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.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Everybody's Got A Story by Heather Wardell (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Everybody's Got A Story by author Heather Wardell!

Author Guest Post

Thanks, Kathleen, for letting me take over your blog! I thought your readers might be interested in seeing where I do my work. (Spoiler alert: there's a treadmill involved!)

I often write at home, but there are times when I simply can't get myself focused there. At those times, I have a secret weapon: coffee shop! Something about the general background hum of the place, and the fact that I can't get distracted by things like "I should really scrub the hall floor grout with a toothbrush RIGHT THIS SECOND rather than edit this scene", makes working in public perfect for me.

This picture shows me working on this article at a local Starbucks. My iPad and the Bluetooth keyboard I got for Christmas make an amazing laptop equivalent that fits in my (admittedly rather large) purse and can run all day without needing a power cable.

At home, I'm lucky enough to have our never-used dining area for my exclusive use while working. (Please pardon the mirrored walls - they were like that when I moved in, I swear. :) In this area, I have two separate work stations.

First is my treadmill desk. It's a luxurious combo of a treadmill I got on a huge sale and a bunch of foam insulation sheets topped by an Ikea shelf (classy!) but it works beautifully. I can walk at about 2.3 mph and still type without issues, and so I can work AND burn a few calories at the same time! (Plus, my cat Trinity enjoys using it as a bed when I'm not working. :)

If my feet are tired, or I need to do something that requires more mouse work (it's hard to use the mouse well while walking), I move over to the other side of the room. I have a second monitor here for ease of use but the same laptop and mouse and keyboard can follow me from treadmill to desk, so I can switch positions and pick up my work right where I left off.

The bookshelves you can see around the space hold copies of my books, as well as my favorite reference books and binders of books in progress.

I know you can see my shelves in the previous picture but I had to take a picture of just them because I adore them! When I first started writing I dreamed of shelves full of my books, and now I have them! I am a polar bear fanatic (as you may have noticed from the other pictures) and so there are additional bears interspersed among the books. As I keep releasing books, though, the polar bears are being pushed aside because there's simply not enough room for them. (Not to worry, though: I have two new shelves just waiting for their turn.)

And my final picture: I have to show these lovely things in more detail because they are gifts from readers. The purple doily was crocheted by a lady in India (in the thinnest thread I've ever seen!), the little polar bear box was given to me in Chicago when I was fortunate enough to meet five wonderful readers there earlier this year, and this box in which I keep my pens was sent by another reader who I met in New York City in 2012. I obviously don't expect readers to give me gifts but it's so sweet when they do and so I keep them around me to remind me as I work of how lucky I am to have such great readers.

I hope you've enjoyed this tour of my writing locations, and I welcome you to pick up your copy of Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo, my free-to-download novel, at

About The Author

Growing up, I was an avid (rabid?) reader. I am a natural speed reader, regularly clocked at about 1200 wpm (I read Harry Potter 5 in just under three hours), and always have several books on the go, nearly all in e-book form on my Kindle.

I have always made up stories in my head, but never considered becoming a writer. Instead, I intended to be a high school music teacher. I was sidetracked by my enjoyment of my psychology courses in university, and ended up with a psychology degree with a concentration in computer science.

This took me to a major Canadian bank as a software developer. I stayed there for just over four years, and then went back to school to become an elementary school teacher. After four years teaching elementary school computer science, I took up the National Novel Writing Month challenge and attempted to write a novel in a month.

I succeeded, and the first draft of Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo was the result. I realized I love writing. I left teaching, and I haven't looked back since!

In my non-writing time, I read, run, swim, crochet, take care of my 55 gallon aquarium and my cat Trinity, and play drums and clarinet. Generally not all at once.

Everybody's Got A Story by Heather Wardell ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours

Book Review

Everybody's Got A Story by Heather Wardell
Volume 12: Toronto Series
Publisher: Independent Self Publisher
Publication Date: July 4, 2013
Format: Paperback - 246 pages / Kindle - 2599 KB / Nook - 392 KB
ISBN: 1490535438
Genre: Chick Lit / Contemporary Romance / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: Everybody's Got A Story

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:

Both personally and professionally, Alexa knows all too well the power of words. Two years after her boyfriend Christophe's vicious attack, she's still trying to see herself as more than simply 'his victim', still trying to figure out her own story.

After his trial, she moves from New York City to Toronto in an attempt to start over, but his words cling to her and even in a new country she can't see how to move into relationships with the new people in her life while hiding the secret of Christophe's worst offense.

She can't hide that secret from her coworker Jake, though, because the news buff has recognized her from the coverage of the assault and trial and knows every word she can't bring herself to say about her ordeal.

With Jake's help, can Alexa reclaim her story and her life?

Book Excerpt:

This excerpt takes place near the beginning of the book and shows Alexa deciding to leave New York City to get a fresh start in Toronto.

Fred gave me a hug. "I'll miss you, Alexa. But I'm glad you've decided to go. I think it'll help you."

I squeezed him hard. "I hope so. Thank you for arranging things in Toronto."

He patted my back then released me. "Don't thank me yet, I ain't finished." He pulled an envelope from his pocket and handed it to me.

I opened it, took one look at the check inside, and shook my head. "Fred, you don't have to. I'll be fine. And this is way too generous anyhow."

I tried to give him back the check but he put his hands behind his back. "Not nearly generous enough. You've spent two years as my assistant, putting up with my crap on a daily basis. If anything, there should be at least two more zeroes on that check."

"Don't even joke about giving me two and a half million. Even this is way too much. Fred, really. I'm okay."

He put his hand on my shoulder, his face suddenly more serious than I'd ever seen it before. "Alexa, I've come to think of you as almost another daughter. If it had been Rhonda who'd gone through all that, I'd hope that someone would give her whatever it took to help her find her way to a new life. I know money can't fix it but it will make your new start easier. I really want to do this for you. Will you let me?"

My throat tightened and I whispered, "Okay."

He squeezed my shoulder, his eyes suspiciously shiny. "Good." He stepped back, taking a deep breath. "Okay then. Put that thing away before all your coworkers demand one too."

I laughed and tucked the check into my purse. "Thank you, Fred. I do appreciate it."

"You'd better," he said, winking at me. "So. All packed up?"

I nodded. I hadn't had much in the office, just a little makeup and a few CDs, so it hadn't taken long. Only moments to erase the more than four years I'd spent in the office. Additional proof, as if I needed it, that I really didn't have roots in New York.

"And at home?"

"Nope. I'll do that today. Flight's at ten tomorrow morning."

"I'd drive you but I have that agent coming to see me."

I smiled. "I know. Who do you think put the meeting in your calendar?"

He laughed. "I'll be lost without you, you know. I'm going to call you every day so my business doesn't fall apart."


We stood looking at each other. I couldn't quite bring myself to leave.

He reached out and gave me a hug. "You'll make it, Alexa," he said, his voice rough. "Trust me."

I sniffled but managed not to cry. "I do."

He set me away, holding my shoulders. "Well. Good. Now, when we have the big all-staff party this summer I expect to see you. Yes?"

I made myself smile to force away the tears. "You paying for the trip?"

He laughed. "Always do. And for you I might even spring for a first-class flight. Maybe."

"Something to look forward to."

He put his arm around my shoulders and led me out of the office. "Definitely."

With his support I said goodbye to my coworkers, who all wished me well and said they'd look forward to seeing me in July, then he delivered me to the elevator. "You take care of yourself," he said gruffly. "And if you need anything let me know."

I nodded, unable to speak.

The elevator door opened and he said, "Are you ready?"

For a second I wanted to throw myself back into his arms and beg him to take care of me. But I made myself raise my chin and say, "Yup."

He smiled, his eyes full of pride. "That's my girl. Go show Toronto how it's done."

I laughed and backed into the elevator so I could still see him.

He stayed, smiling at me, until the door closed.

On the ride down to the lobby my tears rose again but I forced them back. I'd see him again in just a few months, and in the meantime I had a new life to build.

I caught sight of myself in the elevator's mirrored wall. I still looked exactly as I had with Christophe. What better way to start my new life than with a whole new look?

My Book Review:

Everybody's Got A Story is the poignant story of a young woman who courageously learns to rebuild her life after a vicious attack by her ex-boyfriend.

Author Heather Wardell weaves a powerful tale set in NYC and Toronto, and written in the first person narrative by crime fiction editor Alexa Ryder, who takes the reader along on her emotional journey as she learns to overcome the trauma from the past, and the courage to start a new life.

The story begins in NYC two years after the vicious attack on Alexa by her sociopath ex-boyfriend Christophe Durand. The reader is drawn into the story at the trial with an intense and raw account of the premeditated vicious assault that went on for thirty-six hours in a half-finished apartment until she was rescued by a construction crew. When the guilty verdict on all charges is returned, Alexa just wants her life back, to try to forget everything and put it behind her, but the attack has changed her life forever. Alexa finds that she is unable to move forward with her life in NYC, with the media attention and the uneasiness of being recognized on the street, she decides that she needs a new start in a new place where nobody knows her. Her boss Fred Warren, owner of Warren Press, suggests that she transfer to their Toronto office run by his daughter Rhonda. Alexa's journey from victim to survivor is one of self-discovery as she heals, learns to believe and trust herself and others, regain control and rebuild her life.

This is an inspirational story that has a nice mixture of darkness, intensity and lightheartedness that captivates the reader's attention as Alexa's story unfolds. You can't help but feel compassion and hope for Alexa as her journey to rebuild her life has its trials and tribulations, but her strength and courage comes shining through as she forges forward in a new city with the support of new co-workers, friends and family.

With a realistic cast of characters; engaging dialogue and interactions; two richly detailed settings; and the perfect title for a story that clearly sends a message to the reader that everyone really does have their own story.

Everybody's Got A Story is an inspirational and thought provoking story that will resonate with you long after the last page has been read.


Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

Win A $20 Amazon Gift Card

Contest Dates: Oct 14 - Nov 4, 2013

Everyone who leaves a comment on Everybody's Got A Story by Heather Wardell ~ 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 Everybody's Got a Story before November 4 and sends their receipt to, will get five bonus entries.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Tour Schedule:

October 14 – Keep Calm and Blog On – Review
October 15 – Mrs. Mommy Booknerd’s Book Reviews – Guest Post & Excerpt
October 16 – The Book Fetish – Review & Q&A
October 18 – Storm Goddess Book Reviews – Review & Q&A
October 18 – Everything Books and Authors – Excerpt
October 23 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
October 25 – Michelle’s Book Nook – Review & Guest Post
October 28 – Musings and Ramblings – Q&A & Excerpt 
October 29 – Sam’s Happy Ever After – Review
October 30 – Every Free Chance Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt
November 1 – Karma For Life Chick – Review
November 4 – Chick Lit Plus – Review


  1. Replies
    1. Hi Samantha! Thank you for the opportunity to host the virtual book tour event. I really enjoyed reading this book, and I will be looking up more of Heather's books. :)