Sunday, June 29, 2014

Still Guilty by Pat Simmons

AnnMarie's Reviews

Book Review Corner

Still Guilty by Pat Simmons

The Guilty series, Book #3

Christian ~ Urban ~ Romance

'Still Guilty' was the first book that I read in the 'Guilty' series by Pat Simmons, and throughout the whole book I kept forgetting that it wasn't the first book. Although there was a lot of back story, I felt that the story made sense as a stand alone as well. However, I am excited that I can go back and read the first 2 books so that I can read those back stories in detail.

From what I can tell, the Guilty series is about spiritual growth, love, forgiveness, and finding your happiness. There are no perfect happily ever afters, the reality is that there will be trials and tribulations that one must face in life to get to progress spiritually. Further, through faith and living your life in the Christian way, one can find a way to their own happiness, learn to be grateful for what they have, and accept what they don't or can't have.

'Still Guilty' was filled with rich African history, African-American history and the importance of church and family. Not only was the story well-written and obviously well-researched, Pat Simmons brought her characters to life by making them real, showing their weaknesses and faults along with their successes. I felt myself identifying with the characters throughout the story, but particularly with Cheney. Cheney had experienced a lot of pain in her life, and after finding her happiness, she was then faced with the burden of watching her loved ones struggle to find their own way. On top of all that, Cheney took on more heartache and trials even after finding her happiness, reminding me that life is not all just finding your way to 'Happy' and spending the rest of your life there, but rather facing the fact that one must continue to find their 'Happy' again and again as the seasons change and our faith is tested over and over again.

I am definitely going to be reading the rest of this series, and I look forward to any future books that are written for the Jamieson and Reynolds families. In particular, I would love to see Cheney's twin brother Rainey find his own happiness, as well as the rest of her family.

To learn more about Pat Simmons, check out her links!

Website | FacebookTwitter | Amazon | Goodreads

My recommendation for Still Guilty by Pat Simmons: The romance is sweet and clean, and this book has a strong Christian theme. Spiritual growth, love and family are center plot points in this book. If you are looking for something real that you can fall in love with, this is the book for you. Especially if you are looking for something that stays on the clean side of the romance genre. This book is also quite informative in black history, so be prepared to be amazed at the interesting history lessons you are sure to experience.

I gave 'Still Guilty' 4 out of 5 stars!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Release Day Blitz: Side Effects by Lisa Suzanne


Author: Lisa Suzanne
Genre: Contemporary Romance
She has been hurt. She has a past of lies, cheating, and pain. She has severe panic attacks when she’s in enclosed spaces, a side effect of a horrible accident caused by a man she thought she loved. Quinn Carpenter has a distinct type: bad boys with dark hair, dark eyes, and tattoos. Tyler, her friend with benefits, fits the bill perfectly. They have fun together and they both know that fun is where their relationship begins and ends.

Quinn’s life is exactly how she wants it until she meets Reed Porter, the typical pretty boy with blue eyes, blonde hair, and zero tattoos. He is the exact opposite of everything Quinn likes.

So why can’t she get the frustrating, preppy, blue-eyed Reed out of her head?

She isn’t interested in commitment. She doesn’t want a relationship. But Reed challenges her, he puts her in her place, and he makes her nervous. The confident Quinn is never nervous around men, so what is it about Reed that has her questioning everything? And what will be the side effects of attempting to juggle two men at the same time?


Lisa Suzanne

Lisa Suzanne started handwriting her books on yellow legal pads after she took a creative writing class in high school. She still has those legal pads full of stories, but now one of them is published under the title How He Really Feels. She currently works as a full time high school English teacher, and her favorite part of the year is summer. She has been blessed with the world’s best dog, a supportive family, and a husband who encouraged her to publish after reading one of her novels. She likes the advice of Ernest Hemingway’s famous quote, “Write drunk. Edit sober.”

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Flowers on 1st - Vancouver

Often, I find myself wishing I lived in Canada, and now I have another reason to do so. If you happen to live in the Vancouver area, then perhaps you have heard of Flowers on 1st. 

This week, I had the pleasure to make the acquaintance of the owners of this beautiful little shop and I had to write a post about them. 

Have you ever just had an experience with a company and thought to yourself, "I just have to tell everyone about this place!"? Well, that is what happened to me. 

I have been tired of using the same old delivery services that offer very little variation in what you can send, and it never failed that I would find an arrangement if gift set that I thought would be perfect for the occasion, only to find out that it wasn't available in the area that I needed it. So, I ventured out to find places that are local to where I would like to send a gift, and VoilĂ ! Low and behold, I found "Flowers on 1ST" in Vancouver, BC. 

After exploring the beautiful arrangements online, I was able to find exactly what I wanted to send, and I knew without a doubt that it would be available in the area I was sending it, because I went straight to the source. And guess what? Every arrangement includes FREE SWISS CHOCOLATE!
Hey, I am a sucker for chocolate, as anyone who knows me even a little should know, so that alone was enough to keep me coming back for more. But add to it the beautiful arrangements, the confidence in knowing that what I ordered would indeed be what my recipient received, and the AMAZING customer service, there was nothing left for me to do but become a huge fan. My only wish is that a place EXACTLY like "Flowers on 1ST" existed in my own city so that I could use their services more often. 

I guess I will just have to make more friends that live in Vancouver. One can never have too many loved ones anyhow, and why not choose friends that happen to live in one of the friendliest places on earth?

If you have any friends in Vancouver, send them a gift from "Flowers on 1ST" - Don't forget to follow the links below, and be sure to follow them socially!

Blog Tour: Leap of Faith by Michele Shriver

Single mother Tracey Hiatt prides herself on having a close relationship with her daughter-the kind of relationship she’s always wanted, but never had, with her own mother. When her mother suffers a debilitating illness and faces a lengthy recovery, family takes on a whole new meaning for Tracey as she finds herself pulled back to her ex, Steve Eldridge. There’s only one problem: he’s involved with someone else. Steve is drawn back into Tracey’s family drama and after her mother awakens from a coma believing he and Tracey are married, the two are forced to confront some fundamental questions about their relationship.  Can they put past hurts behind them and take a leap of faith into a new future together?

The steady beep of the heart monitor filled the room, along with the whooshing sound of the ventilator. Out in the hallway, Tracey Hiatt could hear the occasional chime of the elevator and muffled voices sounding over the hospital intercom, but she paid no attention to them, her focus remaining on the still form in the bed. Pamela Hiatt had long cut an imposing figure, at least where her middle child was concerned, but now she lay completely motionless, a machine in charge of her breathing. ‘Comatose and unresponsive,’ the doctors termed her condition, while at the same time insisting Pamela was aware of what happened around her and could hear what people said.

“Talk to her,” Tracey’s brother had urged when she arrived at the hospital, before leaving her alone in their mother’s room. “It’ll mean a lot to her that you’re here.”

Yeah, right.Brian meant well. Tracey didn’t doubt that. He’d always tried to be the peacemaker and stick up for his little sister in the face of Pamela’s constant disapproval, and Tracey appreciated that. It was because of Brian, for Brian, that she’d rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital upon learning her estranged mother had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke and lay in a coma.

Talk to her. Fine. What was she supposed to say? Tracey sucked in a breath as she fought back tears. She’d long thought that Pamela lived to torment her, and she wasn’t quite prepared to see her mother like this, barely clinging to life.

“Hello, Mother,” she finally said. “It’s me, Tracey. Bet you didn’t expect to see me here, huh? It’s been a while.” How long, exactly, she didn’t remember. Over the years, Tracey had extended a few olive branches, hoping to repair the relationship with her mother for the sake of her own daughter. Occasionally Pamela reciprocated and they forged a somewhat tentative truce for a short period. Other times, Tracey’s efforts were met with a frosty response and she stopped trying.

“Anyway, I’m doing well,” she said. “I’ve got a new class assignment this fall. I’m teaching Tort Law. Isn’t that exciting?” Tracey still recalled Pamela’s look of disapproval when she accepted a position teaching Legal Writing at Northern Illinois University’s law school. The job wasn’t prestigious enough for Pamela’s lofty standards. Maybe not, but Tracey enjoyed teaching it and was good at it. Still, with the retirement of one of the senior members of the faculty, she’d been presented with the opportunity to take over a Torts class and she jumped at it. She’d been contemplating calling her mother, extending another olive branch, when Brian called to inform her of Pamela’s stroke. Life was cruel sometimes.

Pamela didn’t stir, but Tracey continued on. “I’m really looking forward to the new challenge. Classes start next week.” She paused, again studying her mother’s form. No change. Nothing. “Lindsay’s starting sixth grade next week, too. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that. You wouldn’t believe how big she’s gotten.” Of course, maybe you would if you saw her on a regular basis.

Tracey took a deep breath and tried to get a handle on her emotions. Now, with her mother fighting to survive, was not the time to dwell on past slights and years of hurt. Once Pamela recovered, they’d have the opportunity to talk about everything, and maybe, hopefully, repair their relationship. Tracey wanted it to happen, but she wasn’t quite ready to make a bargain with God. Instead of bargaining, she settled for the simple truth.

“You drive me crazy, Mother,” she said. “And you make me angry. Always comparing everything I do to Brian or Kim, never just letting me be me and loving me for it. Maybe I should have given up on you years ago. I’ve wanted to plenty of times, but there’s something I want more. I want a relationship with my mother.” Tears ran down her cheeks, and Tracey wiped at them with the back of her hand. “Isn’t that just the kicker? After everything you’ve done to push me away, I’m still not ready to give up and say goodbye. So you better not be, either, okay? We both have some work to do.”

With the issuance of a challenge, Tracey half expected Pamela to open her eyes and object, but she never stirred. For another twenty minutes, Tracey followed the advice of the doctors and talked to her mother. She talked about her plans for the new school year—for herself and Lindsay—and the prospects of the Bears or the Cubs ever winning another championship. When finally she ran out of things to say and couldn’t listen to the sounds of the heart monitor and ventilator any longer, she got up to leave. “It’s been nice talking to you, Mother.” The longest conversation they’d had in years, and Pamela never said a word.

Tracey jabbed at the elevator button, anxious to leave. The doors opened and she rushed forward, colliding with a person stepping off the elevator. “Excuse me. I’m sorry,” she stammered.

“No worries,” Steve Eldridge said as he out a hand to her. The elevator doors closed again, leaving them in the hallway. “You okay, Tracey?”

She wanted to say yes, tell him she was fine and to leave her alone, but it would be a lie, and Steve would see through it right away. Instead, she shook her head as she looked up into his green eyes. Eyes their daughter had inherited. “It’s been kind of a rough day,” Tracey said, opting for understatement rather than dishonesty. “How’d you know I was here?”

“I have a case with Brian. He asked to reschedule a hearing for personal reasons,” Steve explained. “Obviously I was concerned. He gave me the whole scoop. I’m really sorry, Trace.” There was no questioning the sincerity of his words. “Don’t you think this is something you should have told me yourself, though?”

“We’re not married,” Tracey reminded him needlessly. They never had been, but still Steve shared a close enough relationship with her brother to freely chat about family news, a fact Tracey didn’t always like. How was she supposed to get over Steve if her own brother basically considered him part of the family?

“Your choice, not mine.” Steve shoved his hands in the pockets of his khakis. “It doesn’t mean I don’t care about you.”

Care about her, yes. Tracey didn’t doubt that. Love was another matter, and one she didn’t care to get into with him at the moment, if ever. Her primary concern was where their daughter was, since it was Steve's visitation week and he was now at the hospital. “Where’s Lindsay?” she asked, changing the subject.

“Meredith took her for pizza and ice cream.”

“Are you sure that was a good idea?” Tracey couldn’t keep her displeasure from her voice.

“Yes, I thought it was a fine idea,” Steve said. “Why do you have to say things like that? You make it sound like you don’t trust Meredith around our daughter.” He raked a hand through his dark hair, mussing it in front. “She passed a background check to be admitted to the state bar, so it’s not like she’s a hardened criminal, and besides, Lindsay’s known her for a year and a half and enjoys spending time with her. You know that.”

Tracey swallowed hard. Yes, Lindsay did seem to enjoy spending time with Daddy’s girlfriend Meredith, and yes, Tracey still had a bit of a problem with it. It was her problem, though, and she’d have to work through it. It didn’t give her the right to be a total bitch. “You’re right,” Tracey said, softening her tone. “I’m sure they’ll have fun together. I’m sorry I snapped at you. Like I said, it’s been a bad day.”

Steve nodded. “Understandable. Want to go downstairs and get some coffee and talk about it?”

“Actually, I really just want to get the hell out of here.”

“That works, too.” Steve placed one hand on her shoulder and with the other pressed the elevator button. “I’ll drive.”


Tracey didn’t say where she wanted to go, and Steve didn’t ask, instead driving in silence through downtown Chicago before ending up at a familiar sports bar. Steve had no idea why he chose it, other than maybe because it was so familiar. After all, it was the site of one of best moments of Steve’s life, and also one of the worst. That he counted them as one and the same no longer seemed strange.

“Why here?” Tracey asked as he held the door open for her and led her inside.

“Why not? It’s close to the hospital, and we like the food.”

“True,” Tracey said, settling into a booth. “Thanks for getting me out of there. I don’t think I could have stood it much longer.”

“I figured.” It was why he’d left for the hospital as soon as he’d learned of Pamela’s condition. Thankfully, Meredith seemed to understand why he needed to go and offered to entertain Lindsay. At least he hoped she understood. Steve knew it wasn’t always easy for her, but Mer knew from the beginning he had a daughter. That linked him, forever, with his daughter’s mother, and she had to accept that. “You holding up okay now?”

“Trying to.” Tracey picked up the menu, then set it down without opening it. “It’s ridiculous to be this emotional. I don’t even like the woman.”

“No, but she’s still your mother and you love her, even if you don’t always like her.” Steve long ago realized there was a difference, especially when it came to the dysfunctional relationship between Tracey and Pamela. “She’s a strong, stubborn woman, Trace,” he said. “She’s going to get through this just fine.”

“Of course she will, if only to torture me further,” Tracey said, but Steve could tell from the look in her brown eyes that she wasn’t confident in her words.

“How hungry are you?” he asked, changing the subject. “Want to split the taco pizza?”

“Sure, that sounds fine.”

“How about a beer?”

Tracey shook her head. “No. Just a Coke for me. I still have to drive back to DeKalb tonight, and I’d rather not fall asleep at the wheel.”

“I’d rather you didn’t, too,” Steve said, and flagged a waitress down to place their order.

For the next forty-five minutes, while they polished off a taco pizza, Steve tried his best to keep the conversation light. They talked about the Cubs’ losing streak, the Bears’ prospects, the annual mid-August heat wave, Steve’s recently completed trial and their daughter’s upcoming school year. Sixth grade. He could hardly believe it. In some ways, it seemed like only yesterday that he’d met Tracey at this restaurant after work and she’d announced she was pregnant. The news shocked him, and he’d proceeded to make a complete ass of himself, a scene Steve regretted more than once. Since he couldn’t undo it, he simply hoped he’d done right by both of them in the decade since.

“Don’t forget her reading list,” Tracey said, interrupting his thoughts. “She should be reading half an hour every day.”

Steve nodded. “Yeah, we got it. We’ve been working with her.”

“Good. She likes to read, so it probably doesn’t take much to get her to do it.”

“No,” Steve agreed. “Are you going to be okay tonight, Trace? Because if you want to take Lindsay back with you...” He didn’t want to make the offer. He valued his time with her. Still, it seemed like the right thing to do.

Tracey shook her head. “No. It’s your week. School starts soon, and I don’t want to cut into your extended time with her before then. Besides, it’d be past her bedtime by the time I get back home. I don’t want to disrupt her routine.”

Steve smiled. “Thanks. I appreciate that.”

“Thanks for rescuing me from the ICU. I should probably get on my way, though.”

“At least let me drive you back to your car.” Steve pulled his wallet from his pocket.

“I can take the L,” Tracey said. “Just as fast. Ten minutes back to the hospital, grab the car, and I’m home in a little more than an hour. I’ll be fine.” She stood up to leave. “I’ll see you Friday, okay?”

Friday. When his week with Lindsay would be up and she returned to her mother’s home. They'd been following the arrangement for ten years and had the routine down, but it still hurt to say goodbye to his daughter at the end of a visit. “Sure.” Steve hesitated. “But if anything happens in the meantime and you need to talk...”

“Yeah, I’m sure Meredith would love that,” Tracey said. “Thanks, but I can handle this on my own. I’m not your problem anymore, Steve.”

He watched her walk out of the restaurant, then sighed. “That’s just it, Trace. You’ve never been a problem.”

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I caught the writing bug in sixth grade, when I threatened to write a whole book after a class assignment to write the first chapter. I never finished that book, but the desire to create stories never left.

When I'm not giving life to the voices inside my head, I can probably be found watching a hockey or football game on TV, hoping one day the Dallas Stars will win another Stanley Cup and the Denver Broncos will win another Superbowl. (Hey, it might happen!)  Either that or I'm busy with my day job as a juvenile court attorney, a position that never ceases to provide new material for my books!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Rise of Chaos - Reborn Series Book 1

Blog Tour: Something Misting by Hazel Robinson

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Title: Something Missing (Book 1 in the True Love Series)
Author: Hazel Robinson
Release Date: May 1, 2014
Audience: Adult
Theme: Romance, Life, Coming of Age
Publisher: Little Bird Publishing House


When Susan is left orphaned, she begins a harrowing journey through the care system. Left with both mental and physical scars, Susan approaches adulthood with a self-destructive impulse. However, there is hope in the figure of her childhood friend, Max; the first boy she ever kissed.

Now a grown woman, Susan returns to her childhood home of Winchelsea, where she hopes she will find the answer to the gap in her heart that she’s carried with her since she left. With Max by her side, she attempts to find the path her life should have taken, to build a home, to heal old wounds, and to finally create a family that will stop the terrible feeling of something missing.

But Max has a secret, one that risks destroying all hope of a happy ever after, unless they can find a way to heal one another.


His touch was so gentle yet Susan felt it burning deep under her skin. As he caressed her stomach, she couldn't stop herself wanting him. He had completely taken over her body. The only thing she could see was the pure blue sparkle in his eyes; it was like staring at the ocean. She needed to give herself into him. She ran her hands over his shoulders and down his back, pulling him close. There was no more pain and no sorrow. He set her free.

Buy Links

Author Bio

I've always had a passion for reading but over the last several years it has become an obsession, a few months ago I decided to put fingers to keys to keyboard (or pen to paper!) and write Something Missing,a story I’ve had hidden away in the back of my mind for a long time.

Hazel lives in the small town of Rishton in Lancashire. England, with her husband, three children, two cats, dog, rabbit and lizard. She fills her days dashing between school runs, pets and housework and at night she comes to life either writing or watching her favorite program ‘Supernatural’ (yes she is Supernatural obsessed).

Her road to writing started with a love for paranormal romance novels, and after finding a passion for tragic romance she set out on the mission to share her own story. After long nights writing and a lot of ‘Supernatural’ episodes she is finally ready to share ‘Something Missing’. Hazel loves nothing better than sitting with a cup of tea, a chocolate biscuit and a good book.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Blog Tour: Keeping Thyme by T.J. Hamilton

Keeping Thyme (Thyme Trilogy #3)

by T.J. Hamilton


Miranda is back … and she’s back with a vengeance. Her sight is set and her target is Tench. Too many people in her life have fallen at the hands of the man who has a strange obsession for with her. Could Miranda be his next victim?She knows how her friend Sally died, but she still doesn’t know why. Could this information be the key to unlock everything the Agency needs to put Tench away forever? Or is an unlikely ally and a piece of her past the answer to it all?

Her heart may be torn with grief, but her head is filled with a burning reprisal. Could Tench’s unhealthy desire for Miranda be her best weapon against him … or will she push him too far?

Author Bio
TJ Hamilton Profile pic

TJ Hamilton is a former New South Wales Police Officer who worked in various areas of policing around inner city Sydney. She also holds a degree in Criminology through Griffith University. Her love of crime and mystery started at an early age after she read her first Agatha Christie novel at the age of nine. Her fascination with the darker side of life came from living with a high-class escort when she first moved to Sydney in her early twenties. She developed a close understanding of these ‘ladies of the night’ over the years and loved the stories they told, most of whom she has still remained friends with to this day. TJ writes about her first love, the city of Sydney, and the wonderful places around this fabulous location. Her attachment to fashion is also present within her stories, thanks to her handsome Husband and his successful international modelling career. Writing came after leaving the Police Force when she was pregnant with her daughter, she sat down one day and started typing and has not stopped since. Nowadays TJ lives a quiet life in the tropics as a devoted mother and wife who loves her kitty-cats, far from the gun-slinging and criminal-catching days of the past. The action packed life she may have once had is now relived through her sexy fictional stories of mystery and intrigue.

buy links

Keeping Thyme Cover

Keeping Thyme (Thyme Trilogy #3)

buying thyme - cover

Buying Thyme (Thyme Trilogy #1)

making thyme

Making Thyme (Thyme Trilogy #2)


You Can Call Me Miranda (Thyme Trilogy #Prequel)

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Release Blitz - Falling Sky by Lisa Swallow

Book title: Falling Sky (Blue Phoenix, #2)

Author: Lisa Swallow

Genre: Contemporary romance
Release date: 10th June 2014
Cover designed by Najla Qamber Designs

Photo by Lindee Robinson Photography
Models: Madison Wayne & Chad Feyrer

This book is the second in the Blue Phoenix series, and is the continuation of the story told in Summer Sky.

The Blue Phoenix books are a series of contemporary romance novels and novellas centred on the fictional rock band Blue Phoenix.

Sky’s world turned upside down when she met rock star Dylan Morgan, and exploded when she discovered his hidden past.

Four months after Sky learns Dylan’s devastating secret, she’s trying to piece her life back together. Without an explanation from Dylan, Sky has no choice but to try and forget him.

Dragged back into the life he ran from, Dylan continues to spiral downwards as he copes with his fame the only way he knows how. Shattered by the revelation Sky knows his darker past, he forces himself to return to England and explain.

Sky and Dylan reconnect, attempting to build on the shaky foundations of their summer. But the outside world continues to conspire against them.

Taking place in the epicentre of the Blue Phoenix world, Sky and Dylan’s story continues amongst the chaos surrounding the band and its members.




Summer Sky (Blue Phoenix #1)

Available now

Amazon links:


Lisa is an author of new adult romance and writes both paranormal and contemporary, often with a side of snark. In between running a business, looking after her family and writing, Lisa sometimes finds spare time to do other things. This often involves swapping her book worlds for gaming worlds. She even leaves the house occasionally. Lisa loves all things from the Whedonverse and preferred vampires before they sparkled.
Lisa has four books published: the ‘Butterfly Days’ series, and two in her urban fantasy series Soul Ties. She is currently working on a new contemporary romance series Blue Phoenix and the first book, Summer Sky is due for release in April. Lisa is originally from the UK but moved to Australia in 2001 and now lives in Perth in Western Australia with her husband, three children and dog.

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