Happy New Year!

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Every year around Christmas time, I start to take stock of the year that was and for some reason, a feeling of dread never fails to wash over me. I guess it’s because I am not really good with unknowns. Another year of ups and downs, heartbreak and joy, pride and hard work will pass in a few days. What makes a year a Happy One? We all have different points of view on this, I’m sure. This year and for some, it will be celebrating an anniversary, or finding a job, or graduating from school or even falling in love.  Then again for others, this year might not be anything at all.  Whatever it is, whatever happens, for every experience from today and going forward, I wish you all the best. I wish you the gift of finding every joy and blessing in even the smallest or saddest thing that happens to you this year. Take each day and seize it like you never have before. Live in those moments. I wish you a year full of hope and anticipation. Make it your year this year.

 Happy 2013!

Book Review: How to Kill a Rockstar by Tiffanie DeBartolo

5 Stars for this One!113791

Here’s another post I just had to get in before the end of the year. It rounds out my top books for 2012! (Well, with one caveat – I don’t think I will get to Dirty Red by Tarryn Fisher until after the holidays)  Believe me, I do realize how late in the game I am with this one  – I read this book way back when Maryse was recommending all of those Rock Star books. No other book of that genre has impacted me in the same way. So this review is a tribute to that.

Tiffanie DeBartolo is a genius.  Not only because her writing is eloquent and expressive but because she takes a rock star book and finds a way to weave a beautiful love story in the middle of it. Her main characters are authentic, genuine and so imperfect. I’m not even sure if Paul is that hot.  I love the fact that he is older, so this story also had me because it wasn’t a typical YA romance. If you knew how old I was, you’d get what I am trying to say.

Paul and Eliza meet and fall in love as his success as the lead singer of a band called Bananafish is rising. All they know is that they want to be together. All his band manager knows is that Paul must make and sell records. He doesn’t care about selling records, but Eliza knows that music is his life and wants him to be happy.  Soon, Paul will have to leave for months to go on tour with the band. They both make sacrifices that spin the story twice on its tail end and throw us all in for a loop.

The story is told from the point of view of both Paul and Eliza. Eliza’s storytelling is emotional but vivid. She is sensible and practical, she sees things as they are. There is a sense of melancholy in her tone all throughout the story. The tragedy of losing her parents in the 9/11 attack influences the choices that she has made in her life. But with Paul, she feels safe. She gives in to the gamble of loving him despite his outspokenness and all his eccentricities.

“Tell me what you’re scared of.”

“Getting left behind.”

“I’m not going to leave you behind.”

 Paul’s perspective is often humorous and snide. There are so many laugh out loud moments from references that Paul makes from calling his manager “the devil with cocoon eyebrows” to him “getting more respect as a shirt folder than as a rock star”. From the beginning of the story, we can tell that he is quirky and strange. He believes what he believes and nothing or no one can change his mind.

“Personally, I don’t like inherently happy people. I don’t trust them. I think there’s something seriously wrong with anyone who isn’t at least a little let down by the world.”

He talks into a tape recorder that he fondly addresses as “tape recorder”.  He believes he is dying from pancreatic cancer. He falls hard and fast in love with Eliza and has an intense need to be with her forever. He fights hard to remain true to his art and his music. He refuses to give in to the commercialism that surrounds the making and selling of records.  He is so uncomfortable with his success that he fights through the trappings of fame and recognition every step of the way. None of this means anything to him without Eliza. And that’s the thing that makes this story so heartbreaking. His pain at losing Eliza is so physically tangible, we experience his death on the day that she leaves him.

“Break my heart? Is that what you just said? I have news for you; you didn’t break my heart. My heart’s fine. My heart’s in the best shape of its life. You know what you did to me? You took an AK-47 and blew my soul open.”

 There are numerous symbolisms sprinkled throughout the story. To me, Eliza’s brother Michael suffered the same loss that Eliza did but decided to take another turn with his life. Loring is everything that Paul is not. Her love for Paul is reaffirmed after she can’t bring herself to fall in love with Loring. The crucifix on the wall is for death and suffering in the name of others.  Eliza resolved not to be the “Yoko” in Paul’s music career. Eliza’s fear of flying drives home her need to remain grounded in more ways than one. She can’t fly around the country with him on his tour, but she also knows that she needs to let him go.

 There are so many more things I can write about this book. But short of divulging some spoilers, I think I will leave it at this:  When a writer has you feeling choked up with emotion as you read every word in the book, you know you have been touched by it and will never be the same. And when the last page has been turned and your smile is so wide that the tears in your eyes fall right into your mouth, you know you have just read a book that you will remember for a very long time.

Have You Seen These Reviews?

Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker15990969

What a captivating read! Ten Tiny Breaths is a moving story about pain and suffering, survival and forgiveness.   The author’s touching portrayal of two young people experiencing the pain of losing a loved one is eloquent and heartfelt.  Kacie’s pain is so palpable and real that I ached for her hopelessness.  When Kacie and Livvie move to Miami to start a new life, we are introduced to many characters who symbolize a different stage in Kacie’s catharsis and healing. Every single one of them brings a different meaning into Kacie’s world. From the first time she learns to hold Storm’s hand, to the lightness and laughter of Mia, to Cain’s genuine concern, Dan’s protectiveness over their new family, to Trent and his determination to make her happy again. All these people have lost something in one way or the other and have yet learned to make the most out of what they had. For years after her family’s tragedy, Kacie felt like she was underwater, drowning and immersed in her personal sorrow. As she expresses her feelings for Trent – “He’s like ripe watermelons after a lifetime of thirst. He’s like air after years under water. He’s like life” – her love for him becomes her saving grace. It helps her to realize how much she wants to live. How much she wants to forgive. How much she needs peace.  Once she accepts her love for him and for her new family, she finally understands the meaning of her mother’s constant words. In a way like no other, Storm, Mia, Ben, Tanner, Cain, Nate,  Livvie, Dr. Stayner, Carter  and Trent are her ten tiny breaths of new life.

Ten Tiny Breaths. “Why Tiny, not deep? Do you think it matters if they’re tiny or deep?” Ten tiny breaths. Ten Tiny steps. It’s a long road to absolution and forgiveness but once you get there, seize those moments. Feel them. Love them.

Betwixt by Melissa Pearl Betwixt cover

Nicole and Dale are polar opposites. She is the popular high school beauty and he is the social outcast “juvie”. They have a shared attraction to each other, but she is just too cool to admit it. When Nicole finds herself hovering in limbo, Dale is the only one who can hear her. She needs him to find her body before it is too late!  In the process of searching for her, Dale and Nicole learn a lot about each other, their hopes and dreams and the past that has defined who they are in the present.  Saving Nicole from death will not come easy.  If and when Dale is able to recover Nicole’s body in time to save her, Nicole must make peace with her past and resolve to change her future.

I loved this book! It was fast paced, engaging and I absolutely got lost in the story. I think it was mainly because the narrative extended itself in bits and pieces during the overall premise of the book, which was the search for Nicole before her body succumbed to the elements in the forest.  Nicole’s spirit was able to travel and witness her family and friends’ reaction to her disappearance. She was able to watch her shallow life and superficial relationships unfold. She was able to see who Dale really was and how he cared about her for the right reasons. The symbolism brought about by Dale’s religious beliefs was also a very good tie in to Nicole’s lack of faith and credence in fate and redemption.  There is a reason why Dale was the only one who could hear her.  And as the story develops, we realize that they are not polar opposites at all. As Nicole’s walls slowly tumble down to reveal her pain and heartbreak, Dale is there to assure her that her life is worth a fighting chance.

Have I mentioned how much I enjoyed this book?

I Love You to Death by Natalie Ward

What would your life be like if it was surrounded by death?16004045

Natalie Ward’s portrayal of a young girl struggling to survive the many painful events in her life is both heartfelt and expressive.  The story is well written and the flashback events are fluent and cohesive. Oh, and I have to tell you. I liked the playlists that were included at the beginning of every chapter.  As the story unfolds, you begin to understand the reasons for Ash’s reluctance to have healthy and enduring relationships. To Ash, nothing in her life can ever be permanent. As she painfully recounts every event that has lead her up to this point in her life, this is where it starts to become a little bit too coincidental, a little bit unbelievable.  I found myself thinking over and over again, “oh no, don’t tell me…”, as each new person’s story began.  What happened to Sam alone would have been enough to drive a person over the edge. But did it have to happen to all of them? Was Ash’s experience with Sam not enough to provide the basis for the rest of the story? That the power of someone else’s love can heal even the most broken of hearts?  This review therefore offers up a contradiction in more ways than one – although I did not get lost in the book, it did hold my ardent attention until the very end.  I did root for Ash and wished for her eventual happiness. No one deserves the anguish of losing so many people in one lifetime.

Three in One! Book Review, Author Interview and Free Book Giveaway! Binding Arbitation by Elizabeth Marx

Binding Arbitration by Elizabeth Marx     5 Stars!

One of the best book15722233s I have read this year! I loved it so much I just had to write about it. But I can’t find the right words to describe it. I don’t know what to say. Emotions take over and I am rendered speechless. Go figure.

Binding Arbitration is a touching story about love and loss and healing. Aidan “Band Aid” Palowski is a successful athlete who gave up a future with the girl he fell in love with to pursue his career of playing baseball.  The story begins six years later, when the girl he left behind is now a strong, high-powered criminal attorney who desperately needs a favor. She needs his help because their six year old son is very ill. As soon as Libby Tucker shows up in Aidan’s life six years later, he realizes that he has never stopped loving her. He rushes to the opportunity to make things right with her, to win her trust, while being there for Cass as his father. Libby’s walls are up – she has tried her best to build a life without him and now gives it her all to resist his charms. She is stubborn and opinionated but she loves him just as much as he loves her. Cass has been her existence for the years that have passed and she hesitates to let Aidan back into their life.  The book continues to explore the couple’s rediscovery of one another and their journey together as a family towards forgiveness and new beginnings.

Elizabeth Marx is a great storyteller. I have read so many romance books in the past year but this one to me was more than your typical old love, lost love type of story. Her writing is smart and fluent and the characters are so vivid, you can picture them as if you knew them from across the street. I enjoyed the sharp banter between Aidan and Libby and the profound foreshadowing that occurred throughout the story. Cass was cute.  Cass was just too smart for his age. Cass was a messenger. Cass had a purpose.

“I’ve been working on this deal for six years.”

One can feel the couple’s pain as they revisit the past and piece together their story, their feelings, their reasons. And once you think that they’ve got it- that this can work and bliss is in their stars, the pain and tragedy that happens next really throws you in for a loop. Aidan is a hero to me. From the first day he resolved to take care of Libby and Cass, he never wavered. He took the punches, he made Libby happy, he loved unconditionally, he waited.

The book is a soulful and thought-provoking characterization of the resilient human spirit. It reminds us that love, when strong and loyal and persevering, has the power to rebuild and restore our lives. It is also a testament to fate and faith that everything happens for a reason. And although the pain of loss can never be erased, much consolation is gained from the belief that there is a higher power who has ultimately got a plan for each and every one of us.

“I circle your hands, I circle your heart. I mark with my brand, while we’re apart. I sparkle in both your joy and laughter, because I’m part of you ever after.”

CLICK  HERE FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A FREE PAPERBACK OR ELECTRONIC COPY

And now…. THE Interviewauthor photo

Elizabeth:  First of all I’d like to thank Nina for sending me a nice note after an all night flight. I know she must have been tired, but she took the time to write to me about my book and it made my day. Secondly, I’d like to thank her for interviewing me! And thirdly, I hope I will get the chance to meet her in person sometime in 2013. I should be at several events in the Chicagoland area so check my website for more details.

Unlikely Bookaholic:  What was your inspiration for Binding Arbitration?

Elizabeth:  I wanted to write a love story about two young people who were opposites. Then I went on a weekend visit to Indiana University and I learned about Cutters—they’re not people who cut themselves but they’re what IU students call the locals or townies. I thought what would be the polar opposite to a townie on the square in downtown Bloomington??? A thick-headed All-American jock boy from Indiana. The funny thing is, while all this was peculating in my mind, I was sitting by a fountain by the fine arts building and this couple walks up, and they take the bench across the fountain. They don’t look like they belong together, but there are some seerrriiiiooouuusssss fireworks going on between them. That’s when I knew I was on the right track. So think, kissing, fountain, and sprays of water that had no chance of putting out the fire…

Unlikely Bookaholic:  I fell in love with the main characters of your book. Is there a real life Aidan out there?

Elizabeth:  My husband did go to IU and he did play baseball there, so that part of Aidan comes from him. My husband is also 6’-5” so physically they are similar. But Aidan, at least in college, has an arrogance that I based on real professional athlete whose interview I watched, and he just oozed, ‘I’m so hot and I know it’. I won’t say who it is, but he’s an NFL football player and I once put a hex on him on my husband’s fantasy football team—he broke his leg that season—never doubt the power of one of my hexes. As far as the actor who I think could capture the arrogance, intensity, sexiness and sweetness of Aidan, right now I can only imagine Josh Duhamel.

Unlikely Bookaholic:  Your book touches on a very sensitive subject, that of a child with a terminal illness. Was it difficult for you to write about it and why did you think it was a good subject to explore?

Elizabeth:  I didn’t necessarily start out to write about cancer, but it has touched so many families that it seemed appropriate. I really wanted to write about the power of love to overcome any obstacle, and a terminal illness is a pretty powerful fight to take on. After I wrote BA my father-in-law got cancer and had to have a bone marrow transplant and through that experience and with what she learned from BA, my 16 YO now wants to be a pediatric oncologist, and she has the brains to do it. So while parts of BA were difficult to write and painful to experience, I came to a dead halt for over two weeks when I had to face a certain part of the book, it was truthful and honest and a real example of what can tear families apart.

Unlikely Bookaholic:  What gave you the idea to include commentary by an imaginary umpire? To me it was to give further depth to Aidan’s POV. Am I getting the point?

Elizabeth:  I wanted to give you a piece of Aidan’s soul, but I didn’t think a guy with a hero complex and so much ego could give it to you without being wimpy. So by using the ump, which is the ultimate authority figure to a baseball player, I could pull more of those core feelings forward, but as you surmised he was just a figment of Aidan’s inner self. Or was he???

Unlikely Bookaholic: I especially enjoyed the sharp banter between Aidan and Libby. Were you born with a smart mouth?

Elizabeth:  My full name is Elizabeth ‘SNARK’ Marx. I’ve always been sarcastic, so writing a spunky heroine is right up my alley. Beware, I’m always ready with a snarky comment, or two.

Unlikely Bookaholic:  I love that Cass’ story ended but it really didn’t. How responsive were your readers to the belief that there is life after death?

Elizabeth:  Whether we want to or not, I think most of us want to believe that there is something after this world. This isn’t a question of faith but belief. I believe in love, but I can’t see it, it’s only something you feel, it’s invisible, does that mean it doesn’t really exist? I wrote this in another one of my books, “Some of the greater things in life are unseen, that’s why you close your eyes when you kiss, cry, pray or even dream.” Descent of Blood

Unlikely Bookaholic:  How has the success of your book changed your life?

Elizabeth:  Binding Arbitration hasn’t changed my life materially because it hasn’t hit it big enough to do that and I’m okay with that, because the one thing it taught me was that I can write a complete story that touches people. So while I hope someday it will reach a wider audience, at least the people who have read it has said it made them laugh and cry. What more can an author ask for than to touch those two extremes? Well, the New York Times Bestseller List of course, but hey Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Unlikely Bookaholic:  Do you have any new projects we can look forward to in 2013?

Elizabeth:  I just finished two new paranormal romances this month.

DESCENT OF BLOOD http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009YN23K4

ASCENT OF BLOOD https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/261374

Coming in 2013 (I Hope) in the Contemporary Chicago Series

BLACK ORCHID Tony & Evita’s rocky romance. Revenge cuts both ways.

CHECKERED FLAGS About a race car driver & an interior designer. Caution—the final lap might not be picture perfect.

And then 3 short romances that make up a complete book, but I don’t want to reveal the titles quite yet!

Thanks for taking the time to get to know me and to learn more about BINDING ARBITRATION. Please check out my website at http://www.elizabethmarxbooks.com  and stop by my author page and leave me a ‘like’ at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorElizabethMarx .

Happy reading and reviewing,

Elizabeth Snark Marx

Bound Together by Marie Coulson BLOG TOUR and Giveaway!!!

BoundTogether_Blog_TourGuess who just stopped by for an interview! A big warm welcome to Marie Coulson for joining us on this blog tour.

Click here for a chance to win a Paperback copy of Bound Together and a $30 Amazon Gift Card!

Exclusive Interview with Marie Coulson

Unlikely Bookaholic:  Bound Together is your first book – can you walk us through how this first baby came about? How did the story of Layla, Ollie and Jared come to you?

MARIE:  The actual concept and idea came to me about three years ago. Life was pretty hectic and after a while I gave up on the idea of writing the story. Then in the summer this year I left my job to begin University. I suddenly had all this time on my hands. So one day, I sat down and just started writing. Layla was pretty easy. She’s based on so many things. She’s me at 19 she’s my friends and siblings as 19. I have taken inspiration from watching people day-to-day and even from people I knew in my past.

Unlikely Bookaholic:  Being a resident of the U.K., how much research was involved in making sure that your descriptions about people and places in the US were accurate?

MARIELOADS! I spent hours on the net scouring the web for places and details. In the end though, it all comes down to the fact that no matter what you discover, you are using these places fictitiously so nothing is entirely fact. Most is opinion. I did enjoy my virtual tour of the Hyatt Regency though. I also had a lot of help from my beta readers with language. Who knew some phrases and words actually don’t exist in the U.S as they do here? Not me!

Unlikely Bookaholic:  How difficult was it to bring three very different characters to life in your book? Layla being strong-willed and determined, Ollie more sensitive and Jared the typical alpha male.

MARIEIt was actually remarkably easy for me. These characters all have several layers to them and digging through, scraping back each layer was fun and exciting. Ollie was probably the one I loved most and there is still so much to learn about each of them. The what’s, why’s and how’s are all still to be explored. The characters complimented each other and as I continued writing, they pretty much ended up writing their own stuff!

Unlikely Bookaholic:  Is the story based upon any real life experiences for you?

MARIEOh boy, that would be telling. My mom could read this. Let’s just say, I like to write things I have some knowledge about. I don’t go in completely blind…well maybe blindfolded.

Unlikely Bookaholic:  Some readers have commented about the length of the book. How important was it for you to keep the story as it is? Was it because you felt that you needed enough character development?

MARIE:  This book was for introducing the characters and their relationships with each other as well as the story. It was especially designed to allow Layla her learning curve. I remember being her age and as I left my teens behind and hit the twenties, I changed a lot. I wanted readers to connect and understand the characters and their personalities before digging deeper into their pasts, behaviours and the rest of the story which is unfolding in book 2. I had the option of breaking the book into two but I felt it would lose something in the process. Besides, I wrote what I like to read and I love a long book!

Unlikely Bookaholic:  Tell us a little bit about yourself. When and where do you find yourself able to write best? Do ideas come to you throughout the day or night? How do you record these thoughts and ideas?

MARIEI’m 25. I know, shock! I was born here in the UK and I have worked in several careers in my lifetime. Baker, child carer, primary school teacher, carer for the elderly, special educations needs co-ordinator and even had my own cupcake business. I’m at university studying to be a therapist and have been studying for the past two years. But nothing makes me happier than when I’m writing. I burn the midnight oil though. My best work happens at night. I like to prop myself on the bed with my laptop and write. I usually end up with a snoring cat at my feet too. I have to carry a voice recorder with me everywhere because I can never turn off my thoughts! The bus, at school, in bed…I get an idea and I have to get it down!

Unlikely Bookaholic:  Are you working on anything for 2013 and can you share it with us?

MARIE:  Torn Apart is in progress now and after that will be the final installment in the trilogy. After that I have a couple of other stories plotted but nothing I can reveal at this time. Ollie’s novella will be released this year for Christmas. I’ve loved getting inside his head!

Thank you so much, Marie and Congratulations!

Connect with Marie Coulson HERE

Purchase the Book HERE

CHECK OUT THE NEXT STOPS ON THIS BLOG TOUR!

12/15/2012 Pezz Rambles,  Book Crush

12/16/2012 Kindlehooked,  Blame It On the Rain,  Whirlwind Books

12/17/2012 Flirty and Dirty,  Reading Fiction for Life,  the Readiacs

Burning the Candle …… At Both Ends

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I decided to break the silence by posting my thoughts for today. After the trip to Paris, I spent the next two weeks catching up with life! Life at home and life at work.  The time at work never seemed enough. Before I knew it, I was juggling through year-end deadlines and book review  deadlines. Not to mention basketball games and school activities – sadly enough, I found myself asking my husband to cover for me at those school activities. Bless his heart. If I was creative enough to compose a song called the Working Mother Blues, it would be all about my gratitude for him in my life.

 I wanted to mention something about my interesting  week at work. For three consecutive nights, I attended three different celebrations. Two of them were retirement parties for Senior Leaders who had given forty years of their life to our company.  In light of the company’s focus on cost reduction, these parties were small. I feel privileged enough to have been handpicked to attend these events. When these two gentlemen gave their speeches (separate events, of course) they spoke of their contribution to the company only in the context of the people that they had worked with. That their work only had value because of the contributions that their people have made.  They both stressed the importance of taking care of those that they were leaving behind, that a company is only as good as its people.

 Later on, as I regretted constantly complaining about having to stay in town to attend these events, it hit me. Sometimes as we become fortunate enough to succeed in our careers, we are too busy to think about the people who got us there.  Not just the mentors who held your hand and took you along for the ride, but of the staff whose loyalty and diligence allowed you to take credit for accomplishments along the way. And as hard as I try to make sure that I never forget where I started, the events of the week have opened up a clearer perspective of leadership for me. I can only hope that I don’t let these retired leaders down.

FREE on Amazon this Saturday and Sunday Only! Love Evolution by Michelle Mankin

Yes!  You heard it right! Love Evolution will be FREE on Amazon this Saturday and Sunday only. Make sure that you get your free copy because after you read this book, I’ll be gifting THREE of you with a copy of the second book in this series, Love Revolution. Just post your email address in the comment box and your sequel will be on its way!13648519

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