I Promise You Won't Learn A Thing From This Blog

The official blog for author Ashley Chappell. Check back every week for a few laughs at my expense or, if you know the love-hate process that is writing, commiseration.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

HOT Book Review - 'Strength' by Carrie Butler

The best part about offering to do book reviews is that sometimes you find one that knocks your socks off.

Welcome to my stop for the Courage blog tour, organized by Grapevine Book Tours.

Well, Carrie Butler's first book in her New Adult Paranormal Romance series did way more than that to me. Strength steamed, smoked, and melted my socks off! This series is shaping up to be an exciting ride that I can best describe as Mortal Instruments (though Butler's writing is FAR better than Clare's) as Michael Crichton might have written it: It's smart, it's full of twists, and the bad guys aren't always the ones you expect.

Her supporting characters are thoroughly entertaining and full of individual quirks. Butler certainly didn't skimp on developing them - I feel like I could have a conversation with any one of them! But her main characters, Rena and Wallace, I enjoyed for more reasons than I can count. For one thing, Wallace is a gentleman of the variety that has been so sorely missed in recent bestselling romance novels. In a genre that has been overtaken by self-obsessed jackasses who can barely make room in the mirror for their love interests and boy-crazy insecure damsels who spend most of the book worrying whether they behaved well for their ego-maniacs, this book represents a wonderful return to characters with integrity and inner strength (not to make a pun!). Rena is relatable and even admirable as she keeps a cool head on her shoulders and always seems to think of others first, no matter what difficult task lies ahead. This is one girl who doesn't know the meaning of 'Woe is me' and I absolutely dig that about her.

And let me go ahead and put this out there... I'm definitely crushing on Wallace. When you read the book you will, too, whether you admit it or not.

I don't want to give any spoilers so I'll stop there, but check out the awesomeness for yourself and get ready for the second book in the Mark of Nexus series coming at you this month! Courage releases on 10/15 and I personally can't wait to my next Wallace fix :-)


When college student Rena Collins finds herself nose-to-chest with the campus outcast, her rumor-laced notions are shattered. Handsome, considerate, and seemingly sane, Wallace Blake doesn’t look like he spends his nights alone, screaming and banging on the walls of his dorm room. Hell, he doesn’t look like he spends his nights alone, period.

Too curious for her own good, Rena vows to uncover the truth behind Wallace’s madman reputation--and how two seconds of contact had left her with bruises. Of course, there are a few setbacks along the way: guilt, admiration, feelings of the warm and fuzzy variety…

Not to mention the unwanted attention of Wallace's powerful, supernaturally-gifted family.

They’re a bloodline divided by opposing ideals, two soon-to-be warring factions that live in secret among us. When Rena ends up caught in their crossfire, Wallace has no choice but to save her by using his powers. Now they’re really in trouble. With war on the horizon and Rena’s life in the balance, he needs to put some distance between them. But Rena won’t let go. If fighting is what it takes to prove her own strength and keep Wallace in her life, then that’s what she’ll do--even if it means risking a whole lot more than her heart.



The Inimitable Carrie Butler!
Carrie Butler daydreamed her way through college—until they thrust a marketing degree into her hands, slapped a summa cum laude seal on the corner, and booted her out into a less-than-stellar job market. Instead of panicking at the prospect of unemployment, she used her Midwestern logic to steer into the skid and point her life in the direction she really wanted to go: writing out those daydreams.

Her passion for New Adult fiction led her to co-found NA Alley—a widely recognized informational hub for the category. She is the author of STRENGTH (Mark of Nexus #1) and COURAGE (Mark of Nexus #2).

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Got a question for Carrie? Ask away!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Firefly Paradox: Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc

Welcome one and all for today's romp through time! I have the privilege of helping to unveil the cover for the brilliant upcoming novel by PK Hrezo: Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc and she even gave me carte blanche on creating the post that goes with it (my evil side always appears at the words 'carte blanche'). This blog hop is all about where and when we would go if we were able to book a trip through the Butterman agency and I think it took me all of about 2 seconds to decide my destination. 2003, here I come...

Interested in booking a trip through time? Here's the blurb from the book and my own time travel fandom misadventure (yes, you read that right!) begins immediately below it:

Welcome to Butterman Travel, Incorporated
Coming 11/12/13!!
We are a full service agency designed to meet all your exclusive time travel needs. Family-owned and operated, we offer clients one hundred years of time travel experience. A place where you can rest assured, safety and reliability always come first.
Anxious to attend a special event from the past? Or for a glimpse of what the future holds?
You’ve come to the right place. We’re a fully accredited operation, offering an array of services; including, but not limited to: customized travel plans, professionally piloted operations, and personal trip guides. *Terms and conditions do apply
Conference us directly from our Website. Our frontline reservation specialist, Bianca Butterman, will handle all your inquiries in a professional and efficient manner, offering a tentative itinerary and free fare quote, so you can make the most of your time trip.

We look forward to serving you at Butterman Travel, Inc., where time is always in your hands.   

"Ms. Chappell, you're absolutely, totally, utterly, perfectly clear that you've signed a binding agreement not to attempt to alter events in your chosen time destination, correct?" Bianca Butterman asked me for the third time as I signed the final waivers on my vacation package. She must have seen the glint in my eye because she was definitely getting suspicious.

"Absolutely," I answered, hoping that nervous squeak in my voice sounded innocent. I added on my sweetest smile and doe eyes; with any luck she'd think I was just another naive fangirl hoping for a thrill. "Really, this moment just had such a HUGE impact on my life and I never felt like I had any closure. There were so many questions left unanswered, and I just feel like if I see it for myself maybe I'll finally be able to let go."

Bianca's eyes narrowed. "Just please remember that you will be held financially, ethically, and cosmically liable for any Paradox Factors your actions might cause," she said as though she were already tallying up the charges against me. PFs were a big deal now that time travel was the norm; however, the permanent damage to my psychological well being was a pretty big deal to me, too. I'd decided months ago that it was worth the risk. 

"Of course I will," I said with a little giggle. Too much? Maybe, but I never was much of an actress.

"Fine," Bianca finally sighed and opened the folder with my travel papers. Even if she didn't believe me, she obviously couldn't prove I was up to anything. Score! "Everything you need is right here. Your character is an office temp with very little experience so they won't be surprised if you don't seem to know what to do. Just try to stick with the coffee and bagels and everything should go smoothly. Here is your ID to get you into the building. Your guide is disguised as a janitor and he will always be within earshot. Or armshot if he needs to be," she added and just about leveled me with her glare. "This is a Nokia cell phone appropriate to the year with the company emergency line programmed in at #1. Dialing that number will get you an immediate extraction. Are we clear?"

"As a bell!" I said cheerily. 

"Then I hope you enjoy your trip to 2003 and Fox Studios, Ms. Chappell. At Butterman Travel, we're always here to give you the time of your life," she shoved the folder with the badge in my hands and pointed me toward the door to begin my trip. As soon as the door closed, Bianca rang down to Operations. "Joe, your next client is in the tube. Don't let this one out of your sight; she's got a smile that just screams 'lunatic.'"


"Hey you, bagel girl!" 

The office witch snapped her fingers in front of my face and I resisted the urge to break them. Barely. "Yes? Can I help you?" I asked, tearing my eyes away from the network executive board room. Joe, the janitor who was my guide was taking a suspiciously long time to mop the equally suspicious spill that just happened to be between me and the door. I had to find a way to get around him; they were already getting started!

"I asked if you were deaf or stupid, but I think I already know the answer to that one," barked the office witch. No wonder this place went through so many temps. "Ms. Watson called for a coffee five minutes ago and yet you're still standing here with your mouth open. Get going!"

I grunted and wheeled the cart toward Ms. Watson's office in the exact opposite direction from where I needed to be if I was going to save the world from television peril. A casual glance over my shoulder showed me Joe still mopping the floor, a feat which must have been a lot harder to do with both of his eyes focused on me walking away. If I didn't know better, I'd swear he was a candidate for sexual harassment. At Ms. Watson's office I found a shrew no sweeter than the office witch.

"Is that finally my non-fat gluten-free latte I hear coming through my door?" She asked without looking up from her screen. I imagined she was probably too busy cancelling beloved children's shows in true Fox fashion.

"Yes, ma'am," I said glumly, glancing behind me again.
"Then bring it over here, for chrissake! Just set it on the coaster, and don't forget the lid this time! The last girl forgot the lid and coffee got absolutely everywhere."

"Yes.... ma'am!" I said as a plan sprang to life. I put the coffee down and I didn't forget her precious lid. But she hadn't said anything about making sure the lid was firmly attached, had she?

I was half-way back to the coffee station and barely suppressing a smile when I heard her scream. "Ugh! Stupid, stupid girl! Janitor, get in here now!!!"

It was time to make my move!


Meanwhile, Inside the Board Room...

"Seriously Bill, you can't compare a show like this to Star Trek. That was a show with class and with a classy following. The fan mail we're getting for this, frankly, it's a little scary."

"Alright, Clint, I get what you mean," Bill said, reaching for his vegan mocha grande. "Sure, it might be the comic fringe and the obsessive nerd crowd, but c'mon... a following is a following."

"I think Bill makes a good point," said the bookish lady across the table, trying not to reveal her secret fandom. "There's still money to be made off this franchise. Besides, they have a tiny budget for a sci-fi show. What could it hurt to keep it on the schedule?"

"But it's just so weird," said Clint with a frown. "Cowboys in spaceships? If anything, it's a cultish fad. I say we cash out and get out before it ends up costing us advertisers."

"I don't know," said the quiet man at the head of the table. "Joss has never failed us before and I don't want to do anything that will damage our relationship. I'm going to need a better reason than a disruptive fanbase before I cancel one of his shows."


Joe was hot on my heels already. By the time I reached the double doors I knew I only had about 10 seconds to do what had to be done. I slammed the bagel cart through them and leaped on top of it - dammit, I shouldn't have worn a dress - and made sure I had every network board member's attention before I screamed at the top of my lungs:


Then Joe grabbed me from behind and dragged me to the lobby where Security was already on the way to escort us out of the building. Bianca Butterman was probably going to ban me from time travel forever, but I didn't care - I knew I'd gotten through to them!


 "That's exactly the kind of nonsense I'm talking about," said Clint, wiping the goat cheese from his sleeve. Not an inch of mahogany or imported carpet had been spared from bits of pastry and free trade organic coffee. "Is that the kind of image the Network wants for its viewers? If the D&D crowd is what you want, then you can probably kiss the Abercrombie and Nike ads goodbye."

"Alright," sighed the director. "I was dead set against canceling it, but now I see your point. Firefly has to go."

"Great!" Said Clint. "Now we can talk about putting a real show in its slot. I had an idea for a great Joe Millionaire spinoff..."



PK Hrezo is a native Floridian whose life could easily be a Jimmy Buffet song. She shares her home with her firefighter husband and their two children. When not creating characters and their worlds, PK can be found at her other job of rearranging passenger’s itineraries for a major international airline. The only hobbies she loves more than traveling, are reading, writing, and music, and when the four are combined she exists in total bliss.  
She blogs regularly at PK HREZO: Fearless Fiction http://pk-hrezo.blogspot.com/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/PKHrezo  @pkhrezo