Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Review: The Last Post by Renee Carlino

See you on the other side.

Laya Marston’s husband, Cameron, a daredevil enthusiast, always said this before heading off on his next adventure. He was the complete opposite of her, ready and willing to dive off a cliff-face, or parachute across a canyon—and Laya loved him for it. But she was different: pragmatic, regimented, devoted to her career and to supporting Cameron from the sidelines of his death-defying feats.

Opposites attract, right?

But when Cameron dies suddenly and tragically, all the stages of grief go out the window. Laya becomes lost in denial, living in the delusion that Cameron will come back to her. She begins posting on his Facebook page, reminiscing about their life together, and imagining new adventures for the two of them.

Micah Evans, a young and handsome architect at Laya’s father’s firm, is also stuck––paralyzed by the banal details of his career, his friendships, and his love life. He doesn’t know what he’s looking for, only that there is someone out there who can bring energy and spirit to the humdrum of his life.

When Micah discovers Laya’s tragic and bizarre Facebook posts, he’s determined to show Laya her life is still worth living. Leaving her anonymous gifts and notes, trying to recreate the sense of adventure she once shared with her late husband, Micah finds a new passion watching Laya come out of the darkness. And Laya finds a new joy in the experiences Micah has created for her.

But for Laya, letting another man in still feels like a betrayal to her late husband. Even though Micah may be everything she could wish for, she wonders if she deserves to find happiness again.


Christy's Review: 

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The Last Post is a story about grief, moving on, and finding a second chance at love.

Laya is a newlywed who is finishing up her fellowship to become an orthopedic surgeon. Her life is on track, even though she's married to someone who is her opposite in so many ways. Cameron is a professional daredevil and even though it terrified Laya, she supports him. They have a whirlwind romance until one stunt doesn't go right and her world is forever changed. Laya never thought she would be widowed before thirty. She doesn't know what to do with herself, so she comes home to NYC.

Micah works for Laya's dad's architectural firm and from the moment he first sees her, there is something about her that draws him in. He knows she's widowed and going through a lot, and even though they don't know each other, he feels a pull. He wants to help her, wants to know her.
 
   
“There’s something about her. Something I can’t stay away from.”
 

I wanted to love Micah and Laya together, and maybe by the last 20% I did, but it took me quite a while to connect to the two of them and their story. There were things with the posts and the reaction to all that I didn't jive with. I don't know if it was my mood, or the book itself but this book didn't evoke the emotion or the feels I wanted it to. There were parts I really enjoyed, but overall it was just alright for me.

As always, Renee Carlino's writing is superb. This is true with every single book she writes. Although The Last Post isn't my favorite of her books (primarily because I didn't personally connect with the characters or become invested in their story) I still enjoyed parts of it, and her writing style and story-telling are two things that made this book enjoyable for me. If you're looking for a romance that focuses on overcoming loss and finding yourself and love again, give this one a go. It might just be the book for you.

                               ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Renée Carlino is a bestselling author of contemporary women's novels and new adult fiction. Her books have been featured in national publications, including Cosmopolitan Magazine, InStyle Magazine, USA TODAY, Huffington Post, Latina magazine, Publisher's Weekly, Redbook, Sunset Magazine, Coastal Living and the Union Tribune. She lives in Southern California with her husband and two sons. When she's not at the beach with her boys or working on her next project, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate. Learn more at www.reneecarlino.com

LIVE! The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon

THE FIRST GIRL CHILD by AMY HARMON


Blurb:
From the New York Times bestselling author comes a breathtaking fantasy of a cursed kingdom, warring clans, and unexpected salvation.
Bayr of Saylok, bastard son of a powerful and jealous chieftain, is haunted by the curse once leveled by his dying mother. Bartered, abandoned, and rarely loved, she plagued the land with her words: From this day forward, there will be no daughters in Saylok.
Raised among the Keepers at Temple Hill, Bayr is gifted with inhuman strength. But he’s also blessed with an all-too-human heart that beats with one purpose: to protect Alba, the first girl child born in nearly two decades and the salvation for a country at risk.
Now the fate of Saylok lies with Alba and Bayr, whose bond grows deeper with every whisper of coming chaos. Charged with battling the enemies of their people, both within and without, Bayr is fueled further by the love of a girl who has defied the scourge of Saylok.
What Bayr and Alba don’t know is that they each threaten the king, a greedy man who built his throne on lies, murder, and betrayal. There is only one way to defend their land from the corruption that has overtaken it. By breaking the curse, they could defeat the king…but they could also destroy themselves.

Purchase links:


★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★

About the author:
Amy Harmon is a Wall Street JournalUSA Today, and New York Times Bestselling author. Amy knew at an early age that writing was something she wanted to do, and she divided her time between writing songs and stories as she grew. Having grown up in the middle of wheat fields without a television, with only her books and her siblings to entertain her, she developed a strong sense of what made a good story. Her books are now being published in seventeen different languages, truly a dream come true for a little country girl from Levan, Utah.

Amy Harmon has written fourteen novels - the Washington Post bestseller What the Wind Knows, the USA Today bestsellers The Bird and The Sword, The Smallest Part, Making Faces and Running Barefoot, as well as the #1 Amazon bestselling historical From Sand and Ash, The Queen and The Cure, The Law of Moses, The Song of David, Infinity + One, Slow Dance in Purgatory, Prom Night in Purgatory, and the New York Times bestseller, A Different Blue. Her next novel, The First Girl Child, a historical fantasy romance, will be released August 20, 2019 by 47North.

Find Amy online:

★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★

Rafflecopter for two $100 Amazon gift cards:
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On the Corner of Love and Hate Review + Chapter 1

What’s a campaign manager’s worst nightmare? A smooth-talking charmer who’s never met a scandal that he didn’t like.

When Emmanuelle Peroni’s father—and mayor of her town—asks her to help rehab Cooper Endicott’s image, she’s horrified. Cooper drives her crazy in every way possible. But he’s also her father’s protégé, and she can’t say no to him without him finding out the reason why: Cooper and her have a messy past. So Emmanuelle reluctantly launches her father’s grand plan to get this Casanova someone to settle down with and help him lose his lothario reputation.

Cooper Endicott wanted to run for Mayor, but he never wanted the drama that went with it. Now that he’s on the political hamster wheel, the other candidates are digging up everything from his past. Even though he’s doing all the right things, his colorful love life is the sticking point for many of the conservative voters. He wants to win, badly, and he knows that if he wants any chance of getting a vote from the female population, he needs to change his image. The only problem? He might just be falling in love with the one person he promised not to pursue: the Mayor’s off-limits daughter.

A perfect blend of humor and heart, On the Corner of Love and Hate is the first in a new series from USA TODAY bestselling author Nina Bocci.
 


Christy's Review: 
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Enemies to lovers… it’s a troupe that I adore. There’s a fine line between love and hate… Cooper and Emma walk that line non-stop. They used to be the best of friends growing up. Now, they’re more like nemesis than friends.

Emma and Cooper work together, but lately Cooper hasn’t been pulling his weight. He’s running for Mayor and has a ton on his plate. Emma’s dad is the current Mayor and is endorsing Cooper. Emma decides to help Cooper even though being around him more isn’t something she’s comfortable with.

Emma doesn’t want to admit it, but she has it bad for Cooper. That is one of the reasons she can’t stand to be around him. I got the vibe that he liked her too, but for some of the book it was hard to tell. This book was full of misunderstandings. So much of it. And there was a character I legit loathed. The last 5-10% of the book was fantastic but it took so much to get there!

This is the actual perfect description of most of the book:

 
“You’re a fool and full of it. Cooper, whom I love almost as much as you, is a goddamn idiot, and I could and should kick both your asses for doing this to each other. If you two got your heads out of your collective asses, you would make the perfect pair.”

Even though this book wasn’t great for me, I loved Nina’s writing style. I think she’s so talented and I love the world she created in Hope Lake. I am dying for a Henry book and I would love to read about Nick as well. Even though there were some things that didn’t work for me in this particular book, I’m looking forward to reading more from this series.





READ CHAPTER 1 NOW:
Thud. Whoosh. Slap. Thud. Whoosh. Slap. The trio of irksome sounds repeated another half-dozen times. My eyes darted upward, a silent prayer falling from my lips. Dear God, please give me the strength not to shove that tennis ball somewhere that would require surgery. Amen. My coworker casually leaned back in his chair, his long legs outstretched and crossed at the ankles on the shiny surface of the conference room table. Beneath his brown leather loafers sat a report. His unfinished-yet-due-tomorrow report. I marveled at his ability to multitask. It would have been more appropriate if he had been, say, working. Instead, he was tossing a ball against the conference room wall with one hand while texting with the other. Even though he didn’t take his eyes off his phone screen, he caught the ball every single time. If I hadn’t been so annoyed, I would have actually been impressed. The clock ticked against the pale yellow wall above his head. With each passing tick, the ball struck with a thwack to its right. “Cooper, could you please stop?” I finally said, rubbing my temples to ease the headache that was forming. Thud. Whoosh. Slap. “Cooper,” I repeated, glancing up from my laptop. “Hello?” Thud, whoosh, slap was the only response I got. Sliding back my chair, I stood up and walked around the long maple conference table. It was only when I got close enough to see the scantily clad woman in his text window that I noticed the wireless earbuds that were blasting music into his ears. As the ball left his hand, I touched his shoulder. Startled, he lost his grip on the ball, sending it sailing behind him. “What’s up?” he sputtered, quickly pulling his earbuds out. I didn’t miss his hand sliding his phone into his pocket. He looked every bit like a teenager caught red-handed by the principal. “Are you kidding me?” I exclaimed. “You’ve had music on this entire time? I read nearly two pages of the brewery expansion proposal out loud to you twenty minutes ago!” At least he had the decency to look remorseful. “I thought you were talking to yourself, so I”—he motioned to the black Beats— “figured I’d give you your privacy while I caught up on work.” My eyebrows must have reached my hairline, because with a mildly guilty expression he pulled his legs down from the table. I snorted. “Yes, I start all sentences with, ‘Cooper, what do you think about’ when I’m talking to myself. Were you just smiling and nodding for my health?” Shifting in his seat, he straightened. I huffed. The small laugh lines around his mouth became more pronounced, an indication that he was fighting back a smile. “Emmanuelle,” he purred smoothly. “Don’t Emmanuelle me,” I clapped back. “That tone may work on your fan club, but not me.” He held his arms up in a defensive position. “Okay, okay, I’m sorry. What did I miss?” He grabbed for the papers in my hand. Holding them back against my chest, I scowled. “Hope Lake Brewing Company. Expansion. Asking for input before it goes to the town council for approval.” He whistled and rocked back in his chair. “Council is going to reject anything that comes across their desk from them. They hate the ‘vibe’ the brew house brings, and the addition would make the council’s heads explode.” I nodded. “Yep, which is why the guys asked us for help. To try and edit the proposal to appeal to them. It’s also why I booked us the conference room for this meeting that you just Tindered your way through.” “That’s not a word, and I wasn’t—” he began, patting his pocket absently. Probably making sure the evidence was tucked away safely. I held up my hand. “Save it. I don’t care what or who you’re doing. Just that you’re not paying attention. Again.” When the owners of HLBC, Drew and Luke Griffin, first came to our department, Cooper and I had championed their proposal to build a brewing company, tasting room, and outdoor entertainment space just along the lakefront. It was one of the first projects Cooper and I had worked on together, and it was just what we’d needed in town back then—a fun, innovative business that catered to every age. Now, six years later, HLBC was one of Hope Lake’s most popular spots, and the brothers were looking to expand their space to include rooms for private events and a small restaurant. Cooper and I were supposed to be discussing how to approach the town council about it. Looked like I’d just been talking to myself instead. “I’m going back to my office, where I can work in peace,” I said. Exasperated, I started gathering up my stuff. After a few seconds of awkward silence, he cleared his throat. “You’re right. I’m sorry. Let’s go over it. Again.” I stacked my files, feeling my blood starting to boil. Having to repeat myself irked me, but I needed his input whether I liked it or not. Glancing up, I noticed Cooper readying to say something else when our shared assistant, Nancy, hurried in with the main office calendar and a fistful of Sharpies clutched in her hand.  “I’ve been searching for you two everywhere,” she said, looking wide-eyed at each of us in turn. The conference table, at least on my side, was covered in charts, graphs, and photos of the lakefront. On Cooper’s side—well, there was a lot of polished maple visible. “Did you discuss the project?” she asked hopefully, her face falling when I shook my head. “Okay, well, I guess you’ll handle that, uh, later. I’m sure.” She gave me a look. “I hope,” she mouthed, then cleared her throat and pulled out the head chair of the conference table and sat down with the main office calendar in front of her. “It’s time for the afternoon rundown—are you ready?” Cooper groaned. Not at Nancy but at the calendar she had opened. It had been on my desk this morning when I’d filled it with upcoming appointments and meetings. By the looks of it, Nancy had managed to fill almost every empty space that remained. We kept it old school at our office. Instead of using Google calendar or iCal, we used a large paper desk calendar with a color-coded legend, labels, and tabs to keep our government office running like clockwork. It’s not as though we hadn’t tried to modernize, but some of the, ahem, older department staff were frosty toward change. Nancy, Cooper, and I worked at the Hope Lake Community Development Office on the top floor of Borough Building. In a small town like Hope Lake, my department was sort of the home base for everything. From simple things such as parade permits to more detailed ventures—for example, helping to secure funding for business owners like HLBC—the CDO, as we tended to call it, had its hand in pretty much everything. It wasn’t big, but what we lacked in size and staff we made up for in energy and results. “The upcoming week is brutal,” Nancy apologized, looking at Cooper, who, not surprisingly, was on his phone again. “Emma, I’m afraid you’re a bit overscheduled.” She tapped a Sharpie on the table. I waved a dismissive hand. “It can’t be any worse than that week the staff came down with the flu.” I had practically run the office that week even though I was heavily medicated myself. “It’s close.” She held up two fingers barely an inch apart. “You’re back-to-back Monday. There is a pocket of time during the event this weekend with the future Mr. Mayor here and his opponent.” Cooper perked up then. He knocked twice on the wooden table. “Don’t jinx me.” Oh, sure, you’re paying attention now. “You’re a shoo-in. People love you, Cooper. And with the mayor already behind you, how can you not be?” Nancy assured him. Nancy wasn’t blowing smoke. Cooper had decided to run for office this year, and his magnetic personality made him the perfect political candidate. He was brilliant, liked by the majority of the town, and had confidence to spare because he knew he was the best choice for the job. Even I could admit that, and we were often at odds. “Emma, I know you wanted to have a sit-down with Drew and Luke from the brewing company about the proposed expansion before they go to the council, but I don’t see how it’s going to happen.” Nancy jotted a note onto the calendar. Over the years, we’d gotten our system down to a science: orange for me, blue for Cooper, hot pink for our department administrative assistant, green for Nancy, and red for the mayor, because red was my dad’s favorite color. Blue, not surprisingly, was the color least visible on the entire calendar. It was sporadically used, even from my vantage point, which meant that Cooper had a light schedule this week. Shocking. I chewed the pen cap, irritated. Nancy continued reading off meeting after meeting throughout the week. “These two on Thursday—I can probably sit in on them to give you a break, Emma,” she offered. Looking over Nancy’s shoulder, I marveled at the Technicolor scheduling system. It might have been old-fashioned, but at least it looked good. Shaking my head, I pointed at the partially torn yellow Post-it stuck on the edge of the frame. That was how my father added mayoral meetings to the calendar. Stickies. He was nothing if not professional. “No can do, my friend. You’re going to be at a ribbon cutting with Mayor Dad.” She looked up, her lips a thin, flat line. “I am? He didn’t tell me.” Sighing, she jotted the information down. “I wish he’d told me I was supposed to go, too!” She took her calendar duties very seriously. I for one appreciated it, and I knew my father did, too, even if he did use his own odd system to add to it. It kept all of us in line. Together, Nancy and I figured out the rest of the week, Cooper staying silent and, surprise surprise, on his phone. We looked over the days, pointing and crossing out, trying in vain to find somewhere to squeeze in a last sit-down. “It’s not going to work,” I lamented, sinking into the chair beside her. “Well, someone from the department needs to at least show their face at the city events meeting,” she urged, looking pointedly at Cooper. A notebook was now on his lap, his hand moving swiftly over the page. He didn’t look up when she said his name or when she repeated it a few seconds later. He was too deeply invested in whatever he was doing. At least he’s off the phone. Tearing the Post-it off the calendar and balling it up in her fist, Nancy lobbed it at him. “Cooper!” she shouted, snapping her fingers as if she were telling a dog to sit. Fitting. He smiled at her. “I’m listening.” “Uh-huh, we need you to take a meeting or two on Thursday so Emma can head down to the lake to meet Drew and Luke. Unless you’d rather take the HLBC meeting.”  “Thursday?” he repeated, sliding his phone out from behind the notebook. When did he take that out? He was stealthy like a teen texting in class. With a shrug, he shook his head. “Sorry, I’m booked all day and I’ve got a campaign publicity debrief at noon. That’s taking up most of the afternoon.” “Doesn’t that just mean you and Henry are meeting at the diner to play on Facebook and Twitter together?” I scoffed, feeling the blood rushing to my face. Henry was one of my and Cooper’s oldest friends. As a teacher, he had limited time to meet up with Cooper, so I understood Cooper’s reticence to reschedule, but— Then it hit me. “Wait . . . why are you having mayoral meetings during work and school? How’s Henry getting out of class to meet you?” Setting his phone down, he stood and straightened his tie. “I’ll have you know, I’m meeting him at the high school. I wish I could help, but alas—” “You can’t,” I finished, sliding out of my chair to stand myself. With Cooper running for mayor of Hope Lake, the brunt of his work at the CDO was taking a backseat. I noticed, the staff noticed, and the mayor noticed. If it had been anyone else, they probably would have been fired, but Cooper was Hope Lake’s golden boy. Once he was elected, we could hire someone new to replace him. But until that happened, it fell to us to pick up his slack. Cooper walked toward the door, leaving his phone—aka his most prized possession—on the conference table. Surely he would be back in for it the second he realized it wasn’t attached to his hand. “Wait, you can’t leave!” Nancy called after him. “I need the theater proposal paperwork. You guys have that meeting with the council on Monday and the mayor wants the weekend to review the specs. Cooper, it has to be before end of day since you have the debate tomorrow! Everything is done, right? Please tell me it’s done.” “It’s handled,” Cooper said smoothly over his shoulder, tapping his temple. “And it’s not a debate. It’s a photo op, remember? Pose, smile, shake hands. You know, the usual.” “Thank God. I don’t have time today to do it if you didn’t,” she said, pretend wiping her brow. Smiling broadly, he clapped his hands together. “Oh, come on, Nance. Have I ever left you hanging?” Her silence spoke volumes. If she’d had the time, and the inclination, she could have created a depressing list of how often that had happened. Looking uncomfortable at Nancy’s lack of response, Cooper disappeared through the door, only to reappear two seconds later. “That would have been bad!” he said with a tight smile, jogging in to grab the iPhone. “Cooper, are you sure you can’t reschedule your Thursday plans with Henry until after work so Emma isn’t pulled in nineteen directions?” Nancy said quickly. “It’s just about the local sports participation in the Thanksgiving parade. They’re looking for guidance with the floats and theming—it won’t exactly take up all your brain space. The other is an initial meeting to see if the CDO can finally purchase the old bank.” Nancy already had a blue Sharpie at the ready, clutched between her fingers. “Or if you wanted to switch with Emma, you could meet with Drew and Luke and Emma could handle the parade instead. You’d probably get some free beer out of it.” For a moment, he looked like he was going to agree. His jawline ticked anxiously, a habit he’d had since we were kids. It appeared whenever he struggled with a decision. Reluctantly, I admitted to myself that it was happening more often than not. “I’m really sorry, I can’t,” he finally said. “You know how important these meetings are for the core of my campaign. I’ve got to run. I’m late.” I glanced at the clock. “It’s barely four.” “I have a thing.” “You came in at ten because of a ‘thing.’” I air-quoted it because although he said those things were for the mayoral campaign, I didn’t believe him. Call it years of experience or just a gut feeling. “Cooper, I need you to focus. You’re all over the place, and things are going to start falling through the cracks here. We can’t afford any missteps. Not when we’re under a microscope. The council is looking for any reason to put the screws in this department.” Cooper’s opponent, Kirby Rogers, had been on the town council for the past few years. He had made it his mission to strip the CDO—funding, staff, all of it gone. With nothing but a grimace, Cooper left, leaving no opening for discussion. I shook my head at his retreating form. “Forget him, I’ll figure it out,” I said, glancing between the calendar with the work appointments and my nearly empty personal calendar. “I can pop over to the brewery and see Drew and Luke on my way home Tuesday or Friday night. They owe me dinner, anyway,” I said with a weak laugh, an attempt at loosening the anxiety-ridden ball in my stomach. How am I going to accomplish all of this? “Just see when they’re free.” I tapped away on my phone. Making a note, I double-checked my iPhone’s calendar as Nancy read off the rest of the upcoming schedule. “Emma,” she said with a heavy sigh, “I don’t want you to overwork yourself.” “I’m fine. It’s an adjustment we’re going to have to get used to since we’re going to be picking up all the Cooper slack,” I insisted, knowing that she was always worried about me in a big-sisterly sort of way. “Promise,” I said after seeing her frown. Months ago, before he had decided to run for mayor and before he had become so distracted by the election, Cooper had been an asset. I longed for those days. He had a gift, an ability to coax the very best of ideas out of you, and he transformed them into solid plans that we then presented to Mayor Dad and the town council. His undivided input would have been valuable here. That part of Cooper I respected and enjoyed working with. Pre-candidate Cooper. Except lately, so much had changed. I missed the focused Cooper. The guy who would pull together a presentation in just a few hours. The guy I could count on to bring the best ideas out of me when I thought I had hit a wall. Or even the guy who got his work done on time. I hated myself a little bit because I was missing that coworking partnership. We did make a good team when we weren’t arguing. “Not for anything, but you’d think he’d want to head over to Hope Lake Brewing Company to see the guys.” “His head was so buried in his phone, he probably didn’t hear you mention them.” Nancy nodded. “What do you think? Is this going to get better or worse as the campaign progresses?” She packed up her Sharpies and hoisted the large calendar off the table, mindful not to drop any of the Post-its and papers tacked to it. I slung my arm over her shoulder. “Worse. So much worse.”

BBU - Coming Soon