Monthly Archives: June 2017

Author Interview: Khardine Gray

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  1. How did you get into writing?

    My earliest memory of writing was when I was about 11 years old. I loved reading books like Sweet Valley High and Nancy Drew. I remembered thinking on one occasion that I wished one of the stories had ended differently. Then it occurred to me that I could try to create my own stories.

That was my light bulb moment and there hasn’t been a day that passed since I didn’t write something. Even if it was for ten minutes.

I have stacks of handwritten books from my childhood and teenage imagination that I plan to revisit one day. In 2015 I thought about trying to get published, so I sent off my manuscript and was completely shocked when it was accepted. My life has changed immensely since then.

2. How can authors develop an emotional connection between their readers and their characters?

I think it’s important to build that connection with my readers. I do newsletters each week so that I can keep in touch. In those I always let my readers know how much I appreciate them and how I love to hear from them. I try to find topics that they like to discuss and encourage them to connect . My husband pointed out once that I’m supposed write for my readers. If I don’t then it would be better to just imagine up my stories in my head and not bother to write them down. He was right. My readers are like gold dust to me and they inspire me to continue doing what I love the most. 51XAYNG4eAL._SY346_

In regards to my characters, I think of them as pieces of my imagination I’ve given life to. They are very much a part of me and are a result of everything I’ve experienced internally, and externally in the world around me.

The same way I love my readers, I love my characters and I do everything to make my characters as real as possible so that emotional connection can be made. I spend a lot of time creating my characters and I go as far as listing down everything about them. That way I know exactly what they would do in different situations. How they feel, what they would say, what effect different things and people would have on them.

My aim is to create memorable characters so that my readers will never forget them. 

  1. What’s the best summer beach read? If you could take that book anywhere in the world, where would you go to read it?

I like Susan Elizabeth Phillips. My favorite book by her is Natural Born Charmer. I’d read that on the beach for sure and I’d love to read it on one of the amazing beaches on Okinawa Island, Japan. I’d be right at home reading there. It’s truly beautiful and has that scenic landscape worthy of a screen saver.

  1. What makes romance your genre of choice? Are any of your characters based on personal experiences?

    I love writing about love and falling in love. I’m one of those people who values love and it fascinates me to create characters who have this intense magical feeling that draws them together.

         I think I identify a lot with my characters in I Only Have Eyes For You. grey 3

        Of all my books that’s probably the one where I’ve mingled a few of my personal experiences with the fiction world I created. I guess I am a lot like my heroine, Savannah too. We love shopping, pizza, our family and friends.

Savannah made this big life change that would allow her to follow her dreams and not just do things because she was good at it. She wanted to do something that made her happy, something that truly represented her. I feel that I did this with my decision to be an author.

 I am good at a lot of things and I have a great academic background, but I felt that I reached a stage in my life where it was time to do what made me happiest. Savannah travelled to Japan and things took off for her from there. I submitted my manuscript to a publisher and that’s when things changed for me.

5. There can sometimes be a bit of stigma surrounding romance readers and writers. Have you ever had any negative experiences resulting from your profession as a romance writer?

I haven’t really had much negativity I think it’s because I tend to share what I do with those who I know will be interested. There was someone though who once said to me that writing romance will never be a stable career. I knew different because I know authors who make six figures a month. gray 1

Aside from that I tend to not worry about what others think of me. I’m definitely in my element when I write and writing romance is a craft that comes from within. I write from my soul, knowing that gives me the strength to deflect any negativity that may come my way.

 

For more from Khardine Gray, check out her website.

Book Review: Mann Cakes by Mysti Parker

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Author: Mysti Parker

Genre: Romance

Rating: 4/5 Stars




 

Twin brothers and Air Force vets, Tanner and Garrett Mann, return from deployment to find their thriving business burned to the ground. Time for Plan B: Move back to their hometown of Beach Pointe to start over.

But that means running into Paige and Morgan Baxter –gorgeous, curvy, and owners of Two Sisters Cupcakes.

There’s an old diner for sale across town, Garrett’s a great cook, and Tanner has an idea. They’ll make savory cupcakes that men would like. We’re talking bacon and Cheez Whiz. Even better? They’ll call it Mann Cakes. Problem is, they end up attracting an unexpected crowd.

Paige is furious. Every man in her life has left her behind, including Tanner. She’s sacrificed everything for her shop. She won’t lose it over some egotistical ex-boyfriend, even if he does have an Air Force-chiseled body. Her younger sister, Morgan, isn’t helping matters. She’s been gaga over Garrett since high school.

To hell with that. If it’s a fight Tanner wants, it’s a fight he’ll get. But how much is Paige willing to risk to win a cupcake war?




 

Set in a small Kentucky community, Mann Cakes is opening its doors in the hopes of giving the Beach Pointe men some savory cupcake options. However, the women end up being the ones with more than sweet tooth’s, wanting selfies with the Mann brothers instead of making cupcake purchases and also taking away some of the Baxter girls business. Garrett and Tanner man have history with the Baxter ladies though, Tanner dated Paige and then left, breaking her heart so with their return, she’s ready to take Mann Cakes down. Meanwhile, Morgan and Garrett start something they wish happened when they were younger.

Mann Cakes is a cute and sweet (pun intended) romance with a hint of a thrill. Though there’s drama in the relationships, it’s all innocent and fun. The romance is strong in this one with many swoon worthy moments and not too many erotic scenes which is refreshing. So if you’re wanting to take a break from your normal smutty romance, this book is for you. There were only a handful of ‘sexy’ scenes with strong descriptions.

I wish there had been more to the thrill part of this. The Mann brothers original business had been burned to the ground, Tanner’s car had been vandalized and then the big catastrophe at the end. I feel like the Mann brothers should have been way more concerned about someone out there that was out to get them.

I didn’t give this novel a perfect score because I wanted more tension, information on the possible threat and I think it should have only been in Tanner and Paige’s POV’s. Maybe Mysti could have made a follow up in Garrett and Morgan’s POV.

With summer vacations coming up, this is a great read for lounging by the pool. And if you’re addicted to sweets like me, your mouth will be salivating from the cover and reading about cupcakes all day.

Book Review: Fireworks by Katie Cotugno

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Author: Katie Cotugno

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 4/5 Stars




 

It was always meant to be Olivia. She was the talented one, the one who had been training to be a star her whole life. Her best friend, Dana, was the level-headed one, always on the sidelines, cheering her best friend along.

But everything changes when Dana tags along with Olivia to Orlando for the weekend, where superproducer Guy Monroe is holding auditions for a new singing group, and Dana is discovered too. Dana, who’s never sung more than Olivia’s backup. Dana, who wasn’t even looking for fame. Next thing she knows, she and Olivia are training to be pop stars, and Dana is falling for Alex, the earnest, endlessly talented boy who’s destined to be the next big thing.

It should be a dream come true, but as the days of grueling practice and constant competition take their toll, things between Olivia and Dana start to shift . . . and there’s only room at the top for one girl. For Olivia, it’s her chance at her dream. For Dana, it’s a chance to escape a future that seems to be closing in on her. And for these lifelong best friends, it’s the adventure of a lifetime—if they can make it through.

Set in evocative 1990s Orlando, New York Times bestselling author Katie Cotugno’s Fireworks brings to life the complexity of friendship, the excitement of first love, and the feeling of being on the verge of greatness.




 

Katie Cotugno just released a new book and of course I had it pre-ordered months ago! Fireworks fell a little short for me though, compared to her previous novels How to Love and 99 Days, yet I still devoured this book in a matter of days because Cotugno’s writing is so easy and fun to read.

The characters in Fireworks weren’t as easy for me to love as characters in her previous books. I felt like everyone was unreachable, like they were on a pedestal and I couldn’t relate to them easily. Dana came from a not so well off family, so she should have been easy to relate to, but I wanted to see more of her home life. What did her mother think of her leaving town to become a girl in a pop group? Did her mom even notice she left? And why didn’t she bring a swim suit with her to Orlando?! Don’t Floridians always have swimsuits with them no matter what?!

The romance was just enough in this, I was kind of worried it would be lacking based on the plot, but I was very pleased in the end. I found myself putting a ton of trust in Alex, more trust than I’ve ever put in a male character. He was so kind and patient with Dana while she was going through her problems in Orlando and back home in Jessel.

What I find funny is I never seem to like Cotugno’s main characters best friend. I hated Olivia so much. She came off as a backstabber from the beginning. We don’t see a great conclusion between ‘Dolivia’, but I think it’s the only conclusion that would have worked.

And that cover, Katie, keep doing the polaroid look on your books! Like 99 Days and this, they are so aesthetically pleasing! I’m loving all of her covers so much!

Though Dana doesn’t get a 100% happy ending, I like to believe that she was at least happy with her decisions. And I love that about all three of Cotugno’s books. She leaves them open-ended but without a cliffhanger. You know that the character is going to be all right, but they still have some conflict by the last sentence, just nothing major.

Overall, if you’re going to read anything by Cotugno, I’d read 99 Days or How to Love first. Fireworks doesn’t do Cotugno’s writing justice. However, I am so pumped for her next novel, Top Ten, that’s supposed to come out later this year.

 

May Wrap Up & June TBR

 

May Wrap Up

Shadowlith by Stuart Thaman

If you love fantasy and you’re looking for an up and coming author, you need to check this book out. It’s great for people who are trying to get into reading the fantasy genre and lovers of fantasy already. Check out my review here.

Fireworks by Katie Cotugno

Huge fan of Katie Cotugno’s writing! Sadly, this one fell short for me but it was devoured in about a week because I love her writing so much. If you’re going to read any of her books, my top recommendation is 99 Days. Review coming on my blog June 9th.

June TBR

I want June to be a decent reading month and I think I can manage 4-5 books. I don’t have Camp NaNo until July, so I plan on reading my heart out!

 

Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry- The second book in the Thunder Road series. I meant to finish this one in May but I didn’t feel like reading because I was sick for about a week and a half.

Long Way Home by Katie McGarry- The third book in the Thunder Road series! I’m just going to finish the series this month because I know they’re fun and easy reads.

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen- New Release from Sarah Dessen! This comes out June 6th, and I’m pumped up for this one!

Mann Cakes by Mysti Parker- My husband was at a book signing in April and he brought me home a copy of this from one of his author friends. She managed to sell out of this book! So cool!

Into the Deep by Samantha Young- This one was recommended to me by a friend and I decided to give the series a shot considering they take place in Ireland. I recently got my DNA test results back and found out I’m 24% Irish, so now I’m kind of obsessed with anything related to my ‘home country’.