2013 was amazing because of these moving books

(Side note: i promise I’m alive, just busy with Berto Designs and doing covers and as Rebecca Berto writing books! I love you all though. Forgive my absence?)

No matter why I’m reading — be for a laugh, a tear-jerker, a deep look at human relationships and society, to be thrilled or kept in suspense — I do it for the emotion. I vary my reading and have read everything this year from award-winning literary fiction to hot smut, so here’s my fairly unbiased opinion of some of the best books you need to read!

. . . in order of last read to earliest this year. NOT by fav. Sheesh, can’t pick just one!

♥ ♥ ♥

Making FacesMaking Faces by Amy Harmon

Making Faces is the kind of book everyone must read in their life. A big statement for an empowering, stunning, sad, emotional and hopeful novel.

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UnteachableUnteachable by Leah Raeder

Leah’s writing style fuelled me to keep turning every page and I devoured this book fast. I cried, not because the author wrote a sad scene *that* well but because it was so damn good I couldn’t handle it and I’m about to cry now reliving all those feels. This book was perfect.

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Night Owl (The Night Owl Trilogy, #1)Night Owl by M. Pierce

Holy crapcakes. I made up a word there and aware of the fact I’m gushing and weird but this book is just…a classic book in its genre that will make its mark. It’s full of dirty talk, hot sex, fast sex that starts up right away, but also plenty of emotion, sadness and an original story that will be forever remembered–by me at least.

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My Life Next Door (My Life Next Door, #1)My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

I haven’t felt or hurt this much since Harry Potter. This novel has little quips that make you go wow, that’s what happens to me! and makes you laugh when you probably shouldn’t and when you should. It made me believe surely this can’t be a made-up story. It’s powerful and deep and I dare you to put it down. What a masterpiece.

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The YearningThe Yearning by Kate Belle

Some books have happy endings; some have cliffhangers; others have a unique ending that make you think. The Yearning is the last one. It’s categorised as romance, but it read more like poetry at times, was always beautiful and flowed easily, and at other scenes it was more like erotica. What does this tell me? Best. Book. Ever!

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Me Before YouMe Before You by Jojo Moyes

While I wasn’t in love with the end, and things didn’t tie up how I wanted them too, everything stayed true to the story that needed to be told. That out-there move earned this book its righteous place. I commend Jojo for creating such a deep, moving story, one with so many layers, I can’t  begin to describe the story fully and do it justice.

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Ten Tiny Breaths (Ten Tiny Breaths, #1)Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker

I loved the redemption story. In life, we don’t always get happy endings, but TEN TINY BREATHS breaks you into tiny pieces and sews you up better than before. Kacey is one of my favourite female characters, strong and rare in fiction. This book is as funny as it is heart-breaking and sexy and angsty and wild.

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Just Remember to Breathe (Thompson Sisters, #2)Just Remember to Breathe by Charles Sheehan-Miles

This book has been written to perfection from the easy language to the way that seemingly simple writing style grabs your heart, squeezes and then bursts you into millions of pieces. I loved this book for how much the pain got to me, for how much I could tell the main couple felt for each other. Quick to devour, yet deep, this novel will move you.

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Suicide WatchSuicide Watch by Kelley York

SUICIDE WATCH is a read that gets inside your head and takes hold of your insecurities. I adored this read. It really stuck with me. In my head: it’s never so bad as to end your own life because things around the corner may be good, and my heart: book hangover.

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The StorytellerThe Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

As usual: this Picoult novel is a slow burning candle; you have to wait for the scent to fill the room but once it has, it’s under your skin and irresistible. Picoult has a unique way of making you believe even monsters can act kind and selfless at times. This book has truly made me believe this. In one word: moving.

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A Happy AccidentA Happy Accident by Evan Tyler

Surprising, weird, brilliant. Evan Tyler writes with poetic style. This book took me on a journey, one I was anxious to continue and was itching to read more and more of. Want romance, literary-style, or fun that somehow dips into the depths of how we see each other as people and behave in the name of love? Try A HAPPY ACCIDENT.

♥ ♥ ♥

View all my reviews

I hope you find your next best read from this list. What are your suggestions? Comment below please!



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Release Day Blitz: Fighting Redemption by Kate McCarthy

Fighting Redemption Banner

FightingRedemption_EbookTitle: Fighting Redemption

Author: Kate McCarthy

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: December 2, 2013


Book Summary:

Ryan Kendall is broken. He understands pain. He knows the hand of violence and the ache of loss. He knows what it means to fail those who need you. Being broken doesn’t stop him wanting the one thing he can’t have; Finlay Tanner. Her smile is sweet and her future bright. She’s the girl he grew up with, the girl he loves, the girl he protects from the world, and from himself.

At nineteen, Ryan leaves to join the Australian Army. After years of training he becomes an elite SAS soldier and deploys to the Afghanistan war. His patrol undertakes the most dangerous missions a soldier can face. But no matter how far he runs, or how hard he fights, his need for Finlay won’t let go.

Returning home after six years, one look is all it takes to know he can’t live without her. But sometimes love isn’t enough to heal what hurts. Sometimes people like him can’t be fixed, and sometimes people like Finlay deserve more than what’s left.

This is a story about war and the cost of sacrifice. Where bonds are formed, and friendships found. Where those who are strong, fall hard. Where love is let go, heartache is born, and heroes are made. Where one man learns that the hardest fight of all, is the fight to save himself.


SSBR FR Teaser 1

Two weeks later, he packed his belongings and stole his way into Fin’s room. She wasn’t there, so he stretched out on her bed, hands tucked behind his head, eyes trained on the ceiling, and waited.

It was midnight when she came through the door, giggling as she read a message on her phone. Finished, she tossed it on her bedside table and froze when she caught him lying there in the dark.

He heard her breath catch. “Ryan?”

The lamp by her bed switched on, coating the room in a warm, cozy glow. Fin was illuminated, her skin golden in the soft light, her cheeks flushed with happiness.

“What are you …” She trailed off after meeting his eyes. He knew what she saw. He couldn’t hold any of it back—regret, heartache, and loss for something that had never been his.

“You’re leaving,” she choked out.

Ryan couldn’t speak. He watched her stride to the open window, its sheer white curtains billowing. Staring out into the night, she wiped away tears that spilled over and ran down her cheeks.

He blinked, his own eyes burning. “I’m sorry,” he said eventually.

Fin turned and walked across the room. Sinking to the edge of the bed, she stared down at her hands. “When?”

Ryan unlocked his hands from behind his head and reached for her, pulling her down beside him. She stretched out, tucking her head under his chin. Closing his eyes, he breathed her in, allowing his arms to wrap around her. “In the morning.”

Fin’s hand fisted in his shirt as she let out a sob.

“I have to do this,” he whispered hoarsely. He trailed his fingers through her hair and touched his lips to her forehead.

She started to wipe away the tears on her face, and Ryan took hold of her hand, stilling her. “You understand, don’t you, Fin, why I have to do this?”

Ryan needed to know that she understood he wasn’t leaving her, he was leaving his past, and trying to build a new future with the Army.

“I do.” She choked again and buried her face in his neck, sobs breaking free.

“Don’t,” he whispered thickly. “Please don’t cry. You have such a big future ahead of you. You’re going to do big things with your life. Don’t let anyone stop you from being who you need to be, okay?”

Fin nodded into his neck.

Ryan pushed back so he could look her in the eye. He wouldn’t be there to watch over her anymore, so he needed to know she would look out for herself. “Promise me, Fin.”

“I promise.”

Satisfied, he reached out and switched off the lamp. Thrust into sudden darkness, Ryan laced his fingers in hers and held her close. When her tears dried up, she drifted off into a deep slumber. In the early hours of the morning, he pressed a soft kiss to her cheek, and disentangling himself, he left the room. Having already said his goodbyes to Mike and Julie earlier in the evening, Ryan clicked the door shut softly behind him and left the house, careful not to look back.

That was the last he saw of Finlay Tanner.

SSBR FR Teaser 7

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Purchase Links:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  iTunes  |

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Author Bio:

6876994Kate McCarthy grew up in a small town outside of Port Macquarie, Australia. Raised in a house just a short walk to the beach, Kate enjoyed the peaceful, relaxed atmosphere and friendships that come from being raised in a friendly, small town area.

She now resides in Brisbane, Australia, a city in the state of Queensland where she works as an accountant, along with a sideline wedding cake business and her writing.

She is married with two children, has two dogs and house in the suburbs, and a pile of friends and family dotted all over the country that help keep her sane.
When she’s not busy running after naughty kids, filthy dogs, crunching numbers, piping buttercream and writing books, you can find her curled up in bed in the early hours of the morning reading new books and re-reading old favourites. Her favourite books are the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward in which she longs to eventually join the brotherhood and change her name to Phierce Mutha.

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Giveaway Prizes:

Signed Copies + Ryan’s dog tags (pic attached below), ebooks, gift cards

Ryan's Dog TagsENTER BELOW!

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ENTWINE is LIVE for $0.99 — limited time price! + giveaway

My baby, Entwine, is all yours and out in the world! Thanks to Xpresso for hosting the book release blitz event…


Book description:

Sarah Langham’s life was the epitome of normal until her dad slept with another woman when she was sixteen. It ripped her family apart.

Twenty-two-year-old Sarah has it together, though.

Waiting at the train station to go home from her first day of her first proper job out of university, she spots a man.

He is an enigma to her. She’s drawn to him, with his square jaw; buzz of hair; and his tall, solid frame, seen under the contours of his business suit. And he’s been looking at her, too. Fate pulls them together that night on a whirlwind date, exceeding anything Sarah’s experienced before. He’s even more into her than she’s into him. Finally, she wants to trust a guy for the first time since she was sixteen.

But then they discover something.

Something that meant they were never two strangers at a train station.

And it threatens to tear their future apart before it, really, ever begins.

*Recommended for mature readers due to explicit content.*

~ Book #2 coming early – mid 2014 ~

[This book is published in Australian English and includes relative diction.]


Entwine - Rebecca Berto - 3D - seriesTitle: Entwine

Series: Entwine #1

Age group: New Adult

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Published: November 23, 2013

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When Sarah first came home her ears had a faint ring in them, and now, in the aching silence, they buzzed at her fiercely. Her first thought was Ah! Relative quiet for once. I’ll just sneak in and get my mobile phone. Now she wished her dad had been doing anything else, even playing that stupid rock ‘n’ roll music. She had a solution for that: plug in her Favourites playlist and turn the volume up.

She heard the first moan, whispering through the walls. She was drawn toward the sound in her parents’ bedroom; it was like the undeniable dread of watching someone being bullied from afar. It was being unsure how to make it stop.

But Sarah’s mum was out, and there was definitely two people making those sounds in there. For the first few moments, Sarah wondered if her mum had suddenly materialised here. Why else would her dad be moaning in sync with that female voice, and the bed legs be screeching in that way?

She remembered arriving into the silence that had encased her, replacing the throbbing sounds from the party she’d just been at, thinking it all seemed too quiet in here.

She was right.

Sarah felt the blood drain from her face. A sense of nothingness washed over her as she braced her palm to the wall outside her parents’ bedroom, narrowly preventing her wobbly legs from taking her down.

What should she do?

She willed her ears to block out what she heard, but she knew sticking her fingers in the holes wouldn’t help a bit. And her dad didn’t deserve to be the reason she harmed herself if she poked inside too hard.

Sarah wished she could run, but instead her feet stayed rooted against the wall, and she shivered at the choice she had to make. What would she do, tell her mum that she could hear the bed creaking against the frame, that her dad’s friend wasn’t trying to be quiet at all?

The sounds triggered a memory. She’d caught a weird text message when sitting at the kitchen bench, her playing with her dad’s phone, her mum still at work. Her dad had snapped his mobile phone from her fingers and told her to go to her room. Her shock back then debilitated her choice to tell her mum. Her voice didn’t work when she tried to speak, and her throat was tight even when she swallowed. Now, hearing what was happening behind the wall, she had no idea where to even begin.

Sarah clamped a hand over her mouth in case she sobbed loudly, forced her other hand to push her from the lure of the wall where she had been frozen, and to walk herself out the front door.

Back to that party. Back through the shadows of darkness and odd orbs of light, along the sidewalk, back to the noise and the alcohol, and the people trying to forget their responsibilities.

She combed her fingers through her mocha brown hair, the ends tapering off at her breasts. It was the same colour as her mum’s. Would her dad hate her now, being reminded of the wife he clearly had no care for? Would physical factors, like Sarah’s pale grey eyes, the same shade as her mum’s favourite cardigan, be as horrible to him as her inner qualities?

She realised when she got to the party that she never did get her mobile phone from her room as she had originally intended, so she’d have to wait for someone to open the door.

There were two fanning plants in pots, framing the double door entrance. A porch stretched under the balcony of the first floor and a swinging bench sat at the far end beside the garden bed. The music was so loud the bass vibrated through the concrete underneath her feet and she could only hear a faint sound when she tried knocking anyway.

She blinked against the memory of the sound of the bed frame creaking and that shrieking sound that made her insides churn, until soon enough a drunk girl in a miniskirt stumbled out the door with a guy staring at her ass, laughing at nothing at all.

Sarah slipped inside, found a corner free on a couch next to two people chatting and bit her lip, thinking too much when she shouldn’t have been thinking much at all, as a regular sixteen-year-old at a regular house party.

Click to buy from Amazon for $0.99!

Click to buy from Amazon for $0.99!

~~~ BUY LINKS ~~~

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Prizes: 3 eBooks, 2 bookmarks & $15 Amazon gift card

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Killing your darlings

Guest post by: Kate Belle

Thanks so much Rebecca for hosting me on your lovely blog and a big HELLO to all your regular readers! x

When I first started writing seriously I dreamed of having my books published, of writing full time and days alone at my computer, drowning in beautiful, beautiful words. Eighteen months ago I thought writing full time was an unachievable dream, yet through hard work and good luck I’ve managed to achieve it this year.

It’s been a long wait to get here but, like most big aspirations – marriage, children, owning a home – working as a writer has had its down sides. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I’d much rather be here than anywhere else. But there are things about writing I wasn’t prepared for. One of them is killing my darlings.

There are times when the muse strikes and a story gushes from brain to screen (or pen) like a snow melt waterfall. These inspired moments leave me lit up with an almost post coital afterglow. I kid myself I’m a genius, it’s only a matter of time before the literati discover me and come to pay homage in my foul, dark study.

idea-funeral illustration

Then reality bites. Hard.

I’ve just finished a major rewrite of my second novel. I’ve made no secret of the fact that this novel has been a tough one to write. I didn’t expect it to come rolling out pitch perfect on the first draft, but I also didn’t expect it to be an exercise in hammering out lumpy, awful prose that looked unfit for my dogs dinner.

After sending it to my editor, forewarning her of its unworthiness, she emailed me back some suggested improvements. To my horror, she wanted me to lose one of the three character’s view points. She told me my book would be better without the one part of the novel I thought was good, my favourite character and the voice I LOVED most.

At first it was like a punch in the guts. All I could see was how pretty the prose was, how elegant, how insightful, why would you delete it? Being a professional I quelled the urge to argue, gulped back my protests and tried to digest why and how.

This character’s words took up a largish chunk of the latter part of the book, maybe a good 20,000 words of an 85,000 word novel. I’d have to rewrite the important parts of her story into another character’s viewpoint. Yes, this would be a lot of work, but it wasn’t my biggest problem.

It was the prospect of cutting out all that glory. I just didn’t want to do it. I was ATTACHED to the voice, the words, the character in a way that wasn’t helping the book as a whole. I had to do some serious mental acrobatics to come to terms with chopping her out completely.

After much rumination and nail biting I came to understand this character gave too much away. The style of her voice was too laden and literary to fit with the story. And she wasn’t someone readers would easily warm to.

So, the surgery began. In hindsight it might have been easier to just cut all her stuff out of the draft and start again, like ripping off a band aid. But doing it that way was just too hard to face. Instead I took a razor blade and slowly, painstakingly sliced pieces of her out. I remoulded some of her words into another character’s voice or dumped them in a ‘save for another day’ file. My reluctance has meant I will have to do yet another rewrite because I know I’ve left a lines and paragraphs in there that really need to go. It just hurt too much to do it on the first round.

Now I’ve completed the amputation I can see it was worthwhile. The story is richer for it, the character in question is richer for it. I have a stronger plot, a more consistent narrative, and my darlings aren’t quite dead. They’re just locked up in the cage of another file somewhere waiting for their time in a story to come.

Have you ever had to get rid of something you loved only to realise it was the best thing to do?

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~~~ Rebecca’s Random Spotlight ~~~

[Rebecca here: I LOVED The Yearning by Kate Belle so much (5+ stars) and would like to spotlight her books here!]

The Yearning

Yearning lo res



It’s 1978 in a country town and a dreamy fifteen year old girl’s world is turned upside down by the arrival of the substitute English teacher. Solomon Andrews is beautiful, inspiring and she wants him like nothing else she’s wanted in her short life.

Charismatic and unconventional, Solomon easily wins the hearts and minds of his third form English class. He notices the attention of one girl, his new neighbour, who has taken to watching him from her upstairs window. He assumes it a harmless teenage crush, until the erotic love notes begin to arrive.

Solomon knows he must resist, but her sensual words stir him. He has longings of his own, although they have nothing to do with love, or so he believes. One afternoon, as he stands reading her latest offering in his driveway, she turns up unannounced. And what happens next will torment them forever – in ways neither can imagine.

Read an extract here.


Amazon  |  iTunes  |  Kobo  |


Breaking the Rules

Breaking the Rules by Kate Belle



Grace is a beautiful woman in complete control of her world. A long time ago she chose a career over children and marriage, and has never regretted it. Then Ramon Mendez walks into her office. Ramon is about to commence his PhD, a work on erotic literature, and from the outset there is something about him that makes Grace’s blood run hot. Aware of the need to maintain her professional reputation, she rejects his advances, but he persists. And during their intimate supervision sessions, her defences start to crumble, for Ramon’s work is exposing desires within Grace she never knew existed.

Amazon  |  iTunes  |


Bloom by Kate Belle - lores



Thirty-six-year-old Emma’s life looks as perfect as could be. She loves her solid, straight-laced husband Gary, who has given her three beautiful, if spoilt, children and a secure life. But something is missing. Gary hardly notices her anymore and she feels frumpy and invisible. Her friend, Lisa, talks her into joining a social boot camp class at the local gym. Emma immediately recognises their instructor as the gorgeous runner she sees each evening while walking her dog in the park. He introduces himself as Ramon Mendez. In spite of herself Emma is besotted.

Before long her mind is filled with guilty fantasies of him. One evening, when things at home have become too much to bear, she bumps into him alone in the park. An opportunity presents itself and no one need ever know. Ramon promises and delivers everything that’s missing from her marriage – passion, romance and excitement – but Emma must discover if they are the things she really wants.

Amazon  |  iTunes  |


About the author:


Kate is a woman of many passions who juggles her pens with the rest of her life. She holds a tertiary qualification in chemistry, half a diploma in naturopathy and a diploma in psychological astrology. Kate believes in living a passionate life and has ridden a camel through the Australian desert, fraternised with hippies in Nimbin, had a near birth experience and lived on nothing but porridge and a carrot for 3 days.

Kate lives, writes and loves in Melbourne, juggling her strange, secret affairs with her male characters with her much loved partner and daughter, and a menagerie of neurotic pets.

Blog/website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter @ecstasyfiles  |  Goodreads  |



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Cover reveal: ENTWINE by Rebecca Berto


A New Adult Contemporary Romance

by Rebecca Berto

I am so excited to introduce you to my next novel. It’s my first light/sweet romance, and after writing some dark and twisted stories this one is a break from that, a truly a beautiful one that will take you away, filled with much intensity. *including steam* ;)

Entwine - Rebecca Berto - eBook

Cover by: Berto Designs

Releasing in late November 2013

Book description:

Sarah Langham’s life was the epitome of normal until her dad slept with another woman when she was sixteen. It ripped her family apart.

Twenty-two-year-old Sarah has it together, though.

Waiting at the train station to go home from her first day of her first proper job out of university, she spots a man.

He is an enigma to her. She’s drawn to him, with his square jaw; buzz of hair; and his tall, solid frame, seen under the contours of his business suit. And he’s been looking at her, too. Fate pulls them together that night on a whirlwind date, exceeding anything Sarah’s experienced before. He’s even more into her than she’s into him. Finally, she wants to trust a guy for the first time since she was sixteen.

But then they discover something.

Something that meant they were never two strangers at a train station.

And it threatens to tear their future apart before it, really, ever begins.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00028]

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Entwine teaser 1 - Rebecca Berto

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About the Author

b4e63-rebeccaberto-authorphotojune2013-medresRebecca Berto writes stories about love and relationships. She gets a thrill when her readers are emotional reading her books, and gets even more of a kick when they tell her so. She’s strangely imaginative, spends too much time on her computer, and is certifiably crazy when she works on her fiction.

Rebecca Berto lives in Melbourne, Australia with her boyfriend and their doggy.

Website/blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

 photo AToMRToursC66a-A00aT03a-Z_mdm_zpsa3cc6896.jpg



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Pulling Me Under is live!

 photo PullingMeUnder-RebeccaBerto-lowerres.jpg
Title: Pulling Me Under
Author: Rebecca Berto
Series: Pulling Me Under #1
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Suspense
Age Group: Adult
Cover Designed by: Berto Designs
Book description:

Paul was Katie’s rock for thirteen years, but then she watched him die.

By day, she is left with her daughter Ella’s questions about where Daddy went, and at night she’s consumed with nightmares of the moment he died. It isn’t long before Katie’s mother hints that her volatile lifestyle and developing drinking habits are no way to raise a little girl.

Through it all, her and Paul’s best friend, Liam is there. Grieving the death of both husband and friend, the time they spend together seems more intimate these days, and Katie soon stumbles into taboo territory: Liam might be in love with her.

Torn between Liam’s feelings and losing Ella, one night Katie runs.

Air. Space. Thinking time. That’s what she thinks she’s getting when she stumbles upon that party. In the morning, in a strange bed, she can’t remember the night before.

Pulling Me Under is raw in its brutality of love and pain, with slow-building suspense to a heart-stopping conclusion.



Ella’s school-dress buttons and collar change color. They’re business-shirt blue and only three buttons are done up because Paul was lifeless, gone, by the time I got to him but Paul’s not really here and maybe Ella is. Maybe I’m not here, either.

I dig my nails into the laminate until I want to scream from the pressure of my bending nails. Okay, so I’m still here.

“What did I do?” Ella’s voice breaks, and it sounds as if she chokes on her last word.

Ella deserves a mother who will pull her into her chest at times like this and cry about how sad they both are. I haven’t cried since before Paul’s death.

At twenty-nine, I shouldn’t be waking up every day to this. I’d once thought widows only existed when people were old. Sure, I still have the brown hair with some type of wave to it, but I’m a shell with rotting insides.

Paul’s bloody body, dotted with partially digested chunks of his breakfast is suddenly in front of me. Then his dead body multiplies, replicating behind me, to my left, right. He is a cage. I am the prisoner. His blood stains the floor red, causing my breath to stagger. My head spins seeing the sickening chunks and lifeless body of the man I would have given my life for.

My daughter’s sobs fade, as if I’m being sucked away into a tunnel. The gray walls churn as if I’m in a kaleidoscope. Fire truck red and kryptonite green color blurs together to a spot in the distance. The end of the house is gone, replaced with a tunnel sucking me out of the kitchen. The choking, sobbing sound across the counter fades further.

Suddenly, the kitchen fades to an image of my closet. Last night, I found Ella there, her fingers skimming along the circle she made of Paul’s ties. For minutes, I stood behind her in the doorway of my closet. It had been the first time in my master bedroom in months.

Ella bopped on her knees, her feet tucked away under her bum. She’d laid out all of her favorite colors. One with Disney’s Tasmanian Devil printed on it, another in Cadbury purple. Ten or more lay around the circle. Her favorite tie had a pink and blue swirl twisting down its length, right in front of her knees.

She stroked each tie once, her voice a steady hum. When she brushed the swirly tie, her hum reached a staccato and stopped. She picked it up in the same manner as she would her favorite doll and stroked it against her chest.

Outside, the Melbourne rain had climaxed from gentle taps on the windows to angry thumps, making me jump.

“Oh, Daddy,” Ella mumbled. “Can I really have it?”

A flash of me from months ago rushed to her side, knowing to fold her legs and prop her in my lap as we sat together. That version of me plucked all her fingers, and Ella chuckled and snorted simultaneously.

Instead? I said, “No. Ella. Out.”

Ella spun around at the same time as a clap of lighting shook the carpet under our feet. She squealed and clamped her arms by her side, her back ramrod straight. “I want the swirly one. M—my doll needs it.”

I held myself up on the doorjamb of the closet, my arm against the wall easily blocking out the bed and the far side of the room where no one had scrubbed out the stain. “No more. You’re not allowed in here. No one is.” My lip shook almost too much to choke out words. “How could you . . . do this? You know how naughty . . . it is to . . . to come here.”

Even I couldn’t go in the master bedroom. Haven’t since what happened until now.

The crumpled sheets can’t be moved. I leave the stains. Everything must remain the same. I don’t straighten my hair anymore, or sleep with a pile of pillows, or wear my comfortable jeans. No one can be in here so nothing will change.

What if Ella found the box under the bed? If she went through it?

Not yet. Maybe not ever. I promised myself that I wouldn’t look under the bed. There’s too much finality in looking through that box.

Shaking my mind back to present-time I think, I know too much.

I hate.

I hate Paul for leaving me to fend against Mom when he knows I can’t do it by myself.

I hate him for being selfish and thinking that I can live without him.

Most of all, I hate me for hating him, since it’s my fault he isn’t here now.

Ella? She wants to know. Something. Will he come back? Does he love her?

My mom used to say things like, “It’s your fault, Katie. You hear me, Katie? You ruined my tummy, Katie.” Then she would come close enough to smell the fear coating my skin. Always, I’d gasp and try to run away. She’d grab me and yank me back by my flimsy wrist. Her voice was low and steady. Low so I wouldn’t get lost in her hysteria; steady so my mind would store this information forever.

“You killed your brothers and sisters. They didn’t make it out of my belly because you jinxed me. You know that, right?”

Now, in this kitchen, Ella smells a lot like that fear.


Buy the book:

Amazon US: http://goo.gl/h9kHxf
Amazon Int’l: http://goo.gl/1xHa8u
Barnes & Noble: http://goo.gl/yI9EkZ
Kobo: http://goo.gl/6BIvgO


Download the prequel novella, Precise, for FREE!

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About the Author

 photo RebeccaBerto.jpg

Rebecca Berto writes stories about love and relationships. She gets a thrill when her readers are emotional reading her books, and gets even more of a kick when they tell her so. She’s strangely imaginative, spends too much time on her computer, and is certifiably crazy when she works on her fiction.

Rebecca Berto lives in Melbourne, Australia with her boyfriend and their doggy.

Author links:

Blog tour excerpt and giveaway: “Finding Home” by Lauren McKellar

Do I have any Young Adult Contemporary fans here? Lauren McKellar is a blogger, leading editor in her industry, internet personality and now an author! I’m excited to share this book with you.

Although I’m not reading so much YA these days as—sadly—I’m over that age group this short novel will appeal to teens and the fans who love this genre; I can feel the vibe from what I’ve read.


1013-Finding-Home_1400I was in a club somewhere in Melbourne. People were crowding in all around me, girls in short skirts and guys in shirts and jeans that looked a little too tight for comfort. The floor was sticky, the place smelled like sweat and cheap perfume, and it was late — after two in the morning, for sure. They’d be closing soon.

‘Having fun?’ Mum handed me yet another clear glass packed with ice and pale-coloured liquid. I nodded and slugged back the sweet vodka she’d just gotten me from the bar.

‘Great! Happy 16th birthday!’ Mum clinked her glass against mine. Celebrating was her favourite thing to do.

A security guard walked past us and nodded. He recognised us from the line. We were always on lists at the door now that Dad had made it big time. I didn’t had to worry about being checked for ID or sprung for under-age boozing. Times were good.

‘I think that boy over there thinks you’re cute.’ Mum strained her voice to be heard over the loud rock music pumping through the sound system. She pointed to a tall guy who was standing by himself just near the bar. I had to squint to see him, but he looked a little older than me, maybe ten years or so. His blue chequered shirt contrasted perfectly with his peroxide-tipped hair. He was cute, even though his body was swaying out of time with the music. Perhaps he’d had one too many addictively vodkas, too.

‘Should I go talk to him?’ I hadn’t hung around guys that much, especially older ones. A few of Dad’s roadies had tried to get close to me, but they were immediately chased off by him before anything could happen. I was a little nervous.

Mum had no such hesitation. She charged through the crowd and launched herself at Peroxide Guy. Throwing her beautifully manicured fingers around his shoulders, she dove into attack mode.

‘Hi there, cutie. Let me introduce you to the most fabulous girl in the world — the amaaaaazing Amy!’ As Mum said it, she threw her hands in the air, and I started laughing. The guy did too. He moved closer.

‘Hi, Amy,’ he leered, checking me out openly before kissing me on the cheek. His lips felt warm. I felt warm. I felt desirable and I liked it.

We stood there for a few minutes, drinking in each other’s appearances. Peroxide Guy wasn’t ugly, but he wasn’t exactly cute, either. He had little wrinkle lines around his eyes, the kind that Dad had, and I wondered again about his age.

‘Can I help you two gorgeous ladies with anything?’ He smiled, showing an orderly array of slightly brown teeth. He smelled like cigarette and bourbon.

‘You can, actually,’ Mum started.

‘No, don’t, I —’

‘We noticed you checking her out,’ Mum yelled, oblivious to my protests. ‘So why don’t you go ahead and kiss her like you mean it?’

It was a horrible, horrible moment: the music stopped, and everyone turned to look at the woman yelling at the guy to kiss the girl ‘like he meant it’. I hated that the girl in question was me.

Then Peroxide Guy was grabbing my face and I forgot all about it as he kissed me. It was wet and sloppy and thankfully quite short, but long enough to get the crowd cheering. It didn’t feel real. This wasn’t happening to me.

And then the kiss was over, and we were just standing there. I let out a nervous laugh, scraping my tongue against the back of my teeth to try and get the taste of stranger out of me.

The lights flickered on, and people filtered out the door. The guy who’d kissed me looked even older now, and I noticed his nose was a little red. What had I done?

‘Come on, Amy. They’re closing up.’ Mum grabbed my hand and led me out of the club, the boy staring at us both as we left. He grinned and gave a little wave as we walked away. I guess this was just a typical night for him.

I felt sick. Was that really my first kiss? I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand to remove the saliva from my face. I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel and clean my teeth.

‘Aren’t you going to thank me?’ Mum asked. ‘Surely no other mum would be cool enough to help her daughter get picked up!’

‘Thanks.’ My voice were soft and lacked heart. I knew that it was technically cool, and that my old friends from school would have been envious.

I just wished it hadn’t been so wet.


Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  iTunes (US)  |  Kobo  |

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About Finding Home

Moody, atmospheric, and just a little bit punk, Finding Home takes contemporary YA to a new level of grit…

When Amy’s mum dies, the last thing she expects is to be kicked off her dad’s music tour all the way to her Aunt Lou in a depressing hole of a seaside town. But it’s okay — Amy learned how to cope with the best, and soon finds a hard-drinking, party-loving crowd to help ease the pain.

The only solace is her music class, but even there she can’t seem to keep it together, sabotaging her grade and her one chance at a meaningful relationship. It takes a hard truth from her only friend before Amy realises that she has to come to terms with her past, before she destroys her future.

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About the Author

lmckellarLauren McKellar is a writer and reader of Young and New Adult books. Her debut novel Finding Home is out now, and can be bought from all your usual eBook sites (links available here). She also works as a freelance editor for novels for all age groups and you can chat to her on twitter or facebook any time you’d like.

Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads  |

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FREE paperbacks, a surprise and my awesome newsletter!

Hi all! BIG things are happening. I’ll keep it short and sweet.


My sequel to my prequel novella, (Precise), Pulling Me Under, was set for release late October, the 27th. However, I wanted to spring a surprise on you: I’d love to release it early if there’s interest.

20 photo shares or 40 comments will bring the release date forward by two weeks, to Sunday, October 13. If you want your hands on this novel …


This photo >>> Teaser 1 - Pulling Me Under - eBook 2


I’ve announced here in the past I have a newsletter/mailing list going on, but I haven’t talked about it, or kept it up-to-date, until recently.

Filled with book release information and dates, free review copies, tips and more, I’d love you to sign up and share it over social media for your friends, too!

Note emails are sent infrequently, so don’t worry about one popping up in your inbox every other day.

Sign up to the newsletter


I have a Goodreads giveaway going on. One random winner will win a signed paperback of Precise, the expanded edition and new cover. (Yes, I went ahead and made paperbacks! Watch out for them on sale online at Amazon in the near future.)

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Link: http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/65141-precise


What are the prizes:

  • One copy of the New York Times bestseller, Naked by Raine Miller. This book has 26.5K Goodreads rating and is the first book in the The Blackstone Affair.
  • CHOICE OF signed paperback of Pulling Me Under (when shipment arrives) [OR] signed paperback of Drowning in You.
  • PLUS, I have a bookmark/card for Drowning in You, signed by me too to throw in as an extra!

How to enter:

  • Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway, and enter as many steps as you want. Remember, joining my mailing list for 10 points will give you 10 times better chance of winning, and unlock extra points to enter.

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Big thank you to all my supporters. Lots of Love! Good luck!


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Rebecca Berto is the author of PreciseDrowning in You and Pulling Me Under (sequel to Precise) If you want book-release updates, please sign up at this form (email only when news, not every other day).

Follow Novel Girl by the buttons in the top left corner of the home page to stay updated.

The Series Matter — do they help an author sell more books?

Guest post by: Emily Walker

Emily Walker

Emily Walker

More and more you see people writing series, or planning a series before they even write the first book. Why is that? I asked a few author friends of mine and what came back were mixed thoughts about the matter.

So do people’s fans come to expect series, and do they take an author seriously when they release a standalone after a series?

I asked a few people about their thoughts on this with the question.

Do you think your readers expect you to write series, and do you think they would respond negatively towards a standalone?

“I don’t think my readers expect me to write a series. Actually, my last release is a standalone and the response has been phenomenal.”
Raine Thomas

Think of the stand alone ‘hits’ throughout history. A franchise is down to yourself. I act as well and if I do the same part too often, I get depressed. This could happen if you’re just writing about the same characters. Look at Steven King, his books all intertwine but he doesn’t write about the same people all the time.

I think it is very personal choice
Charles L. Butler

When I started Zombie ACRES, I intentionally set it up to be a long series, so my readers do expect a series. Generally speaking, I think readers would respond positively to a stand alone as long as it is a well written and entertaining book. Through FreeBookDude.com, I get quite a few readers asking why so many books are part of a series. That is also dealing with a lot of free promos, though.
Josh Cook

• • •

I think that series do help you build up a following. I read an article recently where Belle Andre was interviewed and she said five is the magical number in a series. That is when people really start to get into reading your backlist. That being said, you have to actually have good books, do not just crank the books out to get a backlist going and have them be crap.

A stand alone has to be able to amaze by itself and completely wrap up the whole story in one book. It is a good rule of thumb to write each book in the series as a standalone so someone can pick up any of them, and not be lost.

It is clear by the answers of my fellow authors there is no right or wrong answer to the series matter. I am going to conclude that writing a series will be beneficial in getting people to read your backlist and follow the series. This only works if you write great books, and are consistent with the greatness throughout the series. I am going to stick to writing series when there is more story to tell and stand alone novels when there isn’t. Seems like a pretty simple rule to follow.

Thanks for reading, and do comment about your thoughts on the series matter!

Emily Walker ♥

Click for Goodreads page

Click for Goodreads page

Buy Links:

Amazon  |  Smashwords  |

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* Excerpt *

Emma looked over the fact sheet the school had sent over about her intern and smiled. She was first in her class and involved in everything. That was exactly how Emma had been when she was in college. Lost in her memories of college days gone by, she didn’t realize that Deidre had stepped into the room until the receptionist cleared her throat. Startled, she jumped up out of her seat and eyed the ditzy girl.

“Someone is here to see you ma’am,” Deidre had one of those sickly sweet voices that made you want to strangle her. Motioning behind her, she called someone into the room and Emma’s world stopped for a minute.

She could tell the man was younger than her, but he was also well built. Every part of him screamed out, “I am a confident man and you should drape yourself across me like a scarf.” Where had that thought come from? She bit her lip and allowed her eyes to rake over his body and back up to his face. Sandy blond hair, full lips and even from her desk she could see he had striking blue eyes. His skin held on to the tan summer had given him even though they were well into fall now, and she might have forgotten to breathe when he parted his lips to speak.

“Ms. Michaels, I’m your intern, Tyler Higgins.” He stepped forward to shake her hand and her momentary haze she’d been lost in by his appearance dissipated with the words.

Was that anger she detected in his voice? Why was he in her office? Where was the straight A female who was going to change the world? “I’m supposed to have a girl.” She was ashamed at how meek her voice sounded when she spoke to him.

Walking over to the chair across from her desk he sat down in it and looked up at her. “I’m supposed to follow a man, so I guess we’re even.”

Author links:

Website/blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Book Blog  |

Hard writing makes easy reading

Guest post by: Ann Warner

Hard writing makes easy reading — Wallace Stegner

Easy writing makes hard reading — Ernest Hemingway

In other words, it’s easier to write badly than to write well.

Of course, no one sets out to sabotage their wonderful story with poor writing, but it’s often difficult for the writer to recognise shortcomings in their own prose. I would guess that most writers believe their first book is wonderful. I certainly did. It was only after I realised I had been suffering from a serious case of first draft infatuation, and that the book was, in fact, dreadful, that my journey as a writer truly began. I can now report that the most effective things I did during that journey were to seek critique relationships with other writers, to search out ways to improve both my general writing and my story-telling skills, and to keep on writing.

Writing Skills

Since “story” is conveyed with words, the more effectively the writer uses words, the more compelling the story will be.

A simple way to improve writing skills is to pick up any writing craft book and apply the advice therein. There are many books to choose from and all have something to offer. Here are examples of the kind of suggestions found in these books:

  • Avoid overuse of names in dialogue: “Yes, Cassandra, I see the whale.” “Oh, I’m glad you do, Jonah.” “Of course, Cassandra, I’ll just move — eughhhh!” Etc, etc.
  • Avoid regular use of exclamation points.
  • Avoid inexact language…words like some, a bit, many, a few.
  • Limit adverbs, cliches, and thats.
  • Root out repeated words, phrases, and information.
  • Eliminate excess prepositions: (out into the yard vs into the yard, up onto the table vs on the table, etc.)
  • Make non-specific descriptions specific: e.g. a few boys versus three boys wearing tan slacks.

Although these suggestions may appear simplistic, following them can result in dramatic improvements in writing quality.

An excellent way to subsequently check on your progress is to utilize a website such as Prowritingaid.com. After signing up for this free site, work can be uploaded and subsequently analysed using Prowritingaid’s algorithms. A series of suggestions for more effective wording will then be generated. This is the site I use to check my final drafts before I submit to my editor.

One interesting side effect of my focus on putting the words together better has been that while my first novel ran 125,000 words with very little plot to hold it together, my novels now run from 70,000 — 80,000 words and do have plots.

Story-telling Skill

Storytelling is a right brain, creative activity so whether it can be learned is an open question, but it can certainly be enhanced.

Click to buy

Click to buy

My recommendation to anyone seeking to develop this skill is to read Lisa Cron’s book, Wired for Story. I suspect if Wired for Story had been available when I started writing fiction, my writer’s journey would have been a much less meandering one.

When I first picked the book up it was, in part, because the subtitle appealed to my scientific side…The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence.

But, don’t let the brain science label scare you away. This is first and foremost a well-written, easy-to-read book that contains insights and specific suggestions that will help anyone wishing to improve their storytelling skills.

Reading the book, I was pleased to learn that neurological studies have shown that the brain has a reward system in place that allows for the enjoyment of good fiction. This implies there’s a benefit to the fictional experience. This benefit may well be that reading about characters dealing with tough situations adds to the reader’s personal store of knowledge. In other words, story gives the reader a way to experience trouble without risk. In fact, Cron says it’s likely that as we read, we are wondering, “If this happened to me, what would it feel like and how would I react?”

As an author, I love the concept that my stories, in addition to being entertaining, might help readers better understand and deal with their own circumstances. I’ve had a number of readers tell me that has been true for them, and I consider these comments among my greatest rewards as a writer.

Along with new insights into the power and role of story, Wired also contains specific suggestions for writers to apply to their writing. One useful reminder is that plot is only what happens. Story is how those events affect the protagonist. That means the goal of the storyteller has to be to let the reader in on how the protagonist feels about everything that happens, as it happens.

Wired also tackles a common piece of advice given to writers: Write what you know. Cron expands on that advice by saying that what writers actually need to do is to tap into what we know to be the emotional truth about the human condition.

The Critique Relationship

Image credit: miadcommunicationdesign / flickr

Image credit: miadcommunicationdesign / flickr

The purpose of the critique relationship is to be both supportive and critical. This type of balance may be harder to achieve when you’re not personally acquainted with the person offering a critique. When you’re sitting in front of someone, everything they say will be accompanied by a tone of voice, body language, and possibly a twinkle in the eye, a leavening that is missing in relationships between internet critiquers. However, it’s still possible to have good internet-only relationships. I’ve had several that have been very helpful to my writing career.

Finding good critique partners is part art and part luck. A good relationship, however, also requires a hefty dash of personal chemistry. My rule of thumb is that if I find myself reacting to a critique with fresh enthusiasm for my story, that critique partner is a keeper. If, however, the person’s comments make me feel discouraged or irritated, then I know that’s a relationship I need to terminate.

Although all of these suggestions are straightforward and generally easy to implement (especially with the assistance of the internet), they are not a quick fix. I’m not sure there are any quick fixes, although some writers will progress more quickly than others. But, ultimately, to be a success, the most important characteristic of all for the writer to cultivate is the persistence needed to do that hard writing.

I’d like to thank Rebecca for the opportunity to do this guest post!

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pngannAnn has a Ph.D. in chemistry and a past career as a clinical chemist and toxicologist. She finds herself drawn to writing stories that explore the resilience of the human spirit. Ann has lived and travelled extensively. These experiences now serve as a rich resource for the creation of compelling characters and unconventional settings.

Ann has published two novels with Samhain Publishing and has now self-published three additional novels. Her most recent release is Doubtful set in Doubtful Sound, New Zealand. That setting is all that remains from her very first (dreadful) attempt at writing fiction.


Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Amazon Author Page  |



Rebecca Berto is the author of Precise and Drowning in You. If you want book-release updates, please sign up at this form (email only when news, not weekly).

Follow Novel Girl by the buttons in the top left corner of the home page to stay updated.