Welcome to my blog spot- grab a cup of coffee and a good book ;-)
5 sweet stars for Finding Home
I just loved this second book in the Home series.
Jo and Chaz are so sweet together. Chaz is basically Mr. Perfect in a nutshell, with his good looks, cooking skills and All-American attitude. After years together, he wants to make Jo his wife, but after witnessing her mother fail at the dreaded m-word time, after time, after time, after… (seven times to be exact), Jo’s faith in forever has been permanently shattered. But Jo’s refusal to become his bride may be a deal breaker for Chaz…
With Ray and Colby’s wedding coming up, and Chaz up for a promotion, Jo is feeling the intense pressure of a quick decision, so what’s it gonna take to sway her?
I absolutely loved JD’s take on Jo. She was funny and sweet and stubborn. Her plight was believable and emotional as we were taken back through her past to Jo’s view on each of her mother’s husbands and her feelings on the matter. And finally confronting her mother on why she continued to marry again and again.
I enjoyed getting to catch up with Ray and Colby and seeing them get married… and I just can’t WAIT for Kira’s story- You get a sneak peek at the end of the book ;-)
All in all, this was sweet and easy read, and the characters were all so lovable! It’s like a Hallmark movie in a book.
Get your copy today. You won’t be disappointed.
Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series
Shanna enjoys a good book that thrills, chills, and warms her heart and this one did ;-)
5 bright stars for Always and Only
This debut novel of Gabrielle G.’s had me on an emotional rollercoaster from the very beginning. Poor Julie Legg is the victim of her boyfriend Paul Hoffman’s constant cheating and finally enough is enough. After this last scandal, she’s dejected, humiliated and just needs her best friend, Ryan Marley, to help ease her out of her misery. Only, it’s Ian Porter who comes to her door to pick her up, and she’s keenly aware of their immediate attraction.
Ian was a perfect gentleman in this book. He’s wanted Julie for years now, but just hasn’t had his chance to be with her. Their relationship almost seems doomed before it ever starts. It’s like they just can’t seem to get on the same wavelength.
He discourages her from desperate pity sex, even after she literally begged him that first night. He was super patient with her during the course of this book, at times, with startling surprise. Julie had some flighty and unjustifiable emotional breakdowns, which were frustrating and maddening to say the least. There were times when I just wanted Ian to say “this bitch isn’t worth it” and walk away because she put the poor guy through absolute Hell. Julie wasn’t your typical protagonist, but that’s actually what I liked about this story because it’s super realistic in that we don’t choose who we love and despite how irrational, selfish and ridiculous our emotions are sometimes, we are all worthy of love. And that was Ian with Julie. He forgave her over and over again for her insecure and quirky ways even when she didn’t deserve it! And trust me when I say, she had many moments where she needed to get her head out of her ass! I felt like Ian beat himself up over things that weren’t really his fault, despite how Julie felt on the matter. He was her "knight in shining armor" for sure, even when this damsel in distress needed a hard reality check.
Ryan was the best friend that tended to flirt with that line and there were times I was sure Julie and Ryan were going to end up together and thought, in fact, that maybe they should… But again, the heart wants what the heart wants. Ryan and Julie’s relationship was both complex and simple in the most beautiful of ways. I felt bad for Ryan in several moments of this book, but also wanted to smack him silly too as he spiraled out of control, wallowing in his own drama. I won’t divulge everything, you’ll just have to read it for yourself ;-)
Then there’s Ian’s family, which spun another story all together.
All in all, this was a great read with a fresh take. It was dramatic, sexy and funny! I loved the multiple characters and their stories, and I really liked that the characters were older, in their forties.
I enjoyed this book thoroughly and will definitely be reading book 2- Never and Forever!
Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series
Shanna enjoys a good book that thrills, chills and warms her heart!
I met fellow author Jacob Rundle on Twitter in the #writingcommunity several months ago, when he was asking for books to review. He was one of the first male readers to read both my books and he thoroughly enjoyed them, much to my delight! :-D When I found out that he had a fantasy post-apocalyptic novel coming out of his own, I knew I wanted to check it out! Here’s my review.
I recently “sat down” with Jacob to talk about his debut novel, Augur of Shadows and find out where his inspiration came from.
Here’s what he had to say:
Me: Hi Jacob, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
Jacob: I have always had stories run in my mind ever since I was a child. My mother taught me to embrace my imagination. Fantasy stories, comic books and movies have always been a major part of my life. I knew that one day I would be writing the stories in my head onto a piece of paper.
Me: That’s great! What inspired you to write Augur of Shadows?
Jacob: Honestly, as a book reviewer, I have read numerous pre-/post-apocalyptic stories, and I noticed a pattern. I wanted to write a story that was different; a story that truly showed that an entire planet was affected by a cosmic threat.
So, my story has three main characters: one who is a gay caucasian, another who is Latina, and the third is a Haitian boy. This cosmic threat poses a threat to the entire world.
Me: Yes, you definitely reflected that and it was truly unique. I enjoyed that you covered several ethnicities. Now, how many books will be in the Destined series?
Jacob: There will be 4 books, plus a pre-quel. All of the stories have been plotted out. Also, there are many other projects involved with this story. More will be revealed in time.
Me: Nice! That’s awesome! Which character in your collection is your favorite? Why?
Jacob: I love each of my main characters. However, I really love Etlina. She is a strong latina who embraces her magical heritage.
Me: Yes, she’s a fav of mine too! Just loved her sass and strength! Now, did anyone in real life inspire your characters?
Jacob: Henri is inspired from me. Many of the emotional turmoil reflects many of the ones that I dealt with when I was younger. Growing up, I have always loved different languages and cultures. So, I have god family that are Haitian and Latino. I wanted to incorporate as many languages and cultures in my story.
Me: That’s great! What are you working on now?
Jacob: I am working on book 2 of the Destined Series. I am so proud of this book. Book 2 is far more emotional and the tone is darker. It’s a nice progression of the series.
Me: Ooh...exciting!!! Tell us a little about your writing process?
Jacob: My writing process is quite simple. I have an idea for a story. First off, I envision the cover of the book. Then, I plot out the story. I don’t write a vast outline. I still want my story to evolve. I push myself to write the first draft. After that, I start the editing/revision process.
Me: What drew you to the YA fantasy genre?
Jacob: Well, I do love any type of fantasy. My first book just so happens to be a YA novel. There is a time jump in Book 2, so it isn’t quite a YA story. YA stories tend to remind of my youth.
Me: Cool. So, who are your favorite authors/books?
Jacob: There are so many authors out there. I enjoy reading C.S. Lewis, Shakespere, Shayne Silvers.
Me: Yes, Shakespeare is super lovable! Now, what do you personally love about writing?
Jacob: I love putting the words on paper; seeing one’s story unfold on the paper is such a liberating experience. Also, I love seeing people read my story and taking in their input. Honestly, the entire writing process is amazing. I love it all.
Me: Ha, ha, agreed!! What are you looking forward to in 2019?
Jacob: I am looking forward to releasing Book 2 and hopefully, releasing book 3.
Me: Great! Well, thank you so much for being my guest tonight! I wish you the best in all your writing adventures!
You can find Jacob Rundle’s debut YA fantasy novel, Augur of Shadows, on Amazon
Jacob John Rundle was born on September 27, 1985, in Galesburg, IL. He attended Knox College, earning a Bachelor's Degree in Russian Language and Literature. He served eight years in the United States Navy as a Nuclear Mechanic.
After finishing his time with the Navy, he moved to New Orleans, and it is where he resides, pursuing his dream of being a writer.
Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series
Shanna loves a good book that thrills, chills and warms her heart. She also enjoys supporting her fellow indies.
5 shining stars for the fifth book in this amazing baseball romance series
I received an ARC of Walk Off, Book 5 of the Double Play Series, much to my absolute delight.
OMG, so… Walk Off is Lacey Turner, daughter of Jackson and Savannah -- whom I simply LOVED-- (from Book 2- Going, Going, Goner) and Nicholas “Nico” Johnson’s (brother to Damon Johnson, Book 3- Ballers with Benefits) story and it’s got all the feels… not unlike the other books in this lovable sports romance series, but this one really got me RIGHT in the feels!!
Lacey Turner is EVERYTHING. She’s sassy, feisty, strong, beautiful and even has a sweet side she doesn’t want many people to see. She’s a heroine that you are gonna love… and get pissed off at… during the course of this book. Ha ha! But her story breaks your heart, over and over again. She works with Bella, her cousin, Charlotte, her aunt, and Savannah, her mom, at Double Play.
And Nico…guuuhhhh…. Drool… That’s all I can say about this dirty-mouthed, sex-crazed, yet amazingly smooth-talking hunk of muscle. He’s totally swoony with his big build (I love me a man with some big muscles), unconventional charm…and the mouth of a porn-star sailor. LOL! But, seriously! Nicole describes him with “the body of The Hulk and the face of Thor”. Need I say anything else? He’s been Lacey’s boyfriend (on and off again) for the last three years and he’s an ambitious baseball player… one she never intended to get wrapped up with but… well, re-read this paragraph to see why. (wink, wink)
So… Nico and Lacey… together they are hot, hot, hot!!! Their passion for dominance and one another is literally ON FIRE in this spicy, sexy and sassy romance novel which picks up not long after where book 4- Changeup left off.
Lacey and Nico are struggling in their relationship, with several obstacles in their path, which I won’t divulge so as not to throw out any spoilers. (You’re welcome!) We got to see the two of them get together in book 3 and their uncontrollable and fiery desire -- that we saw from an outsider prospective but never got to understand fully until now. I loved how the book was set- going back and forth between the present and catching us up with flashbacks that helped piece together the puzzle of what caused Lacey and Nico to be on again and off again when clearly, they were burning up more than just the sheets. Their dirty mouths and minds collide in this book. “Hulk” and “Blondie” are vicious, formidable and can’t keep their hands or mouths off one another- what’s not to love about that kind of heated passion?!
I simply adored Lacey’s beautiful and strong heart and how protective she is of those she loves and I admired Nico’s persistence and obvious love for the one woman who had him coming back again and again for more! These two were so easy to love and their story was endearing, frustrating and heart-breaking all at the same time.
This book will make you laugh, cry, swoon and gasp. As always, Nicole Rodrigues made me fall head over heels for her characters, writing two amazing souls with complex pasts and barriers that were so real and emotional that it hit me hard in more ways than one. And again, with these unbelievably swoony male MC’s… drool, drool, drool… She knows how to write her stuff!
I just love these all these books…and the Gavinwoods/Turners/Johnsons… but this one was definitely one of my favs and I can’t wait to see what happens in the next one!!! Squueeee!!!!
WALK OFF premieres this Thursday, May 9th! Be sure to get your copy!!
Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series
Shanna loves a good book that thrills, chills and warms her heart.
I met Danielle Novotny on Goodreads, not long after I joined back in September of last year, in fact. Her debut novel, Remade was actually the very first indie book I ever read on my self-publishing journey, AND the first one that I blogged a review about on my blog, so regardless of the fact that her book is super awesome, has great characters and lots of action, (Check out my review of it here,) it also holds a special place in my heart. I have said before that reading all these amazing works by my fellow indies-- who’ve also become my good friends too-- makes me feel like I’m glimpsing into the author’s soul. This book is no different! Remade made me laugh, cry, gasp and even swoon. And because of that, I wanted to ask Danielle what inspired her to write it and what’s coming next for the incredible Nova squad!
Here’s what she had to say:
Me: Hi Danielle, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
Danielle: I’ve always been a writer. When I was younger, it was small, fictional stories (2-3 pages), and then throughout middle and high school I wrote poetry. In college I took a handful of English classes, enough to earn me a minor, and it was then that I really started to enjoy writing essays and analyzing writing.
But the big shift came about a year after I graduated from Brandeis University. I was reflecting on how many books I’ve read throughout my life, and I asked myself, “Why not try to write an actual book?” I started with an idea that I had written down a few years earlier, but it was slow going. And then… BAM! I got my idea for Remade. The rest was history!
Me: Haha, isn’t that the way it goes? So, what inspired you to write Remade?
Danielle: I’ve always been a vivid dreamer. There are even dreams from my childhood that I can still remember in detail. One night I had a dream, in a first-person view, about a young woman who was fighting aliens. She had these really cool abilities, but she seemed entirely unsure about herself. The dream skipped around – I saw six or seven scenes with her doing various things. When I woke up, the memory of the dream was so vivid that I had to write it down. And the more I wrote, the more I saw logical, plot-like connections between the scenes that took place in my dream. What I thought was originally going to be one book expanded into two, and then they became three!
The exciting part is that I haven’t even written out all of my dream-scenes yet. Remade contains a handful from that initial dream, but I have even more coming in book two and three. Aside from loving how the story has shaped up, I think my desire to finally, fully, write out those last few scenes is really motivating me to continue this series.
Me: Oh, how exciting!! It truly amazes me how many authors tell me that their books were inspired by dreams… Which character in your collection is your favorite? Why?
Danielle: I’m going to cheat here just a little bit, but Gunther and Gráinne are my favorites. These mysterious twins have shared very little about their background or how they came to know so much about spaceships, circuitry, and all things tech. They might not say a lot, but something they do behind the scenes in book two will have a BIG impact in book three!
Me: Ah, yes, the twins!! So cool! I can’t wait to read more about it! Now, did anyone in real life inspire your characters? Aliya? Caspian?
Danielle: In my first dream about my plot, it really felt like I was living out the things Aliya was doing. And even as I wrote out my ideas – and even my first few chapters – it was hard to fully separate myself from her. I even had trouble coming up with a name for her for a long time! I knew I couldn’t call her by my name, so in my notes she was “the girl” for three to four chapters. Aliya still reflects a ton of my own characteristics, but she has definitely grown into her own person.
Me: Wow, that’s incredible. So amazing to have yourself reflected in your characters. Caspian is such a great name! How did you come up with it?
Danielle: Oh boy haha. Well Caspian originally had a different name (and for the life of me I can’t remember what it was, sorry!) when I started outlining. For some reason it didn’t seem to fit the character I was creating as I wove him into the story, and Caspian sort of came out of the blue! It fit really well in a scene I’m putting in book two, which I’ve been planning since I started writing, so it just stuck!
Me: It’s perfect!!! I love it!! Now, I assume you’re working on book two now?
Danielle: Yes, I’m working on the sequel to Remade. This work in progress has a title and a cover, but I’m keeping those secret for now! I also have an idea for a dystopian novel that’s been rolling around in my head for a few months now. I have most of an outline for it, but aside from that, I’m not actively writing it yet.
Me: Secrets. Ahhh... the suspense is killing me! When are you hoping to release it?
Danielle: I was originally hoping to release book two in the fall, but because writing is still slow-going with this new job, it’s looking more like a winter release right now.
Me: I understand. It’s hectic trying to work two full time jobs, but I love it and wouldn’t change a thing! So, tell us a little about your writing process?
Danielle: My writing process is a little all over the place, haha. I had most of an outline for Remade when I first dove into writing it out, but the middle and tons of smaller details appeared on the page in the spur of the moment. I even jumped around writing a chapter at the beginning, then skipping to the end, and then going back to another point in the book. I’m trying to be much more methodical and chronological in writing out book two. Now, I’m working from a full outline for the book, and while smaller details still come to me as I’m writing out the chapter, following the outline helps me keep my thoughts organized. The end of this book, however, is my exception to the chronological writing rule. I’ve seen those few scenes so many times in my head that I already have the last few chapters already written.
Me: Haha, yes, I think every writer has a different approach! Whatever works, right? Now, what drew you to the space opera genre?
Danielle: When picking a sci-fi subgenre there are quite a few paths you can take: cyberpunk, space opera, alien invasion, climate fiction – and tons more. I knew that Remade wasn’t pure science fiction because I don’t have all the nitty-gritty details about how space travel occurs or tons of futuristic weapons explained in great detail. As I conducted my subgenre research, I came across this description, “Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, interplanetary battles, chivalric romance, and risk-taking.” It was a great fit because I do have all of those elements without the deep dive into physics and science.
Me: Yes, VERY fitting, in fact! Who are your favorite authors/books?
Danielle: I have quite a few! A longtime favorite has been The Host by Stephenie Meyer. The subtle alien takeover was such a neat concept to me when I first read it, and then the identity crisis that Wanderer and Melanie work through was really powerful. And then I adore the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas. Despite writing a fantasy complete with magic, fae, and other mystical creatures, Maas made each character a complete and relatable person with a truly compelling plot. Another great one is Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. I was completely blown away by her writing style in book one of the series – it was like nothing I’d ever read! And finally, the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown. Think Hunger Games taking place on Mars with epic space-knights. I’ll definitely try to channel his creativity as I write parts of book three.
Me: Yes, I loved The Host, such a unique idea… and I see now I have a few more reads to add to my TBR pile!
What do you love about writing?
Danielle: I love being creative. I’ve always loved crafting, reading, and writing, and being an indie author really rolled all three of those elements together for me. The creativity of coming up with my own story… rereading what I had written and surprising myself but what I had put together… and designing my book and cover to look the way I imagined it. It really was an incredible moment when I unwrapped my first copy of Remade and knew that I had done it. I’d taken a step towards becoming like one of the authors who had inspired me while I grew up.
Me: Aww, yes, I agree. Such a profound and surreal moment in time to see your work “come to life”.
What are you looking forward to in 2019?
Danielle: A lot! It’s already been a big year for me – both in writing and non-writing activities – and I have a lot more planned. I’m hoping to have book two out before the end of the year, and I’ll be attending an authors and artists convention in August that I’m really looking forward to. And who knows what else will pop up along the way!
Me: How exciting!! Well I wish you the best in your writing…and non-writing… adventures :-D ! It’s been a real pleasure. Thank you so much for joining me and being a guest on my blog! And happy writing! I can’t wait for book 2.
You can find Danielle Novotny’s Remade, an action-packed sci-fi adventure with elements of Frankenstein meets Nebula, where books are sold. Find the Amazon link below!
Danielle Novotny grew up reading all genres of fiction and has always loved writing. Inspired by these stories, she began her writing career in 2016. Her debut novel, Remade, was published in August of 2018, and she is currently working on the sequel.
Danielle was born in New Jersey, lived in California for a decade, and then returned to New Jersey for several years before attending college at Brandeis University where she pursued psychology, English, and legal studies. When she's not writing, Danielle works as an event marketing manager during the week and as a cheesemonger on the weekend.
You can follow her on Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram and Facebook.
Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series
Shanna loves a good book that chills, thrills and warms her heart. She also enjoys supporting her fellow indie authors.