Sunday, May 31, 2015

Top Ten Book Openings

Lucifer (Sons of Old Trilogy #1)
by Annabell Cadiz
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: January 31st 2013
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Have you ever wondered what could be hiding in the shadows?

Well, for eighteen-year-old Zahara Faraday, she doesn’t have to wonder. You see she comes from a lineage of Light Witches, those who have chosen to help protect and serve between the supernatural world and the human world. The only problem is Zahara, like her father Solomon, is as human as a human being can be whereas her mother, Mia, and her Aunt Catalina, were born as Light Witches. As a family they hunt down rogue supernaturals—creatures who harm humans or who have committed an act against their kingdom. 

Zahara’s hunting skills are usually kept dormant since her parents would prefer she live life as a normal human girl without knowledge of the supernatural world. She plans on doing just that—except when she finds a couple being attacked by fairies, she has no choice but to step in. Before she can return to pretending to be blissfully ignorant, Zahara encounters a problem she isn’t the least equip to handle: Bryan Hamilton, the good looking new co-worker she has to help train. In a heartbeat, her best friend, Becca King, has set her up on a double date with herself and her new crush, Rekesh Saint-Louis, who happens to be the most powerful leader of the biggest Imago Coven in South Florida –supernatural creatures with the ability to control water . . . and suck out human souls. 

Zahara has no time to focus on how she’s going to explain her double date with her best friend and the enemy they have a tentative truce with to her parents because soon one of the members of Mia and Catalina’s coven is found murdered with a strange tattoo of a snake with wings carved into his arm.

Zahara is then thrown into a whirlwind battle with an angel determined to have revenge against God, an Imago coven she doesn’t think they should trust, and slew of dream-eating fairies and powerful Nephilims, hybrid children of angels and humans, more than happy to rip her to shreds.

Normal just got a deadlier definition.

by Annabell Cadiz

An opening sentence or paragraph to book is where the beginning of where a reader and story connect. It’s crucial to start off a book with just the right tone, the right mood, the right atmosphere to get a reader to continue. A first sentence, a first paragraph holds a lot of weight. A reader can often tell if a book is worth continuing based on how it opens. 

Usually, when I pick up a book, I’ll read the first line or sometimes the first paragraph then the last sentence and that’s how I decide whether or not I’m going to buy the book (or borrow it from a library). There’s a lot of power in those beginning words.

Here are some of my favorite openings to some really great books:

10. From Of Poseidon by Anna Banks—“I smack into him as if shoved from behind. He doesn’t budge, not an inch. Just holds my shoulders and waits. Maybe he’s waiting for me to find my balance. Maybe he’s waiting for me to gather my pride. I hope he’s got all day.”

9. From Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins—“Looking back, none of this would have happened if I’d brought lip gloss the night of the Homecoming Dance.”

8. From Perchance to Dream by Lisa Mantchev—“It is a truth universally acknowledged,’ Mustardseed said, flying in lazy loops like an intoxicated bumblebee, “‘that a fairy in possession of a good appetite must be in want of pie.”

7. From The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima—“The scent of wood smoke and roses always took him back there, to the boy he was and would never be again.”

6. From I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter—“I suppose a lot of teenage girls feel invisible sometimes, like they just disappear. Well, that’s me—Cammie the Chameleon. But I’m luckier than most because, at my school, that’s considered cool. I go to a school for spies.”

5. From It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini—“It’s so hard to talk when you want to kill yourself. That’s above and beyond everything else, and it’s not a mental complaint—it’s a physical thing, like it’s physically hard to open your mouth and make the words come out. They don’t come out smooth and in conjunction with your brain the way normal people’s words do; they come out in chunks as if from a crushed-ice dispenser; you stumble on them as they gather behind your lower lip. So you just keep quiet.” 

4. From Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl—“There were only two kinds of people in our town. “The stupid and the stuck,” my father had affectionately classified our neighbors. “The ones who are bound to stay or too dumb to go. Everyone else finds a way out.”

3. From How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer—“There was no getting around the fact that Tinker Bell was a little bitch.” 

2. From Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes—“She’d never killed before tonight.”

1. From The Dark Half by Stephen King—“Cut him,’ Machine said. “‘Cut him while I stand and watch. I want to see the blood flow. Don’t make me tell you twice.”

Born and raised in the sweltering suburbs of South Florida, Annabell Cadiz grew up fine-tuned to the cuisine of various Spanish cultures, learned to master the art of Puerto Rican cooking thanks to her parents, and learned to converse crazy thanks to her band of siblings. She is now working toward attaining a B.A. in Psychology at Trinity International University to better understand how to converse with the weirdoes and crazies of the world. (After all, she is one of them.) A self-proclaimed nerd and a book-a-holic (her room holds dozens of shelves with much evidence to prove that her claims are indeed true), she created TeamNerd Reviews along with her best friend, Bridget Strahin, to showcase their EXTREME love for all things book related.

She published her debut novel, Lucifer (Sons of Old Trilogy #1), in January 2013. The second novel, Michael (Sons of Old Trilogy #2) will be released on May 28, 2014. And the final installment in the Sons of Old Trilogy, Nephilim, will be out in Summer 2015.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Playing Dirty (Monkey Business Trio #1) by C.L. Parker

Playing Dirty (Monkey Business Trio #1)
by C.L. Parker
Publisher: Bantam
Release Date: May 12th 2015
Rate: Enjoyed it (3,5 stars)


For fans of Bared to You and Beautiful Bastard comes the start of an irresistible new erotic romance series in which competition is the ultimate seduction.

Shaw Matthews plays to win, and he intends to snag a coveted partnership at San Diego's hottest sports agency by signing America's top athlete. Only one woman stands in his way: rival agent Cassidy Whalen. But eliminating the competition will be Shaw's pleasure when he concocts an ingenious plan to seduce Cassidy and show the beautiful ballbreaker who's the better man for the job. That is, until Cassidy turns the tables—and their steamy encounters start breaking all the rules. 

Cassidy has worked hard to make it in a man's cutthroat arena, and she isn't going down without a fight, not even against the six-two alpha hunk whose rock-hard body awakens desires she's never known before. As Cassidy shares night after night of unending passion with Shaw, the game begins to change. Now Cassidy stands to lose everything—unless a fiery contest of wills can become a winning proposition for two people who keep raising the stakes. 

Playing Dirty is an erotic romance intended for mature audiences.

Playing Dirty was definitely an intense, sexy read. It had everything the synopsis promised and I was left wanting to read more!

So the story is pretty much well explained in the synopsis. We have two competitive similar people who'll do anything to win a partnership at a sports agency. They despise each other and while Cassidy is a strong woman who knows where she stands, Shaw is a conceited alpha male who knows his way into every single game. 

I have to confess that at first, when the story starts I felt kind of confuse. It starts with Cassidy having a seriously hot, sexy dream with Shaw. I was left a bit incredulous since they were suppose to hate each other right? And the chapter didn't give away that it was all a dream until the very last moment. And then, Shaw had something similar going through his head - That made me roll my eyes a bit and start saying "well, it starts." I get that the author was trying to build the sexual tension and unspoken attraction between the two main characters but it felt a bit too far-fetched for my liking.

Then the story progressed, with a good rhythm, always keeping the reader invested in the story and with those intense and sexy scenes we were promised in the synopsis. 

What I was not expecting and didn't like at all, was the ending. Don't get me wrong, I go all for books that leave you hanging, desperate for more (although it awakes my inner monster that tries to bribe authors). However, the ending in Playing Dirty felt as if someone was speaking and stopped mid-sentence. That's how it felt to me. Like I needed just a tiny little bit more.

Between that and the beginning were the reasons that made me rate the book the way I did. Because the characters are great and the relationship the author builds is a good one and it slowly progresses throughout the story. And despite at times I didn't truly like how the characters behaved, they ended up getting under your skin.

After re-reading my review I detected a bit of negativity from me, but seriously it was an enjoyable read. Not a mind-blowing one, but definitely a sexy read that will make me wait for the next book in the series. And my only advice is that if you like these type of reads, try it and see what happens. This  story might surprise you.

I received this ARC in exchange of an honest review. Thanks to Kesley at Penguin Random House for inviting me to read this book.

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C. L. Parker is a romance author who writes stories that sizzle. She’s a small-town girl with big-city dreams and enough tenacity to see them come to fruition. Having been the outgoing sort for all her life—which translates to “she just wouldn’t shut the hell up”—it’s no wonder Parker eventually turned to writing as a way to let her voice, and those of the people living inside her head, be heard. She loves hard, laughs until it hurts, and lives like there’s no tomorrow. In her world, everything truly does happen for a reason.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: June 2nd 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Retellings, Chick Lit
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The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.

Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: An ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.

Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life. 

When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them . . .

Hello Sarah! Welcome Back! We are super excited to have you in our FFBC tours again!

Thank you for having me! I’m excited too. J

Of course! Aside from the “official” book summary, here are some things that come to mind about The Summer of Chasing Mermaids:

Coastal Oregon’s wild, untamed Pacific. A singer from Trinidad and Tobago, and a silent summer away from home. The Little Mermaid remade. Falling in love with the totally wrong (but totally perfect) guy. Awesome girlfriends who’ve got your back even when you’re at your worst. A mermaid parade, a pirate regatta, a sea glass artist. Finding your true voice, no matter who or what tries to silence you.

They’re both so passionate and intense, yet struggling with finding and accepting their authentic selves. That struggle means different things to each of them, but one of the things I love most about them is how they really grow together, helping each other face personal demons, falling in love, yet never once eclipsing each other. Elyse and Christian are very much their own people, but they’re stronger together because they believe in each other, and that unwavering faith and mutual support helps them to believe in themselves. To me, that what makes them the perfect YA couple. Not that they’re perfect people—far from it!—but that they support and encourage one another so much.

Dean Winchester on a boat. But slightly younger. And without all those nasty demons chasing him. J

Like all of my book ideas, inspiration for The Summer of Chasing Mermaids came from many different sources, all crossing my path at the same time and ending up in a big daydreamy soup pot that eventually boiled down into a story! It went something like this:

1. The beach. I love books that take place in the summer on the beach, and the last time I’d written a story like that was in 2009 (Twenty Boy Summer). Five books and five years later, it was time for me to go back to the sea!

2. Mermaids. Daydreaming about the ocean got me thinking about mermaids, and soon I found myself wondering how I might incorporate a bit of mermaid lore while still keeping the book grounded in a contemporary realistic setting. I re-read the original The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, and watched the Disney adaptation, and took a bit of inspiration from each!

3. Voice. This was a huge one for me. Denial of voice is a major theme explored in the book, and something I see so many young people—particularly girls and women—struggling with. From a young age girls are often taught—explicitly or implicitly—to be nice, accommodating, and selfless. Often we’re also told to “be ourselves,” and that we can do anything we put our minds to, but we’re not given a lot of direction on what that really means, or how to deal with the challenges that inevitably arise when we truly, authentically put ourselves out there. Not everyone will accept that—even (and sometimes especially) the people who claim to love us most. And so often I see—in my own life as well as the lives of girls and women around me—denial of voice in action, where we’re shut down and shut up simply because we don’t fit into whatever box society has built for us. We’re confronted by things like sexism, gender roles, expectations, double standards, lack of opportunity, aggression, poverty, racism, fear, power dynamics, institutionalized misogyny, just to name a few. That’s a super simplified reduction of a complex issue, but one that’s very important to me. So I really wanted to explore that theme in a YA novel, symbolized by a character who literally has no voice—she’s permanently mute after an accident—and has to learn new ways of expressing herself, embracing her new life, and standing up for herself when others either speak for her or shut her out.

4. Trini Accent Tag. Around the same time I started thinking about the beach, mermaids, and denial of voice issues, I was randomly clicking through YouTube and came across a meme about accents. I’ve always been fascinated by regional accents, slang, and language development, so I got totally sucked in to watching them—a kind of fun game to see just how differently people say the same words and phrases in English. I ended up in the Trini accent tag collection, and one of the videos featured two sisters from Trinidad and Tobago who’d also posted other videos of singing performances. When I saw these girls singing, it just hit me all at once, like a big anvil of inspiration falling on my head! I thought, that’s my character, and she has a twin sister. But what is her family like? Where does she live? How did she grow up? What does she do for fun? I immediately dove into research mode, learning as much as I could about Trinidad and Tobago, the culture, the food, the music, the history, the people—it was such a rewarding process; I didn’t know much about the country at all when I started. So thanks in large part to random strangers on YouTube, Elyse was born, one of six sisters (like in The Little Mermaid), a girl who grew up singing with her twin, both of them en route to stardom. But then she loses her voice, and everything changes. She can’t sing. She can’t speak. Who does she become? What happens to her sister? Where does she belong? Who is she, if not the girl with the beautiful voice? I wrote the book to answer those questions.

5. Supernatural. It’s true when I said earlier that Christian Kane is basically Dean Winchester on a boat. ;-) 

“When one dream burns to ash, you don’t crumble beneath it. You get on your hands and knees, and you sift through those ashes until you find the very last ember, the very last spark.”

In addition to the sexy romance scenes (of course!), I really loved writing the tarot card scene. I read tarot, so it was super fun to use one of my decks to create a tarot spread specifically for Elyse.

“Sea of Lovers” by Christina Perri.

Gosh, I have no idea! I’m so bad at this question. I love it when readers make fan casts, because I can’t do it to save my life!

Pick out some soca music, fix yourself a fruity frozen drink, and find a place to stretch out on a blanket in the sun! That’s what I’d do, anyway! 

Deb Caletti, Sarah Dessen, Cindy Pon, Jessi Kirby, Courtney Summers, Lynn Joseph, Maggie Stiefvater, to name just a few!

San Diego! I love visiting California, dipping my toes in the ocean before an event. 


Sarah Dessen is my go-to summer reads author, but this summer I’m looking forward to curling up with two fantasies that recently hit the shelves: AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir and THE WRATH AND THE DAWN by Renee Ahdieh. Typically I wait until the fall to read fantasies, going for more beachy settings in the summer, but I just can’t wait that long for those two!

Heaven! As long as you’ve got some shade and a cooler full of drinks and snacks.

I’m working on two very different projects at the moment—another contemporary and a paranormal thriller—but I’m not ready to share any details yet!

Thank you so much for everything, Sarah!

Thank YOU so much for having me on your blog, and for sharing THE SUMMER OF CHASING MERMAIDS with your fans! It means a lot to me. J

Follow the The Summer of Chasing Mermaids Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

Sarah Ockler is the bestselling author of young adult novels, including #scandal, The Book of Broken Hearts, Bittersweet, Fixing Delilah, and the critically acclaimed Twenty Boy Summer, a YALSA Teens' Top Ten nominee and IndieNext List pick. Her latest, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, hits the shelves in June 2015. 

Sarah is a champion cupcake eater, coffee drinker, night person, and bookworm. When she's not writing or reading at home in Washington, she enjoys taking pictures, hugging trees, and road-tripping through the country with her husband, Alex.

Visit her website at or find her on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook.

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