All posts by breannareadsberks

About breannareadsberks

I graduated from NKU with a BA in English and a minor in journalism. My emphasis was in creative writing so I love to read! Writing is my second passion, I've participated in Camp Nanowrimo and Nanowrimo. I have a youtube channel where I post my reviews on (mostly) YA books. I live with my pasty white, viking wannabe, husband (who is the author of The Goblin Wars and Shadowlith series), our Boston Terrier named Yoda Boda 'Lucy-Fur', and our three cats, Bagul, Ichabod and Eleven (all named after horror themed characters). I do Camp Nanowrimo and Nanowrimo as often as I can and I'm currently working on a new novel.

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

Title: Mann Cakes51efs1nWV2L__SY346_

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

Title: FireworksFireworks_JKT

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’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Shadowlith by Stuart Thaman

Title: Shadowlith (Book 1 in The Umbral Blade Series)1490375765404

Author: Stuart Thaman

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 Stars




 

Alistair the Fourth was a mighty general from a long-forgotten war. Four hundred years later, Alster Lightbridge is barely a shadow of his legendary namesake. Crippled and confined to his family’s estate, he spends his days dreaming of something larger than himself—something worthy of his name.

Encouraged by his tutor to explore the Lightbridge archive, Alster discovers a magical dagger with the power to cleave shadows from their bodies. Blade in hand, Alster finally understands his purpose, though he needs to find a four-centuries-old grave in order to fulfill it.




 

I don’t read fantasy… at all… but when my husband tells me that he’s putting out a YA fantasy novel, I have to read it! That being said, I’m going to try my best to make this review as unbiased as possible, though I do believe it is well deserving of a perfect 5/5 star review.

What I love to see is writer’s get better as they progress in their novels. This being Thaman’s second fantasy series, I believe it’s a huge step forward in his writing. If you were to compare this novel to his first book, you could tell more time and effort has been put forth.

It’s also an easier read, and there’s less characters to remember than the first fantasy series, The Goblin Wars. I’m used to reading contemporary YA where there are only a handful of characters to follow. Shadowlith has about six main characters to focus on. This allows you to feel more emotions for each character. Elsey was probably my favorite character (that survived) because of the changes she went through during the beginning of a book. She was so excited to get out of the town that she grew up in and go on an adventure with her friend, but then accidents happen and she realizes this adventure to find the Shadow King’s tomb is not for the faint of heart. I really hope in the second book that we see her grow up more and become a super badass female worrier.

Now the ending….

No spoilers ahead! I promise.

I felt like this book closed off on a good note. Let’s say if you didn’t want to read the rest of the books in the series, you could stop (but you don’t want to!) However, Thaman does set our characters up for a huge plot for the next book which I really loved.

Definitely, check this one out. Loved Alster and Elsey.

 

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen Review

Title: Saint Anythingsaint_anything-540x822

Author: Sarah Dessen

Genre: Contemporary Young Adult

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars




 

Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.




 

I’ve read seven of Sarah Dessen’s books, now eight and I’ve always been a huge fan. Her books are super cute and fun to read. I usually reserve her books for my summer time reading, but I finished this one in March because I wanted to get it out of the way before her new novel comes out.

This one fell a little short for me, but the writing was fantastic and it’s one of Dessen’s more mature novels, as in the plot is something an adult may experience and I felt like Sydney was very mature for her age, even for a YA character. She’s gone through something life changing that not many teens her age have to deal with, which makes her seem wise beyond her years.

I’m guilty of loving ‘insta-love’ and this book was not that at all like Dessen’s other books. This novel is more of a story of friendship, to my surprise I loved seeing Sydney’s interactions with the Chatham’s (mainly Layla, Mac and Mrs. Chatham).

You know what’s nice? Seeing our main character interact with her parents. It’s a pet peeve of mine when parents are only mentioned in one scene of a YA novel. In this novel, we see her parents in almost every chapter. I can’t stand her mother’s opinions and choices, but it’s nice to still know she is a teenager and someone’s at home worrying about her.

Was anyone else thoroughly creeped out by Ames from the very beginning?!  Way to go Mrs. Dessen for coming up with the most unsettling character I’ve ever encountered in your books!

The character development in this novel was excellent. Dessen manages to pull us into a scene and then give us some backstory on the character and then get us back into the scene again.

However, if you’re looking for a cute summer love story like we’re used to from Dessen, you’re not going to find it in this one. The romance doesn’t begin until the novel is over 75% of the way through and we don’t see much either, just a few kisses. Mac seemed like the only underdeveloped character because of this. I really wanted to see more back story with his weight and why it didn’t work out with his ex girlfriend. I probably would have given this a perfect rating had their been more of a relationship like I’m used to while reading Dessen novels.

Dessen did give us a great ending though, solving most of Sydney’s problems up in the final chapter… well except for the one…

Anyone planning on reading Once and For All!? I have it on preorder!

 

Trusting You and Other Lies Book Review

32441709Title: Trusting You and Other Lies

Author: Nicole Williams

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Publication Date: June 20, 2017




 

Phoenix can’t imagine anything worse than being shipped off to family summer camp. Her parents have been fighting for the past two years–do they seriously think being crammed in a cabin with Phoenix and her little brother, Harry, will make things better?
On top of that, Phoenix is stuck training with Callum–the head counselor who is seriously cute but a complete know-it-all. His hot-cold attitude means he’s impossible to figure out–and even harder to rely on. But despite her better judgment, Phoenix is attracted to Callum. And he’s promising Phoenix a summer she’ll never forget. Can she trust him? Or is this just another lie?




 

I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

This was the cutest book! I loved the characters so much, and didn’t encounter anything that I hated about the book. So why didn’t I give it a perfect rating? I felt like it left me wanting more and a lot more. This book could have been way longer, I really wanted to see Phoenix and Callum’s relationship bloom a bit more and see how Phoenix interacted with other counselors.

This book was too short, I just wanted it to continue! Which, I guess is a good thing but I needed more Callum!

I thought the ‘family camp’ situation would be weird but it actually worked for this book.

By the end, the moral of the story is tied up with a nice bow, pulling the title and the plot together which I thought was fantastic. Also thought it was genius to name the character Phoenix and talk about her rising from the ashes.

Trusting You and Other Lies, is a fantastic read for your summer vacation! And because I’m a sucker for a beautiful cover, look at that one! It’s gorgeous!

 

 

Camp NaNoWriMo (April Session) How did I do?

Screen shot 2017-04-30 at 6.47.59 PMThe final day of the April session was this past Sunday. I honestly don’t think I would have made it through camp without my wonderful cabin mates who kept up with the message board conversations and word wars every weekend. April’s session was the first time I ever had a great cabin that worked the entire month to reach their goals.

I’m pretty happy with what I’ve written during April for my new novel. I still haven’t came up with a title I like and the novel is only half way finished but I think it was one of the most successful Camp sessions I have ever had, content wise. I kept a pretty good pace for the most part too.

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I plan on writing the other 40k words for this novel during the July session and then working on edits after that. Filling in all the plot holes, correcting mistakes and what not.

There will be two months in between the camp sessions so I’m going to get back to reading and try to do some editing on what I have done so far. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to the end and the final 5k that I wrote will probably be deleted. On Sunday, I pretty much just typed words to reach my word goal and I feel like everything that happened with my characters after that point, shouldn’t have happened. Sunday was probably my worst writing day ever and it was very draining for me.

Here’s the breakdown of the progress I had during camp:

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Now that camp is over for the month, I’m going to get back to reading. I only managed to read one book this month and it was very annoying trying to get my reading and writing time in while also having a social life. The first thing I did after I validated my word count was go on a nice walk, the second thing was read because I missed it so much!

I do look forward to finishing the novel in July and hopefully reuniting with some of my cabin buddies!

Nowhere But Here Book Review and May TBR

 

Title: Nowhere but Here (Thunder Road #1)23492282

Author: Katie McGarry

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars




 

Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she’s curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn’t mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both.

Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They’re the good guys. They protect people. They’re…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club’s most respected member—is in town, he’s gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it’s his shot at his dream. What he doesn’t count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.

No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.




 

At first, this book was a little tough to get into. But by the time I hit a certain part, I just couldn’t go to bed without finishing it. It’s a pretty fast pace read, with a little bit of action. I wanted to read this because I had finally finished watching Sons of Anarchy and I was craving more from a motorcycle club.

All of the characters in this novel are really thought out and I honestly didn’t meet anyone I hated… well, I lied, I hated the Riot when we finally met them. Though Oz is a bit of a jerk in the beginning, I was really rooting for him toward the end. I was rooting for him and Emily to find happiness, together.

This is definitely a great book to read, doesn’t hurt that it was written about the state I live in! I will definitely be reading the rest of the series!




 

May TBR

This is the final weekend for Camp NaNoWriMo, and my book reading was lacking because I was focusing on my writing, but May should be a good reading month for me.

Here’s all the books I plan on reading:

I’ve also been casually reading The Power of a Praying Wife Devotional by Stormie Omartain, about a chapter every other day because I’m working on developing a deeper faith. It’s been a great book so far and I recommend it to any Christian woman who is getting married or already married!

Pucked by Helena Hunting Book Review

 

Title: Pucked (#1)24504274

Author: Helena Hunting

Genre: Romance/Comedy/New Adult

Rating: 3/5 Stars




 

With a famous NHL player for a step-brother, Violet Hall is well acquainted with the playboy reputation many hockey stars come with. She’s smart enough to steer clear of those hot, well-built boys with unparalleled stamina. That is until she meets the legendary team captain—Alex Waters.

Violet isn’t interested in his pretty, beat-up face, or his rock-hard six-pack abs. But when Alex inadvertently obliterates Violet’s previous misapprehension regarding the inferior intellect of hockey players, he becomes more than just a hot body with a face to match.

In what can only be considered a complete lapse in judgment, Violet finds out just how good Alex is with the hockey stick in his pants. But what starts out as a one-night stand, quickly turns into something more. Post-night of orgasmic magic, Alex starts to call, and text, and e-mail and send extravagant—and quirky—gifts, making him difficult to ignore, and even more difficult not to like.

The problem is, the media portrays Alex as a total player, and Violet doesn’t want to be part of the game.




 

Me and my friend really wanted to do a buddy read and after going to a local hockey game, we decided this would be a fun read. She’s breezed through the first three books, while I just finished the first. I must say, this book did hold my attention the entire time. There were never any boring parts, it was pretty fast pace but not in the ‘insta-love’ sense.

This isn’t your typical adult romance, it’s aimed toward the new adult crowd but not the ones looking for sappy romance. Violet is a tomboy-ish type of girl, and she’s not afraid to admit she pleasures herself, after all, that’s where we first meet her. While she’s ‘jilling off’.

You don’t need to be a hockey fan (though hockey is my favorite sport) or even know anything about hockey to enjoy this book. It had just enough of the sport involved. You get to see Alex and Violet’s POV, and I really ended up loving them, though Alex was my favorite. Violet was a little too blunt about sexual endeavors for my taste.

I was planning on giving this book 4 stars, but it fell short in the epilogue (Alex’s POV) because I felt like the ending was rushed and forced. It should have ended on the final chapter and then picked up in book four (which I plan on reading next, I’m skipping two and three because they’re from different characters). The final part of this book was very cringeworthy, and made me feel really uncomfortable, though it was a happy ending. No cliffhanger at all.

What I loved the most about these books was the characters weren’t perfect. Alex, though sweet and romantic, had his flaws and made mistakes and Violet seemed like a girl who knew she wasn’t perfect but didn’t care anyway. She also didn’t want to need a man, but still accepted the love anyway.

If you’re looking for a cooky, romantic, sex-filled, funny story, this book is definitely for you! Looking forward to reading Forever Pucked (I bought it before I even finished this one)!

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