Review: Keep Forever by Alexa Kingaard – Blog Tour + Giveaway

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Title: Keep Forever
Author: Alexa Kingaard
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Publication Date: March 28, 2020
Genre: Historical Romance, Women’s Fiction
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review

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Rating: 5 stars

Paul O’Brien’s idyllic childhood in Southern California comes to a halt when his mother dies in the summer before his senior year of high school and a very different persona of his father emerges – isolating himself inside the house, turning to alcohol for comfort, and barely noticing his only child. Simultaneously, the war in Vietnam is sending shock waves around the world and young men from one coast to the other are being called upon to serve. Paul enlists in the Marines before receiving his draft notice. 

Elizabeth Sutton is eager to gain some independence from her father’s old fashioned notions and looking forward to her first year in high school.  At fifteen years old, tragedy strikes with the loss of both parents in an auto accident, turning her childhood into one of responsibility and worry overnight.  The four siblings are scattered when her nine-year-old twin sisters are sent to live with their Aunt and Uncle on Nantucket Island, and Elizabeth is left behind in Boston with their grandmother.  Her older brother, Sam, enlists in the Marines, eager to join the conflict a world away as opposed to dealing with the one unfolding at home. 

A bond develops between Paul and Sam in Vietnam, and both are injured in a bloody battle that costs Sam his right hand and sets the stage for a lifetime of nightmares and sleepless nights for Paul.  Matched by similar tragedies at a young age, Elizabeth and Paul’s first introduction by Sam upon their return from Vietnam is the beginning of friendship and love that survives five decades. 

After marrying, welcoming their first child, and inheriting a small beach house, the couple adapts to their new surroundings, but distant memories of Vietnam continue to haunt Paul.  In an era when veterans refuse to speak of their pain and the government denies that thousands of soldiers are coming home irreparably damaged, he is left to deal with the challenge of caring for his loved ones amidst his his erratic flashback episodes and moods. As their lives unravel from the lingering effects of PTSD,  Elizabeth learns to accept the burden that Paul brought home, and together they make their own memories to keep forever.

Inspired By A True Story

Review:

Keep Forever was a poignant and gripping novel about the aftermath of the war in Vietnam and the struggles faced by its soldiers and their families. It was insightful and honest and powerful.

I could not put this down. The story of Elizabeth and Paul was so raw and real. The representation of the PTSD Paul had was absolutely heartbreaking. My heart broke for the struggles he faced and the fact that the mentality then was “we’re manly soldiers and we don’t talk about our pain” made it all the more sad to read. About halfway through when Paul had a sort of breaking point with his PTSD/depression, I was on the verge of crying like a baby because it hit so close to home. She could not have painted a better picture of the sadness and the fear from both the person suffering and the family members who love that person with their whole heart.

I wish this book was 600 pages. There was so much life between Elizabeth and Paul to be explored. Some moments were explored more and others were glossed over. But considering this is coming from Alexa Kingaard’s own personal experience, I can accept that. She’s chosen to highlight what she felt was important through the life she experienced with a husband home from Vietnam with PTSD and to me that made the book even better. These emotions were truly felt by her at one point or another in her life and she really hit the nail on the head with how much it can hurt to see the one you love suffer and there’s not really much you can do to help.

I loved this book so much and I really hope you guys will pick this one up.

Giveaway:

  • Enter HERE
  • Prize: $50 Amazon gift card
  • International
  • Ends: May 13, 2020

About Alexa Kingaard:

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Alexa Kingaard was born in San Diego, CA and has lived most of her life in the area. She currently resides in Carlsbad and is the mother of a son and daughter who continue to be her biggest fans and cheerleaders.

Her debut novel, KEEP FOREVER, was inspired by her late ex-husband who batted the residual effects of the Vietnam War for decades after his return. The burden he brought home is shared by combat veterans of all conflicts, and her fictional account highlights the collateral damage encountered by family members and loved ones living with PTSD in their midst.

Her second novel, MY NAME IS ROSE, departs from her personal experiences and focuses on the collective memories of her generation. She loves writing about nostalgia and the human condition, the common denominator of our lives.

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Review: Let’s Get Physical by Cassie Cross

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Title: Let’s Get Physical
Author: Cassie Cross
Series: Love Is… #2
Publisher: Self-published by Cassie Cross
Publication Date: March 26, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review

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Rating: 5 stars

Corinna McKnight is a chronically single girl in need of toned abs and a hot date for a wedding that her highly successful, deliriously happy lifelong frenemy will be attending. The weddings is only six weeks away and she doesn’t have much time to make it look like she has her life together. Luckily, her best friend’s boyfriend owns the hottest gym in town and sets he up with Noah, the best personal trainer he has on staff.

Noah Cartier is at a pretty good place in his life. He has a job and he loves working for his best friend, Hinter. Noah is in high demand, mostly for his talent, but sometimes for his body and Hunter has one very firm rule: no fooling around with the clients.

It’s an easy rule to follow until he meets Corinna, who makes him want more out of life and leaves him straddling the line between breaking a promise and betraying his heart.

Review:

Corinna is going to be attending a wedding in six weeks, one that her frenemy/rival will be attending as well. She might not have the heart surgeon husband and the perfect instgram feed, but she is determined to have the hottest body. She decides to find a personal trainer and her best friend’s husband (who owns a gym) sets her up with his best personal trainer on staff.

Turns out, Corinna and Noah know each other from when they were young teens and she used to stay at her grandparents house during the summer, while Noah lived next door. The moment they lay eyes on each other, romance ensues.

Usually I’m not the biggest fan of novellas because everything develops so quickly. Characters fall in love in the blink of an eye or the turn of a page. However, this was such a feel-good novella. I flew through it and loved it.

This was the cutest novella. If you’re looking for an adorable romance read that you can easily get through in a day and is likely to boost your mood, then definitely check this one out!

About Cassie Cross:

Cassie Cross is a Maryland native and a romantic at heart, who lives outside of Baltimore with her two dogs and a closet full of shoes. Cassie’s fondness for swoon-worthy men and strong women are the inspiration for most of her stories, and when she’s not busy writing a book, you’ll probably find her eating takeout and indulging in her love of 80’s sitcoms.

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Review: Rules of Engagement by J.T. Geissinger

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Title: Rules of Engagement
Author: J.T. Geissinger
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-published by J.T. Geissinger
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review

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Rating: 5 stars

As the owner of Perfect Pairings matchmaking service, Maddie McRae earns her living helping others fall in love. Dubbed the Wedding Whisperer due to her success getting couples down the aisle, the sweet Southern belle knows that the foundation of wedded bliss is built on similarities: opposites might attract, but they don’t stay together.  

Which is why she’s holding out for her own Prince Charming, a perfect gentleman who will arrive one day and sweep her off her feet with his devotion, kindness, and charm. 

Enter Mason Spark. 

Rude, arrogant, and notoriously allergic to monogamy, the hottest quarterback in the NFL is Maddie’s polar opposite. He’s also her new client. Her gorgeous, infuriating new client who’s paying her an outrageous sum of money to find him a wife. With his multi-million dollar contract on the line due to his behavior on and off the field, bad boy Mason is willing to pretend to settle down.  

But when he starts to fall for the adorkable matchmaker who can’t stand him, the playboy finds himself in the game of his life to keep something he never thought he’d lose—his heart.

Review:

This book is everything I wanted in a rom-com. Everything. I want to shout it from the rooftops that you all need to pick this up and read it immediately.

Rules of Engagement gave me R.S. Grey vibes in terms of the heroine of the novel (which is a high compliment because in my eyes she is the rom-com queen). Maddie was sassy and sarcastic without ever actually being mean. Her sense of humour was her shining point. She could dish it and take it and that is the best kind of heroine you could ask for in a rom-com. She was also a little bit clueless about Mason, but in the way you would come to expect in a romance. That little bit of back and forth that makes things more interesting.

The romance between Maddie and Mason was the cutest. I can’t remember the last time I’ve rooted for a couple so hard despite knowing that they are obviously going to end up together. They were the perfect match. Opposites who complimented one another so well. They had also each gone through some familial trauma when they were younger and I think that allowed them to understand the other better in terms of how they react and adapt to more difficult situations.

Each of the side characters added their own flair to the story. They all had their place that added to Maddie and Mason’s romance. I love that Aunt Waldine and Dick each had a chapter or two from their perspective. It made the story that much more authentic and really added to the comedy aspect of rom-com.

I really really loved this book. I had high expectations going in, and it smashed them all out of the park. This is a rom-com you need to add your TBRs.

About J.T. Geissinger:

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J.T. Geissinger is a bestselling author of emotionally charged romance and women’s fiction. Ranging from funny, feisty rom coms to intense, edgy suspense, her books have sold more than one million copies and been translated into several languages.

She is the recipient of the Prism Award for Best First Book, the Golden Quill Award for Best Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, and is a two-time finalist for the RITA® Award from the Romance Writers of America®. She has also been a finalist in the Booksellers’ Best, National Readers’ Choice, and Daphne du Maurier Awards.

Her first novel was published in 2012. Since then she’s written eighteen more novels. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, drinking wine, surfing the internet, and daydreaming about all the things she’s going to be when she grows up. She lives near the beach in Los Angeles with her husband and deaf/demented rescue kitty, Ginger.

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Review: Dead Ringer by Kat Ross – Blog Tour + Giveaway

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Title: Dead Ringer
Author: Kat Ross
Series: Gaslamp Gothic #5
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Publication Date: December 13, 2019
Genre: Mystery, Paranormal
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review on this blog tour

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Rating: 5 stars

A poisonous secret.

A terrifying curse.

And a client she’d just as soon see dead in a ditch…

Summer 1889. Harrison Fearing Pell hoped for adventure when she signed on with the Society for Psychical Research as an occult investigator. Slogging through New York’s sewers in pursuit of a “mud man” wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. But the reeking monster terrorizing the dance halls of the Tenderloin leads her to an even more peculiar mystery — and the last man on earth Harry wishes to become entangled with. 

James Moran is a prodigy in music, mathematics . . . and crime. Harry’s older sister, the famed detective Myrtle Fearing Pell, has vowed to put him behind bars. But Harry owes Moran a personal debt, so when he demands her aid she can hardly refuse. It turns out that the brilliant black sheep of New York Society is part of a secret club at Columbia College whose members have started dying in bizarre ways that may not be accidents. 

Thus begins one of the strangest cases of Harry’s career, a tale of murder, cold-blooded revenge and fairytale bogeymen to make the Brothers Grimm shudder. As the bodies pile up, each preceded by sightings of the victim’s doppelgänger, Harry and her stalwart friend John Weston must race against time to save a man who arguably deserves his macabre fate.

Review:

This is the third book I’ve read in the Gaslamp Gothic series and I must admit, it’s easily becoming one of my favourites. I adored A Bad Breed and The Necromancer’s Bride and my feelings toward Dead Ringer are no different.

James Moran has been one of my favourite characters of the series by far. Despite being the number one crime lord of the city, he was just so damn adorable. The way he would flirt with Harry (who was having absolutely none of his boyish charm)  had me grinning like an idiot every time. I also loved how vulnerable he was with her (and John when he was there). There was none of this macho crap. He realized the gravity of the situation surrounding his friends’ death and took it seriously.

I also loved Harry. She was a strong badass lady who was just a little bit sarcastic and took no crap from anyone. She takes her job very seriously and is 100% committed to her cases. If my life was in her hands, I’d have confidence I’d live to see another day. Her and John were great to read about as well. I loved their working relationship. They complimented each other so well. The way they figured out things together proved how great of a team they were.

The story and mystery itself was so good. I was absolutely flying through the novel wanting to know how the secret society came to be targeted and by who. With seven men in the society and James Moran being an untouchable crime lord, that leads to a lot of options of people that could want to kill them. Add in the paranormal and this story was just *chef’s kiss*

Seriously though. You guys need to pick up this series. I’m obsessed with it and I can’t wait to see what Kat Ross brings to the world next because everything I’ve read from her so far has been beyond amazing.

Giveaway:

  • Enter HERE
  • Prizes: $20 Amazon gift card, 5x eBook copies of A Bad Breed
  • International
  • Ends February 6, 2020

About Kat Ross:

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Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She’s the author of the Fourth Element and Fourth Talisman fantasy series, the Gaslamp Gothic paranormal mysteries, and the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day. She loves myths, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Check out Kat’s Pinterest page for the people, places and things that inspire her books.

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Review: Woman on the Edge by Samantha M. Bailey

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Title: Woman on the Edge
Author: Samantha M. Bailey
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: November 26, 2019
Genre: Thriller
Source: Received a copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review

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Rating: 5 stars

A moment on the platform changes two lives forever. But nothing is as it seems…

‘Take my baby.’

In a split second, Morgan’s life changes forever. A stranger hands her a baby, then jumps in front of a train.

Morgan has never seen the woman before and she can’t understand what would cause a person to give away her child and take her own life.

When the police question Morgan, she discovers none of the witnesses can corroborate her version of events. And when they learn Morgan longs for a baby of her own, she becomes a suspect.

To prove her innocence, Morgan frantically tries to retrace the last days of the woman’s life. She begins to understand that Nicole Markham believed she and her baby were in danger. Now Morgan might be in danger, too.

Was Nicole a new mother struggling with paranoia?

Or was something much darker going on?

Pulse-pounding, heartrending, shocking, thrilling. This is one book you won’t be able to stop thinking about.

Review:

Morgan is a woman who has already been through a lot in her life, more than most people should have to go through. She’s in the process of trying to rebuild what’s left after her husband’s suicide and the discovery of his fraud.

One night on her commute home from work, a woman she has never seen before approaches her. She looks frantic and frazzled and shoves her infant daughter towards Morgan saying, “take my baby.” In a state of complete shock, Morgan just kind of takes her and in the blink of an eye the mother jumps in front of the incoming train. And so begins another absolute state of chaos in Morgan’s life.

Told in alternating perspectives between Morgan’s life after Nicole jumps and Nicole’s life before she jumps, Woman on the Edge is a psychological thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat up until the conclusion. It was so fast-paced, I couldn’t put it down. This is one of those books when you need to know what happens next.

The fact that this is a debut thriller novel blows my mind. It was so carefully written and crafted with the experience of a veteran in the genre. I can’t wait to see what Samantha M. Bailey will bring to us next, because if Woman on the Edge was just a hint of what she has to offer the genre, then oh my god give me her next book now.

About Samantha M. Bailey:

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Samantha M. Bailey is a Toronto-based novelist, freelance editor, and journalist who has written extensively for Now Magazine, Oxford University Press, and many other publications. She is the co-founder of “BookBuzz,” a promotional and interactive author event held in New York City and Toronto. She holds a Master of Education in Applied Linguistics and credits that degree with her writing career because she wrote her first (unpublished) novel after taking a course on imagination.

Now her imagination leads her to create dark and twisty stories. Her debut psychological thriller, WOMAN ON THE EDGE, is published by Simon and Schuster Canada and Headline UK, and will be translated into seven languages.

She loves reading as much as writing, so when not tapping away on her computer, she’s probably curled up with a really good book.

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