Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (spoiler free) book review

With this stunning debut novel, New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver emerged as one of today's foremost authors of young adult fiction. Like Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why and Gayle Forman's If I StayBefore I Fall raises thought-provoking questions about love, death, and how one person's life can affect so many others.
For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—"Cupid Day"—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.
However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.

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3.5 of 5 stars

Marks on my Skin by J.A. Howell {BOOK TOUR}

**Not for readers under the age of 18+. Contains language, explicit sex, and adult situations.** Kieran Donovan has always been a doormat to the women in his life. Begging his wife not to leave after finding her in bed with not one—but five men—only provides further proof of that. In need of an escape from an empty house and a broken heart, Kieran heads to Midtown to see his estranged brother, Liam. There he meets Shayne Wickham, Liam’s best friend. Shayne’s dark and sexy with a wild streak a mile long and a sexual appetite for things Kieran’s never even dreamed of doing. But after an intense, and all too brief encounter, he’s more than willing to learn. Despite the usual safeguards Shayne keeps around herself and her own wounded heart, she finds herself more than willing to show him the ropes…and the floggers…and the paddles.
Kieran’s never seen himself as dominant in any aspect of his life. But when Shayne submits herself to him, it ignites an inner strength and hunger he never knew he had—and feelings Shayne didn’t know she could have. So used to keeping others at an arm’s length, the ease with which she finds herself trusting Kieran is both exciting and unsettling. Could Kieran be someone she could finally trust her heart to—or will he leave her scarred like everyone else?
Just another mark on her skin.

J.A Howell is an office drone by day, and a writer by night. Her love of writing took off when she was eleven years old and decided to fill a composition notebook with stories to read to her friends. Many years (and notebooks) later, not much has changed. She still loves writing and sharing her works with others. When she isn’t writing, she can often be found trying her hand at whatever artistic pursuit strikes her fancy. J.A. Howell resides in Apopka, FL with her husband and their menagerie of animal children.

“There’s a Paddle in my Trunk”
Lunch with Kieran had become a daily ritual over the last couple weeks he’d been in Midtown, and I was finding I rather enjoyed his company—minus the occasional snarky comment regarding my choice in extra-curricular activities. Liam had relaxed some, seeing that our interactions had turned quite platonic for the most part.
“Gino’s again?” I asked as we walked out to my car.
“Sounds good to me.”
I nodded and tossed him my keys. “You can drive Betty today. My wrists are killing me.”
A playful smirk tugged at the corners of his mouth and I rolled my eyes. “From tattooing, perv.”
He made himself the picture of innocence, drawing his lips into a pout and batting his long dark lashes.
“I didn’t say anything.”
I pulled the passenger door open and slid inside so he didn’t see my smile. “You didn’t have to.”
Kieran let out an indignant grunt, but mischief played behind those eyes of his and a grin spread across his lips. He pulled out of the alley and fifteen minutes later we were at Gino’s. We went inside and Kieran slid into the booth we’d sat at the first time we came here. I slid in across from him and sat down a little too hard. With a wince, I eased down against the seat. Kieran took notice, a wide toothy grin crossing his lips.
“Ya alright over there?”
“Yep, just fine.” I answered and flipped open one of the menus. I refused to give him anymore fuel.
The waitress came, placed our drinks in front of us, and took our orders. Calzones this time. Kieran gnawed at his bottom lip, gears turning behind his eyes. Here we go again. I shifted against the padded bench, winced, and his eyes lit up.
“Arse a little sore?”
“Maybe.” My eyes darted up to him. Two could play this game. Admittedly, I found his attempts to pry more than entertaining. He grinned at this little morsel and stabbed his straw in his drink, waggling an eyebrow at me. “Was somebody a naughty girl last night?”
I took a long sip from my soda, narrowing my eyes at him speculatively. The minute I answered him, he’d blush and change the subject, I just knew it. So I answered him. Honestly.
 “Yeah, I was. Darren bent me over his kitchen table and spanked me with a wooden paddle.”
Kieran blinked and his eyes widened a little, but to my surprise he quickly returned to his former, teasing expression. “Ya really like getting spanked, don’t ya?”
A trickle of warmth moved through me and I sat up, amused and somewhat turned on by this bolder side of Kieran. I wondered just how far he would take it.
“Yeah, I do. I’ve got a paddle in my trunk if you want to go outside and give it a couple swings.”
Kieran’s eyes went round again and he sucked in a breath—and soda, which he promptly sputtered across the tabletop. Lucky for him, the waitress came back with our food, though she frowned at the spray of soda. She wiped down the table then placed our dishes in front of us and Kieran gave her an apologetic look. His cheeks flushed and I turned my attention to the hot calzone on my plate, giving him a chance to recuperate.
“So ya said ya had ta pick up a few things fer the shop?” He asked, finally looking up from his plate.
I smiled. Of course he changed the subject.

“The Motorboat”
Kieran narrowed his eyes at me and brought the cup to his lips. “Why do they call it The Motorboat anyway?”
“Because it’s so strong it makes your lips do the motorboat thing when you drink it.” I couldn’t fight the grin pulling at my lips as he took a long sip.
“Sssssppppffffffff! Whoa!” He blinked, stared down at the coffee in disbelief, and smacked his lips a couple times.
Someone snorted from back in the kitchen and I unsuccessfully stifled a giggle. “See?”
He shrugged, cheeks reddening. “It’s not bad.”
“Mmm hmm.” I hid my grin, tilting my coffee cup to my lips. Kieran had a mustache of crema on his upper lip and before I could stop myself I ran a finger across it. His eyes shimmered and he flicked his tongue out to get the rest. It grazed my fingertip and I pulled my hand away as blood rushed to my cheeks. “Well, I should get going.”
“Where ya headed?” He took another sip and gritted his teeth to keep from motor-boating again.
“I was just going to do some shopping. Um…you know you don’t have to drink that whole thing to prove anything.” I giggled watching him shake his head after another sip.
“Pfft. It’s just a bit of caffeine.” He grabbed a lid and handed me one. “I was just going ta sit around and write…unless ya wanted some company?”
I should have said no, but nodded instead. Well, at least hopped up on that much espresso he could carry all my bags for me. Hell, with the amount of caffeine in that cup, he could probably haul a whole a semi over his head.  He followed me out and we headed a few blocks away to a clothing store. Kieran stopped and tossed his cup into a trashcan before following me in.
“Did you finally give up finishing it?” I glanced down at his empty hands.
“No, I finished the whole cup.”
I coughed and tried not to sputter out my own coffee. “Please tell me you’re joking.”
“What? I feel fine.”
I shook my head and turned to one of the clothing racks. “For now, you mean.”
He shrugged again and slumped down into a chair. I eyed him nervously but for the time being he did seem fine. I grabbed a few sales items off the rack and went to the back to try them on. When I came back out he was slipping off his jacket and beanie.
“You alright?”
“Yeah. Perfectly fine. Just feelin’ warm.” He smiled a bit wide. His pupils were huge and black and his feet bounced against the floor.
“Um, maybe we should go for a walk. Get you to sweat off some of that caffeine.” I placed the clothes down and went over to him. He jumped up to his full six feet like a spring.
“Sounds good ta me!”
Oh dear God…
 I grabbed his arm and led him out of the store, but had to double my pace to keep up with his huge strides.  “Slow down there, buddy.”
“Hmm? Sorry.” Kieran slowed down but it was still a brisk stride. I grabbed his hand and his fingers drummed against mine.  I cast him a nervous sideways glance and saw beads of sweat running down his jawline.
“Have you had anything to eat today?”
“Nope! Not really hungry though.” His words jumbled out together and he rubbed his eyes.
“Maybe we should go back to my place for a snack. You sure you’re still okay?”
“Yeah. Feck! It’s feckin’ hot out, innit?” He let out a huge breath and I shook my head at him.
“It’s fifty degrees and windy.” I slid a subtle finger up to his wrist and felt his pulse. It was thrumming like a hummingbird’s. “Yeah let’s go back to my place and get some food in you. And water. I think you need it.”
Kieran didn’t fight me and we made it back to my building in record time. I probably could have just hopped on his back and had him run there. He trudged up the stairs behind me, losing steam halfway up. His breaths started coming in heavy pants and I cast another wary look at him. The front of his shirt was soaked with sweat. We made it to my apartment without him collapsing or going into cardiac arrest and I went straight for the kitchen to make him a sandwich and a glass of water.
“Jahysus, I’m sweating like a pig!”
I turned around to find a shirtless, glistening Kieran standing in the middle of my studio apartment, dabbing sweat off his chest with his t-shirt. Suddenly it did feel a little warm out. I placed the food and water down on the coffee table and grabbed his hand, steering him to the couch.
“Why don’t you have a seat and eat something, hmm?”
“Oh, thanks! Feeling a little light-headed, actually.” He said in a breathless voice. I sat down next to him, watching him wolf down the sandwich and water. I grabbed him another glass, then another.
“Helping any?”
“A little.” He nodded, blinking and rubbing his eyes again. I touched my fingers to his carotid. His heart was still racing. I gave him another glass of water and his hands shook as he brought it to his lips.
“Maybe a hot shower will calm you down a little.”
“Shayne, I’m fine. Really!” He laughed, his voice equally as shaky as his hands.  Unconvinced, I pulled him off the couch and to the bathroom, sitting him down on the closed toilet. “I’m okay. Just a lil’ wound up.”
I turned on the shower and held my hand under the stream of water until it was comfortably warm. Kieran stood up behind me but I paid him no mind—until something brushed against my ass.
“Mmm hmmm.” The low husky sound told me exactly what it was that had touched my ass.
“You’re naked, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, ya said we’re taking a shower.” He ran his hand over my backside and pressed his erection against me again. I swallowed hard in an attempt to maintain my composure.
“No. I said you were.”
He giggled—actually giggled. “No, ya said a nice hot shower would calm me down. Ya didn’t say it would be by myself.”
Another hand slid around to one of my breasts.
“I-it was implied.” I stuttered. His breath tickled my neck and my muscles clenched with need, completely betraying my words. 

Sticks and Stones by Shawn McGuire + GIVEAWAY {BOOK BLITZ}

Everyone has a dark side. Mandy’s just moved in with her. The last time sixteen-year-old Mandy Matteo broke a rule, her sister died. Since that day she has done only what is expected of her, but life as a goody-goody has made Mandy so boring her friends have all but abandoned her. And she’s given up on ever getting Ethan, the boy she’s liked forever, to notice her. Desperate, Mandy makes a wish to simply be happy.Her wish is granted and happiness arrives in the form of Lexi, her childhood imaginary friend come to life. Magical wishes have conditions though: Once started, the wish cannot be altered or stopped. And once Mandy is truly content with her life again, Lexi must go back to where she came from. But Lexi loves being alive and she’ll do whatever it takes to stay that way.

Shawn McGuire started writing after seeing the first Star Wars movie (that’s episode IV) as a kid: she couldn’t wait for the next one so wrote her own episodes. Sadly, those notebooks are long lost, but her desire to write is as strong now as it was then. She grew up in the beautiful Mississippi River town of Winona, Minnesota, the small town that inspired the setting for Sticks and Stones and the upcoming Break My Bones. After graduating college she moved to the Milwaukee area of Wisconsin (Go Pack Go!) where she lived for many years. She and her family now call Colorado home and when not writing or reading, Shawn enjoys cooking and baking, crafts, interior decorating, and spending time hiking and camping in the spectacular Rocky Mountains.

Chapter One

It had been twelve years since I’d broken a rule. I found that life flowed along more easily if I didn’t rock the boat. Expectations were understood and outcomes predictable. Tonight was going to be different though. Tonight I’d step out of my carefully controlled comfort zone. If I wanted to have any friends at all, it was my only choice. I’d promised Brooke and Crissy I’d go to the party tonight, even though it wasn’t my kind of thing and they knew it. But I really wanted the three of us to be together and this was what they agreed on. Besides, if I didn’t go I’d spend my sixteenth birthday alone.
Things weren’t going as planned though. Brooke had promised to pick me up at seven-
thirty. At ten minutes to eight I’d received a text saying her brother had taken her car and she’d gotten a ride from someone else. So there I was, ready and willing and no way to get to the party.Well, there was one way. My birthday present from my uncle, an old Ford Escape he’d been fixing up for months, was waiting in the barn for me. There was the minor detail that I didn’t have my license yet, but my road test was scheduled for tomorrow morning and I knew I’d pass. So what the heck, I was already stepping out of my box, what was one more step? Brooke was supposed to bring me her silver sequined miniskirt so I was back at the I-have nothing-to-wear stage. The whole time I stood there staring into my closet, an invisible Jiminy Cricket sat on my shoulder reminding me that I was breaking a rule. You know what happens.
“Yeah, yeah,” I said, flicking Jiminy to the floor, “civilizations collapse and planets  implode. Alert the media, Mandy Matteo is about to break a rule.” But the room spun a little and my stomach flipped as those words came out of my mouth. I looked down to see if Jiminy was still there. He wasn’t, of course, so I called out, “It’s just one party. Mom won’t be home ’til 
Sunday. No one will ever know I took the Escape.”
Finally dressed in something other than sweats, I grabbed the “sweet sixteen” key ring from the rack by the front door, ran out to the barn, and hopped in the car. At the end of the driveway I paused, waiting for a sign that planets were in fact imploding. With my luck, the first party I ever went to would get busted. But no space debris fell out of the sky to block my path. My phone didn’t ring with Mama intuitively calling to ask what I was up to. No voice from above told me to turn away from the dark side I was about to cross into. So I pulled onto the county highway.

Author Interview: Megan Duke - author of Small Cirlces

Small Circles is the story of four friends over four years of their young adult lives in Tennessee. Starting in their sophomore year at a boarding school and continuing through their freshman years at different universities, the friends face the same trials most teenagers face today, as well as a few other things. This inspiring story touches base with the struggles of defining oneself in spite of homosexuality, drug addiction, suicide, and heartbreak. Most of all it sends one message: it’s okay to be happy.

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Megan Duke was born in 1992 and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. She currently resides there with her fiance, Trent. Megan has spent most of her young adult life writing. She attended fashion school at the International Academy of Design and Technology in Nashville for one year, but after realizing her true passion, she left school and pursued a writing career.
Megan is best known for the coming of age novel, Small Circles. Before releasing that particular story, or its companion: Three Sixty, she began writing a futuristic sci/fi trilogy called The Mind Breaker Accounts. Since then, she has planned to write two more companions to the coming of age novel, as well as finish the Mind Breakers trilogy with the final book planned for release in 2015.
For Megan, telling a story is more than just writing words. To her, it's about sharing something that could possibly make a difference. Whether that be through futuristic fiction driven by the power of mind control, or a simple contemporary novel about friendship and happiness, it's the impact that matters, so read on!
She continues to write every day.

The Dark World by Cara Lynn Shultz book review (spoiler free)

Paige Kelly is used to weird--in fact, she probably corners the market on weird, considering that her best friend, Dottie, has been dead since the 1950s. But when a fire demon attacks Paige in detention, she has to admit that things have gotten out of her league. Luckily, the cute new boy in school, Logan Bradley, is a practiced demon slayer-and he isn't fazed by Paige's propensity to chat with the dead. Suddenly, Paige is smack in the middle of a centuries-old battle between warlocks and demons, learning to fight with a magic sword so that she can defend herself. And if she makes one wrong move, she'll be pulled into the Dark World, an alternate version of our world that's overrun by demons-and she might never make it home.

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4 out of 5 stars

Mind Static by Jen Naumann + GIVEAWAY {BOOK BLITZ}

Keyanna Sanders is about to get everything she could ever wish for on her 18th birthday: a hot guy who’s really into her, the sports car she’s always dreamed of owning, and the party of a lifetime that no one will forget any time soon. But before long, she’ll understand these wishes are more than a coincidence, and that they come at a steep price. Keyanna is more than just an average high school senior, her best friend is more than the innocent boy next door, and her sudden good fortune isn’t just by chance. When her estranged father suddenly re-enters her life, she’ll have to decide who to trust, and whether or not the man she loves has become the enemy.

Jen Naumann grew up in southern Minnesota as an addict of such flicks as Indiana Jones and The Goonies until she discovered John Hughes, and spent her high school days locked away writing love stories with a sci-fi twist. Married to a farmer in southern Minnesota, she tries to follow the madness of her four active children while balancing an imagination that never shuts down. As the author of CHEATING DEATH, SHYMERS, AND PARANORMAL KEEPERS, she writes stories with strong female leads who have a good sense of humor and tend to fall in love despite their better judgment.