Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

I Kill Me: Tales of a Jilted Hypochondriac by Tracy H. Tucker (Author Interview / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Tracy H. Tucker, author of I Kill Me: Tales of a Jilted Hypochondriac!

Author Interview

Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews, Tracy!

How long have you been a writer?

Since around the age of ten, when I wrote my first "real" story called The Talking Cat. I loved making someone laugh with my words, even if that someone was me. :)

Do you have a day job, or is being an author your career?

I've been a teacher for seventeen years, currently teaching grade 5-7 Reading/Language Arts. It's been a wonderful career, but I am hoping to write full-time in the not-too-distant future, if my audience deems it so. :)

What inspired you to become a writer? Describe your journey as a writer. 

Like many writers, I was first a reader. And an avid one. I'd carry stacks of books with me wherever I'd go. I wrote a story (loosely based on My Friend Flicka - sshhh) which my mother typed up and my father, a Dean at the University of Maine, "published" on the College of Education bulletin board. One of the art professors even illustrated it! I still have the prints. This was my first "taste" of fame, but honestly, the private side of writing was just as rewarding. I used to love curling up on my yellow beanbag chair in my bedroom with my spiral notebook, filling it up with stories of angst and horses. I remember one of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Kleine, staying in at recess and helping me edit my stories. She even submitted them to children's magazines. I wrote through high school for Inside, our school newspaper, and Enclave, our literary magazine, and had my first of three poems accepted by Seventeen magazine (15 bucks a poem - I was thrilled). I continued to write through college and wrote my first book, a middle grade novel entitled Joe Nobody, soon after I graduated. Motherhood of three daughters took up just a bit of my time, so my writing was mainly put on hold until my children were older and I went through a divorce. My marriage may have been over, but my writing career wasn't! 

Please give a brief description / storyline about I Kill Me.

Christine Bacon has a fatal attraction. To all things fatal. A veteran hypochondriac, her near-death experiences are exacerbated when her husband proposes they have a menage a trois with Eleanor, his busty British massage therapist, to "shake things up." Christine reluctantly agrees (although she is more wholesome than threesome), never expecting just how much she'd be rattled. As her marriage to Richard, a/k/a "Dick," falls apart, so, too, does Christine, whose fear of her own demise causes her to research every freckle, blemish, cough, bump, lump, tingle and hiccup. She isn't a doctor, but she plays one on the internet. There is solace for Christine: in raising daughters Lily and Carli, leaning on her friends, and wearing out the shower massager. In order to heal, she struggles to become her own person and to view her symptoms (and ex-husband) as less malignant, while searching for that special someone who will love her--despite her grave condition. 

What was the inspiration for this story? 

I went through a very difficult, very unexpected divorce ten years ago. I found it cathartic to create a character who went through a similar experience. As the author of the book, I was able to control what happened, and this was comforting since my world had been so drastically shaken. I thought I'd add some humor with the hypochondria and make each chapter of the book have a double meaning...what the character was experiencing health-wise, but also what she was going through emotionally. For example, in "Heart Failure," Christine worries about having a cardiac condition but is also devastated by the realization her marriage has ended. I wanted the book to be a blend of heartache, angst, humor and personal growth, because I experienced all of those in my divorce, and I figured it could comfort other women enduring the break up of a long-term relationship. I've heard from several who said the book really resonated with them, and it makes me feel very good to have helped in some small way. 

How did it feel to have your first book published?

Wonderful and scary and surreal and exhilarating. I loved it. 

Do you write books for a specific genre?

I've written mainly contemporary fiction, but I am intrigued with the idea of writing a young adult or dystopian. Stashed away for possible future publication: a dark suspense novel, a middle grade novel and the text for a picture book.

What genres are your favorites? What are some of your favorite books that you have read and why? 

I like to read contemporary women's fiction, young adult, dystopian and some fantasy. As a teacher, I have read a lot of middle grade and YA. My favorites are Charlotte's Web because of E. B. White's glorious writing style, gentle humor and use of specifics ... Tuck Everlasting for its gorgeous imagery, figurative language and theme ... The Chronicles of Narnia because I felt like I was stepping into that wardrobe, pushing back the coats to enter the magical land ... The Hunger Games for going boldly where no one had gone before and its plot ... I really enjoyed The Sea of Tranquility because of the characterization and voice, and the memoir Chosen By A Horse because of my love for horses and how poignant and heartwarming the story was. Truthfully, it's really hard to pick favorites because I have so many! 

Do you have a special spot/area where you like to do your writing?

I really find I can write most anywhere, but I recently have written a lot at my new writing desk in my den. I can look out over our field, which right now is covered in snow. I will often start the gas fireplace and am usually accompanied by a glass of water with lemon and ice, a burning candle, and sometimes a writing buddy, my white cat Moby. 

How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books?

I honestly don't know! They just come to me. Sometimes I operate like I tell my students: using the formula of thinking of a character and then give the character an issue or problem. Sometimes I'm in a situation, like in the beginning of my teaching career when I was thinking of how the "average" students in school--the quiet ones who are smart but don't participate much in class and who don't cause trouble--these are the ones who often get overlooked. I thought of how that must feel to a student, and I came up with the character of Joe Noble in the first novel I wrote, and how he's sick of being a "nobody." 

When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes?

I try to make myself write 600 words a day, which doesn't sound like much, but when you're teaching full-time and have a small farm, it's a lot! I will try to sneak in writing whenever I can, but most of it is done after I get the horses in and the pets (and ourselves) fed. One of my favorite times to write is on Saturday morning. 

What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most?

I love creating the story and will often think of the ending (sometimes even the last line) as I am just starting the book. I love when the characters take over for me and tell their own stories. That's when I know I'm really "into" the book, when I can see and hear them almost as real people. The hardest part of writing for me is just finding the time, and when I get stuck in a certain place, moving through it. I try to stop writing for the day on a good part - a part I want to get back to. Usually this involves sex :). 

What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing?

Spending time with my children, both human and furry. I've loved having my daughters home on college break because the empty nest stage has been hard for me. I've always been passionate about animals, ever since I was very young. I love walking my dogs or snowshoeing with them in the winter, riding and grooming my horses, cleaning stalls, preparing their hay, grain and water...I love the whole farm lifestyle. It's purposeful work, and very grounding. I also enjoy reading on my Kindle before I go to bed, and going to Sunday breakfast with my husband at our favorite local restaurant. I also really love just being at my home and working in and around the house. 

What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received?

Ralph Fletcher, author of What a Writer Needs, wrote that "the writing becomes beautiful when it becomes specific." I always keep that in mind and also emphasize that with my students. 

What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer?

When I write a line that I believe to be unique, and especially when I hear from readers that they loved the book or that it moved them in some way...that means the world to me.

How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans? 

I use my Facebook author page, and I will often comment on Goodreads and thank people for taking the time to read and review my book. I love hearing from them. I pretty much suck at Twitter. :)

Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination?

Like any writer, I do lots of looking and listening to the world around me and will often picture a real-life person or event when I'm writing. Many characters and situations, however, are purely fiction. 

What authors have been your inspiration or influenced you to become a writer?

Christopher Smith and his amazing success as a thriller writer has inspired me. He's given me great advice and support. Jessica Park, another indie writer, has also been an inspiration and wonderfully kind. Years ago, I sent a piece I'd written called Thoughts of a New Mother to Elizabeth Berg, and she sent me back a handwritten postcard that said there were so many nice things in my writing and to keep it up. I did. :)

What is your definition of success as a writer?

Selling lots of books is part of it, of course. But to be able to move people in some way so that they take the time to tell you and others, and to be very proud of one's writing and confident enough to share it...that, to me, is success. 

Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us?

I'm about 30,000 words into my next book. It has some humor like I Kill Me, but it has more sex and more drama, with a major twist planned for the end. The main character is a 36 year old veterinarian who was widowed two years ago and is raising her teen daughter. She's rather addicted to sex but prefers to keep emotions out of it...until a new man enters her life. Oh, and she keeps seeing the image of her dead husband as she orgasms. I'm hoping for an early spring release.

Thank you Tracy for visiting Jersey Girl Book Reviews and sharing a bit about yourself and your writing career with us. 

About The Author

Tracy H. Tucker is first and foremost the mother of three of the best people on Earth. She has a Master's in Literacy from the University of Maine and has inspired the youth of America for seventeen years. She's an avid animal lover and would like to publicly thank her husband for putting up with the pet hair, the dogs in the bed, the things the cats hack up and the repeated requests for goats. It's a wonderful life.

Tracy H. Tucker ~ I Kill Me ~ Virtual Book Tour Page ~ Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours

Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

Win A $20 Amazon Gift Card

Contest Dates: Jan 14 - Feb 4, 2013

Everyone who leaves a comment on Tracy H. Tucker's I Kill Me Virtual Book Tour Page On Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of I Kill Me before February 4th and sends their receipt to, will get five bonus entries.

Giving back! Tracy will be donating 25% of her US royalties to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition during the month of January!

Book Review

I Kill Me: Tales of a Jilted Hypochondriac by Tracy H. Tucker
Publisher: Black Dog Publishing
Publication Date: July 26, 2012
Format: Paperback - 213 pages / Kindle - 381 KB / Nook - 639 KB
ISBN: 1478236744
Genre: Chick Lit / Contemporary Romance / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: I Kill Me: Tales of a Jilted Hypochondriac

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description: 

I Kill Me was a semifinalist (top 20!) in the Humor Category for the Goodreads Choice Awards!

Christine Bacon has a fatal attraction. To all things fatal. A veteran hypochondriac, her near-death experiences are exacerbated when her husband proposes they have a menage a trois with Eleanor, his busty British massage therapist, to "shake things up." Christine reluctantly agrees (although she is more wholesome than threesome), never expecting just how much she'd be rattled. As her marriage to Richard, a/k/a "Dick," falls apart, so, too, does Christine, whose fear of her own demise causes her to research every freckle, blemish, cough, bump, lump, tingle and hiccup. She isn't a doctor, but she plays one on the internet.

There is solace for Christine: in raising daughters Lily and Carli, leaning on her friends, and wearing out the shower massager. In order to heal, she struggles to become her own person and to view her symptoms (and ex-husband) as less malignant, while searching for that special someone who will love her--despite her grave condition.

I Kill Me was selected as the Best Indie Book for 2012 by Chick Lit Cafe!

Book Excerpt:

Chapter One: Breathless

I could think of two big reasons why this threesome wasn’t going to work: her boobs. When my husband of nineteen years told me he wanted to “spice things up,” I was envisioning sex toys…spanking…chocolate-covered penis. The kinkiest thing we had done thus far was Richard tying me to the bedposts. We’d had a code for him to untie me if I started to freak out. The code was me saying, untie-me-right-now. So when he first proposed the idea of a playmate, I was shocked. I mean, who did that, anyway? Certainly, not us. He was an insurance salesman whose specialty was planning for a secure future. I was a high school English teacher. We lived in the wholesome Green Mountain State. And we were parents—which was something Eleanor Wilkinson definitely was not, as was evident by her breasts.

They were truthfully too big to be called “perky.” Thing One and Thing Two were up and out. My breasts, on the other hand, were not only small (32 B minus) but had turned into saggy, limp skin sacs with droopy areolae and indifferent nipples from two years of nursing babies. So it was very much unappreciated that my husband wanted to invite someone with a cup size further along in the alphabet than mine to join us under the covers.

It had all started with a trigger point. Richard had been complaining of his upper back muscles being tight, and since I knew he’d been under a lot of stress at work, I got him a gift certificate to a local spa. Eleanor, a transplant from England with what Richard called a “killer accent,” was his massage therapist. After about four sessions of seeing her, Richard mentioned that someone at the office had engaged in a threesome, and then said what did I think of that. I said a twosome was more than enough for me, and the conversation had ended. The morning after his sixth massage, he told me over breakfast (while the girls were upstairs getting ready for school) that he thought he might like to try a threesome, and what did I think of that. I had stirred my coffee a bit too vigorously so that some of it slopped over the sides of the mug and onto the table. I had not known what to answer, and thought it wise that I refrained from my initial response of what the FUUCKK?! After a few moments, I whispered (so the kids wouldn’t hear), why didn’t we just watch some good porn instead?

That’s not what I’m talking about, he snorted. I feel like we need to really shake things up here. Make it exciting again.

Aren’t I enough for you? I asked. I didn’t understand this; we’d had sex three times last week, and I’d gone down on him every time. Even when he hadn’t showered immediately before.

I need a change, he had answered. Sorry, but I’m just being honest.

That was when I got scared. And I said, okay.

My Book Review:

I Kill Me is a laugh-out-loud comedic story that follows Christine Bacon's journey as she navigates her way through a messy divorce and tries to pick up the pieces of her life while suffering extreme bouts of hypochondria. In her debut novel, author Tracy H. Tucker weaves a humorous and lighthearted tale written in the first person narrative told by Christine, who keeps the reader in stitches as she battles through crazy antics and drama that life has thrown her way.

At some point in everyone's life there are intense stress and struggles that you have to deal with, so it is easy for the reader to relate to the struggles that befell Christine. I couldn't help but feel for this neurotic woman, at times I wanted to hug her, and at other times I wanted to shake her and tell her to pull up her big girl panties, deal with the issues and move on! I think the author did a wonderful job of adding a touch of humor to an otherwise serious condition that afflicts some people, it lightened up the story and provided a nice balance.

Christine's journey to start her life over has its challenges: the stress of divorce from a wacker of an ex-husband, teenage daughter drama, a crazy controlling mother, and the introduction of a new love interest. As Christine goes through the ups and downs, the reader is drawn into her world. I couldn't help but commiserate with Christine as her hypochondria spiraled out of control, but there were also some pretty hilarious scenes that kept me snickering as I cheered Christine on when she finally got a hold of herself and moved on.

I Kill Me is an uplifting and lighthearted story of one woman's journey to find herself through chaos and heartbreak as she learns to start her life over.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cover Of Snow by Jenny Milchman (Book Review)

In association with JKSCommunications, Jersey Girl Book reviews welcomes Jenny Milchman, author of Cover Of Snow!

About The Author

Jenny Milchman is a suspense writer from New Jersey. Her debut novel, Cover Of Snow, published by Ballantine and released on January 15, 2013. Her short story The Close was published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in November 2012. Another short story, The Very Old Man, has been an Amazon bestseller, and the short work Black Sun on Tupper Lake appears in the anthology Adirondack Mysteries II.

Jenny is the Chair of the International Thriller Writers’ Debut Authors Program. She is also the founder of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, which was celebrated last year in all 50 states and four foreign countries by 350-and-growing bookstores.

Jenny hosts the Made It Moments forum on her blog, which has featured more than 250 international bestsellers, Edgar winners and independent authors. She co-hosts the literary series Writing Matters, which attracts guests coast-to-coast and has received national media attention, and loves to teach and speak about writing and publishing for New York Writers Workshop, Arts By The People, and WomenWhoWrite.

Jenny Milchman ~ Cover of Snow ~ Virtual Book Tour Page ~ JKSCommunications

Book Review

Cover Of Snow by Jenny Milchman
Publisher: Ballantine Books / Random House
Publication Date: January 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover - 336 pages / Kindle - 1307 KB / Nook - 3 MB
ISBN: 0345534212
ASIN: B00957T4ZG
Genre: Mystery / Suspense / Thriller

BUY THE BOOK: Cover Of Snow

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via NetGalley in exchange for honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by JKSCommunications.

Book Description:

Waking up one wintry morning in her old farmhouse nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, Nora Hamilton instantly knows that something is wrong. When her fog of sleep clears, she finds her world is suddenly, irretrievably shattered: Her husband, Brendan, has committed suicide.

The first few hours following Nora’s devastating discovery pass for her in a blur of numbness and disbelief. Then, a disturbing awareness slowly settles in: Brendan left no note and gave no indication that he was contemplating taking his own life. Why would a rock-solid police officer with unwavering affection for his wife, job, and quaint hometown suddenly choose to end it all? Having spent a lifetime avoiding hard truths, Nora must now start facing them.

Unraveling her late husband’s final days, Nora searches for answers—but meets with bewildering resistance from Brendan’s best friend and partner, his fellow police officers, and his brittle mother. It quickly becomes clear to Nora that she is asking questions no one wants to answer. For beneath the soft cover of snow lies a powerful conspiracy that will stop at nothing to keep its presence unknown . . . and its darkest secrets hidden.

Book Excerpt:

                                                 Chapter One

My husband wasn’t in bed with me when I woke up that January morning. The mid-­winter sky was bruised purple and yellow outside the window. I shut bleary eyes against light that glared and pounded.

A second later I realized my toes weren’t burrowing into the hollows behind Brendan’s knees, that when I flung out my arm it didn’t meet his wiry chest, the stony muscles gone slack with sleep. I slid my hand toward the night table, fingers scrabbling around for our alarm clock.


It was late. As if drugged, my brain was making sense of things only after a dull delay. But it was a full hour past the time I always woke up. We always woke up. Brendan slept a cop’s sleep, perpetually ready to take action, and I had been an early riser all my thirty-­five years.

Bits of things began to take shape in my mind.

The morning light, which entered so stridently through the window.

Brendan not in bed with me. He must’ve gotten up already. I hadn’t even felt him move.

But Brendan had been working late all week; I hadn’t yet found out why. My husband had good reason to sleep in. And if he had risen on time, why didn’t he wake me?

I felt a squeezing in my belly. Brendan knew I had an eight o’clock meeting with a new client this morning, the owner of a lovely but ramshackle old saltbox in need of repair. My husband took my burgeoning business as seriously as I did. He would never let me miss a meeting.

On the other hand, Brendan would know that if I slept late, then I must be worn out. Maybe getting Phoenix off the ground had taken more out of me than I realized. Brendan probably figured he’d give me a few extra minutes, and the morning just got away from him.

He must be somewhere in his normal routine now, toweling off, or fixing coffee.

Except I didn’t hear the shower dripping. Or smell the telltale, welcome scent of my morning fix.

I pushed myself out of bed with hands that felt stiff and clumsy, as if I were wearing mittens. What was wrong with me? I caught a glimpse of my face in the mirror and noticed puddles of lavender under my eyes. It was like I hadn’t slept a wink, instead of an extra hour.

“Brendan? Honey? You up?”

My words shattered the air, and I realized how very still our old farmhouse was this morning.

Padding toward the bathroom, one explanation for the weight in my muscles, not to mention my stuporous sleep, occurred to me.

Brendan and I had made love last night.

It had been one of the good times; me lying back afterward, hollow, cored out, the way I got when Brendan was able to focus completely on me, on us, instead of moving so fiercely that he seemed to be riding off to some distant place in the past. We’d even lain awake for a while in the waning moments before sleep, fingers intertwined, Brendan studying me in a way that I felt more than saw in the dark.

“Honey? Last night tired me out, I guess. Not that it wasn’t worth it.”

I felt a smile tease the corners of my mouth, and pushed open the bathroom door, expecting a billow of steam. When only brittle air emerged, I felt that grabbing in my gut again. Cold tile bit my bare feet.


My husband never started the day without a shower; he claimed that a night’s sleep made him ache. But there was no residue of moisture filming the mirror, nor fragrance of soap in the air. I grabbed a towel, wrapped it around my shoulders for warmth, and trotted toward the stairs, calling out his name.

No answer.

Could he have gone to the station early? Left me sleeping while my new client waited at his dilapidated house?

“Honey! Are you home?” My voice sounded uncertain.

No answer. And then I heard the chug of our coffeepot.

Relief flowed through me, thick and creamy as soup. Until that moment, I hadn’t let myself acknowledge that I was scared. I wasn’t an overreactor by nature usually.

I headed downstairs, feet more sure now, but with that wobbly, airless feeling in the knees that comes as fear departs.

The kitchen was empty when I entered, the coffee a dark, widening stain in the pot. It continued to sputter and spit while I stood there.

There was no mug out, waiting for its cold jolt of milk. No light was turned on against the weak morning sunshine. Nobody had been in the icy kitchen yet today. This machine had been programmed last night, one of the chores accomplished as Brendan and I passed back and forth in the tight space, stepping around each other to clean up after dinner.

That thing in my belly took hold, and this time it didn’t let go. I didn’t call out again.

The sedated feeling was disappearing now, cobwebs tearing apart, and my thinking suddenly cleared. I brushed past the deep farm sink, a tall, painted cabinet.

With icy hands, I opened the door to the back stairs, whose walls I was presently laboring over to make perfect for Brendan. Maybe, just maybe, he’d skipped his shower and called in late to work in order to spend time in his hideaway upstairs.

The servants’ stairs were steep and narrow, with a sudden turn and wells worn deep in each step. I climbed the first two slowly, bypassing a few tools and a can of stripper, then twisted my body around the corner. I took in the faded wallpaper I’d only just reached after months of careful scraping.

Perhaps I didn’t have enough momentum, but I slipped, solidly whacking both knees as I went down. Crouching there, gritting my teeth against the smarting pain, I looked up toward the top of the flight.

Brendan was above me, suspended from a thick hank of rope.

The rope was knotted around a stained glass globe, which hung in the cracked ceiling plaster.

Brendan’s neck tilted slightly, the angle odd. His handsome face looked like it was bathed entirely in red wine.

Suddenly a small cyclone of powder spilled down, and I heard a splitting sound. There was a rip, a tear, the noise of two worlds cracking apart, and then a deafening series of thuds.

The light fixture completed its plummet, and broke with a tinkling sprinkle of glass. A tangle of ice-­cold limbs and body parts slugged me, heavy as lead blankets.

And I screamed, and screamed, and screamed, until the warble my voice had been before became no more than a gasping strain for air.

My Book Review:

Cover Of Snow is a gripping story of one woman's journey to uncover the truth of her husband's suicide. When Nora Hamilton wakes up one morning to find her police officer husband Brendan has hung himself in the attic of their farmhouse, she questions how and why he would commit suicide. Nora's quest to find out why Brendan killed himself leads her to uncover deep dark long buried secrets of a small town in the Adirondack Mountains, and the people who will go to any lengths to keep the past buried. Considered an outsider by the townspeople of Wedeskyull, NY, Nora doesn't know who she can trust, and her determination to continue her quest to uncover the truth will put herself and others in grave danger. Will Nora uncover the truth of her husband's death, or will she too be silenced?

In her debut novel, author Jenny Milchman weaves a riveting thriller full of tension, suspense and enough twist and turns that keeps the reader sitting on the edge of their seat. Written in the first person narrative, the story is told by the main character Nora Hamilton, with third person narratives from other character perspectives interspersed throughout the book. The reader is transported to the cold snowy little Adirondack Mountains town of Wedeskyull, NY, where dark secrets are buried deep and townspeople protect their own. Nora takes the reader on a dangerous journey to uncover the truth of why her husband committed suicide, only to open up a pandora's box that could prove to be even more deadly.

The story opens with the shocking suicide and rapidly engages the reader to follow along with Nora as she uncovers the mystery that surrounds the death of her husband and the long buried secrets of his hometown. With a smattering of clues that are revealed in each chapter, and a slue of mysterious characters with motives, secrets and dark pasts, the story easily holds the reader's attention and keeps them guessing until the surprising conclusion. The author's attention to detail and vivid description of the riveting storyline and the cold snowy NY mountain setting that comes alive and leaps off the pages in a bone-chilling way that makes Cover Of Snow a gripping mystery suspense thriller that is one heck of an entertaining read.


The Exception To The Rule by Beth Rinyu (Virtual Book Promo Blitz)

In association with Reading Addiction Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host author Beth Rinyu's The Exception To The Rule Virtual Book Promo Blitz!

The Exception To The Rule

The Exception to the Rule
ISBN 0615739229 (ISBN13: 9780615739229)
Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Independent / Self-Publishing
Published Date: 12/19/2012
Format: Paperback - 298 pages / Kindle - 816 KB

When Katrina “Kat” Vallia, an idealistic if somewhat naive 20-something American pediatrician travels halfway across the globe to volunteer in a poor African village, she looks at it as a means of closure. Following a bitter breakup with her unfaithful boyfriend, she decides to throw herself into her work without any distractions from a man. That’s until she encounters Dr. Julian Kiron, a handsome, career driven pediatric oncologist. Even though she tries to fight it, Kat finds herself falling deeply for him; until she painfully realizes that they both want totally different things from life. Not willing to compromise for the other, they sadly say goodbye, cutting all ties. Five years later, Kat’s happy world is turned upside down when she is given devastating news. She must now confront her past and the secret she’s harbored for years. But will saving the one she loves most also rekindle the love she let slip away?


We talked for some time and I could tell he was getting tired, his skin looked paler than usual and the light color of his eyes just enhanced the dark circles that were beginning to form underneath.
“Are you tired?” I asked.
“A little,” he finally admitted.
“But I thought you didn’t get tired,” I teased as I got up to grab the blanket from the other couch, turning off the overhead light. I looked out the window to see a light snow falling. I sat back down on the couch covering us both with the blanket as we watched TV with just the glow of the fireplace and Christmas tree lights. He had his arms wrapped tightly around me as I rested my head on his chest. 
“Thank you,” I whispered.
“For what?” he asked.
“For being here.”
 I smiled when he pulled me closer and gently kissed my head. It didn’t take long before I heard his breathing begin to change and as I looked up I saw he was sound asleep. I put my head back down on his chest, kissing it softly. Just knowing he was here beside me, listening to his heartbeat and feeling him breathe, put my mind at such ease that it wasn’t long before I was fast asleep too.

About The Author

Beth Rinyu

Author Bio:

Ever since I can remember, I have always enjoyed Creative Writing. There was always something about being able to travel to a different place or become a different person with just the stroke of a pen - or in today's world a touch of the keyboard. I have been writing poetry for years and finally got the inspiration to write my very first novel about a year and a half ago. Once I started the idea's kept flowing, my fingers kept typing - and here it is! It's a beautiful love story that focuses on so many different relationships: the love of a man and a woman, a parent and a child, friendships and those that are not bound to us by blood but by love. So, I'm hoping all of you get as much enjoyment reading this as I did writing it! Oh and here's a little bit about bit me - my life is not as interesting as the story or the characters in it, but then again whose life is? I was born and have lived in New Jersey my whole life. I'm a mom of twin teenage boys, a teenage step-son, a crazy Border Collie and a cat with an identity crisis! I guess you can say writing is my form of Calgon! I am married to a wonderful guy - but we'll keep that between us, I don't want him getting a big head! Thanks for taking the time to learn about my book and me! If you decide to read it (and I hope you do!) please be sure to go on and review it for me - yes, even if you don't like it!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Baby! Baby? Baby!? by Holly Kerr (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Holly Kerr, author of Baby! Baby? Baby!?: A Young Woman's View of Impending Motherhood!

Author Guest Post

Thanks for hosting me on my blog tour, Jersey Girl and for the chance to guest post for you!

For me, creating characters is one of the most enjoyable parts of writing. Some artists work magic with paint and a brush, creating visual images so compelling they live on in your memory forever. I'm no artist, but I like to think I can create characters who hold your attention and force you to care about them for the length of the book. The trick is, however, to create characters so intriguing they live on in your thoughts long after you've finished reading.

I often become attached to the characters in the books I'm reading but in recent times, two who particularly stuck out in my mind were Katniss and Peeta from the Hunger Games. I loved the story but Suzanne Collins drew the lovestruck Peeta and the warrior-child Katniss so vividly that I remember waking up in the middle of the night worrying about what would happen to the pair.

Jilly Cooper has perfected the art of crafting an iconic character you can't help but fall in love with. One of the author's Facebook postings offered a Christmas present for her readers - a signed message from the hero of her many books, Rupert Campbell-Black. Like the rest of her fans, I had become smitten with the scandalous Lothario in Cooper's book Riders and eagerly followed his escapades on his road to redemption through later books, so for a moment I was tempted to go for the signed message. But then I reminded myself that he's NOT REAL so how could he sign something! Edward Cullen and Christian Grey are other well-known characters who are able to provoke such fanaticism that their real-life counterparts should seriously consider unlisted telephone numbers!

I don't think my characters have quite reached the level of Katniss, Peeta and Rupert, but I keep trying. I try to complete extensive character studies for each of my major characters. The characters need to be real to me, so that I can capture their voice. I need to know what the relationship with their parents was like, when they lost their virginity and what their favourite thing to do on their birthday. I need to know what’s in their heads and in their hearts and even if all the back story and secrets don’t come out in the book, at least I know them. For me, that’s the only way to create a three dimensional character.

I love all my characters but they're my babies so I might be biased. But I was pleasantly surprised when I was invited to speak at a book club meeting, to find so many readers express such a strong reaction to one of my characters, Brit. Brit is a minor character, a long-time friend of my heroine Casey, and even with their shared history, she doesn't come across as a very nice person. I never meant her to be hated, though!

Brit was based in part on an acquaintance of mine, but I used broad brush strokes to create a completely over the top character who came through loud and clear as the bitch of the book. And it was so much fun to write her! I understood Brit; I got her and her antics and dialogue flowed so well it was all I could do to keep up her before she continued her scathing remarks about someone else.

It's every writer's dream to write a book that provokes a positive reaction from the reader. Whether it makes you laugh or cry; keeps you reading all hours of the day or reread the book so much the cover falls off, they want you to care and remember it. I'm no exception. But I'm hoping I'll someday come up with a character so well-loved and cherished fans will leap at the chance to win a signed napkin from them!

Who's a favorite character for you?

Thanks for the opportunity and Happy Reading!


About The Author

I live in Toronto with my husband, 3 amazing kids, and cat Sebastian, who has a supporting role in every book I write. Since Baby! Baby? Baby!? has been published, I’ve focused on writing more and have started two blogs; one about my views on books, writing and other stuff, and one on my observations of Bethany, a small town in Ontario. I’ve been busy working on a new chick lit novel and hope to see it published by the spring. I also volunteer at my children’s school by helping put out their newspaper and encouraging kids to write has become one of my favorite pastimes! I also love hanging out at the cottage with family and friends in the summer, all things Star Wars related and opening the pages of a brand new book.

Holly Kerr ~ Baby! Baby? Baby!? ~ Virtual Book Tour Page ~ Chick Lit PLus Blog Tours

Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

Win A $20 Amazon Gift Card

Contest Dates: Jan 14 - Feb 4

Everyone who leaves a comment on Holly Kerr's Baby! Baby? Baby!? Virtual Book Tour Page ~ Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Baby! Baby? Baby!? before February 4th and sends their receipt to, will get five bonus entries.

Book Review

Baby! Baby? Baby!? by Holly Kerr
Publisher: iUniverse
Publication Date: August 31, 2012
Format: eBook - 326 pages / Kindle - 524 KB / Nook - 431 KB
ISBN: 1475944594
Genre: Chick Lit

BUY THE BOOK: Baby! Baby? Baby!?

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

Thirty-five-year old kindergarten teacher Casey Samms has always dreamed about having her own baby. With her copy of A Young Woman’s Guide to the Joy of Impending Motherhood on her bedside table, Casey has been steadily wading through the pool of eligible bachelors for years—with absolutely no luck. Now as she bids farewell to a cheating boyfriend and to dating in general, Casey just needs to figure out how to get pregnant without having a man in her life.

Casey immediately discounts her male friends as potential fathers and decides to pursue having a baby the artificial way, even though her sister and friends do their best to try to talk her out of it. But Casey is determined to see her dream come to fruition and begins looking at every male as a potential donor. Just when she is beginning to give the word desperate an entirely new meaning, an old ex-boyfriend, David Mason, saunters back into her life. All Casey has to do now is try to convince him that he is the one who can help her become a mother.

As Casey prepares to realize her lifelong dream, she is about to get the surprise of her life—a surprise that changes everything.

Book Excerpt:

                                            Chapter One

A woman’s prime period of fertility occurs between the years of twenty-two and twenty-eight, with each year decreasing the chance of a happy and healthy conception. After the age of thirty-seven, a woman should not attempt to conceive. 

A Young Woman’s Guide to the Joy of Impending Motherhood 
Dr. Francine Pascal Reid (1941)

Bullshit, I know.

But for some reason that passage has stuck with me for years. You know what it’s like to have one of those repetitive songs stuck in your head? A couple of summers ago, it was that “Umbrella” song—not that it was a bad song; in fact it was a pretty good song for a while, but at the end of August when I was still silently singing “ella, ella,” it got a little tiring. If you think having a song stuck in your head is bad, imagine silently repeating to yourself again and again, “After the age of thirty-seven, a woman should not attempt to conceive.”

Most of me will agree I’m being silly in taking the words of a long-dead doctor to heart, but an itty-bitty part of me is still listening and using my fingers to count the months on the calendar until I hit the De-Fertility Zone. Silly, I know, but I can’t seem to help it.

Yes, I am fully aware that in this day and age there are countless women over thirty-seven who conceive and successfully deliver happy and healthy babies. I know that. You can’t pick up an issue of People magazine without knowing that. But for me, thirty-seven has been something of a deadline, and it’s looming ever closer these days. Here I am already at thirty-five, pushing headlong into thirty-six, which will inevitably lead to thirty-seven, the age when Dr. Francine Pascal Reid tells me I shouldn’t attempt to conceive. So how am I supposed to have a baby?

Going to a wedding yesterday certainly didn’t help.

Yesterday marked the seventeenth wedding I’ve been to in the last five years, and the ninth in which I’ve played the role of a bridesmaid. I remember reading something long ago, some old wives’ tale about three times a bridesmaid, never a bride. I guess I’m screwed three times over then.

To make things worse, it turned out that the entire bridal party—other than me, that is—were all pregnant. Of course, being basically a nice person, I was sincerely happy for them, but can you imagine how my own desire to have a baby might make me a tad resentful? The anticipation I had felt toward being part of the wedding dimmed a little as I was forced to listen to all the little baby comments and pregnancy stories, not to mention names and dates and crib styles. I had had just about enough when Darcy’s aunt Fran popped her head into the room where the five of us had just finished getting into our dresses (horrible green with, yes, a big butt bow). Once she’d cooed over us all, Aunt Fran announced that she thought it was just hilarious how Darcy had picked an entire bridal party of pregnant girls, assuming I was as pregnant as the others.

My Book Review:

Thirty-five year old Kindergarten teacher Casey Samms' biological clock is ticking ... for years she has dreamed about having a baby ... but the problem is finding the right man to be the father. She is romantically challenged, but that little problem isn't going to stop her, she is determined to do whatever it takes to have a baby of her own!

Baby! Baby? Baby!? is a humorous story about one woman's journey of desperately getting what she's yearned for a long time ... a baby. In her debut novel, author Holly Kerr weaves a fun tale written in the first person narrative, told by sassy Casey Samms, who is a tad bit quirky, confused, desperate and obsessed ... awww hell who am I kidding, she's a hot mess! Casey takes the reader along for the ride as she embarks on a journey to make her dream of having a baby come true, albeit with a few mishaps, twists and turns, and unexpected surprises along the way.

Romantically challenged, forever the bridesmaid, and faithfully following the chapters in the 1941 book, A Young Woman's Guide to the Joy of Impending Motherhood by Dr. Francine Pascal Reid, what's a girl to do when she's in her mid-thirties and doesn't have the right man in her life to be the baby daddy? Why of course to do whatever it takes!

There is so many laugh-out-loud moments throughout the story, I couldn't help but feel for Casey and cheer her on even when she pulls some crazy antics. This sassy lady reminded me of myself when I was in my late thirties and found my biological clock ticking ... sigh ... There was so much that I could relate to in this story: from desire, anxiety, obsession, sorrow and acceptance. I suffered a miscarriage in my first marriage and desperately tried to get pregnant in my current marriage, but alas we weren't blessed to have children, unless you count my three four legged babies. I think at some point in a woman's life from her mid/late twenties to early forties, the biological clock ticking and the desire to have babies is a natural part of our makeup, and any woman can relate to and sympathize with how Casey felt in the story. Like the old saying goes ... life works in mysterious ways!

I really enjoyed the author's style of allowing Casey's sassy voice tell a humorous and endearing story. It felt like I was sitting in a chair next to Casey as her story unfolded. I loved how each chapter began with a quote from the 1941 book, A Young Woman's Guide to the Joy of Impending Motherhood by Dr. Francine Pascal Reid. The antiquated quotes made me chuckle, I'm thinking Casey needed a revised edition of the book with more modern suggestions on pregnancy and motherhood to follow. lol

With a quirky cast of characters; engaging dialogue and zany interactions; and a lighthearted storyline that has a mixture of humor and real-to-life issues; Baby! Baby? Baby!? is a fun story of life, love, friendship, and following one's dreams that will captivate you and leave you with a smile.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sara's Promise by Deanna Lynn Sletten (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes back Deanna Lynn Sletten, author of Sara's Promise!

Author Guest Post

Characteristics of a Soul Mate
By Deanna Lynn Sletten

Soul mates. People use this term for that one special person in their life—that one person who completes them. It is the goal of almost every romantic to find that one person who will understand them completely, and love them for eternity. For some people, the idea of finding a soul mate is an elusive dream, while for others, it is the ultimate goal. But what exactly are the characteristics of a soul mate? And can you have more than one?

We have all heard the term 'soul mate' being bandied about but the exact meaning isn't easily pinned down. The characteristics of a soul mate can mean different things to different people. Some people may feel that their soul mate should be an exact replica of themselves in order to be perfectly compatible. Others believe that they need to find their opposite to complete them. Most people who describe their partner as their soul mate usually can't even tell you how they knew this was the perfect person for them. They say that the moment they met, they just knew this was their soul mate. They may say that it was love at first site, or that the first time they met, it was magic. Others scoff at the idea of one true love. After all, many people have found love more than once, so to some, the idea of one soul mate isn't realistic.

Soul mate characteristics come more from the heart than from a scientific study or survey. You won't find one specific list of soul mate characteristics that you can apply to every relationship. However, here are a few characteristics of a soul mate that many people can agree upon:

• Someone you have an immediate connection with.
• Someone who loves you for who you are.
• Someone who lifts your self-esteem.
• Someone who loves you unconditionally even when they know you completely.
• Someone you feel physically and emotionally connected to.

I believe in soul mates. However, I think that you can have more than one soul mate and it doesn't necessarily always have to be your life partner. A best friend, your child, a parent, or a favorite relative can be a person who understands you completely and loves you unconditionally. We've all met people we have an instant connection to, and these people may become a pivotal part of our lives. If we are very lucky, we will not only meet a life partner who is our soul mate, but will also have other people in our lives who we consider soul mates too.

Do you believe in soul mates?

About The Author

Deanna Lynn Sletten writes women's fiction novels that go beyond the basic romance novel. Her stories dig deeply into the lives of the characters, giving the reader an in-depth look into their hearts and souls. Deanna has also written one middle-grade novel that takes you on the adventure of a lifetime.

Deanna started her writing career in the early 1990s writing articles for parenting publications and local newspapers. Over time she transitioned to writing for blogs and websites and was a contributing writer for the women's website, She Knows. In November 2011, she changed course and put all her energy into novel writing and hasn't looked back since.

Deanna is married and has two grown children. When not writing, she enjoys walking the wooded trails around her northern Minnesota home with her beautiful Australian Shepherd or relaxing in the boat on the lake in the summer.


Book Review

Sara's Promise by Deanna Lynn Sletten
Publisher: Deanna Lynn Sletten, Self-Published
Publication Date: December 8, 2012
Format: Paperback - 258 pages / Kindle - 422 KB
ISBN: 1479112232
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: Sara's Promise

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and for hosting a virtual book event on my book review blog site.

Book Description:

Do you believe in soul mates?

William Grafton had the perfect life with his lovely wife, Sara, and two teenaged children. But one day his perfect forever was shattered when Sara died suddenly, leaving him alone to raise his children and wonder how he would ever get through life without his soul mate. Five years later, he finds himself looking into a familiar pair of blue-green eyes that remind him of Sara. The woman is the exact opposite of his late wife, yet he finds he is drawn to her. But after a few strange occurrences, he begins to wonder–are these just coincidences or has his Sara come back to him as she once promised in the form of this new woman?

Annie Paxton doesn't believe in soul mates or fate. She had watched her father die of a broken heart after her mother passed away and has since cast away any fairy tale ideas of love. Then she meets the man who has been haunting her dreams and she begins to see love in a whole new light. But her dream man is still tied to his deceased wife, and Annie doesn't know if he will ever be able to break away from his past. As strange occurrences unfold, Annie wonders if William could ever truly love her for herself and not for the traits that remind him of Sara.

Were William and Annie brought together by fate, coincidence or by Sara keeping her promise?

Book Excerpt:

"Sandy!" Annie sat up suddenly in bed, screaming the girl's name into the dark night. Her heart pounded in her chest, and she was covered in sweat. She looked at the clock beside her bed. 2:10 a.m. The dream had been so real. She'd felt each tight turn of the speeding car and each thud as the car rose and fell, hitting the pavement. Worst of all, she had seen Sandy crying just seconds before the car spun out of control and rolled into a field.

Annie jumped out of bed and hurriedly pulled on her jeans and T-shirt from the day before. The dream seemed too real. From somewhere deep inside her, she knew that it had actually happened. She had to get to Sandy and make sure she was all right.

Running her hands through her hair, Annie found her car keys and purse, and headed out the door into the foggy night. She drove as fast as she dared to the hospital, all the time saying inside her head, I'm coming, Sandy. Hold on. I'm coming.

When Annie arrived at the hospital, she saw three ambulances at the entrance, their lights flashing.

"Oh, God, please let Sandy be okay. Please, please, please," Annie kept repeating to herself as she made her way past them and through the entrance. She hurried up to the counter, where the receptionist sat, talking in a hushed voice on the phone. Annie paced back and forth, unable to contain the adrenaline that was coursing through her veins.

After what seemed like hours, the receptionist placed the phone down. "Can I help you?"

Annie stepped up to the desk with such force that her hands slapped the top. "Sandra Grafton. I'm here to see Sandra Grafton. Is she here?" she asked, her voice trembling.

The receptionist stared at her, startled. "Are you family?" she finally asked.

"I'm her mother."

The receptionist quickly went into action, escorting Annie through the electronic doors and into an empty waiting room.

"I talked to your husband a few minutes ago," the receptionist said. "He's on his way. The doctors will be in to talk to you as soon as they can."

Annie nodded and watched the woman leave. Sitting down in one of the hard, plastic chairs, Annie dropped her face into her hands and prayed. She prayed to Sara to keep Sandy safe. She prayed to the luminous face to not take Sandy before her time. She sat, rocking her body back and forth in the chair, and prayed.


Annie looked up into William's strained face. Behind him stood Sam, looking anxious and scared. Without hesitation, she stood and enveloped them both in a hug.

William held onto Annie a long time. Even after Sam broke away, he held Annie close. He felt Annie's tears on his shoulder through his sweatshirt, and that only made him want to hold on longer. Finally, grudgingly, he pulled away.

"How did you know?" he asked, amazed she had arrived at the hospital before he had. Who had called her? When he'd arrived, the receptionist had told him his wife was already here. "My wife?" he'd asked, confused, thinking she'd mixed him up with one of the other families. And then, when he saw Annie in the waiting room, he understood. The receptionist had mistaken Annie for Sandy's mother.

"I just knew," Annie said softly. William didn't even question her. After all the incidences that had occurred, it seemed only natural to him that she'd instinctively know about the accident.

My Book Review:

Do you believe in soul mates? Do you believe in everlasting love, even after your loved one has passed away?

Two women pass away  ... as they are suspended between life and death, they engage in a conversation which leads one of the women to urge the other to take her place among the living so she can love and take care of her family as if they were her own.

When Sara Grafton suddenly dies, her husband William and teenage children Sandy and Sam struggle to go on with their lives. Sara vowed to always look after her family, even through divine intervention from beyond the grave.

Five years later, the Grafton family is still struggling with grief over the loss of their wife and mother.

Annie Paxton doesn't believe in soul mates and isn't looking for love. But when she meets the man who has been haunting her dreams, William Grafton, she feels an attraction for him.

William isn't looking for a replacement for the soul mate that he has lost, but when he meets Annie, there is a familiarity about her that attracts him to her.

Can Annie and William's relationship blossom into love, or will William's love for his lost soul mate hold him back from having a second chance at love?

Will Sara's Promise to always take care of her family bring happiness and love back into their lives ... even through divine intervention?

Sara's Promise is a poignantly touching story about soul mates and everlasting love. It is also the uplifting story of love, loss, hope and forgiveness. Author Deanna Lynn Sletten weaves a captivating tale of love and forgiveness that will simply pull at your heartstrings. Told in the third person narrative, the reader is swept along with Sara, William, Sandy, Sam and Annie on a journey of healing and love given through the cycle of life. Through a beautiful crafting of words, Deanna captures the essence between life and death; the struggles of loving, losing and second chances; and the belief that everlasting love does exist even after death.

The author draws the reader into the lives of Annie Paxton and the Grafton family as they battle individual personal conflicts while trying to maintain their family structure. The emotional battles and life changes that occur in their lives are realistic, the reader can easily relate to them. You can't help but feel for Annie and the Grafton family as their journey of healing is fulfilled through Sara's heavenly promise. Throughout this story, the author effortlessly provides the reader with the uplifting message that love, hope and forgiveness transcends death. Sara's Promise will make you a believer that soul mates and everlasting love really do exist!

With a realistic cast of characters who come alive and jump off the pages; a richly detailed and descriptive setting along the Oregon seaside; and a simply inspirational storyline that will have the reader experiencing the full gamut of emotions, Sara's Promise is a tenderhearted story of love that will touch your heart and soul, and will resonate with you long after the last page has been read.