Book blitz: ‘Divided’ by Sharon M. Johnston

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DIVIDED: AN OPEN HEART NOVEL
Sharon M. Johnston
Publication Date: November 24 2015
New Adult Science Fiction Romance

A new heart should mean new life, instead it’s a living nightmare.

Mishca Richardson’s life is at an all-time high after her heart transplant. With new boyfriend, Ryder, she has the perfect summer romance. Even the nightmares plaguing her sleep since her operation can’t dull her new dream world. Yet, life starts to unravel when Mishca develops superhuman abilities. She does her best to hide them so as not to end up a science experiment in a lab, but she can’t ignore the strange instant attraction she experiences when she meets her university professor, Colin Reed. Torn between love and the obsession, Mishca must decide between the two men. But as the organization responsible for her weird powers moves in, she’ll have a lot more to worry about than romance.

Find Divided on Goodreads

Buy links

 AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | KOBO | iBOOKS | CITY OWL PRESS WEBSITE

DIVIDED full digital MISHCA PHONE

Excerpt

SOMEONE MUST DIE so I can live. I’ve come to terms with that. Before it turned my stomach, thinking about my donor’s death, but now I’m used to it. Most likely, it’ll be a car accident or a drunken fall. It won’t come from illness or any other natural causes that corrupt human organs and make the deceased ineligible to be a donor. A violent, painful death will be my savior. It’s the only way I’ll ever get my new heart.

I open my eyes and stare upward, hoping the white fluffy clouds splotched against the blue sky will distract me from my imaginings of people dying. I guess I’m not as used to the idea of getting someone else’s heart as I thought. The harsh Australian sun makes me squint.

I swing my legs around and hoist myself upright on the stadium bleacher, looking over the sports field. Readjusting my tank top strap that had slipped off my shoulder, I try to conjure up happier thoughts. At least I won’t be responsible for the person who dies, even if I get a new heart out of the mess.

Yeah, happier thoughts.

book blitz SHAR

Giveaway

Sharon has one BIG prize bundle as part of the celebrations! You could win:

  • Heart Marcasite Earrings
  • $10 Amazon Gift Voucher
  • Owl Christmas Decorations
  • Dinosaur Christmas Decorations
  • Owl Pen
  • Heart Pen

Enter to win

About the Author

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SHARON JOHNSTON is a New Adult author from sunny Queensland, Australia. She specializes in intriguing stories and soulful contemporaries across category boundaries. Working as a PR specialist by day, in her spare time she writes, blogs for YAtopia and Aussie Owned & Read, spends time with her fur babies, and plays computer games with her family. She’s also been trailed by women wanting to know where she buys her shoes.

Find Sharon on TWITTER and FACEBOOK and on her WEBSITE.

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Review: ‘Just Breathe’ by Tamara Mataya

Just Breathe

Twenty-one-year-old Elle Granger’s boyfriend broke up with her like a coward. He moved to another city without so much as a kiss goodbye. Devastated and embarrassed, Elle told her friends the break-up was mutual and hid her heartache working long hours at the library. By night, she self medicated with pot. Weeks later, with her heart and lungs screaming for a break, Elle quits smoking and turns to her friends. But before she can let them in on Jason’s betrayal, her best friend moves to Spain, and her roommates start acting strangely.

Enter sexy library patron Dominic, who sweeps Elle off her feet and into his Maserati. He makes her feel oh so good, and puts effort into coming up with dates that don’t set off her Synaesthesia. Just when Elle starts feeling whole again, Jason returns, determined to reunite. Elle rejects his effusive apologies and reasons for leaving — until she catches Dominic in a devastating lie.

Will his betrayal push her back into her suddenly attentive ex’s arms? Can she trust Jason not to break her heart again? The wrong choice and Elle’s happy ending could go up in smoke. But when your only choices are the devils you know, all you can do is JUST BREATHE.

I finished Just Breathe more than week ago, and it’s taken me this long to sit down and try to write a review. There are parts of this story I love so hard, and other parts I didn’t so much — but  I am positive that the things I didn’t love are because this book is, at the end of the day, a romance. I know, I know! It’s published by Swoon Romance and yes, I’m a dummy. But I picked it up because I’ve seen Tamara on Twitter and love her. She is a librarian with synaesthesia, like her main character in this novel, and since I love libraries and wanted to learn more about that condition, this became a must-read for me.

Of course, my TBR pile being the rampaging hellbeast that it is, I bought Just Breathe last year and only just now read it…

Synaesthesia is a condition where a person, on experiencing one sensory input, gets hit with a second, involuntary one as well. The handling of Elle’s condition was far and away the best part of Just Breathe. In her case, the main thing is that when she hears sounds they trigger a tactile sensation. So some music is jarring and makes her want to flee, while other music fills her with a physical bliss. She also responds very strongly to fabrics; there is a sex scene in this book involving a set of satin sheets that made me totally jealous of her and her condition. It sounded divine!

(While I’m on the topic, Just Breathe does include some steamy sex scenes, and also — as the blurb makes clear — recreational marijuana use. Neither of those things bothered me, but YMMV.)

I quite enjoyed reading about Elle’s work at the library, although some of the details possibly went a little further than the story required. Still, the book recommendations were great! And as far as Jason and Dominic go … well, Dominic is basically TO DIE for, and Jason needs to be run over by a large vehicle. And then reversed over a couple of times.

Given all of that, why is this a 3.5 star review? I agonised over that, you guys, but in the end looked at the Goodreads scale (3 = I liked it; 4 = I really liked it) and figured I was somewhere in the middle. And the reason is that, although I love a romance sub-plot like nobody’s business, I’ve started to realise that pure romance doesn’t often do it for me. There’s a formula there that meant I was able to predict every plot twist (more or less exactly), so although I enjoyed going along for the ride, there weren’t any surprises there. I guess I just love my surprises too much.

Still, if you love romance and want to read about an unusual, creative and above all real character, who makes mistakes but slowly begins to see her self-worth (and about Dominic *swoon*) — then you should definitely give Just Breathe a go.

Three-and-a-half stars


Review: ‘Wait!’ by Stacey Nash

Wait_EBook

Jordan Hays knows just how precious life is; that’s why he has his own mapped out. He’ll work to pay his way through university while he studies hard, regardless of the constant distractions. Because when it comes to becoming a nurse, he’s deadly serious. He won’t fail to save someone again. 

But Hex Penton is way too similar to the sister he lost, and even though the only thing more fun than stupid dares is the crazy girl who sets them, Jordan needs to make a choice. Hex believes every moment is important; every opportunity must be taken, because you never know when the world will be yanked out from underneath you. With the foundations he’s based his life on shaken, Jordan must discover what’s more important: making sure Hex’s life isn’t wasted, or remembering how to live his.

It’s time to play truth or dare.

***

Wait! is a story about acceptance, learning to trust and in turn love while facing life’s unexpected difficulties.

NB: This book is of a mild heat level, and contains no explicit sex scenes.

I think by now it’s no secret that I adore Stacey Nash. Not only is she a fabulous writer but she’s a wonderful human being. Still, you should all believe me when I say that if you want to read sweet new adult fiction (set in a university but without the usual semi-erotic trappings typical of the genre), you should get onto this series ASAP.

Scout’s honour.

Wait! is the sequel to Shh! (yes, the exclamation marks are part of the names). It is set about a year later, and focuses on Jordan Hays, younger brother of the yummy Logan from Shh!, and Jordan’s venture into university life. Jordan’s an interesting character; he’s grown up way before his time due to the death of his sister. In some ways I found him more serious than Logan, and he is definitely more guilt-ridden than Logan is. (I won’t go into the reasons, because spoilers, but it all makes sense.)

Don’t get me wrong, I liked Jordan — but if I were choosing a book boyfriend, I’d choose Logan any day. Probably because he struck me as more geeky and less sporty, and that’s just how I roll. 😉

Still, one of the things I enjoyed about Wait! was watching Hex, Jordan’s firecracker dorm-mate, teach him how to loosen up even as he manages to get her to see that there’s more to life than partying hard. Stacey did a great job of looking at binge drinking and alcoholism (not so much in Hex’s case but probably in her mother’s) without being preachy. Some of the characters were judgemental, but there was no authorial intrusion into it, which is a very tricky line to walk.

The other line that is tricky but that I think Stacey handled well was Jordan’s attraction to Hex even as he realised she reminded him of his sister. That could have been very icky, but it wasn’t, thank goodness!

I quite liked Hex, although her personal decisions weren’t ones I’d have necessarily made myself. (It may surprise you to know, dear reader, that I wasn’t a massive binge drinker even at that age.) I sympathised with her enough that I shared her indignation at Jordan judging her behaviour.

My only quibble (and it’s so minor it’s barely worth mentioning, but I wouldn’t want you to think I was sugar-coating this review!) is that there’s very little swearing in this book. Not that I require swears, you understand, but both Hex and Jordan tend to think words like “darn” rather than more sweary examples, which didn’t quite seem to fit with either one very well. I only recall seeing one of them drop the f-bomb once. It was an appropriate f-bomb, sure, but there were a handful of other times that a curse would’ve fit too.

See, I told you it was minor. 🙂

Five stars


Review: ‘The Intern’ by Gabrielle Tozer

The Intern

Josie Browning dreams of having it all.

A stellar academic record, an amazing career in journalism – and for her current crush to realise she actually exists. The only problem? Josie can’t get through twenty-four hours without embarrassing her sister Kat or her best friend Angel, let alone herself.

Josie’s luck changes though when she lands an internship at the glossy fashion magazine Sash. A coveted columnist job is up for grabs, but Josie’s got some tough competition in the form of two other interns. Battle lines are drawn and Josie quickly learns that the magazine industry is far from easy, especially under the reign of powerful editor, Rae Swanson.

From the lows of coffee-fetching and working 10-hour days, to the highs of mingling with celebrities, scoring endless free beauty products (plus falling for her cousin’s seriously gorgeous flatmate James) this is one year Josie will never forget.

The Intern was an enjoyable book by an Aussie writer who you can tell has worked in the fashion magazine industry before — she had all those little details right. Or at least she was able to fake it. I can’t exactly claim to be an expert, as I don’t actually read them. I think it was my lack of interest in fashion and gossip magazines that meant I found the story a little hard to get into at first…

But then Josie won me over, with her wonderful, quirky personality. She was nerdy, naive and clumsy — but not in a Bella Swan, not-really-clumsy-except-very-rarely kind of way. Josie was really clumsy (as someone with poor vision I can relate to that), and it often got her in trouble. She also had exactly no verbal filter, meaning that the first time she meets a cute boy she tells him all sorts of embarrassing stories, including about how that one time she pooed her pants…

Yeah, I cringed a little too.

Still, I loved her passion for writing and her desire to be a journalist. During the course of the story, she learns that she can actually find stories and write about things she cares about, even if she’s working for a “light” magazine like Sash. I really liked that about her — that she made the best of a less-than-ideal situation. (I guess by then she’d had a lot of practice!)

I loved some of the other characters, including her fellow intern, Steph; sister, Kat; and of course the cute boy in question, James (he was genuinely a nice guy, which is so great to see!). I was less sold on Josie’s best friend, Angel — she seemed to be rather selfish, to be honest, and I don’t think she was in the story enough to redeem herself or really win me over. Still, since one of the elements of the story was Josie and Angel (who were high school best friends) struggling to maintain their friendship after graduation, it did fit.

There aren’t any really “bad” characters in The Intern, except for a few bit characters who just pass through. Everyone who is looked at in any depth at all is revealed to just be a regular person, with good and bad aspects, including the stereotypical “cold boss”, Rae, and the “mean girl” intern, Ava. I kind of liked that, actually; it gave the book more of a happy vibe, when it could’ve been really catty and enraging.

I felt really awful for Josie’s mother, who is struggling after the recent failure of her marriage to the girls’ father. I hope that in the sequel we get to see her thrive. (If she reunites with her ex I will throw things through the wall.)

The Intern is a fun read that touches on some serious subjects but still manages to retain its lighter tone. Given Josie’s age you could consider it new adult, but it doesn’t have any of the traditional new adult subject matter (raunchy sex or drug use) and would be suitable for younger teens.

Four stars


Review: ‘Last Will and Testament’ by Dahlia Adler

Last Will and Testament

Lizzie Brandt was valedictorian of her high school class, but at Radleigh University, all she’s acing are partying and hooking up with the wrong guys. But all that changes when her parents are killed in a tragic accident, making her guardian to her two younger brothers. To keep them out of foster care, she’ll have to fix up her image, her life, and her GPA—fast. Too bad the only person on campus she can go to for help is her humorless, pedantic Byzantine History TA, Connor Lawson, who isn’t exactly Lizzie’s biggest fan.

But Connor surprises her. Not only is he a great tutor, but he’s also a pretty great babysitter. And chauffeur. And listener. And he understands exactly what it’s like to be on your own before you’re ready. Before long, Lizzie realizes having a responsible-adult type around has its perks… and that she’d like to do some rather irresponsible (but considerably adult) things with him as well. Good thing he’s not the kind of guy who’d ever reciprocate.

Until he does.

Until they turn into far more than teacher and student.

Until the relationship that helped put their lives back together threatens everything they both have left.

Last Will and Testament is the second of Dahlia Adler’s books that I’ve read. The first was a young adult and was light as fairy floss in comparison to this (note: it wasn’t that light). Some of that is because LWaT is new adult rather than young adult, but some of it is that the story starts in a much darker place.

I admit I found Lizzie’s initial circumstances quite confronting, and if the story had stayed in that space I doubt it’d have been much more than a three-star read for me despite the stellar writing. Lizzie sleeps with whoever takes her fancy (which I don’t have a problem with), including someone else’s boyfriend (which I do, although the blame sits more with him than her as far as I’m concerned). She smokes, drinks too much, and parties all weekend so that she’s barely maintaining a passing grade.

When her parents die and she realises she needs to get her life together for her brothers’ sake, she grits her teeth and gets on with it. Over time, she grows up enough to see that she did the wrong thing by helping Trevor cheat on his girlfriend. But she doesn’t start to look down on her former partying lifestyle or those friends of hers who still take part in it. For that reason, I’m hesitant to describe LWaT as a redemption tale, because that suggests it might be sanctimonious. It definitely isn’t that. And I liked that it didn’t inadvertently slut shame Lizzie or Lizzie’s friends.

Lizzie has a lot of trouble adjusting to being a newfound single parent to two boys. I felt her pain – I only have the one child, and he’s not a tween yet, but I know how much of a scramble life can be when you’re dealing with it on your own. Adler definitely nailed that side of things. I was a little disappointed at the solution to her problems at the end, but at the same time I can see that it was the only way that things could resolve themselves under the circumstances.

Far and away the stand out thing for me about LWaT was the writing, and that’s what elevates the book from a four- to a five-star read. Adler’s snarky sense of humour comes through; Lizzie’s dialogue is a scream and had me actually laughing out loud several times. (I rarely laugh out loud when I’m reading. Usually the best a book gets is a heh in my head. I’m such a robot!)

The supporting characters are fleshed out, and I could see why Lizzie developed such a massive crush on Connor. He’s a history nerd from Canada who wears daggy clothes; I was on board with that crush before she was! I also loved her two female friends, especially the wildly flamboyant and unashamedly “pansexual” Frankie. I was disappointed that the next book in the series is about the more serious Cait rather than Frankie, to be honest!

This is definitely worth your time to take a look.

Five stars


Cover reveal and a giveaway: ‘Wait!’ by Stacey Nash

I read and reviewed the first book in the Oxley College series, Shh!, here. If you’re too lazy to click (no judgement — I get it), the short version is I LOVED IT. So I’m super-excited to be sharing the cover for the sequel, Wait!, with you today.

Wait! by Stacey Nash

Series: Oxley College #2
Release date:  April 20th 2015
Purchase: iBooks | B&N | Kobo

Jordan Hays knows just how precious life is; that’s why he has his own mapped out. He’ll work to pay his way through university while he studies hard, regardless of the constant distractions. Because when it comes to becoming a nurse, he’s deadly serious. He won’t fail to save someone again.

But Hex Penton is way too similar to the sister he lost, and even though the only thing more fun than stupid dares is the crazy girl who sets them, Jordan needs to make a choice. Hex believes every moment is important; every opportunity must be taken, because you never know when the world will be yanked out from underneath you. With the foundations he’s based his life on shaken, Jordan must discover what’s more important: making sure Hex’s life isn’t wasted, or remembering how to live his.

IT’S TIME TO PLAY TRUTH OR DARE.

Add on Goodreads!
 Wait_EBook

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 Enter to win a $10 Amazon giftcard (open internationally)!

About the Author

Stacey Nash (3)Stacey Nash writes adventure filled stories for Young Adults in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. She loves to read and write books that have a lot of adventure, a good dose of danger, a smattering of romance, and KISSING! Hailing from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, she loves nothing more than immersing herself in the beauty and culture of the local area. 

Author of the Collective Series and the Oxley College Saga. 
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Review: ‘Shh!’ by Stacey Nash

Shh_Stacey_Nash

Nineteen-year-old Olivia Dean has the perfect reputation, the perfect boyfriend, and an increasingly perfect CV. She has it all, until Christian breaks up with her in public, calling her out as a self-gratifying sexoholic: the kind that plays solo. But Olivia doesn’t masturbate all night — the only thing she does is sleep … right?

Now all the boys on campus seem to want her attention for the absolutely wrong reason — including resident hottie, Logan Hays. He’s pulling out his best moves to gain her attention, so resisting his sexy charm is hard work. With rapidly slipping grades, a disturbingly lurid reputation and demanding parents, Olivia must discover the truth behind her rumoured sleeping problem. If she doesn’t, the perfect life she’s worked so hard for may slip away, including the one person who has Olivia breaking all her rules — Logan.

What do you do when you’re asleep?

***

Shh! is a story about acceptance, learning to trust and in turn love while facing life’s unexpected difficulties.

This is the sweetest new adult romance I’ve ever read, despite the subject matter. There are some heated kissing scenes, but the sex is definitely of the “fade to black” sort. So if the idea about reading a story involving a girl’s discovery that she has a sexual sleep disorder is putting you off, don’t let it!

Olivia is a perfectionist teenager trying to fulfill her parents’ demand that she get the grades and extracurricular credit to secure herself a job in a top-tier law firm. It’s obvious from the start that she doesn’t really enjoy law, which gave me a pretty clear idea of what kind of parents she has (the kind that shouldn’t be allowed to have kids!). When her parentally approved boyfriend dumps her in a public and humiliating way, her life starts to unravel.

Enter Logan. He’s got his own issues, and has a bit of a “bad boy” vibe—except he really isn’t at all. Sure, he’s from the wrong side of the tracks, but there is absolutely nothing bad about him. His fun nature and support for Olivia encourage her to start questioning the direction her life is taking. Also, because he’s already found the strength to escape the path his parents thought he’d take, he is the best possible example for Olivia.

Unfortunately for the couple, each of their issues discourages them from opening up fully to the other, which results in some inevitable heartache. In some books, a lack of communication doesn’t make sense and is a transparent plot device. But in Shh!, I totally understood why that was the case—if I were Olivia, I’d find it hard to tell my new boyfriend I was concerned I might have sexomnia as well!

My favourite characters were Logan (because duh!) and Olivia’s new friend, Molly. In my mind, she was Willow from the first season of Buffy, only older and a bit less of a nerd. I loved her! I saw a Goodreads reviewer was demanding a book about Molly, and I want to add a big +1 for that!

I found it hard to put this book down, and devoured it in three days. This is Stacey Nash’s first venture into contemporary, and she’s definitely nailed the new genre. The sequel is titled Wait!, but I don’t want to. I need it now!

Five stars