June Book Reviews

The Candy Capers by Katy Berritt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kept me guessing
I enjoyed the quirky characters, especially the uncle. I kept thinking I knew “who dun it”, but in the end, I was wrong! Candace and Gabe have a history, and chemistry that makes their shenanigans even more interesting! Great debut novel by author Katy Berritt.

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Lead Me Here by Aria Bliss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lead Me Here by Aria Bliss is the third installment in her Drunk Love Series. Aria knocks this one out of the park. Dexter and Chelsea are the ultimate grumpy sunshine match. With more angst than the other two books, this one takes you through alllllll the feels. Watching Dexter fall in love with Chelsea, and then Ruby, cracked my heart wide open. Dexter definitely redeemed his overbearing ways from Let Me Stay. While you can read these books as stand alones, I do recommend reading them in order. I am loving this whole series by Aria Bliss. I am anxious to get to Luke’s story!

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This is a new author for me, and a new genre. I was pleasantly surprised by the emotional connection the characters developed. I think the best part of this story, for me, was the resident at the home where Serena worked. His grumpy demeanor covered the pain of his love lost, and the plot twist at the end had me swooning. Talos and Serena find their way and they connect quite quickly. Serena goes from unsure to accepting rather fast, and I felt like there could have been a bit more tension there. I think the undeniable care Talos takes of Serena is very endearing. If you like Daddy/Little stories, this is a great read.

June was an insane month for me! I moved halfway across the country, and two weeks later flew out for Space Coast Book Lovers Con. What 5-star reads did you read in June? I’d love to know.

Space Coast Book Lovers ’22

If you have never been to a book convention, I encourage you to consider adding that to your bucket list.

This was my second year attending the Space Coast Book Lovers Con, and I have to say, it did not disappoint. The team that puts this event together has it down to a science. The weekend is FILLED with opportunities for readers and authors to connect.

Thursday, I attended the Indispensable PA/VA training day. I connected with fellow personal assistants, learned more about formatting, tiktok, branding, newsletters and more. Working in the book world is different than any other industry I have worked in. A large part of success is networking. Perhaps you don’t have a skill, but you know someone who does. Everyone is eager to help each other out.

Friday and Saturday were filled with reader events. From Booknique sessions where authors lead activities, to tropes and sips, think author panels. There is something for everyone. Luncheons, mingles, meet and greets, all fantastic opportunities to connect with your favorite authors. The after party, which was Alice in Wonderland themed, was so fun! A costume contest, fantastic decorations, and dancing topped off the fabulous event.

The many reader focused events kept authors and readers mingling and learning more about each other. Authors love hearing from their readers. They want to know what you love to read. So, reach out. Send that email, join those reader groups and newsletters. You’ll be glad you did!

The energy surrounding these types of events is contagious. To know you are surrounded by people you automatically have one thing in common with, takes the pressure off of meeting new people. You bond over your love of certain genre’s, authors, or tropes, and leave fast friends.

I will be at Orlando Reads Books in August. I encourage you to find a con near you and go! You will not be disappointed!

Audio Books

Several years ago we discovered my daughter was dyslexic. After sitting in on several different workshops with experts from all over the United States, my biggest take away was let her read with her ears.

Seemed crazy to me. I taught myself to read at the age of 4, her little brother had done the same. Reading with your ears?? Hmm….

The more I thought about it, the more I really got on board. We had always done read aloud time as a family, and she really enjoyed it. We already listened to audio books in the car. Why not use audio books to help her along until she was more comfortable reading on her own.

June is Audio Book Month. I encourage you to listen to an audio book this month! I’ll be listening to War Serenade by Jill Wallace.

The blurb:

DIVIDED BY WAR. UNITED BY MUSIC. ENDANGERED BY PASSION. When bon vivant Italian opera star-turned-pilot Pietro is shot down during World War II, he nearly loses his life. Worse, he’s lost his passion for music and is close to losing his sanity in a soul-crushing prisoner-of-war camp in South Africa when he meets Iris. He has a vision of a love worth dying for-worth living for-and realizes he must find his voice if he ever hopes to find her again. Iris’s dreams are at stake when she meets Pietro. All she wants is for her brother to come home alive from the war and to fulfill her destiny as a costume designer in Hollywood. But this spirited redhead’s life turns upside down as her eyes meet Pietro’s through the cage of his prison. The world may be at stake, but so is her heart. Their secretive and daring courtship raises the suspicions of the bully who runs the camp, a scarred and damaged tyrant who once dated Iris. Consummating the couple’s almost mystical connection will mean crossing the barbed wire, risking the deadly charge of treason and confronting their worst fears. Inspired by a true story, WAR SERENADE is compelling, heart-wrenching, sometimes funny and always dramatic as it celebrates the endurance of the human spirit, the evolution of rich friendships, and love’s triumph against impossible odds.

If you sign up for Jill’s newsletter, you also get access to War Serenade: Cards and Kisses! Sign up for find more about Jill Wallace here.

It is my sincere hope you fall in love with reading with your ears! Enjoy an audio book this month and let me know how you liked it!

Where Bad Girls Go to Fall by Holly Renee

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Nothing good came from listening to my heart.

It was careless and irrational and became way too invested when I read a romance novel.

So I put her under lock and key.

I only had a few rules, and I always stuck with them.

1. Never get attached.

2. Always run before the feels become contagious.

3. No matter what, under no circumstances, never fall in love.

He was a playboy who ran by the same set of rules.

What we had together was fun, it was hot, and it was temporary.

Until he screwed everything up.

We were never meant to be each other’s happily ever after, but the harder I tried to push him away, the further I fell.

Where Bad Girls Go to Fall by Holly Renee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

She is determined to protect her heart. She has made mistakes in the past and has no desire to mess up again. He has decided she is the one and he is working to tear down her walls.

The give and take had me hooked from the start.
I love a steamy read that can make me laugh out loud, and this did not disappoint.

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Let Me Stay by Aria Bliss

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I’ve always loved her, but I made a promise that I’d never touch her.
That promise was the worst mistake I ever made.
Because I just broke it.

♥ ♥ ♥

She’s always been off-limits. Her brother, and my best friend, made that very clear years ago. My mind may have gotten the message, but my heart didn’t listen.

But Emily doesn’t have just one brother. She has three overprotective brothers that would happily have me taken out if I touch her.

I try to respect them and her. I really do. But being near her is a constant battle for control of my body.

One drunken night alone with her, in a city far away from her brothers, and my control slips.

♥ ♥ ♥

That drunken night may be a blur, but my body remembers it despite my memory loss. Now that we’re home and surrounded by Emily’s brothers, I can’t keep my hands to myself. Consequences be damned.

Let Me Stay is a dual POV steamy full-length STANDALONE romance filled with lots of sexy times in the bedroom, profanity, and love with a HEA ending!

Let Me Stay by Aria Bliss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OH MY Whole heart! I love this new series from Aria Bliss. I wanted to shake Evan and tell him that Dex will get over it! It is clear to everyone around them that Evan and Emily have a special connection. He is hell bent on keeping an old promise no matter who it hurts. This book is full of steam, heart, and big decisions. I can’t wait for Dex’s story next!!

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Taming Grumpy Dr. Beast by Stephanie Harrell

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As first impressions go, it’s not looking good for this Beastly Billionaire Boss.

♥ ♥ ♥

Our disastrous first encounter left me cursing him six ways to Sunday—and stuck between two mechanized bookstacks in the archives at the university library. His monstrous impatience infuriated me and ruined my only chance to help my father.

Finding out this beast of a man is my new boss is bad enough. Being required to work on-site at his upstate New York mansion might destroy my last hope at saving my father’s business.

The more time we spend together, the more he reveals a side I never expected. I’ve spent my life hiding behind the pages, yet he opens my eyes to a world outside of books. I never allowed myself to dream of letting someone else take care of me—until him.

But I’m hiding a secret that could set fire to my carefully-crafted world, and he could be the spark that ignites the flame.

Fans of enemies-to-lovers romance will devour this Beauty and the Beast retelling

♥ ♥ ♥

Taming Grumpy Dr. Beast is a dual POV steamy romance filled with lust, language, and love with a guaranteed happily-ever-after. It is part of the fairy tale inspired Curvy Ever After series and can be read as a standalone.

Taming Grumpy Dr. Beast by Stephanie Harrell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this modern-day version of Beauty and the Beast! I have always loved the library scene in the original, and this library scene… well let’s just say have a fan handy! You find yourself falling in love with the very closed off, very determined Dr. Beast right alongside Belle. Her unwavering love for her father is evident in everything she does. Grumpy-Sunshine is a new favorite of mine after reading this version!

Each retelling by Stephanie Harrell gets better and better!

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Ramping Up

I find that working with a new author always takes a bit of “ramping up” time. Of course, there is the sharing of details, tasks etc, but I am talking about the getting to know you and your brand phase.

Each author has a brand. The specific colors, fonts, themes, and ideas they share create an image, or brand, that represents their work. It is essential for everyone on their team to fully understand what they are working toward and how they want to be seen.

Readers use brand recognition to seek out the authors they love. They may not always remember the title of the book they loved, but they remember how it made them feel. The same can be said for your branding.

If an author’s reader group, Facebook page, and website aren’t all aligned for example, readers get confused and no longer know what to expect. We find comfort in the familiar and appreciate knowing that we will always get what we expect from a product. Let’s face it, authors and their work are a product.

Gone are the days authors would write, holed up in some cabin in the woods, and readers would buy their work not knowing a thing about the author as a person. With the Indie Author boom, and the current world climate, readers are searching for a more intimate experience.

I work with an author who is so well branded and likeable as an author and individual, people who don’t even read her genre will seek her out at events, purchase her books as gifts for friends, and overall love to support her.

As you think about scaling up and adding people to your team, remember that it takes time to build rapport, to find your groove, and to click. You must have faith in your team, and they must understand what it is you want to project to the world.

Happy Writing!

Writing for Success: Florida Star Fiction Writers Conference

This past weekend, I attended the first conference put on by Florida Star Fiction Writers, a writing group based in Melbourne Florida. The conference featured a mix and mingle with a signature STARgarita cocktail available at the cash bar. The following day was filled with a variety of professional development workshops featuring authors like Roxanne Saint Claire, Kristen Painter, Laura Durke, Chris Kridler, Kerry Evelyn and more. The keynote speaker was none other than Jennifer Probst who brought her expertise and encouragement all the way from New York. The second day ended with a reader event put on by Lorelai’s Lit Lair and included a free book signing. The last day of the con featured a master class with Jennifer Probst.

I attended several workshops. Marketing, Emotion and how to “bleed on the page”, visual marketing for your books, world building, etc. I cannot wait to apply the things I learned not only to my own writing career, but to the clients I serve as a personal assistant. Learning and growing is essential for success in all areas of life, and I am blessed with a love of learning all the things.

As with everything, you take what is useful and leave the rest, but I must say, there was so much useful information I filled pages of notes!

The time spent with other authors is so valuable and inspiring. Especially for a newbie to the industry. Hearing what worked, what didn’t, and how to find your way is so essential to those who are starting out.

If you are interested in becoming a writer, I encourage you to seek out a local writing group like Florida Star Fiction Writers. Sign up for classes, workshops, conferences, conventions. Start a deep dive into learning the craft and the business. Meet other authors who have been there done that, and some who are just starting like yourself.

The connections I made this weekend are invaluable, and I look forward to learning and growing alongside these amazing authors for years to come.

Places to look for classes and workshops: your local library may offer these things, and if they don’t ask if they would consider doing so. Book Conventions often have an industry day component. In the Central Florida Area, I know of Space Coast Book Lovers con in June, and Orlando Reads Books in August. Break out of your comfort zone and start taking steps to further your career!

Dark Rings: Dark Things book 1

by Lainey DeLaroque

If you enjoyed the Club Lavendar Duet, you will recognize the characters and world within this new series as well.

Dark Rings by Lainey Delaroque

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dark Rings brough back characters from the Club Lavendar Duet. I loved getting to see Hanna and Mathias in their own story. There were so many twists in this story that I just didn’t see coming. I loved how Hanna and Mathias came together to help each other get through the very difficult challenges they were both facing. If you like romantic suspense, self-acceptance, and working to create a better world, even if it means living in a morally gray area, this book is for you!

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Have you ever looked out on freshly fallen snow that blankets the ground and been in wonder of the vastness?

When I see people rocking their dreams and crushing their goals, I think of that blanket of snow. It has a certain magic to it, doesn’t it?

What we don’t usually think of though, is the millions of little snowflakes that had to fall to create that shimmering blanket. We often marvel at the successes of those around us, wishing we could be that/do that, without realizing the millions of little steps they took to get there.

Success usually isn’t handed out. Especially in the Indie Author world. Each success comes with a million self-doubt’s, thousands of hours of work, and tears. I’ve yet to meet one Indie Author who started writing and didn’t question themselves.

Fun fact, authors are generally unsure of themselves. They pour themselves into their work and send it into the world hoping that it makes someone smile.

In that way, each author I’ve known, looks forward to feedback from the reader. I encourage you, if you have read something that just touches you, made you smile, or put a brightness on a dreary day, leave a review and let the author know that. If it really hit home for you personally, find their website and send a personal message as well. You may think authors don’t care to hear from you, but I promise you, they do.

So, the next time you start wishing you had the blanket of snow, start thinking of the steps you need to take to get there. I cannot wait to applaud your beautiful achievements!