Theme Song: By Referral Only by Lyla Payne

Posted by Dianne on Monday, April 14, 2014. Filed under: ,
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By Referral Only (Whitman University, #2)

Title: By Referral Only (Whitman University #2)
Author: Lyla Payne
Date of Publication: July 1, 2013

After being unceremoniously dumped freshman year because of her family’s “new money” status, Ruby Cotton has taken care not to put her heart on the line. No matter how enticing Emilie and Quinn make it look, relationships are scary and hard—while a string of flings is easy and fun. That’s what Ruby wants. Easy and fun. The only problem is, when it comes to satisfaction in the sack, most of the boys at Whitman are nothing but pretty window dressing and false advertising.

Ruby takes it upon herself to make campus life more fulfilling, creating a referral database that allows female students to rate their sexual experiences, thereby informing girls of what they’re getting into before agreeing to a date.

When her acting partner, Liam Greene, finally shows some interest, Ruby figures she won’t need to utilize the helpful gossip. He’s handsome, fun, and most importantly, not a guy she’d ever fall for hard enough to let him break her heart.

Not only that, but dating Liam gives Ruby the perfect excuse to say no to Cole Stuart.

As a star swimmer and heir to honest-to-God Scottish royalty, Cole sits at the top of Whitman’s A-list—but he’s also the lowest rated referral on Ruby’s website. The ratings make rejecting his repeated requests for a date a no-brainer, but her real reason for avoiding Cole runs deeper than a string of unsatisfied exes.

He’s gorgeous, he oozes sweetness and charm, and the electricity between them could power half of Whitman, but Ruby knows it will only last until his family or friends convince him she’s not good enough.

Before she knows it she’s falling anyway, waiting for the other shoe to drop but clinging to a tentative hope that Cole might be as different as he seems. When the secret behind his low ratings comes to light, that hope is torn apart, and Ruby wonders if she was right to give him her heart…and whether she has the strength to let him keep it.

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"As Cole Stuart would say, By Referral Only is "pure dead brilliant"! You HAVE to read this!"




Theme Song

Ever since I read and loved BY REFERRAL ONLY, I linked this song to it. In reality, there's just this scene in the book where Ruby and Cole were having a picnic (and some) in the beach and this song's second verse just perfectly chronicles that. Moreover, the lyrics to this song is SO SWEET  so I promptly included the lyrics so you can judge for yourself. I can imagine Cole saying/singing it to Ruby (but maybe the acoustic version which is so damn freakin' great). I chose the original version though because it's upbeat and happy and totally dance-able and students from Whitman love to party. (Plus, the acoustic version is very sentimental to listen to because hey, the lyrics are SO SWEET. Can't stress it enough!) So what song is this? I present to you, QUESADILLA by WALK THE MOON!




I must've tumbled out of a plane
Cause I free-fell all year
My chute is blooming out like spring
And I'm nowhere now, but here

But I've seen your long hair come down
It turned my head inside out
And I want you, I want you
I still do

Your wrists were bound in my hands
Water washed around our naked feet
Your blue jeans over in the sand
And we were wrestling in our picnic blanket sheets

But I've seen your long hair come down
(seen your long hair come down)
It turned my head inside out
(turned my head inside out)

And I want you, I want you
I still do
I still, I still do

I've seen your long hair come down
And it turned my head inside out
When I've seen your long hair come down

Turned my head inside out


About Lyla Payne

I’ve long had a love of stories. A few years ago decided to put them down on the page, and even though I have a degree in film and television, novels were the creative outlet where I found a home. I’ve published Young Adult under a different name, but when I got the idea for Broken at Love (my first New Adult title), I couldn’t wait to try something new – and I’m hooked. In my spare time I watch a ton of tennis (no surprise, there), play a ton of tennis, and dedicate a good portion of brain power to dreaming up the next fictitious bad boy we’d all love to meet in real life.

Cover Reveal: Make It Count by Megan Erickson

Posted by Dianne on Thursday, April 10, 2014. Filed under: ,
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Title: Make It Count (Bowler University #1)
Author: Megan Erickson
Publisher: William Morrow Impulse
Date of Publication: June 3, 2014

Kat Caruso wishes her brain had a return policy, or at least a complaint hot-line. The defective organ is constantly distracted, terrible at statistics, and absolutely flooded with inappropriate thoughts about her boyfriend’s gorgeous best friend, Alec…who just so happens to be her brand new math tutor. Who knew nerd was so hot?

Kat usually goes through tutors like she does boyfriends—both always seem to bail when they realize how hopeless she is. It’s safer for her heart to keep everyone at arm’s reach. But Alec is always stepping just a little too close.

Alec Stone should not be fantasizing about Kat. She’s adorable, unbelievably witty, and completely off limits. He’d never stab his best friend in the back…

But when secrets are revealed, the lines of loyalty are blurred. To make it count, Alec must learn messy human emotions can’t be solved like a trigonometry function. And Kat has to trust Alec may be the first guy to want her for who she is, and not in spite of it.

Excerpt

Kat gathered her books and stuffed them into her plaid Burberry messenger bag, then headed toward the front doors, smoothie from the library snack shop in hand. Head bent, fiddling with the clasp of her bag, she stumbled into a wall of human on the pavement outside.

“Oh, I’m sorry—” Her voice dropped out when she realized the solid flesh belonged to Alec, Max’s best friend.

She’d only met him once or twice before he’d moved in with Max this semester and every time, he cocked his eyebrow with a half frown like he knew something she didn't. Which he actually did, since he had brainy superpowers. Smarter than a speeding Einstein. Able to leap over C-minus students like her in a single bound.

She didn’t trust people that smart. And she didn’t trust a guy who didn’t ogle her ass or leer at her boobs like every other member of the straight male species on the planet.

Right now, that raised-eyebrow frown pinned her where she stood. His pale green eyes behind thick black frames roamed over her shoulder to the library and then back to her. With his pin-stripe button-down, dark jeans with Converse shoes and hair styled in a short, messy pompadour, he looked like a nerdy Elvis.

His frown morphed into a smile when he spotted the smoothie in her hand, and she definitely didn't notice his full lips. “You know, you don’t have to venture into the forbidden zone just to get a smoothie.”

Oooh. The jerk. She glanced around surreptitiously, then leaned in and spoke in a low voice. “Just play it cool. Don’t let it slip someone like me snuck in the library.” She gripped his forearm and whispered. “Password today is rosebud.”

His face blanked and he looked at her like he’d never seen her before. Kat debated whether or not that was an improvement over his other look.

But then those intelligent eyes narrowed and a smirk curled his lips. “I know. We nerds get an e-mail every morning.”

See? He always needed the last word. She propped a hand on her hip and leaned in. “Well, sounds like you have a mole. Might want to look into that.”

He opened his mouth but she cut him off. “Just looking out for you guys. Anyway, see ya around!”

Before he could shoot back a snarky comeback, Kat skirted around him and bounded down the stairs. She chalked that up as Kat 1, Alec 0.

About Megan Erickson

MEGAN ERICKSON grew up in a family that averages 5’3” on a good day and started writing to create characters who could reach the top kitchen shelf.

She’s got a couple of tattoos, has a thing for gladiators and has been called a crazy cat lady. After working as a journalist for years, she decided she liked creating her own endings better and switched back to fiction.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and two cats. And no, she still can’t reach the stupid top shelf.

{Blog Tour} Review + Playlist: The Summer I Wasn't Me by Jessica Verdi

Posted by Dianne on Sunday, April 6, 2014. Filed under: , , ,
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The Summer I Wasn't Me

Title: The Summer I Wasn't Me
Author: Jessica Verdi
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Date of Publication: April 1, 2014

Lexi has a secret.

She never meant for her mom to find out. And now she's afraid that what's left of her family is going to fall apart for good.

Lexi knows she can fix everything. She can change. She can learn to like boys. New Horizons summer camp has promised to transform her life, and there's nothing she wants more than to start over.

But sometimes love has its own path...

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Review

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for the review copy. This in no way affected my views of the novel. Disclaimer: I will try to rein it in but I might tackle my beliefs and I mean no disrespect to anyone. These are my opinions and we can always agree to disagree. And yes, Oops! I Read A Book Again is a pro-LGBT blog. Oh and yeah, there could be spoilers (obvious ones only).

I've had My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi since last year and it was one of my anticipated reads for 2013 but I just couldn't start it. The topic was heavy - a girl finding out she has AIDS - and knowing myself and my tear ducts, I knew it would be a very emotional read for me. But I've heard nothing but praises and exclamation marks and bawling over that book that I know Jess must have been doing and writing something great. So when the chance to read her sophomore outing THE SUMMER I WASN'T ME came up, I immediately took the chance. I thought "Hey, this is infinitely easier to deal with. I can definitely deal and I love reading LGBT YA and I don't think I've read one dealing with a lesbian." but I WAS VERY WRONG. The topic might not have been a matter of life and death but I still cried and my heart felt like a lemon being squeezed.

The first chapter opens with Lexi going to New Horizons, a de-gayifying summer camp her mother enrolls her in. Lexi's dad recently died of pancreatic cancer, resulting to her mother becoming a shell of what she once was. Lexi feels like she lost her mother too when her dad died so when her mother discovers that she likes girls, she's ready to do whatever her mother wants her to do. Lexi doesn't want to lose her mother as well and she wants to fix her family even if what that entails is becoming straight.

And that was the first thing that broke my heart about Lexi. She knows she's gay and even though she's still in the closet, she never felt embarrassed of who she is. She owns it and has never felt shy or ashamed of being gay. But it truly broke my heart that she so strongly believed that her being straight will make everything right. She grew up in a very loving family and make no mistake, her mother loves her and treats her right. But they're from South Carolina and their small town is a Christian town. Where religion is first and being homosexual is deemed and perceived as a sin. How painful and difficult could it be to get told that your God doesn't love you because of who you are? I could only imagine what Lexi is going through because even my LGBT friends aren't facing this much even if we're in a Catholic country.

So back to the novel. The camp has an eight-week reparative therapy, which includes having a pink uniform for girls and blue for boys among other things. For the first day, all sixteen campers get introduced to each other and here comes the foil to Lexi's plan of being straight - Carolyn. Carolyn is beautiful and intriguing and Lexi can't deny her attraction to her. She keeps on telling herself not to fall for her but as they get grouped together and as they get to know each other week after week (bonding over The Great Gatsby oh good lord), it's obvious that not falling for Carolyn is an impossible task.

Aside from Carolyn, Lexi gets grouped with Matthew, who right from the start rejects everything New Horizons teaches them. He doesn't want to be straight and actually has a boyfriend. He's just in camp because of his father. Rounding up this quartet is Daniel, a fifteen-year old boy who can't wait to become straight. They're an interesting bunch and what's great about The Summer I Wasn't Me is that these four kids each get the spotlight. It might have been Lexi's story but we get to know Carolyn, Matthew and Daniel so much that you'll love them. Especially Matthew because Matthew is awesome. Each has their own story, their own problem, and Jessica Verdi expertly weaves into each without ever making the reader feel that it's just another plot arc. Ultimately, to read about them getting close to each other and being each other's support group was heartwarming.

The novel has that slice-of-life feel and a somber one at that, given the gravity of what this camp is all about. But it was never boring because the author has written characters you care about, which makes you invested all the way. You'll follow them in the eight weeks they're in camp, reading about all the lessons and activities this de-gayifying camp makes them do. While I don't agree with the whole concept of this camp and all the activities they've been put through, I could see the logic in them and how a person could believe it would work. Some were ridiculous and some were outright painful to read about. I even felt bad for the minor characters and that's a testament to how Jessica Verdi can make you feel things (and cry!!) if she wants to.

Then the romance. Carolyn and Lexi were just such a perfect fit for each other that I just wanted them to get out of the camp and be together and be happy. But of course, so much conflict lies in their set-up. Carolyn really wants to be straight and Lexi wants that too but she wants Carolyn as well. Add that they're in New Horizons, where it's kind of the worst place to fall in love to a person of the same sex.

I thought the novel will just chronicle their stay in the camp and Lexi and Carolyn's romance but I was wrong yet again. Near the end of the novel, Lexi finds something about New Horizons camp which intensifies and adds another layer to the plot. With this, it felt like Jessica Verdi hit the punching bag again, with my feelings being the metaphorical punching bag.

I know my review is all choppy and uninspired but the emotions that ran through me while reading The Summer I Wasn't Me are just so fresh that words elude me. I felt sad, happy, giddy, enraged, what-the-heck, are-you-serious, poor-bb, POOR-BB-STOP-HURTING-THEM, you-are-a-dick, aaaaaaaaawwwww, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwww and UWAAAAAAAAAAAA. But in the end, I felt absolutely touched (and I was completely crying my heart out) because that ending? More than romance, I dig family love more and that was a prime example on how to tug my heartstrings. And of course, I felt inner peace and an assurance because in my mind, somewhere out there, Lexi and Carolyn are forging their path. They might not be together forever but their summer at New Horizons taught them that it's not about who you love but it's just about loving. Period.

Playlist

So I heard that The Summer I Wasn't Me was inspired by the song Hair by Lady Gaga. Of course I had to ask Jess about her playlist for her own book! And here it is and the songs, you guys. The songs are GREAT!

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Dianne! Here’s my playlist for The Summer I Wasn’t Me:


1. “Hair” by Lady Gaga, particularly the acoustic version she performed on the Howard Stern Show. (This was the song that inspired The Summer I Wasn’t Me!)






7. “We Will Become Silhouettes” by The Postal Service (Lexi’s dad’s favorite song)





About Jessica Verdi


Jessica Verdi is a young adult author who writes envelope-pushing stories about not-so-pretty real-life issues, but always with a positive spin.

Though she’s always been a bookworm (her childhood was basically defined by the philosophy that working your way through giant stacks of library books is far superior to playing outside), she remained convinced throughout high school and college that the stage—rather than the page—was meant to be her creative outlet. After nearly ten years pounding the NYC pavement auditioning for musicals (and sometimes actually getting cast in them), she got an idea for a novel. That novel was an adult magical realism story, and while it will never see the light of day—nope, don’t ask—it was the book that started her love affair with writing. Now she can’t imagine doing anything else.

Jess received her MFA in Writing for Children from The New School and works as an editor at a romance novel publisher. She loves all animals, from the cute and cuddly to the large and freakish, has been a vegetarian for most of her life, is a little too obsessed with TV shows about vampires, and has an amazing group of writer friends who keep her sane.

Jess lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and dog.

Spotlight + Giveaway: The Warrior by Victoria Scott

Posted by Dianne on Saturday, April 5, 2014. Filed under: , , ,
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Itching to read THE WARRIOR, the last book in the Dante Walker trilogy (*cries*) by Victoria Scott? Wanna fast forward to May 6 so bad? I don't have the book but I can give you an exclusive excerpt, Dante's letter IN THE FLESH (well, in the screen). Plus, there's a giveaway so go go go!

The Warrior (Dante Walker, #3)
Title: The Warrior (Dante Walker #3)
Author: Victoria Scott
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Date of Publication: May 6, 2014

War between heaven and hell is coming, but Dante Walker makes it look damn good.

Dante’s girlfriend, Charlie, is fated to save the world. And Aspen, the girl who feels like a sister, is an ordained soldier. In order to help both fulfill their destiny and win the war, Dante must complete liberator training at the Hive, rescue Aspen from hell, and uncover a message hidden on an ancient scroll.

Dante is built for battle, but even he can’t handle the nightmares where spiders crawl from Aspen’s eyes, or the look on Charlie’s face that foretells of devastation. To make matters worse, the enemy seizes every opportunity to break inside the Hive and cripple the liberators. But the day of reckoning is fast approaching, and to stand victorious, Dante will have to embrace something inside himself he never has before—faith.

Pre-order from Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository

Excerpt

Working for the devil turns you into something unfixable. It makes you a demon, forevermore. It teaches you to feel anger before anything else, and to fight dirty for those things you believe yours. But I don’t work for the devil anymore. I work for the good guys, even if I don’t act like one. My job now is to protect my girlfriend from my former boss, and to rescue my friend from hell.

No, I don’t work for the devil any longer. But I am still the man he made me. I am still angry, and volatile, and dangerous. I don’t like the things he’s done, and I’m not about to sit back quietly. After all, he taught me better than that. He loved me with the kindness of a serrated blade, and fed me from a spoon dipped in terror.

He made me into a monster.

But I will bite the hand that fed me.

—Dante Walker

About Victoria Scott

Victoria Scott is a teen fiction writer represented by Sara Crowe of the Harvey-Klinger Literary Agency. She’s the author of the FIRE & FLOOD series published by Scholastic, and the DANTE WALKER trilogy published by Entangled Teen. Her books have been bought and translated in eight foreign markets including the UK, Turkey, China, Germany, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.


Victoria lives in Dallas with her husband and hearts cotton candy something fierce.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Youtube

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Cover Reveal: Camp Forget-Me-Not by J.K. Rock

Posted by Dianne on Friday, April 4, 2014. Filed under: ,
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Title: Camp Forget-Me-Not (Camp Boyfriend #3)
Author: J.K. Rock
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Date of Publication: October 7, 2014


Playing it safe and fitting in may have rocketed Kayla West into the “In” crowd at Camp Juniper Point, but it’s left her lonely. The only person she’s ever been herself with was her former best friend, Nick, an outsider that pushed her to join the most popular girls cabin two years ago. Too bad being a Diva meant pressure to break up with Nick. Of course, Kayla had her reasons, but Nick can never know the real one.

She always thought she'd forget him one day and move on. Until he returns to camp a super-hot Olympian snowboarder. Now, every girl wants him and Nick seems determined to show her what a mistake she made. Or at least, she thought that's what he wanted. But when Nick starts sending her private notes--just like he used to--she wonders what kind of game he's playing. Nick's attention is making it tougher to stay in the background and play in safe, forcing Kayla to make a decision--stay on the sidelines and get overlooked? Or take a chance on trusting Nick and, maybe... herself.


About J.K. Rock

J. K. Rock is the pseudonym for YA writing partners - and sisters-in-law - Joanne & Karen Rock. After years of comparing notes on their favorites books and films, often dreaming up new endings to suit them, they decided to write their own stories. Their first Young Adult book, CAMP BOYFRIEND, is part of a three-book series. CAMP PAYBACK will be an April 2014 release, and CAMP FORGET-ME-NOT arrives in Fall 2014. Visit the Camp Boyfriend website at http://campboyfriend.net to learn more about the free novellas they are offering readers prior to each full length book. Individually, Joanne Rock is an award winning Harlequin author published in 26 countries and translated into 20 languages. Karen Rock writes critically acclaimed stories for Harlequin Heartwarming including her latest, HIS HOMETOWN GIRL.

Cover Reveal: Swimming to Tokyo by Brenda St. John Brown

Posted by Dianne on Saturday, March 29, 2014. Filed under: ,
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Title: Swimming to Tokyo
Author: Brenda St. John Brown
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Date of Publication: July 28, 2014

The rules for swimming are simple:

Rule #1: There is no lifeguard on duty.

Since her mom died three years ago, nineteen-year-old Zosia Easton’s been treading water. Living at home. Community college. Same old Saturday nights. So when her father breaks the news he’s taken a job transfer—and by the way, it means renting out the house that’s been her refuge—a summer in Tokyo feels like it just might be a chance to start swimming again.

Rule #2: Beware of unexpected currents.

Finn O’Leary has spent God knows how many years trying to drown out his past. Juvenile detention. Bad decisions. Worse choices. He’s managed to turn it around – MIT, Dean’s List, a sexier-than-thou body with a smile to match – at least on the surface. When his mom asks him to spend the summer with her, Tokyo seems as good a place as any to float through the summer.

Rule #3: Swim at your own risk.

About Brenda St. John Brown

Spotlight + Giveaway: LoveLines by S. Walden

Posted by Dianne on Friday, March 28, 2014. Filed under: , , ,
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Title: LoveLines (The Wilmington Saga #1)
Author: S. Walden
Date of Publication: March 25, 2014
Genre: adult contemporary romance

Arrive at work at 7:58 A.M. sharp. Check. Count forty-seven steps to cubicle. Check. Arrange pens in their red-blue-black-green-purple order of importance. Check. Apply hand sanitizer before opening email. Double check.

And that’s just the first few minutes of her work day.

Thirty-one-year-old proofreader Bailey Mitchell is a slave to her tics. She inherited Obsessive Compulsive Disorder from her father, and it’s done nothing but inhibit her love life. She’s run the gamut of boyfriends—none of them willing or able to cope with her condition.

Enter 32-year-old Reece Powell, her new coworker at Beach Elite Marketing Firm. He’s more than willing to cope. He finds her habits cute and quirky . . . for now. Reece wins her over, and life coasts along for them until Bailey experiences a devastating blow. Tragedy exacerbates her OCD, and Reece realizes her tics aren’t so cute and quirky anymore. Just like all the others, he has the choice to leave.

But Reece isn’t like all the others.
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Excerpt

“Annie!” I squealed, running and scooping her up before she had the chance to escape. I rained kisses all over her face. She was clearly confused, but she seemed to like it. The evidence? She dropped her doll and squeezed my neck.

Erica stared at me through narrowed eyes. “No one, including me, likes my children that much. What is going on?”


Annie giggled on cue, like she understood her mother’s words. I laughed outright.


“Your momma’s silly, isn’t she? Isn’t she?” I asked, poking Annie’s sides.


“Oh my God, who are you?” Erica demanded. “Where’s my BFF who promised me she’d never have children so I could live vicariously through her? I swear to God if you’re pregnant…”


“Calm down,” I said over the top of Annie’s head. She twisted in my arms signaling she was over my show of affection. I placed her on the floor beside her discarded doll. “How would I even be pregnant?”


“Sex. It’s called sex,” Erica replied. She finished folding the last of Little Noah’s shirts, then tossed it in the laundry basket.


“Don’t say s-e-x in front of the baby!” I chided.


“B, she doesn’t know what sex is.”


“She’ll repeat it.”


“Who cares?”


“Oh, so you want to be the mother with the kid who knows the bad words?” I asked.


“Bad word?” Erica asked, laughing.


“You know what I mean,” I said. “You want to be the mother who all the other mothers gossip about? Like about how bad your parenting skills are?”


Erica placed her hand on her hip. “Yeah, I do. Fuck ‘em. Fuck all those mothers. Fuck their playdates and mommy groups and fucking Melissa and Doug puzzles. Fuck their running strollers and baby couture and breastfeeding advice. Fuck their—”


“ERICA!”


“What?”



I looked down at the floor, but Annie was gone. She’d walked away somewhere, no doubt the kitchen since that seemed to be her favorite place to play.

About S. Walden

S. Walden used to teach English before making the best decision of her life by becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Georgia with her very supportive husband, who prefers physics textbooks over fiction and has a difficult time understanding why her characters must have personality flaws. She is wary of small children, so she has a Westie instead. She is the USA Today bestselling author of Going Under. When she's not writing, she's thinking about it.

She loves her fans and loves to hear from them. Email her at swaldenauthor@hotmail.com and follow her twitter feed at @swaldenauthor.


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