my stocking- I smile just thinking about it all now.

I remember my parents would always say, "Hayley, it's not about the presents, but the time spent with the ones you love" I remember I use to think "Yeah, ok Mom" while rolling my eyes.

Now that I'm an adult, I have to admit I owe my parents a HUGE apology and THANK YOU for always making every year a special one, I'm so grateful to have had such wonderful Christmases with you! 

I don't know if you've ever heard the song, "Grown-up Christmas wish" but I relate to it more and more every year, and so this Christmas I want to give back and what better way than WITH BOOKS!!!!

There are many charities to donate to at this time of year, but I decided to donate to TOY MOUNTAIN/The Salvation Army!


Toy Mountain is in need of donations geared towards teenage girls (13-15), and Young Adult books are a great way to spread holiday cheer!

Here's my donation:

Of course, I don't want to pressure anyone to feel they have to donate, but maybe there's an unread book on your shelf, where the spine hasn't even been cracked, of course you want to read it, but there just never seems to be any time with your ever growing TBR pile.

Why not donate that book now, and purchase it in paperback at a later date, when you have time to read it :) It's a great way to go through your book shelves and give back!

And if you don't want to part with your beloved books (which I completely understand) a Chapters/Indigo gift card, would make a terrific gift!


If you do decide to donate, or want more details, go to the TOY MOUNTAIN WEBSITE, they have separate sites for their TORONTO, OTTAWA, VANCOUVER and WINNIPEG locations and each site has dates and drop-off locations.

Or tweet them at @ToyMountain with any questions or a picture of your donation! :)

I hope you all have a wonderful BOOK-FILLED holiday season!

Happy Holiday Reading!!!

*All Toy Mountain and Salvation Army images in this post were taken from CTV.ca 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Hello all! It's been awhile since I've posted a WOW post, but I received a teaser for this week's pick in the mail from Penguin Canada and now I'm dying to continue the story!

An Ember in the Ashes
by: Sabaa Tahir
Release date: April 28th/15 - So far away!!!
Add An Ember in the Ashes to your Goodreads To-Read list 
Cover image and synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:
Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.
 

That's my WOW pick this week, what's yours? Let me know in the comments, I'm always looking to add to my daunting TBR pile HAHA!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Indie Review: One Song Away by Molli Moran

One Song Away
by: Molli Moran
Now Available!!!
Source: E-galley received from author
Purchase your copy: Amazon 
Cover image and synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:
She needs a fill-in boyfriend. He needs a favor. It’s the perfect, no-strings arrangement until they both realize it’s too real…
Sophie-Claire Wright’s life is like a bad country song on repeat. She keeps running into her cheating ex, her songwriting career isn't taking off, and her roommate just kicked her out of their apartment. With nothing to lose, she decides to do the one thing she said she’d never do: she moves back home. She left her small Southern town with big dreams, but now she’s going home with empty pockets.

Life moves at a slower pace in Sophie’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it hometown, but her well-meaning, matchmaking mama doesn't have a slow gear. Sophie invents a boyfriend to hold off her mother’s efforts, but she’s out of luck when her mom wants to meet him. Sophie panics until she runs into Jake Cooper. Her high school crush (and former best friend) is back in town, too, and when he asks her for a favor, she agrees...on one condition. He says he’ll be her fill-in boyfriend, so it should be simple: re-introduce him to her family and then “break up” with him after a few weeks.

Sophie is sure she’ll be able to resist Jake this time. Sure, she was in love with him years ago, but that was then. This is now, no matter how great he looks, or how she feels around him. But she didn't bargain for moments that feel all too genuine. Dates that don’t seem fake. Kisses that leave her shaken and wanting more. Sweet moments where she forgets they aren't really dating. And she didn't count on old feelings resurfacing and complicating their arrangement—which is starting to feel less like acting and more like the real deal.

Soon, Sophie can’t tell which kisses are real or fake, but she knows she’s in deep...and she thinks Jake is, too. When she gets a chance to go back to Nashville and chase her dreams again, she has a choice to make: stay or go? Continue hoping that the life she wants is one song away, or finally write her own song?

My Thoughts:
A light-hearted romance that can be read within one sitting!

I think fans of Hart of Dixie and Nashville, will enjoy Sophie's story, and the many characters that surround her. One Song Away is told completely from Sophie's first person point of view, and readers will find her narration relatable and easy to follow. She's in her mid-twenties but still struggling to find her "success" in the world, a struggle many New Adults can relate to in this day and age. But, with the help of family and friends, Sophie continues to stay positive. Of course it doesn't hurt to have the support of her childhood best-friend and first love.

Which brings us to Jake/Coop, he's a gorgeous man and the outside and inside, and I enjoyed his continued confidence and positivity. The romance between these two is very sweet, although after a while I kind of just wanted to clunk their heads together and say "Come on, we all know you're not "pretending" to be in love".

Although I thought the beginning seemed a bit rushed, I feel like a bit more time could have been given to the build-up of Sophie needing Jake as a "fake" boyfriend, I ultimately enjoyed the scenes, between these two, that followed as they got to get to know each other all over again.

There's not much action in this novel as it is character driven, with a large emphasis on the relationship between Sophie and Jake, but it's also about a young woman finding her place in the adult world.

If you enjoy a light romance with fun characters, give One Song Away a chance!

Happy Reading!!!
Q&A with Molli Moran
Connect with Molli on Twitter & Goodreads

Hi Hayley! Hi blog readers! *waves* Thanks so much to Hayley for having me here, and giving me the chance to talk a little about my upcoming New Adult contemporary romance, ONE SONG AWAY

 What three words would you use to describe One Song Away? 
Romantic, Heartwarming, Bravery

What can readers expect from One Song Away? 
Originally I wanted to write a fun story, and while I think ONE SONG AWAY has fun moments, it took on more meaning than I planned. So I think readers can expect a sort of Southern set romantic comedy but with a lot of heart, kissing, and country music. 

 What struggles did you face, while writing One Song Away or New Adult in general? Writing ONE SONG AWAY was easy for me, but I've struggled some since writing my first New Adult book, in that one of my goals is to bring more awareness of what New Adult really *is* versus what it isn't. There are still a great many misconceptions (mainly that New Adult books are just sex) that I want to work to change. 

Do you plan to continue Sophie's journey? Or could we see a spin-off novel, possible from "his" point of view :)? 
Right now, my only plans are for a book featuring Sloane, Sophie's best friend in ONE SONG AWAY, but I won't rule out possible novella or follow-up including Jake's point of view! 

Which character would you say you relate to the most? What about the least? Why? 
I think I relate to Sloane the most. Whereas Sophie-Claire tends to leap without thinking, Sloane and I both plan a bit more, and we're a bit more positive thinking. The least...hmm, probably Sophie's sister Cassidy. Cassidy is the classic "good girl," and I'm not *quite* that good. ;) 

If you could write a country song on your life, what would you title it? Why? 
HAHA, what a wonderful question. Oh man, I'd probably title it A Coffee Lover's Heartbreak, because I adore coffee, but despite how much I drink, I can never get ALL the things done.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 
Never give up, because it's one thing to become an author, but if you're a writer, it's in your blood. Keep reading everything, keep writing and growing. Make mistakes, write books you'll never publish. Just keep trying and learning, and never give up. 

Thank you, Molli, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!


Monday, December 15, 2014

Middle Grade Monday with Ava: Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Rot and Ruin (Benny Imura #1)
by: Jonathan Maberry
Now available!!!
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Source: Purchased finished copy
Cover image and synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:
In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn't want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human. 

Purchase your copy: S & S Canada | Amazon | Chapters/Indigo

Ava's Thoughts:
Rot and Ruin is a book that takes place after First Night, a time when zombies invaded cities and infected people all over. Not the town of Mountainside, though. Not Benny and Tom Imura, though. Tom is known for being a closure specialist, someone who kills zombies peacefully. He journeys beyond Mountainside to quiet zombies, into a place called the Rot and Ruin.

Benny collects zombie cards along with his friends Morgie, Cong and Nix. He has a passion for listening to Charlie Pinkeye and the Motor City Hammer's outrageous zombie stories. That is, until Tom takes him out to the Rot and Ruin. And he gets a rare zombie card, about the Lost Girl.

Benny soon learns that friends become enemies if you have what they want.  And Charlie Pink-Eye wants the Lost Girl card. He is taking people to Gameland, a place where you are forced to fight zombies in a pit, sometimes without something to defend yourself. So Tom and Benny set out to destroy Gameland and quiet some zombies along the way...including two who are very close to the heart.  

I give this book an 8/10 because it was clearly intended for an older audience. Enjoy!

Ciao, Ava

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Blog Tour: Book Review, Author Q&A & GIVEAWAY: What's Left of Us by Amanda Maxlyn


what's left hosted cover.jpgWhat's Left of Us (Sequel to What's Left of Me)
By: Amanda Maxlyn
Now Available!!!
Order your copy here.
For reader ages 18+
Book blurb:
The heartwarming conclusion to What's Left of Me.
Love found me three years ago.

I’m cancer free, happily married to the love of my life, and working toward my dream career.
Our life is complete. Perfect, really. 

Or is it?
what's left of us t5.jpg
I’ve always wanted a family of my own, but never dreamed I could have one. Now Parker’s ready to make my dream our reality.
But sometimes our dreams are haunted by our deepest fears. Fears of failure, having a child, and in our case … death. How do I help the person I love get over his fear when I’m still trying to overcome that same fear myself? 
Together we must learn What’s Left of Us.

My Thoughts:
Just when I thought I could love these two more, What's Left of Us, will give fans of Andrea and Parker the closure that we so desperately wanted in What's Left of Me.

Unlike it's predecessor, What's Left of Us is told from the duelling point of views of Andrea and Parker, now normally I'm not a fan of reading from a male perspective, but I actually found it quite refreshing getting inside his head and thoughts. In fact, I love him even more now, he's so perfect. However, we did get a glimpse inside Parker's thoughts in the end of What's Left of Me, a chapter that I have re-read multiple times and manage to always cry over, but it was a relief to read from his point of view under "happy" circumstances.

There is a lot of growth with regards to the relationship these two share, a couple years had gone by so they're now a happily married couple planning to start a family, an issue that Aundrea is both excited and terrified for, she's survived so much and can't stand the idea of leaving her husband and child. Parker has his own concerns, but these two just make each other stronger. Amanda does an amazing job of writing such a realistic but powerful love that these two share, you just want good things to happen for them.

What I also loved about What's Left of Us was that even though there was a two-year gap between the two books, we got to see the important milestones in their relationship, through awesome flashbacks.

Plain and simple, if you loved What's Left of Me, like me, than you're guaranteed to love What's Left of Us, it's like a love letter from Amanda to her fans, exactly what we've been craving since devouring her debut.

Amanda is an auto-purchase author for sure.

Happy Reading!!! 
Purchase your copy: Amazon | iBooks | B&N
About Amanda:

amanda maxlyn bio.jpg
I am the mother of two little boys, married to the love of my life, and living in one of the smallest towns in Minnesota. When I’m not chasing or cleaning up after my boys (yes, all three), I can be found writing or snuggled up with my kindle, a glass of wine, and spending time with my fictional friends and family.

I am first and foremost an avid reader! I love to read anything romance from paranormal, young/new adult, contemporary, and even yes, (wide eyes) erotic/BDSM.






Q&A with Amanda

1. If you could describe Aundrea and Parker's relationship in three words, what words would they be? 


Boundless, Strong, Everlasting

2. What can readers expect from What's Left of Us, that we didn't see in What's Left of Me?

What's Left of Us is a MUCH different read than What's Left of Me. You'll see Aundrea and Parker living their life as a married couple and go on a new journey with them as they overcome their deepest fears while trying to start a family.They're older, more mature, and more confident in who they are individually and as a couple (in and out of the bedroom).

3. What's Left of Me is an emotional roller coaster, how are you able to write such moving characters and tear-inducing scenes?

These characters are my life. Each one of them. I've lived parts of this story and have watched others go through the parts I haven't. A lot of readers say they love that this book feels so "real." That's because it is. I tried to keep the emotions realistic and raw, with no sugar coating. Parker and Aundrea may not be real human beings, but the events are and the emotion is, which is why I think readers are able to connect with them so well. 

4. Which character, of your stories, do you relate to the most? Why?


Aundrea. She's me in every way possible. I would say more so in What's Left of Us because as a mother I share the same fears Aundrea does. When she was weak, I felt weak with her and when she was strong, I was strong. She's such a realistic character with real concerns it's hard not to relate to her.

5. (Without being too spoilery haha,) Is this the end for Parker and Aundrea, or can we expect more novels, perhaps character spin-offs?

This is the end for Parker and Aundrea. However, never say never about seeing them in a cameo. ;)

Thanks so much, Amanda, for stopping by and sharing your answers! :)

Amanda is excited to share the release of "What's Left of Us", the heartwarming conclusion to What's Left of Me.

Make sure to check out the teasers, pick up your copy and enter the $100 kATE Spade Gift Card GIVEAWAY below!




Thanks so much to Amanda and Brandee's Book Endings for the review copy and allowing me to participate in this review tour!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Middle Grade Monday with Ava: Camp X by Eric Walters

Camp X
by: Eric Walters
Now available!!!
Publisher: Penguin
Cover image and synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:
It's 1943, and nearly-12-year-old George and his older brother Jack are spending a restless wartime summer in Whitby, Ontario, where their mom is working at a munitions plant while their dad is off fighting the Germans. One afternoon, the boys stumble across Canada's top-secret spy camp-and so begins an exciting and terrifying adventure as George and Jack get caught up in the covert activities of Camp X. Fascinated by Camp X and its secrets, the boys begin to suspect local townspeople of being spies. Is the police chief keeping tabs on people for enemy purposes? Is Jack's boss at the newspaper really amassing information for sinister reasons?

Unable to resist the camp's allure, the boys keep going back to find out more details of what's going on-they even meet William Stephenson, the Man Called Intrepid himself. They also attract the attention of a very sinister character, someone who is determined to use George and Jack's knowledge against the Allies, no matter the consequences . . . or the casualties.
 

Ava's Thoughts:

Camp X is a book set in the time of 1942 during the Second World War. It is told from the perspective of twelve year old George Braun. His father enlisted in the army so he lives with his older brother Jack and his mother.

Their mother works at the ammunitions plant, and one day the two boys were play-fighting when they stumbled upon a top secret spy camp called Camp X... and were told to never go there again. Eventually, curiosity takes over, and hey return to Camp X multiple times. But, they think its a camp training Nazis, not Canadians!

I like this book because Jack and George make mistakes along the way. I also enjoyed this boo because it taught a lesson about loyalty to your country, especially in a time of such chaos.

I give this book a 10/10 because it was exciting and suspenseful. Whether it was floating down a creek and watching people practice blow up bridges or crashing Jeeps, the action does not stop. I loved this book because the characters seemed like real people. They showed fear, excitement, curiosity, and emotions just like living people. It was like a constat movie going through my head when I read this. Enjoy :-)

Ciao, Ava  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

BOX OF ARCS CONTEST! The Fall/Winter 14/15 Edition



Hello all!!!

As promised, I have brought to you, my next BOX OF ARCS contest!!!

Now this contest is going to run a little differently, I have been going through all my books and ARCs over and over, and trying to hone in my tendency to hoard books that I'll never have the opportunity to read.

And as such, I am bringing a couple of boxes of ARCs to my awesome old bookstore co-workers, and I've put aside some reads I thought Ava would enjoy reviewing...

BUT 

I also put aside a box of ARCs just for YOU!!!

The winner will receive AT LEAST 10 ARCs (of their choice) pictured above, it may be more depending on my Christmas shopping :), but you're guaranteed 10 of your choice, to enter fill out the rafflecopter below.



CONTEST TERMS AND CONDITIONS!!!!
  • Unfortunately shipping costs are super expensive so I can only open this giveaway to Canada/U.S. residents. But I do have an international Amazon card giveaway going on right now so be sure to visit my contest page to enter before it's too late :)
  • However, if you know someone who lives in Canada or the U.S. who is ok receiving this prize pack, please feel free to enter (with their permission of course :))
  • Contest entrants must be 13 years of age or older
  • Once the winner has been announced (On the rafflecopter in THIS post) it is their responsibility to email me their winner acknowledgement, choice of ARCs, and mailing information -- this is very important please check back on this post to not miss out on your prize
  • I will announce the winner for 2 weeks, after 2 weeks, I will take down the announcement and the prizes will go into the next BOX OF ARCs giveaway
  • For further contest details- please refer to my blog page

Good luck to all! :)

Happy Reading!!!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Review, Author Interview: After by Anna Todd

After
by: Anna Todd
Publisher: Gallery Books (previously published on Wattpad)
Now Available!!!
Source: Finished copy provided by Publisher
Warning: This title contains explicit content, and is recommended for readers 18+
Add After to your Goodreads list here.
Cover image and synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:
Tessa is a good girl with a sweet, reliable boyfriend back home. She's got direction, ambition, and a mother who's intent on keeping her that way. But she’s barely moved into her freshman dorm when she runs into Hardin. With his tousled brown hair, cocky British accent, tattoos, and lip ring, Hardin is cute and different from what she’s used to. 

But he's also rude - to the point of cruelty, even. For all his attitude, Tessashould hate Hardin and she does — until she finds herself alone with him in his room. Something about his dark mood grabs her, and when they kiss it ignites within her a passion she’s never known before. 

He’ll call her beautiful, then insist he isn’t the one for her and disappear again and again. Despite the reckless way he treats her, Tessa is compelled to dig deeper and find the real Hardin beneath all his lies. He pushes her away again and again, yet every time she pushes back, he only pulls her in deeper. 

Tessa already has the perfect boyfriend. So why is she trying so hard to overcome her own hurt pride and Hardin’s prejudice about nice girls like her? 

Unless… could this be love?

Purchase your copy! Amazon | Chapters/Indigo 


Check out the buzz After is receiving!

Click here to watch a short (2-minute) video from CBC News

My Thoughts:

The perfect blend of angst and intensity fans of A Beautiful Disaster and 50 Shades of Grey  are sure to devour!

I am OBSESSED with this series, seriously, I have been sucked into the addictive world of Hardin and Tessa, and I never want to leave!

After is a character driven, new adult romance that is told completely from Tessa's first person point of view, and coming in at almost 600 pages, it's sure to keep readers engaged way into the wee hours of the night :).

As I stated before, the relationship between Tessa and Hardin reminded me quite a bit of the  relationship Abby and Travis shared in A Beautiful Disaster, in the sense that the chemistry is sizzling but at the same time, I constantly felt that these two were completely toxic for each other with their constant love/hate relationship (so you can see why I've labelled this one a roller coaster ride :) haha.) These two definitely need to work on themselves a bit, their youth definitely came through in some of their rash relationship decisions.

Tessa is a smart but often, naive college freshman. She's lived a very sheltered and closed off life on account of her overbearing mother and often overprotective boyfriend Noah. While I constantly wanted to smack her and yell "Grow some back-bone woman!" she is a genuinely good but flawed character. However, I am not a fan of her treatment of Noah, I feel like this man truly got the lousy end of the stick, undeservingly (even if he is a bit of a tattle tell at times- not sure if I spelt that right haha).

Hardin is the domineering, secretive bad boy that I would be warning my daughter against (well if I had a daughter haha). He's infuriating, very "experienced", pushy and down-right irresistible to Tessa (and the reader) of course, his British accent doesn't hurt matters. He's constantly hot and cold (I kept humming that Katie Perry song while reading) but you know he cares deeply for Tessa, but at the same time, he seems to be constantly hiding something from Tessa, something that could completely shatter the world they've built.

After is full of great supporting characters, I especially like Steph, but it is definitely the romance between Tessa and Hardin that drives the plot of Todd's debut, but trust me the drama these two bring to the pages will definitely keep your interest for its complete 500+ pages.

If you're a romance junky like me, you have to read this new sensation, however, if romance isn't your preferred genre you might want to pass on this one.

Happy Reading!!!

Anna Todd Signing
A couple weeks ago, the Indigo at the Eaton's Centre hosted a signing of Anna Todd's debut novel and Wattpad sensation, After. Many fans showed up early to get in line for a chance to meet the talented Todd:
There were many smiling faces and excited fans.
I had the amazing opportunity to do a meet and greet with Anna in the Indigo Green Room, where she answered a few of my burning questions about Tessa and Hardin
Once again, my terrible photography skills have been put on display
Here are some of the questions Anna was able to answer for me (I have to admit that I am paraphrasing as I didn't think to use my recorder so I was scrambling to write down notes haha)

Sum up After in three words
Steamy, heartbreaking, passionate

Who's your favourite character?
Hardin and his transformation (need to read entire series to completely see this)

Would you take Hardin back?
If I was 18-year-old Tessa, yes I would continue to take him back.

Will we see any spin-offs?
Landon will probably be getting his own story.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Try to build an audience. Just put it out there, don't be scared. If you're scared, you should write it.

If you could recast some characters, who would they be?
Photo taken from pintrest.com


Douglas Booth for Hardin because he is dangerous looking.




Photo taken from thefaultinourstars.wikia.com


 Ansel Elgort for Landon











A few notes from Anna on After
-Hardin's irresistible because there's nothing like a bad boy who only wants to be good for you
-She wants her readers to get mad at her characters, she wants them to recognize that they are flawed

It was so nice to meet Anna, and talk celebrity gossip and book boyfriends and of course, all things After and I was very excited to get my copy signed


Huge thanks to the Indigo team, Anna and Simon and Schuster Canada for the opportunity to meet and greet with Anna!

Friday, November 14, 2014

What's The Story McCoy/Stacking the Shelves

 Stacking the shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tyngas Reviews, What's the Story McCoy? is this blog's own version of STS :)

Howdy all! Once again, it's been awhile *Hides face in shame* I hope you all had epic reading weeks!

Below is what I've added to my TBR these past 3 months! :)

Requested or received from Publishers:
Simon and Schuster
After by Anna Todd Signed FC - Soooooo good, look for my review and author Q&A on Monday!
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll - ARC - I actually won this one on Goodreads, looks really good!

Astor + Blue Editions

Razorbill/Penguin Canada (Penguin Random House Canada)

Harlequin/HarlequinTEEN

Random House Canada (Penguin Random House Canada)

HarperCollins Canada/HCC Frenzy

Raincoast Books

Scholastic Canada

Gifted (From Ava :))

Bought from Book Outlet.ca (so many steals!)

Bought from Chapters ($5 or less!)

That's my story, thanks so much to Ava, Simon and Schuster Canada, Astor + Blue Editions, Penguin Random House Canada (Razorbill Canada), Harlequin/HarlequinTEEN, HarperCollins Canada, Raincoast Books and Scholastic Canada, for making it stupendously epic!

What's your story? What's filling your shelves? Leave me links in the comments so I can come visit you! :)

Happy Reading!!!


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Excerpt Reveal: What's Left of Us by Amanda Maxlyn



what's left of us excerpt reveal.jpg

Hello all! I'm excited to be participating in the Excerpt Reveal for What's Left of Us
WARNING!!! May contain spoilers for What's Left of Me


what's left hosted cover.jpgWhat's Left of Us (Sequel to What's Left of Me)
By: Amanda Maxlyn
Release Date: November 14th/14. - So close!
Pre-order your copy here.
For reader ages 18+
Book blurb:
The heartwarming conclusion to What's Left of Me.

Love found me three years ago.

I’m cancer free, happily married to the love of my life, and working toward my dream career.

Our life is complete. Perfect, really. 
Or is it?
what's left of us t5.jpg
I’ve always wanted a family of my own, but never dreamed I could have one. Now Parker’s ready to make my dream our reality.

But sometimes our dreams are haunted by our deepest fears. Fears of failure, having a child, and in our case … death. How do I help the person I love get over his fear when I’m still trying to overcome that same fear myself?

Together we must learn What’s Left of Us.

About Amanda:

amanda maxlyn bio.jpg
I am the mother of two little boys, married to the love of my life, and living in one of the smallest towns in Minnesota. When I’m not chasing or cleaning up after my boys (yes, all three), I can be found writing or snuggled up with my kindle, a glass of wine, and spending time with my fictional friends and family.

I am first and foremost an avid reader! I love to read anything romance from paranormal, young/new adult, contemporary, and even yes, (wide eyes) erotic/BDSM.






Excerpt of What's Left of Us

Prologue
Aundrea


Fear. It’s all around us. It finds a way inside, lodging deep within, refusing to surrender. It latches on, following you on this path called life. The way it makes our bodies tremble through our core, perspire with one thought, or makes our hearts feel as if they’re coming to a standstill, causing all blood flow to rush from our head to our toes. It’s the one word that can instantly cause our breathing to become slow and labored, stirring up the worst emotions within.
Suddenly my chest becomes too tight to bear. My legs go numb and my arms feel weak. My heart is beating too fast and, no matter how much I pray for it to slow, and the tight pain to go away, it doesn’t.
I’m gasping for air. “My chest. It’s too tight.” I claw at my shirt, as if I could rip it off. The once soft fabric now feels like fire, burning away my flesh.
“Mom, I don’t think she’s okay!”
“Aundrea?!”
“I can’t breathe. My ... tight … the pain … it won’t stop. I can’t feel my arms, or …” Oh my God, this is it.
I fall to my knees.
“Is she having a heart attack?” Panicky, Genna stands and yells for my dad.
Every dream I’ve had, every sense of hope—everything I’ve feared is burning them away right before my eyes.
Death.
            It’s easy to forget what matters most when you’re distracted by your deepest fear, which, in my case, is leaving behind everyone I cherish most. Sometimes it’s the most disturbing thoughts that tunnel their way to your core and hold on, no matter how hard you try to shake them.
The afterlife doesn’t scare me. The unknown can be magical when you really think about it. The beauty of possibility.
There are muffled voices around me, yelling and screaming, but my eyes are frozen. I can’t move my head to see who’s speaking. I can’t even be certain where I am at the moment.
I begin to feel like I’m floating and it’s then that I realize I’m being put on a stretcher. There are two men yelling. Why are they yelling? Are they yelling at me?
A cold rush of air startles me as a mask is put over my face. It’s the first time I get a deep, fulfilling breath since this all started.
“You’re going to be okay. Keep your eyes open for me, okay?” one of the men instructs, leaning close to my face.
I try to nod, but he shakes his head. “Don’t try to move.” I go cold, every limb gone numb. Then, pain.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much pain in all my life. It’s as if a hundred men are standing on top of me, stabbing my chest with razor-sharp knives. I swear, with each jab of pain I can hear the crack of the blades stabbing deeper inside of me, slowly ripping me apart. Then the pain pierces my heart and I cry out.
“Someone needs to call Parker!” Genna screams.
The men start running and I feel like I’m flying. The wind washes over me and it’s almost calming.
My surroundings go blurry as I’m lifted. Everything is happening so fast. My shirt is ripped open and freezing stickers are placed on my chest.
Cries fill my ears, drowning out the loud banging from the men moving around. I don’t know where I am, but when I hear my mom say, “Parker, its Aundrea. We’re going to the hospital,” I let my eyes drift closed and just pray the pain will stop. And that Parker will get to me before it’s too late.

Chapter One
Aundrea
Three Months Earlier


The future.
It’s terrifying to think about.
Sometimes life can be run by our emotions; how we feel about ourselves can dictate the path our life takes.
Before Parker entered my life, I didn’t think about tomorrow, much less my future. But he changed me. The day he told me he could see my future was the day I knew I would stop at nothing to make sure I saw the start and end of each day. For him.
For us. It’s when our future began.
“Aundrea?” a gentle voice asks, breaking me from my thoughts. I shiver as Parker grasps my hand, helping me. My senses are heightened, trying to glean some clue as to where we are.
“Can I look now?” I giggle, nearly tripping over the uneven ground. The blindfold Parker had me put on before leaving our apartment slips a little as I catch my balance, but it doesn’t fall off.
His grip on my arm tightens as he chuckles. “Almost. A couple more steps.”
He guides me up a small set of steps, loosening his hold as we reach the top. He lets go of my arm, but doesn’t say a word; only the sound of crickets fills the night air. A welcome breeze kisses my face softly.
My ears perk up at the sound of a key entering a lock. “Where are we?” I ask, even though I know he won’t answer. I have a strong urge to just rip off the blindfold.
“We have one last tiny ledge to step over, so careful now.” Holding my elbow, he leads me through the door. A few steps in, we stop abruptly. “Okay, open.”
I pull down the blindfold and blink away blurriness as my eyes adjust.
 “What is this?” I stand, breathless, taking in my surroundings. Before me is a large open layout of living space leading into what a glimpse suggests is a kitchen. I look down, shuffling my feet. I’m standing on dark, rich hardwood floors that run into the most beautiful, detailed floor molding I have ever seen. To my side is a large, wide staircase leading to an open space that overlooks where we’re standing.
Of course, I know what this is—a houseso my question should really be, “Why are we here?”
Parker steps in front of me, taking one of my hands in his. I look up, meeting my husband’s crystal blue eyes.
“Do you know that paper is the traditional one year anniversary gift?” I shake my head, bemused. Handing me a folded note, he says quietly, “Open it.”
I fumble with the paper. I suck in a sharp breath as I read the deed I’m clenching in clammy fingers. “Parker, you bought us a house.” It doesn’t come out as a question, but rather a stunned statement.
His throat bobs as he rubs the back of his neck nervously, and a light sheen of sweat forms on his forehead. I smile at his nervousness, which causes his shoulders to relax.
 “Aundrea, I was taught that when you find the person you’re meant to be with, you should do everything in your power to keep them. Spend every day of your life proving to them that they’re worth it. You’re always by my side, helping me, wanting to protect me, and showing me that I can be the best man possible. Together, we’ve started to build a life that means something to us, and I want the next chapter of it to start here.”
He motions at the house around us. “I want to grow old, have lots of children, and hear their little footsteps run around on these hardwood floors. I want to have a future with you in this house.”
I cover my mouth to stop my lip from quivering. “I love it,” I mumble, my voice barely audible. I haven’t even stepped more than a foot into the place, but I can already tell by the hardwood floors and open layout that I’m going to fall head over heels for this house.
“You do?”
I look around the room, taking in the stone fireplace, high ceiling, bright lights, and crown molding. “It’s absolutely gorgeous.”
“Like you.”
Heat rises to my cheeks and I’m almost certain my ears have turned bright red. We’ve been together for three years now, and been married for one year, and this man can still make me blush.
“Come here.” He takes my hand, lacing our fingers together. “Let me show you around our place.”
I give a small nod, allowing him to lead the way. He takes me through the house, showing me the den, the living area, every bedroom and closet. Each room seems larger and more extravagant than the last. I’m surprised by how large this house is. It’s more than I could have ever dreamed. Parker explains that it’s a newly built house, which is why the walls are so plain, which I don’t mind because we’ll be able to add our Mr. and Mrs. Jackson touches to it.
Parker shows me every corner, ending with us standing in front of a sliding glass door off the dining room. A cool blast of air hits me as I follow him out to the large deck.
“Parker,” I breathe. My mouth drops open at the sight before me. The deck is covered with glowing candles and, in the center, a blanket is laid out with a bottle of champagne and two glasses.
“It’s amazing, huh?” he asks, motioning to the large backyard.
“It’s perfect.” I’m in absolute awe as I realize this is all ours.
Coming up behind me, Parker wraps his arms around my waist, pulling me against his chest. “We’re far enough away from the city that you can stargaze as much as you want with no light pollution.”
Resting my head on his shoulder, I look up at the black sky. I could stare at this view all night. I fill my lungs with the cool night air and let it out slowly as I take in our expansive back yard.
“Is this for real?” I ask half choked up, half smiling.
“Very much. Our future continues here, Aundrea.”
I turn to face him. “This place is amazing, Parker. Honestly, I couldn’t have picked a better place for the two of us.”
Engulfing me in his arms, he hugs me tightly, kissing the top of my head.
Snuggling in closer, I start thinking about the last couple months. How could he have managed this without my finding out?
“How did you do this?”
“What do you mean?”
I laugh. “How did you purchase a house without me knowing? I mean, I understand I’ve been busy with finals and gearing up for graduation next month, but I didn’t think I was that out of it.”
“I know the realtor.” He shrugs with a half smile. “He brings his dog into the clinic. Three months ago he mentioned this property and when I saw him again recently he brought it back up, surprised it was still on the market. I knew I had to see it and, when I did, I couldn’t resist. The price was right and the rest, as they say, is history.”
Of course he’d know the realtor.
I laugh again and Parker raises an eyebrow. “What’s so funny?”
“What if I’d hated the house?”
“I knew you wouldn’t.”
“Confident are you?”
“When it comes to you, yes.”
Giving him a warm smile, I wrap my arms back around his hard body, resting my head on his chest. “Here,” he says, pulling me to the center of the deck where the candles are glowing softly.
Settling under the blanket, I snuggle against him, looking up at the clear sky and the stars shining above us. I can imagine myself stargazing out here every night, or snuggling on a chaise longue with my Kindle and a glass of white wine.
This is our home.
Parker reaches for the champagne bottle, so I wiggle forward to give him more room. He pops the cork and pours us each a glass, not allowing the bubbles to overflow.
“Happy wedding anniversary, Aundrea. Here’s to many more.” He raises his glass and I do the same.
“Happy anniversary, handsome.”
The bubbles tickle my throat as I take a small sip, watching my husband do the same.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for this man before me and all his surprises. Over the last three years he’s done nothing but be supportive in all I do, constantly trying to give me everything that I deserve. He’s taught me to embrace life, and I can’t wait to welcome whatever life decides to throw our way next.

***

“Wait. Stop a minute and back up. He bought you a house? Like, a house house?” my best friend Jean screams into my ear the following evening. A house house? Is there any other kind?
Moving the phone away in an attempt to get my hearing back, I answer, “Yes, he bought us a house. Not just me.”
“Same thing.” Um … okay? “Damn, Dre.” I can picture her sitting on the couch in her Minneapolis apartment shaking her head in awe as she speaks. “When’s the move? Did you have any idea he was even looking?”
I shrug, even though she can’t see me. “We’re not sure on a move-in date, but since our lease is up at the end of next month, we’re hoping soon. Parker said the realtor doesn’t think it will be a problem. The loan has already gone through, so we’ll just need an inspection for the final okay. And, no, I had no idea he was looking. It just sort of fell in his lap.”
“Shit. I can’t believe that man sometimes.”
Neither can I. “I know.”
“The timing will be perfect, too. Take your last final, graduate, and move into that big new house of yours. You’re finally entering the real world!” The shuffling sounds on Jean’s end suggest she’s getting more comfortable. “If it weren’t for me, the two of you wouldn’t even be together.”
“That’s not true!”
“Sure it is. I practically had to force you to go home with him that night at Max’s Bar. If it weren’t for me, you would never have left with him, there’d be no ring on that pretty little finger of yours, and there definitely wouldn’t be any house. So, you’re welcome.”
“Thanks.” It comes out flat, but I pick the tone back up. “For the record, I went home with him all on my own.” She giggles. “Are you coming to Rochester this weekend?” I ask, changing the subject.
“I think so. It all depends on Kevin. He mentioned something about needing to pick up a shift for Jason.”
Kevin is another veterinarian Jason met in college and introduced to Parker when he moved here. They asked him to join the practice a little over a year ago, and recently he became the third partner at the clinic. He also happens to be Jean’s boyfriend—not that she approves of that word.
“Well, if not, maybe I can come up for the day or something?”
“I’d like that, Dre. It’s been forever.”
“It’s been two weeks!”
“My point. Forever.”
I smile just as I hear keys fumbling in the door. “Hey, Parker’s home. I’ll chat with you later, okay?”
“Fine, go hang out with that man candy of yours while I sit here in my empty apartment watching reruns of Gossip Girl.”
I chuckle, ending the call as Parker enters our apartment.
Standing in the entryway in gray dress slacks and a black button-down shirt unbuttoned a little at the top, he looks just as good as he did this morning when he left for work. His blond hair is disheveled, as if he’s run his hand through it a hundred times, suggesting a stressful day.
“What’s all the laughing about?”
“Jean.”
“Ah.” He raises his eyebrows and smiles.
Setting his keys in the dish by the door, he walks into the living room and sits next to me, pushing my physics book aside. It falls to the floor as his lips meet mine, gentle and soft. He takes my top lip into his mouth and tenderly kisses it.
Leaning back, he gives me a wink. “Hi.”
“Hello, handsome.” I run my fingers along his stubbled cheeks, smiling. “How was your day?”
His shoulders relax as he sinks into the couch. “Busy, but good. Yours?”
I groan, throwing my head back playfully. “Studying. Lots and lots of studying. I don’t think I can see straight. Change of subject, please.”
He laughs, pulling me in for another kiss. “That bad, huh?”
“I’m just anxious for my last final to be over.”
The moment I was cleared of needing further cancer treatment, I sunk all my spare time—plus some—into my studies. I doubled up on course work, taking as many classes as I could so that I could graduate in a timely manner. There were semesters my family—including Parker—thought I was crazy to take on so many sleepless nights and long study hours, but I looked at it as making up for missed opportunities, and I’ve truthfully enjoyed every second of it. I’ve worked so hard to get to this point, and the thought of graduating next month from the Winona State University, Rochester with a bachelor’s in physics is the most rewarding and liberating feeling ever.
Parker winks, then stands and moves through the kitchen effortlessly, opening the fridge and taking out a beer. He looks over his shoulder at me, raising an eyebrow, and I nod.
He rejoins me on the couch and I use my shirt to twist the cap off my beer.
“No studying tonight, beautiful. We’re celebrating.”
I take a small, appreciative sip. “Celebrating what?”
“Our future.”
“I thought we did that last night?” I bite my lip, remembering our naughty evening.
“Oh, we definitely celebrated last night.”
I blush. I shouldn’t be bashful thinking or talking about having sex, but when it comes to sex with Parker … it’s hard not to feel the heat.
He sets his beer down on the coffee table and his face turns serious. “I’ve been thinking—don’t give me that look, Aundrea.”
“What look?”
“The look that says, ‘Oh, boy, here we go!’”
I laugh. “Sorry. It’s just, last night you surprised me with a house. I’m not sure what can top that.”
He takes a deep breath. “When Mark showed me the house, the first thing that popped into my head was how we’ll have all this space to fill.” I can see the tension in the small lines forming around his eyes.
“What are you saying?”
He runs his hand through his hair and swallows hard. “Maybe it’s time we think about adding to the Jackson family.”
“Like a dog?” I raise an eyebrow. It’s a joke, but one I hope eases the tension in his eyes.
“No.” He gives me a weak smile. “What if we considered the idea of starting a family? I mean, it’s probably not going to happen overnight, but I think it’s time we discuss our options. Look into what’s available for us.”
I don’t realize I’m holding my breath until I suddenly feel lightheaded. Forcing myself to breathe, I brace against the armrest. “You mean … you want us to have a baby?”
He nods. Before I can say anything, he reaches for my arms, almost as if he knows what my reaction will be: passing out.
I kind of feel as if I might.
 A baby.
promo.jpgAre we ready to have a baby?
Am I ready to have a baby?

Thanks to Amanda and TRSOR Promotions for allowing me to participate in this Excerpt Reveal!!!