Love in Bloom Giveaway Hop! Win The Espressologist by Kristina Springer


Welcome to my Love in Bloom Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Portrait of a Book.   This hop runs from May 16th – 22nd and you can win a ton of new reads!  Check out all of the participating blogs here.

I am giving away a copy of The Espressologist by Kristina Springer.


About the book:

What’s your drink of choice? Is it a small pumpkin spice latte? Then you’re lots of fun and a bit sassy. Or a medium americano? You prefer simplicity in life. Or perhaps it’s a small decaf soy sugar-free hazelnut caffe latte? Some might call you a yuppie. Seventeen-year-old barista Jane Turner has this theory that you can tell a lot about a person by their regular coffee drink. She scribbles it all down in a notebook and calls it Espressology. So it’s not a totally crazy idea when Jane starts hooking up some of her friends based on their coffee orders. Like her best friend, Em, a medium hot chocolate, and Cam, a toffee nut latte. But when her boss, Derek, gets wind of Jane’s Espressology, he makes it an in-store holiday promotion, promising customers their perfect matches for the price of their favorite coffee. Things are going better than Derek could ever have hoped, so why is Jane so freaked out? Does it have anything to do with Em dating Cam? She’s the one who set them up! She should be happy for them, right?

With overtones of Jane Austen’s Emma and brimming with humor and heart, this sweet, frothy debut will be savored by readers.

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Review: Storm Force Episode 1 by Susannah Sandlin



Title:  Storm Force

Author: Susnnah Sandlin


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:


As leader of the elite counter-terrorism team Omega Force, former army ranger Jack “Kell” Kellison is always focused on getting the job done. So when a Houston high-rise is bombed and the governor killed or missing, Kell’s mission is clear: infiltrate the group suspected of the bombing and neutralize the threat by any means necessary. But once Kell meets beautiful chief suspect Mori Chastaine, he realizes there’s more to this case than meets the eye. And more to Mori than any man—any human man—could imagine.

Mori Chastaine is running out of options. Suspected for a crime she didn’t commit, forced into a marriage she doesn’t want, she sees no escape—until Kell walks through her door. A lifetime hiding her true nature warns her Kell might not be who he seems. But he could be the only one able to help save more innocent humans from becoming pawns in an ancient paranormal power play. If Mori reveals her secret, will Kell join her fight? Or will she become his next target?

NOTE: To be released first as a Kindle Serial beginning March 19, 2013. Print and audio and full digital editions to be released on July 9, 2013


I will admit that the idea of reading books as serials holds little appeal for me.  I have so many books to read, and the thought of having to download each episode, and then find the time to squeeze it into my packed reading schedule, seems like a lot of work.  I’m also afraid that once I start one, I’ll get distracted and not finish it, and the very thought of that frustrates me.  I hate the idea of getting caught up in a story, liking the characters, and then not getting closure because they have gotten bumped to the bottom of my Kindle.  I was interested enough in Storm Force, though, to sign up for the blog tour with Bewitching Book Tours, and curious enough to see how the episodic thing would work.  While I’m still not convinced that the serial format will ever ring my bell, I did enjoy the first episode of this book quite a bit, and even uttered an impassioned “no! It can’t be the end!” when I hit the end of Episode 1.

After a high-rise bombing in Houston, all fingers point squarely at Mori Chastaine and her environmental group she heads.  Mori is blind-sided by the accusations, then terrified when she realizes that her family and the man they promised her to when she was a child are involved in the bombing.  If she doesn’t give into their demands and marry Michael, she fears more people will die.  When Jack “Kell” Kellison walks into her life, she thinks that he just might be her ticket to freedom.  What Mori doesn’t know is that Kell is part of a top secret special ops team, and that several members of his team are shape-shifters.  Their mission is to find out who is responsible for the bombing, and stop them before they strike again. 

The first episode is four chapters in length, and it kept me glued to my Kindle.  I was even a bad mom and forgot to feed the puppies!  They had their dinner 40 minutes late (with some pasta added in a bid for forgiveness), and I continued reading while they munched down their kibble.  There’s just enough setup to get the reader familiar with the characters, and then bam!  the intrigue blasts off at full force.  I didn’t feel that I got a good handle on Kell’s personality, but something about Mori resonated with me, and I instantly liked her and wanted to know more about her.  Her family is cold and uncaring, more concerned that she fulfill her duty than achieve any kind of happiness in life.  Her mother had me cringing. I couldn’t imagine having such an unfeeling woman for a caretaker. Ugh!

One thing that’s important with serials is that there’s enough interest and momentum to make the reader excited to get that next installment.  This first episode did exactly that; I was caught up in Mori’s struggle to prove her innocence and find a way to stop Michael from killing a bunch of innocent people again.  Some guys just can’t accept the word no, I guess, and that had me wondering why?  So, I’d say that this installment definitely had me engaged in the story, and ensured that I would be back for the next one.  The initial price point of $1.99 is an added incentive to give the book a try.(The entire book is now available for $3.99)

Grade:  B/ B+

Review copy provided by Bewitching Book Tours

Interview with Susanna Sandlin, Author of Storm Force and Giveaway

Please give Susannah Sandlin a warm welcome! She’s here to chat about Storm Force, her new paranormal romance.  This will be released in serial format by Montlake Romance.  After the interview, I have one serial subscription to give to one of you.  Check back later today to read my review of Episode 1, too!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Susannah Sandlin] Obsessive workaholic, hopeless romantic, eccentrically Southern, music-loving, sleep-deprived, deadline-driven, dog-owning, reality-TV junkie.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Storm Force?

[Susannah Sandlin] It’s a blend of paranormal romance and thriller-suspense involving the Omega Force, a quasi-military black ops team who handles cases of domestic terrorism. The team is half Army Rangers and half shapeshifters—an eagle shifter and two black jaguar shifter brothers. In Storm Force, what looks like an act of eco-terrorism in Houston brings on the team, and team leader Jack Kellison soon learns the chief suspect, an environmental activist named Mori, is a lot more than she seems. There are bombs, romance, dark secrets, romance, kidnappings, romance—and a hurricane. Lots of tension; lots of humor.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Susannah Sandlin] When I was finishing the third book in my Penton Legacy paranormal romance series, Omega, I came up with the idea of this combined human-paranormal team that could be used as a top-secret special operations unit with shadowy ties to the military. The Penton books are vampire romances, though, so I wanted to expand beyond the vampire world and also really jack up the thriller/suspense aspects of the story. I like thrillers, and I like paranormal romance, so it seemed as if it would be a fun project to combine the two. The Penton books had a strong element of suspense in them as well, but not as high-octane as Storm Force. The characters…I never really know where my characters come from. I knew I wanted six team members and that three would be human Army Rangers and three would be shapeshifters. I developed Kell and Mori, the hero and heroine, first, and then developed the surrounding cast. As usual, I fell in love with my secondary characters as well!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Mori?

[Susannah Sandlin] Dedicated. Independent. Desperate.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Kell had a theme song, what would it be?

[Susannah Sandlin] Kell’s theme song is actually mentioned in the book. It’s a song by a Texas singer-songwriter named Slaid Cleaves, called “Borderline.” The song itself is about an illegal immigrant from Mexico desperately trying to provide for his family, but it’s the chorus that makes it Kell’s theme song, because as he falls in love with Mori and becomes more desperate to help her out of this huge mess she’s in, he finds himself crossing lines he never thought he would. The chorus is: “When love for family is stronger than fear, when desperation sets in, a man will cross any line that is drawn, and who’s to say it’s a sin?” That chorus gives me chills, because we all find our limits tested as we go through life—although hopefully not in such an extreme way as Kell!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Mori is never without.

[Susannah Sandlin] LOL. Her backpack. As I was writing the book, I kept forgetting it, then having to go back through several chapters to see where she left it last. It has a couple of items in it that really don’t need to fall into the wrong hands, so she really needs to keep up with it better.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Kell’s bedroom?

[Susannah Sandlin] Anything frilly or pink. A cat (he has a Catahoula hound named Gator). A ferry pass from Galveston, Texas, to the Bolivar Peninsula (bad memories).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Mori’s greatest regret?

[Susannah Sandlin] That she was made a pawn in an act that resulted in the deaths of a lot of people. She’d never intentionally hurt anyone, but because of inaction and bad decisions and fear, a lot of people suffered.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Susannah Sandlin] Music. I draw a lot of ideas from lyrics or moods or stories told in the songs I love, like the chorus lyrics from “Borderline.” I also have my “idea generating” magazines: Discover, National Geographic, Mental Floss, Smithsonian. I tuck away bits of trivia that can later germinate into ideas for characters or stories or situations.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Susannah Sandlin] A deadline—probably my journalism background, but if I don’t have a deadline I will piddle around and get nothing done. A decent block of time—at least an hour, but preferably three or four. And my laptop. I can write anywhere if I have those three things.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Susannah Sandlin] Okay, it’s a bit of a strange one, I guess, but it’s a book that’s coming out in the U.S. in a couple of weeks called APOCALYPSE COW, by Michael Logan. It’s a satire on all the zombie apocalypse books, wherein a government experiment goes horribly wrong and there’s an uprising of flesh-eating zombie cows in Scotland. Really, really funny. At least once on every second or third page, I’d literally laugh out loud.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Susannah Sandlin] When I was a kid, I was so obsessed with Heidi that I wanted to drink milk out of a bowl…and I didn’t like milk (still don’t). But the one that hooked me into becoming an obsessive reader was probably Penmarric by Susan Howatch. I ended up reading all of her books. They’re big, sprawling, multi-generational gothic stories.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Susannah Sandlin] I do have this no-longer-secret affinity for reality-TV shows. I keep up a really strict writing regimen since I also have a day job, so I DVR them and watch them when I have a few minutes to spare. Sometimes, there are no minutes, which is why I have the entire last season of “Swamp People” I haven’t watched yet.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Susannah Sandlin] I’m reachable by email: Facebook: My website: Twitter: @SusannahSandlin. I also write urban fantasy under the name Suzanne Johnson and have a daily book blog, Preternatura:

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!


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Review: Game. Set. Match. by Jennifer Iacopelli

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Title:  Game. Set. Match.

Author:  Jennifer Iacopelli


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:


Nestled along the North Carolina coast, the Outer Banks Tennis Academy is the world’s most elite training facility. In this pressure-cooker environment, futures are forged in blood and sweat, and dreams are shattered in an instant.

Penny Harrison, a rising female star, is determined to win the French Open and beat her archrival, Zina Lutrova. But when her coach imports British bad boy Alex Russell as her new training partner, will Penny be able to keep her laser-like focus?

Tennis is all Jasmine Randazzo has ever known. The daughter of two Grand Slam champions, she’s hell-bent on extending her family’s legacy and writing her own happily-ever-after…until her chosen Prince Charming gives her the just-friends speech, right before the biggest junior tournament of the year, the Outer Banks Classic.

With a powerful serve and killer forehand, newcomer Indiana Gaffney is turning heads. She’s thrilled by all of the attention, especially from Jack Harrison, Penny’s agent and hot older brother, except he keeps backing off every time things start heating up.

With so much at stake, dreams—and hearts—are bound to break.


Wow! Coliloquy does it again!  Here’s another book with lots of angst, set amid the ultra competitive world of tennis.  Here’s a secret; I can’t stand tennis, and yet I couldn’t put this book down!  The interpersonal relationships had me hooked.  Would Penny get over her fling with tennis bad boy Alex?  Would Jasmine live up to her parents’ legacy?  Would Indy ever fit in at OBX and make her dreams of being a top tennis player come true?  Will I get over the cruelty of those painful little words – THE END??

While I don’t enjoy tennis, I was drawn to this book because I love sports stories.  It doesn’t matter what the sport is, either.  As long as the protagonists are committed to training hard and being the best they can be, I’m onboard.  There is just something about a competitor refusing to be second best that keeps me engaged in their struggles.  I want to see them persevere, to overcome all obstacles in their path, and become the best they can be.  Throw in rivals, disinterested parents, interfering parents – in short, any emotionally distracting relationship, and I am that much more invested in the story.

Game. Set. Match. has three central characters, and the book is told in alternating POVs.  Penny has just won her first major tournament, defeating the world’s number one player.  She’s determined to win the French Open next, but she’s still having flashbacks to a disastrous competition where Alex Russell messed with her mind, her heart, and destroyed her game.  To her utter dismay, her coach has brought Alex to OBX to help her train.  Can she keep herself together and ignore the attraction raging between them? Can she ever trust him again?  I loved this story line, because Alex is such a player, yet he’s ready to make a commitment to Penny, if only she’ll give him the time of day.  There was a lot of great tension between Alex and Penny, as they both strove to train for their matches at the French Open.   Penny has so many pressures now that she’s finding success, from potential sponsors to rivals waiting in the wings to take her down a notch.  Great stuff here!

Jasmine is probably my least favorite character, because she came across as a spoiled princess.  Her parents were both tennis superstars, and since she was seven, all she’s wanted was to follow in their footsteps.  When Indy shows up at OBX and promptly derails her dreams and hopes for the future, she lashes out at her new tennis opponent.  Jasmine lost the mental game long before she even stepped out on the court.  She expected that success would just fall into her lap, without her truly working for it.  While I did like her better by the end of the book, it took a lot for her to win me over.

Indy gave up on tennis after her mother’s death.  After Penny wins the Madrid Open, her fire to play tennis is re-ignited.  She is surprised that her offer to attend OBX is still open, and jumps at the chance to train at the best tennis academy in the country.  I really liked Indy and found her story arc highly engrossing.  Still reeling from her mother’s death, she and her father have a distant relationship at best.  She’s never been as interesting to him as his work, and Indy has resented his indifference for years.  Now she’s facing the toughest competition of her life, and she’s learning the hard way that tennis is more about the mental game than she realized.  Her early success at OBX hasn’t earned her any friends among her classmates.  She’s surprised to discover how down to earth Penny is, and the two girls soon become close, which leads to more rivalries with the other girls at the academy.  Indy’s story was my favorite, and I thought that her romantic pursuit of Jack, Penny’s older brother, was very sweet.

Game. Set. Match is a great read with lots of emotion.  Even if you don’t usually enjoy sports stories, give this a try.  It’s more about relationships and chasing your dreams than tennis.

Grade:  B / B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Georgetown Academy Book 4 Cover Reveal and Giveaway!

Today I’m geeked to be a part of the cover reveal and giveaway for Georgetown Academy Book 4!  This series is like melodramatic crack.  Here’s the cover:

What do you think??

Here’s more info about the book:

Georgetown Academy, Book Four

When the vice president resigns and Ellie and Taryn’s parents emerge as the frontrunners, the girls find themselves back in the spotlight.

Ellie could not care less about becoming the Second Daughter, but she knows how much the opportunity to make history means to her mother – and women everywhere. With her family taking center stage, Ellie must decide whether she can put her feelings for Gabe on hold – again.

Taryn, so used to captivating the hearts and minds of everyone she meets, is unbothered by the increased media scrutiny. But an inopportune screw-up has her

beholden to an unlikely – and unfriendly – source for help. 

Overnight, Evan has skyrocketed from social pariah to Miss Popular. As she and her reluctant parents adjust to her new lifestyle, the last thing she needs is a front-page scandal.

Brinley can’t stop thinking about her Stowe-bound hook-up…until her father’s intern, Patrick, starts flirting. Is it time to abandon her fling now that she has a more appropriate suitor?

With the second highest office in the land up for grabs, everyone is picking sides. But where does the heart lie when duty, truth, and love collide?

Sounds great, huh?  I’m looking forward to catching up with the GA gang! Check out the website for more information about the Georgetown Academy series.

Ready for your chance to win a (1) $50 Amazon gift card, (2) $25 Amazon gift cards and (4) bundle sets  (GTA ebooks 1, 2, 3 & 4)?  The winners will be selected on June 15th (which is the official release day!!).

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