Jo Ramsey

Guest Post and Excerpt: Work Boots and Tees by Jo Ramsey

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Today we’re pleased to have author Jo Ramsey here to talk a bit about her new Harmony Ink Press novel Work Boots and Tees, book five in the Dark Secrets and Hope series.

For those readers who may be sensitive to the topic, please be advised that Jo’s blog post broaches the subject of sexual assault in a non-explicit manner.


When I started writing Work Boots and Tees, book five in my Deep Secrets and Hope series from Harmony Ink Press, I heard some very negative feedback about the idea from other authors. Especially those who had experienced sexual assault or other trauma.

I understand their point of view. I’m a sexual assault survivor myself. And Jim Frankel, the main character of Work Boots and Tees… well, if you’ve read the rest of the series, you know who he is. The bully who sent Evan Granger to the emergency room in Nail Polish and Feathers. The mastermind behind the plan to out Guillermo Garcia in Shoulder Pads and Flannel. And, worst of all, the guy who, as revealed at the end of Shoulder Pads and Flannel, sexually assaulted Chastaine Rollo and another girl, each of whom he was dating at the time. Both times, it was a case of Jim believing he had the girl’s consent because she hadn’t said no; both times, the girl went along with it because she was afraid of what Jim might do if she said no. And that means that both times, Jim committed a crime.

Jim has definitely done some seriously horrible things. No question about that. His bullying of Evan—and others—went on for years before he attacked Evan so severely. And there is never an excuse not to seek consent from a sexual partner. In Work Boots and Tees, I make no attempt to excuse anything Jim has done, but I do show reasons. And I do show Jim trying to start his life over in a new state, living with a cousin he didn’t know existed, after serving time for what he did to Chastaine and Maryellen, while coping with the belief that because of what he did to the girls, he is no better than the man who repeatedly molested him as a child.

Jim is sixteen and for ten years has been dealing with the aftermath of abuse that he hasn’t told anyone about, and the realization that he’s gay has caused him to question, and feel guilty about, whether he enjoyed the abuse. Again, his past trauma does not excuse what he’s done to others, and Jim would be the first to say so. On the other hand, he has a lot of life ahead of him. He knows what he’s done, and he wants to pay for it. Having worked with boys like Jim during my time as a teacher, I have a hard time denying the possibility of redemption for someone who desperately wants it and strives for it.

And that’s why I wrote this book.


Work Boots and Tees-200Work Boots and Tees Blurb: When Jim Frankel looks in the mirror, he doesn’t see a sixteen-year-old boy. He sees a monster.

Weeks after being released from a month in juvenile detention, Jim is still trying to come to terms with the realization that he sexually assaulted two girls. He believed everything was consensual—until the day he was arrested. Now he’s served his time as far as the law is concerned, but nothing will erase Jim’s knowledge that he’s no better than the man who molested him at age six.

With his parents unwilling to take him in, Jim moves from Massachusetts to Michigan to live with Delia, his father’s cousin. She offers him a home, a job, and a chance at a new start. Jim spends his time helping Delia at her art supply shop and trying to avoid anyone who might have somehow learned of his crime. When Jim meets Man-Shik Park, he can’t accept Manny’s friendship. But Jim’s attempt to push Manny away might lead to the end of his new life before it’s even begun.

Work Boots and Tees is now available from Harmony Ink Press and through third-party retail sites in both print and e-book formats.


Excerpt: One of the guys who remained came over to the counter carrying a sketchbook and a package of charcoal sticks. He was skinny and a lot shorter than me, with black hair and brown eyes. He looked Asian, but I couldn’t guess which country.

“Hello.” He put down the book and package and studied me.

I looked down at the stuff. “Is this all today?”

“I ordered some sketching pencils last week.” He smiled. “Manny Park. Delia said she’d hold them for me when they came in.”

“She’s out back.” I hesitated. With him standing right there, I couldn’t exactly walk away from the register. Not without pissing Delia off again. “Um….”

Delia came out of the back room, saving me from having to figure out what to do. “Hi, Manny. Your pencils were supposed to be in yesterday’s shipment, but I didn’t see them. I’ll contact the company and find out if they’re on back order.”

“Thank you. No hurry.” Manny looked at me again. “You’re new?”

“This is my nephew Jim.” Delia walked over to me. “He’s living with me now, so I put him to work. Jim, this is Manny Park, one of the town’s best artists.”

Manny’s cheeks reddened. “I just enjoy drawing. Jim, it’s nice to meet you. I haven’t seen you at school, have I?”

“I don’t go to school,” I mumbled, staring at the sketchbook cover. “Nice to meet you too.”

“I’ll ring up Manny’s stuff,” Delia said. “Go ahead out back.”

I walked away feeling like an idiot. Manny wasn’t even close to intimidating, but something about him made me nervous as hell.

Maybe it was the fact that I’d noticed he was good-looking. Kind of cute in a geeky way. I refused to think that way about any guy, which meant I probably shouldn’t be around Manny too much.

I didn’t have anything to do in the back room, so I sat at Delia’s desk and stared at the wall. I really wanted to figure out how to get a tablet or smartphone so I’d have something to do at the shop. Being with Delia was better than sitting alone in the trailer with only the TV for company, but when I had nothing to keep me busy, my brain started going off.

Between the whole thing with the pencils that morning and the stuff I’d brought up with Terry, I had to have a way to shut down my thoughts so I wouldn’t completely lose it.

“Are you okay?” Delia said from the doorway.

Heart racing, I jumped. I should have seen her walk into the room. I was facing the damn curtain. But until she spoke, I hadn’t even noticed her. “Don’t sneak up on me. Um, please.”

“Sorry.” She walked over to the desk. “You were pretty shaky earlier. Did something happen?”

“I had therapy.” If she assumed I was upset about what I’d said to Terry, she might not try to make me talk.

“I’m aware.” She paused. “How did it go?”

“I had a different therapist this time. I like her better than the guy. I actually talked to her, so I guess that’s good, right?”

“Yes, it is. You must have gotten into some tough subjects?”

“My life is a tough subject,” I muttered. “I don’t want to talk about it. I’m in therapy so you don’t have to listen to all my crap, right?”


Author BioAbout the Author: Jo Ramsey is a former special education teacher who now writes full time. She firmly believes that everyone has it in them to be a hero, whether to others or in their own lives, and she tries to write books that encourage teens to be themselves and make a difference. Jo has been writing since age five and has been writing young adult fiction since she was a teen herself; her first YA book was published in 2010. She lives in Massachusetts with her two daughters, her husband, and two cats, one of whom likes to read over her shoulder.

To find out more about Jo Ramsey and her books, please visit her website,

Cheryl Headford, Giveaways

Character Interview and Giveaway: The Hostage Blog Tour with Cheryl Headford


Please join us in welcoming author Cheryl Headford to The Novel Approach today, on the Hostage blog tour. Enjoy the character interview with Rowan Gabriel that Cheryl’s chosen to share with you, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win a copy of the book.

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Q: What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Rowan: That’s one I don’t need to think about. Astrin Raphael. It’s crazy how far we’ve swung. I hated him for so long, and looking back I have no idea why. It’s so strange to think that I hated him for so much longer than I’ve loved him. I’m working on that one.

Q: What is your favourite journey?

Rowan: Well, this is a no–brainer also. The journey Astrin and I took into the heart of enemy country to rescue his father and my uncle. Again with hindsight I can hardly believe it ever happened. Was I really that stupid to get caught up with Astrin’s whole ‘vision’ think? It could all have ended in disaster but, even with the danger, the uncertainty, and almost losing Astrin, it was absolutlely the time of my life. We camped, we partied, we got caught up in a revolution, we spent the night in a tent city in the desert. I’ve never felt so alive.

Q: What is your most marked characteristic?

Rowan: My temper, I guess. And my impulsiveness. According to my uncle they’re a dangerous combination, and they’ve got me into trouble more than once.

Q: When and where were you the happiest?

Rowan: Here and now. *Glances over at Astrin, who’s talking animatedly to some of the guys. A look of dreamy intensity crosses Rowan’s face, until Astrin glances up and they both freeze for a moment. Astrin looks away first, a delicate blush colouring his pale face* Yeah. Right here. Right now.

Q: What is it that you most dislike?

Rowan: Stupid people. Really, I’ve got no patience for stupidity. Or people who want to spoil things for others. *Glances at Astrin* Okay, yeah, I was one of those, but… Actually, I was stupid and I wanted to spoil things for someone else, but Astrin saved me from myself.

Q: What is your greatest fear?

Rowan: That I lose Astrin. My whole world turned upside down when he came into my life. Everything changed and without him I’d be lost. I gave up everything for him, and gladly, but without him where would I go? What would I do?

Q: Tell me something about Astrin

Rowan: He’s amazing. I can hardly believe that when all this started he was only seventeen. It’s always been easy to forget he’s almost two years younger than I am. He’s the one with the level head, with all the resourcefulness. He’s always so calm and sensible, and it’s amazing how he always seems to know exactly the right thing to say and do. *Rowan chuckles* House Gabriel is supposed to be the one that has the gifts with diplomacy and leadership. I think in this case, Astrin got all my share of that, as well as all his Raphael sweetness.

Q: What is your greatest regret?

Rowan: That Astrin was hurt because of me. I was such a blind, angry fool. I wouldn’t listen to anyone but my anger, and it took Astrin almost dying for me to realize how stupid and wrong I was. I treated him appallingly in the first days. He was lost, confused and ill, and I abused him. I convinced him he was a bad person, that he was worthless, when absolutely the opposite was true. I’m utterly ashamed of how I acted and I’m in awe that Astrin was able to get past that so quickly and completely. He’s the best person I know.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?

Rowan: Apart from Astrin, my uncle Charles. He’s always looked out for me, and has had a far clearer vision of what I am and what I could become, than I have. He was our greatest champion because he could see that Astrin was the one who brought me to my full potential, as I do to him.

Q: What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Rowan: Chastity *Grins*

Q: On what occasions do you lie?

Rowan: Astrin hates lying. I’m more…open minded. Lying has its place. Even Astrin lies sometimes, but only when he absolutely has to, usually in a diplomatic way. As far as I know Astrin has never lied to me. Have I lied to him? Um….

Q: Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Rowan: *Glances at Astrin and chuckles* You’re such hard work, Raphael.

Q: What is your motto?

Rowan: Motto? I don’t think I have a motto. I guess it would be something like ‘Grab life by the throat and try not to put your foot in it’

*Astrin appears at his side and burrows under his arm. “Maybe you’d do better with something like ‘Think before you act’*

Well yeah, but that might take away my impulsive charm.

*Astrin reaches up to pat his cheek* “Don’t worry. I’ll always find you charming.”


HostageLGBlurb: Astrin Raphael wakes up in a strange place, frightened and confused. He is told to trust someone who seems to hate him, and he tries—he really tries. However, things change rapidly when he discovers his friend is actually his archenemy, Rowan Gabriel, whose abusive behavior stems from a deeply ingrained, if unwarranted, hatred over something that happened many years before, and simply wasn’t Astrin’s fault.

When Rowan’s uncle and Astrin’s father are kidnapped by Strebo Michael, the two crown princes are catapulted into an adventure that forces them to work together, and along the way their feelings for each other grow. Rowan is quick to let his hate go, but Astrin can’t release his inhibitions. It takes Astrin almost dying from a poisoned dagger before he finally accepts Rowan’s love.

When they return home, their problems continue as their Houses try to negotiate a way for the young men to be together. It soon becomes clear at least one of them will need to relinquish his throne.

Buy Links: Harmony Ink Press (ebook) || Harmony Ink Press (Paperback) || Amazon US || Amazon UK || All Romance eBooks


AboutTheAuthor Creative Minds

Cheryl Headford was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was sixteen, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry, and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun to clean.

Cheryl has always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces, nephews, and cousin, and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play.

Later in life, Cheryl became the storyteller for a reenactment group who traveled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.

It was there she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere.

In present times, Cheryl lives in a terraced house in the Valleys with her son, dog, hamster, and two cats. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close. She’s never been happier since she was made redundant and is able to devote herself entirely to her twin loves of writing and art.

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4.5 Stars, Genre Romance, Harmony Ink Press, Nyrae Dawn, Reviewed by Maryann, Young Adult

Review: The History of Us by Nyrae Dawn

Title: The History of Us

Author: Nyrae Dawn

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 184 Pages

At a Glance: Nyrae Dawn is a new author to me, but I will definitely be reading more of her work in the future.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Sometimes it’s not about coming out, it’s about settling in.

Eighteen-year-old Bradley Collins came out a year ago and hasn’t looked back since. Who cares if he doesn’t know any other gay people? Bradley has friends and basketball—that’s all he needs. Even if that means always sitting on the sidelines when the guys go out looking for girls.

When cute film-boy TJ tries to flirt with Bradley while his friends are doing their thing, he freaks. Yeah, he’s gay, but he’s never had the opportunity to go out with a boy before. He’s never had to worry about how his friends will react to seeing him with a guy.

Bradley accompanies TJ on a road trip to film TJ’s senior project documentary. In each city they visit, they meet with people from different walks of life, and Bradley learns there’s a whole lot more to being honest about himself than just coming out. He still has to figure out who he really is and learn to be okay with what he discovers.


Review: In the history of us by Nyrae Dawn, we meet eighteen-year-old Bradley, who is gay and out but feels lonely and a little bit unsettled in himself. We also meet TJ, a young film guy who tries to befriend and flirt with Bradley. After being convinced to go on a road trip with TJ, Bradley meets gay men from all walks of life, and finally starts to accept himself.

I was really surprised by how much I liked this story. I thought it was going to be your typical, “young guys meet, make out, live happily after” kind of book, and I wasn’t expecting to connect with the characters the way I did. There were a couple, in particular, who I wanted to rap in cotton wool and coddle because they seemed so tired and lonely and broken.

I enjoyed watching Bradley change and grow with every new experience, and was again surprised by the maturity he showed at the end of this book. Nyrae Dawn is a new author to me, but I will definitely be reading more of her work in the future.





You can buy The History of Us here:

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2 Stars, Harmony Ink Press, Reviewed by Jules, Young Adult

Review: The Geek and His Artist by Hope Ryan

Title: The Geek and His Artist

Author: Hope Ryan

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 320 Pages

At a Glance: At the end of the day, this book just wasn’t for me.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: Simon Williams spends his lunch periods drawing his geek and trying not to think about the terrors waiting for him at home. He needs to get away from his abusive father before he suffers the same grisly fate as his mother. Because he’s learned the hard way running away doesn’t work, he’s counting the days until his eighteenth birthday.

Jimmy Bennet should be spending his lunch studying so his senior GPA is good enough to get him into college, but he can’t seem to focus thanks to his distracting artist. When he’s given the opportunity to tutor Simon in Trig and discovers Simon’s home-life nightmare, he wants nothing more than to get Simon out of danger. This need becomes more urgent when Simon comes to school the Monday after their first date with bruises, but it takes a broken leg before Jimmy can convince his boyfriend the Bennets really want him.

But the danger Simon thought was past shows up at the most unexpected time, and he must stand up to the fears he’s held so long to protect not only himself, but the man he wants to spend his life with.


Review: I tried with this book…I tried changing my framework – looking at it from a purely YA perspective; i.e. would the things that were bugging me about it have bugged me if I were in the target demographic? Would my fifteen or sixteen year old self have thought the handling of many of the topics was as After-School-Special-ish as my grown-up self did? I tried suspending belief on some of the dramatics, and giving the benefit of the doubt that these things did and could happen… But, at the end of the day, this book just wasn’t for me.

A Geek and His Artist tells the story of two high school kids who have both been watching each other from afar. Jimmy is a smart, sweet, mostly-closeted gay guy who has secretly been admiring “his artist” from a nearby cafeteria table for a few months. Simon is a quiet, artistic, skater boy who has similarly been watching, and drawing, Jimmy, “his geek”, for those same few months. They finally run into each other outside of school during winter break, and soon after begin talking – when Simon needs some tutoring – and then immediately begin a very serious relationship. I’m not kidding when I say immediately. These guys were calling each other “baby” (or, at least Jimmy was using the pet name for Simon, with zero surprise or objection from him) and labeling themselves as boyfriends within hours of their first conversation. And were discussing how serious they were, and actually getting engaged within a few months. Months! And, did I mention they were in high school? Yeah…

Aside from the über sweetness of the book, there was also tons of melodrama that was so completely over-the-top I couldn’t overlook it. Simon’s dad was an abusive prick. Full stop. It was well documented in the story. He even murdered – though he got away with it – Simon’s mother. It was also covered that The Bastard (this is how he was referred to in the book) did not sexually abuse Simon. There was huge worry, and then huge relief, for Jimmy after discovering Simon at least hadn’t been hurt in that way. So, I ask you, WHY did the author feel it was necessary to add the line, “…He, uh, he once told her if she’d had a girl, he might have left her alone.”? Completely unnecessary in my opinion, and added nothing to the story.

Any fondness I might have had for these guys was unfortunately completely overshadowed by the unrealistic gushy-sweetness with which they interacted, and the aforementioned melodrama. I wanted to love this book – I LOVE stories with geeks of all kinds, and artsy boys – and, in fact, I thought the Epilogue was well-done and very cute, but it wasn’t enough to save the book as a whole.



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5 Stars, Cody Kennedy, Harmony Ink Press, Reviewed by Sammy, Young Adult

Release Day Review: Slaying Isidore’s Dragons by C. Kennedy

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Title: Slaying Isidore’s Dragons

Author: C. Kennedy

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 350 Pages

At a Glance: I highly recommend this novel to you.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Follow the burgeoning love of two teens during the worst year of their lives. Irish-born Declan David de Quirke II is the son of two ambassadors, one Irish and one American. He is ‘out’ to his parents but to no one else. French-born Jean Isidore de Sauveterre is also the son of two ambassadors, one Catalan and one Parisian. His four half brothers have been told to cure him of his homosexuality. Both teens have lost a parent in a London car bombing.

Declan and Isidore meet at the beginning of their senior year at a private academy in the United States. Declan is immediately smitten with Isidore and becomes his knight in shining armor. Isidore wants to keep what is left of his sanity and needs Declan’s love to do it. One is beaten, one is drugged, one is nearly raped, one has been raped. They are harassed by professors and police, and have fights at school, but none of it compares to running for their lives. When the headmaster’s popular son attempts suicide and someone tries to assassinate Declan’s mother, they are thrown headlong into chaos, betrayal, conspiracy, allegations of sexual coercion, even murder. And one of them carries a secret that may get them killed.


Review: Occasionally an author will leave an afterword, a final note of sorts for the reader to digest and more fully understand what they have just read, experienced. In Slaying Isidore’s Dragons, the closing statement by Cody Kennedy defines the reason for why he writes this particular story. Not only is it a list of resources available to those who possibly are enduring, or have endured, abuse, but it is also a love letter of sorts. Kennedy reminds victims of abuse that life can be different, that healing can take place, and that there is a better life waiting for them. He challenges us to get involved and not stand by when we suspect or see abuse taking place. This is the overriding theme in this novel, and it is wrapped in a lush story of love that takes an unflinching look at how abuse may come in many forms.

The story is Isidore’s yet without his Declan, we would be discussing a very different kind of novel altogether. Enduring years of abuse by an uncaring and selfish father, and four evil half brothers, Isidore finally meets someone who can stand up to the impenetrable wall of pain and loneliness that has been methodically built around his life, and dares to defy those who have carefully erected and maintained it. Being a diplomat’s kid himself, Declan understands the system and can find ways around it with the help of his remarkable mother, Sorcha.

Together these two will sweep into Isidore’s life and create a safe haven for him, manipulating his father into giving them temporary custody of his son, and allowing Isidore to live an abuse free life for the first time. But life is never that simple, and there are other forces at work who seek to destroy Isidore, or, at the very least, return him to the hell he endured at a mental institute when he attempted to end a life that was marked by near constant rape and beatings. Nowhere seems safe for either boy or their close friends. Espionage, intrigue, assassinations all plague every step the boys take, and Declan finds himself assuring Isidore over and over that he will do all in his power to keep him safe.

In a book of this length and scope, a one-paragraph synopsis barely touches the surface of the intricate plot Slaying Isidore’s Dragons is built on. Suffice it to say this novel is a page-turner from beginning to end. From the fast paced action and the disturbing unfolding of Isidore’s history, this is a story that grips you from the first page on, and never lets up. The true strength of this book lies in the way in which the writer unflinchingly exposes abuse and what it does to the heart, soul and mind of its victim. However, as it takes a searing look at the life of the abused, we are reminded page after page that abuse does not define Isidore, it does not sully the compassionate, loving person he is, it does not define who he is or diminish him whatsoever. Rather, it highlights Isidore’s amazing strength and endurance, his bravery and intelligence.

Declan “comes out” in this novel to his friends and the world community. His mother has always supported who he is, but living life as ambassador and son has made her caution Declan to be discreet. In many ways, meeting Isidore teaches Declan what true honor and courage are, and allows him to boldly state who he is and whom he loves. Each time Declan stands up to a bully in this novel, he pushes back the walls surrounding Isidore and gives him room to breathe, creating a safe haven where he can find his strength and begin to heal. Their relationship is a thing of true beauty, and watching it unfold in the chapters of this novel reminds us of how sweet first love can be.

While Slaying Isidore’s Dragons is most assuredly a young adult novel, never does it flinch away from the sexual aspect of the young lovers’ lives. While there is limited on-page experiences, those moments are written with such care and tenderness that one almost weeps at the first time experiences for these boys. Always attempting to be realistic, there are varying responses from the parents of these gay young men who choose, or are forced by circumstances, to come out during this story, some accepting and loving, others harsh and hateful. Not once can it be said that Slaying Isidore’s Dragons wraps itself in anything less than reality. These are flesh and blood characters who repeatedly must pull from extraordinary reserves of strength in order to survive. As such, they love fiercely and completely.

Awww me, there is so much to this novel I have barely given you the beginning of why it is such an outstanding read. This bold, sweeping saga is a compelling story of redemptive love and healing grace. The people who inhabit Cody Kennedy’s Slaying Isidore’s Dragons are heartbreakingly real and heroic, and their story is so important. I highly recommend this novel to you. It is one that will impact your life in so many ways and remind you that we must all be dragon slayers.

You can buy Slaying Isidore’s Dragons here:

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Cody Kennedy, Harmony Ink Press

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Slaying Isidore’s Dragons Blog Tour With C. Kennedy

Slaying Isadore's Dragons

The Novel Approach is pleased to welcome Cody Kennedy on the Slaying Isidore’s Dragons blog tour. Enjoy his post, then be sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway by clicking on the widget below for a chance to win an e-copy of Omorphi.

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How Declan in Slaying Isidore’s Dragons is Different from Michael in Omorphi

Thank you, Lisa, for the honor and privilege of sharing my new book with you! It’s great to be here! Welcome, everyone, to the book tour for Slaying Isidore’s Dragons!

For those who are unfamiliar with my books, I write books about hope, triumph, and building a life beyond abuse. While many of the tenets in my books are about learning to live after abuse, they apply to everyone in everyday life. Above all is hope. Without hope, we lose the will to live life to the fullest and Slaying Isidore’s Dragons and Omorphi are about exactly that. But the stories are vastly different in subtle ways. In fact, you may often find that the most valuable principles and adages in my books are understated.

In Slaying Isidore’s Dragons, we meet Isidore as he endures heinous abuse and leaves his abusive environment. Meeting Declan gives Isidore his first whisper of what it might be like to be something other than a victim. In Omorphi, we meet Christy one year after his freedom from abuse begins.

In Slaying Isidore’s Dragons, we meet Declan, an utterly normal guy but someone whose life has come to an abrupt emotional halt upon the assassination of his beloved father. Though he loves his mother dearly, a part of him is lost and meeting Isidore gives him a renewed sense of purpose. In Omorphi, we meet Michael, an utterly normal guy living a charmed life with two great parents. He is immediately smitten with Christy but has to work up the courage to date him.

The commonalities between Declan and Michael at first glance are: they are only children from well-grounded and loving professional parents. They are honest, good, smart, wholesome, and determined to protect Isidore and Christy, respectively. But that’s where it ends.

Michael is nurturing, protective, and shy to a degree. He relies heavily on his best friend, Jake, for advice and to be a sounding board for nearly every thought and facet of his life. By and large, he is non-confrontational and patient. He hasn’t faced extreme adversity or profound loss. As such, he might be considered your typical teen with growing maturity, and he learns coping skills along with Christy as the story progresses. His primary methods of problem solving involve contemplation, logic, and seeking knowledge. He is a peacemaker and wants only good in the world and for everything to be all right.

Alternatively, and while Declan is caring and protective, he is intolerant of certain things and can be impatient. He is accustomed to professional and political environs, is well traveled, and carries himself with proper deportment in the public eye. There is no such thing as not knowing what to do or say in a social setting particularly when faced with media coverage. Contrary to Michael, Declan has suffered profound loss. He is angry over the loss of his beloved father, will not tolerate bullying, and is confrontational—sometimes physically so. He is popular at school but doesn’t have a best friend he can confide in, Isidore is everything to him, and he is determined to give Isidore a happy world. His primary methods of problem solving are to confront facts, control as many variables as he realistically can, and then to fight for what is right.

The way each of them handles the knowledge of what has happened to Christy and Isidore is very telling of their personalities. Michael becomes upset, goes running, and shouts his anger and sorrow for Christy at the heavens. Declan becomes angry, and moves to protect Isidore with everything in his arsenal—his mother, their private security, and his fists. In sum, Michael is a naïve peacemaker and Declan is a jaded fighter. Both, however, will and do lay down their lives to protect Christy and Isidore.

Enjoy Slaying Isidore’s Dragons!

Follow Slaying Isidore’s Dragons’ Book Tour!

DividersSlayingIsidore'sDragons -Book Tour- 400x600Blurb: 5 Best friends, 4 Vicious brothers, 3 STD tests, 2 Guys in love, 1 Car bombing & nowhere to run

Follow the burgeoning love of two teens during the worst year of their lives. Irish-born Declan David de Quirke II is the son of two ambassadors, one Irish and one American. He is ‘out’ to his parents but to no one else. French-born Jean Isidore de Sauveterre is also the son of two ambassadors, one Catalan and one Parisian. His four half brothers have been told to cure him of his homosexuality. Both teens have lost a parent in a London car bombing.

5 Weeks of hell, 4 Attempts on their lives, 3 Law enforcement agencies, 2 Dead high school seniors, 1 Jealous friend & a love that won’t be denied

Declan and Isidore meet at the beginning of their senior year at a private academy in the United States. Declan is immediately smitten with Isidore and becomes his knight in shining armor. Isidore wants to keep what is left of his sanity and needs Declan’s love to do it. One is beaten, one is drugged, one is nearly raped, one has been raped. They are harassed by professors and police, and have fights at school, but none of it compares to running for their lives. When the headmaster’s popular son attempts suicide and someone tries to assassinate Declan’s mother, they are thrown headlong into chaos, betrayal, conspiracy, allegations of sexual coercion, even murder. And one of them carries a secret that may get them killed.

5 New family members, 4 BFF’s, 3 Countries, 2 Extraordinary Psychologists, 1 Courageous Mother & a new beginning for two young men in love

Read Chapter One HERE

Now available in print and ebook at: Dreamspinner/Harmony Ink Press | Amazon  | GooglePlay | Barnes & Noble | OmniLit/ARe  | Beam-eBooks in Europe | Ingram Books for Libraries and Schools


Cody KennedyAbout the Author: Raised on the mean streets and back lots of Hollywood by a Yoda-look-alike grandfather, Cody doesn’t conform, doesn’t fit in, is epic awkward, and lives to perfect a deep-seated oppositional defiance disorder. In a constant state of fascination with the trivial, Cody contemplates such weighty questions as If time and space are curved, then where do all the straight people come from? When not writing, Cody can be found taming waves on western shores, pondering the nutritional value of sunsets, appreciating the much maligned dandelion, unhooking guide ropes from stanchions, and marveling at all things ordinary.

Stop by Cody’s Blog with questions or comments, or simply share what’s on your mind.

Find Cody on Facebook, Twitter @CodyKAuthor, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+,

Ello, Goodreads, & read Cody’s free serial story, Fairy



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Harmony Ink Press, K.D. Worth

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Grim Life by K.D. Worth

KD Worth

The Novel Approach welcomes author Deanna Wadsworth today, writing as her Young Adult alter ego K.D. Worth, and talking a bit about her new Harmony Ink Press novel The Grim Life.

K.D. is also offering the chance for one lucky reader to win an e-copy of the book. To enter for a chance to win, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below.

Good luck!


Thank you for hosting me a The Novel Approach!

I just love being here again….oh wait! K.D.Worth has never been here before. But my other alias, Deanna Wadsworth has been here before. But my new YA author name KD Worth with a new novel THE GRIM LIFE has never been her ebefore.

So why the new penname?

People ask me all the time why I decided to write YA with a different pen name. Well I have one big reason: Reader expectation.

If a reader picks up a Deanna Wadsworth book they are going to get lots of sex. And that is not the case in THE GRIM LIFE.

But more than just a lack of erotic content, there is a strong religious aspect of THE GRIM LIFEand I didn’t want to shock readers.

Religious, you say?

This from the mind of candy flavored cum?!

Yes, if Anne Rice can do it, so can I. Hey, aren’t each of us as layered as Shrek’s onion?

In THE GRIM LIFE my hero Kody Michaels is in a crisis of faith. He is a Christian college student (so I think that might make my book NA) who feels like being gay is a betrayal of his faith. I mean, that’s all he’s been told. In the beginning of the book Kody feels like he cannot keep trying to please everyone, including God, if he is being true to himself, so he decides to end his own life.

Enter Max Shaw a 16 year old grim reaper (or does that make my book YA?) who is sent to reap Kody’s soul. Instead he saves him—a big no-no for a reaper. It’s not his call to decide who lives and who dies. Max’s only job is to get their souls to heaven. But Max wants to convince Kody that God loves him just the way he is and he’s totally falling for him.See, Max has the inside scoop on what God does and does not approve of. He works of an angel named Slade who answers directly to God.

But what is the Big Guy gonna say when he learns that Max defied the rules of being a reaper just to save Kody? These two lost teens are thrown together in what seems like an accidental meeting, and they only have so much time before another reaper comes to finish what Max didn’t.

Not enough angst for ya?

How about we throw in misguided spirits of dead folks stuck in purgatory taking over dead bodies??

Yeah, and all of it written in dual first person, I definitely needed a new pen name!

I brought along an excerpt of THE GRIM LIFE and I hope you all think about checking it out!



Author BioAbout the Author: K.D. Worth has always considered herself to have the heart of a teenager with an old soul. When not talking to the characters living in her head, she loves to hang out at her favorite townie bar then go dancing and partying with her husband and friends. There is always music playing in her home, and if it’s too loud you’re too old! On the flip side, K.D. enjoys spending time in her vegetable garden, canning the food she grows, and making homemade jams and jellies. She also is known to crochet washcloths and blankets for her closest friends and smiles when they tease her for her “grandmotherly” ways. These two different sides to her personality create a layered tapestry of life experience that brings depth and believability to the characters she writes. She loves to hear from her fans almost as much as she loves her cocker spaniels. You can find her on Facebook or get updates about upcoming books on her website.

Facebook | Twitter: @kdworth_author | Website | AMAZON | Harmony Ink Press | Dreamspinner Press | All Romance | Barnes & Noble



Max Shaw is dead.

Well, sort of.

After dying on prom night, Max was recruited by a mysterious tattooed angel named Slade to join a group of teenage reapers. Cocky and sarcastic, Max thinks he has his afterlife together, but the moment Slade assigns him to his first suicide case, everything changes.

Christian college student Kody Michaels is struggling to make sense of his life and his faith. After a failed suicide attempt at an antigay camp, Kody is determined not to fail again. Tired of disappointing his family and God, he is going to end his life once and for all.

But in a split-second decision, Max saves Kody—defying the rules of a reaper.

Max believes his only concern is convincing Kody that God loves him just the way he is, so he can save him from a hellish afterlife as a shade. Little does Max know, some shades have found a way to walk among the living as wraiths. These evil wraiths know Kody has been slated for death, and they have another, darker purpose for him.

Max has only one night to save Kody before one of Slade’s team finishes the job Max lacked the courage to complete.

AMAZON | Harmony Ink Press | Dreamspinner Press | All Romance | Barnes & Noble


EXCERPT: Some days being a reaper was the worst job in the universe.

Most of the time I’m okay with being dead, though I won’t lie, it took me a while to accept my new life would never be that of a normal teenager. The night Slade recruited me and the authorities carted my mortal remains off to the morgue for my parents to identify, my life had taken a very strange twist.

Weird and depressing but wonderful at times too.

I didn’t know the exact number of reapers on this side of life who helped people pass over, but there were a lot of us. I answered directly to Slade. If you caught those rare glimpses of his real power, he was one scary reaper/angel. He’d never clarified what he was, so I usually went with angel. In a weird way, it sort of suited him, despite his fixation with motorcycle attire and ink. I figured out real quick his tattoos changed according to mood, as did his weapon choice. One day he toted cowboy guns and another, a samurai sword. No amount of incessant questioning ever produced an answer as to why an angel needed weapons, but it didn’t stop me from asking.

Slade wrangled a team of dead youths, each of us around my death age of sixteen. He’d confided in me once that when he saw my spirit standing in the road, he knew I was no ordinary death. I was special and had a bigger purpose.

As far as I could tell, however, I was no different than my fellow reapers. Slade often said, “Max, it takes a special soul to do what we do, and you’re one of the best I’ve ever seen.”

But tonight I hated my job.

I really, really hated it.

Every day, members of our team received files with our charges—aka a list of those we would deliver to heaven. Cases sometimes changed midshift, and then Slade would send us somewhere else, but more often than not everything went as expected, and we reapers rarely saw our boss. Slade was off doing literally only God knew what. All holy missions were on a need-to-know basis, and frankly, we had all been told many times, we did not need to know.

Depending on how complicated the crossover was expected to be, a reaper could help up to thirty people in one shift. Young humans and accidental deaths like mine took the most time. Generally, the elderly were more than ready to head up to the big golf course in the sky, and their cases, paperwork and all, could be wrapped up in less than half an hour.

Yet today I had been given one charge—Kody Michaels.

Our caseload had been unusually light recently, but I’d never been given one death for a shift. I should’ve suspected something wasn’t right.

Now, staring at Kody standing on a bridge, I suddenly understood.

My first suicide.

Damn you, Slade.

Quite a bit taller than me, Kody had dark brown hair and a slim build. His face was screwed up in a horrific agony as he studied the long drop to the river below. He muttered nonsensical noises under his breath, whimpers or maybe a prayer? I had no idea. Whatever he said, he was quite fervent about it, and his desperation sent a stab of grief through me.

I covered my mouth with a hand, fighting back the unexpected swell of human emotions I shouldn’t have anymore. But no amount of training could’ve prevented the achy sensation of hopelessness from surfacing. Kody’s shaking hands gripped the railing of the bridge, his blue eyes locked on the rushing water below.

Swallowing the lump in my throat, I looked down to the boy’s chosen fate. The river ran high from heavy rains, but not high enough to hide the large rocks jutting up like swords, ready to end a life. I shivered with trepidation and a suddenly cool breeze.

Movement near the edge of the riverbank caught my eye.

I squinted into the darkness and swore something moved, shifting within the shadows. Was someone down there? But when I blinked, the shadow was gone. Probably just an animal or the moonlight playing tricks on my eyes.

Furiously, I wiped tears from my face, trying to get ahold of myself. But when I saw Kody’s face, they just kept coming. Reapers weren’t supposed to hurt for our charges because we didn’t fear death.

We were death.

The roar of an engine startled me, and I jumped as a car approached us.

The headlights illuminated Kody in a macabre image, every detail seared onto my memory—the purple T-shirt, the slim-fit jeans. His shoes were untied, and his long eyelashes were matted with tears. When the light flashed across the wetness on his red cheeks, I saw something in his eyes—a wish that the driver might stop and help him? Had he been praying after all?

But there was no saving his mortal life.

Not if I was already here.

In less than an instant, the motorist was gone, never even slowing. I had not imagined the glimpse of lucidity and hope in Kody’s eyes. When the red taillights faded into the night, however, the boy’s helpless sob filled the air—a sound which would haunt me the rest of my days.

Why hadn’t Slade warned me? He hadn’t been into the office in months, but twenty minutes ago he’d hand-delivered me Kody’s file. And he hadn’t said a thing! No suggestions, no advice, nothing!

Unequipped to deal with this kind of death, I’d never been given an assignment as young as Kody. The file said he’d just turned eighteen—two years older than I’d been when I’d died. What would drive a boy so close to my own age to suicide? What was so bad in his life that he would chose to end it rather than live? I would give anything to live again, to have one more day….

That thought was like a slap in the face.

My own lost youth barreled in on me, drawing old memories to the surface. All this time, I’d believed I had come to grips with my death, but seeing this kid throwing away all the chances I would never have brought a rush of unresolved emotions back with a vengeance.

Anger at this selfish boy and an overwhelming pity warred within me.

Kody was still living, but I would never graduate high school, go to college, or even buy my first car. I would never get to find true love or enjoy my first kiss—with another boy this time. My life had been stolen from me, yet Kody was ready to throw his away?

He let out another sob, ripping at my heart and cutting through any real resentment.

How could I be mad at this boy for taking his own life when he was so visibly broken?

Get a grip, I ordered myself, brushing at the wetness still slicking my face.

Hadn’t I accepted my lot in life by now? I rarely stopped by to watch my family anymore and hadn’t checked up on Debby since she’d gone to California for college. I’d even gotten over my bitterness at dying a virgin—sort of—and generally I enjoyed helping people cross over. I’d even found genuine friends within Slade’s group of reapers. Granted none of them were gay, but still….

What was my problem tonight?

Kody placed one foot on the railing of the bridge, his body trembling as he hoisted himself up. The concrete rail had been wetted from an earlier autumn rain, but his foot was sure. He began to murmur again, his breath visible in the cool air. I felt guilty when I tried to listen in, yet relieved when I could not understand.

Blinking back more tears, I struggled to maintain the businesslike compassion all reapers possessed. All I needed to do was reach out and lay the Touch on him. The long fall would take care of the rest. Then I would find his soul and guide him over.

It was standard procedure.

Yet I couldn’t move, paralyzed by pity and my own flailing emotions.

The boy’s second leg went over the railing, and he sat on the edge staring down and clutching the concrete tightly, his knuckles boney and white.

Briefly, I wondered if I would have to shift down to the riverbank to collect him, or if his spirit would stay on the bridge once the fall or the large rocks and cold water killed him.

Closing his eyes, he took a deep, fortifying breath, uttering one simple word:


Serenity cleansed away the pain in his face, softening the lines of grief and wilting the tension in his shoulders.

His hands relaxed, letting go.

When he pushed off, I did something I had never done before.

I saved his life.



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5 Stars, Harmony Ink Press, Raine O'Tierney, Reviewed by Sammy, Young Adult

Review: I’ll Always Miss You by Raine O’Tierney

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Title: I’ll Always Miss You

Author: Raine O’Tierney

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 256 Pages

At a Glance: I can say with surety that I highly recommend I’ll Always Miss You.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Isa Zaman might forgive his parents for taking in a friend’s son if only he wasn’t the most boring teenager in the universe. Macklin “Mackie” Cormack’s only interests are reading and the outdoors. Yeah, right. Isa’s convinced Mackie is either a pyro or a klepto. Plus, as a white kid, Mackie looks ridiculous in the Zamans’ Arab American household. Forced to share a bedroom, the boys keep butting heads until an absurd fight finally breaks the tension between them.

Isa’s just starting to figure life out: this new houseguest, his cultural identity, school, and even girls, when the entire family is uprooted from their home for reasons Isa can’t understand. They move from their tiny city apartment to a giant, old house in a small town, hours away from everything he’s ever known. Oh, and the new house? It’s probably haunted, or so says the blank-faced ten-year-old next door. As if things weren’t weird enough, Isa’s friendship with Mackie suddenly takes a strange turn down a path Isa’s not sure he’s ready to follow. It turns out Mackie Cormack isn’t nearly as boring as Isa once imagined.


Review: In my experience, it is rare to find an adult author who can fully and convincingly capture the rhythm and voice of a teenage boy or girl. It takes remarkable observation skills to embody characters with that certain something that makes them believably young and yet old beyond their years. It is more than a snarky or affected, indifferent tone that is called for; it is an entire way of thinking, an emotional spectrum that is rife with confusion, self-doubt, and a roller coaster of emotions. Raine O’Tierney is able to capture all that and more. Her story, I’ll Always Miss You, is a coming of age tour de force that left me completely satisfied and eager to read more by this incredible author.

Isa is on the cusp of age fifteen, and is at odds with his mother on the best of days. Surrounded by older and younger sisters, he feels a keen sense of need to rediscover his mid-eastern heritage. His parents have been discussing adopting another child, so it is quite a shock to Isa when they inform him there will be a boy coming to live with them—a sixteen-year-old boy named Macklin. Mackie has been bounced in and out of foster homes for several years. His mother is unfit (read crazy), and his father is in the military.

There is a distant connection between Isa’s family and Mackie’s, and so they agree to foster him indefinitely. Immediately Isa feels real stirrings of jealousy and anger over being left out of the decision—one that would give him not only a roommate but apparently someone he would have to befriend whether he wanted to or not.

To say that the beginning of their time together was rocky is an understatement. However, despite the rough beginning, these two boys become friends, and then something more. When the family moves closer to Isa’s older sister, they buy a house that has quite a reputation. Apparently it is haunted and sure enough, before long strange things begin to happen at Isa’s new home. The story now takes a decidedly sinister turn, weaving a ghost story into the slow building first love trope. The two story lines work so very well together, and the writing at this point exceeds what was already an interesting and entertaining story. With quirky and surprisingly compassionate secondary characters, the novel goes hurtling toward conclusion, and it’s exciting ending leaves one just a bit overwhelmed in all the good ways.

I found myself respecting and appreciating the pacing of this novel. Isa had such doubts and the idea that he may be bisexual, or even possibly gay, did not come swiftly or easily to him. Mackie was so stalwart and forgiving. He hid so much of himself and reluctantly let Isa in, always keeping an eye toward the door and the idea that this home may not be his to keep for very long. Watching this love story unfold against the backdrop of teenage angst and self-discovery was so compelling. The subtle introduction of the mystery elements and the ongoing ghost story added just the right amount of creepiness to give this story an interesting twist.

I was so impressed by this story. I felt there was such a level of integrity in the characters that it made this story completely realistic and engaging. I can say with surety that I highly recommend Raine O’Tierney’s I’ll Always Miss You. It will no doubt be touted as one of the top YA stories of 2015.

You can buy I’ll Always Miss You here:

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3.5 Stars, Harmony Ink Press, Reviewed by Pia, Robbie Michaels, Young Adult

Review: Caught by Robbie Michaels

Title: Caught

Author: Robbie Michaels

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 190 Pages

At a Glance: Robbie Michaels did a really good job with this book

Blurb: Caught in the Act: Book One

When Adam’s father catches him in bed with his best friend, he rips Adam away from his comfortable life in the city and sends him to a farm in the country, hoping some hard work will “fix” him. Adam is supposed to work with Ben, a hostile young man who clearly doesn’t want him there, no matter how hard Adam tries to prove himself. When Ben kisses him, Adam is shocked and delighted but terrified his father will once again pull him away from a home he’s grown to like.

As their relationship grows in secret, Ben promises to stay with Adam when school starts to help him get to know the place and the people. However, Amelia, a young woman Ben had dated, latches on to Ben again. Adam is furious at being abandoned to fend for himself on his first day in a new school. A physical confrontation with Amelia lands Adam in trouble again, and his father’s involvement complicates all their lives. Betrayal and an uncertain future threaten Adam and Ben’s budding summer relationship.


Review: Caught is a really enjoyable novel. I thought for a Young Adult book that it was well balanced, considering all the things that were going on.

While I liked Adam and thought he was a believable teenage boy who gets hurt by his best friend, is relocated to the middle of nowhere by his dad, and is used as free labour by the neighbours’, the jury is still out on Ben. He goes from mean and barely tolerating Adam, to totally in love and dedicated—until school starts and his ex-girlfriend comes back into the picture—then it’s like a whole new Ben. I got whiplash trying to keep up.

One of the things I thought was a bit off with this book was that after getting caught making out with a boy in his bedroom by his dad, Adam’s mum (who we hardly meet) doesn’t seem to have much of an opinion on what’s happening. Another issue is Adam’s dad: if you’re going to move yourself and your son halfway across the country because you don’t want your son to be gay, and you feel you’ve let him down and not been the best dad you could have been, then wouldn’t you actually spend time with him and not just fob him off to the neighbours’ place?

One thing I loved about this book is that even though it’s a YA novel and the sex scenes aren’t overly graphic, it still manages to be kinda sexy. I think it’s awesome that Adam and Ben switch around their sexual roles so often.

I think Robbie Michaels did a really good job with this book, and I can’t wait for the next one.

You can buy Caught here:

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5 Stars, Agatha Bird, Harmony Ink Press, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Review: Recipe for Magic by Agatha Bird

Title: Recipe for Magic

Author: Agatha Bird

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 64 Pages

At a Glance: A wonderful fantasy with snarky teens and a well-developed world

Blurb: Connor Roth is a fire mage who’s going places. He’s powerful, popular, and he has a plan. But his plan for fame and glory is disrupted when the Oracle sticks him with Landyn Glendower for Senior Trial. This is an act unprecedented in their school’s history. Landyn is a water mage, and everyone knows mages with opposing elements can’t work magic together.
Connor is left with a choice: work alone and fail or swallow his pride and work with Landyn to find a way to combine their magic in a display the Archmages will never forget—if they don’t get kicked out of school in the process.


Review:This review is for a young adult title from Harmony Ink Press, an imprint of Dreamspinner Press. That said: I could read an entire series with Connor and Landyn. This 64 page novella is NOWHERE NEAR long enough, and yet despite this, what is on the page is wonderful. The world is well developed and understandable, and the characters are unforgettable. Connor and Landyn are distinct and have their own voices. Both have strong personalities, just as strong as the fire and water magic they control.

I’ve never read Agatha Bird before but just from this book, I can tell she has skill. For example, all of the snide comments and riffs the characters give each other fit their type of magic, and it’s never forced. No, it fits seamlessly in the story. I laughed so many times and highlighted more of this book than is strictly necessary. One of my favorite scenes is between Landyn and Connor fighting about being paired together. They’re bickering, of course, and after Connor asks how Landyn would feel about having no eyebrows, Landyn returns with this gem: “How do you feel about toilets exploding on you at every opportunity for the rest of your life?” HA! Maybe it’s my juvenile sense of humor (I am a teacher), but I was rolling.

They often refer to their elements when cursing each other or their emotions. Connor mentions the “scorched earth of his hope.” Dugan calls Landyn a “puddle-licker.” Little details like these just made the book so much more awesome. I really wish I had written this book. I just finished it and I already want to go back in and read it again.

Now, a plea to the author: Can we please have a series with these two, post trial? Because I will be the first one to buy the books.





You can buy Recipe for Magic here:

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5 Stars, Christopher Koehler, Harmony Ink Press, Reviewed by Jackie, Young Adult

Review: Poz by Christopher Koehler

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Title: Poz

Author: Christopher Koehler

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: Highly Recommended

Blurb: Remy Babcock and Mikey Castelreigh are stalwart members of the Capital City Rowing Club’s junior crew, pulling their hardest to earn scholarships to rowing powerhouses like California Pacific. Just a couple of all-American boys, they face the usual pressures of life in an academic hothouse and playing a varsity sport. Add to that the stifling confines of the closet, and sometimes life isn’t always easy, even in the golden bubble of their accepting community. Because Remy and Mikey have a secret: they’re both gay. While Mikey has never hidden it, Remy is a parka and a pair of mittens away from Narnia.

Mikey has always been open about wanting more than friendship, but Remy is as uncomfortable in his own skin as he is a demon on the water. After their signals cross, and a man mistakes Remy for a college student, Remy takes the plunge and hooks up with him. After a furious Mikey cuts Remy off, Remy falls to the pressure of teenage life, wanting to be more and needing it now. In his innocence and naiveté, Remy makes mistakes that have life-long consequences. When Remy falls in the midst of the most important regatta of his life, he can only hope Mikey will be there to catch him when he needs it most.


Review: Since I first found Christopher Koehler’s books on Amazon, I have been totally and completely hooked on them. I think I literally did an enthusiastic happy dance each and every time a new CalPac Crew book came out. I found out this year at GRL that there would be a new book in the universe the rowing books were set in. Needless to say, I was ecstatic.

The only thing that gave me any sort of pause on this book was the fact that it deals with sixteen to eighteen year olds. Some of the YA books seem to miss the mark with me, so I was a little torn. It turns out that I shouldn’t have worried, though, and I should have just trusted Mr. Koehler. This book was a winner from the first chapter all the way to the end.

This book truly does run the gamut of emotions, and I experienced every single one. I was happy, sad, mad, scared and even a little disbelieving at certain points. Jeremy “Remy” Babcock has what appears to be a good life. He has both parents, a twin brother who loves him, a best friend, and he is on a fast track for a full ride to college for rowing. The biggest problem, in his opinion, is the fact that he is gay and has no idea if his family will support him or not. Lucky for Remy, his best friend Mikey and his rowing crew support him, and for a while that was enough.

Mikey Castelreigh has never really been in the closet, but he also hasn’t taken out any ads in the local paper. Mikey is a year younger than Remy, but they have been friends for most of their lives. It was a relief for both boys when they realized they were gay. They were best friends who shared a difficult secret. How awesome is that? Well, it can be good and, as it turns out, it can be bad also.

Remy has kept Mikey firmly in the “friend zone”, but Mikey has been feeling much more than friendly towards him for a while. When Remy takes a closer look at his relationship with Mikey, he realizes that Mikey hasn’t really been in that friend zone for a while. Well, who knew? When Mikey and Remy try to discuss taking their relationship to the next level, the hotheadedness of youth leads to a severing of their friendship, which sends Remy on a downward spiral that results in him making life-altering mistakes.

Taking the journey of acceptance with Remy was not fun most of the time. When his parents are confronted with Remy’s mistakes, his sexuality and their role in his acting out, it makes for a very emotional time for everyone. From the beginning of the book I felt a connection with Remy. There was just something about this character that drew me in and begged for me to listen to his story. Throw in a bad relationship with some well-meaning but totally oblivious parents, a fraternal twin who is all you could hope for in a brother, and a best friend that will always be his most important person, and you end up with a book that will break your heart and have you laughing along at the same time.

As a parent, this book makes me realize that even as open and honest as I am with my kids, I could be inadvertently hurting more than helping at times. It seems at times that no matter how much we love and accept our children, we can do harm even while trying to protect them. Remy and his family both learned a hard lesson in this book, but I feel this is a topic that has to be covered with our youth.

I would highly recommend this book for any kid who feels like their parents just don’t understand them. I would hope they would get the message that when life pushes us, we don’t always have to push back harder. Sometimes we just bend so we can snap back and be stronger.

You can buy Poz here:

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Christopher Koehler, Giveaways, Harmony Ink Press

Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway: Poz by Christopher Koehler


The Novel Approach is happy to be a stop on Christopher Koehler’s Poz Blog Tour. Enjoy this exclusive excerpt, then enter for a chance to win a $25 Gift Card by clicking on the Rafflecopter widget below.

Good luck!


PozFSTitle: Poz

Series: The Lives of Remy and Michael: Book One

Author: Christopher Koehler

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Publication Date: 8 Jan 2015

Cover Artist: Paul Richmond

Genre: Contemporary, Gay, Young Adult

Blurb: Remy Babcock and Mikey Castelreigh are stalwart members of the Capital City Rowing Club’s junior crew, pulling their hardest to earn scholarships to rowing powerhouses like California Pa-cific. Just a couple of all-American boys, they face the usual pressures of life in an academic hothouse and playing a varsity sport. Add to that the stifling confines of the closet, and sometimes life isn’t always easy, even in the golden bubble of their accepting community. Because Remy and Mikey have a secret: they’re both gay. While Mikey has never hidden it, Remy is a parka and a pair of mittens away from Narnia.

Mikey has always been open about wanting more than friendship, but Remy is as uncomfortable in his own skin as he is a demon on the water. After their signals cross, and a man mistakes Remy for a college student, Remy takes the plunge and hooks up with him. After a furious Mikey cuts Remy off, Remy falls to the pressure of teenage life, wanting to be more and needing it now. In his innocence and naiveté, Remy makes mistakes that have life-long consequences. When Remy falls in the midst of the most important regatta of his life, he can only hope Mikey will be there to catch him when he needs it most.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner/Harmony Ink | Amazon US | Amazon UK | All Romance eBooks


Excerpt: In this excerpt, Remy and the rest of the Capital City Junior Crew are in San Diego for the Crew Classic. The Crew Classic (, a real regatta, takes place every April on Mission Bay and is a lot fun…assuming the weather cooperates. I’ve seen it go both ways, and rumor has it one year the rain and chop were so bad the Coast Guard had to pull a racing shell out of the water because it had been swamped and was unrowable. The cox’n allegedly bowed to the referees’ stand before diving into the water…

(Edited for context)

I didn’t sleep during all of my down time. I watched races I wasn’t in, like those of colleges I wanted to attend. Coach Lodestone told me he had been in contact with coaches at those schools all year. My performance at the Youth Nationals later this summer would clinch any deals and possibly secure an early admission or two, but I knew there had been eyes on me during the heats. Since I had not known who, when, or where, I had managed not to freak out, but it had been added pressure. If any of those coaches had joined Lodestone to watch my races, they had disappeared by the time those races ended, saving me from mortification, but only temporarily. Lodestone took me around to meet all of them.

I also watched Mikey’s races. I had my eye on him, and not just because I was trying to figure out what we were to each other. I stood next to Lodestone while Mikey raced. I liked him as a person, but more important, I respected him as a coach. Then there was the undeniable hotness factor. Okay, I came into my height early, but Lodestone? He rowed at the University of Washington, and the Huskies grow them big up there or something. Lodestone was not only way over six feet tall, but my brother once told me Lodestone looked more like he was built for certain positions in football that took bulk and muscles than for crew, which needed lean strength. I mean, his shoulders were out to there. Also, he was hairy in all the right places, like beard shadow right after shaving hairy. It was awesome. He was also straight as a plank. The only thing that kept me from hating his girlfriend was that she was not only brilliant, but she was sweet as she was smart. I mean, she was deaf, and I’d started learning some basic sign language—she was that beautiful a person. Or I had that big a case of hero worship for my coach. It could’ve gone either way.

Lodestone watched the races and didn’t acknowledge my presence. I didn’t take it personally. This was his job, after all. “Do your prerace walk while you were waiting for the trailer?” he said eventually.

At least he knew I was there. I lived for these moments with my coach. It felt like he treated me as an equal, even if only for a little while. “Coach. Please.”

He laughed. “What was I thinking? Of course you did.”

“And dragged most of my boat along for the ride. Something new this year, though.”
“Oh?” He finally glanced down at me.

“Cisco dragged Mikey and some of the other junior varsity with us.”

Lodestone didn’t say anything for a moment. “Interesting. What do you think they got out of it?”

I glanced at my watch and then checked the schedule. I looked out at the water, squinting through the glare of the afternoon sun. There they were. There he was. “He’s varsity next year.”

“Oh, you think so, do you, Coach Babcock?” Lodestone said, laughing.

I flushed. “No, seriously. If you haven’t watched him on the ergs, you’re falling down on the job—”

“Strong words, oarsman.”

I stood my ground. “They’re true, sir. His numbers have dropped steadily this season. At the same time, his erg technique has improved. He’s a match for anyone on our squad.”

“Ergs don’t float.” Lodestone’s voice was quiet, almost too quiet, like he was getting angry or I’d just overstepped my bounds, but dammit, he was the one who’d encouraged me to watch and analyze other rowers. If he didn’t like the results, he had only himself to blame.

“No, they don’t, but boats do, and you’re watching his right now, same as me. Tell me you don’t see someone who’s better than most of his boat,” I said, “and he’s in the A boat.”

Lodestone stayed silent, watching the rest of the race through binoculars. I didn’t have any, so I could only follow Mikey until they passed beyond my ability to make out any useful detail.

“Perhaps I was too hasty in my dismissal,” Lodestone said, dropping his binoculars at last. “You’ve given this a lot of thought, and more importantly, you’ve been watching his form.” He eyed me appraisingly. “And here I thought you’d just been watching his body.”

I turned red, and not just red, scalded lobster red. Even as a kid, I had blushed hard. “Guess you heard?”

“You could say that.” Lodestone put his arm across my shoulder, laughing. He had a ready laugh, at least with me. “Remy, if you don’t want anyone to know, you shouldn’t cuddle on the team bus, to say nothing of the fact that one of the chaperones found you two asleep in each other’s arms this morning. If it’s any consolation, the entire girls’ team thinks it’s adorable. The boys’ team is a bit more divided. Varsity backs you, like it always has. Junior varsity? That’s another issue, but word on the street is there’s more than one rower who’s simply jealous.”

“Aww, jeez.” I had only thought I couldn’t be any more embarrassed. “Wait… of who, me or Mikey?”

Lodestone snickered. “Like I’d tell you. Just enjoy it, okay? That’s part of the fun of being young. Now, about your outspoken advocacy….”

“Hey, you taught me to watch other rowers and made me ride in launches to observe,” I said.

“Yes, but I never thought it’d come back to bite me in the ass this soon.”


Author BioAbout Christopher: Christopher Koehler learned to read late (or so his teachers thought) but never looked back. It was not, however, until he was nearly done with grad school in the history of science that he realized that he needed to spend his life writing and not on the publish-or-perish treadmill. At risk of being thought frivolous, he found that academic writing sucked all the fun out of putting pen to paper.

Christopher is also something of a hothouse flower. Inside of almost unreal conditions he thrives to set the results of his imagination free, and for most of his life he has been lucky enough to be surrounded by people who encouraged both that tendency and the writing. Chief among them is his long-suffering husband of twenty-two years and counting.

When it comes to writing, Christopher follows Anne Lamott’s advice: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” So while he writes fiction, at times he ruthlessly mines his past for character traits and situations. Reality is far stranger than fiction.

Christopher loves many genres of fiction and nonfiction, but he’s especially fond of romances, because it is in them that human emotions and relations, at least most of the ones fit to be dis-cussed publicly, are laid bare.

Writing is his passion and his life, but when Christopher is not doing that, he’s an at-home dad and oarsman with a slightly disturbing interest in manners and other ways people behave badly.

Visit him at or follow him on Twitter @christopherink.


The Giveaway:

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Tour Dates:

7 Jan – Prism Book Alliance

9 Jan – Cody Kennedy

10 Jan – The Novel Approach

14 Jan – JP Barnaby

15 Jan – Love Bytes

19 Jan – GGR Reviews

21 Jan – Hearts on Fire Reviews

22 Jan – MM Good Book Reviews

26 Jan – James Erich

28 Jan – Joyfully Jay

2 Feb – Rainbow Gold Reviews


3 Stars, Harmony Ink Press, Jay Jordan Hawke, Reviewed by Pia, Young Adult

Review: A Scout Is Brave by Jay Jordan Hawke

Title: A Scout Is Brave

Author: Jay Jordan Hawke

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 180 Pages

At a Glance: A difficult book to get through, but ends well

Blurb: Sequel to Pukawiss The Outcast: The Two-spirit Chronicles: Book Two

In the months following the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, fourteen-year-old Joshua, a half Native American boy, is new to a Boy Scout troop and spending a week camping in northern Wisconsin. The weaker kids in the troop soon realize Joshua is not afraid to stand up to the troop’s ruthless bullies. Joshua’s bravery and kindness is infectious, and the bullied Scouts quickly find their own inner strength.

Joshua, however, is plagued by self-doubt as he realizes he has feelings for Cody, the son of the troop’s harsh and puritanical Scoutmaster. The two discover they have more in common than Scouting as they share their deepest secrets and develop a close friendship. That friendship faces its greatest challenge as the homophobic bullies claim a “faggot” has “infected” their troop. As if struggling to come to terms with his sexuality while dealing with hatred and bigotry isn’t enough, Joshua discovers the camp holds another dark mystery, one that will make him summon all his courage and learn for the first time what it truly means to be brave.


Review: In Jay Jordan Hawke’s <A Scout Is Brave, we meet up with Joshua Ishkoday, a 14 yr old part-Native American teenager who Is forced by his mother, a strict Protestant, to join the Boy Scouts as a way to discourage him from embracing his Native American heritage. It quickly becomes clear that Joshua isn’t intimidated by the bullies at camp, and is more than willing to stand up for himself and the younger/weaker kids in his troop.

I’m finding this book hard to review, and it was almost a DNF for me, not because it’s a bad book because it’s not, and I’m glad I read it, but I was just so disappointed with the adults in the story. Most of the grownups in this book, especially the scout leader, were immature bigots and just plain mean. I kind of wanted to shake them a little bit. I wouldn’t want my kids within a hundred yards of any of them, and I think it’s sad that not one adult was there for the guys. Another thing that kept tripping me up was that a lot of the time I forgot that Josh and his friends were in the 11-14 year old age range because they come across so confident, and the way they spoke made them sound years older than they were.

One of the things I really liked about A Scout Is Brave was how well Jay Jordan Hawke wrote the bullies and their gang. They were very believable and so was the dynamic of their group. I love that Josh sticks up for the younger kids and stands up to the bullies, and even when the bullies push back, Josh still doesn’t back down or shy away.

So, like I said, this book was really hard to read, but in the end I’m happy I did.

You can buy A Scout Is Brave here:

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4 Stars, Harmony Ink Press, Reviewed by Sammy, Sam Kadence, Young Adult

Review: Unicorns and Rainbow Poop by Sam Kadence

Title: Unicorns and Rainbow Poop

Author: Sam Kadence

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 260 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Ex-boyband member Dane Karlson is struggling to overcome an eating disorder and a body dismorphic disorder. Continue reading

Giveaways, The Year In Reviews

Simply The Best 2014: Round Three – The Year In Reviews And A Giveaway


Greetings, everyone!

The Best of the Best continues today in our selections for top reads of 2014. Just in case you missed them, Sammy’s and Tina’s choices can be found HERE, Jackie’s, Lana’s and Jules’ choices can be found HERE, and just like those, we’re giving one lucky reader the chance to win e-copies of any TWO of the titles in today’s selections, winner’s choice. Continue reading

Dreamspinner Press, Harmony Ink Press, Lissa Kasey, Sam Kadence

Lissa Kasey & Sam Kadence – Two Sides of The Same Coin

Badge2x3Today, The Novel Approach welcomes Dreamspinner Press author Lissa Kasey, who also writes Young Adult fiction for Harmony Ink Press under the pen name Sam Kadence. By way of introducing Lissa’s work to you, I asked her if she’d share an excerpt from her paranormal/fantasy Dominion Series. She’s selected an excerpt from Book One, Inheritance, which is going to be renovated and republished in 2015.

I kind of fell madly for Seiran and Gabe when I first read the book back in 2011. Here’s a little taste of the reason why. Enjoy! Continue reading

3 Stars, Harmony Ink Press, Reviewed by Jules, Young Adult, Zoe Lynne

Review: Carnival – Decatur by Zoe Lynne

Title: Carnival – Decatur

Author: Zoe Lynne

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 202 Pages

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb: A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title

In a world of lights, music, fanfare and fun, there’s not a lot left to the mundane, and nothing can be truer for four special boys whose lives intertwine in a most unusual, unexpected way. They all have secrets and supernatural powers that set them apart from the average small town high-schooler. Continue reading

5 Stars, Harmony Ink Press, John Goode, Reviewed by Sammy, Young Adult

Review: Going the Distance by John Goode

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Title: Going the Distance

Author: John Goode

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 210 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Looking like the perfect all-American boy—tall, handsome, and athletic—makes it easy for Danny Monroe to blend in with the in-crowd of a new high school. It’s a trick he picked up moving with his father from one Marine base to the next. When you aren’t going to be around long, it’s better to give people what they want. And what they want are his quick hands and fast feet on the basketball court. Continue reading

Harmony Ink Press, John Goode

Interview and Giveaway: Going the Distance by John Goode


TNA: Hi, John, welcome back. It’s great to have you here with us today. Let’s start with a quick introduction, if you will, to tell readers a bit about yourself.

John: I was born a poor, blac…wait that isn’t me. Hold on. (Checks ID) Oh, I am the writer today. Got it. I am John Goode and I write annoying YA books for a living. Kind of. Well, not a living per se, but not a death either. I write stuff and hope people read it. Kinda. Well, most of the time I do, and then there are times I wish no one would read that cause wow, I really am not fond of what I wrote. Continue reading

5 Stars, Devon McCormack, Harmony Ink Press, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Lynn, Young Adult

Review: When Ryan Came Back by Devon McCormack

Title: When Ryan Came Back

Author: Devon McCormack

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 222 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Steven’s life changes forever the day he discovers his childhood friend and lifelong crush, Ryan Walters, standing in his bedroom. The problem? Ryan Walters committed suicide just days earlier.

Ryan tells Steven that he didn’t kill himself. He believes he was murdered and that his death is linked to an article he was working on for the school paper. Steven sets out to solve the mystery, but as the story unfolds, so does Ryan’s secret life of sex with guys and depression. Steven realizes suicide is more plausible than Ryan’s conspiracy theory, but he struggles to convince Ryan of the real cause of his death. And despite revelations of his friend’s closeted life, he must face the truth that Ryan doesn’t—and never will—love him. Continue reading

4 Stars, Anthology, Harmony Ink Press, Reviewed by Lana, Young Adult

Review: First Time for Everything – A Harmony Ink Press Anthology

Title: First Time for Everything

Author: Anthology

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 350 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: There’s nothing like the first time. Whether it’s a first crush, first date, first kiss, or finding tolerance and approval for the first time, for gay, lesbian, bi, and trans teens—or those still exploring and discovering their sexuality and identity—these important firsts can shape the rest of their lives. Gathering the courage to come out to their families, admit their feelings to a friend, or go to school presenting as the people they really are can be a struggle. But with the support of their allies and their own inner strength, the brave young people in these stories take the first steps toward happiness and living on their own terms. From sweet stories of newly discovered love, humorous accounts of awkward dinners and dances, to fights for acceptance and even survival, the teens in this anthology must face new challenges and rise to meet them. These are the first times they’ll never forget. Continue reading

4 Stars, Geoff Laughton, Harmony Ink Press, Reviewed by Sammy, Young Adult

Review: Under the Stars by Geoff Laughton

Title: Under the Stars

Author: Geoff Laughton

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 180 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Ethan Tanner is an out and proud, fastidious, and fashionable sixteen-year-old vegetarian who likes theater and musicals. This year, it’s his sister’s turn to pick the vacation destination, so he ends up on a dude ranch he knows he is going to hate. What with the dirt, animals, and germs, he can’t possibly be happy. Continue reading

Harmony Ink Press, Suki Fleet

Interview and Giveaway: Wild Summer by Suki Fleet



TNA: Hi, Suki, welcome back to The Novel Approach. I’m so pleased to have you back to discuss your new novel Wild Summer. Your young heroes meet and fall in love as teenagers, go their separate ways, only to find each other again years later. Do you believe in the idea that in real life two people can be destined for each other, or is that only the stuff of fairy tales and romance novels? Why do you believe one way or the other? Continue reading

4 Stars, Harmony Ink Press, Reviewed by Sammy, Will Parkinson, Young Adult

Review: Wet Paint by Will Parkinson

Title: Wet Paint

Author: Will Parkinson

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 214 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Transitions: Book Two

Although Addy’s heart and body bear the scars from his life before he was adopted by the Deans, he’s ached for something he thought he would never find. Until he met Benny. He isn’t sure how anyone can care for someone as broken as he is, even though he wants it desperately. Continue reading