Guest Post: Carol Cassada

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When most people think of romance novels, they tend to think of a book with a lot of sex scenes. While most romance novels do consist of those types of scenes, many choose not to include them or have it happen behind closed doors. I’ve read and written books with these different types of scenes, and I when someone asks me which I prefer I say it depends on the type of story.

For instance in my book Going Home Again, there’s no love scenes, the only romantic gestures are kissing and hugging. The reason I chose not to use sex scenes is because I thought it would take away from the story. The plot revolves around photographer Rachel Mitchell, who returns home following the death of her mother to comfort her family. While on her trip she reconnects with her ex-boyfriend Cole Ashton. As the two spend more time together, their feelings for each other grow and Rachel begins thinking about her life and if she made the right choices.

When I started writing Going Home Again, I wanted it to be a sweet, love story about two high-school flames reuniting. If I had included a sex scene, then I don’t think the story would have been as good.

There are times when I think its fine to use sex scenes, but there are other times when I don’t think it’s necessary. I know those scenes get readers excited, but I also think its fun to tease readers and let their imaginations go wild with what happens next.

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Book Blurb:

Fashion photographer Rachel Mitchell was living the good life in New York; she had everything she ever wanted. However, the death of her mother sends Rachel home to Virginia to be with her family. Upset she seeks comfort from her ex-boyfriend Cole Ashton and they start to reconnect. Their reunion makes Rachel question her life and she’s left with a difficult decision, either stay in New York or start a new life with Cole in Virginia. Which will she choose?

Bio:

Carol Cassada is a writer from the small town of Ringgold, VA. From a very young age Carol developed a love of reading and by the time she reached high school she decided on a career as a writer. After graduating from Old Dominion University in 2008, she began her writing career. Throughout the years she’s released 5 books, including the romance/soap opera series Westmore. When she’s not busy writing, Carol loves to spend her time playing with her three dogs and two cats.

Blog: http://www.carolcassada.blogspot.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dramacjc

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Carol-Cassada/233360543344573

Purchase links:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/374705

http://www.amazon.com/Going-Home-Again-Carol-Cassada-ebook/dp/B00GCQC5L8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1389570921&sr=1-1&keywords=carol+cassada

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/going-home-again-carol-cassada/1022904303?ean=2940045416030

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/going-home-again-5

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Vivien’s Heavenly Ice Cream Shop

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When Imogen and Anna unexpectedly inherit their grandmother Vivien’s ice cream parlour, it turns both their lives upside down. The Brighton shop is a seafront institution, but though it’s big on retro charm it’s critically low on customers. If the sisters don’t turn things around quickly, their grandmother’s legacy will disappear forever.

With summer fast approaching, Imogen and Anna devise a plan. Rather than sell up, they will train up, and make the parlour the newest destination on the South Coast foodie map.

While Imogen watches the shop and conjures new marketing ideas, her sister flies to Italy to attend a gourmet ice cream-making course. But can their best-laid plans survive their warring family, tempestuous love lives – and the great British Weather? One thing is for certain – this summer will be like no other . . .

My opinion: I couldn’t wait to read another Abby Clements book, and luckily enough, I had another just sitting there!

In this book we meet Imogen who is living her dream life abroad when she gets a call to say that her grandmother Vivien has died. She returns to the UK for the funeral with the intention of returning to Thailand as soon as possible after. At the reading of the will Imogen finds that Vivien has left her beloved ice cream shop to her and her sister Anna.

Imogen finds herself staying in Brighton for longer than planned to get the shop up and running and help her Dad recover from the shock of his mother’s death. The adventure includes a trip to Italy for Anna, a trip to Glastonbury for Imogen and a lot of bumps in the road.

I enjoyed this book, but not quite as much as Amelia Grey’s Fireside Dream. This was purely because I found both Imogen and Anna a little annoying at times in the things that they did and decisions they made. It was still a very enjoyable book and I really loved reading about Anna’s trip to Italy. The ice cream flavours sounded amazing too!

Overall I did enjoy this book and it was a great seaside story. I’d definitely recommend it and can’t wait for Abby’s next book!

My rating: A Fab Four stars!

Amelia Grey’s Fireside Dream

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Amelia has a dream: toasting chestnuts by the fire with her husband Jack in their own cosy cottage. Their real life is another world – a cramped one-bedroom flat in Hackney. But when life takes a surprising turn, removal vans are soon heading to the Kent countryside.

They soon realise the cottage makeover is a far bigger project than they’d anticipated. On top of that, there’s Amelia’s newly loved-up mum and her tearaway half-sister, Mirabel, to contend with – pushing Amelia and Jack’s marriage to breaking point.

Amelia begins to strip back the wallpaper and fittings in the cottage and discovers the story of the cottage’s previous owner – and a hidden secret. As Amelia’s ideas about love and family change, will her fireside dream finally come true?

My opinion: This is the first Abby Clements book I’ve read and I blooming loved it! I read this book in just a few hours as I couldn’t put it down!

Amelia is a secondary school teacher living in a cramped flat in London with her husband and has dreams of one day moving to the country. Her dream comes a little bit closer when they go house hunting, and things in work take an unexpected turn.

Their dream home becomes a little more of a DIY project than that were expecting in order to fit in with their budget. But the house hasn’t quite shook off its previous owner and things don’t run quite as smoothly as planned….

I loved this book from the moment I started reading it and liked that it touched on a few different topics, including Amelia being unsure whether she wanted children. I loved reading about the journey to renovate their house and it had made me feel like I want to do more in my own home! The characters were likeable and well thought out and the story was extremely well paced.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book in just a few hours and this was a fantastic read. I will definitely read more by Abby Clements!

My rating: A fantastic five stars!!

The Sentinel

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When Eve is rescued from a horrific coach crash by her teachers, she is shocked to discover they possess super strength and speed.  But what happens next is even more harrowing.  
In the aftermath of the crash she discovers that everyone in her life from neighbours, doctors, dentists, teachers, shop keepers and even her family and friends are actually super strength Guardians sent to protect her.  They all have one thing in common, a single minded ferocity that she must be kept alive at all costs.
However, she is surrounded by secrets and lies.  Those in the know deny all knowledge of what happened that fateful night.  Everyone else carries on as normal, seemingly unaware of the new strange world that she has stumbled against. 
With the help of Seth, her best friend, Eve discovers the prophecies surrounding her true identity and the super strength she too holds. With her Guardians pledged to protect her, her closest friends ready to die for her, her own hopes and dreams are put on hold whilst she battles to control the amazing powers she has been bestowed with. 
But those that seek to destroy her move ever closer.  Will the Guardians be enough to protect her when so many are prepared to stop at nothing to see her dead? And will she be strong enough to fulfil her destiny when the time comes?
A fast paced fantasy adventure for young adults. 
With high speed car chases, airborne fights, amazing stunts and super powered beings, this is a story of loyalty, friendship and love.

My opinion: I have read so many good things about this on Twitter, and was spurred on by some fellow book bloggers to give it a go sooner rather than later!

I was totally hooked from the first page. Eve gets rescued from a bus crash, which by rights should have killed everyone and kick starts a series of events and revelations that will change Eve’s world and outlook on life forever. She finds that her friends have been handpicked for her, her parents aren’t who she thought they were, and even her dog had been lying to her. Luckily she as her friends had been picked to protect her, she is surrounded by people she knows and loves, including her best friend Seth, and they help her try to come to terms with the strange new things that are happening to her, and the prophecy about her future.

I literally couldn’t put this book down and read it in about 3 sittings, including one sitting of 70%!! The writing is really great and pulled me in and really made me feel like I was experiencing the emotions of the characters. It is really fast paced, and even though I’m not a massive fan of fantasy, this book really captured my imagination.

Eve is a great character and is very mature. She didn’t feel selfish or spoilt in any way, which I think could have easily happened with a character in her situation. Also, even though there are a lot of characters I didn’t feel like I was losing track of who they are like I do with some books.

Eve’s relationship with Seth seems impossibly close at the beginning – I too had a male best friend through high school so I found comparing the relationships a bit weird at first. It all makes sense later on though, and I was glad that it was clarified! The one thing I would say about the book is although it is set in England, in the main it doesn’t feel particularly English or British. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, more of an observation.

I would definitely recommend this book and already have to some of my friends! If I were to compare it with other books, the storyline itself is incomparable, but the feel of it reminded me of a Harry Potter/Hunger Games hybrid! I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series.

My rating: A very well deserved five stars!!

Mad About the Boy

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What do you do when a girlfriend’s 60th birthday party is the same day as your boyfriend’s 30th? Is it wrong to lie about your age when online dating?

Is it morally wrong to have a blow-dry when one of your children has head lice? Does the Dalai Lama actually tweet or is it his assistant? Is technology now the fifth element? Or is that wood?

Is sleeping with someone after 2 dates and 6 weeks of texting the same as getting married after 2 meetings and 6 months of letter writing in Jane Austen’s day?

Pondering these, and other modern dilemmas, Bridget Jones stumbles through the challenges of single-motherhood, tweeting, texting and redisovering her sexuality in what some people rudely and outdatedly call middle age.

My opinion: I was so excited about this third book in the Bridget franchise. That was until I read that Fielding had killed off Darcy. This threw me into a state of disarray, and whereas I would have definitely bought the hardback copy, this revelation left me in doubt as to whether I wanted to read it at all.

I had some audible tokens to use up, so started off by listening to this book (begrudgingly, but curiosity got the better of me!) and when it got reduced to £1.99 on the Kindle, I decided to finish off reading it myself as I wasn’t keen on the audiobook narrator.

I’m going to jump straight into my thoughts on this one, and will start with the positives. This very much has the same feel as the previous Bridget Jones books and is still in a diary form. In lots of ways it was like catching up with an old friend and in lots of ways she hasn’t changed. She is just as accident prone and hopeless with men as ever, but now with two children and twitter! Quite a dangerous combination!!

Fielding’s writing style hasn’t been adapted in any way so Bridget’s voice is still very much the same. Overall it was an enjoyable read and I’m glad that I gave in to my curiosity with the book and overcame my stubbornness. However, there were a number of things that seriously grated on me.

I have to just say it. Why the hell did Fielding think it would be a good idea to kill off Darcy?? In what world is that ok?! I hated this element of the storyline. I understand that the story is about Bridget getting back into the dating scene and getting into predicaments with men, but surely there could have been another way? I would have much preferred if they had got divorced and he was still in her life. This would have provided more comic value and we could have avoided the dark and sad undertones of the story. I couldn’t get over this point in the story, but accept that this is probably just my opinion.

In non-Darcy related matters, where the f**k was Shaz?? Jude and Tom were very much present, but no mention of Shaz. Also, I want to know more about the intervening period between book 2 and 3. I found that I got lost in the story now and again because I couldn’t quite grasp how the point had been reached.

All in all, it was a great catch up with some old friends (minus Darcy *sob* and Shaz), but I think this should be the end of Bridget’s adventures. I would even go as far as saying that I hope this one doesn’t get made into a film as I don’t think it is worthy. I’d recommend to Bridget fans, but with the health warning that our favourite thirty something singleton is now in a very different place, and certainly made me look at my former heroine differently.

My rating: Even though I enjoyed it overall, I can’t give more than three stars

Broken Homes

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My name is Peter Grant, and I am a keeper of the secret flame — whatever that is.

Truth be told, there’s a lot I still don’t know. My superior Nightingale, previously the last of England’s wizardly governmental force, is trying to teach me proper schooling for a magician’s apprentice. But even he doesn’t have all the answers. Mostly I’m just a constable sworn to enforce the Queen’s Peace, with the occasional help from some unusual friends and a well-placed fire blast. With the new year, I have three main objectives, a) pass the detective exam so I can officially become a DC, b) work out what the hell my relationship with Lesley Mai, an old friend from the force and now fellow apprentice, is supposed to be, and most importantly, c) get through the year without destroying a major landmark.

Two out of three isn’t bad, right?

A mutilated body in Crawley means another murderer is on the loose. The prime suspect is one Robert Weil, who may either be a common serial killer or an associate of the twisted magician known as the Faceless Man — a man whose previous encounters I’ve barely survived. I’ve also got a case about a town planner going under a tube train and another about a stolen grimoire.

But then I get word of something very odd happening in Elephant and Castle, on a housing estate designed by a nutter, built by charlatans, and inhabited by the truly desperate. If there’s a connection to the Crawley case, I’ll be entering some tricky waters of juristiction with the local river spirits. We have a prickly history, to say the least.

Just the typical day for a magician constable.

My opinion: I read the first three books in the series back in 2012 when I was going to London on business almost every week. The books hooked me in with their “reality with a magical twist” feel, the gritty, modern writing and the impeccable geographical accuracy of the settings. When I heard that this fourth installment was coming out, I just knew I had to have it!!

In this book we meet some of our familiar favourites, Peter, Nightingale and Lesley all feature, along with some more magical people. Once again we are on the hunt of the faceless man to try and stop him in his tracks. The majority of the story is based in Elephant and Castle in a block of flats designed by a renowned architect who was very likely also a practitioner. Peter and Lesley get on the case to get to the bottom of why the building is significant and to try and second guess the faceless man to stop whatever he is going to do next.

I was a little disappointed by this book. Although it was fast paced and action packed, it seemed to be missing something compared with the others in the series. It seemed to be all focussed on the one event and place rather than unfurling in the same way as the previous installments and lacked some of the wittyness. Despite this, it was an enjoyable read and I will continue to read more from the series. I just hope the next book feels more like the early books I loved so much.

In spite of my slight negativity, the twist and cliffhanger were total genius and I want to know what happens next!

My rating: Three stars

Guest Post – Emma L Adams: My Writing Journey

I started writing books at the age of 5. I didn’t even know I wanted to be a writer at the time – I doubt many five-year-olds know what they want to do with their lives! But I was a very creative child, and I loved stories. I was always lost in a book, always inventing characters and worlds. I was ten when my teacher told me I could be a writer – and it was like it had been right in front of me all along. I knew – I knew this was what I had to do with my life.

It wasn’t until I was 14 that I started writing a novel. I’d invented a set of characters who starred in various short stories, but I knew they were destined to be part of a novel. No –a series. That was when I started chasing the dream of publication. So I wrote the book. The first draft was a meandering mess that took a year and a half. The problem was, I knew it wasn’t yet ready to be published – but I didn’t quite know how. So I bought writing craft books and read articles online and worked on improving my craft. I decided the best thing to do was to study creative writing at university. When I was 17, I started re-planning that first novel, from scratch, as part of a six-book series. But exams and university applications kept interrupting, and I set my heart on a certain course which I wanted more than anything. And they turned me down. As there were only a handful of places, it was probably inevitable! In the end, I got a place on a different course, and this turned out to be the best choice I’d ever made.

It was summer 2010. I had three whole months before I started my university course. So I wrote the first draft by hand, in little more than a month (this was after over 1 ½ years of planning – I didn’t do things by halves!) Then I printed and edited it. I did at least five complete edits before I showed my family and friends – a major step! The one mistake I made was not getting peer feedback from fellow writers. I did research the submissions process extensively to avoid making newbie mistakes, honed my synopsis and query, and just before I turned 19, I sent it out. I started university. I met fellow writers, and for the first time in my life, I felt like I belonged.

The first rejection was encouraging, but after that, I received a slew of form rejection slips. I began to feel discouraged, once the initial buzz of university had worn off. The course wasn’t really aimed at novelists looking to make a career of writing. I’d finished drafting the second book by the end of my first year, and I decided that I wanted feedback on the first one from someone in the industry. After researching all the options I finally decided to send my work to a well-reputed literary consultancy. And I was told the book was unpublishable. The idea wasn’t original enough.

That stung, but I knew I could write – I just hadn’t found the right story yet. Although I was devastated at the time, it was breaking away from that first novel that gave me the courage to write something new – and that third novel was The Puppet Spell. It was originally my writing portfolio project for my second year creative writing module, and I’d found the kernel of an idea in an old notebook from when I was 15. I had a lot of fun with it despite writing under pressure, and the close scrutiny of my seminar group. This time, I had critique groups and beta readers look at the story before I decided it was ready to face the world. And then something unexpected happened: I was recommended to a publisher by a fellow student at Lancaster –and they genuinely expressed an interest in publishing my book. And I signed with Rowanvale for a small print deal.

Meanwhile, I’d been working on another series. That year was a crash-course in social media, marketing and promotion – exhausting but exciting! I finally saw my book in print, met many wonderful writers online – and discovered a niche my new book series could fit into: New Adult. I’d been fretting about where the Darkworld series, which is an upper-YA urban fantasy/paranormal series set at a university, would fit. YA books with protagonists aged 18+ were difficult to sell. But now publishers were actively looking these books!

Darkworld was my dream project. I’d planned it to have five books, based on the original plots for the later books in my first ever series (but massively altered and updated for an upper-YA audience). I knew this was something I couldn’t rest until I had it written down. It excited me more than anything I’d written before. I got to dig deeper into ideas I’d wanted to put in books for years, as well as drawing on the strange and wonderful world of student life I’d been experiencing for the past two years. The words came out of nowhere, as did the characters – as if they’d been waiting there all along. And the demons scared me half to death!

I finished the draft in September 2012 and started querying after more rounds of extensive edits and feedback from my seminar group. And in February 2013, I got an offer from Curiosity Quills Press! Darkness Watching came out on the 10th October 2013, and now I’m editing Book 2. I won’t lie: it hasn’t always been easy. My writing journey is on-going, and although it’s sometimes frustrating, I wouldn’t miss this for the world!

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Emma spent her childhood creating imaginary worlds to compensate for a disappointingly average reality, so it was probably inevitable that she ended up writing fantasy and paranormal for young adults. She was born in Birmingham, UK, which she fled at the first opportunity to study English Literature at Lancaster University. In her three years at Lancaster, she hiked up mountains, skydived in Australia, and endured a traumatic episode involving a swarm of bees in the Costa Rican jungle. She also wrote various novels and short stories. These included her first publication, a rather bleak dystopian piece, and a disturbing story about a homicidal duck (which she hopes will never see the light of day).

Now a reluctant graduate, she can usually be found in front of her writing desk, creating weird and wonderful alternative worlds. Her debut novel The Puppet Spell, published in January 2013 by Rowanvale Books, is a fantasy tale for young adults and the young at heart, inspired by her lifelong love of the fantastical, mythology, and video games. Emma also writes supernatural fantasy novels for older teens and adults. Her next book, Darkness Watching, is the first in the upper-YA/New Adult Darkworld series, and was published in October 2013 by Curiosity Quills Press.

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Darkness Watching

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Author: Emma L Adams

Publisher: Curiosity Quills

Release Date: 10th October 2013

ISBN-13: 9781620073629

Genre: Urban fantasy/paranormal
Target Audience: Upper YA/New Adult
Distributor: Ingram

 

 

 

DARKNESS WATCHING Summary:

 

Eighteen-year-old Ashlyn is one interview away from her future when she first sees the demons. She thinks she’s losing her mind, but the truth is far more frightening: she can see into the Darkworld, the home of spirits– and the darkness is staring back.
Desperate to escape the demons, Ash accepts a place at a university in the small town of Blackstone, in the middle of nowhere – little knowing that it isn’t coincidence that led her there but the pull of the Venantium, the sorcerers who maintain the barrier keeping demons from crossing from the Darkworld into our own world.
All-night parties, new friendships and a life without rules or limits are all part of the package of student life – but demons never give up, and their focus on Ash has attracted the attention of every sorcerer in the area. Ash is soon caught between her new life and a group of other students with a connection to the Darkworld, who could offer the answers she’s looking for. The demons want something from her, and someone is determined to kill her before she can find out what it is.
In a world where darkness lurks beneath the surface, not everyone is what they appear to be…

 

Read Chapter One.

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Reviews of DARKNESS WATCHING:

 

“Emma is an amazing writer. She has become one of my favorites. I couldn’t put Darkness Watching down.” – Diane at A Creative Mind

“Darkness Watching provides an original world that is fully complete and from a teens POV. It was dark and entertaining and sometimes teen books don’t go full out, this one did. The world building was truly strong in this novel.” – Lexi at 
Book Bliss

“Like good books should, Darkness Watching left me pondering the story after I’d finished reading AND left me wanting more. Adams built a strong world for readers to be immersed. But the regular world retained full realism. Normal every day teen situations felt completely believable.” – Erin at 
Erin Albert Books

“This was entertaining from the start…I didn’t want to put it down, and fans of urban fantasies I think will enjoy this. Darkness Watching was definitely worth the read.” – Jenea at Books Live Forever

“Demons, Sorcerers, evil, and secrets. Could you ask for a better supernatural suspense set-up? I couldn’t, and picking this book to read for Halloween was perfect. It’s full of suspense, danger, evil and dark humor. The plot is original, and completely gripping. From the first page, this book had me hooked, almost too afraid to finish, but knowing I’d regret it if I didn’t keep reading.” – Rose at Desert Rose Reviews

“This is a wildly different story than any I have read about demons…I loved it!” – Kathy at Bookmarks, Spoilers, and Happily-Ever-Afters

“All in all this is a suspenseful first part to an intriguing new fantasy series. I look forward to the next book and finding out what happens next! Recommended to fans of NA & upper YA supernatural & fantasy novels” – Sharon Stevenson, supernatural author