Review + Author Interview: Paparazzi by Christina Dennison.

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Publication Date: 01/01/2018

Length: 325 Pages

Purchase Link: click here to purchase from Amazon


 

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When the daughter of an elite Italian family, fashion photographer Francesca Garancini, meets star soccer player Paolo Romaldo their chemistry is immediate and electric.  If the two aren’t tearing off their clothes (Tom Ford and Valentino, naturally), they’re jet-setting from Capri to St Kitts to Istanbul.  Amid their lifestyle of fast cars and high heels, can their relationship survive the distractions, dalliances, and differences that threaten to tear them apart?

The only thing to which Francesca has ever committed wholly is her career as a photographer.  But in Paolo, she finally finds someone she can’t give up.  The two dodge paparazzi while taking in an opera at La Scala, share an intimate, champagne-fueled romp on Christmas Eve, and make a pizza delivery man more than a little uncomfortable.  On the surface, they’re the perfect couple: beautiful, glamorous, and successful.  And then, on a trip to Turkey to shoot for a controversial magazine, Francesca meets Selim, married scion of a powerful Istanbulli family.  Selim is magnetic, and intent on seducing Francesca amidst the glittering lights of Topkapi Palace.

In the glamorous tradition of Judith Krantz’s ScruplesPaparazzi explores an erotically-charged relationship between beautiful people in a sexy, international setting.


About the author

Christina Dennison lives in New York City. She discovered a copy of Judith Krantz’s novel Scruples on a high bookshelf when she was young and has been writing ever since. She does her best writing on planes, eats pasta unrepentantly, and loves a still Negroni in a dark cocktail bar. Paparazzi is the first book of the Francesca Trilogy and her first novel. 

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Facebook: @christinadennison

Insta: @christinadennisonauthor

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/ChristinaDennison

Website: https://christinadennison.com/


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A special thanks to Christina for taking her time to answer some interview questions for this post! 

1.) Aside from the Francesca Trilogy, do you have any other books in the works?

I do! I’ve got two concepts I can’t wait to start writing in earnest. One is a family saga that takes place in a New England town similar to where I grew up, and the second idea is inspired by a trip I took to the Dominican Republic. Both of them would have romantic elements.

2.) Who are some of your favorite authors and books?

I embarked on a project in 2014 to spend that year only reading books written by women, and it actually changed my life. I read novels, non-fiction, genre fiction, anything that was recommended to me, as long as it was written by a woman. I discovered so many great writers and books, so here are some of them:

– Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward

– The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller (I studied classical Greek in college and this is a poignant love story)

– What Happens in Scotland, Jennifer McQuiston

– Green Darkness, Anya Seton

– The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson

3.) What is your favorite part of Paparazzi?

I like the really hard parts, maybe because I’m a masochist when it comes to my characters. Two moments stand out really clearly for me–the first is Francesca and Paolo’s trip to Naples, particularly the cemetery scene and the sex scene right after it, because it shows them trying to connect and failing, but pushing forward anyway. And the second is the scene toward the end, when Francesca and Giulietta are drinking champagne and eating oysters on the roof of the department store in Milan, because I think it’s some of the best writing in the book and gets to the heart of how complicated it is to be an adult, regardless of money.

4.) What character in your book are you least likely to get along with?

What an interesting question! I’m terribly intimidated by beautiful people, especially when they have kind personalities and clairvoyant powers, so I have to say Natalya, the model / friend with whom Francesca and Paolo go on vacation to St Kitts.

5.) Are any of your characters based off real people? 

Oooh, the kiss-and-tell question… Yes, and it’s Selim.

6.) If you could spend time with a character from your book, who would you choose and what would you do? 

I think the only acceptable answer is to go to the opera with Paolo, no? Actually, I would love to take Francesca to volunteer somewhere, maybe at God’s Love We Deliver (where I volunteer weekly). Or go to the playground with Leo, because that’s something my nieces and I love to do together.

7.) When you aren’t reading or writing, what are some of your favorite things to do?

I work full time in the fashion industry, and I love my job (it also provides me with lots of inspiration). I travel a lot, for work and for pleasure, and I love observing different people and the ways they live. When I’m home in New York, you can find me spinning at Flywheel. And I love just spending time with family and friends, sitting on the couch with a glass of wine.

8.) What do you love most about the writing process?

I love actually sitting down and writing a first draft, because I get to take the story from my mind and see it take shape. And though I don’t like revising, I love when changes lead to significant improvements, and I can tell when a scene is better than when I started.

9.) What gives you inspiration for your books? 

Art–when I travel, I try to visit museums and galleries, if only to absorb art and find new ways to see the world. Relationships–I am always trying to understand how people connect, what causes us to love, what drives us apart. I’d be remiss not to say food, there are many memorable meals that work their way into my writing–I’ve plotted whole scenes around certain foods!

10.) Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?

Thank you! It’s so important to read, share, and promote women’s writing. Our voices become stronger as we amplify them together. When we write about our desires, we start a conversation about sexuality. When we talk about sexuality, we become accustomed to the language of our bodies and that gives us power. Women can bring about positive change when we speak truth to power.


My Rating: 5 Stars

My Review

Christina is a new author I recently discovered. She reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in reading and reviewing Paparazzi. After reading the synopsis, I knew this would be something I would be interested in. I’m so glad I decided to give it a go. I LOVED this book. Christina is a very talented author and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the Francesca Trilogy! 

Francesca is an inspirational woman. Her family is well known and very wealthy, but she doesn’t want to use that power to influence her career. She works with a professional name so she can succeed on her own. I think I would do the exact same thing if I were ever in that position. I would want to know I got to where I am without the help of my families name. I’m very independent like she is and I feel so accomplished when I do something without the help of others. 

I enjoyed reading about Francesca’s travels. Unfortunately, that isn’t something I will be able to do a lot of in my own life, so it was fun pretending I was her while I was reading. What woman wouldn’t want to have a lavish lifestyle of travel, a successful career, and clothes to die for?!? I loved her style…Prada, Gucci, Valentino…a girl can dream! 

The relationship between Francesca and Paolo is hot and heavy, but is that enough for a relationship to last? I loved the chemistry between them and the steamy sex scenes, but I was conflicted with how I felt about Paolo. There were a few scenes where I wanted to reach in the book and slap him. 

I am very interested to find out what happens next with Francesca and Selim! The ending of Paparazzi is a cliff hanger and I am counting down the days until I can read the next book in the trilogy! 

Paparazzi is definitely a book I would recommend to my book friends!

Thank you for taking your time to read my review!

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Blog Tour+Review & Excerpt: Friends and Other Liars by Kaela Coble.

Genre: Women’s Fiction. Mystery/Suspense

Publication Date: 02/06/2018

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Length: 370 pages


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To all my old friends:
So here you all are. Nice to see you can show up for a person once he’s dead.

When Ruby St. James returns to her hometown, it is to the grave of her old friend Danny, a member of a group that was, ten years ago, Ruby’s whole world. The crew made a pact back then: stay together, stay loyal, and stay honest. But that was before all of the lies.

Because even friends keep secrets. They just don’t stay secret for long.

Now Danny has left behind a letter for each of them, issuing one final ultimatum: share your darkest betrayal to the group, or risk it coming out in a trap he has created. When past mistakes resurface, the lines of friendship blurb, and four old friends are left trying to understand what it means to lie to the ones you love best.


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Prologue

Danny

Now

Look at them. I’m dead and they’re still pissing me off.

They’re disgusting. Sitting in their pew, huddled together like a pack of wolves. Each playing their part in mourning—the bereaved, the wilted, the guilty. They clutch at one another, leaning on each other physically and emotionally for support. Shaking heads, balled fists, crocodile tears. Asking why, how. Dabbing their swollen eyes with crumpled tissues. Declaring their loyalty and love for one another. For me.

Really, they hate each other, and they hate themselves, and they hate me for making them face their own mortality. And they love me because it fuels their sick sense of pride in their little clan. The crew, they call themselves, even though they haven’t been whole for a decade. “Still supporting each other after all these years,” they declare, even though they wouldn’t know true support if it helped them climb out of a grave.

There’s Ally, the great beauty of Chatwick, sitting tall and stoic, practically cradling a weeping, whimpering Steph in her arms. Ally’s expression as she comforts Steph says everything about her that you need to know. In this most horrifying moment, she is proud to be the crew’s leader, to be the default person in whom to find solace. But the tightness around her lips and the slight narrowing of her eyes shows a bit of the self-righteousness she feels. Steph is a girlfriend of the crew, not an original member. What right does she have to this display? Ally shoots glances at her perfect husband, Aaron. High school sweethearts; couldn’t you just puke? Talk about not being an original member… Aaron the dreamboat isn’t one either. He didn’t swoop in until our sophomore year of high school. And if you ask me, we would have been just fine without him.

Emmett and Aaron sit together instead of with their respective significant others, no doubt upon Emmett’s insistence. He has always orchestrated the seating arrangements to split between genders. He’s the youngest of three brothers, and therefore the noise, the gossip, and the full range of feminine feelings have always made him uncomfortable. The heightened emotional state caused by my death is no doubt more unbearable for him than my death itself. That he is allowing Ally to tend to his sobbing girlfriend, offering no comfort of his own, comes as no surprise.

He and Aaron mimic the same posture—leaned forward, their elbows resting on the thighs of their cheap woolen pants. They face the front of the church, careful not to make eye contact with each other, so they won’t have to utter one of the lame platitudes they’ve heard too many times over the past days. “He’s in a better place.” “He’s finally at peace.” And my personal favorite: “He’s with Roger now.”

While they should be focusing on the tragedy that is (was) my life, instead my casket is a big, fat, polished-cedar reminder that one day this will be them. They ponder all the predictable questions that even people of the mildest intellect contemplate when faced with untimely death: Where do we go when we die? What will they say about me when I’m gone? What does it all mean? Tomorrow they will look into low-premium life insurance plans to take care of their burgeoning families, should something happen to them. It will make them feel like men in control of their lives. But they’re not. They’re boys, and they’re not in control of shit.

Speaking of boys, Murphy isn’t here, the coward. He always picks the easiest option, and in this case (and many cases), that means hiding. I’m dead, lying here about to be carried off and buried, but all he cares about is winning the argument. Murphy showing up would mean I got the last word, or that he had forgiven me, and either of those would mean he’s weak. He doesn’t realize he’s the weakest one of the bunch anyway.

That brings me to Ruby. She sits in the pew between the girls and the boys, the space between her and them so slight you would only notice if you were looking for it, like I am. She watches Ally comforting Steph, occasionally reaching out a hand to squeeze one of Ally’s. I know Ruby feels genuine grief, but mostly discomfort. She doesn’t know her place anymore, her role. I’m only now realizing that she never really knew it. She’s been an official outsider ever since she dared leave Chatwick at eighteen, but even before that, she and I were always the ones straddling the curvature of the crew’s closed circle. One foot in, one foot out. The dark ones.

I know it’s terrible how much enjoyment I get from watching her squirm, but it’s just too entertaining. Besides, with the fate of my soul no longer a question mark, I’m enjoying what I can. My death will be hardest on Ruby, for sure, but she’ll never admit it, and our crew won’t acknowledge it. She left. She abandoned us, so she can’t possibly feel it as deeply as they do. It’s amazing how grief turns so quickly from a group activity to a competitive sport.

It seems all of Chatwick turned up in their patent-leather shoes and cheap polyester blends. “To show their support,” they’d say. For who? Me? Four days ago, they wouldn’t have pissed on me if I were on fire. Most of them are only here to satisfy their morbid curiosity, whispering behind hands and rolling eyes, gathering tidbits to relay later to their neighbors who were unable to make it. But some are here for my mother, Charlene, whose deli (formerly my stepfather’s) is where they happily spend their food stamps. Either way, I wish they wouldn’t have come. It makes them feel too damn good about themselves, and they don’t deserve it. And I don’t deserve the show either, even if it is fake.

Mom stares blankly ahead of her as the priest eulogizes yet another man who has let her down. I look—well, looked—just like her. If you shaved off her two curtains of waist-length blond curls and straightened out her chest and hips, we would look like twins.

Nancy, Ruby’s mother, sits next to Mom, holding her limp hand. Nancy is the one who made all these arrangements, and despite the overabundance of flowers, I still appreciate her efforts. She saved my mother from having to coordinate another funeral, and I think one is enough for a lifetime. Ruby’s never forgiven Nancy for the way she handled her own illness back in the day, but as dicey as things got in the St. James household, they didn’t hold a candle to my family. Besides, Nancy’s one of the only assholes in this town who has any compassion, and I’m grateful she’s decided to bestow it upon Mom when she needs it most.

That’s all I ever needed. Compassion. If I’d ever gotten a shred of it from any of the people in this room, maybe I wouldn’t be in this fucking box.

My “friends” all think they will finally be rid of me once they’ve fulfilled this obligation. They will go back to the “happy,” normal, vanilla lives they lead, and their guilt will subside eventually.

Dumbasses. They have no idea Mom found the letters this morning.


About the author

Kaela Coble lives in Burlington, Vermont, and is a member of the League of Vermont Writers and a graduate of the WoMentoring Project. This is her first novel. 

Website: https://kaelacoble.com/

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/kaelacobleauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kaelacoble

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Friends-Other-Liars-Kaela-Coble/dp/1492651168

Barnes & Noblehttps://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/friends-and-other-liars-kaela-coble/1126273509#/

Books-A-Million: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Friends-Other-Liars/Kaela-Coble/9781492651161

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781492651161


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-US & Canada Only-

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Friends and Other Liars! Click on the link below to enter!

Rafflecopter Link

Disclaimer: The giveaway is provided & handled by the publisher, Sourcebooks Landmark.


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My Rating: 4 stars

My Review

First, I want to say congrats to Kaela on her first novel! I’m excited that I had an opportunity to read and review Friends and Other Liars! She is a very talented author and I’m looking forward to more of her books in the future! 

When I am reading a book filled with suspense, one of the most important things to me is how the book is paced. I lose interest very quickly if I feel like the story is being dragged out. I felt like she did a great job and the book was perfectly paced. I was eager to turn the pages to find out what was going to happen next! 

When “the crew” made a pact as children, they thought they were making an agreement to always be honest and there for each other. As we discover throughout the book, each crew member has a secret they are hiding from the entire group. I enjoyed reading about their past and discovering what their secrets were! This book kept me on my toes! 

I’ll admit at first I was kinda pissed at Danny. I thought he was selfish and just an ass for doing what he did and especially throwing his poor mother into the drama. As I kept reading, I discovered more about Danny and what led up to his decisions. 

I truly enjoyed Friends and Other Liars and I would definitely recommend this book to my fellow book lovers. 

Thank you for taking your time to read my review! 

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Review: The Evolution of Ivy: poison & antidote by Lauren Campbell.

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My Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Publication Date: 

The Evolution of Ivy: poison- 1/30/2017

The Evolution of Ivy: antidote- 09/20/2017

Length: 

The Evolution of Ivy: poison- 300 pages. 

The Evolution of Ivy: antidote- 374 pages

Synopsis of The Evolution of Ivy: poison-

“They won’t recognize the new me.

But they know the old me well–the me she harmed, and the me he loved.

She thinks she has him. But I’m going to take him back.

He thinks she’s the one. But I’m going to show him he’s wrong.

I thought it was over. But now I have a chance.”

Synopsis for The Evolution of Ivy: antidote-

It should have been easier. 

I changed everything. Became the beauty I didn’t think he’d resist. Lived the lie I thought he could love. 

I sacrificed my soul to recover the years that she took from us, yet I’m still empty-handed.

But he’s mine. I’ve earned him. It’s time to collect my prize, and I’ll be damned if I let anyone come between us this late in the game. 

If only I’d known my greatest obstacle would be me.


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I totally have a girl crush on Ivy 😍

Her character made me laugh so hard that I almost peed my pants!  You never know what is going to come out of her mouth or what she is going to do!

Ivy’s half psycho, half hopeless romantic… I just can’t get enough of her! She kinda reminds me of myself ha!

Here is a little taste of Ivy’s sense of humor. There’s a lot more, but you will have to read the books to find out the rest! 😉

Warning: there are some explicit words, so if you are easily offended, don’t read this lol.

“I can’t believe I lost my virginity to a piece of plastic, I think. I can definitely never tell anyone that … ever. But I do wonder why I didn’t do it sooner.”

“Yes, of course,” I say, and I’m not really lying, because he didn’t specify which pill. I take Xanax and Claritin every day.”

“Her forced smile and weak hug when she arrived highlighted her fakery. Bitch.”

“I text my address once he’s out of view, then set an alarm on my phone titled Clog Your Garbage Disposal.”

“Don’t beat yourself up. Everyone is allowed to have one fuck-up. You’re human.” But she’s not human. She’s the devil.”

“Maybe he’s as fake as my outsides are right now.”

“I almost feel like a terrible person for it. Almost.”

“so yay for basically telling the truth!”

“Penis Jansen, meet the future Pussy Jansen. Ha!”

“I’m a special slut, not a regular slut!”

“But here I am—up, showered, and murdering weeds.”

“I give him the cross streets of the shoulder I’m pulled over in, and adjust my tits, because my knight in shining armor is on his way to rescue me!”

“But the only finish line he needs is the crack of my ass.”

“Either way, I’m not a happy girl. I’m a depressed, broccoli-murdering girl who’s gonna have some terrible ass gas if I don’t stop.”

“Yawn. Love ya, Jesus, but this guy’s voice may as well render my coffee decaf.”

“That I must stand here and pretend I don’t know he was talking to some whore is like having a yeast infection and no fingernails and no Monistat.”


 

The Evolution of Ivy: Poison & The Evolution of Ivy: Antidote are both currently on Kindle-Unlimited!

Check out Natalie’s GoodReads profile to learn more about her by clicking HERE!

Thank you for taking your time to read my review!

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Review: I Know This of Myself by Lina Holloway.

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My Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Publication Date: 10/31/2015

Length: 335 pages


Synopsis:

A story of love, loss, and forgiveness. Nia’s entire world has fallen apart. She is stuck in a cycle of depression she cannot pull herself from. Her sister, Noie, and her college friends are determined to help pull her from the darkness. Will she find a way to truly live again and the strength to imagine a new future for herself?


My Review:

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This isn’t my typical kind of read, but I needed something different. I honestly don’t even know how I ended up with this book. I’ve struggled with Clinical Depression for the last couple years. I’ve always had occasional depression & anxiety, but it’s been horrible this time. I felt like I could possibly relate to Nia, so I decided to give it a try, plus it was FREE on Kindle-Unlimited!

I Know This of Myself jumps between “Nia Now”, “Nia Then”, “Nia Diary”,  and “Ian Then”. I knew Nia suffered from depression from the description of the book, but I didn’t know what triggered it. Lina Holloway does an amazing job of telling the story of Nia & Ian without giving away too much at the beginning.

I don’t cry very often when I read, but I did while reading I Know This of Myself. Nia’s emotions are so raw and you just feel so bad for her that it tears your heart apart.  I definitely didn’t expect what happened to Ian. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just leave it at that.


My Story of Depression:

I truly believe depression is a disease. So many people try to sweep it under a rug & just pretend that it doesn’t exist. I have been told once before to “snap out of it”…if it were only that easy. The best I can describe depression is living in your own personal hell. No one would ever want to live that way if they could help it. Trust me.

A couple years ago, I finally got the courage to leave my drug addict boyfriend of 3 years. He wasn’t addicted to drugs the entire time we were together, which made things harder because I knew the good-hearted person he was deep down inside. About a year into our relationship, he became addicted to pills. I struggled with him for 2 years after that trying my best to “save him”, but I ended up needing someone to save me.

I was afraid to leave him because I was sure as soon as I did, he would overdose. He was never violent with me until he started taking the pills. He turned into someone I didn’t know anymore, and I did too. I started withdrawing from friends and family and I kept most of my life a secret, which ate at me. I finally had enough one night and I left the next morning. It was the best decision I had made in a long time. It wasn’t easy though.

I felt guilty for leaving him, but I didn’t have a choice. He was hitting rock bottom and taking me down too. I was financially destroyed from trying to pay all the bills and take care of everything while he laid passed out on the couch most days. I didn’t even have enough money to get an apartment when I left. I had to live with family.

For the first year, I had constant flashbacks and cried all the time. I tried new medicines and nothing ever seemed to help, so I just tried to deal with it my own way. I’m stubborn, so I don’t ever ask for help or talk to anyone because I hate to feel like I’m a burden. People shouldn’t have to feel like a burden just because some people don’t believe depression is real.

Nia had an amazing support group, and that is exactly what someone needs when battling depression. Trying to handle it on your own will destroy you. I had a few members of my family that I’m close to and felt like I could talk to occasionally, but I didn’t want to overload them with my problems. Everyone has their own problems and I didn’t want to add to theirs, that’s just how I am. I’d rather hurt than to hurt someone by letting them know how I feel.

I suffered silently. I tried to keep my mind busy by starting to workout outside, read more often and basically avoid any depressing thoughts. That worked for a little bit, but depression was still there. One day, my body finally just gave. I couldn’t handle things anymore. I think it was a mixture of a new medicine I was on & the amount of depression I had that literally made my body give out. I ended up in the emergency room from basically having a breakdown.

I didn’t have health insurance at the time and I still don’t because I “make too much” to qualify for any assistance & I just can’t afford it since I don’t have group health insurance. My primary doctor had done his best to control my depression, but it just wasn’t enough. He doesn’t specialize in mental health and that’s what I needed. The problem is that it is very costly. If I made a lot less than I do, I would get help for free, but since that is not the case, I cannot get the true help I need.

Do you know what it costs to see a psychiatrist if you don’t have insurance? About $200 per session. I can go elsewhere and get counseling for lower, but I need to see a psychiatrist to get on the correct medication.  I can’t afford the treatment, so once again, I suffer in silence.

This is the case for so many people, and it’s sad. People can’t get help unless they completely break down or try to hurt themselves, but all they get then is a visit to the hospital and discharged after a few days and then get a bill for about $10,000. I pay taxes and have since I was 16 and I can’t get help. I think mental health care should be free. I would be ok with my tax dollars going to something like that.

Some people may disagree with me, but until you have all but given up on life and you know how much it hurts, you don’t have a right to say depression is not real. I would never wish this on my worst enemy.

I hope I have shed some light on depression. I Know This of Myself did a great job portraying some aspects of depression. I would highly recommend this book!

If you are feeling depressed, know that you are not alone. If you ever become suicidal, I hope you will reach out to someone or call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or visit their website to chat by clicking HERE.

There are several other organizations, so please reach out to one of them!


 

Check out Natalie’s GoodReads profile to learn more about her by clicking HERE!

Thank you for taking your time to read my review!

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