The Weekend Bucket List Tour

Blog Tour, Misc.

Weekend Bucket List 1600px (Smashwords, Amazon).jpegThe Weekend Bucket List
by Mia Kerick
Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction/Coming of Age (LGBTQ)
Release Date: April 19th 2018
Duet Books, YA imprint of Interlude


High school seniors Cady LaBrie and Cooper Murphy have yet to set one toe out of line—they’ve never stayed out all night or snuck into a movie, never gotten drunk or gone skinny-dipping. But they have each other, forty-eight hours before graduation, and a Weekend Bucket List.

There’s a lot riding on this one weekend, especially since Cady and Cooper have yet to admit, much less resolve, their confounding feelings for one another—feelings that prove even more difficult to discern when genial high school dropout Eli Stanley joins their epic adventure. But as the trio ticks through their bucket list, the questions they face shift toward something new: Must friendship play second fiddle to romance? Or can it be the ultimate prize?

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I’m Cady: A Monologue by Mia Kerick

Sometimes I feel like nobody gets me.

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Let’s start with my parents… Mom is great but she’s a little bit broken, thanks to some of the stuff my brother Bradley did in over the past few years in high school. She tries so hard to make us the perfect family. I don’t think she knows that there aren’t any perfect families. So far, I’ve lived the life she wants me to live—I tried to be the perfect kid to make up for my twin brother’s mistakes. You know, to make up for the pain he caused. I can’t handle seeing Mom hurt any more, but I’m a regular kid, too. I need to try things out, to do things wrong, to learn stuff for myself, maybe even the hard way. She looks at everything I do from the perspective of how it will affect and reflect on her. She just doesn’t understand.

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In many ways, Dad’s separate from the rest of us. He doesn’t talk too much about how he feels or ask about how we feel. He just wants to be what he calls “the man of the house.” What he means is he wants to be the one in charge of everybody’s destinies. He wants to be respected and never questioned and be able to tell us what to do and how to do it. I think he loves us as much as Mom does, but he wants the job of raising a family to be simple, and it’s just not. He doesn’t know what it’s like to be me—trying to be perfect but needing to be real.

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My brother Bradley was my favorite person in the world until we hit high school. We just got each other completely and had each other’s backs. Being with him was always perfect, which you probably don’t believe, but it was. I don’t trust many people with my thoughts, but I trusted Bradley. It killed me when he started to go his own way, and to leave me behind. But it hurt even worse because the places he went were dangerous—he’d started to drink alcohol and use drugs. The tighter I held onto him, the more quickly he slipped away from me. And losing him changed me into a person I’m not sure I always like. I became kind of paranoid that I’d be left alone, without anyone I could truly relate to. Now he’s home from rehab and things are getting better. But it’s been tough at times because he’s so devoted to his new sober life that he looks at everything through rehab-tinted glasses. I want him to see me as his sister and his friend, and not just as a person who is in danger of making the same mistakes he made. Even if sometimes I am. We have a lack of communication, but a lot of it is my fault, at this point.

Now let’s take a look at my two best friends:

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I’ll start with Eli. He really isn’t the kind of guy to judge me, which lets us get on the same page pretty easily. But sometimes I think he looks up to me too much because I’m smart at school. And he admires that I’m maybe a little bit bossy, where he isn’t bossy at all. Eli says, “Cady, you aren’t large, but you sure are in charge.” In other words, I say just exactly what I think and tell people how I think it should be. I’ve got strong opinions—it’s not a crime. But I really don’t mean to intimidate Eli. I won’t explode in to a million pieces if I don’t get my way—seriously, it won’t happen. I wish that, at least every once in a while, Eli would stand up to me and tell me, “It’s not gonna happen like that, Cady.” Overall, he’s such a sweet guy and an awesome friend, and I’m so glad I met him. But he doesn’t get that he shouldn’t be so intimidated by me.

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Finally, there’s Cooper. We have a pretty complicated relationship. Best friends for years… sure, that’s a fact. But there’s also the attraction component that throws a wrench in the “we’re just friends” thing. Cooper means everything to me. He’s smart and cool and funny. We’ve been together so much for so long that we’re like, two sides of the same person. Except when we’re not. It’s awkward and scary to feel attraction to your best friend. It’s risky, too, because if you try to go romantic and it all goes downhill, can you ever reverse it? And so a few months ago I started staring at Cooper… a lot. I know he’s aware of it because he turns pink when I do it. But I can’t stop—I’m trying to figure him out. To figure us out. Sometimes I think he feels the same way about me—confused, because he’s a little bit into me—but everybody, and I mean everybody just assumes he’s gay. Which is not really fair at all, is it? It’s up to him to decide if he’s gay, or bi, or whatever. Maybe I don’t get him either. Maybe I’m just thinking of what I want from him, and not about letting him decide what’s right for him. All I know is that our friendship is pretty spectacular, and no matter what, it needs to last forever. We used to be on the exact same page, but sometimes, lately, it feels like we’re in different chapters.

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And then there’s Daisy, my loyal cat. She gets me, pretty much all the time. She understands certain direct commands and when I need somebody to listen to me, Daisy gives me the time of day. Sometimes it’s painful because if I want her to stay I have to let her knead her paws on my belly. But we manage to work it out because she gets me, you know?

You can meet Cady LaBrie, her family and friends… and Daisy the cat, in The Weekend Bucket List by Mia Kerick.

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A Note from the Author

I wrote The Weekend Bucket List because, although friendship is an exquisitely fine art, in our society it is undervalued. Much of the popular culture geared toward teens—books, movies, music, and more—grooms them to feel incomplete without a boyfriend or girlfriend—their mandatory “other half.” Romantic love is supposed to be what all teens should want—the end-all and be-all of relationships—but a committed bond of friendship is no consolation prize. Friendship is compelling in a different way than romantic love—it is precious and rare and is earned through patience, understanding, forgiveness, laughter, and love.

In fact, there are times when friendship can be a more meaningful and worthwhile vessel for deep feeling. Best friends Cady, Cooper, and Eli need one another and can no more live apart than could Romeo and Juliet! The three teens struggle to understand their individual sexualities and to discover the roles they will play in each other’s lives, but they find a way to be together. As they grapple with their feelings, they learn to be honest. They decide to forgive each other’s mistakes when walking away would be easier. They become a family of choice. And they complete each other.

If this isn’t a love story, I don’t know what is. But it isn’t a romance.

If you choose to read and review The Weekend Bucket List, please be aware that it strays from my usual path of touching YA romance, but not from the direction of a poignant love story. Friendship is just a different kind of love.

Bonus: I’m pretty sure you’ll laugh, and it’s possible you’ll cry.


mia kerick.jpgAbout the Author

Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.

Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

Contact Mia at

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My Review: Spinner

Book Reviews

*Disclaimer: I received a copy of Spinner in exchange for a free, honest review. Opinions are my own. My contain some spoilers or spoiler-y hints.


spinner cover.jpg

Spinner Review

By: Yours truly – Rae

“Okay,” Alex said, steeling himself for the pain to come. “Tell me.” – Michael J. Bowler, Spinner

As an orphan, outcaster, and now hellraiser – literally, Alex’s chances for survival and a normal life are slim. The novel opens with the hint at Alex’s ability as a spinner and an outlook on his situation as a fifteen-year-old wheelchair bound teen who hasn’t been cut any breaks in life. He has his friends, known as The Losers, at school who are all facing known stereotypes ranging from color of skin to a mental illness. They are mocked, bullied, and forgotten both in school and their home lives. At least they have each other – right? Then the antagonists enter the picture and the horror begins.

Right away I was apprehensive about Spinner. Grammatical issues aside, two first seen within the first few pages, I couldn’t connect with Alex or his friends on a deeper level beneath the stereotypes. Eventually, I did but it came a little too late for me. I felt for them, their situation, but some things didn’t mesh with me. For instance, do troubled students in high school really just have one teacher to teach all their subjects the entire school year? I can see their treatment slipping through the cracks on some level and the bullying felt authentic amongst the crushes, flirting, and name calling. At school I knew them for their outward personas and stereotypes played to a T, when they were together I got a sense of who they were underneath their facades and their love for each other, but then the crazy happened and I lost myself in the plot of good vs. evil.

Another issue was my lack of, well horror, as the story progressed. There are demons, vivid dreams (visions), two groups fighting each other for domination, and the glaring presence of good vs. evil. Killer cats, cloaked figures, murders, and more felt too… pushy to me. Even the warring groups, their members so to speak, had me gritting my teeth at their portrayal. The teens got swept away and drowned in chaos. I wanted a build up of suspense, plot, and instead I felt like I was dodging my way to the end wondering what was going to happen next, why it was going to happen, and how it was all going to work out. The end, I confess, did fill me with a sense of buildup and surprise – maybe even a little horror until everything evened out again. People are lost, relationships are tested, and mysteries were sold. I just felt… unsatisfied.

Unfortunately, I didn’t mesh with Spinner but that doesn’t mean you won’t!  I recommend giving the book a try if you like a fast paced coming of age, horror story.

My rating: 3/5

Chasing Nirvana Tour + Road Trip Playlist

Blog Tour

Chasing Nirvana
by Elyn Oaksmith
Genre: YA Coming of Age Romance/LGBTQ
Release Date: October 2017


Fran Worth is just another girl trying to make it through senior year at Weatherwax High in Aberdeen, Washington. But it’s 1993 and Fran is gay. Her comfortably off the radar life turns vividly public when a student nominates Fran for prom queen. When confronted by angry parents Fran refuses to back down, promising to deliver her hometown heroes in hopes of winning prom queen votes.
Fran heads out on a 24 hour road trip to Daily City, California with four friends, including her crush who may or may not be gay.  Their plan? To sneak backstage to ask Kurt Cobain and Nirvana to come home and play prom. No problem. Unless something goes wrong.

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Ellyn Oaksmith’s Road Trip Playlist
Of course we’ll start out with Nirvana. Smells like Teen Spirit, Come as You Are, About a Girl and All Apologies, Sliver, Heart-Shaped box and Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge because even if that last one isn’t my favorite – it’s the name of my main character and the story behind the song is incredible. A local movie star who was institutionalized for being different. Something that would never happen today.

Hopefully. From there I’d move onto another grunge band I love: Pearl Jam: “Jeremy,” “Evenflow,” “Better Man.” I saw them live for free right near the real Soundgarden in Seattle in Madison Park. My sister went into the mosh pit. From that band I’d choose “Black Hole Sun,” “Fell on Black Days” and “Pretty Noose.”
From there I’d toss in a little old school dance music: Soul to Soul, anything from “Club Classics Volume I.” This whole album is for serious roll down your windows, sing along, car dancing. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill has “Zion” and “That Thing.” Also some of the intros to the songs with the school children are funny and heart-warming. I’d listen to Johnny Cash, Live at Folsom Prison. You gotta love the Man in Black singing to a bunch of convicts while the announcements about “report to cell block one” is made and the prisoners cheer like crazy at a song about a man shooting his wife while high on cocaine. Johnny Cash knew how to write a story in a few minutes that could break your heart.

Likewise Freddie Mercury from Queen. I’d listen to their “Greatest Hits” album. “Purple Rain” by Prince. The whole thing. Also OutKast. “The Love Below.”
If my kids were along for the ride we’d listen to Taylor Swift, Pink (love her) Snoop Dog, Kanye, Beyonce (who is awesome) 21 Pilots (who I adore) and Bastille (who I also love.) I just heard a fabulous song with Logic and Halsey. Amazing lyrics. So that too.
I’d toss in some U2 of course. Joshua Tree. Some classic Beatles. I do love Oasis also. Champagne Supernova is just a lovely song. There are many songs by Muse that I’d add to the mix. September by Earth Wind and Fire is so fun. So let’s toss that in too. I’d probably want to sing along to the Bee Gees, Stayin’ Alive just for giggles.
Two artists are always in my car: Adele (every album) and Coldplay: Parachutes, A Rush of Blood to the Head, X and Y, Viva la Vida, Ghost Stories and A Head Full of Dreams. Mylo Xyloto is their one album that just doesn’t speak to me. Everything else I can listen to endlessly.
Okay, I feel like we just drove from Seattle to Boston and I got to choose the tunes for the entire trip.
Thanks so much!


About the Author
I graduated from Smith College and have a very expensive MFA from The American Film Institute. Some writers will tell you that their MFA was a waste of money. I won’t. It gave me great editorial skills and colorful, crazy experiences working as a screenwriter in LA. Cooking on fishing boats in Alaska paid my tuition. Screenwriting and working in the middle of the Bering Sea have a lot in common: hard work, unpredictability and occasionally both make you want to scream.
Besides my family and friends, I love rescue dogs, cats, cooking, baking, open water swimming, kayaking and reading, reading, reading, reading. Did I mention reading?

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Anyone who comments on any of the blogs during the tour is eligible to win one of 30 e-book copies of Chasing Nirvana.

Anyone who signs up for the Author’s newsletter during the blog tour at this link:  will enter to win one of 5 signed copies of the paperback.

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Touch of Ice Blitz + Excerpt

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Touch of Ice (The Vaskell Empire #1)

by Aleah Raynes & Mandy Caruso

Genre: YA Sci-fi/Dystopian/Fantasy/Coming of Age

Release Date: September 26th 2017


Escaping is only the first challenge she faces.
Fifteen-year-old Ayla Vaskell is the youngest daughter of the deceased king of Crio and no less determined to reclaim the kingdom from her evil uncle. He killed her parents, claimed the throne, and threw Ayla and her three sisters in a slave camp for children. With their powers bound, hope for a future is lost. Until Dain demands her attention and reveals that he and his friends were sent to aid the princesses in putting an end to the mad king’s reign.
After breaking out of the camp and fleeing to an inn outside the kingdom of ice fae and water dragons for shelter, Ayla is giving a journal that belonged to her father. The former king had left the girls clues to help along a journey they aren’t sure they are ready for. When she is also given the first relic—a frozen dragon’s tear—she’s drawn to it and knows what she must do.
With Dain, his friends, and her sisters at her side, Ayla is more focused than ever to complete her mission to set the realm back in balance. If she fails, the realm, and the four kingdoms within it, would be lost forever.
Touch of Ice is the first in a NEW YA romantic fantasy adventure series and a world of magic, dragons, fae, and other mythical creatures.


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Excerpt – Ayla
     Footsteps stopped just inside of the ballroom. And there she was. Corinne, Mary’s mom and our nursemaid. The scowl on her face made me look away. We were in trouble. But Corinne’s form of punishment was to make us clean up our mess, then some other task that involved cleaning.
     And we had to do it without using our magic.
     “Look at her wings!” Corinne stormed across the vast ballroom.
     I glanced over my shoulder but couldn’t see much. The weight said enough. My wings were coated in the slime my sisters threw on me. A giggle escaped. I couldn’t help it. This was payback for what I did to them last week. It took them days to get all the honey and feathers off theirs.
     “I don’t understand you girls.” Corinne gripped my upper arm and tugged me to stand. When she started toward the bathroom at the back of the room, Baxter, our father’s soldier in arms, burst into the room.
     His features were darker than I’d ever seen them. His brows bunched and his eyes were dark, commanding. My heart pounded. Something was wrong.
     Corinne stopped and stared at him. I could tell by the way her face paled that she, too, knew something happened. Or was about to.
     Baxter advanced to us, motioning for my sisters and Mary to gather around Corinne and me. He was in full battle gear with his helmet under his arm. Cold fear sliced my insides. We were being invaded. Most children didn’t know the severity of being invaded. We, however, had been trained for such an event.
     The day our mother banished her brothers from the kingdom for threatening her and our father’s lives, a seer told them our uncles would seek their revenge. So, we were trained. Trained to fight and run.
     Baxter knelt on one knee and took Luna’s hand. With his head bowed, he said, “Take your sisters to the boat like we talked about. No matter what happens, you must survive. All of you.”
     I glanced from Luna to Baxter in confusion. They’d planned this? “What about Mom and Dad?”
     I couldn’t hold back the panic any longer. I used my magic to clean off the slim, dissolving it into dust that settled to the floor.
     “We’ll will be right behind you.” Baxter stood and pushed us, Corinne included, toward the back of the ballroom. “Now go.”
     Corinne gripped my hand and pulled me behind her. I met each of my sisters’ scared gazes. This was no drill. My bottom lip trembled and my eyes watered.
      Just as we reached the secret passage to the stairs that descended to the caverns and river underneath the castle, soldiers in uniforms I didn’t recognize charged inside the ballroom. Baxter drew his sword and sounded an alarm.
      The clanking of swords faded as Corinne led us deeper underground. I shook all over, and my ice magic became uncontrollable.
     From the corner of my eyes, I noted Pyria was having the same problem with her fire magic. Her hand glowed in red and orange hues. “We should be fighting with them. Protecting our home!”
     She stopped and glanced back as if deciding to go join the battle.
     Luna blocked Pyria’s way up the stairs. “You must resist the pull. Your emotions…all our emotions are taking over our powers. We can’t let that happen. If the castle falls into Iveos’s hands, it is up to us to take it back.”
     That was part of the plan I never understood. How were a group of kids supposed to reclaim a kingdom from a madman?
About the Authors
Aleah Raynes loves paranormal, fantasy, mystery, suspense, reverse harem, and anything else that hooks her from the first page. She writes new adult and young adult fiction and romance in the genres she loves to read.
She is co-authoring the Vaskell Empire series with Mandy Caruso. Book one, Touched of Ice releases September 2017. And her debut solo novel, Visions of Pain (Capissian Order, book 1) – a clean new adult reverse harem – releases in October 2017.
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Twitter: @AleahRaynes
Mandy Caruso, alter-ego of TL Reeve, came to be after a long conversation with her daughter. A lover of all types of story, she enjoys anything with a quality plot and awesome characters. When she isn’t writing, you can find her hanging out with her daughter or reading a good book.
You can contact her at:
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Twitter: @authMandy_carus

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The Last Gambit Tour + Excerpt

Blog Tour

**Tour hosted by Garima Om**

the last gambit cover.jpgThe Last Gambit
by Om Swami
Genre: YA Coming of Age
Release Date: February 2017
Harper Element (Harper Collins)


Success by design is infinitely better than a win by chance. Vasu Bhatt is fourteen years old when a mysterious old man spots him at a chess tournament and offers to coach him, on two simple but strange conditions: he would not accompany his student to tournaments, and there was to be no digging into his past. Initially resentful, Vasu begins to gradually understand his master’s mettle.

Over eight years, master and student come to love and respect each other, but the two conditions remain unbroken – until Vasu confronts and provokes the old man. Meanwhile, their hard work and strategy pay off: Vasu qualifies for the world chess championship. But can he make it all the way without his master by his side?

Inspiring, moving and mercurial, The Last Gambit is a beautiful coming of age tale in a uniquely Indian context.

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‘You are a genius, Vasu,’ he said. ‘I’m investing all my time in you because I know some day you’ll surprise everyone, including yourself.’ My chest swelled with pride. ‘And that day is not far,’ he added. I felt as if I had won the world championship. He thinks I’m a genius! I couldn’t contain my smile and adjusted myself in my couch. ‘But,’ he said, gently bringing me down a notch, ‘you are not consistent. You do play some brilliant moves, but they don’t add up.’ As always, he had a nugget of wisdom. ‘Every move, Vasu, every move must put greater pressure on your opponent. To win, you must play good moves and do so consistently.’ ‘The same goes in life too,’ he continued. ‘A consistent and persistent man of average intelligence is more likely to succeed than an erratic and lazy genius. A hundred well played draws, or a hundred lost but well-fought games are better than one victory by fluke. Success by design is infinitely better than a win by chance.’
Success by design is infinitely better than a win by chance – this got etched in my mind. This was it. The missing link. I had been playing in the hope that success would come, that it would just happen. It dawned on me that success was a sculpture that I had to carve and chisel at patiently. I had to design my success.


About the Author 

Om Swami is a monk who lives in a remote place in the Himalayan foothills. He has a bachelor degree in business and an MBA from Sydney, Australia. Swami served in executive roles in large corporations around the world. He founded and led a profitable software company with offices in San Francisco, New York, Toronto, London, Sydney and India.

Om Swami completely renounced his business interests to pursue a more spiritual life. He is the bestselling author of Kundalini: An Untold Story, A Fistful of Love and If Truth Be Told: A Monk’s Memoir.

His blog is read by millions all over the world.


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Fade Away Cover Reveal



Fade Away
Genre: YA Contemporary Realism/Coming of Age 
Release Date: March 22nd 2017
The Monster’s Bop is the last dance of the year, a costume party thrown by Elizabeth’s high school annually. But this year is different. With more than 20 Cinderellas watching, a fight breaks out between four Batmen and four Supermen while a Hulk cowers under the punch bowl, and it isn’t over kryptonite or the keys to the batmobile. It’s over the power of a single text message.
Fade Away is the story told from Elizabeth’s diary about what it’s like to navigate the unfamiliar and ever-changing landscape of high school. A new horizon of first boyfriends, family decisions, and budding friendships. Ergo, of awkward physical and intellectual landfalls to school dramas and the lessons learned from them otherwise known as coming into your own.
About the Author
Jeremy lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He grew up in the south Atlanta area, and eventually earned his bachelor’s from Duke University. After experiencing enough life to form his own opinions, he enjoys sharing some with friends, reading, watching fantasy thriller and romance films, listening to music, and jogging when he is not writing. 

An eighty’s baby year-old indie author, he enjoys writing to the tween bumfuzzles in us all to reveal old unconditional loves. 
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Fade Away by Jeremy T. Ringfield

Fade Away

by Jeremy T. Ringfield

Giveaway ends March 14, 2017.

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