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Book Lists and Lena Diaz’s Tennessee Takedown

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Thank you for helping us build our 2014 TBR lists! We came up with some wonderful suggestions that will keep us busy all year.

These are some of titles on our list so far  (in no particular order):

Do or Die, Suzanne Brockmann  February 4, 2014

Hell for Leather, Julie Ann Walker, May 6, 2014

Dash of Peril (Love Undercover), Lori Foster, March 25, 2014

When Day Breaks, Maya Banks, June 24, 2014

Elle Kennedy, Midnight Pursuits, April 1 2014

The King, JR Ward, April 1, 2014

Dark Wolf, Christine Feehan, January 7, 2014

Styxx, Sherrilyn Kenyon, September 2013

Divergent by Veronica Roth

The Fault in Our Stars  by John Green

Tenessee Takedown, Lena Diaz, February 1, 2014

The Bodyguard, Lena Diaz, April 15, 2014

Take the Key and Lock Her Up, Lena Diaz, July 22, 2014

Confession, Carey BaldwinMarch 11th, 2014

Labyrinth, Carey Baldwin, Sept 16th, 2014

Why Earls Fall in Love, Manda Collins , January 28, 2014

Why Lords Fall in Love, Manda Collins, July 28, 2014

Withholding Evidence, Rachel Grant, February 2014

Incriminating Evidence, Rachel Grant, Late 2014

Thankless in Death, J.D. Robb, September 17, 2013

The Spellman Files series by Lisa Lutz

It Happens in the Dark, Carol O’Connell, August 2013

Lost in a  Royal Kiss, Vanessa Kelly, November 26, 2013

The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt, October 22, 2013

The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer, April 9, 2013

Life After Life, Kate Atkinson, April 2, 2013

Far Gone, Laura Griffin, April 15, 2014

Romancing the Duke, Tessa Dare, January 28, 2014

Sweet Talk Me, Kieran Kramer, March 15, 2014

Lena Diaz

And please join us next week when our very own Carey Baldwin interviews our very own Lena Diaz!

We can’t wait to hear about her upcoming release Tennessee Takedown from Harlequin!

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Julie Ann Walker Celebrates Romantic Suspense!

Julie Ann Walker

Today I am thrilled to welcome Julie Ann Walker back to Kiss and Thrill! The eagerly anticipated 5th book in Julie’s Black Knights, Inc. series released Tuesday, and I’m pretty sure her wonderful fans have already devoured it and are deluging her with requests for the next book. Fortunately for all of us at Kiss and Thrill, Julie has compiled a list of favorite authors to tide us over until book 6!

If you haven’t read Julie’s series yet, but don’t want to start with book 5, here is your chance to get caught up – she’s is giving away print copies of books 1-4 to one lucky commenter!

And now, I’m delighted to hand the blog over to the fabulous and talented Julie Ann Walker!

Let’s Celebrate Romantic Suspense!

AKA: The Authors Who Inspired Me to Write in the Genre

I’ve been wanting to do a shout-out to my fellow romantic suspense authors for quite some time now.  And what better place to do that than here on Kiss and Thrill, the blog dedicated to, run by, and specializing in the RS genre.  (Hi, ladies!  *waves*  Thanks for having me back!)  Because, truly, those of us who write romantic suspense first started out reading romantic suspense.  We fell in love with the action, the mystery, the mayhem, the thrill and chills and, of course, the sexy times.  *wink*  And while I adore the work of all the ladies here on the Kiss and Thrill site – seriously, if you haven’t picked up their books, you’re truly missing out – I wanted to dedicate this particular blog to some of the authors who pioneered the way for us, those wonderful writers who’ve been plugging away in the genre for years, sometimes decades.  I thought I’d do that by listing my top five favorite romantic suspense authors – in no particular order – adding why I love their writing and how they inspired my own.

So, without further ado…

1.)  Sandra Brown

Sandra has been writing romantic suspense since before romantic suspense was even considered a sub-genre.  (Not to give away her age or anything.  It’s obvious she started writing as a fetus.  *winces*  Hi, Sandra!)  But, the thing that always intrigues me about Sandra’s books are her intensely flawed heroes.  I adore them.  They’re unique.  They’re angst-y.  And above all else, they’re real.

2.)  Elizabeth Lowell

Can you say delicious prose, boys and girls?  Because Elizabeth does it like no other.  Rich descriptions, tasty metaphors, scrumptious word choices.  I fall in love with her sentence structures.  Plus, Elizabeth’s books are always a like mini college classes in 400 pages or less.  Her research is phenomenal.  And to read one of her books is to get a crash course in everything from the emerald trade to the collection of old tintypes.  So. Much. Fun!

3.)  Linda Howard

Talk about a pioneer.  Linda’s  first single title was published in 1982!  Her books are always filled to the brim with adventure, intrigue, daring heroes, dauntless heroines, and intensely despicable villains. I like to say Linda writes romantic suspense in its purest, most distilled form. Her books epitomize the genre. I suppose that’s why she’s so long-lasting, eh?  Go, Linda!

4.)  Suzanne Brockmann

Oh, be still my heart.  Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooter series is the entire reason I started reading the genre.  And the thing that most inspires me about Suzanne is that she’s a rule-breaker.  She writes from multiple points of view – something not done until recently.  One of her heroes is gay – something still frowned upon in some circles.  Her books usually have two love stories – something that editors will tell you is a no-no.  The list of ways she’s pushed the envelope goes on and on.  But my point is, not only does she break the rules, but she does it beautifully, eloquently, masterfully.

5.)  Lora Leigh

Oh, Lora, Lora, Lora!  *fans self*  Does she know how to write one smokin’ hot book, or what?  If you’re a Shades of Grey fan, but like some hard-core action between your titillating sex scenes, then Lora is the gal for you!  She takes romantic suspense to the next level on the heat scale.  Her characters’ chemistry practically sets the pages on fire.  Be sure to set the screen level brightness on your eReader to dim, or else the words might just burn out your retinas.  LOL!

So, thanks ladies, for not only giving me great books to read, but also for giving me the inspiration to pen my own works!  You all rock!

And with that, I’m outa here!  A resounding huzzah to the gals at Kiss and Thrill for having me back.  It’s always such a treat!

One lovely commenter will win print copies of the first four books in my Black Knights Inc. series!  Just answer the following question:  Who is your all-time favorite romantic suspense writer and what is it that you love about their books?

Born-Wild-Book-CoverNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julie Ann Walker dives back into action with the red-hot romantic suspense Black Knights Inc. series!  They claim they’re bad-boy bikers who own custom motorcycle shop, but these special-ops guys–a mix of Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, Marines, FBI and more–handle the jobs too tough for the government to tackle.

TICK…TICK…

“Wild” Bill Reichert knows a thing or two about explosives. The ex-Navy SEAL can practically rig a bomb blindfolded. But there’s no way to diffuse the inevitable fireworks the day Eve Edens walks back into his life, asking for help…

BOOM!

Eve doesn’t know what to do when the Chicago police won’t believe someone is out to hurt her. The only place to turn is Black Knights Inc—after all, no one is better at protection than the covert special-ops team. Yet there’s also no one better at getting her all turned on than Billy Reichert. She has a feeling this is one blast from the past that could backfire big time…

PRAISE FOR BORN WILD:

One heck of a riveting plotline… Born Wild is definitely not to be missed!” —RT Book Reviews, 4 ½ Stars

A wild roller coaster ride of a story… Nonstop action.” —Fresh Fiction

“Drama, danger and sexual tension… Romantic suspense at its best.” —Night Owl Reviews, 5/5 Stars, Reviewer Top Pick

Julie Ann Walker is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Black Knights Inc. romantic suspense series. She is prone to spouting movie quotes and song lyrics, and prefers impromptu travel over the scheduled kind. You can find her on her bicycle along the lake shore in Chicago or blasting away at her keyboard, trying to wrangle her capricious imagination into submission. For more information, please visit www.julieannwalker.com or follow her on Facebook, www.facebook.com/jawalkerauthor, and Twitter, @JAWalkerAuthor

To Purchase Born Wild:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Discover a New Love | iBooks | Indigo/Chapters | IndieBound | Sourcebooks

Amanda Brice’s Recommended Summer Reads for Teens and Tweens

As the mother of a twelve-year-old voracious reader, I can’t keep up with my daughter’s need for books.  Thankfully, I have friends who are wonderful Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction authors whom I rely on to recommend books.  Thanks to my friends, my daughter and teenaged nieces think I’m a genius for selecting books.

My daughter adores Amanda Brice’s Dani Spevak middle grade mysteries.  After reading the first book, Code Name: Dancer she couldn’t wait for the sequel.  The short story in Eternal Spring helped to tide her over as she waited for Pointe of No Return to be released in Kindle format.  Now she’s devoured Pointe, and is ready for more.

Summer starts in my house tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. and I need help keeping my kid in books for the next ten weeks.  Thankfully, Amanda Brice has come to my rescue.

To thank Amanda for her help, I’m giving a copy of Pointe of No Return and one of the books she recommends below (winner’s choice) to one lucky commenter.

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First I want to say thank you to Rachel and the rest of the Kiss & Thrill ladies for hosting me today. It’s an awesome blog and it’s so much fun to be here to discuss reading suggestions for your tweens and teens.

Now that school is out (or will be shortly), moms and dads across the country are faced with the task of what to do with their kids for the next 2 months or so. I can’t help you with summer camps or childcare or occupying their every waking hour, but in keeping with the suspense theme of this website, I can help provide you with a list of awesome YA and middle grade mysteries.

These books are in no particular order, so don’t try to interpret it as a ranking of preference. But they’re some of my faves – both classic and modern, and I hope they’ll become your kids’ faves, too.

For the tweens:

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

When an eccentric millionaire dies mysteriously, sixteen very unlikely people are gathered together for the reading of the will…and what a will it is!

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

When suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run from somewhere she wants to run to somewhere–to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and preferably elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Knowing that her younger brother, Jamie, has money and thus can help her with the serious cash flow problem she invites him along.

Once settled into the museum, Claudia and Jamie, find themselves caught up in the mystery of an angel statue that the museum purchased at an auction for a bargain price of $250. The statue is possibly an early work of the Renaissance master Michelangelo, and therefore worth millions. Is it? Or isn’t it? Claudia is determined to find out. This quest leads Claudia to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the remarkable old woman who sold the statue and to some equally remarkable discoveries about herself.

Alex Rider: Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz

When his guardian dies in suspicious circumstances, fourteen-year-old Alex Rider finds his world turned upside down. Forcibly recruited into MI6, Alex has to take part in grueling SAS training exercises. Then, armed with his own special set of secret gadgets, he’s off on his first mission to Cornwall, where Middle-Eastern multi-billionaire Herod Sayle is producing his state-of-the-art Stormbreaker computers. Sayle has offered to give one free to every school in the country – but there’s more to the gift than meets the eye.

Rush for the Gold: Mystery at the Olympics by John Feinstein

Bestselling sportswriter and Edgar Award winner John Feinstein is back with another sports mystery featuring Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson—this one set at the summer Olympics in London.  In this book, Susan Carol isn’t a reporter—she’s an Olympian, competing as a swimmer at her first Olympic games. Stevie is both proud and envious of her athletic prowess. And he’s worried by the agents and sponsors and media all wanting to get up close and personal with Susan Carol.  But the more disturbing question becomes—how far might they go to ensure that America’s newest Olympic darling wins gold?

Hot Ticket by Tracy Marchini

Hot tickets could be awarded for doing something cool, saying something funny, or sometimes even just wearing something the ticket dispenser liked.  All authentic hot tickets were two inch by six inch rectangles made from this orange cardboard material, with “HOT TICKET” written in big bold letters at the top.  Hot tickets first started becoming popular about a month after school started.  Then there was this rash of copycat tickets on regular paper, but people just tossed those in the trash.  Everybody could figure out it was one of their friends that made it anyway.  But an authentic ticket – that was something you kept.

Some people had their lockers decorated in hot and shame tickets.  Some people kept their hot tickets at home to prevent theft.

If I got a hot ticket, I would definitely keep it taped on the inside door of my locker.  Right now my locker only had a locker mirror, a picture of Lucy and I from my birthday party at Six Flags and these annoying cat stickers from the person who had my locker before me.

Fifth grade did not prepare me for this at all.

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham

In the small city of Strattenburg, there are many lawyers, and though he’s only thirteen years old, Theo Boone thinks he’s one of them. Theo knows every judge, policeman, court clerk — and a lot about the law. He dreams of a life in the courtroom. But he finds himself in court much sooner than expected. Because he knows so much — maybe too much — he is suddenly dragged into the middle of a sensational murder trial. A cold-blooded killer is about to go free, and only Theo knows the truth. The stakes are high, but Theo won’t stop until justice is served.

For the teens:

Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday

First I find out that my boyfriend is cheating on me. Then he’s pegged as the #1 suspect in a murder. And now he’s depending on me to clear his name. Seriously?

As much as I wouldn’t mind watching him squirm, I know that he’s innocent. So I’m brushing off my previously untapped detective skills and getting down to business. But I keep tripping over dead bodies and I’m still no closer to figuring out who did it. And what’s worse: all signs seem to point to me as the killer’s next victim.

I really need to pick a better boyfriend next time.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and crush – who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and learns the truth about himself-a truth he never wanted to face.

Thirteen Reasons Why is the gripping, addictive international bestseller that has changed lives the world over. It’s an unrelenting modern classic.

The Twin’s Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Lucy Sexton is stunned when her mother’s identical twin sister shows up at the family’s front door one day. Separated at birth, the two women have had dramatically different upbringings, and Lucy’s mother, Aliese, will do anything to make it up to Helen-including taking Helen into their home and turning her into a lady that all of society will admire. Aunt Helen’s transformation is remarkable. But is it just Lucy’s imagination, or does Helen seem to enjoy being mistaken for Lucy’s mother? Then, on New Year’s Day, Lucy is horrified to find her aunt and mother tied to chairs in the parlor. One of them has been brutally murdered-but which twin has died? Surely her daughter will know…

Filled with shocking twists and turns, The Twin’s Daughter is an engrossing gothic novel of betrayals and secrets that will keep readers guessing until the end.

Heist Society by Ally Carter

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own–scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring her back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help. For Kat there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in history–or at least her family’s (very crooked) history.

Revenge of the Homecoming Queen by Stephanie Hale

I, the flawless Aspen Brooks, was born to be Homecoming Queen. I’ve prepped for it like some kids do the SAT. So can someone please tell me why the crown was given to my evil nemesis?

As if that wasn’t bad enough, somebody seems out to get me. Locker vandalism, a slashed tire, and horrendous lipstick graffiti are just a few of the ways someone is trying to get under my blemish-free skin. (And I’m not even going to mention how the biggest geek in school kissed me, and I didn’t hate it.)

But things start getting serious when girls begin disappearing. I can’t be worrying about tiaras or crushing on a geek when the detective on the case is completely clueless. I have to save the day, all while looking fabulous.

 The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her “power” to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world…and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he’s claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved by her hope that Jay’s intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she’s falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer…and becoming his prey herself.

Kings & Queens by Courtney Vail

Seventeen-year-old Majesty Alistair wants police to look further into her father’s fatal car wreck, hopes the baseball team she manages can reclaim the state crown, aches for Derek…or, no…maybe Alec…maybe. And she mostly wishes to retract the hateful words she said to her dad right before slamming the door in his face, only to never see him again.

All her desires get sidelined, though, when she overhears two fellow students planning a church massacre. She doubts cops will follow up on her tip since they’re sick of her coming around with notions of possible crimes-in-the-works. And it’s not like she cries wolf. Not really. They’d be freaked too, but they’re not the ones suffering from bloody dreams that hint at disaster like some crazy, street guy forecasting the Apocalypse.

So, she does what any habitual winner with zero cred would do…try to I.D. the nutjobs before they act. But, when their agenda turns out to be far bigger than she ever assumed, and even friends start looking suspect, the truth and her actions threaten to haunt her forever, especially since she’s left with blood on her hands, the blood of someone she loves.

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Thank you, Amanda for these wonderful recommendations!  This is bound to keep my daughter busy for a few weeks at least. 🙂

And now it’s our readers’ turn to make their own recommendations.  What Middle Grade or Young Adult book do you recommend?  We’re opening up the genres for the question, so you don’t have to recommend mysteries, although I’d love to see more mystery recommendations if you have them!

One lucky commenter will win a copy of one of the books Amanda recommended (winner’s choice) plus a copy of my daughter’s recommendation, Pointe of No Return.  The winner will be announced on Thursday and must provide a U.S. or Canadian address within ten days to claim their prize.

Pointe of No Return by Amanda Brice

Aspiring ballerina Dani Spevak’s visions of sugar plums are dashed when she’s assigned to understudy her nemesis, Hadley Taylor, in the Nutcracker. Pretty, popular, and rich, that girl has all the luck. Or so she thought.

When Hadley mysteriously disappears with opening night just around the corner, Dani can’t sit idly by, even if it means losing the part. Now she’s running all over Phoenix in a race against the clock. From reality TV trophy wives to sleazy real estate developers to a possible drug ring, the cast of suspects begins to add up. Will she find Hadley before the curtain rises?

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