Diversity Spotlight Thursday #4

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Diversity Spotlight Thursday a weekly meme created and hosted by Aimal at Bookshelves and Paperbacks. Every week, the goal is to come up with one book in each of three different categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and one that has not yet been released. 

Book I have read

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Look Both Ways by Alison Cherry

LBGTQ characters

The story of a girl hoping she’s found a place to belong . . . only to learn that neither talent nor love is as straightforward as she thinks.

A summer away from the city is the beginning of everything for Brooklyn Shepard. Her theater apprenticeship at Allerdale is a chance to prove that she can carve out a niche all her own, surrounded by people who don’t know anything about her or her family of superstar performers.

Brooklyn immediately hits it off with her roommate, Zoe, and soon their friendship turns into something more. Brooklyn wants to see herself as someone who’s open to everything and everyone, but as her feelings for Zoe intensify, so do her doubts. She’s happier than she’s ever been—but is it because of her new relationship? Or is it because she’s finally discovering who she wants to be?

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Looking Both Ways was definitely one of the best books I’ve read in 2016.
The plot was amazing and so different from any book I’ve read before.
I loved the setting of a summer theater camp and I really liked seeing how all the characters were very different from each other but they all had one thing in common, they loved theater.
I loved how the story focused on Brooklyn and her self discovery. She was so well written and I loved her character development.

Book on my TBR

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Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron

In this diverse, gritty survival fantasy, a girl warrior turns against her island clan to find the brother they claim died, uncovering secrets. Perfect for fans of Graceling and Snow Like Ashes.

In Khya’s world, every breath is a battle.

On the isolated desert island of Shiara, dying young is inevitable. The clan comes before self, and protecting her home means Khya is a warrior above all else.

But when following the clan and obeying their leaders could cost her brother his life, Khya’s home becomes a deadly trap. The only person who can help is Tessen, her lifelong rival and the boy who challenges her at every turn. The council she hoped to join has betrayed her, and their secrets, hundreds of years deep, reach around a world she’s never seen.

To save her brother’s life and her island home, her only choice is to trust Tessen, turn against her clan, and go on the run—a betrayal and a death sentence.

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I received a copy of Island of Exiles from the publisher a few weeks ago and I’m really pumped to pick it up soon. It says right in the synopsis that it’s diverse and I thought that was pretty cool.

Book releasing soon

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Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she’s quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she’s ever known.

Expected publication: May 16th 2017

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Flame in the Mist is one of my most anticipated books of 2017. It sounds amazing and even though I haven’t read  The Wrath & the Dawn, I’ve heard a lot of positive things about it.

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Review: Grendel’s Guide to Love and War by A.E. Kaplan

26836918Grendel’s Guide to Love and War by A.E. Kaplan

Expected publication: April 18th 2017

The Perks of Being a Wallflower meets Revenge of the Nerds in this tale of a teen misfit who seeks to take down the bro next door, but ends up falling for his enemy’s sister and uncovering difficult truths about his family in the process.

Tom Grendel lives a quiet life—writing in his notebooks, mowing lawns for his elderly neighbors, and pining for Willow, a girl next door who rejects the “manic-pixie-dream” label. But when Willow’s brother, Rex (the bro-iest bro ever to don a jockstrap), starts throwing wild parties, the idyllic senior citizens’ community where they live is transformed into a war zone. Tom is rightfully pissed—his dad is an Iraq vet, and the noise from the parties triggers his PTSD—so he comes up with a plan to end the parties for good. But of course, it’s not that simple.

One retaliation leads to another, and things quickly escalate out of control, driving Tom and Willow apart, even as the parties continue unabated. Add to that an angsty existential crisis born of selectively reading his sister’s Philosophy 101 coursework, a botched break-in at an artisanal pig farm, and ten years of unresolved baggage stemming from his mother’s death…and the question isn’t so much whether Tom Grendel will win the day and get the girl, but whether he’ll survive intact.

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This was such a refreshing read. The narrative was really wonderful and the characters really made this book special.
Grendel’s Guide to Love and War started off great. Even from the first few pages, I really loved it. I don’t often find books that made me laugh out loud but Grendel’s Guide did. The first or second chapter had me laughing like crazy.
The main character, Tom Grendel, was so well written and such a wonderful person. His father is a veteran and suffers from PTSD and Tom was so willing to take care of him. This book had realistic family dynamics and I really appreciated that.

Overall, this was a great read. I loved the characters and the representation of PTSD. It’s very well written and the plot was really fun.

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Review: Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

28965131Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Published January 31st 2017

Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she’s thrilled she finally connected with someone.

When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David. The man from the bar. The very married man from the bar…who says the kiss was a terrible mistake but who still can’t keep his eyes off Louise.

And then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend, but she also just happens to be married to David. David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife, but then why is David so controlling, and why is Adele so scared of him?

As Louise is drawn into David and Adele’s orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong, but Louise can’t guess how wrong―and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets.

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I picked up Behind Her Eyes because of my quest to expand my reading horizons. I don’t read a lot of adult fiction, I read mostly Young Adult, but this book sounded really exciting and I’m always down for a good thriller.

I did find Behind Her Eyes to be fairly addicting, which I wasn’t expecting. I read it in just a couple of days and I even caught myself thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it.
I wasn’t very invested in it though. The characters are good but I wasn’t emotionally invested in them.
I feel like it could have been written a little bit better in some ways. I didn’t really feel the suspense for most of the book. The reader finds out a lot more about David and Adele than Louise and I felt like I was always waiting for Louise to catch up. Speaking of Louise, I found her really annoying and her behavior was odd and she made some really stupid decisions. She was more of a plot device than a useful character.

Overall, this was a decent read. I liked how addicting it was in the moment and I did like it for the most part. The ending was pretty wild but I could easily pick it apart if I spent more thinking about it. If you’re not a critical reader, I think this book will be a lot better to you. If you are a critical, like me, I’m not sure this book will live up to the hype.

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Review: Gardenia by Kelsey Sutton

gardenia_coverlargeGardenia by Kelsey Sutton

Published February 28th 2017

Seventeen-year-old Ivy Erickson has one month, twenty-seven days, four hours, fifty-nine minutes, and two seconds to live.

Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been able to see countdown clocks over everyone’s heads indicating how long before they will die. She can’t do anything about anyone else’s, nor can she do anything about her own, which will hit the zero hour before she even graduates high school.

A life cut short is tragic, but Ivy does her best to make the most of it. She struggles emotionally with her deep love for on-again, off-again boyfriend Myers Patripski. She struggles financially, working outside of school to help her mom and her sister. And she struggles to cope with the murder of her best friend, another life she couldn’t save. Vanessa Donovan was killed in the woods, and everyone in town believes Ivy had something to do with it.

Then more girls start disappearing. Ivy tries to put her own life in order as she pieces together the truth of who ended Vanessa’s. To save lives and for her own sanity.

The clock is always ticking. And Ivy’s only hope is to expose the truth before it runs out completely.

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I really liked the concept of this book (it was very similar to a book I read in 2010, Numbers by Rachel Ward) and I thought the writing was really great. The writing was actually my favorite part about Gardenia. I liked Ivy and even though I wasn’t emotionally invested in her story, I was still interested to see what was going to happen. I believe this is a standalone, so I really liked that aspect as well. I’m a big fan of standalones so if you’re looking for a good mystery but you don’t want to get caught up a long series, Gardenia would be a good one to pick up.

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Review: Piper Perish by Kayla Cagan

30364140Piper Perish by Kayla Cagan

Published March 8th 2017

Now is the time for fearlessness.

Piper Perish inhales air and exhales art. The sooner she and her best friends can get out of Houston and get to New York City, the better. Art school has been Piper’s dream her whole life, and now that senior year is halfway over, she’s never felt more ready. But in the final months before graduation, things are weird with her friends and stressful with three different guys, and Piper’s sister’s tyrannical mental state seems to thwart every attempt at happiness for the close-knit Perish family. Piper’s art just might be enough to get her out. But is she brave enough to seize that power, even if it means giving up what she’s always known?

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I loved the synopsis for Piper Perish. It sounded really fun and the cover is beautiful so I was pumped. I was super excited. I was ready to read a cute, fun YA contemporary. However, this book was a massive disappointment.

First off, I wasn’t super into the writing style. It was written in a diary-like format but it was so over detailed, it would have been better if it was just written normally.

Okay. So. I hated the main character. She was very whiny, ungrateful, pretentious, immature, and incredibly over dramatic. She complained so much. I’m not a fan of people who complain a lot, especially when they’re fortunate in many ways. Piper was very fortunate and blessed but she just complained about everything. Her immaturity was sky high. I felt like I was reading the diary of a bratty, privileged eight year old.
Piper also had a problematic and immature view on her (ex)boyfriend. Within the first few pages we find out that her (ex)boyfriend has an interest in boys. Piper goes on a weird rant about how she might have turned him gay because she has short hair. It was odd and surprising to find something like that in a YA book written within the last few years. Piper is an awful example for young readers. She single handedly ruined this book in the first 15 pages. I didn’t like any of the other characters either so this book was pretty much hopeless for me.

I also wasn’t a fan of the relationship between Piper and her sister, Marli. They hated each other for no reason and it was such a poorly written example of a relationship between sisters. I’m so sick of sibling relationships being so poorly written. I’m tired of girls being pitted against each other.
Piper and Marli didn’t have to be besties but there is no excuse for such a terrible representation of sisters.
Honestly, all the female characters in this book are poorly written. This isn’t a book I want young girls reading. There are so many more YA books out there that young girls can read that will empower them. Piper Perish just promotes the image that teenage girls are nasty and that it’s okay to consistently compete with each other.

Overall, I didn’t like this book at all. I found it to be very problematic and had a terrible representation of girls. This book was almost sexist against women. I don’t think the author intended that at all but it’s very unfortunate that this book has such a terrible cast of characters, especially the female characters. Maybe if you’re not a critical reader, you’ll enjoy this book but I definitely don’t recommend it. There are many more YA contemporaries out there that aren’t problematic and will empower the reader.

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Cover Reveal + Giveaway: White Lies duet by Lisa Renee Jones

Provocative (White Lies Duet #1) by Lisa Renee Jones

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Book one in the sexy and scintillating new White Lies duet by Lisa Renee Jones!

There are those moments in life that are provocative in their very existences, that embed in our minds forever, and sometimes our very souls. They change us, mold us, maybe even save save us. But some are darker, dangerous. If we allow them to, they control us. Seduce us. Quite possibly even destroy us.

The moment I walked into Sonoma’s Reid Winter Winery and Vineyard and made eye contact with Faith Winter for the first time was one of those moments. Provocative because I know at least one of her secrets, of which, I suspect she has many. Provocative because she believes I was a stranger to her when we met, but I am not. Provocative because I sought her out, with no intention of touching her. But now I have. Now I want her. Now I have to have her. But that changes nothing. It doesn’t change why I came for her.

Expected publication: April 18th 2017 by Julie Patra Publishing

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Shameless (White Lies Duet #2) by Lisa Renee Jones

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Book two in the sexy and scintillating new White Lies duet by Lisa Renee Jones!

Full description coming soon…

Expected publication: July 11th 2017 by Julie Patra Publishing

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GIVEAWAY

PRIZE: 3 sets of a surprise signed book and tote bag

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Provocative excerpt

Provocative Chapter One

pro·voc·a·tive

adjective

  1. causing annoyance, anger, or another strong reaction, especially deliberately.
  2. arousing sexual desire or interest, especially deliberately.

Chapter One

There are those moments in life that are provocative in their very existences, that embed in our minds forever, and sometimes our very souls. They change us, mold us, maybe even save us. But some are darker, dangerous. If we allow them to, they control us. Seduce us. Quite possibly even destroy us.

The moment I stepped into the mansion that is the centerpiece of the Reid Winter Vineyards and Winery wasn’t one of those moments. Nor were any of the moments I spent weaving through a crowd of suits and dresses cluttering the circle that is the grand foyer of the 1800’s mansion, fancy tiles etched with vines beneath my feet. Nor the ones spent declining three different waiters offering me glasses of various wines from one of the most established vineyards in Sonoma, meant to entice me to buy their bottles and donate money to the charity hosting the gathering. Not even the instant that I spotted the stunning blonde in a snug black dress that hugged her many lush curves proved to be one of those moments, but I would call it a damn interesting one. The moment I decided the blonde silk of her long hair belonged in my hands and on my stomach was also a damn interesting one. And not because she’s fuckable. There are plenty of fuckable women in my life, a number of whom understand that I enjoy demands for pleasure, which I will definitely provide, and nothing more. This woman is too prim and proper to ever agree to such an arrangement, and yet, knowing this, as she and her heart-shaped backside disappear into the congestion of bodies, I find myself pursuing her, looking for more than an interesting moment. I want that provocative one.

I follow her path formed by huddles of two, three, or more people, left and right, to clear a portion of the crowd, scanning to find my beauty standing several feet away, her back to me, with two men in blue suits in front of her. And while they might appear to blend with the rest of the suits in the room, they hold themselves like the parasites I meet too often in the courtroom, those who most often call themselves my opposing counsel. My blonde beauty folds her arms in front of her chest, her spine stiff, and if I read her right–and I read most people right–I am certain that she’s found trouble. But lucky for her, trouble doesn’t like me near as much as I like it.

Closing the space between me and them, I near their little triangle just in time to hear her say, “Are we really doing this here and now?”

“Yes, Ms. Winter,” one of the men replies. “We are.”

“Actually,” I say, stepping to Ms. Winter’s side, her floral scent almost as sweet as the challenge of conquering her opponents that are now mine, “we are not doing this here or now.”

All attention shifts to me, Ms. Winter giving me a sharp stare that I feel rather than see, my focus remaining on the men I want to leave, not the woman I want to make come. “And you would be who?” the suit directly in front of me demands.

I size him up as barely out of his twenty-something diapers, without experience, the glint in his eye telling me he doesn’t realize that flaw, which makes him about as smooth as a six-dollar glass of wine everyone in this place would spit the fuck out. A point driven home by the fact that he’s wearing a three hundred-dollar Italian silk tie, and a hundred-dollar suit, no doubt hoping the tie makes the suit look expensive, and him important. He’s wrong.

“I said, who are you?” he repeats when I apparently haven’t replied quickly enough, his impatience becoming my virtue as my role as cat in this game of cat and mouse is too easily established.

Unwilling to waste words on a predictable, expected question that I’d never ask, I simply reach into the pocket of my three-thousand-dollar light gray suit, which I earned by beating opponents with ten times his experience and negotiation skills, and finger the unimportant prick my card.

He snaps it from my hand, gives it a look that confirms my name and the firm I started a decade ago now, after daring to leave behind a certain partnership in a high-powered firm. “Nick Rogers?” he asks. “Is there another name on the card?” I ask, because, I’m also a fearless smartass every chance I get.

He stares at me for several beats, seeming to calculate his words, before asking, “How many Mr. Rogers sweater jokes do you get?”

I arch a brow at the misguided joke that only serves to poke the Tiger. Suit Number Two, who I age closer to my thirty-six years, pales visibly, then snatches the card from the other man’s hand, giving it a quick inspection before his gaze then jerks to mine. “The Nick Rogers?”

“I don’t remember my mother putting the word ‘the’ in front of my name,” I reply dryly, but then again, I think, she didn’t ask my father, to change my last name either. She just hated him that much. 

“Tiger,” he says, and it’s not a question, but rather a statement of “oh shit” fact.

“That’s right,” I say, enjoying the fruits of my labor that created the nickname, not one given to me by my friends.

“Who, or what, the fuck is Tiger all about?” Suit Number One asks.

“Shut up,” Suit Number Two grunts, refocusing on me to ask, “You’re representing Ms. Winter?”

“What I am,” I say, “is standing right here by her side, telling you that it’s in your best interests to leave.”

“Since when do you handle small-time foreclosures?” he demands, exposing the crux of Ms. Winter’s situation.

“I handle whatever the fuck I want to handle,” I say, my tone even, my lips curving as I add, “Including the process of having you both escorted off the property by security.”

“That,” Suit Number One dares to retort, “would garner Ms. Winter unwanted attention in the middle of a busy event. Not that Ms. Winter even has security to call.”

“Fortunately, I have a phone that dials 911 and the ability to call it without asking her.”

“If she’s your client,” Suit Number One says, clearly inferring that she’s not, “you’re obligated to operate with her best interests in mind.”

“My decisions,” I reply, without missing a beat, and without claiming Ms. Winter as a client, “are always about winning. And I assure you that I can think of many ways to spin your story to the press that ensures I win, while also benefiting Ms. Winter.”

“This isn’t my story,” Suit Number One indicates.

“It will be when I’m finished with the press,” I assure him, amused at how easily I’ve led him down the path I want him to travel.

“This is a small community with little to talk about but her,” he says. “She doesn’t want her foreclosure to become the front page story.”

My lips quirk. “If you don’t know how easily I can get the wrong attention for you here, and the right attention for Ms. Winter, you’ll find out.”

“We’ll leave,” Suit Number Two interjects quickly, and just when I think that he’s smart enough to see the way trouble has turned from Ms. Winter to them, he looks at her and says, “We’ll be in touch,” with a not so subtle threat in his tone, before he elbows Suit Number One. “Let’s go.”

Suit Number One doesn’t move, visibly fuming, his face red, that white ring thickening around his lips. I arch a brow at Suit Number Two, who adds, “Now, Jordan.” Jordan, formerly known as Suit Number One, clenches his teeth and turns away, while Suit Two follows.

Ms. Winter faces me, and holy fuck, when her pale green eyes meet mine, any questions I have about this woman and the many I suspect she now has of me, are muted by an unexpected, potentially problematic, palpable electric charge between us. “Thank you,” she says, her voice soft, feminine, a rasp in its depths that hints at emotion not effortlessly contained. “Please enjoy anything you like tonight on the house,” she adds, the rasp gone now, her control returned. Until I take it, I think, but no sooner than I’ve had the thought, she is turning and walking away, the absence of further interaction coloring me both stunned and intrigued, two things that, for me, are ranked with about as much frequency as snow in Sonoma, which would be next to never.

Ms. Winter maneuvers into the crowd, out of my line of sight, and while I am not certain I’d label her a mouse at this point, or ever for that matter, considering what I know of her, I am most definitely on the prowl. I stride purposely forward, weaving through the crowd, seeking that next provocative moment, scanning for her left, right, in the clusters of mingling guests, until I clear the crowd.

Now standing in front of a wide, wooden stairwell, my gaze follows its path upward to a second level, but I still find no sign of Ms. Winter. A cool breeze whips through the air, and I turn to find the source is a high arched doorway, the recently opened glass doors to what I know to be the “Winter Gardens,” a focal point of the property, and a tourist draw for decades, settling back into place. Certain this represents her escape, I walk that direction, and press open the doors, stepping onto a patio that has a stone floor and concrete benches framed by rose bushes. No less than four winding paths greet me as destination choices, the hunt for this woman now a provocation of its own.

I’ve just decided to wait where I am for Ms. Winter’s return when the wind lifts, the floral scent of many varieties of flowers for which the garden is famous touching my nostrils, with one extra scent decidedly of the female variety.

Lips curving with the certainty that my prey will soon to be my prize, I follow the clue that guides my feet to the path on my right, a narrow, winding, lighted walkway, framed by neatly cut yellow flower bushes, which continues past a white wooden gazebo I have no intention of passing. Not when Ms. Winter stands inside it, her back to me, elbows resting on the wooden rail, her gaze casting across the silhouette of what would reveal itself to be a rolling mountainside in daybreak. The way I intend for her to reveal herself.

I close the distance between us, and the moment before I’m upon her, she faces me, hands on the railing behind her, her breasts thrust forward, every one of her lush curves tempting my eyes, my hands. My mouth. “Did those men know you?” she demands, clearly ready and waiting for this interaction. “Did you know them?”

“No and no.”

“And yet they knew the nickname Tiger.”

“My reputation precedes me.”

“I’ll take the bait,” she says. “What reputation?”

“They say I’ll rip my opponent’s throat out if given the chance.”

“Will you?” she asks, without so much as a blanch or blink.

“Yes,” I reply, a simple answer, for a simple question.

“Without any concern for who you hurt,” she states.

I arch a brow. “Is that a question?”

“Should it be?”

“Yes.”

“It’s not,” she says. “You didn’t get that nickname by being nice.”

“Nice guys don’t win.”

“Then I’m warned,” she says. “You aren’t a nice guy.”

“Is nice a quality you’re looking for in a man? Because as your evening counsel, Ms. Winter, I’ll advise you that nice is overrated.”

She stares at me for several beats before turning away to face the mountains again, elbows on the railing, in what I could see as a silent invitation to leave. I choose to see it as an invitation to join her. I claim the spot next to her, close, but not nearly as close as I will be soon. “You didn’t answer the question,” I point out.

“You wrongly assume I am looking for a man, which I’m not,” she says, glancing over at me. “But if I was, then no. Nice would be on my list but it would not top my list, however, nowhere on that list would be the ability, and willingness, to rip out someone’s throat.”

“I can assure you, Ms. Winter, that a man with a bite is as underrated as a nice guy is overrated. And I not only know how, and when, to use mine, but if I so choose to biteyou, and I might, it’ll be all about pleasure, not pain.”

Her cheeks flush and she turns away. “My name is Faith.” She glances over at me again. “Should I call you Nick, Tiger, or just plain arrogant?”

“Anything but Mr. Rogers,” I say, enjoying our banter far more than I would have expected when I came here tonight looking for her.

She laughs now too, and it’s a delicate, sweet sound, but it’s awkward, as if it’s not only unexpected, but unwelcome, and an instant later she’s withdrawing, pushing off the railing, arms folding protectively in front of her body, before we’re rotating to face each other. “I need to go check on the visitors.” She attempts to move away.

I gently catch her arm, her gaze rocketing to mine, and in the process her hair flutters in a sudden breeze, a strand of blonde silk catching on the whiskers of my one-day stubble. She sucks in a breath, and when she would reach up to remedy the situation, I’m already there, catching the soft silk and stroking it behind her ear.

“Why are you touching me?” she asks, but she doesn’t pull away, that charge between us minutes ago now ten times more provocative with me touching her, thinking about all the places I might touch next.

“It’s considerably better than not touching you,” I say.

“My bad luck might bleed into you.”

“Bleed,” I repeat, that word reminding me once again of why I’m here, why I really want to fuck this woman. “That’s an extreme, and rather interesting choice of words.”

“Most bad luck is extreme, though not interesting to anyone but the Tigers of the world, creating it. You’re still touching me.”

“Everyone needs a Tiger in their corner. Maybe my good luck will bleed into you.”

“Does good luck bleed?” she asks.

“Many people will do anything for good luck, even bleed.”

“Yes,” she says, lowering her lashes, but not before I’ve seen the shadows in her eyes. “I suppose they would.”

“What would you do for good luck?”

Her lashes lift, her stare meeting mine again. “What have you done for good luck?”

“I came here tonight,” I say.

She narrows her eyes on me, as if some part of her senses, the far-reaching implications of my reply that she can’t possibly understand, and yet still, the inescapable heat between us radiates and burns. “You’re still touching me,” she points out, and this time there’s a hint of reprimand.

“Holding onto that luck,” I say.

“It feels like you’re holding onto mine.”

With that observation that hits too close to the truth, I have no interest in revealing just yet, I drag my hand slowly down hers, allowing my fingers to find hers before they fall away. Her lips, lush, tempting, impossibly perfect for someone I know to be imperfect, part with the loss of my touch, and yet there is a hint of relief in her eyes that tells me she both wants me and fears me.

A most provocative moment, indeed.

“Have a drink with me,” I say.

“No,” she replies, her tone absolute, and while I don’t like this decision, I appreciate a person who’s decisive.

“Why?”

“Good luck and bad luck don’t mix.”

“They might just create good luck.”

“Or bad,” she says. “I’m not in a place where I can take the risk for more bad luck.” She inclines her chin. “Enjoy the rest of your visit.” She pauses and adds, “Tiger.”

I don’t react, but for just a moment, I consider the way she used my nickname as an indicator that she knows who I am, and why I’m here. I quickly dismiss that idea. I’d have seen it in those pale green eyes, and I did not. But as she turns and walks away, and I watch her depart, tracking her steps as she disappears down the path, I wonder at her quick departure, and the fear I’d seen in her eyes. Was the root of that fear her guilt?

That idea should be enough to ice the fire in me that this woman has stirred, but it stokes it instead. Everything male in me wants to pursue her again, and not because I’m here for a reason that existed before I ever met her, when it should be that and nothing more. It is more. I’m aroused and I’m intrigued by this woman. She got to me when no one gets to me. Not a good place to be, considering I came here to prove she killed my father, and maybe even her own mother.

Provocative

Shameless

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About Lisa Renee Jones

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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed INSIDE OUT series. Suzanne Todd (producer of Alice in Wonderland) on the INSIDE OUT series: Lisa has created a beautiful, complicated, and sensual world that is filled with intrigue and suspense. Sara’s character is strong, flawed, complex, and sexy – a modern girl we all can identify with.

In addition to the success of Lisa’s INSIDE OUT series, she has published many successful titles. The TALL, DARK AND DEADLY series and THE SECRET LIFE OF AMY BENSEN series, both spent several months on a combination of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling lists. Lisa is presently working on a dark, edgy new series, Dirty Money, for St. Martin’s Press.
Prior to publishing Lisa owned multi-state staffing agency that was recognized many times by The Austin Business Journal and also praised by the Dallas Women’s Magazine. In 1998 Lisa was listed as the #7 growing women owned business in Entrepreneur Magazine.

Lisa loves to hear from her readers. You can reach her at www.lisareneejones.com and she is active on Twitter and Facebook daily.

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Diversity Spotlight Thursday #3

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Diversity Spotlight Thursday a weekly meme created and hosted by Aimal at Bookshelves and Paperbacks. Every week, the goal is to come up with one book in each of three different categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and one that has not yet been released. 

I had so much fun writing last week’s Diversity Spotlight and I’m even more excited about this week’s post.

Book I have read

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City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

POC main character

In the shadows of Sangui City, there lives a girl who doesn’t exist. After fleeing the Congo as refugees, Tina and her mother arrived in Kenya looking for the chance to build a new life and home. Her mother quickly found work as a maid for a prominent family, headed by Roland Greyhill, one of the city’s most respected business leaders. But Tina soon learns that the Greyhill fortune was made from a life of corruption and crime. So when her mother is found shot to death in Mr. Greyhill’s personal study, she knows exactly who’s behind it.

With revenge always on her mind, Tina spends the next four years surviving on the streets alone, working as a master thief for the Goondas, Sangui City’s local gang. It’s a job for the Goondas that finally brings Tina back to the Greyhill estate, giving her the chance for vengeance she’s been waiting for. But as soon as she steps inside the lavish home, she’s overtaken by the pain of old wounds and the pull of past friendships, setting into motion a dangerous cascade of events that could, at any moment, cost Tina her life. But finally uncovering the incredible truth about who killed her mother—and why—keeps her holding on in this fast-paced nail-biting thriller.

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A diverse YA thriller set in Kenya? SIGN ME UP.

I loved this book so much. It was fast paced, had amazing writing, and complex characters.
This book grabbed me from the very first line and never let me go. I was so hooked and I never wanted to put this book down.
I really loved the concept of City of Saints and Thieves. It was unlike anything I’ve read before and was so exciting. It’s rare that a book will keep me reading past 10pm but I was reading this book until midnight. The writing style was wonderful. City of Saints and Thieves is one of the best written books that I’ve read in a long time.
I loved the characters, especially Tina. She was so fierce and has a ton of character development. Her determination was inspiring.
Overall, I loved this book so much. It was such a wild ride and I never wanted it to end. This book has everything. Diversity, character development, an amazing setting, a great cast of characters, and a thrilling plot. I can’t think of one bad thing about City of Saints and Thieves and I can’t  recommend it enough.

Book on my TBR

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I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

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I’ve had this book on my TBR for a little over a year now. I really wanted to read it but it wasn’t until recently that I started to take a real interest in non-fiction. I’ve seen a few people say that this book has a really cool look at Pakistani culture and I love being able to read about places I’ve never been, learn about cultures that are different from my own,  and see new perspectives. I have a feeling that I Am Malala will teach me a lot.

Book releasing soon

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The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

POC main characters

In the captivating start to a new, darkly lyrical fantasy series for readers of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir, Tea can raise the dead, but resurrection comes at a price…

Let me be clear: I never intended to raise my brother from his grave, though he may claim otherwise. If there’s anything I’ve learned from him in the years since, it’s that the dead hide truths as well as the living.

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha-one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.

Expected publication: March 7th 2017

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I don’t know if it’s cheating for me to pick The Bone Witch for my book releasing soon because I’ve already read it but the other books I wanted to choose are all releasing in the fall. But I really enjoyed The Bone Witch even though it was a little confusing at times.  loved the writing style and concept so much. Everything seemed very well thought out and very detailed. I really liked the alternating narratives and the world building was really cool. There is some info dumping here and there but it wasn’t terrible. I really liked all of the characters. They were all well written and developed.

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Review: The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

17901125The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

Published January 27th 2015

Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London…

As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on the dreamwalker, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city’s gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take centre stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner.

Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.

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I had heard the The Mime Order was even better than the first book and I was pretty hesitant to believe the hype. I don’t often find sequels to be better than the first books and I thought The Bone Season was really great. However, the hype was totally accurate.
I love the action and pacing in The Mime Order. Especially the last 100 pages or so. It was so exciting and I couldn’t put it down.
My favorite thing about this series is the romance. Paige and Warden are so much fun and I love their dialogue so much. I really love how well written and complex the characters are as well. I feel like Paige had some really great character development and I can’t wait to she how she grows in the next book.

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Stephanie’s review of The Mime Order 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

32075671The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Published February 28th 2017

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, Khalil’s death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Starr’s best friend at school suggests he may have had it coming. When it becomes clear the police have little interest in investigating the incident, protesters take to the streets and Starr’s neighborhood becomes a war zone. What everyone wants to know is: What really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could destroy her community. It could also endanger her life.

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If you read one book in 2017, read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

The Hate U Give is ground breaking, unique, heartbreaking, and honest. It gives a much needed voice to people who haven’t been heard.
The characters are well written and complex. Starr has shown me a perspective I haven’t seen before and I will always appreciate new perspectives.
I also love how much this book focuses on family. I felt like that was such an important aspect of this book and I don’t often see YA books that show such strong family dynamics.
I went into this book thinking it was going to be super intense, super dark 100% of time. And it is dark and tense but it shows other aspects of Starr’s life as well. It shows her friendships and her family. There’s actually some witticism and I felt like it added to the realism of the story.

Overall, I could go on and on about The Hate U Give but my main point is that you need to read this book. This isn’t just a book for teens, this is a book for everyone. And this is one of the most important books I have ever read and everyone should experience it.

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Review: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

29983711Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Published February 7th 2017

Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan.

So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.

 

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This book is very different from a lot of books I normally pick up but I was really excited to read it. Pachinko sounded amazing and I loved the assurance given from the synopsis for rich culture through out this book.
I really enjoyed the first half of this book a lot more than the last half. I really liked pace of the first half but it did start to slow down and drag at times. This is book is on the larger side, almost 500 pages, so the length didn’t help the slower pace. It wasn’t necessarily boring but compared to the first 200 or so pages, it was much slower.
I did love the culture in Pachinko. That was actually my favorite part about the book. It was so interesting and I loved seeing a new perspective. I really learned a lot and that was pretty cool.

Overall, if you’re looking for an interesting, diverse historical fiction, Pachinko is definitely a book to pick up. But if you want something fast paced, you might want to skip this one.

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