2016 Reading Goal

My reading goal for 2016 is 100 books. (Not including any of mine…seeing as I’ve already read BOUND about 3 times this month…) :)

My other goal is to check in here with what I’ve read, give a little blurb review, and rate it–using coffee cups!

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I might also include movies, TV shows I just discovered, and maybe one or two books from my TBR (To Be Read).

So here goes.

JANUARY 2016 READ LIST

A Season to Love by Nicole Deese 

Genre: Contemporary Romance–Adult

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This was the second book I’ve read by Nicole Deese. I loved every second of it!

(Check out my full review: https://janelleleonard.wordpress.com/2016/01/18/a-season-to-love-nicole-deese/

The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

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Genre:YA

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The Book of Ivy had a very cool premise–Girl forced to marry guy, who also happens to be the son of her families enemy–and she plans on killing him! It grabbed my attention right away, but then I kinda lost interest until the very end where it picked up again. There is a sequel that I’m planning on picking up sometime in the future.

Heat Rises by Richard Castle

book4Genre: Adult, detective

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I have been devouring the TV show Castle! I love it! And then I discovered that the Niki Heat books was a real series! Heat Rises is the third book in the series. So far, they’ve all read like an episode of the show. Wonderful!

Jilted by Carla Laureano (a Novella)

Genre: Adult, contemporary romance

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book5Jilted was a fun, super quick read. Carla Laureano is an excellent story teller. This novella was offered for FREE on her website to those who have subscribed to her newsletter. Link: http://www.carlalaureano.com/books/jilted/

Life and Death by Stephenie Meyer

Genre: YA

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book3I was a fan of the original Twilight series, so any trip back to that world was a must. I have to say that Stephenie Meyer’s writing tightened up–I could really see that she’s improving and honing her writing craft. I was intrigued and liked the idea of the major roles being switched, but she over did the switches, in my opinion. Everyone that was female is now male and vice versa. The only one I REALLY liked in a reverse role was Jacob. The character was so much better as a female. Having it all flip-flopped just didn’t work as well as I’d hoped and I was confused more times than not because I couldn’t remember who was supposed to be who . . . And, it was kinda annoying because it was the EXACT same story just with the names and genders switched. I was hoping for a little more originality. There were things that worked for a female human that just didn’t have the same effect on a human male–the car stopping, the blood fainting, the tripping . . .

TV SHOWS/MOVIES

This month I was introduced to iZombie.

The Shannara Chronicles–I was SUPER excited when I heard about this show!! The Shannara series is one of the first adult series that I remember my dad reading to me! I love the books, and this TV adaptation has been really great so far! Can’t wait to watch more!

Unleashing Mr. Darcy–A new Hallmark movie based on Pride and Prejudice. I love P&P, so of course I had to watch. This retelling had some very interesting twists along with all the things I love about the original. While not really a dog person myself, I enjoyed the story.

I FINALLY watched Paper Towns (novel by John Green).

The Finest Hours–saw it in the theater. (CHRIS PINE!) Based on a true story, this movie was very well done! Great acting and action. Although, I saw it in 3D…I was fine while watching, but as soon as the movie was over and I stood up, I had a moment of seasickness and trying to regain my land legs!

For February–MY BIRTHDAY MONTH–I’m most looking forward to reading ASLEEP by Krystal Wade! It releases on February 7th! I’ve already pre-ordered my copy–get yours on Amazon or at http://www.blazepub.com/

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A Season To Love: Nicole Deese

 

“Every day can be as different as every sunset.”

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First Thoughts

I had the privilege of getting my hands on a copy of A Season to Love, which releases on February 2. Nicole Deese did it again–blew me away and tweaked my thinking. She has such a way with words, which makes it easy to pick up her novels and not be able to put them down. Forget sleep, who needs it?

This journey challenged and inspired me to take a step back and look at my life, to see what really matters, what is really controlling me, and what is holding me back from really living. Being afraid of climbing to the top of a mountain (especially when you’re scared of heights) can make you miss out on the most amazing view. But it’s not all about standing at the top, it’s the journey up there–the one that makes you want to climb back up again because it was so worth it.

Main Characters

Willa Hart: widow, mother of a cancer survivor, teacher (although, she hasn’t been able to go back to it yet–at the moment, she’s working at a gym).

Patrick McCade: Scottish hottie, doctor, world-traveling adventurer, photographer (unknown artists of the sunsets that have gotten Willa through some difficult times)

SPARK Levels: Wowza! Did I mention that I love the way Nicole writes? So wonderful and tastefully HOT!

Also, want to say that the cast of characters surrounding them just added so much to their relationship. Complex secondary characters are a definite bonus!

Setting

I was so thrilled to be going back to the picturesque town of Lenox, Oregon and continuing the journey with its residents. **You can read my review of book 1: A Cliche Christmas here: https://janelleleonard.wordpress.com/2014/11/22/interview-with-nicole-deese/

My Review

Willa Hart knows a thing or two about loss, but being brave? Not so much. As a widow who has also survived her daughters chemotherapy battle (thankfully, they’re on the other side, but that’s almost scarier, because it could happen again at any moment!), Willa survives day-to-day by controlling everything. And then she meets Patrick McCade (Scottish hottie, doctor) who is all about living un-tethered and wild.

Due to a promise Willa made her daughter, and a journal that has gone everywhere with Patrick, the two of them begin working together to help Willa start living. Through a fun, inspiring, and beyond beautifully-written journey, Willa and Patrick both learn what true bravery looks like.

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For Willa, it’s letting go of her tight hold on control.

For Patrick, it’s hanging on–giving up his “freedom” and his thrill-seeking to stay in one place.

 

Check out Nicole Deese: mhttp://www.nicoledeese.com/

Pre-order your copy of A Season To Love: http://www.amazon.com/Season-Love-Lenox/dp/1503950506/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453133702&sr=8-1&keywords=A+Season+to+Love+Nicole+Deese

Clean Off Desk Day

So, apparently yesterday (January 11th) was national CLEAN OFF YOUR DESK DAY. I’m a day behind, but my desk is now clean. YEAH! Not sure it’ll make it all day, seeing as I’m writing/editing…but, for picture sake, it’s CLEANED OFF!

What essentials do you have to have on your desk, besides your laptop/computer?

Tools of the trade: Pens, Pencils, Highlights, Sticky Notes, Paperclips, Folders, Notebooks

Nourishment: Water bottle, COFFEE, snacks (healthy of course…Veggie Chips count, right?)

Decorations: Candles, Motivational Signs/Quotes, Pictures, Books, Stress Ball…

I heard somewhere that the smell of coffee gets the creative juices flowing. Well, I got a coffee-scented candle for Christmas–so bring on the creativity!

*Disclaimer: might make you mad, throw things, cry…I keep smelling coffee thinking that there’s a fresh pot of the brown elixir-of-life…and when I check, it’s usually empty….WAHHHH….

My office is in my kitchen at the moment. But someday I hope to have an office to call my own PERSONAL,”NO BOYS ALLOWED” sanctuary. One that doesn’t smell like food being cooked, garbage (the can is right by my desk…), and that doesn’t have a minefield of LEGOS for me to impale my feet on.

But until then, I do love my small space. And my desk chair is super comfy!

How about you? What would you include in your DREAM OFFICE? Pictures welcome!

 

 

ASLEEP cover Reveal!

ASLEEP
by: Krystal Wade

Today is the cover reveal for Asleep by Krystal Wade, a YA horror that will have you on the edge of your seat with every page turn. This is the debut novel from Blaze Publishing, set to be released February 16, 2016. Pre-orders are available now from Amazon. Mark your calendars, and be sure to add the book to your Goodreads list! Come join us at the Cover Reveal Party on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/events/904898159588320/). Or do it all!

BOOK BLURB:

“To cure fear, you must use fear.”

Rose Briar claims no responsibility for the act that led to her imprisonment in an asylum. She wants to escape, until terrifying nightmares make her question her sanity and reach out to her doctor. He’s understanding and caring in ways her parents never have been, but as her walls tumble down and Rose admits fault, a fellow patient warns her to stop the medications. Phillip believes the doctor is evil and they’ll never make it out of the facility alive. Trusting him might be just the thing to save her. Or it might prove the asylum is exactly where she needs to be.
Pre-Order ASLEEP today

And now…..THE COVER REVEAL!

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Isn’t that an awesome cover!! Tell me your thoughts in the comments below! So excited to read this novel!

Welcome Fall

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What have I been up to…

Well, it’s been a while since I checked in, sorry about that. Not too much to report, although I have been busy. My kids are all back to school, I’ve been working odd jobs (babysitting, housecleaning, helping behind the scenes at photoshoots) here and there, and editing/writing like crazy!

Icemetery2 spent most of the summer working on an adult paranormal horror novel RESTORATION—an adaptation for my co-conspirator, Laurel. I’m ecstatic to say that the first draft is COMPLETE! Now for the super fun part: EDITING! I love the editing process. Taking something that’s good, polishing, and re-polishing until it’s GREAT! Laurel and I are talking about self-publishing–we created an AWESOME publishing house name…stay tuned! We just hired an editor, and when she is done, we’ll be putting together a Beta Reader list. If you are interested, comment below and we’ll chat! :)

Along with wcemetery1riting the paranormal horror, I’ve been wandering around cemeteries with Laurel (she owns her own cemetery restoration business). I got to participate in my first headstone cleaning/Restoration! So much fun! The main character of RESTORATION owns his own Restoration business—having hands on experience was priceless for the writing process!

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In other news, I’m still sending out queries for my YA urban fantasy. This week I was introduced to a new publishing house…praying I have some GREAT news to share soon!!! We shall see, but I know that if this doesn’t pan out, there is something better in store… Professional Waiting… :)

Hope your October if beautiful! I’ll try to check in again soon!

An Uncertain Choice

It’s time for another YAA! Chat (Review:YA = Young Adult, A = Adult, ! = Excitement, Chat = Interviews, getting behind-the-scenes with other writers) and GIVEAWAY! **TO WIN YOUR OWN COPY OF AN UNCERTAIN CHOICE, COMMENT BELOW and answer this: What is your idea of the “perfect” date?

JODY AP⇐ This is Jody Hedlund: a best-selling and award-winning author who loves fairy- tales and happily-ever-afters. She makes her home in Midland, MI with her husband and five children. When she’s not writing another of her page-turning stories, you caJody h1n usually find her sipping coffee, eating chocolate, and reading.

And, this is her first YA novel, AN UNCERTAIN CHOICE⇒

Don’t you just LOVE this cover? So pretty! It’s what drew my attention, and then I flipped it over . . .

One Month . . . One Decision . . .

WHAT??? Why did Lady Rosemarie only have one month? And what decision did she have to make? Finding the answers to those questions quickly sent AN UNCERTAIN CHOICE to my TBR pile! Well, it was there, but now it’s off. What a delightfully-fun, fast-paced read with a whole lot of heart . . . and the cream-of-the-Knight-crop to swoon over! Jody does a wonderful (and “clean”) job portraying a teenager struggling to find this “crazy little thing called love.”

While I’m not going to tell you WHO or WHAT Rosemarie chooses in the end, (you should definitely read it for yourself to answer those) I will be nice and answer the “month & decision” questions.

ONE MONTH . . . ONE DECISION . . . MY REVIEW . . .

Lady Rosemarie was all set to join the convent on her 18th birthday. I mean, what choice did she have, her parents made the vow before she was born. But then her father’s oldest friend arrives and tells her of a recently discovered condition to the vow.

“If you find true love and are married before midnight on your eighteenth birthday, you will be released from the vow.” (p.29)

One month to find true love? Was that even possible? And how would she know if she was really in love? If she chose the convent, would she still be able to rule her people as she was now? Would choosing marriage displease God or hinder her service to Him? (Sounds like more than one decision to me!) These questions tumble through Rosemarie’s mind as she considers an option she never expected to have. (And Lord Thomas, the one she thought she’d marry before she knew about the vow, had recently married . . . bummer . . .) But have no fear! The Duke brought along 3 of the noblest, bravest knights for her to consider! So, after prayer and seeking wise counsel, Rosemarie agrees to the “race for true love.”

*cue theme music*

Hosts (and chaperones):

PRO-MARRIAGE: The Noblest Knight, the Duke of Rivenshire

PRO-CONVENT: Abbot Francis Michael

Example & Guidelines as given by TRUDY, Rosemarie’s nursemaid: (Trudy says she knows nothing of true love, but she saw it in Rosemarie’s parents!)

“They were indeed in love, my lady. The thing I remember most about them was that they truly enjoyed spending time together . . . Riding, taking long walks, and reading together in front of the fire . . . Always talking, discussing history or other important matters. And whenever your mother talked, your father listened and respected her opinions . . . They were there for each other during difficult times, too. I’ve seen difficulties rip other families apart. But not them. Somehow they each had inner strength the other lacked. They could provide what the other needed.”

THE CONTESTANTS (who happen to be best friends) In order of introduction:

Knight #1 Collin jody1

Fair-haired, tanned skin, alluring green eyes, animated face, lightheartedness, endearing smile. Fun, energetic, likes to give lavish gifts, and lavish praise

First words to Rosemarie: “My lady, I look forward to winning your heart.

First gift to Rosemarie: exquisite diamond pin—in the shape of a spiraling rose

First Date: Romantic dinner for 2 in the rose garden

Knight #2 Sir Bennetjody3

Tallest of the three, features chiseled to perfection (like a master artist had crafted him after an ancient Greek god). Wavy raven-black hair, dark looks, and midnight eyes that twinkle. He’s confident, artsy, suave

First words to Rosemarie: “I look forward to getting to know you, my lady.”

First gift to Rosemarie: A bouquet of wildflowers

First Date: Arranged an Art fair outside the castle ground

jodyKnight #3 Sir Derrick

Dark, blond hair–tested, tried, and weathered by battles and elements. Smoky eyes, the gray color of burnished steel. Strong, clear voice. Lean but muscular body, strong shoulders. Muscles in his face are as taut and well defined as the rest of his body. The only imperfections on his face was a scar alongside one of his eyes. He’s observant, standoffish, confident, bold, dogs love him. A doer, not a talker–puts the needs of others before his own. Honest. His whole family was murdered, he alone survived. Because of this, he doesn’t think he’s worthy to win her heart. (no lands, no title . . .)

First words to Rosemarie: “For one as fair and kind as you, my lady, whatever you wish shall always be my command.”

First gift to Rosemarie: a cool drink of ale (mug)

First Date: delivering supplies, getting caught in the rain

Well, you can probably tell which knight I paid the most attention to . . . My vote was for Sir Derrick before I even knew anything about him. He reminds me of my husband. Even Lady Rosemarie’s first “sighting” of Derrick, had me thinking back to my first “sighting” of my hubby.

He surprised me by bowing his head and paying homage. Then he lifted the long halberd at his side, dug his spurs into his horse, and charged forward toward the center green. At the heavy thudding of his steed and the sight of his weapon, those in his path fell back to make room for him. He thrust forward like a knight at a jousting tournament.

My muscles tightened. What did he intend to do? I wanted to call out, to question him, to demand he explain his presence in my town. But has he made a direct path to the cauldron of bubbling water, I found myself praying he’d succeed where I failed to bring an end to the torture. (p.11-12)

OK…So, there wasn’t a horse involved in our first “sighting”, but there was a car, some charging toward water, and me wanting to demand and explanation! The first time I really noticed my husband was at a graduation party for a friend. We were all standing around chatting and eating, when all of a sudden, a car comes barreling out of the woods and drives straight into the pond. The driver got out and came to shore while everyone cheered . . . I remember thinking “what an idiot!” But, then I got to know him, and fell in love with his character and heart. We’ve been married 13 years.

My 2 Cents to Children of God: “Marriage isn’t to make you happy, it’s to make you more holy.” Find someone that helps you grow closer to God. Someone that will enhance your “ability” to serve and will serve alongside you. Someone who will push you, bringing out the best in you. And ALWAYS, ALWAYS keep God at the center of every relationship. Don’t lose sight of Him or hinge your life or identity on a guy.

A FEW QUESTIONS WITH JODY BEFORE I SAY GOODBYE

After writing for the adult market, why did you decide to transition to young adult books? I have five children and three of them are now teens. That means that over the past few years I’ve ended up reading a lot of books in the Young Adult genre not only to stay abreast of what my kids are reading, but also to have discussions about the topics and world views within the books. All that to say, I’ve fallen in love with reading YA books! Naturally, as I’ve fallen in love with reading them, I had to consider the possibility of writing them. And while I have a lot of other things going on my publishing career, I decided I wanted to make this move into YA now while I still had teens at home to read my books (and give me feedback!).

Which person most influenced your writing?My mom was the most influential person in my writing career. When I was young, she helped facilitate my love of writing by reading aloud to me, giving me good books to read, and providing the kind of environment that fostered my creativity (in fact we didn’t have a TV for a number of years). She always believed in me, encouraged me to pursue my dreams, and rode alongside me cheering me on.

Why do you write? I write because I love telling stories. I love the quote by Toni Morrison because it sums up part of why I write: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Essentially I write the stories that I LOVE to read! Of course there are other, deeper reasons I write too. But that’s one of the main ones.

Do you have any writing quirks? I don’t have too many quirks, other than needing a cup of coffee on hand while I’m writing (especially in the morning!). One of the things I like to do to help me keep on track with my writing is give myself half hour word count challenges–a specific goal of how many words I can get written in a thirty minute time span. Doing these mini-challenges keeps me from getting too distracted by other things while I’m in a writing mode.

What is your dream vacation spot? I’d love to take a research trip to England or Germany and visit castles. Castles totally fascinate me and I’d love to visit as many as I possibly could!

What are your hobbies? My main hobbies when I’m not writing or reading? Drinking coffee and eating chocolate—of course! No seriously. At this stage in my life because I’m busy being a mom, I don’t have much time for hobbies. However, I do make a point of running and keeping my body fit. And I also try to carve out fun family time each week. I love taking family bike rides, playing games, and having family movie night

Are you working on the next book in the series? Yes! I’m excited about the second book in the series. It’s already written and I’m in the process of getting ready to turn it in to my editor in order to get her expertise feedback. As I mentioned it will involve another one of the three knights. But of course, I won’t give away which of the knights until closer to the release of the book! (How’s that for a tease!)

Contact Jody:

Website: jodyhedlund.com *

*For a deeper look: There’s a link to a readers question/talking point guide–great for YA girls

Facebook: Author Jody Hedlund

Twitter: @JodyHedlund

Pinterest: pinterest.com/jodyhedlund

Instagram: instagram.com/JodyHedlund/

She welcomes Emails at: jodyhedlund@jodyhedlund.com

It’s March….

Well, hello there March . . . This is my first post of 2015!

Where did January Go?

And February, well, it can be summed up on a T-shirt: “I Survived the 2nd coldest February. EVER!”

Needless to say, 2015 is flying by.

So, what have I been up to?

MY WRITING WORLD:

  • Still querying agents for BOUND
  • Plugging away, adding “meat”, to 5 YA novels that I have a great start on
  • Attending critique group with 4 other fabulous writers!
  • Working on adapting a script into a novel (talking about self-publishing this summer…shall see…)
  • Was just given the opportunity to speak at a writers conference that is starting up in my area!
    • More on that to come, I hope!
  • Added several authors to my friend’s list.

MY READING WORLD: *I better get moving if I want to say: “I read over a 100 books in 2015.”

  • The Nine Lives of Christmas
    • By: Sheila Roberts
  • Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (reread)
    • By: Rick Riordan
  • Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters
    • By: Rick Riordan
      • If you see that I’m working my way through the Percy Jackson series you’re not wrong. My boys and I have been enjoying all things Percy Jackson together. Lots of fun to hear their laughter and watch it through their eyes.
  • The Vow: A novella
    • By: Jody Hedlund
    • MY 4-star REVIEWjody h: The Vow is the hors d’oeuvres to the main course: The Uncertain Choice. This novella introduces, and gives us a little of the background, for the heroine, Rosemarie. Her perfect world (parents that love her and each other, a handsome suitor, and a prosperous land) comes crashing down when the plague is discovered in one of the towns. Rosemarie is sent away for safety, but soon returns when her parents contract the disease. As her mother lies dying, she tells Rosemarie of the Vow that was made before she was born. A vow that takes control of the future Rosemarie had planned for herself. This short story definitely wets the appetite for this series. I can’t wait to read how Rosemarie will get out of the vow (or if she even can), and what (or whom) she will chose in the end.

**This brings me to something else I’ve been a part of in 2015. I was chosen to be on the INFLUENCER TEAM for Jody Hedlund’s new YA novel: An Uncertain Choice which releases MARCH 3, 2015!

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BACK COVER BLURB:

ONE MONTH . . .

ONE DECISION

Due to her parents’ promise at her birth, Lady Rosemarie prepared herself to become a nun the day she turns eighteen. But a month before her birthday, everything changes when a friend of her father’s enters the kingdom and proclaims her parents’ will left a second choice–if Rosemarie can marry before the eve of her eighteenth year, she will be exempt from the ancient vow.

Soon, Rosemarie is presented with the three most handsome and brave knights in the land. But when the competition for her heart seemingly results in a knight playing foul, she begins to wonder if the cloister is the best place after all. If only one of the knights–the one who appears the most guilty–had not already captured her heart.

**INTERESTED? I know I am! And now, I’m off to finish reading–my print copy JUST CAME TODAY!! Stay tuned for a YAA! Chat: Interview with the author and a giveaway!

**Link to buy on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Uncertain-Choice-Jody-Hedlund-ebook/dp/B00L7DLGDE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1425349328&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Uncertain+Choice