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New-to-Me Author Week: Wrap Up and Giveaway!! — Joyfully Jay

New-to-Me Author Week: Wrap Up and Giveaway!!

challenge month 2016Hello everyone! Today we are wrapping up the third week of our month-long Reading Challenge Month. This week is New-to-Me Author Week and we have been reading books by authors we have never tried.

You guys can play along with this event in two ways. First off, you can leave a comment on any of this week’s challenge week reviews and earn one entry point for each. And second, if you read along with your own challenge book, you can tell us all about it here in the comments of this post and get 10 contest entries. So if you comment on all the posts and do a mini-review, you can earn mega entries!


This week’s fabulous prize is sponsored by Interlude Press

One winner will receive an assortment of ebooks and signed paperbacks! In the spirit of New-to-Me Author Week, the ebooks are all new Interlude authors in 2016.

2016 Debuts:

  • Sweet by Alicia Constantine
  • Speakeasy by Suzey Ingold
  • The Star Host by F.T. Lukens
  • The Better to Kiss You With by Michelle Osgood
  • Set Me Free by Kitty Stephens
  • Into the Blue by Pene Henson
  • Sideshow by Amy Stilgenbauer
  • Hold by Rachel Davidson Leigh (October)
  • Flying Without a Net by E.M. Ben Shaul (November)

Signed editions will include a book by each of these authors:

  • Lynn Charles
  • Erin Finnegan
  • C.B. Lee
  • Lilah Suzanne

And all entries throughout the month qualify you for the grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press. They are giving away a Kindle Fire loaded with all of their summer releases!


Ok, before we get too far, some things you may need to know:

  • All the contest details and rules are in this post or at least linked from here
  • This week’s deadline to leave comments on our reviews, or your mini review of your own book here on this post, is Sunday night. All entries will be tallied at that time and the Week 3 winner announced. All entries will also carry over for the grand prize at the end of the month.
  • If you read along your own challenge book this week, leave your mini review here on this wrap up post.
  • And if you missed the chance to leave any comments, here is quick recap of the books we read this week:

Thank you so much to everyone who has been participating all week! Don’t forget to leave your comments and your mini reviews for a chance to win! And stay tuned for our last challenge, next week’s Genre Week!


  1. I read As You Wish by Isobel Starling (which is currently free to Kindle readers)

    This was an enjoyable book about two men who are co-best men for their siblings’ wedding. The men have enjoyed getting to know each other through a year’s worth of emails (these weren’t shared which is a pity as I love a good epistolary novel); however, they first encounter each other in the airport en route to the wedding when they are both rushing to catch the plane. Neither gives the other a favorable impression, and one character left me feeling underwhelmed, too.

    One of the men is out while the other is straight (or is he?). The wedding festivities are at a castle where the men are housed in conveniently adjacent rooms. Both men are fans of the Princess Bride and quotes abound (witness the title). Kilts are worn and abandoned. One character leaves abruptly and pining ensues. There is a reunion and a revelation. And now I have book two (which I won here) to look forward to.

  2. For this week’s challenge, I chose The Necromancer’s Dance (The Beacon Hill Sorcerer #1) by S.J. Himes.  I selected this book because Himes is an author I have never read, I love paranormal/urban fantasy and the book had many four and five star reviews.

    My rating:  3.25 stars

    I had high hopes for The Necromancer’s Dance; unfortunately, I was somewhat let down.  I did enjoy the premise, world building and setting.  The plot was well paced and the mystery/suspense was exciting.  Both MCs were interesting, as well as several of the supporting characters. There were also some steamy scenes.

    The most difficult part for me was the lack of editing.  I can usually overlook a modicum of errors, but The Necromancer’s Dance had so many that it was distracting.  In several cases, I had to re-read passages multiple times to understand them. Many sentences were unnecessarily long and complex.  Words were missing; wrong words were used; words were out of order.  I found myself half following the story and half looking for the next error.  This may not bother others as much as it did me.

    I would have liked to have more build up to Angel and Simeon’s relationship.  It seemed like they went from acquaintances to lovers in a snap.  There is some back story shared regarding that, but it was not satisfying to me.

    It did start enjoying the book more about two-thirds of the way in.  The conclusion was riveting and the epilogue left everyone in a nice place and set things up for the series.  My favorite part is what happened to the demon (and it was a good thing).  

    I am on the fence as to whether or not I will read the next book…

    • I recently read Wolves of Black Pine by S.J. Himes, and I think I saw a similar problems there. The pacing was problematic. There were several instances of the same scene described twice through different character’s POV, and weird breaks in the middle of tense action scenes for narrative exposition. There’s a pretty good book in there somewhere, but it needs some decent editing to unearth it. Unfortunately, I don’t think I will pursue that series further either.


    Blurb: “The myth of Theseus and the Minotaur has never been quite this steamy!

    Handsome Theseus journeys to Athens to claim his birthright as heir to the throne, and along the way he meets the roguish Pirithous, who teaches him all about matters of the heart—and body. When they reach the city, Theseus is shocked to discover that his father, the king, has a tradition of sacrificing young people to the Minotaur, the monster that inhabits the island nation of Crete.

    Theseus and Pirithous, along with Iphitrion, a slave boy they befriend, set out to slay the Minotaur. After learning Crete is ruled by a mad tyrant with a fetish for orgies, Theseus puts his new skills to the test, fighting, flirting, and fornicating his way through the ranks, working his way past soldiers, satyrs, and gods alike as he attempts to accomplish his goal and save his city.”

    Review: Old-school fans of THE SIMPSONS may remember the episode where Marge rented a video to watch with Homer called THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF HERCULES (featuring Norman Fell as Zeus!). If, like me, you thought “Damn, I’d totally watch that!,” have I got the book for you! Theseus begins the book wide-eyed and virginal, but that goes by the wayside very quickly once he meets Pirithous. It’s a meet-cute with a touch of insta-love, but the romance is very sweet in its way, and somehow manages to anchor a book that’s rife with sex. Normally I’d find it hard to believe that most men (and creatures such as male wood nymphs) would be a) gay or bi-curious, b) wildly attracted to Theseus and Pirithous on sight and c) eager for multiple-partner encounters, but Griffin makes it work. Theseus may have a raging libido, but it’s always expressed in a sex-positive way (he’s a pretty enlightened guy about certain things, especially for ancient times), and he and Pirithous are so noble and likeable that you can see what draws everybody to them. (The only way I can enjoy smutfests is if the people involved are so appealing that I want them to have nonstop sex, and Griffin accomplishes that here.) Griffin clearly knows and loves his source material, and Theseus’ quest is believably and stylishly rendered. (If you enjoyed Madeline Miller’s THE SONG OF ACHILLES until the ending bummed you out, I’d definitely recommend this one to you.) There are nice touches of humor (that thankfully don’t undercut the eroticism), making THE LUSTY ADVENTURES OF THESEUS a genuinely delightful read. There are hints of a sequel, and I for one can’t wait to see what Theseus and Pirithous get up to with Jason and the Argonauts…

  4. I read Rebound Remedy by Christine d’Abo for this week’s challenge
    I had bought this because it was a Christmas story – big sucker for those!
    I thought it was fine, not bad but not wow either. It is a character driven story, no other plot device besides Cole and Owen. Personally I do prefer to have a murder or something else going on as well and for me this slipped into the OK territory becuase I didn’t find depth to the characters or their feelings.
    The writing was OK, at times a bit easy. Fine for a rainy afternoon where if you have to put it down, you will not be too annoyed.

  5. I read Trust the Focus, by Megan Erickson. She’s a new aythor to me, but I’ll definitely be reading more by her!
    Rating: 4.5 out of 5

    Sometimes you just want to feel good.

    I wouldn’t say this is a particularly complex story, but even so I enjoyed it. Justin and Landry are wonderful characters. I really got a good feeling for Justin, how he felt, and how he dealt with his conflicts. I was a little less empathetic with Landry but I still understood where he was coming from and why he responded the way he did.

    Megan Erickson’s writing is clear and engaging, though the book has a couple of glaring typos (“seeing the sites” instead of “seeing the sights”, pasta with “muscles” instead of “mussels”). These are just minor complaints, though. I’d recommend this book to anyone who needs a light, enjoyable read with a couple of guys who are easy to like.

  6. I was planning to read more than one for this week’s challenge but alas, RL got in the way. So I read “Gryffon Hall” by Alexis Duran, whom I have only heard but never read before.

    Gryffon Hall by Alexis Duran: 3.25 stars

    Mini Review: Nice fairy-tale read but I thought the love interest was missing too much from the scenes, so it didn’t have a solid relationship building. Plus the ending was rather rushed, IMHO.

    Full Review:

  7. I read Isobel Starling’s As You Wish. I really enjoyed this story. It became a fun romp once Declan loosened up a bit and decided to let nature take it’s course. Sam is a great character, things about him unraveling little by little. The ending taking a turn I wasn’t expecting. I never really got into the Princess Bride , but I had a feeling it was the movie they were quoting from, considering it was the movie all the ladies were watching the night before the wedding. This is 4 stars from me. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

  8. I read Stumptown Spirits by EJ Russell. I enjoyed the book. The paranormal aspect was especially intriguing. I loved Riley. I was slower to warm up to Logan but I did after a while. I just wanted a little more from the romance. I’ll probably read the next in the series though.

  9. I tried to read a novel, but I ended up DNF’ing it after the reason the couple broke up in the first place just didn’t work for me. Sometimes I just can’t get over things! I did read a novella before that, though, and it was by a new-to-me author: Refraction by Hayden Scott. It’s a YA about a villain who’s teamed up with his villain mom to set off a doomsday device. They battle the superhero duo of dad and son and end up losing the device to them. The next day at school, in his regular persona, the villain is approached by the young hero and thinks the guy’s laying some type of trap for him because he’s being nice. What follows is a smart and humorous look at what it means to be the bad guy and the good guy. I’m a sucker for hero/villain pairings or villains being the central figure of the story. So, this definitely satisfied that itch while telling a great story. This is the author’s only story under this name, so I’ll have to keep an eye out for more in the future.

  10. I decided to give One Step Forward by Tia Fielding a read. It’s the first book I’ve read by this author and it was an okay read.
    Sam Becker is considered to be a very good horse whisperer. However, he’s semi-retired and doesn’t really take on clients anymore. When Joshua Taylor’s mother reaches out to him for help and he hears and see videos about what lead to them needing his help. He can’t help but to accept this last job. Especially since something about the young man calls to him. With his arrival in Kentucky, Sam manages to shake up Joshua’s world and starts to rehabilitate Calla, Joshua’s horse. Sam knows he has to start small but he’s persistent and only has a few months to see if he can help both Joshua and Calla.

    I enjoyed the story to a point. Sam being so supportive of Joshua was nice to read about. The well paced relationship development really helped build up the anticipation of seeing how much growth Sam could cultivate in Joshua just by spending time with him and gently nudging him a long. I loved seeing the interaction among the Taylor family, Sam’s sister and even with the horses.

  11. I read Shiver by Jocelyn Drake. It is the story of how stubborn and over-controlling Lucas Vallois falls head over heels for his younger and sexy bodyguard Andrei Hadeon, and loses his cool. I’m not going to go into the plot because the book has already been discussed there. I really enjoyed it, it was what I expected: really sexy characters with a hot chemistry and a lot of action. I enjoyed the relationship between the four friends, and how Lucas struggles with his newly found dependence on Andrei. I liked the interaction between Lucas and Andrei, the shared humour and how they seem to be perfect for each other. There are no I-love-yous in this story, but you can feel their bond is deep without needing to hear the words. The only complaint I have is that I had quite clear who the villain was… The guy keeps turning up with no reason at all. But this is just a small complaint in an otherwise very satisfying read. I’m glad I chose this book. In fact, I have book two already waiting in my ebook!

  12. I read David, Renewed by Diana Copland. David just broke up with his (cheating) Ex and he buys a house in the street he grew up in. He didn’t do an inspection and the house he bought needs some serious fixing up. This is when “handyman” Jackson enters the picture. Jackson takes care of the repairs and he becomes also a very helpfull friend to David who in return is also very suportive of Jackson when he needs him. I like that this is a slow build up with character development and some awesome secondary characters, both David and Jackson’s mom are great and the friends are amazing, funny and very helpfull (i hope they will get their own books). The writing style of Diana Copland is very good, she sucked me into this story and before i knew it i had read the book. I look forward in reading other books by this author. I definitely recommend this one.

  13. Based on a number of recommendations last week during the Round the World Challenge, I decided to read Lilah Pace’s His Royal Secret and His Royal Favourite. Thank you so much to Toni, Eliza and Jay for recommending them – these are two of the best books I’ve read so far this year! I loved them! So well written, with an intriguing premise: what would happen if the heir to the British throne was gay? This felt so real and true and convincing, despite the rather unusual idea of the Prince of Wales falling in love with a commoner – and a Hanoverian Royal Family that is rather different from the Windsors. At its heart, this is a story of two complex, mature and intelligent men falling in love and learning to build a life together. It did also raise some serious questions about the role of monarchy, church and state as well as that of the media; this is not a fluffy fairytale. Both books are keepers and I will certainly re-read them at some point.

    (I did notice some very negative “Huh? Did you actually read the same book as me?”-type reviews on Goodreads for His Royal Secret. No idea why anyone would give this book two stars…)

    A mini-review just at the end – I am now part-way through The Soldier’s Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian, a Regency historical that would appeal if, like me, you are a fan of K. J. Charles or Joanna Chambers. So far, I’m really enjoying it – this seems to be a debut from the author.

    • Yay! I am so glad you loved it! I found the two books excellent so happy to share the love! And thanks for the other book recc! I’ll check it out!

    • I also bought these two books based on the recs from last week 🙂 They are waiting for october.

    • I read His Royal Secret this week, too! I had it on my wishlist already but seeing the rec tipped the scales for me, and I loved it. I’m waiting on His Royal Favourite, just to prolong the fun. Sometimes I’m shocked by my self-control! Especially in this case because of the way it ended. So great!

  14. I finally read Jordan L. Hawk, and her 1st book in the Wayborne & Griffin series: ‘Widdershins’, which I bought quite a while ago after several friends recommended it. I love paranormal and historical stuff, so I don’t know why I hadn’t moved it to the top of the list. I really, really, really enjoyed it. Jordan is a very descriptive writer and you can really place yourself in the story and understand the characters and their actions. And there are a large number of supporting characters who are interesting and very well detailed and interact with the main characters.

    Easily 5 stars.

    I finished the book in 1 day, and turned around and purchased the next four in the series, and I’m now on book #3…… Luckily she’s written 8, so it will keep me busy for a bit 🙂

    • Yay! Like you it took me a while to finally pick up this book, but after I did I proceeded to read 13 Jordan hawk books all at once and she is now in my top handful of authors. I’m reading her Hexmaker right now and it is also amazing. So glad you are feeling the W&G love!

  15. I read Home Grown by Jon Keys. it’s an OK read for me. The misunderstanding and obtuseness of both main characters and their refusal to just do something to make it better were frustrating at times, but luckily, it’s a novella so the story didn’t drag very long.

    What gave me pause was the writing style. This story was written in 3rd person point of view, but sometimes the pronoun changed to ‘I’ at the end of the paragraph when the character was thinking about something. There were also times when thoughts were put in italics. The effect is jarring to me, but I think this just my particular tick.

    The many fruits, vegetables, and food described in the story seemed really good though. If they were real, I (who don’t particularly like veggies), would probably be tempted to try them.

  16. After going through all the books on my Kindle I ended up choosing Gives Light by Rose Christo. I could have read this book for several of the challenges because I’ve had it for years, I’ve never read anything by this author and it’s a genre I don’t usually choose to read.

    This is a YA romance and in the end I really enjoyed reading it.

    The book is a sweet YA romance narrated by 16 year old Skylar. It’s just been him and his dad living together for
    11 years because his mom was murdered when he was 5 years old. The murderer also slashed Skylar’s throat which
    left him unable to speak, so he has to communicate through ASL. At the beginning of the book Skylar’s dad disappears
    and Skylar, being half Shoshone, ends up being placed in his paternal grandmother’s house on a Native American Reservation. He meets and falls in love with Rafael, whose father is the one that murdered Skylar’s mother.
    Since this is a YA book there isn’t any sex (some kisses and funny feelings) but I didn’t really miss it. The secondary characters, Granny and Annie were well written and I grew to really like them too. There wasn’t
    much action but the writing was beautiful and I was never bored. I would probably give this 4 stars.

  17. This weeks books waited since 2014 on my TBR list, but they are still new-to-me-authors.
    The first one was “Tinseltown” from Barry Brennessel. This YA novel is about a film student, his friends, dealing with life and growing up. This is such an extraordinary book. Incridebly funny comedy but also very heartfelt written with some sad parts. It shows the confusion of youth in a real way. Amazing that this is Brennessels debut novel. 5*
    The second one was “After the End” by Alex Kidwell. This novel is about the loss of a longterm partner, grieving and finding someone new. That was a sappy romance and definitely not for me. The plot was so old. I couldn’t connect with the characters. For me they were too good to be true men. However it was good written, so 3*.
    The third book was “Queers” by AJ Rose. This book is about a bunch of friends around the piano-bar Queers, a lot of drama and so on. I know that Rose has a lot of fans but I must say I’m a bit disappointed.

    First of all, this book was very long (423 pages, according to Amazon) and it felt like a long drawn-out soap opera. Some people won’t read this book because it contains the topic of domestic violence. I think this part is fairly well written alas the end felt very rushed. It did not deal enough with the aftermath. I could not relate to most of the characters, they felt not real to me. I had some other problems with the plot but in the main It was ok written and good edited, 3*

    The fourth book was “Openly Straight” by Bill Konigsberg. This is such a fantastic YA novel. Incridibly funny and heartfelt written, very intelligent, and very different from other YA m/m books as it is not about teenagers struggling with the process of coming-out. Here, Rafe is a fully accepted open gay boy with very loving parents. He just wants to try something different. What if he could be someone new, someone who is not constantly labeled as gay as his main character trait. So he decides to transfers to an all-boys’ boarding school in New England to start with a clean slate as a guy not in-the-closet but without any label. This book explores the question what labeling means. Is it even possible to live without having one / without labeling others? I wish everybody would read this witty and smart written novel, 5*

    That was it for this week and I’m looking forward to next week 🙂

  18. This week I read Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, which I gather is getting the Tim Burton treatment and will soon be coming to a theatre near you. Riggs has also written the eerily-titled Hollow City and Library of Souls, but I don’t think I’ll be picking those up. I enjoyed the first quarter to a third of the book. The writing is smart and evocative and I was genuinely spooked after reading the (spoiler!) murder scene. (Closed the book and looked up to discover everyone else had gone to bed and I had to turn out the lights. Shoot.) But then the book took a hard left toward the paranormal, and that’s where I lost interest. I went through the boy-wizard, vampire craze with the rest of you, but I just can’t get on board another supernatural train. I also mixed up the ten peculiar children: was Olive the girl who floats, or the girl who holds the chicken? Definitely read this if floating children is your thing. If not, wait for the movie. But if you’re going to read Miss Peregrine, get a print copy. There are 50 photographs in the book that are integral to the story, although by the end I saw it as more gimmicky.

    • Interesting! one of my daughters started it but said she lost interest after a while, though she still wants to see the movie. I’ll have to find out what made her put it down. I’ll admit, I am interested in checking out the movie too

  19. I decided to read Love for the Cold-Blooded, or The Part-Time Evil Minion’s Guide to Accidentally Dating a Superhero by Alex Gabriel because I’m a sucker for superheroes/villains and that title sounded hilarious. It’s about Pat, who’s the son of a supervillain and sometimes works as a minion for other supervillains, and Nick, a sheltered rich kid and a superhero. Pat ends up sleeping with Nick who though Pat was a prostitute he hired and they eventually end up dating after some more misunderstandings are dealt with.

    I really liked this one. Pat’s voice is super refreshing and fun to read. Nick is totally cute and sweet, if dense. Pat’s family is also totally awesome. It’s a really lighthearted read with lots of humor. 😀

    • Yup, I loved this one too. The first half especially; the superhero schtick started to wear on me by the end, but it’s just so fun and original. I remember laughing out loud several times and ignoring my children.

    • Oh yes, I remember when we reviewed this one. Glad you liked it! And if you like superheroes, keep your eyes open for my review of Not Your Sidekick later this week..

    • I’m so glad you reviewed it because this sounds wonderful! It feels like I have heard that very memorable title before, but now it’s on my wishlist. I read a superhero/villains story for this week’s challenge, too, but it was YA. I’m the same, I love that pairing, or stories from the supervillain’s perspective. Have you read Cari Z’s Panopolis series or Skylar Jaye’s Eddie? Alexis Hall also has a wonderful story, Behind the Masks, in the Winter Rain book that’s definitely worth checking out.

      • Oh good! Sidekick is YA too actually and very good. I haven’t read Cari Zs books (Kris reviewed them here) but they are on my wish list. I’ll have to check out the others. Love super hero books!

  20. I read The 7th of London by Beau Schemery. While I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it either. It’s a 3 star for me. It had a very slow start & didn’t really pick up until the middle of the book. I’d describe it as very stereotypical steampunk. Set in Victorian England, it has every element I’d expect to see in a steampunk novel; mechanical limbs, automobiles, clockwork inventions, even an airship. There was a guest appearance by at least one historical figure whom should be very easily recognizable. To a degree, I just felt it lacked some imagination so it wasn’t the best steampunk I’ve ever read.

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