Monday, April 30, 2018

May I Suggest...Giveaway Hop


Val has two books to recommend!







a Rafflecopter giveaway


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My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan ~ Excerpt




ABOUT MY OXFORD YEAR

American Ella Durran has had the same plan for her life since she was thirteen: Study at Oxford. At 24, she’s finally made it to England on a Rhodes Scholarship when she’s offered an unbelievable position in a rising political star’s presidential campaign. With the promise that she’ll work remotely and return to DC at the end of her Oxford year, she’s free to enjoy her Once in a Lifetime Experience. That is, until a smart-mouthed local who is too quick with his tongue and his car ruins her shirt and her first day. When Ella discovers that her English literature course will be taught by none other than that same local, Jamie Davenport, she thinks for the first time that Oxford might not be all she’s envisioned. But a late-night drink reveals a connection she wasn’t anticipating finding and what begins as a casual fling soon develops into something much more when Ella learns Jamie has a life-changing secret. Immediately, Ella is faced with a seemingly impossible decision: turn her back on the man she’s falling in love with to follow her political dreams or be there for him during a trial neither are truly prepared for. As the end of her year in Oxford rapidly approaches, Ella must decide if the dreams she’s always wanted are the same ones she’s now yearning for.











CHAPTER 1
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England – now!

Home-Thoughts, from Abroad – Robert Browning, 1845

“Next!”
The customs agent beckons the person in front of me and I approach the big red line, absently toeing the curling tape, resting my hand on the gleaming pipe railing. No adjustable ropes at Heathrow, apparently; these lines must always be long if they require permanent demarcation.
My phone rings. I glance down. I don’t know the number.
“Hello?” I answer.
“Is this Eleanor Durran?”
“Yes?”
“This is Gavin Brookdale.”
My first thought is that this is a prank call. Gavin Brookdale just stepped down as White House Chief of Staff. He’s run every major political campaign of the last 20 years. He’s a legend. He’s my idol. He’s calling me?
“Hello?”
“Sorry, I-I’m here,” I stammer. “I’m just –
“Have you heard of Janet Wilkes?”
Have I heard of – Janet Wilkes is the junior senator from Florida and a dark horse candidate for President. She’s 45, lost her husband twelve years ago in Afghanistan, raised three kids on a teacher’s salary while somehow putting herself through law school, and then ran the most impressive grassroots senatorial campaign I’ve ever seen. She also has the hottest human-rights-attorney boyfriend I’ve ever seen, but that’s beside the point. She’s a Gold Star wife who’s a progressive firebrand on social issues. We’ve never seen anyone like her on the national stage before. The first debate isn’t for another two weeks, on October 13, but voters seem to love her: she’s polling third in a field of twelve. Candidate Number Two is not long for the race; a Case of the Jilted Mistress(es). Number One, however, happens to be the current Vice-President, George Hillerson, who Gavin Brookdale (if the Washington gossip mill is accurate) loathes. Still, even the notoriously mercurial Brookdale wouldn’t back a losing horse like Wilkes just to spite the presumptive nominee. If nothing else, Gavin Brookdale likes to win. “Of course I’ve heard of her.”
“She read your piece in The Atlantic. We both did. ‘The Art of Education and the Death of the Thinking American Electorate.’ We were impressed.”
“Thank you,” I gush. “It was something I felt was missing from the discourse –”
“What you wrote was a philosophy. It wasn’t a policy.”
This brings me up short. “I understand why you’d think that, but I –”
“Don’t worry, I know you have the policy chops. I know you won Ohio for Janey Bennett. The 138th for Carl Moseley. You’re a talented young lady, Eleanor.”
“Mr. Brookdale –”
“Call me Gavin.”
“Then call me Ella. No one calls me Eleanor.”
“Alright, Ella, would you like to be the education consultant for Wilkes’ campaign?”
Silence.
“Hello?”
“Yes!” I bleat. “Yes, of course! She’s incredible –”
“Great. Come down to my office today and we’ll read you in.”
All the breath leaves my body. I can’t seem to get it back. “So… here’s the thing. I-I’m in England.”
“Fine, when you get back.”
“… I get back in June.”
Silence.
“Are you consulting over there?”
“No, I have a… I got a Rhodes and I’m doing a –”
Gavin chortles. “I was a Rhodie.”
“I know, Sir.”
“Gavin.”
“Gavin.”
“What are you studying?”
“English Language and Literature 1830 to 1914.”
Beat. “Why?”
“Because I want to?” Why does it come out as a question?
“You don’t need it. Getting the Rhodes is what matters. Doing it is meaningless, especially in Literature from 1830 to 19-whatever. The only reason you wanted it was to help you get that life-changing political job, right? Well, I’m giving that to you. So come home and let’s get down to business.”
“Next!”
A customs agent – stone-faced, turbaned, impressive beard – waves me forward. I take one step over the line, but hold a finger up to him. He’s not even looking at me. “Gavin, can I call –”
“She’s going to be the nominee, Ella. It’s going to be the fight of my life and I need all hands – including yours – on deck, but we’re going to do it.”
He’s delusional. But, my God, what if he’s right? A shiver of excitement snakes through me. “Gavin –”
“Listen, I’ve always backed the winning candidate, but I have never backed someone who I personally, deeply, wanted to win.”
“Miss?” Now the customs agent looks at me.
Gavin chuckles at my silence. “I don’t want to have to convince you, if you don’t feel –”
 “I can work from here.” Before he can argue, I continue, “I will make myself available at all hours. I will make Wilkes my priority.” Behind me, a bloated, red-faced businessman reeking of gin, moves to squeeze around me. I head him off, grabbing the railing, saying into the phone, “I had two jobs in college while volunteering in field offices and coordinating multiple city council runs. I worked two winning congressional campaigns last year while helping to shape the education budget for Ohio. I can certainly consult for you while reading books and writing about them occasionally.”
“Miss!” the customs agent barks. “Hang up the phone or step aside.” I hold my finger up higher (as if visibility is the problem) and widen my stance over the line.
“What’s your date certain for coming home?” Gavin asks.
“June 11th. I already have a ticket. Seat 32A.”
“Miss!” The customs agent and the man bark at me.
I look down at the red line between my sprawled feet. “Gavin, I’m straddling the North Atlantic right now. I literally have one foot in England and one in America and if I don’t hang up they’ll –”
“I’ll call you back.”
He disconnects.
What does that mean? What do I do? Numbly, I hurry to the immigration window, coming face to face with the dour agent. I adopt my best beauty-pageant smile and speak in the chagrined, gee-whiz tone I know he expects. “I am so sorry, Sir, my sincerest apologies. My Mom’s –”
“Passport.” He’s back to not looking at me. I’m getting the passive-aggressive treatment now. I hand over my brand new passport with the crisp, un-stamped pages. “Purpose of visit?”
“Study.”
“For how long will you be in the country?”
I pause. I glance down at the dark, unhelpful screen of my phone. “I… I don’t know.”
Now he looks up at me.
“A year,” I say. Screw it. “An academic year.”
“Where?”
“Oxford.” Saying the word out loud cuts through everything else. My smile becomes genuine. He asks me more questions, and I suppose I answer, but all I can think is:
I’m here. This is actually happening. Everything has come together according to plan.
He stamps my passport, hands it back, lifts his hand to the line.
“Next!”

#

When I was thirteen I read an article in Seventeen Magazine called, “My Once in a Lifetime Experience,” and it was a personal account of an American girl’s year abroad at Oxford. The classes, the students, the parks, the pubs, even the chip shop (“pictured, bottom left”) seemed like another world. Like slipping through a wormhole into a universe where things were ordered and people were dignified and the buildings were older than my entire country. I suppose thirteen is an important age in every girl’s life, but for me, growing up in the middle of nowhere, with a family that had fallen apart? I needed something to hold onto. I needed inspiration. I needed hope. The girl who wrote the article had been transformed. Oxford had unlocked her life and I was convinced that it would be the key to mine.
So I made a plan: get to Oxford.
After going through more customs checkpoints, I follow signs for The Central Bus Terminal and find an automatic ticket kiosk. The “£” sign before the amount looks so much better, more civilized, more historical than the American dollar sign, which always seems overly suggestive to me. Like it should be flashing in sequential neon lights above a strip club. $ - $ - $. Girls! Girls! Girls!
The kiosk’s screen asks me if I want a discounted return ticket (I assume that means round trip), and I pause. My flight back to Washington is on June 11th, barely sixteen hours after the official end of Trinity term. I have no plans to return to the states before then, instead staying here over the two long vacations (in December and March) and traveling. In fact, I already have my December itinerary all planned. I purchase the return ticket, then cross to a bench to wait for the next bus.
My phone dings and I look down. An email from The Rhodes Foundation reminding me about the orientation tomorrow morning.
For whatever reason, out of all the academic scholarships in the world, most people seem to have heard of The Rhodes. It’s not the only prestigious scholarship to be had, but it’s the one that I wanted. Every year, America sends 32 of its most overachieving, uber-competitive, social-climbing, do-gooder nerds to Oxford. It’s mostly associated with geniuses, power-players, global leaders. Let me demystify this: to get a Rhodes, you have to be slightly unhinged. You have to have a stellar GPA, excel in multiple courses of study, be socially entrepreneurial, charity-minded, and athletically proficient (though the last time I did anything remotely athletic I knocked out Jimmy Brighton’s front tooth with a foul ball, so take that tenet with a grain of salt). I could have gone after other scholarships. There’s the Marshal, the Fulbright, the Watson, but the Rhodies are my people. They’re the planners.
The other finalist selected from my district (a Math/Econ/Classics triple-major and Olympic archer who had discovered that applying Game Theory to negotiations with known terrorists makes the intel 147% more reliable) told me, “I’ve been working toward getting a Rhodes since Freshman year.” To which I replied, “Me, too.” He clarified, “Of high school.” To which I replied, “Me, too.”
While, yes, the Rhodes is a golden ticket to Oxford, it’s also a built-in network and the means to my political future. It ensures that people who would have otherwise discounted me – this unconnected girl from the soybean fields of Ohio – will take a second, serious look. People like Gavin Brookdale.
Going after things the way I do, being who I am, has alienated my entire hometown and most of my extended family. My mom hadn’t gone to college and my dad had dropped out after two years because he’d thought it was more important to change the world than learn about it, and there I was, this achievement machine making everyone around it vaguely uncomfortable. She thinks she’s better than everyone else.
Honestly, I don’t. But I do think I’m better than what everyone, besides my dad, told me I was. 

#

I wake up in a moment of panic when the bus I’d boarded back at Heathrow jerks to a stop, sending the book on my lap to the floor. Hastily retrieving it, I force my sleepy eyes to take in the view from the floor-to-ceiling window in front of me. I chose the seat on the upper level at the very front, wanting to devour every bit of English countryside on the way to Oxford. Then I slept through it.
Pushing through the fog in my head, I peer outside. A dingy bus stop in front of a generic cell phone store. I look for a street sign, trying to get my bearings. My info packet from the college said to get off at the Queens Lane stop on High Street. This can’t be it. I glance behind me and no one on the bus is moving to get off, so I settle back into my seat.
The bus starts up again, and I breathe deeply, trying to wake up. I jam the book into my backpack. I’d wanted to finish it before my first class tomorrow, but I can’t focus. I was too excited to eat or sleep on the plane. My empty stomach and all-nighter is catching up to me. The time difference is catching up to me. The last twelve years spent striving for this moment is catching up to me.
Inside my jacket pocket, my phone vibrates. I pull it out and see the same number from earlier. I take a deep breath and preemptively answer, “Gavin, listen, I was thinking, let’s do a trial period of, say, a month, and if you feel that I need to be there –”
“Not necessary."
My throat tightens. “Please, just give me thirty days to prove that –”
“It’s fine. I made it work. Just remember who comes first.”
Elation breaks through the fog. My fist clenches in victory and my smile reaches all the way to my temples. “Absolutely,” I say in my most professional voice. “Thank you so much for this opportunity. You won’t be disappointed.”
“I know that. That’s why I hired you. What’s your fee? FYI: there’s no money.”
There’s never any money. I tell him my fee anyway and we settle on something that I can live with. The Rhodes is paying my tuition and lodging and I get a small stipend for living expenses on top of that. I decide right then that what Gavin’s going to pay me will go directly into my travel budget. 
“Now, go,” he says, “Have fun. You’ve clearly earned it. There’s a pub you should visit in the center of town. The Turf. See where one of your fellow Rhodes Scholars – a young William Jefferson Clinton – ‘didn’t’ inhale.”
“Ha, got it. Will do.”
“Just take your phone with you. Your phone is an appendage, not an accessory. Okay?”
I nod even though he can’t see me. “Okay. It’s a plan.” Just as I say this, the bus rounds a bend and there she is:
Oxford.
Beyond a picturesque bridge, the narrow two-lane road continues into a bustling main street, lined on each side by buildings with a hodge-podge of architectural styles, no room to breathe between them. Like the crowd at the finish line of a marathon, these buildings cheer me on, welcoming me to their city. Some are topped with sloped, slate roofs, others with battlements. Some of the larger buildings have huge wooden gates that look as if they were carved in place, a fusion of timeless wood and stone that steals my breath. Maybe those doors lead to some of the 38 individual Oxford colleges? Imagining it, dreaming of it all these years, doesn’t do it justice.
I look skyward. Punctuating the horizon are the tips of other ancient buildings, high-points of stone bordering the city like beacons.
“The City of Dreaming Spires,” I murmur to myself.
“Indeed it is,” Gavin says in my ear. I’d forgotten he was still on the line.

That’s what they call Oxford. A title well deserved. Because that means, before it was my dream or Seventeen Magazine girl’s dream, it was someone else’s dream as well. 


ABOUT JULIA WHELAN
Julia Whelan is a screenwriter, lifelong actor, and award-winning audiobook narrator. She graduated with a degree in English and creative writing from Middlebury College and Oxford University. While she was in England, her flirtation with tea blossomed into a full-blown love affair, culminating in her eventual certification as a tea master.

Connect with Julia
Facebook: @justjuliawhelan
Twitter: @justjuliawhelan
Instagram: @justjuliawhelan

A Stuck In Books Giveaway




Val has 3 ARC of woman's fiction books to give away!




From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes a powerful, emotionally complex story of love, loss, the pain of the past—and the promise of the future.

Sometimes the greatest dream starts with the smallest element. A single cell, joining with another. And then dividing. And just like that, the world changes. Annie Harlow knows how lucky she is. The producer of a popular television cooking show, she loves her handsome husband and the beautiful Los Angeles home they share. And now, she’s pregnant with their first child. But in an instant, her life is shattered. And when Annie awakes from a yearlong coma, she discovers that time isn’t the only thing she’s lost.

Grieving and wounded, Annie retreats to her old family home in Switchback, Vermont, a maple farm generations old. There, surrounded by her free-spirited brother, their divorced mother, and four young nieces and nephews, Annie slowly emerges into a world she left behind years ago: the town where she grew up, the people she knew before, the high-school boyfriend turned judge. And with the discovery of a cookbook her grandmother wrote in the distant past, Annie unearths an age-old mystery that might prove the salvation of the family farm.

Family Tree is the story of one woman’s triumph over betrayal, and how she eventually comes to terms with her past. It is the story of joys unrealized and opportunities regained. Complex, clear-eyed and big-hearted, funny, sad, and wise, it is a novel to cherish and to remember.



Now Available from William Morrow Paperbacks


From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shelley Noble comes a heartrending and uplifting novel about friendship, love, and what we’re willing to sacrifice for our dreams.

What was supposed to be an idyllic wedding leads to an unexpected journey of self-discovery…

When Lillo Gray pulls up to Kennebunkport’s most exclusive hotel wearing a borrowed dress and driving a borrowed VW van, she knows she’s made a big mistake. She’s not even sure why Jessica Parker invited her to her posh wedding. They haven’t seen each other since they were unhappy fourteen-year-old girls at fat camp. And now they’re from two completely different worlds. There’s no way Lillo fits in the rarefied circles Jessica travels in.

Jess isn’t sure she’s ready to go through with this wedding, but she’s been too busy making everyone else happy to think about what she wants. But when she and her two closest friends, Allie and Diana, along with Lillo, discover her fiancĂ© with his pants down in the hotel parking lot, she’s humiliated…and slightly relieved. In a rush to escape her crumbling life, Jess, Allie, and Diana pile into Lillo’s beat-up old van and head up the coast to Lighthouse Island. Once there, she hopes to figure out the next chapter in her life.

Nursing broken hearts and broken dreams, four lost women embark on a journey to find their way back into happiness with new love, friendship, and the healing power of Lighthouse Beach.



Available May 29th from William Morrow Paperbacks


When three generations of women are brought together by crisis, they learn over the course of one hot summer the power of family to support, nourish and surpriseLauren has the perfect life...if she ignores the fact it's a fragile house of cards, and that her daughter Mack has just had a teenage personality transplant.Jenna is desperate to start a family with her husband, but it's... Just. Not. Happening. Her heart is breaking, but she's determined to keep her trademark smile on her face.Nancy knows she hasn't been the best mother, but how can she ever tell Lauren and Jenna the reason why?Then life changes in an instant, and Lauren, Mack, Jenna and Nancy are thrown together for a summer on Martha's Vineyard. Somehow, these very different women must relearn how to be a family. And while unraveling their secrets might be their biggest challege, the rewards could be infinite...Heartwarming and fresh, Sarah Morgan's brilliant new novel is a witty and deeply uplifting look at the power of a family of women.



Available July 10th from Harlequin Books



All three ARC (advanced reader copy) goes to one winner

US only





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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Stacking OUR Shelves ~ 4/29/18


Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  Make sure to checkout her post with links to all the other participates.

Click covers for Goodreads links



For Review...




Thanks go to...


Laura Kaye

Bought the audio...









Bought (Book Outlet Haul)...


Daughters of Darkness (Night World)SpellbinderDark AngelThe Chosen

SoulmateHuntressBlack Dawn (Night World)Witchlight (Night World #9)

With Every Breath (Slow Burn, #4)Just One Touch (Slow Burn, #5)Kin (Tales of Beauty & Madness, #3)The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy, #3)



That's what we added to our shelves this week! What do you think? What did you add to your stacks? Leave us a comment and link us up!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

A Stuck In Books Giveaway ~ Branded & Hunted




Branded (Sinners, #1)Hunted (Sinners, #2)

**Paperback copies of Branded & Hunted by Abi Ketner & Missy Kalickicki!**



- Paperback copies
- One winner
- US only
- Enter through the Rafflecopter below




Friday, April 27, 2018

Blog Tour: The Greatest Risk by Kristen Ashley ~ Review & Giveaway


The Greatest Risk (Honey, #3)Source: e-ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Greatest Risk (Honey #3) by Kristen Ashley


A woman unable to connect, struggling to hide another part of her. A man burning to learn her truth, and make her whole. Through explosive passion and deep exploration, they are about to take the greatest risk of all. But will they be able to take that leap, and come out on the other side together? In this next passionate novel in the Honey series, New York Times bestselling author Kristen Ashley delivers a stunningly romantic and intensely sexy novel that will stay with you long after you turn the final page.




So I enjoyed The Deep End. And I LOVED The Farthest Edge. And this book is by KA. So my expectations for The Greatest Risk were of the positive variety, but I wasn't quite sure where in the grand scheme of POSITIVE it would land. I knew I liked Stellan and Sixx always seemed cool, so I was guessing book 3 would fall between the first two books when ranking the series -- with book 2 as my top favorite. But I am here to tell y'all that setting high expectations for The Greatest Risk is not only a good idea but the BEST idea because this book BLEW ME AWAY with how fantastic it was. Honestly and truly, The Greatest Risk is one of the best books I've read so far this year and definitely a new KA favorite for me.

First of all there's Sixx. Who has always been a fierce chick. But getting to know her much deeper in this installment reveals so much. She's even more awe-inducing than I anticipated. Her personal growth was so great to witness. But even aside from that, she's just so cool and I'm glad we got a book for her.

Then there's Stellan, and to be perfectly honest he's what MADE the book for me. I adore Sixx, but Stellan. Man. Stellan. He's so devoted to Sixx. So sure of being with her. So openly fond and in love. It was beautiful and sweet and it made me unbelievably happy.

Their story was so satisfying to read. It kicks off pretty quick and honestly gave hints a few times of going in a direction that made me nervous -- but it never did go those ways I was worried about. In fact, the directions the book actually went in made me SO HAPPY. Stellan and Sixx together are literal perfection, and I am in awe of Kristen Ashley for writing such beauty.

Overall, The Greatest Risk is a beautiful addition to the Honey series and is definitely not to be missed! In regards to the Honey series, The Greatest Risk is now tied for my favorite along with The Farthest Edge -- and Branch is some tough competition. ;)


5 stars - A beautiful addition to the Honey series -- Stellan & Sixx are perfection!



Kristen Ashley is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over fifty novels, including Mystery Man, The Gamble, and Own the Wind. She grew up in Indiana, but has lived in Colorado and the West Country of England.






We're giving away a finished paperback copy of The Greatest Risk!

- One winner
- US only
- Enter through the Rafflecopter below

Giveaway not sponsored by StuckInBooks. StuckInBooks is not responsible for sending out prizes.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Greatest Risk by Kristen Ashley ~ ARC Giveaway



The Greatest Risk (Honey, #3) by Kristen Ashley

A woman unable to connect, struggling to hide another part of her. A man burning to learn her truth, and make her whole. Through explosive passion and deep exploration, they are about to take the greatest risk of all. But will they be able to take that leap, and come out on the other side together?

In this next passionate novel in the Honey series, New York Timesbestselling author Kristen Ashley delivers a stunningly romantic and intensely sexy novel that will stay with you long after you turn the final page.








Val won this SIGNED ARC at Apollycon.

The poor book had a bad trip back from DC, though. A few pages are rumbled but still very readable.

She's giving it away along with the pretty gold bag from the brunch.

US only



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