Wednesday, March 4, 2015

#BookReview LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins #YA #romance San Francisco

Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss, #2)Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Love, love, loved, Lola Nolan! She's a quirky character with tons of personality who has always loved the boy next door, except said boy supposedly hurt her feelings long ago.

Now, she's underage with an overage boyfriend and doing the naughty behind her parents' back. Dad and dad are none to pleased, because they're afraid she'll follow her irresponsible mother's footsteps.

Lola has a dilemma. The boy she loved forever is back next door and her rocker boyfriend, Max, is possessive and antisocial. Lola meanwhile is fun and creative, wearing costumes to school, not just on Halloween.

As for Cricket Bell, the boy next door. He's sweet, geeky, and a beanpole, but he's so so caring, and he's always making some gadget or "invention." Best of all, he's patient and he waits, and waits, and waits for Lola, the girl who talks to the moon, and when he gets the chance, he gives her the moon and stars [a mechanical compact with a moon that gets all the phases right and a background of stars]

He also accepts Lola for the imperfect person she is:

But it’s a person’s imperfections that make them perfect for someone else.

And that makes him the perfect guy for Lola who learned and grew to accept herself through the story.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

#BookReview DESTINED FOR LOVE by Melissa Foster #romance #cowboy

Destined for Love (Love in Bloom, #5; The Bradens, #2)Destined for Love by Melissa Foster

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rex and Jade are star crossed lovers like Romeo and Juliet. Even their initials are the same. The family feud runs deep between Rex and Jade's fathers. Fifteen years ago, something happened, and from then on the Bradens and Johnsons hated each other even though they were neighbors and shared a piece of property.

Meanwhile Rex and Jade had distant crushes on each other, but they didn't act on it until Rex's brother Treat became happily attached to Max. Seeing his brother have everything he wanted made Rex determined to find out if he and Jade could have a chance.

Forbidden love is always the sweetest, and with some help from fate, kismet, and destiny, their romance turns into a family affair, with various members taking sides.

Anyway, Rex is a real sweetie and one hot cowboy, and Jade is a compassionate caring woman who has an affinity to horses.

What an enjoyable combination!

View all my reviews

Monday, March 2, 2015

#GuestPost Rachelle Ayala on why baseball was special in her childhood #Played Sports Romances #blogtour

3677102_6x9-without-rules copy

Book Blurb
A ballplayer's girlfriend hides his daughter from him because she fears he's like his abusive father.

Marcia Powers wants nothing to do with ballplayer Brock Carter, especially after she told him to go away and pursue his dreams. She has more than she can handle with an elderly father, a business to run, and a four-year-old daughter posing as her baby sister.

Brock Carter's back in town to rekindle his romance with Marcia, and this time, he's not letting her run him out of town. Marcia is unable to resist Brock, but determined to keep her secret.

Brock's already lost his heart to Marcia once. Will he lose every dream, including baseball, when he discovers the real reason Marcia sent him away?

Author's Note

Not many people know that I was a big Baltimore Orioles fan way back in my childhood. I was a very contrary child, and it wasn't as much that I liked the Orioles, but that everyone around me loved the Miracle Mets. My brother was especially a Mets fan, so I decided I would be an Orioles fan. This created a lot of interesting conversations especially since I'm a girl and ALL the boys liked the Mets. So, I got to talk to a lot of boys, since everyone wanted to convince me to like the Mets. Since I was good in math, I was always up to date on the stats of each of my favorite players: Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, and Boog Powell.

Am I giving away how OLD I am? Anyway, baseball was a great way for me to go from being a shy fifth-grader who got a "D" in public speaking to running for office in Junior High School and even singing on stage for my campaign song. I sang "wonderful, wonderful, student body, vote for me, vote for me, vote," to the tune of Wonderful Copenhagen. No campaign promises for me.

By the time I hit high school, I and everyone else at our school switched from baseball to football. We were Banning Pilots, All-City Champs, and we lived, breathed, and dreamed football. But baseball for me will always be the days of innocence, when despite me being horrible at every skill: batting, fielding, outfield, I managed to still play pick-up games in the schoolyard and dream about hitting the winning home run for the World Series.

I hope you enjoy my baseball stories and my team, the Phoenix Rattlers, and players, Jay Pak Ahn, Ryan Hudson, Timmy Li, and Brock Carter, as well as the fascinating women they fall in love with. 

Playing Without Rules is available on Amazon (Read Free with Kindle Unlimited)

Author Info

Rachelle Ayala is a bestselling Asian American author of dramatic romantic suspense and humorous, sexy contemporary romances. Her heroines are feisty and her heroes hot. She writes emotionally challenging stories but believes in the power of love and hope.

Subscribe to her mailing list for upcoming books and giveaways: and find her books at online retailers Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple iBookstore, and more.

Fiction: Michal’s Window, Broken Build, Hidden Under Her Heart, Chance for Love Boxed Set, Knowing Vera, Taming Romeo, Whole Latte Love, Played by Love, Playing the Rookie, A Father for Christmas, Claiming Carlos, Roaring Hot, Playing Without Rules, Christmas Stray

Want to Contact Rachelle?

Facebook Reader’s Club *~* Aim to Love Romances

Website *~* Blog *~* Google+ *~* Facebook *~* Twitter *~* Goodreads *~* Pinterest

Review Tour Schedule

Tour Participant Blog Name Tour Date
Amber McCallister Tuesday, February 17
Lyssa Layne Tuesday, February 17
Shandi K Dews Wednesday, February 18
Chantel Rhondeau Wednesday, February 18
Jamie Fredrickson Thursday, February 19
Cheryl Bavaro Friday, February 20
Debbie Rosa Saturday, February 21
Liza Cochico Sunday, February 22
Raquel Leite Monday, February 23
Kaitlyn Sigler Tuesday, February 24
Nadene Reynolds Wednesday, February 25
Paige Boggs Thursday, February 26
Jessica Cali Friday, February 27
Krista Bainbridge Saturday, February 28
Jessica Cassidy Sunday, March 01
Marie Dee Monday, March 02
Rachelle Ayala Monday, March 02
Tour Giveaway

Rachelle Ayala is generously giving away a $10 gift card (Paypal or Amazon) and a key chain (US and Canada only).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A BIG THANK YOU to AMBER MCCALLISTER for organizing this tour, and to all the tour hosts! Muchas gracias, salamat, muito obrigada.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Story Structure in Six Steps Speaker's Event - Fremont Area Writers #writertip #smashwords #selfpublishing

Story Structure in Six Steps – Fremont Area Writers Tips and Tricks – February 28, 2015
Rachelle Ayala

Whether you are a plotter or a pantser or somewhere in between, it always helps to know where you’re going. This is especially important if you have a deadline or are trying to finish a novel in a month. I’m the founder of the Romance In A Month method and have successfully taught over fifteen authors how to write faster with deeper characters and tighter plots. I recently wrote a 20,000 word novella, Christmas Stray, in 48 hours. Here’s how I did it.

Six Plot Markers
1. Hook – first scene. Introduce main character (MC) and provide a story question right away. It doesn’t have to be the MAIN question, but it should hint strongly at the conflict and provide a spark to get the reader to ask “Why?” [Juliette attacks a Christmas tree.]

2. Inciting Incident. Something out of the ordinary happens to propel the MC toward facing the issues exposed by the Hook. [Juliette and Gabe find a stray dog and lost child behind the woodpile.]

3. Lock-In. [roughly 25% mark]. The MC is committed or forced to move forward with the story, i.e. working through the conflicts you set up. [Juliette and Gabe are snowed in without power with the stray dog and lost child.]

4. Midpoint Reversal, Half Time, or James Bell’s Mirror Moment. [50% mark]. Everything changes. MC goes from meandering and exploring to realization of the seriousness of his problems. Clueless to enlightened. He knows the enemy. Stakes are raised. [Juliette realizes she is the one ruining her marriage.]

5. Dark Moment [75%, but can be earlier or later, depending on how suspenseful and tight you want to set up the climax]. Everything falls apart for the MC. The tentative victories are all busted. Everything she tries fails. [Juliette’s husband rejects her clumsy seduction attempt.]

6. Climax [last 90%] The final fight or the big reveal. MC overcomes hurdles and has clawed his way back out of the dark moment to confront his greatest fear, challenge, or enemy. Big truths are revealed. [Power comes back on Christmas morning. Juliette and her husband find out the truth about the two little strays.]

One last point. Show a satisfying finish. Rewards earned, and all questions answered.

Mark Coker: Ebook Self-Publishing and Best Practice

Guest Speaker Mark Coker then spoke about the state of Self-Publishing. The first graph he showed was the growth of ebooks. Unlike the graph he showed a few years ago, the exponential growth in ebooks is leveling off. However ebooks still offer many advantages over print books, and Mr. Coker went through those in detail: they are lower cost, they are eternal, they can be read on many devices and with large or small font size, and they are portable.

Mark emphasized quality over quantity. He admits that there is a glut of quality ebooks in the market today. The Ebook Gold Rush is over. Unlike back in 2011 when a writer can throw an ebook up for 99c and gain thousands of sales a day, now, many ebooks garnish little or no sales at all.

He put up a telling chart - The Long Tail. A few ebooks do extremely well, selling millions where as the median most likely outcome is way, way, way, lower and far to the right on the graph. The average you hear bandied around [average number of copies sold per book] is heavily skewed by a small number of huge bestsellers. The median is much more telling and more meaningful to most authors.

As before, he reiterates that the sweet spot for pricing is $2.99-$3.99, and that readers prefer longer books. He showed a graph of rank versus average word count. The best sellers averaged 109,414 words and it drops off sharply as word count gets shorter.

A lot of time was spent on horrible book covers versus good ones. And while giving away free books is no longer a ticket to discovery, he presented a graph showing that when an author gives away the first book to a series, they sell much better than series where the first book is not free.

Key takeaways:
  • Quality over Quantity
  • Word of Mouth is Best Marketing
  • People Judge Books by the Cover
  • Ebooks are Eternal, if you don't get it right, don't despair, change the cover, rewrite a few scenes, try another category to put your book in.
  • Distribute widely to all ebook vendors and internationally. You never know which market or geography your book will catch on at.
  • Go to for more information on the tools available for you to publish your ebook and distribute it worldwide.


Rachelle Ayala is a bestselling Asian American author of dramatic romantic suspense and humorous, sexy contemporary romances. Her heroines are feisty and her heroes hot. She writes emotionally challenging stories but believes in the power of love and hope.
She is the founder of the Romance In A Month writing club and a volunteer for the World Literary Café. She also provides book formatting services to many indie authors.

Books by Rachelle Ayala

Non Fiction
Romance In a Month
366 Ways to Know Your Character

Michal’s Window
Roaring Hot!
A Father for Christmas
Christmas Flirt
Christmas Stray

Chance for Love
Broken Build
Hidden Under Her Heart
Knowing Vera

Sánchez Sisters
Taming Romeo
Claiming Carlos

Jewells in Love
Whole Latte Love

#Played Sports Romances
Played by Love
Playing the Rookie
Playing Without Rules

Coming Soon:
Intercepted by Love

Want to Contact Rachelle?

Saturday, February 28, 2015

#BookReview WHITE SWANS A Regency World by Annamaria Bazzi #fantasy #romance

My Review:

Get ready for something entirely different than what you thought. In White Swans, Annamaria Bazzi takes the reader into a surreal world, one of tea parties and balls, fancy gowns, and gentlemen, butlers and lady's maids. Kendika and her friends exist in a carefully choreographed world, one which seemed to exist for the entertainment of some other entity.

As Kendika discovers more about this Regency Worlds, she is disturbed by the fact that various punishments exist and that mind control is very much in evidence. She and her friends are not "free to go" and challenging the "owners" of their worlds is a dangerous thing indeed.

A refreshingly different adventure.

Kendíka’s second chance at life begins as a nightmare.

Will the eerie eyes always looking down from the sky reveal themselves?

Kendíka challenges the aliens no one has ever seen to bring about a better life for the humans trapped in the surreal Regency world she wakes up in. While getting to know her alien owner, she discovers the aliens aren’t so perfect and have much to learn about humans.

Will Kendíka survive or perish, attempting to make life better for the people living on Regency?

Book Links: I I 


Startled by the lack of movement, Kendíka sat up in bed, scanning the shadows in the moonlit room. Perspiration beaded her forehead while her heart pounded against her ribs. The last thing she remembered was sitting in the limousine next to Mr. Vetrano, arguing about her future. He insisted the will mandated her future, not him. Did the pill knock her out? How dare he drug me!

She blinked and, holding her breath, glanced around the unfamiliar room. When her lungs screamed for air, she exhaled then took another deep inhale. What the hell? What happened to the limousine?

Butterflies unsettled her stomach. Her back stiffened. Her heart drummed. Oh, my God! When did I get out of the car or come to this room? Why would Mr. Vetrano bring me to such a freaky place? Fear and the thought of her parents’ death brought fresh tears to her eyes.

She slid out of bed and shuffled her bare feet along the stone floor, hands held out to make sure she didn’t bump into anything hidden by the shadows.

At the opposite end of the room, she could make out a dark blob, which she hoped might be the door. Somewhere along the wall near it, she would find a light switch. She advanced slowly, making sure not to stub her toes. Her fingertips ran along the smooth wood. The handle felt cold. She pulled on the knob, but it didn’t budge. Strange! Her heart missed a beat. Why is the door locked?

With all her strength, she pounded on the door. “Mr. Vetrano?” She paused. “Is anyone out there?” She beat her fists on it a few more times, but when no one came to investigate the commotion, she slid to the floor and buried her face in her hands. Think, girl, think. Standing again, she moved her hands along the smooth walls at the edge of the molding, feeling for a light switch. Why can’t I find it? She tried again…nothing but wall. Why is no one coming?

Fun Facts:

- One of the more challenging items I researched was how to address people. I had been under the impression that I could refer to a duke as ‘My Lord.’ Boy was I wrong! To do so is quite degrading. A duke is addressed as ‘Your Grace’, and he’s introduced as, for example, ‘Charles Emory, the Duke of Deverow.’ Yes, he is one of the leading characters in my book.

- What about the funny little hat maids wore that looked like a shower cap? Well, that’s called a mob hat, and no, it has nothing to do with mobsters and gangsters. It was an essential part of a maid’s uniform.

- Speaking of servants, I had to understand what a footman does versus a butler. A footman did a variety of indoor and outdoor jobs. Important to me were the indoor jobs. Learning that a footman laid out the table, served the meal and tea, and assisted the butler helped me determine what Wordsworth’s duties had to be in the book.

- During this research, I learned that the butler was responsible for household security and most important, the wine cellar. The butler didn’t wear a uniform, but he wore a black cravat instead of a white one so he would not be mistaken for a gentleman.

About the Author:

Although born in the United States, Annamaria Bazzi spent a great deal of her childhood in Sicily, Italy, in a town called Sciacca. Italian was the language spoken at home. Therefore, she had no problems when she found herself growing up in a strange country. Upon returning to the states, she promised herself she would speak without an accent. She attended Wayne State University in Detroit Michigan, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Computers with a minor in Spanish.
Annamaria spent twenty years programming systems for large corporations, creating innovative solution, and addressing customer problems. During those years, she raised four daughters and one husband. Annamaria lives in Richmond Virginia with her small family where she now dedicates a good part of her day writing.

Contact the Author:

Blog I Website I Facebook I Twitter I Goodreads I Email

Check in on Kendíka’s Facebook Page

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

#BookReview BITTERSWEET by K. S. Thomas #romance #paranormal

BittersweetBittersweet by K.S. Thomas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This story was pure romance and the love between Esi and Carter was magical and timeless.

Esi and Carter were made for each other and after seven years dating, they finally tied the knot. It would have been their happiest day ever until they get into a serious car accident driving home from their fantasy wedding.

From the very first page, I knew this story would be heart rending and emotional. The happiness at the beginning of the book portended deep sadness and tears for later on.

And even though disaster struck, Esi was comforted by Carter's steadfast love and his promise never ever to leave her. She struggles through health issues and almost dying and then she is blown away when everything she believes or convinced herself to believe is untrue. Carter forces Esi to face her fears for her own good and proves to her that there is a love that will never ever end.

The scene where they lay on the meadow, face to face, eye to eye while the sun set will forever be etched in my mind as the definition of bittersweet.

Bring plenty of tissues and prepare to have your heart cut out. The feelings are so strong and true. It'll be hard to get over this book, and maybe you never will, and it will stay with you as a testament to true and pure love.

View all my reviews