06 February 2014

{Blog Tour} Excerpt + Giveaway: Song of the Fireflies by J.A. Redmerski

SONG OF THE FIREFLIES (February 4, 2014; Forever E-Book; $3.99)

Brayelle Bates has always been a force of nature. Even as a child, Bray's wild and carefree spirit intimidated everyone around her. The only person who's ever truly understood her is her best friend, Elias Kline. Though every fiber of her being wants to stay with Elias forever, Bray can't bear the thought of him discovering her agonizing history. She's done everything she can to keep him at arm's length, including moving away. But their undying bond was too strong a pull to deny, and Bray couldn't survive without him. Now she's back home with Elias, and things have never felt more right-until one night changes everything.

Elias vowed never to be separated from Bray again. So when she decides to flee in a desperate attempt to escape her fate, Elias knows he must go with her. As the two try to make the most of their circumstance, taking up with a reckless group of new friends, Elias soon realizes there's a darkness driving Bray he can't ignore. Now in order to save her, he'll have to convince Bray to accept the consequences of their reality-even if it means losing her.
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Bray and I spent the whole night in the field chasing the fireflies and laying on the grass, staring up at the stars. She told me all about her sister, Rian, and how she was a snob and was always mean to Bray. I told her about my parents, because I didn’t have any brothers or sisters. She said I was lucky. We talked forever, it seemed. We may have been young, but we connected deeply on that night. I knew we would be great friends, even better friends than Mitchell and I had been, and I had known him since first grade, when he had tried to con me out of my peach cup at lunch.
And before the night was over, we made a pact with each other that would later prove to see us through some very troubled times.
“Promise we’ll always be best friends,” Bray said, lying next to me. “No matter what. Even if you grow up ugly and I grow up mean.”
I laughed. “You’re already mean!”
She elbowed me.
“And you’re already ugly,” she said with a blush in her cheeks.
I gave in, though really I needed no convincing. “OK, I promise.”
We gazed back up at the stars; her fingers were interlaced and her hands rested on her belly.
I had no idea what I was getting into with Brayelle Bates. I didn’t know about such things when I was nine. I didn’t know. But I would never regret a moment with her. Never.
Bray and I were found early the following morning, fast asleep in the grass. We were awoken by three cops; Mr. Parson, who owned the land; and my frantic mother, who thought I had been kidnapped from my room, stuffed in a suitcase, and thrown on the side of a highway somewhere.
“Elias! Oh dear God, I thought you were gone!” She scooped me into her arms and squeezed me so tight I thought my eyeballs were going to burst out of the sockets. She pulled away, kissed me on the forehead, embarrassing the crap out of me, and then squeezed me again.
Bray’s mom and dad were there, too.
“Have you been out here all night with him?” Bray’s dad asked with a sharp edge in his voice.
My mom immediately went into defensive mode. She stood up the rest of the way with me and wrapped one arm around the front of me, pressing my head against her stomach.
“That daughter of yours,” my mom said, and already I was flinching before she finished, “she has a mouth on her. My son would never have snuck out unless he was influenced.”
Oh geez…
I sighed and threw my head back against her.
“Mom, I—”
“Are you blaming this on my daughter?” Bray’s mother said, stepping up front and center.
“As a matter of fact, I am,” my mom said boldly.
Bray started to shrink behind her dad and every second that passed I felt even worse about her being blamed.
Before this got too out of hand, I broke away from my mom’s arms. “Dammit, Mom—!” Her eyes grew wide and fierce, and I stopped midsentence.
“Watch your mouth, Elias!” Then she looked at Bray’s mom again and added,
“See, Elias never uses language like that.”
“Stop it! Please! I snuck out on my own, so leave Bray out of it!”
I hated shouting. I hated that I had to put my mom in her place like that, but I spoke what I felt in my heart, and that was something my mom always taught me to do. Take up for the bullied, Elias. Never stand back and watch someone take advantage of someone else, Elias. Always do and say what you know in your heart to be right, no matter what, Elias.
I hoped she would remember those things when we were back at home.
My mom sighed deeply and I watched the anger deflate with her breath. “I apologize,” she said to Bray’s parents. “Really, I am sorry. I was just so scared something had happened to him.”
Bray’s mom nodded, accepting my mom’s apology with sincerity. “I understand. I’m sorry, too. I’m just glad they’re safe.”
Bray’s dad said nothing. I got the feeling he wasn’t as forgiving as her mom had been.
I was grounded for the rest of the summer for that stunt I pulled. And yes, I met the fly swatter that day, after which I vowed never to sneak out of the house again. But whenever it came to Bray, from that time up until we graduated high school, I did sneak out. A lot. But I never got caught again after that first time.
I know you must be wondering why after so many years of being best friends, attending the same school, working together at the local Dairy Queen, even often sharing a bed, why we never became something more to each other.
Well, the truth is that we did.

About the author:
J.A. Redmerski, New York TimesUSA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author lives in North Little Rock, Arkansas with her three children, two cats and a Maltese. She is a lover of television and books that push boundaries and is a huge fan of AMC's The Walking Dead.

Social Media Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Lovefest: Connected & Torn Paperback Release Celebration: Kim Karr


What if a “Once in a Lifetime” could happen twice?

In Dahlia London’s world, happily ever after is a far cry from reality. Her soul has been left completely shattered by tragedy. But a surprising reunion with someone from her past is about to give her a reason to love again…

When rock star River Wilde comes back into Dahlia’s life, their super-charged connection runs deeper than either of them ever expected. The more time they spend together, the more intense their relationship becomes, and Dahlia believes at last she has found her soul mate.

But as old bonds fade and Dahlia’s grief begins to lift, her guilt and confusion remain. River desperately wants to be the one who mends what’s been broken—but with a past that refuses to stay buried, is it possible for their future to begin?

Paperback Links: Amazon | B&N  

Rock star River Wilde brought Dahlia London back from the brink of hopelessness with his unwavering love and devotion. But their entangled history is about to test the strength of their relationship…

Dahlia was certain she had found true love and met her ‘Once in a Lifetime’ when she reconnected with River. But Dahlia’s world comes crashing down when someone from her past resurfaces, and all of River’s carefully hidden secrets are exposed.
River wants to show Dahlia that life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass—it’s about dancing in the rain. But how many times can one broken heart be mended?  Will River and Dahlia be able to stay together or will they be torn apart?

Paperback Pre-Order Links: Amazon | B&N 

Prologue of TORN
Connections #2 by Kim Karr
© 2013 by Kim Karr
Published by the Penguin Group
Release date: October 1, 2013

Close your eyes and you can imagine what it was like. Hot, sticky, crowded. Smoke,
flashing screens, and lighters flickering. Fans screaming, laughing, clapping, and crying.
Bodies pushing, shoving, trying to catch a glimpse. Everyone wanting to see the stage—
the lights, the equipment, the musician himself.
He was running back and forth singing, headbanging, and playing his guitar. The
lyrics were jumbled. His movements out of sync. The sound of the bass thumped through
the crowd so loud my body vibrated with every wrong note played. I just wanted it to
Nick Wilde had opened for the Counting Crows at the Hollywood Bowl. It was his
second chance— and he blew it. The crowd was exhilarated at the start of his first song
and he owned the stage but it didn’t last long. By the third song he was improvising,
pulling notes, and forgetting words. He was lost in his own trance, soaked in alcohol, and
no one could help him…not Xander, not my mother, and definitely not me. “Mr. Jones”
started playing before he even finished his fourth song…and he never played onstage
Music was his soul. Music was in all of our souls. When we were younger he taught
us everything he could…how to play, to sing, the right way to command a stage. We
knew every song by every artist. We traveled to concert after concert. Music was his life
and it became ours.
But he wasn’t happy just playing. He had a dream—he wanted to be famous. And
somewhere along the way his dream became an obsession. I’ll give it to him, he got
further than most do. By the age of nineteen he had been signed by a label and cut his
first album. But after a disappointing run they released him. He spent the next fifteen
years working the circuit—clubs, churches, weddings, birthday parties, as he waited for
another big break. And then, just like that, he blew his golden opportunity.
Everything in our life changed after that. The drinking got worse, Grandpa came
around more to check on us, and Mom went back to work. Every day left another kink in
his chain as he lived in his own world. I was sixteen when his plan A became my plan B
and, just like him, at a young age, I cut my first album. But unlike him I had Xander. He
wasn’t going to let me fail. The band’s album had a slow start but after a year of touring,
it started to gain popularity.
I remember the first time the Wilde Ones graced a real stage. We were restless. We
had been sitting around for hours waiting. When we were finally up we strutted
confidently across the stage like we had in rehearsal, but, really, we were nervous as hell.
The lights were much brighter and the audience so much bigger than we were used to.
When the guys started to play, soft, barely audible words flew out of my mouth so fast I
forgot to breathe. The band was drowning me out and I knew it. Looking around, I
adjusted the microphone height and took in the crowd. They were cheering me on with
such enthusiasm that my voice finally soared over them. It was the same voice I’d grown
up with, the one my dad had fostered. It was raw and present and soulful, and, in that
moment, my music came alive. The crowd went crazy and just like that my life changed
Xander struck while the iron was hot. He arranged to go on tour. That was the
beginning of the end for me. We started out small. Smaller venues, shitty hotels, crappy
food, and a lot of drinking. We opened for band after band and the relationships I
made…they kept me going, that and being up on that stage doing what I loved…it kept
me going, wanting to make my dad proud…yeah, that, too.
But touring was a constant infringement on my personal space. I hated the cramped
quarters, lack of privacy, constant strict schedule, never being in the same city for more
than two nights, people following you everywhere, people always wanting something
from you. Even the girls throwing themselves at you got old. It was the longest year of
my life, but I did it for him because somewhere along the way his dream morphed into
mine. What I came to realize was that his dream wasn’t mine—my dad thought being on
tour meant you had made it. His dream was about being famous. Mine is about the music.
As the venues got bigger so did the crowds, the fanfare, and I could see how you
could get lost in it, caught up in it—but I was determined not to end up like my father. He
was addicted to the fame. I’m addicted to the creative process. I hope that difference
between us is enough. The tour ended and we wrote, we played around LA, and as time
passed life was good. But I had managed to put off cutting another album long enough.
This time I was doing it for the band and for my brother and for me—because I love the
music. Cutting the album—that’s the fun part. It’s the promoting I dreaded, at least until
the day I saw her through the glass. The girl who inspired our song “Once in a Lifetime,”
the girl Xander always referred to as my muse, the girl who stole my heart one night and
then crushed it at the very same time.
She was as beautiful as I remembered and with one glance she took my breath away.
She walked my way, pulling a suitcase behind her, and my heart skipped a beat. I knew
immediately she was the one sent to interview me and suddenly any negativity I had
about doing press was gone. I couldn’t help but watch her. I wanted her unlike anyone I
had ever wanted before. I had to stifle a laugh when her briefcase fell off the top of her
suitcase and she glanced around to see who saw. I wanted to yell, “Only me and don’t
worry because everything about you is sexy as fuck.”
I rushed to grab the door for her, but she pushed it forward and fell into me—not that
I minded in the least. I’d catch her over and over. There wasn’t a thing about her that I
didn’t remember from the first time we met and even the awkwardness of the moment
brought me to full attention. When her body pressed against mine, I knew in that
instant…this time I wasn’t letting her get away so easily. I’d go on a thousand tours to
have her in my life—there was just something about her, a light in her eyes that made
everything wrong feel right. And just like my dad, I got a second chance—it was her. But
unlike him, I wasn’t going to blow it.
When she extended her hand and said, “Hello, I’m Dahlia London from Sound
Music. I’m so sorry I’m late,” I knew she had to be mine.
 GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY. Kim Karr is giving away a $50 Amazon Gift Card, 5 Signed Book Plates and 10 Paperbacks of CONNECTED (to be mailed directly from Penguin).

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