Friday, August 1, 2014

Friday Flourish: One of the Guys + Play On

Happy Friday Everyone!

Most of you who visit this blog frequently know that as of the beginning of this year, I overhauled the design business I run from home and switched my focus from weddings and related stationery to book cover design. This was a terrifying and exciting (terrifyingly exciting?) change for me since I was essentially starting over and going in a completely new direction, but the past seven months have been absolutely amazing.

I've learned so much in a short amount of time, taking online classes and watching hours and hours of Photoshop tutorials to learn new tips and tricks I never had to use for my wedding design work, and I'm having a blast while doing it. I've been wanting to share some of the projects I've had the pleasure of working on for a while now, and when I saw my good friend Mary's Creative Mojo post last week, I got inspired. I would have completely stolen her post title, but I have a thing for alliteration, so I went with the above instead ;-)

On select Fridays moving forward, I'm going to post some of my recent cover designs and their accompanying blurbs so those of you who may not have these books on your radars yet can add them to your lists! This will not be a weekly, or even monthly, feature as I obviously have to wait until the covers are released through official channels first before sharing them, but I have seven covers in various stages of completion currently, so I hope the business continues to grow and I can make this a regular feature in the not-too distant future! *fingers crossed*

I have two contemporary YA covers to share today, both of which are releasing from Spencer Hill Contemporary next year. Let me know what you think in the comments!

ONE OF THE GUYS
Lisa Aldin
Releases February 2015


Tomboy to the core, Toni Valentine understands guys. She'll take horror movies, monster hunts and burping contests over manicures any day. So Toni is horrified when she's sent to the Winston Academy for Girls, where she has to wear a skirt and learn to be a "lady" while the guys move on without her.

Then Toni meets Emma Elizabeth, a girl at school with boy troubles, and she volunteers one of her friends as a pretend date to make Emma's ex jealous. Soon word spreads of Toni’s connections with boys, and she discovers that her new wealthy female classmates will pay big money for fake dates. Looking for a way to connect her old best friends with her new life at school, Toni and Emma start up Toni Valentine’s Rent-A-Gent Service.

But the business meets a scandal when Toni falls for one of her friends—the same guy who happens to be the most sought-after date. With everything she's built on the line, Toni has to decide if she wants to save the business and her old life, or let go of being one of the guys for a chance at love.



PLAY ON
Michelle A. Smith
Releases April 2015


In the small town of Lewis Creek, baseball is everything. Especially for all-star pitcher Austin Braxton, who has a one-way ticket out of town with his scholarship to a top university. All that stands between him and a new start is one final season. But when Austin starts flunking Chemistry, his picture-perfect future is in jeopardy. A failing grade means zero playing time, and zero playing time means no scholarship.

Enter Marisa Marlowe, the new girl in town who gets a job at his momma's flower shop. Not only is Marisa some home-schooled super-genius; she's also a baseball fanatic and more than willing to help Austin study. As the two grow closer, there's something about Marisa that makes Austin want more than just baseball and out of Lewis Creek
he wants a future with her. But Marisa has a past that still haunts her, one that she ran all the way to South Carolina to escape.

As Austin starts to peel back the layers of Marisa’s pain, it forces him to look beyond the façade of himself and everyone he thought he knew in his town. What he sees instead is that in a small town like Lewis Creek, maybe baseball isn’t everything—maybe it is just the thing that ties them all together.



If you want to see more of my work, including some fun fan art posters, you can check out my full portfolio online at Seedlings Design Studio!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: Run To You Parts 4, 5 and 6


Parts 4, 5, and 6
Clara Kensie
Paranormal Young Adult
eBook
HarlequinTEEN
Available Now
Source: eARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
RUN TO YOU is Tessa and Tristan's saga—two books about psychic gifts, secret lives and dangerous loves. Each book is told in three parts: a total of six shattering reads that will stay with you long after the last page. Book One is First Sight, Second Glance, and Third Charm. Book Two is Fourth Shadow, Fifth Touch, and Sixth Sense.

MY THOUGHTS
Book two of the Run To You serial is as action-packed as the first, Tessa's role shifting from the hunted to the hunter as she searches for her missing brother and sister. Free of the questions that haunted us all through book one as to what exactly happened the night Tessa was brutally scarred, we find it that much easier to settle into this sequel, fully in the know as to whom we can label killer and whom victim. Ms. Kensie does a beautiful job of exploring the aftermath of book one's revelations, the joy Tessa expects to feel at the small things we all take for granted–like using her own name and attending school without a solid backstory in place–replaced with a darkly visceral cloud of shame and guilt, one that chills us to the bone as she serves an emotional sentence for crimes she didn't commit.

Tessa proves how strong a young woman she truly is in this second book, stoically enduring the vitriol flung at her from all sides at school while simultaneously trying to find her way through the literal and figurative fog of her newly discovered retrocognitive gift. Though we feel for her every minute and every page of this story, there are moments where we're faced with the inescapable reminder of her young age in all its frustrating glory. She has a bit of tunnel vision with regard to finding her brother and sister, allowing that single focus to overwhelm good judgement and choosing instead to ignore both Tristan and his mother's–both whom possess proven precognitive abilities–warnings about fleeing to Jillian and Logan's last known locations. She then has the tendency to only offer an inadequate apology for the trouble her actions cause, all the while failing to see that she's not the only one affected by her unrelenting search for her family.

What makes her actions less of a bitter pill to swallow, however, is Tristan's reaction to her most blatant disregard of one of his mother's visions, his anger and disappointment matching our own and finally ripping the Jillian and Logan blinders free from Tessa's face so she can see the larger picture. Once she sees, she takes the necessary steps to fix the rift between them, and it's easy to forgive her when we take into account the fact that we have the benefit of being outside observers, able to use logic that's not buried so far under the weight of fear and pain that it's of no use to us. Tessa's recklessness, though irritating at the time, is limited more to part five of this story, giving us plenty of time to move past it and throw ourselves back into her corner as part six delivers a number of physical and emotional punches.

Overall, book two of Run to You is a lighting-quick read full of heartache for a young woman who's lived a life full of nightmares and free of dreams, complete with a sweet romance lacking a geometrical shape of any kind. We're left with things wrapped up nicely for Tessa and Tristan, but there's a number of secondary characters who seem to be just itching for their moment to shine, so here's hoping Jillian, Logan, and new character Aaron find their way onto the pages of their own stories sooner rather than later.

Rating: 4/5
 

Find Clara:


Part Four: Fourth Shadow


Part Five: Fifth Touch


Part Six: Sixth Sense

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wild Iris Ridge Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway

http://www.cbbbookpromotions.com/?p=353

Today I have the pleasure of being part of the promotional tour for Wild Iris Ridge, the seventh book in RaeAnne Thayne's Hope's Crossing series. RaeAnne was nice enough to answer a few questions about her latest contemporary romance, so I hope you all enjoy the interview! Be sure and check out the bottom of the post for the full list of participating blogs as well as all the details on a fabulous giveaway. Welcome to Supernatural Snark RaeAnne!

Wild Iris Ridge is set in the small town of Hope's Crossing. What are three things you love about a small town setting for a contemporary romance novel? 

I love the chance to build a community of caring people, the opportunity to show that life isn’t necessarily idyllic in a small town, and show people banding together to help each other through difficult situations.

Lucy and Brendan's love is of the second chance variety given the kiss they shared years before Brendan loved and lost Lucy's best friend, Jessie. Do you have a favorite second-chance couple from any book, movie or TV show?

I don’t know if I could pick a favorite as it’s a trope I really enjoy, both reading and writing. I will say that the very first romance novel I ever read was THE ENCHANTED LAND by Jude Devereaux. It’s really a second-chance romance as the hero and heroine are separated by circumstances and only come together because of a near-tragedy. Loved that book!

If you could write yourself into any one of your books (or series), which one do you think would best suit you and what role would you play? 

I would write myself into Hope’s Crossing and be one of the bead-store regulars. I love the idea of a group of women who meet frequently to share their lives with each other.

You primarily write books that are part of a larger series. What do you enjoy most about writing separate-but-linked stories over stand-alones? 

This is usually quite self-indulgent on my part. I have a tough time saying good-bye to my characters. If I write linked books, I don’t have to … I can catch up on what’s happening with my hero and heroine when they appear as secondary characters in a subsequent story.

If Brendan were asked to describe the Lucy he knew prior to the events of Wild Iris Ridge, what one word (besides “trouble” ;-)) would he use?

Difficult.

After the events of the book? 

Everything.

• • • • • • • • • • • 

WILD IRIS RIDGE
(available now from Harlequin)


A big-city, high-powered advertising executive and a small-town firefighter learn that no matter where you started or what you’ve lost, if you open your heart, you can find joy and love again. WILD IRIS RIDGE is the latest book inUSA TODAY bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne’s charming Hope’s Crossing series.

Lucy Drake and Brendan Caine have only one thing in common.And it's likely to tear them apart. Because it was Brendan's late wife, Jessie—and Lucy's best friend—who'd brought them together in the first place. And since Jesse's passing, Brendan's been distracted by his two little ones…and the memory of an explosive kiss with Lucy years before his marriage. Still, he'll steer clear of her. She's always been trouble with a capital T.

Lucy couldn't wait to shed her small-town roots for the big city. But now that she's back in Hope's Crossing to take care of the Queen Anne home her late aunt has left her, she figures seeing Brendan Caine again is no big deal. After all, she'd managed to resist the handsome fire chief once before, but clearly the embers of their attraction are still smoldering…


• • • • • • • • • • •

RAEANNE THAYNE


USA TODAY bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne loves words. This led her to a fifteen-year career in journalismas a newspaper reporter and editor. But through it all, she dreamed of writing the kind of stories she loved best, romance, and has since published more than 40 titles. RaeAnne finds inspiration in the rugged northern Utah mountains, where she lives with her hero of a husband and their children. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website, RaeAnneThayne.com.


• • • • • • • • • • •

GIVEAWAY


TWO WINNERS WILL RECEIVE:
  • 1 book from the Hope's Crossing series
  • 1 beaded HOPE bracelet,
  • 1 Iris necklace (US/CA)

Be sure and check out the other stops on the tour for more interviews, reviews, guest posts and more!

7/21
Bookhounds - Author Interview

7/22
Paperrdolls- Review

7/23
Maureen's Books - Review

7/24
Paulette's Papers- Guest Post

7/25

7/26
Fiction Dreams- Author Interview

7/27
Every Free Chance- Author Interview

7/28
Kinky Vanilla Romance- Author Interview
Candace's Book Blog- Guest Post

7/29
readful things- Review & Top Ten

7/30
Supernatural Snark- Author Interview

7/31
Bookfan- Review
http://www.cbbbookpromotions.com/?p=353

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Review: Something Sweeter

SOMETHING SWEETER
Sweet, Texas #3
Candis Terry
Adult Contemporary Romance
384 pages
Avon
Available Now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
The men in Texas are hard to resist . . .

Seattle event planner Allison Lane is an expert at delivering the perfect wedding—even if she might not exactly believe in the whole "'til death do us part" thing. When her father decides to tie the knot with a woman he barely knows, Allison heads to Sweet, Texas, to make sure his new honey is the real deal. What she didn't expect to find at the local honky-tonk was a sexy Southern man as bent on charming her pants off as he is on blowing her "true love doesn't exist" theory all to hell.

And they always promise . . .

Veterinarian, former Marine, and Sweet's favorite playboy Jesse Wilder takes one look at Allison and knows she's a handful of trouble he can't deny. But even after a sizzling kiss and obvious mutual attraction, it seems Allison has no such problem. When Jesse uncovers her sweet side, can he crush his playboy image, melt her cynical heart, and change her mind about taking a trip down the aisle?

Something sweeter.


MY THOUGHTS
Something Sweeter is a fun foray into the heart of Texas, use of the endearment "darlin" present and as swoon-worthy as ever as it flows from the mouth of former Marine–and current veterinarian–Jesse Wilder. In addition to a slow-burning relationship between our lead couple, we’re also treated to the meddling, antics, and unwavering support of his brothers and his endearing mother, their playful familiarity allowing us to really snuggle into this story surrounded by the warmth of love and laughter on all sides. There’s plenty of conflict in the relationship between Jesse and Allison, but the drama is kept to a bare minimum, making this the perfect read for a lazy summer afternoon when a little heat and a whole lot of charm top the list of reader must-haves.

Allison, having grown up with a mother divorced five times over, is utterly convinced love is fleeting and subject to the whims of those who claim to feel it, and therefore finds herself in Texas to ensure her father made the right decision with his recent engagement to a virtual stranger. Because this is a lighter contemporary romance, we don’t delve too deeply into Allison’s relationship with her mother, and as a result it’s sometimes tricky for us to fully put ourselves in her shoes with regard to her conviction that happily ever after doesn’t exist. Having said that however, though Allison’s beliefs on love are clearly the kind that will require the entirety of this story’s four hundred pages to change, she’s not overly frustrating with her stance, sharing with Jesse upfront how she feels without throwing her opinions in his face every five minutes.

Jesse is as smoldering ex-military southern gentleman as they come, his Texas drawl practically audible as it reverberates through the pages and travels straight to our hearts. There are a number of stops and starts to his and Allie's physical relationship, but with her career requiring her to head back to Seattle after her visit with her father, it’s easy understand why they both err on the side of caution when it comes to intimacy. He works hard to show Allie that lasting relationships are not the mystical unicorn she believes them to be–even as he denies the depth of his own growing feelings for her–and despite the stubborn nature they both share, they’re a joy of a romantic couple overall.

Something Sweeter is predictable in the way all romances are, but as always with this genre, the characters themselves and their individual journey to happily ever after take precedence over the mystery of where the relationship is headed. Ms. Terry has written a romance full of sweetness and heart, and I look forward to going back and watching the previous two Wilder boys fall for their women just as Jesse fell for his.

Rating: 4/5



Find Candis:


This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: Mortal Danger

MORTAL DANGER
Immortal Game #1
Ann Aguirre
Paranormal Young Adult
372 pages
Feiwel & Friends
Available August 6th
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Revenge is a dish best served cold.

In Ann Aguirre's Mortal Danger, Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn’t imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She’s not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he’s impossible to forget.

In one short summer, her entire life changes and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly . . . bad things are happening. It’s a head rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil’s bargains, she isn’t sure who—or what—she can trust. Not even her own mind.


MY THOUGHTS
Mortal Danger is a story that starts out on a literal edge, Edie ready to leave life behind in the hope that death will be less cruel, only to be stopped by an enigmatic young man who offers her a different type of escape. The first few chapters make us as readers incredibly uneasy, Edie’s thwarted suicide and the fact that her first request from Kian is to be made beautiful causing us to fear what this tale has in store for us in terms of the message carried by her actions. While the synopsis suggests the revenge aspect is a focal point though, where Ms. Aguirre takes us (thankfully) instead is far beneath the hell that is high school and into one much more befitting of the name.

As mentioned previously, Edie has us a touch worried in the beginning chapters, wondering if her story is going to be one where we spend the entire time fearful the next chapter is going to be the one where her need for vengeance will result in an action we simply cannot forgive. What we find in place of a single-minded drive for revenge on those who broke her (the means by which we don’t discover until much later in the story), however, is a fierce intelligence and a beautifully level-head, her dealings with the popular crew surprisingly free of the venom and vitriol initially expected. Edie instead approaches them in a much more reasonable way, her anger and hurt still present and palpable, but she never seeks to actively shame or humiliate them the way they did her.

Perhaps most surprising about Mortal Danger is just how small a role Edie’s revenge plays in the overall plot. Once she makes her deal with Kian, the teenage bullies who forced her to the bridge in the first place suddenly pale in comparison to the immortal ones who now hold all the cards in a game she never wanted to play. Edie is the type of heroine we crack the spine of every book hoping find, her initial insecurities replaced with a confidence, sharp wit, and extraordinary problem solving ability (all traits it’s made clear to us come from within and are not simply side effects of her newfound beauty). She tackles her numerous problems head on, self-reliant to an admirable degree but not so much so that she doesn’t know when to ask for help, and so very careful as to where she steps on the gameboard that has suddenly become her life.

Overall, Mortal Danger is a stunning start to a new series, giving us a heroine who makes mistakes and is riddled with flaws in the most beautiful way, and who despite a rough start, comes to fully appreciate all life has to offer even in its darkest moments. The ending lacks a touch of the excitement and action promised all along as Edie faces off with one of the game’s top players, but that’s a minor quibble in an otherwise gritty and darkly entertaining story. Ms. Aguirre never fails to impress with her characters and her creativity, and Mortal Danger is yet another reminder of how fascinating (and also terrifying) her mind is.

Rating: 4/5
 

Find Ann:


This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Visual Review: The Art of How to Train Your Dragon 2

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18505841-the-art-of-how-to-train-your-dragon-2?from_search=true

A couple years ago I was sitting on my couch at home on a Saturday night (like the social butterfly I am), watching a little animated film HBO chose to premiere that week when I fell madly in love. The movie was How To Train Your Dragon, and it was one of the cutest movies I'd seen in forever. Not only was the animation astoundingly beautiful, but the characters were also laugh out loud funny, and I spent the next two days watching it ever single moment it came on. Which was a lot, as those of you who have HBO know. Once they premiere a movie, they play it 24/7.

Fast forward four years to 2014 when I discover my beloved movie has a sequel releasing. Best. News. Ever. Making my How To Train Your Dragon love complete was the arrival of a special package in the mail, one that contained a truly stunning book featuring the artwork that helped bring the second installment to life.

I majored in film in college and have always been fascinated by the behind-the-scenes aspect of moviemaking, so this book was a real treat for me and something I highly recommend to those interested in art, animation, costume design and the like. Between the covers is page after page of both sketches and finished artwork, the characters, settings and costumes broken down visually and then described by key members of the production staff to give us an in-depth look at everything the filmmakers take into consideration during the animation process. While the information provided by the director, production designer, art director and numerous others is an absolute treat, the true highlight of the book is the artwork itself, so I'm going to let it do most of my talking for me.

I took a few pictures of some of my favorite pages of the book so I could share them with all of you, and hopefully encourage those who have yet to experience these movies to give them a try! I have little doubt you'll love them as much as I do, and you might just want to pick up a copy of this book for display on your coffee table. Because...dragons. And Gerard Butler. You're welcome.

MEET THE HUMANS

Hiccup in sketch form:



Stoick (Hiccup's dad) in both sketch and painted form:


(One of my favorite things about this book is the fact that we get to see the artwork in various stages of completion - from early black and white sketches and storyboards to paintings in color to final animated form.)

The fashion of Astrid (Hiccup's love interest):


Drago (the villain):
 

MEET THE DRAGONS

Toothless in sketch form:

(Look at his face! Is he not the cutest dragon you've ever seen? I want him for myself.)


Assorted dragons:




LANDSCAPES





STORYBOARDS




Find The Art of How To Train Your Dragon 2: