Category Archives: Best Books of Summer

Take a Trip to Hotel Safari

I have some good news and bad news for you. Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard that line before. But in this case, there’s no other way to state it. I’m going to get you psyched up and then I’m going to let you down. But gently, friends. Gently.

First the good news:

Hotel Safari is a brand new, absolutely original new series from my good friend Tori Knightwood. It’s so well written that I am now hooked on a series in a genre I never thought I’d like to read. Seriously, I would have never picked up a book in this genre. I’m more of a contemporary, historical fiction kind of reader. But when a writer is super talented, (and Tori Knightwood is,) she can suck you into a story and keep you there right up to the end. Think of Barbara Kingsolver and The Poisonwood Bible. Didn’t you imagine you were there in Africa with the Price family when you read it? When I read Tori’s book, I felt like I was standing in the lobby at the Hotel Safari.

Tori has lived in Africa and has written oodles of stories about that magnificent land and its people. I love being one of the lucky ones who get to beta read for her. So when she decided to write a book about something, let me just say unusual, I said to myself, “That’s not my cup of tea, but I’ll read it anyway.” I’m so glad I did! I’m hooked on this series. More good news is that she already has two more stories in this series lined up. The best good news is that Hotel Safari has branches all over the world, so the stories can keep coming as long as you want to read them. Boo-yah!

Now the bad news:

You have to pre-order the book and wait until June 1st to read it. I know, June 1rst is so far away! It’s like booking a room at the Hotel Safari for your next vacation, and you’re counting the days until you get there! But there is a way to visit the Hotel Safari before the series goes live on Amazon. Read on to find out how, and to get a peek at the fabulous cover and a glimpse of the story.

Cover Reveal: Pride of Africa

I’m happy to announce that Pride of Africa, the first book in the Hotel Safari series, will launch on June 1st, 2016.

Serena Fitzgerald, southern belle and student of animal behavior, comes to Kenya to study under a world-renowned biologist-turned-safari lodge owner. She expects to work hard. She expects to learn a lot. She expects a multitude of new experiences. But she didn’t expect to fall for her mentor’s son.

Colin Kemboi is a bored and rich playboy. Half British and half Kenyan, he fits everywhere and nowhere. But as a lion shifter, he yearns for the Kenyan bush. And he yearns for a woman who can love all of him, not just the jet-setting lifestyle he can provide.

Will Serena accept Colin’s lion half? Is Colin willing to settle down with a woman who isn’t among London’s elite? Can they find passion and happiness…together?

And here’s the beautiful cover, thanks to South Mountain Studio:

Hotel Safari _Pride of Africa_V_4

The pre-order is now live on Amazon.

Thanks to my critique partners, launch team, friends, and family. I couldn’t have done this without you!


PS If you’d like to join my launch team and receive a free digital ARC in exchange for your honest review, please join my mailing list and then email me at tori at toriknightwood dot com to request to join the team.

About Tori Knightwood

Tori 5 black and whiteTori Knightwood has been lucky enough to live and work in some fabulous exotic places around the world. She faced down angry forest elephants in Tanzania, got a henna tattoo in Kenya, and fell in love in Rwanda. She writes stories to bring a little spice into your life.

You can find Tori online at the following links:

Amazon author page

Facebook author page

Goodreads author page

Tori’s website

Twitter: @PocketRomance




The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Graveyard BookHere’s a book that’s been out for a while, but I just hadn’t gotten around to reading it until this summer. It is a Newberry Award winner, and for good reason.

As always, Neil’s book is written so well, you believe it could be true. What? You say a boy can’t really be raised by ghosts in a graveyard? Neil knows how to part the curtain between reality and fantasy in such a way that the reader can cross over and get lost in his books.

I didn’t see the twist coming at the end until I practically stumbled over it. I had a sense of unease and impending doom, knowing something was going to happen, but was delighted with how he brought the surprise into play.

Neil Gaiman also narrated the audio version of The Graveyard Book. His voice is perfect in tone and atmosphere for this lovely book which lends itself quite well to reading aloud.

If you’ve enjoyed any of Neil Gaiman’s other books, this one should be a sure bet for you.

Flora and Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo #bookreview

flora and ulyssesIf you’re looking for a good book for an elementary school reader to end the summer with, you can’t go wrong with The Illuminated Adventures of Flora and Ulysses. 

Each summer, I volunteer to help at the Scholastic Book Warehouse. It’s a fun way to kick off the summer, chat with other readers, and pick up a passel of books for my vacation reading at the same time. This book was placed into my hands with the words, “Buy this book before you buy any others. It’s cute and funny and silly.”

My friend neglected to mention that it’s also a Newberry Award winner. She’s not the only person who thought it was pretty good.

In this story, a squirrel develops super powers after being sucked up inside a super powered vacuum cleaner. Flora rescues him, and they become a villain conquering duo that save the world. Or at least their corner of the world.

The illustrator K. G. Campbell has added fabulously charming and funny pictures to accompany the story.

The silly antics and amazing feats in The Illuminated Adventures of Flora and Ulysses will be sure to delight readers of all ages, but especially those between the ages of seven and ten.


Jennifer Anderson

It’s the last day of the Small Town Charm Love and Mystery boxed set blog tour. It’s also the last day to enter to win an Amazon gift card from our Rafflecopter giveaway. Be sure to read all the way to the end of this guest post by Jennifer Anderson and put in your final entry!

Small Town Charm Love and Mystery


Welcome to Honey Creek, Ohio!

Take a walk around town, where there is only one stoplight, one gas station, one grocery story, many churches and one lake. But, oh man, what a lake.

Honey Creek Lake is where a lot of the magic and drama happens in the sweet, little town. Maybe take a dip in our man-made waters. Walk along the edge and watch the boaters zip by sending waves a water to lap the shores. Have a lazy day, cast out a line and wait for the fish to bite. Or maybe, grab the hand of your loved one and step inside our new gazebo. Slip under our famous Weeping Willow and steel a kiss from your sweetie. Every corner of our lake holds a story. When you’re there, create your own.

Head five miles back into town from the lake, stop by our White Cottage Restaurant, and have a slice of strawberry pie, although I’m partial to the lemon meringue. The pie display case and red-topped tables only add to the incredible yummies filling every plate. Catch 22 Pizza sets off the perfect Italian mood with soft lighting and scents of garlic, warm bread and spicy sauce. Grab a slice or an entire pizza pie. Is doesn’t matter because after one bite, you’ll be back for more.

If you’re only here for a short while, maybe plan a trip back during our summer months. We host a Strawberry Festival with music and booths full of berry fare. July plays host to a Fourth of July celebration with a parade and fireworks at the lake. Rent a cabin and stay awhile. You’re sure to find whatever you’re looking for in our charming town and rural county.

Honey Creek sets the stage for a sweet Young Adult novella, Ice Princess. In it, Mya wants to shake things up in her small town. But once she’s given what she wants, will she change her mind and crave for normalcy.

Here’s an excerpt from Ice Princess, Honey Creek Royalty Book 1:

“Okay. Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A farmer and a pig….”
“Stop,” I yelled without looking up.
“I already told you that one?”
“No, but any joke starting with a farmer and pig can’t be good.” I rolled over on the large towel we’d spread across the sand. It was the last day of summer vacation, and Michael and I agreed to spend the day together doing nothing but enjoying the sun. Living in Ohio, we weren’t sure how many more days we had left. Soon the leaves would fall showing off snow-covered cornfields.
“Can you toss me a Dr. Pepper?”
“Sure.” Without looking, I reached into the small red Igloo cooler we brought and produced a cold dripping can. I knew it was for him since I preferred bottled water to soda. Not Michael. The kid lived on caffeine and sugar. Which made the lack of fat on his body hard to explain. Not that I’d ever noticed. Michael Graves was my best friend. And nothing more.
“So, you ready for tomorrow?”
“Sure, I guess,” I answered. “How’s it any different than the last three years at Fayette County High? Really, we’ve known the same people and gone to school with them for the past twelve years. We all know who we’re gonna eat lunch with or who we’re gonna sit with at opening assembly. Boring.” I wasn’t a pessimist or a Debbie Downer, but Honey Creek needed some excitement and I didn’t think our senior year would prove to be any different unless something unusual happened.
“Ok. So why don’t we spice it up a bit.”
“Like what?”
“Let’s start a nasty rumor or sit at a different table at lunch.”
“Ooh, Michael, you’re so scandalous! Have I been rubbing off on you?”
“Hardly. I think the most daring thing you’ve ever done was streak across my yard when we were five because you’d heard wearing your bathing suit gave you tan lines. Even though you had no idea what tan lines were, I might add,” he said with a smirk. The afternoon sun danced across his blonde moppy hair, intensifying his golden highlights. He sat next to me in a short beach chair staring out at the water. Everyone we knew was out enjoying the last weekend of August. All of the rental cottages were empty from the few Honey Creek vacationers that came to visit the lake. It was a manmade watering hole, but that didn’t take away from the fun had there. Boats skidded across the water pulling skiers or tubers in their wake. The sand was dressed with towels and blankets full of half-clothed bodies soaking up the sun like Michael and me.
“So word around town is there’s a new kid coming to school.”

4 Star LASR Review: Great Read!
“It is a wonderfully emotional short story with just the right balance of sweetness and sadness. I recommend it to anyone who relishes a charming story of love and friendship.”

“The emotional scenes in the hospital and day of funeral are great – I know I cried when I reviewed initially, and I cried again in both read throughs this week – I’m such a sap :-)” -Wendy on GoodReads


Cover of Ice Princess by Jennifer AndersonMya Newman never minded the routine or quiet that came with living in Honey Creek, Ohio. For her senior year, she craves something exciting to happen instead of it melting into a cookie cutter routine like the previous years.

When a new girl, Audrey Moore, moves to town, Mya finds herself caught in a triangle. She discovers hidden feelings for her best friend, Michael Graves, but he seems to have eyes for the new girl.

After Mya’s father becomes ill and eventually passes, she turns to her best friend, Michael. He never leaves her side, but she wonders if he’d rather be elsewhere. With fear of rejection and loss of friendship, Mya decides she can’t confess her recently discovered feelings.

When Michael and Mya share a dance at the Winter Formal, does she open her heart to him? Or does she shy away, forever longing to be the princess who finds her prince?

About Jennifer Anderson:

Jennifer_Anderson_AuthorI’m a Mommy, wife and now author. Even though I’ve spent many years on either coast, I’ve spent a majority of my life in the Midwest. Here is where my heart grows with the love and support of my family and friends and here is where I find inspiration for my stories.
I’m also excited to announce Spider, my first non-series YA novel will also release in 2013. My Brother’s Wedding, a contemporary romance, releases in e-book only in August 2013. Stay tuned for more news.
My complete list of releases:

  • Ice Princess, Honey Creek Royalty Book 1
  • Prince Charming, Honey Creek Royalty Book 2
  • Queen Mean, Honey Creek Royalty Book 3
  • King of the Lake, Honey Creek Royalty Book 4
  • Spider, May 2013
  • My Brother’s Wedding, August 2013

Print edition of Books 1-3 from Honey Creek Royalty Series are now available!
You can visit me at and
Twitter: @JenniA8677



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Asher’s Mark by Amy Durham Release Day

You may remember Amy Durham from this blog post when she talked about her favorite non-fiction book, and told us about her first novel, Dusk. She also had a guest post where she shared her writing space with us. Today I’m so pleased to treat you to a third blog about Amy. Today is the release day of her novel  Asher’s Mark.

asher's markI had the pleasure of reading Asher’s Mark, and was quickly entranced by the lead characters.  The author’s writing is strong, clean, and evocative.

Grace has been in love with Asher ever since the moment she met him. But their lives take them down different paths, and she ends up with Asher’s brother, Adam. When Adam dies suddenly, she’s free to pursue her love with Asher. But can Asher and Grace overcome the haunting guilt of Adam’s death and create a new relationship of their own? They must cross many hurdles on their path to happiness, not the least of which is the question of right and wrong concerning their feelings for Adam and for each other.

In this touching and memorable book, Amy Durham leads readers down a path of self-discovery and coming to terms with who we are and what we want out of life. Woven throughout the story is Navajo legend and lore, handed down to Asher by his mother and grandfather. Near the end, Grace learns the true meaning of one symbolic gift from Asher, in a scene that truly touches the heart.

Amy Durham has created a story that integrates deep emotion, conflicting relationships, and hope for the future. I highly recommend this book.

Disclaimer: I received a pre-release copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

You may download a sample and purchase your own copy of Asher’s Mark at these locations:

B&N ➜ iBooks KOBOAmazon


About  Amy Durham:

Amy Durham Author

After spending every work day with classrooms full of tweens and teens, then going home to three boys of her own, two of whom fall into the tween/teen category, you’d think that Amy Durham might like to leave the world of teens and young adults behind. Not so!

Instead, she spends her spare moments – which sometimes consist of waiting twenty minutes for her oldest kiddo to get out of band practice – with her laptop and a multitude of teenage characters trying to navigate their way through the twisted, difficult road of adolescence.

You might ask… “Why Young/New Adult Fiction”? Well, because it’s what she knows. As a teacher and a parent, Amy is around teens and young adults on an almost constant basis. And while it’s true they can be – ahem – challenging, they are also full of life, vision, and dreams. And that’s a really cool place to be.

Young Adult and New Adult Fiction allows young readers the opportunity to find hope for the situations they find themselves in, find determination to keep on going, and courage to pursue their dreams. It also allows adult readers the chance to revisit the exuberance of youth, remember the joy and poignancy of first love, and recall how it felt to dream with abandon.

Amy Durham is a wife and mother, an author, a teacher, an avid reader, and a musician. If she weren’t writing books, she’d be a celebrity chef!

Twitter – @amy_durham

Facebook –

Instagram – @authoramydurham



Gold Rush Deluge Opening Day

Just in time for Gold Rush Days in Old Town Sacramento, the second book in the series California Argonauts is here.

GoldRushDeluge_Lilly_EBOOKSacramento is underwater. A deluge of epic proportions has engulfed the town, leaving Lucinda Martin York and George Arnold stranded. Lucinda uses her medical skills to help save the citizens of Sacramento, working as a physician’s assistant to Dr. Mitchell Kersey. When she uncovers lies and treachery in the doctor’s past, she becomes enmeshed in dangers even more deadly than the flood. Lucinda must fight to save her life, her dreams, and her future with George.

Based on historical events of 1850 Sacramento, Gold Rush Deluge is riveting and romantic.

You can purchase your copy now at these online locations.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords


Masquerade Tours is hosting a book blast on September 8-12 with a giveaway of a $25 Amazon/B&N gift card or Book Depository Book Spree. I’ll post the stops in a September blog post so you can follow along and enter to win.

Under the Trees Cover Reveal

The first time I read this manuscript, I fell in love with it, and I knew a publisher somewhere would, too. Yesterday, the stunning cover for Under the Trees, by Ashley Maker was revealed at her Facebook party. It’s making an encore appearance here today, and I’m sure at many other sites around the web.

Under the Trees cover image

Isn’t it gorgeous? If you think the cover is fantastic, wait until you read the book.

Here’s an excerpt:

Desperate to prevent an abusive arranged marriage, Princess Araya flees to a neighboring kingdom, only to land at the mercy of the impulsive Crown Prince Thoredmund, who provides refuge in a secluded forest and teaches her survival skills. Her surprise at the unexpected hold the price has on her heart mirrors his shock at falling for the one girl he can’t have.

As the young couple’s feelings for each other grow, the fragile alliance between the two kingdoms threatens to break apart. With a vengeful duke and an enraged king fast on their trail, Thor and Araya must decide how much they’re willing to risk for love.

Even if staying together means starting a war.


Here’s one more piece of terrific news. You can preorder Under the Trees, published by Cliffhanger Press, from Amazon right now. While you wait for the September 15th release date, you may want to learn more about the multi-talented Ashley Maker. She has a Facebook page here.