Lions and Tigers and Boys – $50 gift card GIVEAWAY!!!

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A little magic. A little romance. A little shape-shifting… Tawny Stokes’ Lions and Tigers and Boys has it all!

To start us off, here’s the official description of the book:

The last thing a girl as awkward as Dani Gale should be doing is trying to learn the high wire. Yet that’s exactly where Dani ends up—at OZ, the Oswald Zinzendorf School of Circus Arts. Trying to overcome her shyness is near impossible when her new partner—the hottest guy she’s ever laid eyes on, and whose touch seems to give her poise she thought impossible—also seems to be sabotaging her progress.

The last thing Cai Coppersmith needs is a distraction, especially in the form of the new, cute shy girl. He needs to focus on trying not to shape-shift into a tiger on school grounds, and completing his mission to keep Dani from winning the school’s high-wire competition. In fact, the entire safety of OZ is relying on Dani not succeeding. But there’s something about the girl that draws him in. She has magic, he can feel it. So he’ll do what he can to protect her, even if it means pushing her away.

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This was a sweet romance story told from the perspective of the two main characters, Dani and Cai. Sixteen-year-old Dani has just started attending an obscure circus school in the deep woods of Oregon. Part of her doesn’t want to be there, but she also wants to follow her dreams to be a high-wire walker – a promise she made to her mother on her deathbed.

Cai is the adopted son of Frank Coppersmith, who handles the school’s lion and tiger. We learn in the prologue that Cai is also a shape-shifter, and roams the school’s grounds in the form of a tiger. He is also part of a secret group led by one of the school’s teachers, Professor Marvel. They are practicing a plan to steal a pair of ruby slippers from an art and history museum in Salem.

The alternating perspectives throughout the book was very effective. It allowed me to follow Dani’s and Cai’s growing feelings for each other and to understand why Cai kept pushing Dani away (if the book was just written from Dani’s point of view, it would have meant many more questions throughout the book).

This paragraph may be a spoiler, although I’m trying to write it in a way that does not spoil anything. I got to the end of the book and felt a little unsatisfied with the conclusion. I gather from the ending that Ms. Stokes may anticipate writing a second book about these characters. However, there was so much emphasis on preparing for the matter that was left unresolved, that I expected getting to that point in the story. I simply felt unfinished even though the book was over.

About the Author:

Tawny Stokes has always been a writer. From an early age, she’d spin tales of serial killers in love, vampires taking over the world, and sometimes about fluffy bunnies turned bunnicidal maniacs. An honour student in high school, with a penchant for math and English, you’d never know it by the foot high blue Mohawk and Doc Martens, which often got her into trouble. No longer a Mohawk wearer, Tawny still enjoys old school punk rock, trance, zombie movies, teen horror films, and fluffy bunnies. She lives in Canada with her fantastical daughter, two cats, and spends most of her time creating new stories for teens.

You can find Ms. Stokes on twitter @Vivi_Tawny.

Lions and Tigers and Boys was released last week. I received an advance reader copy of the book as part of this blog tour in exchange for my unbiased review. You can get a copy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and from your local independent bookstore.

So, you’re probably wondering, WHAT ABOUT THE GIVEAWAY??? You can win a $50 gift card to an e-retailer of your choice. Enter here.

Have you read any great books lately?

White Knights – 2 GIVEAWAYS!!!

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It’s tough being a teenager these days. It’s even tougher being a geek among the “Technologically Gifted and Talented” at a Washington, DC, exclusive school. Sixteen-year-old Angel Sinclair just wants to get through her senior year without being bullied too badly, and to find her long-missing father. But instead, she is drawn into an investigation that involves spies, the latest in medical technology, and good, old-fashioned intrigue!

Here’s the official description…

My name is Angel Sinclair. I’m the youngest senior at Excalibur Academy for the Technologically Gifted and Talented in Washington, DC. I was pushed ahead a year because of my high IQ and considerable prowess behind the keyboard, making me an outcast even among my own peers. I’ve been looking for my dad all my life. A brilliant mathematician and cryptographer, he disappeared under mysterious circumstances when I was eighteen months old. Although my mom tells me I must put him in my past, it only makes me more determined to find out what happened to him. When weird accidents start happening at my school and the vice principal is involved in a deadly incident, I don’t see it as a coincidence. After launching my own investigation, with the aid of an unexpected set of allies calling themselves the White Knights, I discover a threat far greater than I ever could have imagined. I could take my discoveries to the authorities, but my own investigative methods would be at risk. Can anyone say hacking? No, it’s up to me to set things right. My objectives are straightforward: clear the name of the vice principal, learn the truth about my father, and stay alive. In other words, save the day and try not to look too much like a dork while doing it.

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I loved how this book started, and I have to admit, the first sentence had me calculating how many days I have been alive. And wondering if I felt good about that (hey, I’ve had many, many great days!) or bad about it (holy cow, I’m OLD!!!).

I don’t usually include lengthy excerpts in my reviews, but since this one has that awesome first line that had me counting days, here you go:

On the 5,802nd day of my existence, my safe virtual life exploded into reality.

I should have seen it coming—I’m smart enough. My name is Angel Sinclair and I’m a geek. For most of my nearly sixteen years, I’ve lived online, roaming the information highway—hacking, gaming, and manipulating the environment to suit my every whim. The Internet is my world. I control kingdoms and maintain important and critical alliances. I don’t need real-life entanglements, friendships with people who will come and go, or a boyfriend so I don’t feel alone. I’m never lonely online.

I’m not bragging when I say I’m good at what I do. When I was eleven, I broke into my school’s computer system, just to see if I could. At thirteen, I changed the Twitter profile of a well-known gamer to read “Geek Girls Rule” after he posted a particularly sexist and ugly meme about women in the tech field. Later that same year, I hacked into the local police department looking for information on my father. I’ve hacked a lot of places since then, getting better and faster each time. I’m not into cracking—hacking with malicious intent. But I’m not above a hack when I feel it serves the greater good.

My older sister, Gwen, is always getting on my case to go out, hang with people, be social off the computer. Why would I? The girls at my school are always talking about guys or taking selfies to make sure they post the best angle of themselves. Who cares how you look while you’re eating in the cafeteria? I’d rather connect with the people who do matter via my phone or laptop. Online I’ve got constant access to what and who is important, and it is way less stressful than a face-to-face conversation.

So, my plan for my senior year of high school was this—survive by keeping my head down, restricting my social life to online, and not making any waves.

Simple, right?

Wrong.

I desired invisibility but would have accepted peaceful coexistence.

Instead, they brought me war…on the very first day.

This is a fun, fast-paced mystery / spy thriller. It champions the quiet computer geeks, making them the heroes of the story. Angel reluctantly accepts the help and friendship of two other geeks (plus a jock) and discovers that she isn’t always better at doing everything alone. Her friendship with weird Wally, quirky Frankie, and charming Colt grows along with the excitement and tension of the book.

White Knights kept me captivated from start to finish. I couldn’t put it down – it drew me into the world of hacking (NOT cracking – there’s apparently a difference!), espionage, and the occasional high school drama. Add it to your list for 2018!

There are TWO giveaways for this book! First, you can snag an ebook and a magnet HERE! To get a paperback copy of White Knights and a magnet, go to this giveaway! You can enter both giveaways, but do it soon – they end at midnight on January 8!

If you don’t win a copy of the book, you can pick up a copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and your local bookstore.

About the Author:

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Julie Moffett is a bestselling author and writes in the genres of mystery, historical romance and paranormal romance. She has won numerous awards, including the 2014 Mystery & Mayhem Award for Best YA/New Adult Mystery, the prestigious 2014 HOLT Award for Best Novel with Romantic Elements, a HOLT Merit Award for Best Novel by a Virginia Author (twice!), the 2016 Award of Excellence, a PRISM Award for Best Romantic Time-Travel AND Best of the Best Paranormal Books of 2002, and the 2011 EPIC Award for Best Action/Adventure Novel. She has also garnered additional nominations for the Bookseller’s Best Award, Daphne du Maurier Award and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Julie is a military brat (Air Force) and has traveled extensively. Her more exciting exploits include attending high school in Okinawa, Japan; backpacking around Europe and Scandinavia for several months; a year-long college graduate study in Warsaw, Poland; and a wonderful trip to Scotland and Ireland where she fell in love with castles, kilts and brogues. Julie has a B.A. in Political Science and Russian Language from Colorado College, a M.A. in International Affairs from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and an M.Ed from Liberty University. She has worked as a proposal writer, journalist, teacher, librarian and researcher. Julie speaks Russian and Polish and has two sons. She greatly enjoys interacting with readers at her website: www.juliemoffett.com. You can also follow her by clicking on the following social media sites: FacebookTwitterInstagram.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaways – click HERE and HERE!

Have you read any great books lately?

Greetings from Witness Protection – GIVEAWAY!!!

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What would it be like to leave everyone and everything you know and begin a brand-new life? Have you ever dreamed about running away and starting all over?

Greetings from Witness Protection

Foster kid Nicki Demere is given this choice when U.S. Marshals show up at her group home. Their offer: she will be placed with a family that cannot send her back. She will leave behind her juvenile record and start anew. The only catch: she has to leave immediately, without saying goodbye to any of her friends, and she will be giving up any hope that her long-lost father will come back for her.

Oh yeah, and the family she is placed with is in Witness Protection because they are hiding from one of the most notorious mob families in the country. If the mob finds them, they will undoubtedly kill them all.

One of Nicki’s biggest tasks is to make sure they remain “under the radar.” She has to stay out of trouble, but not be notable. She has to keep her grades down at a B- average (which means she needs to do her homework twice—once correctly, and then again with enough answers wrong to maintain her average). And, most of all, she has to take care of her new younger brother, who is angry about the Witness Protection situation and resents Nicki’s presence in his family.

This book came to me as part of the YA Reads Debut Authors Bash blog tour. And… it can come to you if you win this GIVEAWAY. I have a signed copy of Greetings from Witness Protection for one lucky winner!!!

Greetings from Witness Protection was so much fun to read! It was such a novel idea to have the main character living in Witness Protection—something I’ve never seen in children’s literature. Nicki still deals with the everyday problems of being in Seventh Grade—peer pressure, mean kids, boys—but then has the Witness Protection excitement layered on top.

I have two avid readers at home, but lately it has been tough to get my ten-year-old to read anything that doesn’t have “Harry Potter” or “Wimpy Kid” in the title. We were on a long drive in the car one night and he had nothing to read, so I nonchalantly said, “you could read my book, I guess,” hoping he’d pick it up. The rest of the drive was filled with comments like “ha! listen to this…” and “I wonder…” Then I had to fight him just to be able to finish the book!

Jake Burt keeps the action high throughout the book, which meant I read well into the nights turning “just one more page” or “one more chapter.” He has included a nice little twist at the end, which you’ll have to read the book to discover!

Jake Burt is a writer and a Fifth Grade teacher living in Connecticut (probably not in Witness Protection!). He can be found online at www.jburtbooks.com. There’s also an interesting discussion between Mr. Burt and Mr. Schu, the Ambassador of School Libraries for Scholastic at this fabulous blog.

DON’T FORGET TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!!!

Have you read any great books lately?

Braced – GIVEAWAY!!!

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Remember Seventh Grade? Not just the fun stuff, but also the awkwardness, the self-consciousness, all that stuff that came along with puberty? Now imagine all of that with one more layer on top.

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Rachel Brooks is your typical Seventh Grader. She loves soccer, she texts her friends nonstop, she is embarrassed by her parents, and she is starting to get interested in boys. She also has scoliosis.

So far, her scoliosis has simply meant doctor’s appointments twice a year with her spine doctor. Even the appointments have become pretty routine to Rachel. But this time, instead of sending her off to return again in six months, the doctor announces that the curve in her spine has gotten much worse and she will need to wear a back brace. Twenty-three hours a day for six months to a year, until her spine stops growing.

The brace is hard plastic with cushioned padding inside, and spans from Rachel’s armpits to her hips. It hurts where it rubs against her skin and creates blisters that might scar. Rachel can’t fit into any of her old clothes because of the bulk of the brace. Even with bigger clothes, Rachel is certain everyone can see the lumps and bulges of the brace.

My heart broke over and over as I read Rachel’s struggle to find peace with this new reality that she finds herself in. Alyson Gerber captured the middle grader’s self-consciousness with remarkable skill and accuracy.

I do not mean that to suggest that Braced is all about tears and sadness. To the contrary, Rachel shows astounding determination in the face of her challenge. Before her doctor determined that Rachel would need to wear a brace, Rachel was having a promising start to the year on her soccer team. So she decides that even with the brace, she will play soccer, and she and her friends work toward that goal. Her friends help pick clothes that will flatter her, and provide support as she goes to school in the brace each day.

Readers will see themselves in Rachel or gain inspiration from her. While Rachel’s situation is fairly unique, her feelings are not. Kids will recognize the feeling of being different and the certainty that everyone is looking at or talking about them. This might be because they wear a back brace, because they are in a wheelchair, or because they: wear glasses; wear braces; are too short, too tall, too fat, or too thin; or any number of other reasons why they feel insecure. No matter how large or small the reason, at this age, anything can feel insurmountable, and that is why Rachel’s story is so encouraging.

I have no idea how I missed this fabulous debut novel when it came out earlier this year! I am so glad that Ms. Gerber decided to participate in the 2017 Debut Authors Bash so that I could discover Rachel Brooks and Braced.

Ms. Gerber’s website is www.alysongerber.com. Her News page includes a description of how wearing a back brace impacted her growing up and a link to the Barnes & Noble blog, where she discusses her experience at summer camp in a back brace. Ms. Gerber includes links to websites with more information about scoliosis on her website as well as in the Author’s Note in Braced.

I am excited to be participating in this year’s Debut Authors Bash! Over the next two weeks, I will be sharing three more new novels by debut authors (either with full reviews or just some details about the books).

And… most exciting of all… there are giveaways for most of these books! Not just here on 2 Cooks Crafting Books, but at many of the other bloggers’ sites as well! So check out #17DABash on Twitter to find other debut authors featured this month (and maybe snag some of their books!).

Ms. Gerber is giving away a copy of her book, Braced. This giveaway is open to winners from the US and international locations.

DON’T FORGET TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!!!

The Wife Between Us – GIVEAWAY!!!

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A quick jump into the adult fiction world for this fantastic psychological thriller by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen! The publisher’s description of the novel is a superb set-up for a discussion of the book:

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing.

Twisted and deliciously chilling, The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of an enviable marriage – and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

Read between the lies.

Despite the warnings, it is hard not to assume you know what’s happening as you follow along the twists and turns in this tale. It begins with the stereotypical story of a successful wealthy husband throwing aside his middle-aged wife for a younger beauty. The ex-wife has been left with nothing after the divorce. She is pitied by her former friends and has begun working in a low-paying job to make ends meet. But The Wife Between Us brings a far more complex drama than this stereotype.

As she tells her story in first person narrative, it is easy to feel conflicted about ex-wife Vanessa. We see her as predator, stalking her prey—the replacement wife. We see her as betrayed, beaten down, and broken—begging ex-husband Richard not to marry the new woman. She gets ever more desperate as the wedding day approaches.

In chapters that alternate with Vanessa’s story, we also meet Nellie, who is getting ready to marry Richard. Their story is romantic and fairytale-perfect. Nellie is young, sweet, and innocent. She works as a preschool teacher for three-year-olds.

But Nellie is scared. She has been receiving hang-up calls. She jumps at noises and sees people in shadows. Is it Richard’s ex-wife?

The Wife Between Us is Greer Hendricks’s first novel after a career of more than two decades as an editor. Her work as an editor included work by co-author Sarah Pekkanen, an internationally bestselling author. This duo transformed their author-editor relationship into that of co-authors. The resulting novel is a tremendous success! (You can hear more about their partnership in a Meet the Authors video on the St. Martin’s Press website.)

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The Wife Between Us will be released on January 9, 2018.

I have a free copy of The Wife Between Us to giveaway to one lucky reader (thanks St. Martin’s Press!). Or, if you’re nervous about counting on a giveaway to snag your copy, you can place a pre-order at Amazon.com.

Click HERE to enter the giveaway!

Have you read any great books lately?

I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere but the Pool – GIVEAWAY!

Yep, it’s true. I have one copy of the brand-new book by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella to give away this week! I’ll be running the GIVEAWAY for one week.LifeguardNew York Times Bestselling Author Lisa Scottoline is well-known for her legal series (which is how I first found her) and her emotional thrillers. She writes one of each of these a year. She also writes a third book every year – she and her daughter Francesca team up to write a collection of entertaining tales from their lives. I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere but the Pool is their seventh collection of non-fiction stories (Ms. Scottoline also wrote an eighth on her own).

Ms. Scottoline has been one of my favorite authors since I read one of her Rosato & DiNunzio books a few years ago and promptly returned to the library to check out everything Ms. Scottoline had written. So I couldn’t wait to jump into this collection of essays by Ms. Scottoline and Ms. Serritella. The two authors had me in stitches as I read stories about turning thirty, trips to the dermatologist, holidays with friends and family, and disputes with apartment neighbors.

I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere but the Pool is a great choice for anyone who enjoys funny short essays. Laugh out loud as Ms. Scottoline shares her love of school supplies and Ms. Serritella discusses the most recent primary and general elections. The book is written in a down-to-earth way that makes you feel like you are just chatting with your friends Lisa and Francesca! A great read!

I received an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review, and now am excited to share a copy of the finished product with one lucky winner!

CLICK HERE to enter the giveaway to win a copy of I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere but the Pool!

Have you read any great books lately?