Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Interview with C.B. Lyall, author of Virus of Beauty


Welcome to the Name Before the Masses book tour for The Virus of Beauty by C.B. Lyall! We're going to get to know her a little bit better today in this interview, plus get a sneak peek into the book with an excerpt. Ask more questions in the comments section! And be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more. Best of luck entering the giveaway!

Ugliness is power, and the Virus of Beauty is spreading causing panic throughout the witch population.

Wilf Gilvary is a teenage wizard who is terrified of using magic. When his father dies under mysterious circumstances, Wilf is plunged into the middle of a political struggle between the witches and wizards in the Magical Realm. He’d rather play soccer than practice magic, but he’s forced to make a choice between the life of a normal Hong Kong teen and one of wizardry after a powerful virus begins to decimate the witch community. The cure is spellbound in a journal Wilf inherited from his father and when his friend Katryna contracts the virus, Wilf understands that he must overcome his fear of magic to unlock the journal’s secrets – but will it be too late to save her?

Read an excerpt:
Katryna hurried along the dimly lit corridor. Its dark, stained carpet and peeling paint reflected the building’s location. This wasn’t a part of town she usually visited. The balconies and entrance might have a view of the market square, but at the back of the building pulsed the Veil. The swirling gray mist had separated and protected the witches of Mathowytch from the citizens of Kureyamage for over fourteen years.

She unlocked the door of a studio apartment crowded with chintzy, overstuffed furniture. A cat lay sprawled along the back of the sofa in the sunlight, licking his paws. Katryna wrinkled her nose at the smell of cat and decay. Flies buzzed around the cat’s dirty food bowl, and she zapped them, hoping the frail old witch wouldn’t be upset with her use of magic.

Griselda lay on the bed in a fetal position, whimpering. Katryna sat down next to her in a wooden, high-backed chair. She reached to rub Griselda’s back, but then pulled back. It might not be safe to touch the old witch.

“Can I get you something to eat?”

Griselda shook her head and remained facing the wall.

There seemed to be very little Katryna could do. Perhaps that was why Ermentrude had forgotten to add Griselda’s name to the list of new cases to visit. However, her mother had been distracted before she left. Ermentrude might be among the city’s most powerful witches, but she made time to visit the sick whenever she could. Her mother’s hard outer shell hid a soft center of community spirit. The problem was, Ermentrude expected her daughter to pick up the slack whenever she disappeared on a new, urgent assignment for the Witch Council.

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Do you have any tattoos? Where? When did you get it/them? Where are they on your body?
I do not have any tattoos and have never wanted them. One of my first short stories to be published was about a woman whose husband had left her. As she came to terms with the situation and began to move on, she decided to get a butterfly tattoo. It’s nice having characters to experience things for you.

Is your life anything like it was two years ago?
I live in the same house but hadn’t published my novel two years ago. I used to get very nervous giving interviews and readings from my novel. Now, I’m more comfortable talking about myself and my work.

How long have you been writing?
Since I was young, but it is only recently that I began to take my writing seriously. Before then I would send short stories to my family and friends for entertainment. After completely some writing course at the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY my writing journey took a more professional turn. At the Writing Institute I met a number of talented debut authors who I’m pleased to call friends. We formed our own support group, and they are my first readers on any new project.

What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
Take some classes and connect with other writers. Also write every day, even if it’s only one paragraph or page. A page a day gives you a first draft in a year.

Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.
In the Virus of Beauty, the witches who are considered beautiful are the ones without the power, the uglier you are the more power you hold in the Magical Realms. A stark contrast to our own world.

The power struggle between the witches and wizards started because the wizards wanted to maintain their position as the dominant ruling class. However, Ermentrude and her coven have captured the city of Mathowytch, which they hold under witch rule. The wizards have developed a virus to reduce the witches magical powers in the belief this will force them to surrender the city and accept wizard rule once more.

Carolyn Lyall was born in Stockton-On-Tees, United Kingdom. As a child Carolyn growing up in Northern England in the sixties Carolyn loved sports, reading and amateur dramatics. She joined a renaissance group, practiced the broadsword and dreamed of visiting other worlds. Her passion for what could be drove her forward when faced with everyday struggles. Her first memorable skirmish with gender inequality came at nine-years old when she was told that only boys were allowed to play soccer. In response, she simply refused to do any classwork until they changed their old-fashioned policies. She won that battle.

At the age of 18, she took a role as typist for a nursing school in Middlesbrough. She then moved to London and enrolled in night school. She was quickly recognized for her ability to fit in anywhere and for not being afraid to push back on the predominantly male leadership. She eventually became a project manager in software development and micro-computers, bridging the gap between computer programmers and management.

Her dream to travel was finally realized in 1990 when she moved to New York City, USA with her husband and the first of three sons. This was the steppingstone to a lifelong adventure that has taken her and her family to India, Belgium and Hong Kong.

Raising her family in multiple countries around the world, she saw that each move, while a shock, was an opportunity for her sons to redefine themselves against new challenges and different cultural norms. Now, that her sons have left home, Carolyn has used her passion for the fantastic to create a world where every day gender inequalities are at the forefront of a world ending conflict. She shares this story through the eyes of a young man who is suddenly thrust into this new world along with all of his own woes and prejudices. The introduction to this world is in Carolyn’s debut YA fantasy novel, “The Virus of Beauty,” due to be released July 31, 2019 under C B Lyall.

Carolyn has published two short stories in an annual anthology by 25 Servings of Soop. She wrote a number of articles for the American Women’s Associates Magazine. Fueled by her love of the works of Terry Pratchett, Sarah J Maas, Cassandra Clare, Brandon Sanderson and others, Carolyn has completed a number of writing courses, which included a Master Fantasy/Science Fiction writers course with Gotham Writers’ Workshop, a YA Voice class and Advance Novel Writing course at Sarah Lawrence College’s Writing Institute.

Website: cblyall.com

Facebook: @CarolynBLyall

Twitter: @cblyall

Instagram: @carolynlyall

One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card. Follow the tour for more chances to win!

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Monday, March 29, 2021

Too Young to Die in the Garden of Syn by Michael Seidelman

Welcome to the Book Tour! 
Too Young to Die in the Garden of Syn
by: Michael Seidelman

Too Young to Die in the Garden of Syn
(Garden of Syn Book #3)
by: Michael Seidelman
YA Fantasy
Chewed Pencil Press 
Release Date: March 30, 2021

The stakes could not be higher in the epic conclusion of The Garden of Syn trilogy.

Synthia (Syn) Wade discovered a secret world known as the Garden, where illness and death do not exist. Because of the tragic events that occurred in the Garden, Syn vowed never to return, even as cystic fibrosis threatened her young life. But when Syn faces the ultimate betrayal and a malicious adversary closes in, she is forced to escape her world and reluctantly return to the Garden.

However, her ruthless foe is not easily thwarted. Flanked by a deadly army, this dark force manipulates its way into the Garden with the goal of ultimate destruction. Facing great adversity, Syn must risk her life to protect the Garden and all those living within its borders.

Will Syn save the Garden and those she holds dear from the storm cloud of evil? Or will she discover that no one is Too Young to Die in the Garden of Syn?

Buy Links: 


$25 Amazon Gift Card


a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

When Michael Seidelman was growing up, his passions were reading, watching movies, enjoying nature and creative writing. Not much has changed since then.

Working in Online Marketing for over ten years, Michael felt it was time to pursue his passion and began writing The Garden of Syn trilogy.

Michael is excited about the upcoming release of the third and final book in The Garden of Syn series and beyond the trilogy, he has more books in the works that he can’t wait to share with the world!

Michael was born in Vancouver, BC Canada where he continues to reside.

Tour Created by YA Bound Book Tours 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Review of Wallflower by Cookie O'Gorman


Welcome to the Book Tour!
Today I'm sharing with you an excerpt from and my thoughts on this YA romance that totally captured my heart: 

by: Cookie O'Gorman

Read an interview with the author over at Candrel's Crafts, Cooks, and Characters!

by: Cookie O'Gorman
YA Romance 
Release Date: March 25, 2021

Wallflower (wohl-flou-erh): Identifier for someone who is shy and/or awkward. For reference, see Viola Kent.

Seventeen-year-old Viola Kent likes being invisible. Well, not literally, but she's content being a loner, reading her books, and hanging out with the animals at the shelter. She just wants to keep her head down and get through her senior year at Durham High.

Driving Dare Frost to school every day wasn't part of the plan.

And when Viola finds out her dad recruited Dare, his number one player, to be her friend?

Her inner Slytherin demands revenge.

The solution: Get Dare to be her fake boyfriend.

Convincing the star athlete to pretend is easier than she'd thought it would be. The hard part is protecting her heart. With every word, touch, and kiss, Viola's feelings become more real.

The problem: Viola knows she's falling for Dare—but he doesn't believe in love.

This book features two sets of soulmates, one happy pooch named Hermione, so many sizzling kisses and answers the question:

Can a dork and a jock fake their way to true love?


"Come on, Dare.  Show me your moves.  Or did you run out already?"

Dare walked toward me until the top of my thighs hit the couch cushion.  "I've got a ton of moves, flower.  We haven't even tried half of them."

I blinked.  "Really?"

He nodded.  "I'm just trying to ease you into this, make sure you're comfortable.  I don't want to move too fast."

Please, do, I thought.

The words that came out of my mouth were, "I'll believe it when I see it."

It had sounded good, quippy and totally aloof in my head.

But Dare took it as a challenge.

"I'm going to enjoy this," Dare said.

Before I could respond, he gripped the backs of my legs and lifted slightly, making me gasp and throw my arms about his neck.  In the next instant, I was balanced on the couch back, my legs on either side of his hips as he took a step forward.  There hadn't been that much space between us to begin with.  So, the next thing I knew his body was mere inches away from mine.

My cheeks flamed, and he drank in my reaction.

Buy Link:


(affiliate link)

**My thoughts**

Viola is precisely what you would expect a wallflower to be. She is attractive enough, but not one to necessarily turn heads upon entering a room. She's smart without being too much of a Hermione. Speaking of which, she's totally into Harry Potter and all kids of other suck books. She can get along with people well enough if she has to, but doesn't go out of her way to do so. She doesn't feel like she needs a lot of friends, instead preferring to spend her time with the animals at the shelter where she volunteers. And deep down, she's a big romantic. She's totally someone I would be friends with.

Her father was a star athlete when he was in high school and is now the coach of the high school soccer team. They're total opposites, but are also completely devoted to each other.

Enter Dare. His name alone tells you a lot about him. He's the star of the soccer team. He's smoking hot and charismatic, which pretty much helps him get away with more than he should. But there is a softer side that is buried within that slowly surfaces as we get to know him.

Viola's father sets up this unlikely friendship by asking Viola to give Dare a ride to school every morning. The kids have chemistry from the start, in spite of Viola's protests to the contrary. And when she vows revenge on her father by pretending to date Dare, the sparks absolutely fly off of the pages.

It's definitely not your typical high school kind of a romance, but it's a fun one to watch unfold. And the characters felt very real to me. I felt like I could envision each character as someone from my own high school class. In fact, Dare's doppelganger quickly jumped into my head from the first meeting, and I almost messaged my old friend to tell him I had found him in a book.

I always love watching strong girls come into their own and having the cocky boys realize and acknowledge their vulnerabilities. It's a reminder that people are often deeper than that persona you usually see put on at the first meeting.

I really enjoyed this story and found out at the end that Viola's parents have their own story as well. So now I have purchased Adorkable and will be reading and reviewing that soon!


$25 Amazon Gift Card 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Bio:

Cookie O'Gorman writes YA & NA romance to give readers a taste of happily-ever-after. Small towns, quirky characters, and the awkward yet beautiful moments in life make up her books. Cookie also has a soft spot for nerds and ninjas. Her novels ADORKABLE, NINJA GIRL, The Unbelievable, Inconceivable, Unforeseeable Truth About EthanWilder, The Good Girl's Guide to Being Bad  and WALLFLOWER are out now!  She is also the author of NA sports romance, The Best Mistake.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

A Music Playlist for The Calling by Branwen OShea

 Two of my favorite things are books and music. Quite often, the two go together. Today, author Branwen OShea is sharing with us her playlist for her new book The Calling. You can also read an excerpt before downloading your own copy and then follow the tour for even more. Best of luck in the giveaway!

Humanity’s wake-up call. Answer it or face extinction.

When Bleu’s little sister shows symptoms of the deadly Sickness, a strange vision directs him to leave humanity’s subterranean haven and seek the cure on Earth’s glacial surface. Joining the expedition team, Bleu expects extreme temperatures, not a surface ruled by ingenious predators.

Rana and her fellow star beings have co-existed with Earth’s top carnivores since the humans disappeared. But when her peers transform into Crowned Ones, the final stage of star being development, she fears remaining Uncrowned like her parents. To prove her worth, she undertakes a dangerous mission—contacting the hostile and nearly extinct humans.

But Rana’s plan backfires, and Bleu’s team retaliates. As war with the more advanced star being civilization looms, both Rana and Bleu separately seek a way to save their people.

Read an excerpt:
A bloodcurdling howl pierced the darkness nearby. He startled, and the rover lurched to the side, the treads grinding against the ice. In all his years of secret studies, he’d never considered studying animal vocalizations. Anything, including the Undescended, could be making the howls beyond the range of his snow rover’s headlights. As much as he had longed for this world, he was lost here.

As he scanned the inky horizon, a large dark blob drew his gaze to an elevated area of ice. Did it move? He narrowed his eyes, straining to confirm reality. Just get to the camp. Just get to the camp.

It moved.

“Base, something’s out here…pacing on a hill above me. I’m maintaining course, but I’m going to have to pass below it. Should I change course?”

“You heard Commander Savas. Shoot it as soon as it’s in range. Continue course.”

“Continue course. Got it, sir.” Bleu hastily checked his gun, wishing for Stamf’s longer-range rifle. It’s not close enough yet…

His hand tightened on his gun. I don’t even know what it is, and I have to kill it? The rover sped along as his indecision churned within him. Trust your instincts, Bleu, his mother had said. It lured us, Savas had said.

In his mind, Bleu replayed Neviah’s terrifying video footage. That creature could be stalking him right now. Orders were orders. He raised his gun.

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A Music playlist for The Calling:

While I don’t usually listen to music while writing, I almost always listen before writing sessions to figure out the day’s scenes. My favorite music for planning The Calling is Two Steps From Hell’s album Invincible.

However, recently I began making playlists for all my characters that will eventually be on my website. At Andi’s request, I created a general playlist for The Calling that I’ve linked below. It’s on Spotify, and if you download the free Spotify app, you should be able to access the music. The following is my spoiler-free reasoning for adding each song.

The first song is Hearts of Courage by Two Steps From Hell. When I imagine The Calling as a movie, this is its theme song. It starts out with a base beat that reminds me of the humans living below ground. Its joined by another higher and contrasting theme including a chorus that reminds me of the ethereal star beings. The two themes interplay and then reach a somewhat settled conclusion at the end.

Human Characters:

The other songs are for the characters in order of appearance. For eighteen-year-old Bleu Reinier, who is constantly called by nature to leave his home and venture onto the Surface, I chose Into the Unknown by Idina Menzel. This song also fits chapter two where Bleu discovers he and his mother have an unusual connection to someone outside of Northern Haven.

For fifteen-year-old Ayanna Reinier, Bleu’s wild kid sister, I chose I’m Going Slightly Mad by Queen. Ayanna contracts the strange Sickness that is plaguing the teens and makes them lose their minds.

Commander Savas spends much of the book enjoying guns and mad at Educator Girak (Atsushi and Ayanna’s science teacher) for being a ‘traitor.” For Savas, I chose Traitor by Daughtry.

Bleu and his best friend Stamf (also 18) are the number one team in the holographic games arena. Stamf enjoys strutting his stuff in front of the women, so I chose Another One Bites the Dust by Queen, which I can imagine Stamf playing after a big match and trying to get Bleu to dance to.

Fifteen-year-old Atsushi has a sweet crush on Ayanna, but never knows how to quite make his move. I do Adore by Mindy Gledhill fits him well.

For Educator Girak and his wife Josefina Girak (both scientists), I chose The Science Love Song by ASAPScience. Their love is adorable and full of the humorous banter this song contains.

Star Being Characters:

The star beings have a vastly different culture and music based on their goal of Crowning, or metamorphosing into a near-enlightenment state of existence. For 16-year-old Rana, I chose Adi Shakti: Bhangra Mix by Sada Sat Kaur because of its danceable beat and mantra invoking the divine feminine. Rana wants to Crown more than anything, but fears she won’t because her parents were both rare failures at Crowning.

Rana’s best friend and possible love interest, Kahali plays the drums and is one of the best dancers around. For Kahali I chose Ceremony of Passage by Vas, because its one of the best songs I know that’s mainly drums and he’d love playing it.

Eka, another star being who also likes Rana, is more into wood carving. I struggled to find a song for him, but chose I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by the Proclaimers because despite his anxiety, when he commits to something, he’s all in.

The final star being is Kalakanya, the only main character to have already Crowned. We Are Peace by Snatum Kaur is slightly dancey, a bit playful, but also has a strong message. It fits the way Kalakanya sees the world even when its falling apart around her.

The Calling is a multiple point of view sci-fi adventure novel that features the POV of Bleu, Atsushi, Commander Savas, Rana, and Kahali. Step into their world with their playlist on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/403roJ5G7O7Gqt5G162Kdu?si=9CYv3zBITSWlj9yoDGRFFA

As a young girl, Branwen wanted to become an ambassador for aliens. Since the aliens never hired her, she now writes about them.

Branwen OShea has a Bachelors in Biology from Colgate University, a Bachelors in Psychology, and a Masters in Social Work. She lives in Connecticut with her family and a menagerie of pets, and enjoys hiking, meditating, and star-gazing. Her previously published works include contributing to a nonfiction yoga book, wellness magazines, and her published science fiction novella, Silence of the Song Trees.

Website: www.branwenoshea.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/branwenoshea

Instagram: www.instagram.com/branwenoshea

Facebook: www.facebook.com/branwenoshea

Branwen OShea will be awarding $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Monday, March 15, 2021

The Place Beyond Her Dreams by Oby Aligwekwe

 Welcome to the book tour for The Place Beyond Her Dreams by Oby Aligwekwe! Today you get to read an excerpt, but also some sage advice from the author on being a writer. Be sure to follow the tour for even more. Best of luck entering the giveaway!

“We are most courageous at our weakest; when we believe we have faced what we fear the most and have nothing more to lose.”

At the sudden death of her grandfather, Ona’s pain transports her to mystical Luenah—a place of infinite possibilities, free of turf wars and other ills that plague the earthly dimension she lives in. In Luenah, where her grandfather awaits her, Ona learns she is an Eri, one bestowed with unique intuitive and spiritual gifts passed down from generation-to-generation.

On her eighteenth birthday, she returns to Luenah and is handed a box to deposit her ‘exchange’ for love and happiness—her great desires.

Burdened by her quest, Ona crosses paths with danger and heartbreak as the two men that love her dearly are viciously pitted against each other. As evil looms, she learns that dreams carry a hefty price, and no one is who they seem. Now, she must unmask the villain and save the one she loves, even at the risk of losing everything she holds dear.

Set against the backdrop of two warring towns, Oby Aligwekwe’s Young Adult debut—told from the viewpoint of her main character—is inspired by her West African heritage, fables, and spiritual beliefs. Ona’s journey reveals the power of choice, the true source of happiness, and, most importantly, the transformation one must go through to realize and eventually occupy their purpose.

Read an excerpt:
Death was nothing new to me as living with my grandparents gave me the experience of witnessing village elders passing away. My grandfather was always in attendance to support families who had lost loved ones, and I sometimes accompanied him. Unlike the others, his death was more than a passing experience. This was no ordinary man. This was my Papa—a six-foot-six gentle giant, the head of our family. Since my grandfather was a chief, layers of rites were performed in keeping with the tradition of Ntebe. All the other chiefs in the town, twenty in total, lined up in their full chiefly regalia to pay homage to their fallen comrade. For a full twenty minutes, they danced and made ritualistic sounds around the casket that bore the body of my grandfather. I remember being in complete awe of their attires and flamboyant displays.

They placed the casket in the ground at midday. I stood next to my grandmother and my parents at the graveside. My parents had been in Ntebe since the day before. For the first time that day, I saw a physical reaction from my grandmother. Wailing from deep within her lungs, she threatened to throw herself into the six-foot grave if my grandfather didn’t return to her. As the gravediggers worked desperately to cover the hole with a mound of red dirt, a group of men tried to prevent her from jumping in.

“Stop her!” I heard several people screaming.

Since I had always known her to be dramatic, I doubted she was going to carry out her threat. And I was right. As gunshots to commemorate the occasion tore through the air, my grandmother abandoned her display and ran for cover.

Buy Links:

Advice for writers

My advice for writers is the same advice I always give myself—to enjoy the journey because it’s as important as the destination. Many people, I included, focus so much on where we need to go that we forget to stop for a moment and ask ourselves why we do what we do. For me, I write because I love to write. It’s therapeutic, it’s entertaining, and it keeps my mind sharp. It also gives me an avenue to entertain and educate people, help them get motivated, and most importantly, help them find and occupy their purpose.

Secondly, there’s so much involved in being a professional writer, especially with self-publishing. At times the list of tasks you need to accomplish can leave you exhausted to the point of considering quitting. If one is writing for the right reasons, they should be able to push through any frustrations they experience along the way. The key is to give yourself permission to take a break and then return when you feel re-energized. I had so much fun writing all my books that when I was done, I experienced an explosive hangover that only disappeared after I decided on which idea to explore next.

My third piece of advice will be to delegate. Get all the help you need. Hire a cover designer, hire a graphics person. Hire a publicist if you can. Hire someone for everything, so you can find time to do what you do best. The process for publishing a book is quite daunting, and if you don’t rely on others to do the things you couldn’t possibly do yourself or get little enjoyment from doing, you may find yourself disoriented and frustrated, making it difficult to accomplish your goals.

Oby Aligwekwe is the author of Nfudu and Hazel House. The Place Beyond Her Dreams is her Young Adult debut.

Oby’s first novel, Nfudu, a romance set in 1960’s Paris, received critical acclaim and was featured in publications such as Excellence Magazine and Mosaic Editions. Her second novel, Hazel House, paints a vivid portrait of how the needs of humans collide amidst intense desire and the quest for power. In her Young Adult debut, The Place Beyond Her Dreams, the protagonist Ona goes on a transformative journey to discover her purpose.

A talented writer, Oby is also an inspirational speaker and a chartered accountant. She lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her family and supports her community through her charity Éclat Beginnings.

When Oby is not working on her day job or whipping up stories, she enjoys traveling to exotic locations and bringing pieces of her travel with her. She lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her family and supports her community through her charity Éclat Beginnings.

Amazon author page URL - https://www.amazon.com/Oby-Aligwekwe/e/B076G1J4YC

Barnes and Noble Author URL - https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/%22Oby%20Aligwekwe%22?Ntk=P_key_Contributor_List&Ns=P_Sales_Rank&Ntx=mode+matchall

One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card. Follow the tour for more chances to win!

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Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Review of Dog Girl by Gabi Justice

Welcome to the Book Tour & Giveaway! 
Dog Girl
by: Gabi Justice 
YA Contemporary Fiction 
Tour: March 8-12 

Lots of goodies for you today! I really enjoyed this book and had some thoughts to share with you. There's also a bonus playlist and a chapter excerpt for you to enjoy. Thanks for stopping by!

Summary: Dog Girl is Fangirl meets Pit Bulls and Parolees.

Saving the dogs who end up at Delray Dog Rescue is Kendall's life. It’s the perfect job for a girl with severe social anxiety.

Delray Dog Rescue doesn’t just rescue dogs, it’s a second chance for felons, like her dad. Losing the rescue means losing Kendall's home, her sanctuary, the dogs she loves, her identity and her dad, all over again.

But money's tight, and soon, Kendall must decide between keeping a roof over her head and saving the rescue.

When a video of Kendall’s harrowing rescue of a pit bull from the path of an oncoming train goes viral. Suddenly, everyone wants a piece of Kendall, making her anxiety worse. But this is an opportunity to put the rescue in the spotlight and secure the donations needed to save it.

Can she overcome the social paralysis that's plagued her all her life? Can she ignore negative comments on social media about her looks and smell? Can she accept help from a boy who really sees her, even though she can’t understand what he could possibly see in her?

DOG GIRL is the story of a teen girl who wants to save the world, and ends up saving herself in the process.

For a Book Club Kit, follow this link! 

**My thoughts**

Kendall and her mom have an organization that is focused on rescuing dogs from some pretty bad situations. In fact, we begin our story with a very intense rescue that has you already begging for this story to make it to a screen.

Kendall has a lot of struggles in her life. Her father passed away and she [understandably] just cannot let him go. She still speaks to him pretty regularly and gets some counsel in return. She has mad anxiety and really relates to Peter Parker. Even having to wait more than a minute or two for her friends to arrive lunch can provoke a massive panic attack.

Someone is going around purposely hurting dogs. Kendall's dramatic pit bull rescue actually garners her family's rescue some national attention, but also puts them all in danger as they continue to try to discover who the jerk is who is harming these dogs. The story goes through a lot of page-turning twists as they try to sort it all out and Kendall has to come into her own and can find the good parts of being "Dog Girl." She also learns a lot about her own preconceived notions, such as those involving a super preppy boy named Ryan who ends up being so much more than she could ever imagine.

There are also some good lessons in this story about social media - the pros and cons, and a teacher named Mr. Young that I just want to throttle for his lack of understanding of teens, particularly bullying. And of course, we have a smidge of romance. I admit I wasn't sure what to expect when I started this YA novel, but was pleasantly surprised by the story and how much I actually enjoyed it.

I received a requested review copy for this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Buy Links:

Amazon * B & NTarget 

(affiliate link included)

Read an excerpt from Chapter 2:

Chapter Two

The truck pulls into the animal hospital. Rock rushes the pit bull inside. The five-thirty alarm on my phone buzzes reminding me how late it is. Typically, I’d be done with chores by now, or at least almost done, and heading into the house for a shower. God, I need a shower.

I could follow Rock, I’m definitely concerned about that sweet dog, but my part in this rescue is over.

You’re so far behind. The anxiety stirs.

Inhale. Exhale. It’s okay.

I hurry along the sandy path between the vet and the rescue center. Gotta get back on schedule. Three rambunctious, disobedient dogs need training, and the wolf-rescue-flyers for Spring Festival are still not finished. Plus Algebra II homework. There’s no way. Not enough time. My breathing quickens.

Calm down. Slow inhale. Exhale. A few deep breaths and the rapid fire breathing reduces to a controllable smolder.

I pass the length of the yard and close in on the barn when Cruz nearly knocks me over. “Cruz!”

Mid-jog, he says, “Sorry. Damn bus was late. Just got here.”

“Where’s Mom?”

“Don’t know.” He gives me a small wave, but no smile. “Gotta go do work.”

That’s weird. Cruz never misses an opportunity to talk, especially when it comes to rescues. He loves to hear the stories. He’s desperate to go on calls, but he’s only been here a month, and so far, none of us are very impressed with his abilities.

I didn’t expect Mom to be gone this long. And she never explained why the Miami agent wanted to see her.

The phone alarm shrieks again, snapping me back to panic mode. I rush into the barn.

My boy, Rascal, spots me. His tail whips in quick circles and his paws drum the ground. The unconditional love soothes. He smiles. I grin back. I love him so much.

“Let’s go, boy.” I lead him to the training area.

Rascal, being his usual stubborn self, won’t crawl through the agility tunnel, so I enter the tube on my hands and knees, creep half-way, then turn around. He pokes his head in and growl-mumbles.

“Get in here. I don’t have time for this.” My fist pounds the ground.

“Arrooh,” he answers.

I laugh, “Come on, boy.”

He tilts his head, backs away, inches forward, tilts his head again, and talks in his hilarious dog howl.

“You can do it.” At the sound of my high pitch, he perks up and touches the tube with his front paw but doesn’t enter. “Tease.” I pound the floor with my fists again, shake my head, and whip my stringy, brown hair around. That gets him. He races inside, trampling me with dirty paws in an attempt to ram his way past.

“Rascal!” I’m shoved up against the wall of the tube.

We’re squished side by side. Wet slobbery kisses drench my face. His deafening bark rings my ear. Lick, bark, lick, bark, as if this is a fun game we’re playing. He nudges me with his slimy, wet nose and eventually squeezes past, scratching and tickling. I’m sure from the outside it looks like some freakish anaconda digesting a gator.

“Ouwa! Rascal!” One of his nails snags my skin.

He opens his mouth in a tongue-dangling, Bull Terrier smile, so I can’t stay mad at him. He’s adorable with that long nose, pink tongue, and goofy spotted face. He has muscles so dense he can drag a person without a problem.

“Rascal!” I cover my nose as the foul odor of his fart encircles me. “Rude!”

No remorse. He saunters out the other end to chase anything that moves.

I crawl to the opening, stick my head out, and gulp in the fresh air.

A guy leans over the fence. An extremely cute guy. He’s grinning wide, laughing. How stupid I must look, bested by a fifty-pound Bull Terrier. My cheeks burn. Oh my God, is my face bright red? I’m a tomato-red idiot rolling around in a tube with a dog. Wonderful!

“That looks fun.” His piercing blue eyes mock me.

“Very.” I’m still stuck in the tube. I start to ask him if he’s a Saint Paul’s guy. He looks like a preppy asshole. They’re all the same – faux hawk haircut with spiked blonde tips, clean sporty clothes because he probably doesn’t sweat, and a superiority complex. However, the amount of embarrassment zooming through my body will not allow proper functioning of speech right now.

I rush to stand, tripping over my feet, and brush the dirt off of my clothes in an attempt to look somewhat presentable. It’s not working. In fact, it’s worse. Large mud stains smudge my shirt. The old, faded, Spider-Man shirt! All the air leaves my lungs. No wonder everyone thinks I’m weird.

He’s even more gorgeous close-up. A flawless face, bad-boy grin with boy-next-door dimples and those blonde tips are actually from the sun, not the salon. 

God, I sound like one of Vicky’s stupid Cosmo magazine articles. Listicle: Top five things on the hot meter.

But honestly, he’s probably an Instagram model. I can’t help but gawk with a huge smile plastered across my face. I might as well have a neon sign flashing: Seventeen-year-old virgin, approach with caution. She might attack.

I snap out of it and force myself to act professionally. It’s strangely difficult to get my mouth to cooperate and stay straight.

“May I help you?”

“Yes. I need community service hours for school, and I’d like to help out here.” 

Even his voice is smooth.

“Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” I ask.

“Huh? No.” He laughs, the kind of choke-laugh that gets stuck in the back of your throat when someone has just said something ridiculous.

“Then you can’t work here.” I turn my back on him. Those perfect cheekbones are too much. If I don’t look at him, then maybe my heart will stop doing circus acts.

“I can go to the Walgreens and shoplift a pack of cigarettes if that’s the prerequisite to volunteer here,” he says.

My lips defiantly curl upward at his joke. Cute, articulate, and funny. I’m screwed.

Just keep your uncooperative face toward Rascal. Remember, he’s a Saint Paul Boy, and they’re all spoiled, entitled tools. 

I struggle to ignore the voice, and whatever this is that’s happening inside my body and gather my facial expressions into a proper attitude of indifference. I spin around and face him. “I’m afraid that even if you so generously shoplifted on the rescue’s behalf, we still would not have a position available for you.”

Rascal takes advantage of my distraction and digs a giant hole in the dirt.

“No, Rascal!” I grab the leash and clip it to his collar then he jolts behind. His brute force pulls my legs out from under me, and I face plant in the mud. He drags me a few inches before I can get to my knees and wrestle him back into obedience.

Suddenly, Saint Paul Boy’s hands clamp under my sweaty armpits pulling me to my feet.

“What are you doing?” 

“You’re welcome.” He removes his hands.

“No! You never jump the fence. Rascal could’ve attacked you, and we’d get sued.” He’s in my personal space. I’m nearly as tall as him, and it takes all my nerve not to look away, to stand my ground, to inhale his hypnotic cologne.

Why didn’t I take that shower? 

But he just snickers and gestures to Rascal. “Him?” 

He’s still too close. Maybe his olfactory glands don’t work?

“Rascal doesn’t look vicious at all.” Cute Saint Paul Boy cocks one luscious eyebrow.

Rascal sits next to us with his tongue flopping out and gooey slobber bouncing all over the place, that goofy grin lighting up his expression.

“It’s obvious you know nothing about dogs.” I turn to Rascal and deflate. Come on, you’re a bully breed. Do something to support my argument! Growl? Just a little growl. How about a rumble?

I yank Rascal, which I shouldn’t, and immediately regret it. My social helplessness isn’t his fault. I lead him over to the ramps hoping that will normalize this situation. Saint Paul Boy doesn’t move and continues to stare at me. The mud dries on my cheek, it itches and reeks of dog poop. If I could, I’d curl up in the corner and die.

Why is he still here? Don’t look at him. Keep working.

My eyes never leave Rascal as he masters the first ramp and ascends the second.

“You’re bleeding,” Saint Paul Boy says.

“What?” I glance down and see a smear of blood on my arm. It’s from earlier. It must be the pit bull’s blood. “I’m fine.” I rub it, but it’s dried onto my skin and won’t wipe off.

Saint Paul Boy offers a bandana handkerchief.

What is this, the fifties? “Uh. No, thank you.”

“Hello. May I help you?” Shane appears out of nowhere. Rascal didn’t even notice her, but he does now. He barks and tugs the leash. My stepmom is his favorite.

She eyeballs me, concerned I’ve allowed a stranger into the dog pit. Mom would be livid, but Shane gets worried not mad.

“Yes, you may.” He politely extends his hand over the fence.

She shakes it generously. They exchange greetings that I can’t hear over Rascal’s barking. I give up and let go of the leash so he’ll shut up.

“I need community service hours for my senior year. It’s a graduation requirement. I love dogs and was hoping I could help out.” His dazzling blue orbs slide in my direction. 

He wouldn’t last a day here. We don’t need him. I’m sure Shane is going to say no.

“Yes,” she says.

What? Yes! Why is she doing this? 

“We could use a strong boy like you. Corvette just left us, and he was about your build. No medical conditions, right? You can lift heavy bags?”

Ah. That’s it. Cruz’s late, I was gone, nothing got done so she needs someone to unload the Science Diet truck.

 “Sure.” He shrugs his shoulders.

As if he’s ever done manual labor. Ha!

“Great. Come with me,” Shane says.

His eyes widen in surprise.

I snort. Those neat, sporty clothes are going to get so filthy.

“Now?” he asks Shane but looks at me for assistance.

I smirk and glance down at the pristine whiteness of his shorts. Overwhelming satisfaction fills my chest, and I suppress the giggles.

 “Yes, of course.” Her chin lowers, and her brows rise.

 “Great, let’s go.” His voice remains smoothly confident, but the slack in his smirk reveals the effect of Shane’s challenge.

He follows in her wake. He’s tall, six feet or more, and thin but definitely strong, carrying those broad shoulders proudly. Long, lean, tan legs with powerful quads and calves. And that butt. Wow!

He turns around and busts me checking out his ass. His lips return to a full smirk. It’s a gut-wrenching punch.

Frantic anger strikes like a bolt of thrilling but painful electricity. This time I can’t stop the critical voice inside my head. He saw you checking him out! You’re an idiot! Good job, Kendall. You deserve that dog girl label. Actually, you’ve stepped it up to dirty, weird, red-faced, dog girl. Why in a million years did you think you were capable of interacting with a guy like that? 

 I should’ve been busy training Rascal and totally ignoring him.

Rascal’s exuberant face bounces as he pants, oblivious to my internal death.

“Traitor!” I growl. “You’re as dumb as a stump.”

To this, he bows his head.

My heart breaks. I bend down and give him a generous scratching on his sternum. “I’m sorry, boy.” The tightness in my chest fades as I watch Rascal’s tongue hang and flap with joyful satisfaction. “You’re way cuter than he is.”

I risk a peek over my shoulder. Saint Paul Boy is carrying one of the giant dog food bags off of the truck, and he’s looking over here.

What’s behind me? I turn around. Nothing’s there.

I turn back and catch his eyes on me. Now he’s smiling. This isn’t good! The web of anxiety stretches and shudders.

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About the Author:

Gabi Justice is the author of Dog Girl, her teen and young adult contemporary romance debut set to publish in the fall of 2020. She is the mom to three dogs and one stray cat named Luna Buna. She lives in Florida with her husband and children. You’d be hard-pressed to find a tennis court in the state that she hasn’t visited, having three competitive junior players in the family. She spent most of her adult life writing editorial copy for local magazines after graduating from the University of South Florida. Florida provides the settings for all her coming-of-age stories that highlight bullying, misjudgment, acceptance, and teen anxiety. Her main characters are goal-oriented teenage girls with a drive that can be fierce and dangerous.

Author Links:

Website: https://www.gabijustice.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gabijustice/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yagabijustice

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20495013.Gabi_Justice

Twitter: https://twitter.com/gabi_justice

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