Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Cover Reveal: Hidden in Plain Sight by Karen Ann Hopkins, book #4 in the Serenity's Plain Secrets series!


Hello, friends! :) 
Today I am super excited to take part in the cover reveal for Hidden in Plain Sight by Karen Ann Hopkins, book four in the Serenity's Plain Secrets series. I have nothing but mad love for this series and the author alike. These books are amazing and so is the new cover! Check it out guys




When a cold case heats up, Serenity won’t stop until she discovers the truth.

In the fourth installment of the bestselling Serenity’s Plain Secrets’ series, Serenity must work with US marshals to uncover the truth behind a shockingly brutal fifteen-year-cold murder.

Desperate for answers, Serenity finds herself in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where she unravels secrets that threaten to tear her and Daniel apart. But digging up the past is dangerous, and the quaint Amish settlement isn’t as safe as it seems.

If Serenity chooses to trust the man she’s come to love, it could mean a happily ever after… or her final act.
 It will be available in print & e-book at Amazon in March!

While you wait, check out the other books in the series, Lamb to the SlaughterWhispers from the Dead and Secrets in the Grave.

Add series on Goodreads


About The Author: Karen Ann Hopkins
Find Karen @
Blog | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter
You can visit Karen Ann Hopkins at her website: www.karenannhopkins.com.

Karen Ann Hopkins resides in northern Kentucky with her family on a farm that boasts a menagerie of horses, goats, peacocks, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and cats. Karen's main job is home schooling the kids, but she finds time to give riding lessons, coach a youth equestrian drill team, and of course, write. She was inspired to create her first book, Temptation, by the Amish community she lived in. The experiential knowledge she gained through her interactions with her neighbors drove her to create the story of the star-crossed lovers, Rose and Noah.

Karen grew up about a mile from Lake Ontario in Upstate New York. She was bitten by the horse bug at the age of five, and after diligently taking riding lessons for several years, was rewarded with her first horse at the age of eleven. The feisty horse's name was Lady, a Quarter Horse-Thoroughbred cross, who became Karen's steadfast companion. Through the years, the constant force in her life was horses. Eventually, she found her place as a riding instructor herself. Before accepting her fate in the barnyard, she worked a short stint as a paralegal, traveled abroad, and guided tourists on horseback riding tours in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

Karen is currently working on her Amish mystery series, Serenity's Plain Secrets, along with the YA paranormal/fantasy series, The Wings of War.  Karen is also excited to announce the Temptation series has been optioned for TV by Pilgrim Studios and is available on Audible.

What does everyone think of the new cover? Leave your comments below. 
Karen stops by often to talk to commenters. ;) 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Blog Tour: Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman | Book Teasers/Excerpt + Giveaway!

Welcome to the Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman blog tour! 
Today I will be sharing all about this amazing new book, which includes an excerpt of chapter 1 and some book image teasers. Hope you all enjoy!



Blackhearts
by Nicole Castroman
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: February 9th 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Retellings, Romance, Pirates, Fantasy, Adventure

Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.

Edward "Teach" Drummond, son of one of Bristol's richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There's just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents' deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to CuraƧao—where her mother was born—when she's stuck in England? 

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.
CHAPTER 1

Anne

Bristol, England 1697

After Anne’s father died, her mother often said that sorrow was the only sun that rose for them. Her mother had since followed him into the darkness of death, leaving Anne to face the dawn alone.

That morning was no different, the thick clouds overhead were determined once again to release their pent-up frustration on her. In the crowded marketplace and its stalls, the air smelled of sweet water on damp stone and wood, accompanied by the tang of blood.

Other maids and cooks from the large homes in the city bartered and bought, their weary voices calling for pheasant, venison, and veal. Anne stood in line with her pail of fruits and vegetables, hoping she wasn’t too late to get the better cuts of meat. At last she stepped up to the butcher, the many coins in her pocket reminding her of her errand’s importance.

The butcher winked, his brown eyes almost black. “Good to see you, Anne. What’ll it be today?”

“Master Drummond wants venison tonight,” she said, inspecting the haunches and shoulders hanging from the stall’s center beam. The butcher’s eyes followed her with the same consideration. With his fair hair, some might have called him handsome, but she only saw his yellowed teeth and smelled his rank breath. If Master Drummond hadn’t insisted she buy from this particular butcher, she would have found a different one long ago. He was at least twice her sixteen years, and though his apron was clean, the look on his face was not.

“Aye, his son is coming home, isn’t he?” he said, leaning forward across the table. “Been gone a year at sea.”

Anne took a step back, pulling her shawl more firmly around her, and finally met his gaze. “Yes, which means there’s no time to waste. I must return to the house as quickly as possible. I’ll take that one,” she said, pointing to a fleshy red hindquarter.

The name Drummond was always on someone’s lips, for Richard Drummond was one of the wealthiest merchants in the city. In four weeks’ time one of the largest ships ever built, the Deliverance, would set sail from Bristol. It was Master Drummond’s showpiece.

“Oi, you can’t have that one. This one’ll have to do,” the butcher said, poking a knife into a thin portion of meat in front of him. It was old, the flesh tough and hard, the fat contracted.

Anne’s face flushed with anger, and she wished for the hundredth time that she could purchase elsewhere. “And why would I want that piece?” she asked sharply. “Do you know what the master would do if I served that for dinner tonight?”

The butcher grinned. “I know what I’d do,” he said.

Gritting her teeth, she gave him what she hoped was a haughty look. “What else do you have?”

Unexpectedly, he grabbed her arm, pulling her close so that her pail hit the table, spilling the produce onto the cobblestones beneath their feet.

“Don’t act so high and mighty with me. I’ve already told you. I’ll give you the best cuts, but this time it’ll cost you a little extra,” he sneered. “I’ve been a patient man. If you want to please your master, you’re going to have to please me first.”

Like a dragonfly caught under glass, her heart fluttered. She’d become accustomed to his lewd suggestions, but the grip of his grimy fingers on her arm filled her with a new sense of panic.

“You can please yourself,” she hissed, wrenching her arm out of his grasp. With shaking hands she quickly picked up the fruits and vegetables, not bothering to wipe the dirt from their skins. The butcher laughed, an ugly sound that made her stomach churn. She glared at him, turned on her heel, and barreled through the crowd in an attempt to put as much distance between herself and his stall as possible.

The devil hang him. If Master Drummond wants venison for his son’s return, he should come down here and buy it himself. If the butcher tries to touch me again, I’ll stick him like the pig he is.

Only after she was several rows away did Anne stop and lean against a brick wall to catch her breath, aware of the suspicious glances thrown her way.

Despite the fact that it was a major seaport, most of the inhabitants of Bristol were still unused to Anne’s appearance. She was the illegitimate daughter of a prosperous English merchant and a West Indies slave, and people didn’t know how to react to the mix of her mother’s coppery skin and her father’s blue eyes. It was obvious Anne didn’t fully belong to either race, and others often viewed her with either distaste or distrust.

Wearily she straightened, her fingers reaching for her mother’s small, gold watch hidden in her pocket, a habit whenever she was upset or distressed. She needed to find something else to cook for dinner, and quickly. With rows and rows of stalls, it would not be too difficult to find a new butcher, but she doubted she’d be able to find the same quality.

The church bell chimed the top of the hour, which meant Anne needed to head back to the manor, but there was no decent venison to be found. Desperate, Anne settled instead upon a clean stall near the edge of the market and bought two pheasants from a small, elderly woman with a hunched back and frail shoulders.

The woman took the coins Anne handed her and slipped them into her pocket, watching Anne intently the entire time. Anne ignored it, used to the scrutiny by now, after years of prying glances. “Do you ever have venison?” Anne asked, the poultry safely tucked beneath her arm.

The old woman nodded. “Aye, but we sold out first thing this morning.”

Just my luck.

“I’ll be back in the future,” Anne assured her, before heading into the busy horde. From now on she would buy from the old woman’s stall. Anne was the only one that Master Drummond sent to the market. There was no need for him to discover where Anne acquired his meals—she did not understand why he took such an active interest in his purchases anyway.

Part of her hair escaped her thick braid and cap, and she impatiently stuffed the stubborn black strands underneath, thinking of all the work that had yet to be done. A party of six would be eating dinner that afternoon, and she needed to get the pheasants home as quickly as possible.

Her feet turned in the direction of the harbor. Shrimp was a favorite treat of Master Drummond’s, and she had enough money left over. Although it wouldn’t be a lot, it might be enough to dampen his ire. If she could not secure the shrimp, she feared he might send her back to the workhouse, where she’d have to labor alongside the rest of the city’s penniless inhabitants in exchange for handouts. The thought sent a shiver running down her back.

As Anne approached the docks, the sound of seagulls intensified and the bells on distant boats could be heard more clearly. Her father had sometimes brought her here very early in the morning or late at night, when not many people were about. He’d said that the presence of the sea gave the very skies a special quality, one that could not be duplicated.

There was freedom here. It flowed through the air and lifted the sails of the vessels as they left. How often in the last five months had she been tempted to stow away, sail off, and leave this life behind? Her mother had filled her head with stories of the West Indies, and her father had always promised to take her to her mother’s island one day.

The familiar sights and sounds of the waterfront drew Anne in. It was hard to take a breath without inhaling the scent of salt and fish, and no one could speak without having to raise their voice over the cries of the gulls. Anne managed a smile, her first one all week.

The fishmonger she usually bought from saw her coming and straightened, returning her smile. “Good morning, Anne. You’re a bit late this morning, aren’t you?”

She nodded regretfully. “Yes, indeed. I don’t have much time, but I need some shrimp,” she said, referring to the small barrel behind him, full of the plump, gray crustaceans. “Two pounds should do.”

He flinched. “I’m truly sorry, but those have been purchased.”

Fear sharpened Anne’s voice. “What? The whole barrel?”

“Aye. Someone came in and bought the lot.”

“But I must have two pounds. Surely you can spare some,” she said.

“They’re not mine to spare. Though, you can ask him yourself, if you like,” the fishmonger said, pointing at someone over Anne’s shoulder.

She turned in time to see a large figure approaching. He was at least a head taller than she, with a broad chest, and muscular legs clearly visible in the brown breeches he wore. A cutlass hung from his waist, beneath his short jacket. He was tanned, and the hair on his head and the beard on his face were as black as the thatched roofs surrounding the dock.

She took an involuntary step backward as he stopped beside her. He gave her a cursory glance, his green eyes bright, before turning his attention to the fishmonger. His voice was smooth and low when he spoke. “Instead of taking them myself, I’d like you to deliver—”

Desperation drove Anne to interrupt him. “Please, sir. Might I have a word with you?”

Once again those green eyes turned in her direction. This time he afforded her a more complete perusal, and she swallowed the distaste in her mouth. He was no gentleman. His appearance suggested a simple sailor, someone who could not possibly afford the entire barrel.

“Yes?” he asked.

“It’s about the shrimp. I was wondering if I could take two pounds from the top and pay you for them.”

A woman came from behind and called to the fishmonger. He turned to help her, leaving the shabby sailor and Anne to their conversation.

When he had first approached, she’d thought him much older, for he was taller than most men. On closer inspection, she realized he couldn’t have been more than nineteen. His expression warmed as he considered her. He was interested, clearly, but Anne wasn’t sure if it was her proposal or her appearance.

“There is more than one stall that sells shrimp,” he said.

She was not to be deterred. She’d already lost one battle this morning and could not afford to lose another. The last cook who hadn’t provided the master’s favorite meal for a special occasion had been fired and kicked out onto the streets.

As much as Anne disliked living in the Drummond household, it was preferable to the gutter. And if she went to another household, there was no guarantee she could secure enough funds to begin a new life. “Yes, but this man has the most honest scales and the freshest fish. Since I am unable to buy from him, I have no choice but to ask you. Surely you would not miss two pounds,” she pressed.

The corners of his mouth lifted, and his green eyes twinkled. “Ah, but I would. Have you considered oysters as a substitute?”

Anne pursed her lips. Master Drummond hated oysters. “No, it must be shrimp. Please, I have a very important meal—”

It was his turn to interrupt. “I, too, have an important meal, for which I need the entire barrel.”

No doubt trying to impress some girl and her family. “I have enough coin. How much would it take?” she asked briskly.

He paused for a moment, still considering her. She shifted uncomfortably beneath his gaze but refused to back down. The crowd surrounding them thinned, evidence that time was wasting. Her eyes begged him to comply.

“Perhaps I’ve been too hasty. We could discuss the price,” he said, reaching boldly for her arm.

An image of the butcher flashed before her eyes, but this time there was no table to separate her from her attacker. Jerking free of his hold, Anne brought the pail forward, hitting the sailor soundly between the legs. He dropped to his knees, the breath escaping his lungs with a pained “Ooof,” his eyes no longer twinkling.

“Keep your hands to yourself, you filthy sea rat! Even if you were to offer me the full barrel, I wouldn’t go anywhere with the likes of you!”

For the second time that morning, Anne rushed away from an unwelcome advance, cursing softly beneath her breath. She felt the sailor’s eyes following her, burning a hole into the back of her head, but she didn’t turn around. He was in no condition to give chase, at least not now.

Hurrying from the docks, she reached once again for her mother’s pocket watch. A shiver ran down her spine and she sent up a silent prayer, asking that Master Drummond’s heart would be softened and that she wouldn’t find herself on the receiving end of his fury.

Anne also prayed that her path would not cross again with that of the sailor’s, for if it did, she knew with certainty that she would not leave the encounter unscathed.




 photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg



Nicole was lucky enough to come with her very own best friend...she has a twin sister who can read her mind and finish her sentences for her. 

At the age of 13, she went to Europe for the first time and it changed her life. She loves learning about different people, languages and cultures and speaks fluent German. She knows enough Spanish to get herself into trouble and can still read the Cyrillic alphabet from when she studied Russian.

She received her B.A. from Brigham Young University and has lived in Germany, Austria and two different places called Georgia. One is located on the Black Sea. The other is the state of Georgia where she now lives with her handsome husband and two beautiful children who continue to amaze her.

Prize: Win (1) signed hardcopy of Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman and some swag (US Only) a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Book Blast: Banished (Forbidden #2) by Kimberley Griffiths Little + Giveaway!

04_Banished_Book Blast Banner_FINAL



02_Banished
Banished by Kimberley Griffiths Little
Series: Forbidden #2
Publication Date: February 2, 2016 
Publisher: HarperCollins
Hardcover & Ebook; 416 Pages 
Genre: YA/Historical/Romance

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She thought she’d lost everything . . . 

After spending months traveling the harsh, unforgiving Mesopotamian desert, Jayden reunites with a broken, injured Kadesh. Although everyone was convinced the violent and unpredictable Horeb, Jayden’s betrothed, killed the handsome prince, Jayden knew in her heart that her love was alive and safe. But their reunion is short-lived, as they learn Horeb is on their trail and determined to take back the girl he has claimed. Soon, the two star-crossed lovers are on the run toward Sariba, Kadesh’s homeland, where, as heir to the Kingdom, he plans to make Jayden his princess. 

But the trek to Sariba is fraught with heartache and danger. After narrowly escaping being stoned to death for a crime she didn’t commit, and learning that her sister has disappeared, Jayden’s only solace is her love for Kadesh. But even he is keeping secrets from her . . . secrets that will change everything. 

This gorgeous and enchanting sequel to Forbidden, is full of love, danger, and heated passion that will leave readers breathless.
Purchase at: 





Kimberley Griffiths Little was born in San Francisco, but now lives in New Mexico with her husband and their three sons.


For such award-winning middle grade novels as When the Butterflies Came, The Last Snake Runner, The Healing Spell, and Circle of Secrets, her writing has been praised as "fast-paced and dramatic," with "characters painted in memorable detail" and "beautifully realized settings."

Kimberley adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell and makes way too many cookies while writing.

She's stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland; sailed on the Seine in Paris; ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan; shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria. Awards: Southwest Book Award, Whitney Award for Best Youth Novel, Bank Street College Best Books of 2011 & 2014, Crystal Kite Finalist, and New Mexico Book Award Finalist. For more information please visit Kimberly's website.
You can also find her on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Goodreads
Sign Up for Kimberly's Newsletter. 



To win a $25 Amazon Gift Card & Signed Copies of Forbidden and Banished please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below. Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 2nd. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open internationally. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion – Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Banished Book Blast

Book Blast Schedule:
Tuesday, February 2 Passages to the Past 
Wednesday, February 3 The Lit Bitch Let Them Read Books 
Thursday, February 4 I'm Shelf-ish 
Friday, February 5 Broken Teepee 
Monday, February 8 A Chick Who Reads 
Wednesday, February 10 Anastacia Reads 
Friday, February 12 A Leisure Moment 
Monday, February 15 I Heart Reading 
Tuesday, February 16 A Dream within a Dream 
Wednesday, February 17 What Is That Book About 
Thursday, February 18 Bittersweet Enchantment 
Friday, February 19 Curling up by the Fire 
Monday, February 22 The Life & Times of a Book Addict 
Tuesday, February 23 A Literary Vacation 
Thursday, February 25 A Book Geek 
Wednesday, March 2 The Never-Ending Book


Monday, February 15, 2016

Blog Tour: The Cupcake Witch by Poppy Lawless (Book Review + Giveaway)

Hello everyone! Welcome to the review tour for The Cupcake Witch! I hope you all enjoy reading my review and be sure to enter the giveaway below to win some sweet prizes! 




Title: The Cupcake Witch (novella)
Author: Poppy Lawless
Release Date: 2015

Number of Pages: 151Genre: YA > Contemporary Romance, Paranormal, Witches, Magic
Source: Author (ebook)



Julie - 

Buttercream. Vanilla. Fondant. Dark chocolate. Brown sugar. Molasses. Baking has always been my true love, but it wasn’t until my mother’s death, and the unexpected inheritance of Serendipity Gardens, that my bliss called me. Bittersweet. But Serendipity Gardens has more to offer than just a potential shopfront. An unusual recipe box left to me by a distant relative might be the key to unlocking my dreams.



Too bad the most powerful family in Chancellor has plans that could turn those dreams to ruins—literally.


Too bad the son of that powerful family is just the kind of guy I’ve been looking for.

Horatio - 
I suppose being heir to the Hunter family’s Blushing Grape Winery should make me happy, but nothing could be further from the truth. With my mother gone, my father has taken me under his wing, and I despise everything about the way he does business. Sour grapes, indeed. Instead of raising money for charitable causes, my true passion, I’m chasing my father’s manifest destiny.

Too bad his dream includes paving paradise.

Too bad the property owner is the sweetest woman I’ve ever met.

They say the course of true love never runs smooth.

But that’s nothing a magical cupcake can’t solve. 
Purchase at: Amazon

If I had to pick two words to summarize The Cupcake Witch, it would be short and sweet, quite literally. While the story was short I found was very well written and was very lovely and has such a sweet romance. I've never read a book before where the main character was a baker so I really enjoyed seeing what desserts she made throughout the book. It actually made me start craving a cupcake myself. ;)

Julie lives with her Dad in a new town called Chancellor. Her Mother passed away in the Summer and since then Julie has decided to quit school to become a dentist like her Mother wanted her to be and fulfill her dream of being a baker. When the home of a recently deceased relative of Julie's become vacant she goes over to check out the place and finds an old recipe box. The recipes inside all have a magic spell written on them....and after trying one Julie realizes they REALLY work!
She sees this as an opportunity to turn the old but quaint house into a bakery and tea shop. Sounds like a dream, right? 

While in town, Julie meets a guy named, Horatio. Horatio is the son of a money hungry powerful man who thinks he owns the town. After Horatio's mother passed away, his father has been angry all of the time and mean to his children. He tries to force Horatio into buying the property that Julie now owns. Horatio is tired of living under his father hand and decides he rather follow his heart, which is leading him to a girl who make one heck of a cupcake! 

To find out what happens you're going to have to read the book...


I can't tell you how utterly sweet this book was. The romance between Julie and Horatio was so adorable! I do feel it was kind of rushed, so that is one of the reasons I didn't give it 5 stars. I guess it would have to be since the book is only 150 pages but I would have liked to have seen them grow more as friends before love was ever written into the story. Besides that, I do feel the author did a wonderful job of developing the characters throughout the book even though the book was a quick read. 

There are a few quick laughs tosses in which I liked and pinch of magic throughout the book. The story was not solely based on magic and witches but more so the magic between Julie and Horatio and how they both overcame their difficulties in life. One thing though I wish the author would have added in is more details on the witches, where their magic came from and why Julie now possess the powers as well. The ending is great but I feel it was a bit rushed but still it was quite magical. I definitely love happy endings!

Short and Sweet, The Cupcake Witch leaves readers feeling much like a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie, all warm and gooey. If you're looking for a quick read with a sweet romance and dash of magic than this book is perfect for you!
 Totally Awesome! I loved it, would read again.



Romance author. Cupcake connoisseur. Certified herbalist. Beach bum. Fan of all things Starbucks. Holistic healing advocate. Surfer girl wanna-be. Lost guru. Maker of dandelion wine. Counselor. Paranormal buff. Etsy addict. Secretly Jedi. So not a geek girl. Gifted in sarcasm. Hot wife. Ninja mom. And now, I'm ready to share a whole head full of witty, mouthy, smart, lovely, heart-warming, and hot characters with the world. Are you ready?

Poppy Lawless is the author of the forthcoming series Love & Chocolate releasing in 2015 and The Glass Mermaid. Poppy holds degrees in English and Psychology. She is a counselor in the field of mental health and is a trained herbalist. Poppy's new series blends the best of romance with a Practical Magic or contemporary Bewitched appeal.

Author Links:


 
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