Saturday, May 25, 2013

I loved LOVE LOVE, by Beth Michele

So, if you know me at all, you know I am a sucker for true love! The undying, dramatic, sappy, soul mate, against-all-odds and across-all-time, you-had-me-at-hello kinda love.

So, I was obviously excited when I found out about Beth Michele's new book, aptly titled, Love Love. I couldn't wait to get my hands on it and fall deeply into love again through her characters. And, I did just that. 

Let me start by saying that I had an Advance Review Copy, so there could've been a few edits made since my version. All that said, the heart remains the same: the love story that "brews" between Gabby and Brad.

I won't go into the entire plot here, you can read that on Amazon. And I won't recap my entire Goodreads review here either. What I want to convey is the feeling I got while reading this book (other than hot and bothered, because there were some really, really fun scenes!). This book may not be every one's cup of tea. It's a New Adult (NA) aged book. What does that mean? Roughly, it's *mostly* written for readers in their early 20s, who are just starting out, finding themselves, in their "discovering love" age, during their earning-your-life's-stripes period. Let's face it...that's just not where I am in life. I'm 39, I've been married almost 10 years, I had a wonderful corporate career and then shed my golden handcuffs to pursue my dream career (and found it), and I have two amazing rug-rats. So, no. I'm not exactly a "new adult."

BUT, I can still relate to those feelings I had when I was in my 20s. The idea of finding and falling in love with THE ONE. Your first kiss with someone really, really special. Those romantic first dates and sweep-you-off-your-feet gestures. That's what Love Love is about. 

I will warn readers that the book starts off a *little* sad (okay, really, really, sad). BUT, it's like a Band-Aid, once you rip it off, everything gets better. It starts to heal. Gabby, the main character, starts to heal. And in healing, she's able to meet Brad. Who, let's face it, is one in a million (other than my husband, 'cause he's kinda sweet and hot like Brad!). Brad is every girl's dream guy. I'll show you why in a minute. But Michele has an amazing knack for writing in nuggets of life's wisdom about love, relationships, and growth without sounding preachy to this NA audience. And that's a skill. 

The book took a little while to build up while setting the stage for the take off of Gabby and Brad's relationship. But once it did, it soared! Once I got to the part where they go on their first unofficial first date ('cause, you know, they're just "friends"), I could not put the book down. No, really. I was up until 4:30 am reading it. On a "school night." I know stories need to have tension and ups and downs, but really, Michele's strength lies here, in the romance and fluttery-love relationship department. This is where I feel like she truly hit her groove and connected in a BIG way with her audience. Who would NOT fall in love with a man with classic lines like these:
  • "I've been wondering something all night...have you ever been kissed by a superhero before?...because you've never been truly kissed until you've been kissed by a superhero." {Swoon! Adorable alert!}
  • "I've been waiting my whole life for your kiss." {Drops panties...oh, wait.}
  • "My God, you have no idea how much I want to be with you, or how long I've wanted you...But I want all of you. I want your body and your heart, and I won't accept anything less. I want the whole of you, Gabby." {Insert melting heart here.}
And...drum roll, favorite:

"I told you I’d give you space, but I never said I wouldn’t fill your space with flowers."

Sigh. Sigh. Oh, did I mention? Sigh. 

So, if you're looking for a fun, fast, light, seriously cute and romantic, easy-to-read, summertime romp - with plenty of steamy scenes - you'll fall in love with Love Love, too.

You can find out more about Beth Michele and connect with her at:

Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Happy reading, friends!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Click to Meet: Author L.M. Augustine

l am so excited to be interviewing new author, L.M. Augustine, just days before the big May 9 release of his debut novel, Click to Subscribe (CTS). You may remember my blog post review of CTS. It's an adorable Young Adult romance novel set around two best friends, West and Cat. One of the best things Augustine does is to give his main characters unique, fresh, authentic, and quirky personalities that leave the reader falling in love with watching them fall in love. So, without further ado, let's "click to learn" a little more about L.M. Augustine!

Welcome! I am so happy you could join me and my Albertinis today! As you know, I am a big fan of your new book, CTS. I think it's a refreshing novel for young adults today.

CMA: How did the inspiration for CTS form? What was the first story spark?

LMA: Click was actually inspired guessed it...a YouTube video. I was watching one of John Green's vlogs and he mentioned that two of his fans (one boy and one girl) met online and hit it off so much that they were organizing a real life meet up. At the time, I thought that was so cool. I mean, falling in love through YouTube videos? I didn't even realized that happened. 

Over time, the idea started to develop, and I kept thinking how plausible that could be. I wondered what those two people would have to be like to fall in love over the Internet, wondered what happened to them, wondered what will happen to them. I'm not sure how the rest came about, but the next thing I knew it was midnight and I was scribbling away the first chapter of what would eventually become Click To Subscribe.

CMA: Awww! That's so sweet. I wonder what ever became of those two? (Sorry, I'm a sucker for fated love!) One of the things I liked best about CTS was your use of such an authentic YA voice. I can completely hear your voice and mannerisms in the book. How easy or difficult was it to write a YA novel in that tone?

LMA: It was shockingly easy. I like to think of myself as very versed in how teens really are, especially the dorkier ones, so I already had a leg up there. Plus, I had such a clear image of Cat and West and how they acted around each other in my head that the voice just came. I didn't even have to think about it.

CMA: What's your favorite scene from CTS?

LMA: The graveyard scene. That's all I can say without spoilers. :-)

CMA: Let's move on to the important stuff...where in God's name did you get the term "muppetflails?" It's about the coolest expression I've ever heard!

LMA: It wasn't my invention! I've heard people use it before, did some research, and discovered that THIS is a muppetflail. That was the moment I knew I had to include it in the book.

Muppetflails rule!

CMA: In CTS, it's not all love story and ice cream cones. You address heavy, difficult topics such as loss of a parent, grief and anger, and alcoholism. Any experience that you drew on for authenticity? I like that you got the characters headed in the right direction with these topics, but didn't wrap everything up in a bow. Was that the intention from the start?
LMA: I actually have been lucking enough not to experience any major loss or notably difficult relationship. This lack of experience is usually an issue for me when writing, but the beautiful thing with Click was that the characters were so strong in my head I didn't even need experience. I could just kind of tell how they felt and how, for example, West and his dad would clash; still, portraying the grief and anger and struggles with the dad was certainly the most difficult part of the book. I'm not sure I really dealt with alcoholism, though; it was more about the relationship with West and his dad, not any of the side things. I definitely would not feel comfortable trying to portray alcoholism/commenting on it in any way. I don't know enough there to do so.
Yes, the open-endedness with West and his dad's relationship was planned from the beginning. I like it that way, too. It's kind of a metaphor, and it just didn't feel right to make something that West had been struggling with for over a year just magically fixed. It had to have an element of not being finished, but going in the right direction.
CMA: Speaking of ice cream, what's your favorite flavor?
LMA: Mint chip! Like a boss!

CMA: So, the book comes out May 9, and is self-published, right? Any advice that you want to pass on from your experience to newbie Indie authors?
LMA: Yes! And I'm definitely not one to give self-publishing advice, but I guess I'd say you shouldn't do it alone. Publishing is not an easy process; through traditional, you have an agent and editor alongside you all the way, but with self-publishing it's just you. The best thing you can do is to change that, because you can't succeed on your own. So, make friends. Connect with some of the awesome bloggers. Work together with incredible authors. Make it more than just YOU. Don't just publish your book and spam links and wait for something to happen; go out there and do something.

CMA: As we wrap up, please share the fun things you're doing to launch the book and get the word out.

LMA: Well, I have a blog tour going on the Monday after the release, and I'm also doing a release day party here, which will hopefully be fun. And of course, if you follow me online, there will be a lot of random GIFs and flailing. :-) That's pretty much it!

Thanks for having me!

CMA: Thanks for joining us! Good luck with the launch and much success to you in your amazing debut novel!

Note: Usually, I ask authors my favorite tacky, but award-winning question: boxers or briefs? But due to the age of Augustine's audience, I refrained!

"Click to Connect" with L.M. Augustine:
* Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads * Blog * 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Chasing Ghosts

Let me start by asking for forgiveness for what's sure to be a lengthy and pondering blog post. For those of you who know me, I am on a spiritual journey and am starting to be drawn (or led to) some very interesting subjects. Not coincidentally, my son has inherited my family's fascination of ghosts.

I blogged about superstitions and ghosts back in December, when I mentioned my hometown of Oswego, NY. This past week, I had an opportunity to go home when my ninety-year-old grandmother was hospitalized. It was a sad reason to have to go home, but had a good ending since she's back in her nursing home now and alive, thanks to my uncle's fast response.

But by going home, I had some ghosts I had to face that I wasn't sure I was ready for. My other gramma, Great Gramma Dot (I've blogged about her before), passed away three years ago. The last time I went home, it was to bury her, help my mother settle her estate, and put our family home on the market. As you can imagine, it was a brutally painful time. We were further traumatized when, just a week after gramma's passing, my uncle, Bobby, committed suicide in the Oswego River. You cannot imagine the ghosts and demons that haunt me every time I see that river now.  

So going home was a bag of mixed emotions for me. Adding to this, I brought my children with me and they don't understand why it's so hard to see some parts of the river, or Lake Ontario, where Bobby's body washed up a month later. They don't understand the pain I felt kneeling at gramma's graveside, my heart ripped in two because it wasn't being kept up as I had hoped it would be through a network of cemetery groundskeepers, the church, and friends. But my children and I planted flowers and tidied it up the best we could. And it brought me unexpected joy to share this with them and to teach them to care for and respect the people we've loved and lost. I felt like the whole time I was there, my gramma was protecting me, walking with me, and comforting me. Oddly enough, I felt no pain when I saw her old home. Though it has so many visceral memories for me, I realize now it's just a house. She's not there anymore. She's watching over me.

On our excruciatingly long drive up to NY, my son brought up the subject of ghosts. Hmmmm. Foreshadowing? Intuition? He bust out this old book handed down to him by his father called, Mysteries of the Unknown. (It's a great Usborne book that's out of print.) He very seriously opened it to the ghost section and proceeded to "research" ghosts and explain why he thought they were real based on these "facts." He asked me my opinion as well. My answer? Yes, I believe ghosts are real. Then he asked if I'd ever seen one. No, but I'm open to it (if it was a really friendly ghost, of course). But, let's be real. I'm a great writer of scary things, but inside, I'm just a great big sissy-pants.

What you may not know is that I also practice Intuitive Reiki, under the direction of Reiki Master, Deb Benton, one of the most amazing people I know. The only reason I mention this is because I have always been intuition driven. I trust my instincts. I can hear and feel things sometimes that others cannot. I know for a fact that even though I have never seen a ghost, I have felt their presence. I used to feel them a lot when I stayed at my gramma's house. She lives next door to a cemetery where I grew up playing. (Yes, this freaky, little girl played in a cemetery for fun!) I felt the presence of a harmless, female ghost in her house, but I never saw her. I also had a very odd experience while out running one night. I never blogged about it here, but maybe one day I will. Let's just say I was trailed by a dead runner, who I thought was carrying negative energy with him, but later, I believed he was protecting me by pushing me home instead of on the longer run I was originally planning. He was scared for me, and in turn, scared me enough to make me head in a different direction than I had planned. I don't question that I did the right thing or that I was protected that night by my guardians.

I also swear we had a ghost cat at our old house because I was constantly seeing a cat run by in our bedroom, when our other cats were all locked up downstairs for the night.

So, back to NY. I told my son about Fort Ontario and how it's haunted. The T.V. show Ghost Hunters filmed a reading there and agreed it was (picture courtesy of Ghost Hunters and the Syfy channel). Anyone living in Oswego can tell you that. Like my uncles who lived on the Fort when there was still housing standing that had been converted into apartments from old barracks and officer buildings. The ghosts at the Fort are from the soldiers who fought there, and holocaust survivors who fled there. It has an amazing history if you ever want to read about it.   

There is also a cemetery at the Fort. When we were kids, we used to go there and along the way, someone taught me to jump over George Fikes grave for good luck, and kind of as a dare. We all did it. He was known as the headless horseman and even my grandfather saw his ghost while out fishing one day. So, of course, armed with my six year old son's ghost hunting gear (binoculars, camera, flash light, messenger bag) we set out to hunt for George's ghost.

When we got to the cemetery, I kid you not, my daughter grabbed my hand and pulled me across the lot to the incline that takes you to the spot where my grandfather saw the ghost while fishing! It started raining while we were there, so we headed back up to the cemetery. In the most respectful way possible, we called on the ghost of George Fikes to no avail. But while we were there, my son, my daughter, our family babysitter, and I all jumped over the soldier's grave. You know, for good luck. (And for the cool factor to a six year old!)

Another strange thing happened while we were there. There is a small gravestone marked for a baby. Behind it is a monument erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution. My daughter, Gbug, ran straight up to it, pointed at one of the letters over and over again, and kept saying baby! So, we walked around some more, then I led her back to the baby's grave to see if she'd say it there. She didn't. So I said, "Gillybug, where's the baby?" She walked straight back to the monument and touched the same letters in the word "Revolution." It was cool and kind of creepy! But "they" say the ability to see ghosts is carried through families, and my family certainly seems full of people who have seen them. 

Cut to our trip home. We stopped by my cousin's house, who will remain nameless for privacy sake. She and her brother had both seen ghosts in their home in Harper's Ferry while growing up. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, it too is a historical battle ground and there's said to be many ghosts still present. Often this is the case where mass casualties have occurred. So, when they were growing up, both cousins would run into my uncle and aunt's room insisting that "the man" was in their room again. One saw him with no arms or legs, as if they'd been blown off. The other saw him in the upper reaches of his closet (yeah, cause this won't scare the crap out of a kid!).

The strange thing is, my cousins went back years later and the house had been converted to a real estate office. They asked if they could peek around and told the owner they used to live there. The new owner said something along the lines of, "Oh, so you must know there's a ghost here then." My cousin about fell out. It's one thing to believe it in your heart. It's another to hear it verified. The woman even told my cousin which room the ghost was mostly in. It was her childhood bedroom. My cousin had named the man Mr. Brady because he looked like the father on the Brady Bunch.

So, of course, while we were there, we had to go drive by the house and visit Harper's Ferry. I mean, it's a ghost lover's destination. And our trip had already turned into confronting ghosts and hunting ghosts. So, off we went! When we got there, the house had changed hands again and now belongs to an Acupuncturist. We were looking around the outside at my cousin's bedroom window, when the owner came out to talk to us. We told her why we were there, and that my son is fascinated by ghosts. Then she says, without prompting, that they have a ghost. One of her patients, a young boy, can see him. A him. He told the owner it looks like he's wearing a curly wig (um, like Mr. Brady?). It was so cool, and so vindicating for my cousin. Then, the owner lets us go in and look around!
My son was in heaven! I was kind of nervous he'd say, "Mom, I see him!" But he didn't. I was so proud of him though. Here I was, about to poo my pants I was so scared, and he fearlessly marches into rooms and throws open doors! He even went into the attic, which used to be slave quarters. The only "odd" thing that happened while we were there, is my daughter did open my other cousin's closet door a couple of times and looked down at the same spot. She didn't act scared. She didn't say she saw anything. But she did it two or three times. The only room that had a heavier feel to it, to me, was the attic. I didn't see anything, and maybe it was just the general spook factor, but the air seemed heavier, full of more pain.
So, did we see any ghosts? I don't think so, and Gbug can't tell us for sure. Were we brave? Yes. Either that, or stupid. Was it fun? Yeah, it really was. And it gave us a trip full of fun and funny memories that we will never forget. My son got to go on his first real ghost hunt. Somehow, I think it's just the beginning.