Wednesday, 15 August 2018

BLOG TOUR - REVIEW: BLIND KISS by RENEE CARLINO

   
From the national bestselling author of Before We Were Strangers, Swear on this Life, and Wish You Were Here comes a powerful story of two people who spend years denying their scientifically-proven chemistry.


 

Blind Kiss
By Renee Carlino
Releasing August 14th, 2018
Self-Published





Penny spends her afternoons sitting outside a sandwich shop, surrounded by ghosts. Fourteen years ago, this shop was her childhood dance studio—and she was a dancer on the rise. Now she’s a suburban housewife, dreading the moment her son departs for MIT, leaving her with an impeccably-decorated McMansion and a failing marriage. She had her chance at wild, stars-in-her-eyes happiness, but that was a lifetime ago. After The Kiss. Before The Decision. The Kiss was soulful. Magical. Earth-shattering, And it was all for a free gift card. Asked to participate in a psych study that posed the question, “Can you have sexual chemistry without knowing what the other person looks like?” Penny agreed to be blindfolded, make polite conversation with a total stranger, and kiss him. She never expected The Kiss to change her life forever and introduce her to Gavin: tattooed, gorgeous, and spontaneous enough to ask her out seconds after the blindfolds came off. For a year, they danced between friendship and romance—until Penny made The Decision that forced them to settle for friendship. Now, fourteen years later, both of their lives are about to radically change—and it’s his turn to decide what will become of their once-in-a-lifetime connection.   

Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and the bestselling author of Sweet Thing, Nowhere But Here, After the Rain, Before We Were Strangers, Swear on This Life, and Wish You Were Here. She grew up in Southern California and lives in the San Diego area with her husband and two sons. To learn more, visit ReneeCarlino.  

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In Blind Kiss by Renee Carlino, a blind kiss experiment leads to Penny and Gavin becoming the best of friends. However, nothing has ever happened between them, even though it's not as if Gavin hasn't tried to convince her to take a chance on him. Yet, things have happened in the course of their lives with big decisions and mistakes made. Will Penny and Gavin finally get their shot at happy ever after or will their friendship totally fall apart?

I love Ms. Carlino's books and this story was another entertaining and engaging read where the wonderful main characters have the best friendship and have stuck together through thick and thin; and the dialogue was compelling and had me liking how all that Penny and Gavin go through on their journey to happy ever after. Really, the way this story jumps back and forth between different times in the past and then the now had me reading quickly, determined to discover if Penny would ever take a chance on Gavin. 

As for the dialogue, it was intense due to the main characters back stories and everything they go through on their journey to happy ever after, as they've both suffered loss and done their best to move forward from those losses, even though it feels like the losses they've suffered led to the heroine making bad decisions, although her son is a gift. Moreover, I absolutely loved the hero. He's confident, cocky, a total flirt with Penny and I liked the growing connection between him and the heroine, which had me hoping for the best for the pair because they're meant to be together, despite the difficult obstacles they face that keep them apart. While the heroine, she's resilient, courageous and I liked the decisions she makes in order to make her life better after everything that's happened in her life. I also liked the close relationship she shares with her son and how her son wants to see her happy. 

Overall, Ms. Carlino has delivered a really good read in this book where the chemistry between Gavin and Penny was off-the-charts; the romance was delightful and had me cheering for this couple's happy ever after; and the ending and epilogue had me loving the decisions these two make to achieve their happy ever after. I would recommend Blind Kiss by Renee Carlino, if you enjoy the friends to lovers trope or books by authors Kelly Elliott, Lauren Blakely, Claire Contreras and Kristy Bromberg. 







          We sat at the bar of the pub as I continued to stare at him, a mixture of curiosity and fear boiling in my gut. He ordered a beer, and I ordered Chardonnay with beer-cheese pretzels. “That’s different for you.” 

I usually stuck to salads, an old habit from my dancing days, but I had lost a lot of weight in the past few weeks. “Don’t think you can distract me so easily. Tell me what’s going on. Did you break up with Briel?” 

He took a long pull from his beer and stared straight ahead. “Don’t be mad, okay?” I stared at him, wordlessly, the fear fully boiling over. And then he dropped the bomb on me. The next few minutes were hazy as Gavin, the bar, and my glass of Chardonnay swam together before my eyes. I tried to reach for the glass but found it suddenly empty. That’s weird. It was full a minute ago. I motioned to the bartender for another, then poured it down my throat in a steady stream. I was breathing fast when I slammed the glass on the bar, shattering my fugue state—and bringing Gavin into sharp relief. I was reeling.

 “Shit, Penny! Be careful. You almost shattered your glass!” He practically yelled. 

“You’re moving to fucking France?!” I yelled back. The bartender jerked his head toward the door, and within minutes Gavin was forcibly dragging me out of the bar by the arm. I slipped out of his grip and stood in the middle of the parking lot, seething, very much drunk, and fully freaking out. “So, do you love her?” 

“Briel? What kind of question is that?” 

“Just answer me.” 

“Fuck, Penny. That’s not what this is about. I don’t really have a choice here, though, do I?” 

“You always have a choice.” 

He glared at me. “That’s fucking rich, coming from you.” 

I shook my head vigorously. “Totally different situation.” 

“Like hell it was.” 

“When do you leave?” 

“In two days.” 

“WHAT?!” He ran up and shook me by the shoulders. 

“Jesus, if I knew you were gonna take it like this, I wouldn’t have told you in public. Pull yourself together.” 

I screamed at the top of my lungs and then made a guttural sound as I hunched over and held my stomach. “First Milo, now you?” 

“Don’t you put that on me. I’m not the reason why you’re about to be alone and unhappy.” 

“Fuck you, Gavin!” 

“Fuck you, Penny!” He didn’t turn around—he just stormed off in typical Gavin fashion: petulant, recalcitrant, and a total shithead. People in the parking lot were gawking, appalled, covering their children’s ears. But no one made a move to leave. When Gavin and I got like this, we were like a car wreck by the side of the road, impossible to look away from. Gavin slid into his ’67 Chevelle and fired up the engine. I hated that car because he loved it so much. It had a black leather interior, a flawless paint job, and tinted windows, like it belonged to some kind of celebrity—which Gavin definitely wasn’t. It was his only possession worth a dime, besides his garage, a few guitars, and a Zippo lighter he swore River Phoenix had given to him at the Viper Room the night of his death. I ran to the exit and stood in the middle of the lane, daring him to run me over as he ripped out of his parking spot and raced around the corner toward the exit. 

“We’re not done talking, you coward!” He slowed but let the car idle while he revved the engine. “I dare you!” I yelled. He stuck his head out the window, leaned his tattooed arm against the door, and actually grinned at me. So smug. What a dick. 

“You look ridiculous standing there. Get out of the way!” 

I walked toward his window and noticed that his demeanor had completely softened. There was even humor in his expression. He wanted me to block him, and he knew I would. “Can’t you have a proper fight without running away?”

 “You were lecturing me, yet again. I have a mother, thank you. You have a child you can order around . . . and a husband you can control. I don’t need your shit, okay? Don’t you realize that I’m freaking out, too? I’m going through the hardest time of my life, and you’re making this all about you.” 

“You’ve been going through the hardest time of your life for the whole fourteen years I’ve known you.” 

“And as my friend, do you think you’re helping my situation right now?” he spat back, his mood shifting once again. 

“Don’t even. Don’t you dare act like I haven’t been a good friend to you. You’ve put me in the most awkward situations, you’ve bolted on me, you’ve stopped speaking to me for weeks at a time, but still . . . I make myself available to you. I’ve been here for you, always. And now you’re moving thousands of miles away when I need you most?” 

He shook his head slowly. “That’s right, Penny. You have been here. You’ve been right by my side, lecturing me, rolling your eyes at me, pressuring me to get serious about Briel, all so I could go and fuck up my life even more while you sit in your nice house, with your KitchenAid mixer, your Oracle espresso machine, and your fucking yellow Lab.” 

“Don’t talk about Buckley that way! He’s a good dog. And you love our espresso machine.” 

Gavin’s lips turned up at the corners. “You’re so messed up, Penny. You definitely have a chemical imbalance.” 

I pointed to my chest, shocked. “Me? Look who’s talking? Please, pull into a parking space. I don’t want to stand here anymore, making a spectacle of myself. Some parent from Milo’s school is probably watching this whole thing. There’ll be whispers at the next PTA meeting. Is that what you want for me?” 

“Don’t pretend like you go to PTA meetings. And look around; everyone’s gone. It’s just us.” He was right. The parking lot had cleared out. Gavin was sitting in his idling car while I was standing outside his window like a moron. 

“I resent you for saying I pushed Briel on you. And yes, for your information, I do go to PTA meetings.” 

You encouraged me to go out with her, then you needled me about it until I finally did.” 

“You were horribly depressed! I thought you were gonna jump off a bridge. I told you to go out with her and to have some fun. She’s a nice girl. I didn’t say turn your life upside down, pack up, and run away with a foreigner! You’re thirty-six-years old, Gavin. I think it’s time you grew up.” 

I shook my head. “God, I can’t believe you.” 

He jerked his head back and squinted. “Great band but not totally PC to call someone a foreigner, Penny.” His voice was low. 

“Are you going to become a French citizen now, too? You better brush up on your French.” 

“Everyone speaks English there.” 

“No, they don’t! People always say that, but you’ll see. They might be able to communicate to a degree, but it’s not conversational English.” Why am I still standing here, screaming about French people? I needed to tie this conversation up in a pretty little bow. I needed closure. I couldn’t say good-bye to my best friend without it. He was leaving, going to France to chase a girlfriend I knew he didn’t love. I was losing him. And it was my fault. We couldn’t leave each other angry. 

“I’ll figure it out,” he said. “Try not to make me feel worse about my situation, though I know that’s hard for you.” 

“Your situation? It’s always your situation. What about my situation?” He just stared at me. He was hurting; I could tell. But I was hurting, too. “Listen—” 

“What?” 

“Don’t interrupt me.” I cleared my throat. “Gavin . . . it’s just . . . I’m going to fucking miss you, okay? I’m having a hard time right now, and life is about to get a whole lot harder the second you leave.” 

I started to cry. He hated it when I cried, but he didn’t ask me, “Why are you crying?” 

He never had to ask. He took a deep breath in through his nose, then released it forcefully in a burst of frustration. A second later his car stalled. He put it in gear, got out, and swooped me up in a bear hug. “Penny, Penny, Penny . . . my crazy girl,” he said as he rubbed my back. I was wiping my snot-covered nose on his black T-shirt and he didn’t care one bit. He held me for a long time. When he started to release me, I said, “It’s not enough.” He picked me up again and squeezed me harder. Tucking his face into my neck, he said, “It’ll never be enough.” 

“Why?” I said, fully bawling against his shoulder. He brushed a strand of my hair, damp with tears, behind my ear. “I have to go, and so do you. You need to be with your family now.” 

I felt the lump in my throat growing. “You don’t have to constantly remind me that I have a family. I love my family. But you’re a part of it, too, and that’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m fucking crying in the parking lot in front of Bank of America.” 

He pulled away and we stood there, two feet apart, staring at each other, as if we were committing each other to memory. Allowing one another to really look at and take the other person in, stripped down to our bones, without scrutiny.

“Is this it?” I asked. 

“This is it, P.” I shook my head, leaned up on my toes, and wrapped my arms around him. We hugged again for a long time before he got into his car. I tried to hold on to the feeling of having him in my arms, or maybe I was trying to hold on to the feeling of being held in his. He started the engine as I stood there, waiting for him to leave. “We’ll talk on the phone or email or something, okay?” 

“Okay,” I told him. 

He swallowed nervously. Looking up at me from the car window, he said, “I wish it were you, Penny.” That was my bow. He knew I needed it, good or bad—no matter what feelings it shook loose from our long and complicated history together.



 







        

Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of contemporary women's novels and new adult fiction. Her books have been featured in national publications, including USA TODAY, Huffington Post, Latina magazine, and Publisher's Weekly. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she's not at the beach with her boys or working on her next project, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate. Learn more at www.reneecarlino.com   

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Tuesday, 14 August 2018

SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: COWBOYS NEED NOT APPLY by ROBERT TATE MILLER



About the Book:


No, prima donna ballerina Jessica Carmichael isn’t interested in the rough-and-tumble rodeo cowboy she met in physical therapy. In fact, she’s actively uninterested in his cocky smile, and his go-with-the-flow attitude, and how his silly little bets make her work harder than ever to fix her knee. She’d like nothing more than to strangle him, if she wasn’t so busy thinking about kissing him.

Matt Walker's best hope of getting back in the saddle is charming Jessica into teaching him ballet. He needs to get back on the bronc…even if he has to get there in tights. Only the uptight ballerina lives in a completely different world, one he wouldn't touch with a ten-foot mechanical bull. But maybe the one thing she needs more than control is to lose control for once—with him.

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It was nearly midnight when Jessica and Matt strolled down 5th Avenue and long past closing hours for the famously pricey stores. Anne Taylor, Abercrombie and Fitch and Anthropologie were all shuttered for the night. Jessica had her arm looped through Matt’s as if he were escorting her safely home after the prom. She was in no hurry to flag a cab. She smiled in the silence and thought about the wedding and her toast and the dancing. She hadn’t had that much fun in a long time, maybe ever. Then her thoughts sobered. Training was over. Matt had no more excuses to stay in the city. He’d be going home, and she’d be back to her routine, back to her studio, and her life, and the pain of her career’s early demise. She’d have no more cowboy distractions to occupy her mind. She was happy when Matt broke the silence.

“So, what now?” he said.

“You go back to Montana, I guess,” Jessica said. I’m sure Harry misses you.”

Matt looked at her. “You think I’ll be ready for The Big Ride?”

“I’m not a doctor,” Jessica said. “But if you stick with the routine, I think you’ve got a gambler’s chance. How does it feel?”

“Feels good,” Matt said.

“Good. I don’t want you to be over confident. But, I think you should be proud of yourself. You done good, cowboy. How long do you have to decide?” Jessica said. “To do the Big Ride?”

“Right up to the last. I’m already entered. I can scratch the night of the rodeo if need be.”

“Okay, fine. Then you should just see how you feel. And only do it if you’re a hundred percent sure…” Matt suddenly stopped walking, pulled Jessica to him and kissed her. She was stunned as his lips pushed against hers, his strong hands on her elbows lifting her until she was on her tippy toes. She kissed back, moving her tongue in between his lips, closing her eyes and loving the feel of his scratchy beard against her pale cheeks. She felt her nipples harden, her heartbeat kick into overdrive. She put a hand on his chest and gently pushed back, though without much enthusiasm.

 “Wait,” she said. She caught her breath, felt her swollen lips. “Don’t…”

“Don’t?” Matt said.

“Don’t kiss me like that. You’re leaving. You’re going back to Wyoming.”

“Montana,” Matt corrected, and Jessica felt foolish: foolish and giddy and out of sorts. Had one kiss done that to her? she mused.





Robert Tate Miller was raised in the North Carolina mountain town of Hendersonville and began writing at an early age. He began his writing career with homespun essays of small town life that were published in such publications as Reader's Digest, The Christian Science Monitor and the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. He moved to Los Angeles in the late 1980s and wrote hugely successful family-oriented telefilms for NBC, ABC Family and the Hallmark Channel. Robert lives in Northridge, CA.

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Monday, 13 August 2018

BLOG TOUR - REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW by PATTY BLOUNT



It’s been two years since the night that changed Ashley's life and two years of hell for Derek. When it all comes to a head at Thanksgiving, will these siblings be able to salvage their relationship? From the award-winning author of Some Boys comes an unflinching examination of rape culture that delves into a family torn apart by sexual assault.



Someone I Used to Know
By Patty Blount
Releasing August 7th, 2018
Sourcebooks Fire





TRIGGER WARNING: Boys will be boys is never an excuse.


It’s been two years since the night that changed Ashley’s life. Two years since she was raped by her brother’s teammate. And a year since she sat in a court and watched as he was given a slap-on-the-wrist sentence. But the years have done nothing to stop the pain or lessen the crippling panic attacks that make her feel like she’s living a half-life.

It’s been two years of hell for Derek. His family is totally messed up and he and his sister are barely speaking. He knows she partially blames him for what happened, and totally blames him for how he handled the aftermath. Now at college, he has to come to terms with what happened, and the rape culture that he was inadvertently a part of that destroyed his sister’s life.

When it all comes to a head at Thanksgiving, Derek and Ashley have to decide if their relationship is able to be saved. And if their family can ever be whole again.


Available:  Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble  |  Kobo  |  iTunes





In Someone I Used to Know by Patty Blount, for two years Ashley has suffered because of something terrible that happened to her. Worse, her brother took sides and unfortunately that side wasn't hers. But with another Thanksgiving approaching and her mom wanting the whole family home, can Ashley find it within herself to forgive or will she continue to let her pain and anger keep riding her hard enough to never fully heal from her trauma?

What an utterly emotional, fast-paced, engaging read Ms. Blount has delivered in this book where emotions run high because a family is torn apart by something terrible. Will Ashley ever fully heal from what she went through? However, it was from the moment the heroine started to do something to fight back where this story really takes off because she's determined to make people understand what she's been through and is still going through because of what happened. 

As for the dialogue, it was intense and had me crying on and off throughout this story because of what the heroine has been through and how tough it's been for her, especially when it came to the trial and feeling that her brother betrayed her. However, I liked the choices she makes, as she needs to heal from what happened to her. While the heroine's brother, he was a wonderful character and I couldn't help but sympathize with him, as he feels so much guilt over what happened. Yet, in saying that, I liked the decisions he makes in order to have a better understanding of all his sister has suffered and how he can help others have a better understanding too. Will he be able to make things right between him and his sister? 

Overall, Ms. Blount has penned a really good read in this book where I loved the growing relationship between Ashley and the boy that's been by her side through thick and thin when it should have been her brother looking out for her. However, it was the ending that was heart-warming and had me crying happy tears because family is important and worth fighting for. No way can they keep going the way they're going -- daughter versus son. Yet, it was the epilogue that wrapped this story up nicely because of how things turned out and how happy everyone is, especially Ashley. I would recommend Someone I Used to Know by Patty Blount, if you're looking for a story that will tug at your heartstrings or if you enjoy books by authors Devney Perry, Elle Kennedy, Tillie Cole and Denise Grover Swank. 






Copyright© 2018 Someone I Used To Know
Patty Blount
 
This novel is a companion story to my award-winning SOME BOYS. In this scene, Ian Russell, one of the main characters in Some Boys, meets Derek Lawrence in SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW.

~*~


Derek

A knot forms in my gut, a thick and oily clot of guilt. I sink on to the first bench I spot, clutching my middle and trying like hell not to puke. Damn it, I wish to hell I’d beaten the snot out of Victor Patton.
Came close to it.
“Hey, man.”
I twitch and find some guy sitting beside me. No idea where he came from. He’s older than I am, but not by much. Mid-twenties, maybe? Dark hair, dark eyes, some serious muscle.
I nod and shift away, willing my stomach to settle down.
“I’m gonna say something to you,” the guy says. “And you can tell me to buzz off, or you can listen. I see you sitting here, green around the gills, gripping one of those rally flyers, and see a look on your face I know well.”
I shift back to study him. He meets my gaze without flinching, and there’s something in his tone that tells me he’s not kidding.
“Somebody you love got assaulted,” he says, and before I can say anything—before I can even think of something to say—he adds, “Me too.”
I stare at him in disbelief. Are we supposed to do some kind of male bonding over rape...some sort of weird bro hug and then share our feelings? That kink in my gut unclenches, and my breakfast comes up and out. I manage to turn away before I ruin this guy’s day and spew into the bushes behind the bench. It takes a few minutes. When I’m finally empty and want to crawl into the gutter to die, the guy shoves a bottle of water into my field of vision.
“Take it. Keep it.”
Grateful, I crack the seal, chug, and rinse out my mouth. Then I take a nice gulp, sit back on the bench, and wipe my mouth. “Thanks,” I offer a few minutes later, when I’m sure I’m not dying.
“Yeah, no big.”
There’s a long pause. “Girlfriend?” he asks after a minute. And it takes me another minute to figure out he’s asking who I know that got raped. I shake my head.
“Sister.”
“Oh, man. I’m sorry.”
I only nod. What else is there to say? In silence, we watch the perky girl with the clipboard chase down two guys on Rollerblades to sign up for the rally.
He snorts out a laugh. “That girl has some serious fun attitude.”
I laugh, too. “That’s an oxymoron, no?”
Shrugging, he says, “Maybe. Never could keep those lit terms straight.”
That makes me wonder about him. “You’re not a student?”
“No,” he admits. “I graduated a few years ago. Degree in engineering. I work in the city now.”
“So what are you doing here?”
He sighs and looks back to the quad where Perky Girl’s got another pair of guys on the hook for rally duty. “Over there. Under the Rock Stock tent. Black boots.”
I scan the area, find the tent, and see a bunch of people under it. But the black boots do it for me. The girl is hot, like off-the- charts hot. Long wild hair, dark sunglasses, jeans, and a black shirt that’s held together with a series of metal rings. She looks like the lead singer from some hard rock band.
“Oh! I’m sorry. Was she—”
“Yeah. Back in high school. By my friend. At a party she only went to because she hoped I’d be there.”
“I'm sorry.” I sigh.
“I came over here to talk to you because you looked like— well, like a guy about to puke.”
My face gets hot. I swallow another gulp of water and look away. But I can’t deny I’m curious. “How do you...” Deal with it? Avoid killing the guy who did it? I wave my hand, trying to fill in that blank but coming up empty.
He angles his head, studying me. “Get over my guilt?”
Okay. That works, too.
He takes another look at the girl in the black boots and shrugs.
“Still working on it. Being here is part of it. She’s doing the keynote speech at the rally. Took me a while, but I finally figured out that therapy’s not so bad, either.”
My parents wanted us all to go to therapy, but I said no way. Maybe that was a mistake. “Can I ask you something?”
The guy nods.
I swallow more water. “You ever say something you can’t take back? Something that made her hate you.”
He grins and rolls his eyes. “God, yes. I can’t watch a Star Wars movie without wanting to kick my own ass.”
“Huh?”
He waves a hand. “Long story. I was a real dick to her, embarrassing her in front of my friends so they wouldn’t turn on me. She forgave me. Somewhere along the line, I figured out how to forgive myself so I could be the man she deserves.”
Forgive myself. That’s exactly what Brittany said. I consider that for a couple of minutes and then shake my head. “I gotta go.” I stand up. “Thanks for the water and for—” I wave a hand. “You know.”
“Yeah. No problem. Hope we see you at the rally. Trust me, she’s something.” He jerks a thumb toward the girl in the black boots, and I don’t doubt him for a second.
“Yeah. Maybe.”
He extends a hand. “Ian.”
I shake it. “Derek,” I say. “Thanks again.”
“Here.” He fishes through his pockets and comes out with a business card. “My cell number. I can help. If you want.”
I take off, tucking the card into my pocket along with the blue-and-white flyer. I don’t even know why I’m keeping them. It’s not like there’s any way Ashley’s gonna forgive me. I’m not even sure I can forgive myself. I’ll never be the hero again in her eyes.






Patty Blount grew up quiet and somewhat invisible in Queens, NY, but found her voice writing smart and strong characters willing to fight for what’s right. Today, she’s the award-winning author of edgy, realistic, gut-wrenching contemporary and young adult romance. Still a bit introverted, she gets lost often, eats way too much chocolate, and tends to develop mad, passionate crushes on fictional characters…and actors like Gilles Marini….and Sam Heughan. Okay, so Patty’s not nearly as cool as her characters, but she is a solid supporter of women’s rights and loves delivering school presentations.

Patty is best known for her internet issues novels, including SOME BOYS, a 2015 CLMP Firecracker winner and RWA Rita Finalist, and SEND, a 2012 Junior Library Guild Fall Pick. Her upcoming release, SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW, has already been selected as a 2018 Junior Library Guild Fall Pick. Visit her website at pattyblount.com, where you can sign up for her newsletter. She blogs at YA Outside the Lines and is also active on Twitter and Facebook. When she’s not writing, Patty loves to watch bad sci-fi movies, live tweeting the hilarity, and scour Pinterest for ideas on awesome bookcases. Patty lives on Long Island with her family in a house that, sadly, lacks bookcases. She loves hearing from readers, especially when they tell her she’s cool (even though she knows it’s not true), and is easily bribed with chocolate. Never underestimate the power of chocolate.

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