Review and Giveaway: Infinity’s Gateway by James S. Parker

BNR Infinity's Gateway

 

About the book, Infinity’s Gateway

  • Published by: Morgan James Publishing
  • Series: The Infinity’s Gateway Trilogy
  • Pages: 361 Pages
  • Pub Date: January 26th, 2021
  • Categories: Science Fiction / Adventure / Action
  • Scroll for Giveaway!

Cover Infinity's GatewayEvery year, all across the planet, people simply vanish, completely disappear and are never seen again.  Some areas of the world are well known for this phenomenon.  Infinity’s Gateway opens with a very famous incident that took place just after the end of World War II with the United States Navy.  The story then jumps to the present day with an unexplainable event that occurs off the coast of Florida, an event that cannot be ignored by the military.

The Navy ship Eclipse and its crew are sent to investigate, but after several days come up empty.  Two days before returning to port, the event reoccurs, and the Eclipse is caught up in something it cannot escape.  The Eclipse and its crew suddenly find themselves completely isolated, all communication lost, surrounded by a terribly hostile environment where each day is a struggle to survive.  Infinity’s Gateway is an intense, action packed story of survival, self-reliance, and discovery.

Praise for this book:

Infinity’s Gateway is an engaging science fiction thriller with tones of Michael Crichton Tom Clancy.  To fans of the science fiction genre, it will feel like an old friend with a surprising, and exciting new makeover.”  —Joseph Mauceri, Executive Editor, Fearsmag.com.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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About the author, James S. Parker

Author Pic James ParkerEvery now and then author James S. Parker has a vision.  And, when he does, he sees people and places off in the misty distance.  Sometimes these visions are futuristic and filled with danger.  Most often they are mystical, with good and evil and a cast of characters who beautifully represent both.

In his high school years James experienced a spine-tingling brush with the supernatural.  That single event – complete with the sound of heavy footsteps and an invisible visitor – etched forever in his mind the idea that life is much more mysterious than we oftentimes admit — that the spiritual world is all around us, and that its impact on us cannot be denied.

Though he sees through a glass darkly, he writes as though he has been granted a glimpse into the unknown, one that has informed his novels and their powerful stories of good and evil and the struggles we all face every day to assure that good wins.

Infinity’s Gateway, the first book in a fascinating sci-fi adventure trilogy, is his latest work.  James lives in San Antonio, Texas with his wife Margaret. He is available for in-person and online book club visits.

Connect with James

 Facebook | Instagram | Amazon | Website

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My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellI’m a huge fan of the two authors whose work this novel, Infinity’s Gateway was compared to – Michael Crichton and Tom Clancy – and I love anything that takes place on ships, so I knew this novel would be right up my alley, and I was not wrong. James S. Parker’s latest novel has that perfect balance of technical detail and action-adventure that makes for a fun and gripping story. Plus it’s a new exploration of the Bermuda Triangle myths. It’s been far too long since we’ve had something new in that niche.

Beginning in post-WWII Florida and later jumping to a more contemporary setting, I found Parker’s story to be incredibly well crafted. His attention to the technical detail of both past and modern naval vessels was obvious as were the subtle differences in speech patterns and word choices for each time. I also felt that the pacing he used was appropriate for the story he was telling. There was enough specificity that you could easy visualize everything that was going on, but at no point did it feel like there was too much exposition. Similarly, while there were a LOT of characters introduced in the early chapters – from admirals to ensigns, and congressmen to chaplains – it was never confusing keeping track of who was who.

One thing I particularly loved about this novel were the interjections about the Bermuda Triangle itself, even mentioning that “Mr. Spock” had narrated a show about it in the 1970s. I like it when fiction acknowledges contemporary culture and pop culture (the comments about funding for Navy projects were also appreciated) instead of ignoring them, because it grounds the work in our world (references to the Many Worlds theory notwithstanding).

Overall, this is a well-written, compelling adventure story with touches of philosophy, mystery, and wonder, and I really enjoyed reading it.

Goes well with: Lobster rolls and cold beer.


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Spotlight: The Takeaway Men, by Meryl Ain

BNR The Takeaway Men

 

About the book, The Takeaway Men

  • Publisher: SparkPress
  • Pub Date: August 4th, 2020
  • Pages: 265 pages
  • Categories: Historical / Jewish Literature / Sibling Fiction / Holocaust

Cover Med Res Takeaway MenWith the cloud of the Holocaust still looming over them, twin sisters Bronka and Johanna Lubinski and their parents arrive in the US from a Displaced Persons Camp. In the years after World War II, they experience the difficulties of adjusting to American culture as well as the burgeoning fear of the Cold War.

Years later, the discovery of a former Nazi hiding in their community brings the Holocaust out of the shadows. As the girls get older, they start to wonder about their parents’ pasts, and they begin to demand answers. But it soon becomes clear that those memories will be more difficult and painful to uncover than they could have anticipated.

Poignant and haunting, The Takeaway Men explores the impact of immigration, identity, prejudice, secrets, and lies on parents and children in mid-twentieth-century America

Praise for this book:

“At a time when the darkness of the Holocaust is being whitewashed, Meryl Ain’s remarkable debut novel illuminates the postwar Jewish American landscape like a truth-seeking torch. An emotionally rich and lovingly told saga of survivors, with great sensitivity to what was lost, buried, and resurrected.” Thane Rosenbaum, author of The Golems of Gotham, Second Hand Smoke, and Elijah Visible.

“The author’s tale is sensitively composed, a thoughtful exploration into the perennially thorny issues of religious identity, assimilation, and the legacy of suffering.” Kirkus Reviews

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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About the author, Meryl Ain

Author Photo AinMeryl Ain’s articles and essays have appeared in Huffington Post, The New York Jewish Week, The New York Times, Newsday and other publications. In 2014, she co-authored the award-winning book, The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last, and in 2016, wrote a companion workbook, My Living Memories Project Journal.  She is a sought-after speaker and has been interviewed on television, radio, and podcasts. She is a career educator and is proud to be both a teacher and student of history. She has also worked as a school administrator.

The Takeaway Men is the result of her life-long quest to learn more about the Holocaust, a thirst that was first triggered by reading The Diary of Anne Frank in the sixth grade. While teaching high school history, she introduced her students to the study of the Holocaust. At the same time, she also developed an enduring fascination with teaching about and researching the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case. An interview with Robert Meeropol, the younger son of the Rosenbergs, is featured in her book, The Living Memories Project. The book also includes an interview with Holocaust survivor, Boris Chartan, the founder of the Holocaust Museum and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, New York.

Meryl holds a BA from Queens College, an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University, and an Ed.D. from Hofstra University. She is a lifetime member of Hadassah and an active supporter of UJA-Federation of New York.  She lives in New York with her husband, Stewart. They have three married sons and six grandchildren. This is her first novel.

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Review: Sweet Pastries and Sourdough at the Little Duck Pond Cafe, by Rosie Green

Sweet Pastries & Sourdough

 

About the book Sweet Pastries and Sourdough at the Little Duck Pond Cafe

SWEET PASTRIES and SOUR DOUGHLDPC_FRONT_RGB150dpiEllie’s brand new enterprise, the True Loaf Bakery, is finally open and classes are due to start. But when Katja’s ski-ing holiday ends in disaster, a new teacher must be found very quickly. Anita is up for the challenge, but – fresh from a break-up and an operation that’s left her feeling physically and emotionally vulnerable – the last thing she’s looking for when she moves to Sunnybrook is a new relationship. So it’s Sod’s law that she should find herself with not one but two guys vying for her attention. Sven, from Denmark, is a bit of an enigma – but maybe passion lurks beneath his cool reserve? And as for twenty-five-year-old football coach Ross – surely she’d be asking for trouble getting involved with a gorgeous man a decade her junior? (Although her football-mad son Rufus seems to love him.)
Moving in with Bertha proves a real comfort – but can Anita get to the bottom of what’s troubling the older woman?

Anita’s job at the True Loaf Bakery is only temporary, but she finds herself drawn ever deeper into life in the village – especially when she finds a child’s bracelet from long ago, in the rubble of the newly-renovated building. Solving the mystery of who it belongs to takes Anita on a journey of discovery – a journey that might just help her discover what her own heart really needs…

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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About the author, Rosie Green

Rosie Green Author PicRosie has been scribbling stories ever since she was little.

Back then, they were rip-roaring adventure tales with a young heroine in perilous danger of falling off a cliff or being tied up by ‘the baddies’.

Thankfully, Rosie has moved on somewhat, and now much prefers to write romantic comedies that melt your heart and make you smile, with really not much perilous danger involved at all – unless you count the heroine losing her heart in love.

Her series of novellas is centered around life in a village cafe.

Connect with Rosie:

Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellSweet Pastries and Sourdough at the Little Duck Pond Cafe is the fifteenth Little Duck Pond Cafe Book, but it’s the first I’ve read. Nevertheless, the characters and setting were all so vivid that I felt as though I’d been visiting the cafe for years.

Part romance, part mystery, this novel is the story of a single mother named Anita seeking to redefine herself after a divorce and being a stay-at-home-mom during her son’s early life. It’s such a relatable story – how many women go through such things? – that stepping into the world Rosie Green has created was as effortless as stepping across the street to visit with a neighbor. Anita is a fantastic lead character: smart, funny, and flawed, as well as supremely real. The first person point of view was the perfect choice for her story.

Sven, Bertha, and especially best friend Ellie, as well as the other characters who live and work in Sunnybrook, were all as dynamically drawn as Anita, and felt like just the sort of people you’d encounter in every day life, and I really appreciated the great affection Ellie and Anita showed for each other. Friendships between women are too often depicted as competitions, and this was, refreshingly not the case with these too.

Author Green’s style is fresh and breezy, accessible without being too shallow, and I liked that she used casual language so well in dialogue and for Anita’s narration. As well, she balances romance and mystery elements without going too far with either.

While I had no issue reading Sweet Pastries and Sourdough at the Little Duck Pond Cafe as a standalone novel, a part of me wishes I’d been reading Green’s work from the beginning so I could appreciate the way her talent has grown.

Goes well with: a cheese danish and a mug of coffee.


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Review & Giveaway: Dire’s Club by Kimberly Packard

BNR Dire's Club

 

About the book Dire’s Club

  • Publisher: Abalos Publishing
  • Publication Date: March 23, 2021
  • Pages: 326 Pages
  • Categories: Action & Adventure / Contemporary / Women’s Fiction
  • Scroll for Giveaway!

Cover Hi Res Dire's ClubDying isn’t just hard on the ones left behind, the regret of unfinished lives weighs heavily on the terminally ill. That’s where Dire’s Club steps in, a specialty travel agency that takes a small group of dying people on one final adventure-so they can be free of guilt, be more than a diagnosis, and find a way to confront life … and death.

Life Coach Charlotte Claybrooke built a successful second career guiding people out of grief, but the impending tenth anniversary of her own heart-wrenching tragedy sets her on a journey to find life among the dying.

Staring death in the face was Jimmy Dire’s business. He met it with a warm hug, a kind word, and a smile. Dire’s Club gave the terminally ill one final, bucket-list adventure before passing on, but dying was expensive. The bills, like Jimmy’s lies, were piling up. It’s only a matter of time before he’s forced to face a different type of death.

A rock god, a telenovela star, a grandmother living her life-long dream, and a young tech genius round out this group of strangers facing death together. But when tragedy strikes, their bond is shattered. Lies and fraud surface, forcing the dying to come together to save someone’s life.

Everybody dies. The lucky ones have fun doing it.

Buy, read and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


Book Trailer

Dire’s Club trailer from Kimberly Walton on Vimeo.


About the author, Kimberly Packard

Author Pic PackardKimberly Packard is an award-winning author of women’s fiction. She began visiting her spot on the shelves at libraries and bookstores at a young age, gazing between the Os and the Qs. Kimberly received a degree in journalism from the University of North Texas, and has worked in public relations and communications for nearly 20 years.

When she isn’t writing, she can be found rollerblading, doing a poor imitation of yoga or curled up with a book. She resides in North Texas with her husband Colby, a clever cat named Ollie and Tully, the precocious puppy.

Her debut novel, Phoenix, was awarded as Best General Fiction of 2013 by the Texas Association of Authors. Other published works by Kimberly include a Christmas novella, The Crazy Yates, and the sequels to Phoenix: Pardon Falls and Prospera Pass, and her stand-alone titles, Vortex and Dire’s Club. She was honored as one of the Top 10 Haute Young Authors by Southern Methodist University in 2019.

Connect with Kimberly:

Amazon | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter Goodreads Bookbub


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellGathering a group of diverse strangers to go on a journey together has been a literary conceit since Chaucer gave us The Canterbury Tales, and there’s a reason for that: it’s a setup that is extremely effective. Kimberly Packard latest novel Dire’s Club, uses a modern twist on that setup, but it does so in a way that is completely new, and results in a story that is fresh, compelling, and surprisingly thought provoking.

The idea of a a club for terminally ill adults to share in each other’s ultimate – and quite literal – “bucket list” item is a fascinating one, and perfect for our health-obsessed modern era. Like a cross between Fantasy Island and Make-a-Wish for adults, Jimmy Dire’s business  is to grant wishes to the terminally ill, and he fits that Mr. Roarke roll well: wealthy, connected, operating legally (mostly), he’s the perfect ringleader, arranging things, but never quite stealing the spotlight. Rather, the first “member” of this group that we meet is the central figure: Charlotte Claybrooke, life coach. Yes, the irony is real. Even more so: Dire has used Claybrooke’s work in his own business.

If Charlotte and Jimmy are the central figures, the other Diers (even the title of the group is a pun) are equally interesting: Levi, the aging rock star, Celeste, a grandmotherly type, Dylan who may or may not be over the proscribed minimum age of 21, and Lourdes, the Mexican telenovela star are all fully realized, though some of their stories are given a bit more depth than others. Truly though, any one of these people could easily be the protagonist in their own novel, and author Kimberly Packard has done her job well, because I want more, of this group, of this concept, of her words.

If all of this sounds a bit grim, especially as you go into this novel knowing that a significant amount of the cast will be dead at the end, fear not. Packard has included a lot of humor into her story. From gallows humor, to sarcasm, to simple organic life moments that make you chuckle, this book is an amazingly lighthearted read, despite the heavy subject.

And then there’s the language. I love it when I encounter language that hooks me, and Packard’s writing did that. The first line that struck me was from Lourdes: “I want to know what it feels like to be alone. To bask in the light of the weaker stars.”  That sentence struck me so hard that I actually texted it to a friend (who just bought the Kindle copy of the book, based on my gushing.)

There’s an old theatre adage, attributed in various forms to the late Edmund Gwenn:  “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.” In Dire’s Club Kimberly Packard handles both with grace and aplomb.

Goes well with: Grilled sea bass, sauteed spinach and mushrooms, mashed potatoes with Gouda, and a glass of pinot noir, which actually pairs really well with fish.


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Spotlight: Stiff Lizard, by Lisa Haneberg

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About the book, Stiff Lizard

  • Series: A Spy Shop Mystery
  • Publisher: Written Pursuits Press
  • Pages: 364 pages
  • Pub Date: March 13th, 2021
  • Categories: Women Sleuths / Cozy Mystery / Private Investigator / Humor

Stiff Lizard CoverRodent Roger, a popular Galveston Island exterminator, goes missing the day after he tells private investigator and spy shop owner Xena Cali about a concerning uptick in green iguana sightings on the island. They’re crapping in people’s boats and falling from trees. Are the lizards swimming over from Florida to escape the pythons, or is it something more nefarious? Can Xena help untangle the mess before the raucous reptiles take over Galveston?

Ultima Penelope Roger is a best-selling writer of romance novels. The Lizard Liquidators have set up shop on Galveston Island. Herpetologist Quintana Flores, PhD, works on a bizarre cruise ship that sails out of the Port of Galveston. Sasha Barlow is a driven junior reporter who’ll do anything to get the story. Ned “The Pelican Man” Quinn writes a column about bird necropsies. Captain Ethan Slaughter is the head of the Major Crimes team at the Galveston Police Department. Xena and her team will have to partner with and/or battle this cast of characters and others to solve what becomes a disturbing murder investigation.

Stiff Lizard is the third full-length book in the Spy Shop Mystery series. If you like fast-paced crime novels, clever satire, and gritty beach towns, then you’ll love Lisa Haneberg’s humorous and contemporary cozy caper.

Praise for This Book:

“Lisa Haneberg has a wicked sense of humor. She can also write a fast-moving, totally original mystery.” — Alan Rinzler

Lisa Haneberg’s newest entry in the Spy Shop Mystery Series lives up to its predecessors. A good number of laughs, lots of intrigue, a bit of titillation, lots of interesting information, and lots of mystery make for a good read.” – Verified purchaser from Amazon

Buy, Read, and Discuss This Book:

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About the author, Lisa Haneberg

Author Pic HanebergLisa Haneberg loves to explore Galveston Island’s gritty back streets, stellar seafood joints, magnificent natural areas, and all points in between. In addition to the Spy Shop Mysteries, she’s a blogger, and has authored over a dozen nonfiction books. She earned an MFA degree from Goddard College and a BS in Behavioral Sciences from the University of Maryland.

Before writing crime fiction, she was a seasoned human resources professional with a strange attraction to gnarly internal investigations. She lives with her husband and dog in Lexington, Kentucky. Lisa once owned a home on Galveston Island and is a frequent visitor.

Connect with Lisa:

FacebookBlog | Twitter | Instagram | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads Author Page

 

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Review & Giveaway: A Wall of Bright Dead Feathers by Babette Fraser Hale

BNR A Wall of Bright Dead Feathers

About the book, A Wall of Bright Dead Feathers

  • Publisher: Winedale Publishing
  • Pages: 216
  • Pub Date: March 1st, 2021
  • Categories: Short Stories / Literary Fiction
  • Scroll for Giveaway!

Cover A Wall of Bright Dead feathersEach of the flawed, fully human characters we meet in these twelve stories faces a moment of life-altering transformation. Most are newcomers to the scenic, rolling countryside of central Texas whose charms they romanticize, even as the troubles they hoped to leave behind persist.

A young pianist struggles to keep her emotionally fragile boyfriend alive; a displaced New Yorker’s ambivalence with guns results in two fractured families; an oil man gambles on his estranged daughter’s integrity. The complicated history of this German-Czech region, where the stories are set, anchors the experience of two young artists who make a costly decision in 1862.

In graceful and precise, often lyrical, prose, Fraser Hale immerses us in lives whose superficial privilege provides no real protection against the unexpected.

* * *

When women are alone, unencumbered and unbeholden to anyone, they engage in intense internal reflection and show reverence for nature—and during these scenes, Hale’s language is luminescent (Kirkus Reviews).

Praise for this book:

“Hale shows a great respect for her characters and for the difficulty of their deceptively ordered existence, as well as for the problems they suffer because so much cannot be spoken.” — Francine Prose, on “Silences”

“A vivid set of tales about connection to other people and to the natural world…Hale’s lovely prose shows a keen eye for detail…” – Kirkus Reviews

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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About the author, Babette Fraser Hale

Author Pic G. HaleBabette Fraser Hale’s fiction has won the Meyerson Award from Southwest Review, a creative artist award from the Cultural Arts Council of Houston, and been recognized among the “other distinguished stories” in Best American Short Stories, 2015. Her story “Drouth” is part of the New York Public Library’s digital collection. Her nonfiction has appeared in Texas Monthly, Houston City, and the Houston Chronicle. She writes a personal essay column for the Fayette County Record.

Connect with Babette

Website | Facebook | Blog


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellI love short stories. They really show off an author’s range and adaptability, and when they work, they sing in ways that novels don’t. This collection, A Wall of Bright Dead Feathers, sings in many ways.

Most obvious is the author’s use of language. Kirkus reviews calls it both “precise” and “lyrical” and those are words, I too, would use to describe Fraser Hale’s writing style. She doesn’t just give you text, she wraps her words around you like a cloak and lets you steep in them, experiencing different characters and scenarios.

In this collection, while there was no real connection between the different characters all of the stories included people who were new to Texas, and that choice let  Fraser Hale’s writing really shine, because she made Texas itself if not a character, certainly more than a setting, and just as the author’s dialogue was perfect for the various times depicted, so, too, was her vivid description, from the house in the very first story in this book, on through the rest of the tales.

What I appreciated about A Wall of Bright Dead Feathers is that while the stories varied in length, none felt over-long or too short. Some were deeper than others, some were lighter, most involved strong women facing problems, whether they solved them or not, and there is no wrong note in this symphony of stories. If I had to pick a favor, it would be the fourth story in the book – “Silences,” which juxtaposes a mother’s day-to-day life with a husband who isn’t that great, with her son who is adjusting to country life in less healthy ways than she’d like.  It opens with a description of  morning and “the hum and chortle of birds” and closes with an abrupt, horrific twist, and in between those two things is a perfect example of how seemingly mundane activities can be made fascinating by a writer with talent and skill.

Overall, this is a collection of short stories to savor, the kind that makes you want to fill a bathtub with bubbles, and bring a mug of tea or glass of wine into it with you, while you soak and read.

Goes well with: Black Forest ham, Havarti cheese, olives, and a glass of Topo Chico with lime.


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3/25/21 Review Rainy Days with Amanda
3/25/21 Author Interview Chapter Break Book Blog
3/26/21 Review Missus Gonzo
3/27/21 Excerpt All the Ups and Downs
3/28/21 Guest Post The Clueless Gent
3/29/21 Review StoreyBook Reviews
3/29/21 Author Interview Hall Ways Blog
3/30/21 Review Reading by Moonlight
3/31/21 Review Bibliotica
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Review: A Little Birdie Told Me, by Sharley Scott

A Little Birdie Told Me

 

About the book, A Little Birdie Told Me

A Little Birdie Told Me_ FINALIt’s 1988. The era of young love, with Scott and Charlene melting hearts in Neighbours, and a new princess for the Royal Family. With Bros, Madonna and Wet Wet Wet in the charts, and children hoping for Ghostbusters’ toys in their stockings.

But it’s not all fun for Belinda. If her life was a board game, she’s losing at snakes and ladders. Once she’d been working her way up one of those ladders but, thanks to her snake-like polytechnic lecturer, she’s toppled from the rungs. Now she works in an old people’s home, where her chief duties involve cleaning toilets and emptying commodes.

At least her lovely colleague, Joe, offers excitement in her otherwise dreary life. But Belinda can’t believe he’d be interested in someone like her. Not when her pretty friend, Tracey, only has to glance at a man to have him fall for her.

But just when it seems things are looking up for Belinda, the residents’ precious possessions start to go missing. Then she witnesses a disturbing incident and doesn’t know what to do. Luckily, Belinda has Joe to guide her – until she discovers that he’s hiding a secret, one that forces her to make an agonizing decision.

Will she continue to hide in the shadows, never speaking out – or will she put her future on the line to stand up for what is right? After all, she’s caring for a generation that’s lived through two wars. Now it’s time to fight for them.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Sharley Scott

Sharley Scott is the author of the Devon Seaside Guesthouse novels – Bedlam & Breakfast and B&Bers Behaving Madly – and the Maddie Meadows series.

Sharley is a guesthouse owner in South Devon. She is thankful to have been blessed with lots of amazing and kind-hearted guests, who are nothing like some of the fictional characters featured in the Devon Seaside Guesthouse series.

The Two Lives of Maddie Meadows – and its sequel The Gift of a Rose – portray the life of a working single mum. Some of the mischief Maddie’s little one, Josh, gets up to will be familiar to all parents. In real life, Sharley has carried out the threats she made to her son decades ago and now gets her own back him by telling tales to his girlfriend (some of the incidents in the books are inspired by him), although he returns the favour by recounting utterly embarrassing stories about his mum.

Sharley’s latest novel ‘A Little Birdie Told Me…’ is being published in February 2021. This book goes back in time to the late eighties: a time of fun music, interesting fashion, strange hairstyles and no internet or mobile phones. Fancy having to talk to each other! (Says the author who frequents Facebook too often).

Connect with Sharley

Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellI’ve read and reviewed Sharley Scott’s work before, and her books are always absorbing and well-written.

A Little Birdie Told Me is no exception. Protagonist Belinda, like her story, is at times frustrating, funny, and feisty. She is a completely realistic character, and while her best friend Tracey almost slips into the realm of stereotypes, she is also the perfect foil for her friend.

What I really loved about Belinda, and what drew me into this novel, was her flaws. She’s not quick to stand up for herself, she lacks self-confidence, and she tends to mumble. Put together, these things don’t scream “leading lady,” and yet, under Scott’s deft hand what could be a tragic character becomes a romantic heroine.

While Belinda is the focus of the story, I enjoyed meeting Joe, wanted to throttle Belinda’s coworkers, and loved meeting all of the different residents of this retirement home, and seeing them interact with our young lead.

Like the last Scott novel I read, this book is not a predictable, cookie-cutter romance, but a deep, personal story with an element of romance running through it. The dialogue is convincing, and the plot is well-paced, with just enough exposition to keep things clear without ruining the experience for readers who prefer to learn things from the characters’ activities.

A Little Birdie Told Me is a fast, compelling read, perfect for a rainy weekend.

Goes well with: egg salad sandwiches and fresh lemonade enjoyed while lounging on a blanket in the park.

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Spotlight: Aggravated, by Michael Sirois – with Giveaway

BNR Aggravated

 

About the book, Aggravated

  • Publisher: Truth Boots Publishing, LLC
  • Pages: 389 Pages
  • Pub Date: December 11th, 2020
  • Categories: True Crime / Criminal Procedural Law
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Cover AggravatedDescription: In 2006, the author’s brother, Steve Sirois, was sentenced to serve 35 years in a Texas prison for a horrendous crime, aggravated sexual assault of a child — a crime Steve swore he didn’t commit. After the conviction, Michael started helping Steve write his appeals, but what he saw in the trial transcripts made him question how a jury could have convicted his brother based on that testimony.

Steve’s accuser originally gave vague dates for the crime but soon abandoned those dates and even replaced the details of her claims with new ones. There was no forensic evidence, no DNA, no physical evidence of any kind: nothing but his accuser’s words. The author wondered if he could prove that her accusations were false. But how?

Using affidavits, court transcripts, and interviews, along with additional evidence from public information requests and other factual data, the book lays out a devastating portrait of an untruthful accuser, an overzealous prosecutor, a jury that made a deal to swap votes in order to gain a conviction, and the series of lies that led to that outcome.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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About the author, Michael Sirois

Author Pic SiroisMichael Sirois was reading by the age of four and was writing quirky short stories by the third grade. In high school he added acting to his bag of tricks. After graduating from the University of Houston, he taught writing, drama, and technology in the middle school trenches for two decades, but continued to act and write, placing well in competitions like the Writer’s Digest Short Story contest and the HBO Project Greenlight series. His first novel, The Jagged Man, was published in 2015, and a two-book series, If a Butterfly, is slated to be published in late-Spring 2021.

After running educational outreach programs at Rice University for seven years, he retired and lives with his wife, Minay, in Spring, Texas, where he is hard at work on a thriller, The Hawthorn’s Sting, and a mystery/thriller, Murder Between Friends, hoping to have a first draft of at least one of them by late-2021. Ideas for a few more are also floating around in that scary place called his brain. Stay tuned.

Connect with Michael:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page


Giveaway

FIVE WINNERS receive autographed copies.

 (US only. Ends midnight, CDT, 3/29/2021)

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Review: All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone, by John J. Jacobson – Giveaway

BNR All the Cowboys Ain't Gone

 

About the book, All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone

  • Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
  • Pages: 352
  • Date of Publication: February 23, 2021Cover All the Cowboys Ain't Gone 1 0223
  • Categories: Historical Fiction / Action Adventure / Western
  • Scroll for the Giveaway!!

All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone is the rollicking adventure story of Lincoln Smith, a young Texan living at the beginning of the twentieth century, who thinks of himself as the last true cowboy. He longs for the days of the Old West, when men like his father, a famous Texas Ranger, lived by the chivalric code. Lincoln finds himself hopelessly out of time and place in the fast-changing United States of the new century. When he gets his heart broken by a sweetheart who doesn’t appreciate his anachronistic tendencies, he does what any sensible young romantic would do: he joins the French Foreign Legion. On his way to an ancient and exotic country at the edge of the Sahara, Lincoln encounters a number of curious characters and strange adventures, from a desert hermit who can slow up time to a battle with a crocodile cult that worships the god of death. He meets them all with his own charming brand of courage and resourcefulness.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Bookshop.org | Goodreads


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About the author, John J. Jacobson

John J. JacobsonThough John J. Jacobson didn’t join the French Foreign Legion after being jilted by a girlfriend, or over his displeasure of missing the last great cattle drive, he has, borrowing Churchill’s phrase, lived a rather variegated life. He was born in Nevada, grew up in the West, surfed big waves in Hawaii, circled the world thrice, survived the sixties and seventies, corporate America, and grad school. Among other degrees he has an MA in Renaissance literature from Claremont Graduate University.

Connect with John:

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads / BookBub


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellI don’t read a lot of westerns but the description of All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone really hooked me, so I asked to review it, and wow! What a fantastic adventure this book is!

Protagonist Lincoln Smith is introduced to us as a young man with a vivid imagination, and a dislike of trains. In fact the first time we meet him, he’s “attacking” one with his pint-sized bow and arrows. Very quickly, we see that while be may balk (as many children and teens do) at being in formal school sessions – run by his mother – he’s inquisitive, intelligent, and interested in the world around him, albeit a version of the world that is already disappearing when the novel opens in 1888.

What follows are a series of adventures that pit Lincoln against the ever changing American – and world – culture and technology, as well as his own dreams and desires. From the open spaces of his native Texas to the exotic locales seen after he really does join the Foreign Legion, Lincoln’s real antagonist is himself, and that story is fascinating.

What I loved about this novel was the language. I could hear the accents in Lincoln’s speech and his mother’s corrections of his phrasing. “Dern” may not technically be cussing, as he points out in an early scene, but his mother doesn’t want him using it anyway. Those organic conversations are universal – what parent hasn’t had such a chat with their child? – and for me they really “sold” this story, grounding it in emotional truth.

Author Jacobson has a knack for vivid description, as well, and I never had a problem visualizing  any setting.

At times funny, poignant, hopeful, and somewhat resigned, All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone makes you wistful for a period in American history long since past, but one that still lingers in the shadows of our imaginations, where we can still slap on a Stetson hat, climb onto an (imaginary for most of us) horse, and keep the modern world from encroaching too far, too quickly.

Goes well with: a bottle of sarsaparilla and leftover brisket in a sandwich.


Giveaway

FIVE WINNERS each receive a print copy of

All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone.

(US Only. Ends midnight, CDT, March 19, 2021.)

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Check out the Other Great Blogs on This Tour

Or visit the Lone Star Literary Life tour page for All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone

3/9/21 Review Book Bustle
3/9/21 Review StoreyBook Reviews
3/9/21 BONUS Promo LSBBT Blog
3/10/21 Review The Clueless Gent
3/10/21 BONUS Promo Hall Ways Blog
3/11/21 Review Reading by Moonlight
3/11/21 Review Julia Picks 1
3/12/21 Review Bibliotica
3/12/21 Review Book Fidelity
3/13/21 Review The Plain-Spoken Pen
3/14/21 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
3/15/21 Review It’s Not All Gravy
3/15/21 BONUS Promo All the Ups and Downs
3/16/21 Audio Review KayBee’s Book Shelf
3/16/21 Review Forgotten Winds
3/17/21 Review Jennifer Silverwood
3/18/21 Review Missus Gonzo
3/18/21 Review Tangled in Text

 

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Spotlight on: Knock Knock by Douglas Thompson – with Giveaway

Knock Knock

 

About the book, Knock! Knock! Lessons Learned and Stories Shared

  • Categories: Nonfiction / Motivational Stories / Positivity/ Relationship Building / Integrity / Time Management / Entrepreneurship
    Publisher: Lucid House Publishing
    Date of Publication: January 8, 2021
  • Pages: 154
  • Scroll for Giveaway!

Cover Knock KnockKnock! Knock! is a fast-paced, fun-filled journey through the author’s career in sales that not only teaches you how to be better at selling but to also have a ton of fun while you are doing it.

Knock! Knock! invites you to join Doug on what salespeople call “a ride along,” which is where a senior salesperson shows a newbie the ropes. This book delivers a winning sales philosophy learned through years of experience and is illustrated by real-life stories that Doug shares — along with multiple Knock-Knock Moments (or lessons and revelations learned) that have fueled his career and that he believes will help yours.

Every one of us is in Sales. If you deal with people, you are in sales. Knock! Knock! teaches you how to get out of your Comfort Zone to believe in yourself and to believe in the product, services, or message you are trying to sell. But it also teaches you to have a great time while you are doing it.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Main Street Reads | GoodReads


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About the author, Douglas Thompson

Douglas ThompsonDouglas Thompson’s passion for improving the customer’s experience as well as the sales profession continues to drive him as he comes up with new ideas to answer this question: How can we make the sales process better? Starting out as an insurance agent going down the street selling accident insurance by knocking on doors, Doug quickly moved into the management side of the life and health insurance industry, hiring and training agents to be successful doing the same. His ability to build successful sales teams caught the eye of the corporate leadership of several major companies. Doug became the vice president of sales and marketing for Conseco and was recruited to do the same for Pacificare, UnitedHealthcare, American Republic, Tranzact, and Humana.

Currently, he is the marketing director for a large national insurance wholesaler that recruits and trains insurance agents and agencies in the senior marketplace across the country, and he continues to build his own general agency, which offers life and health products to the senior population. He is known nationally for his innovations in the sales industry and frequently speaks and trains on his favorite topic of sales.

Doug and his wife Shirley own a Bed & Breakfast in Jefferson Texas.

Connect with Douglas:

Facebook | Website | Goodreads


Giveaway

ONE WINNER receives an autographed copy

+ Knock! Knock! coffee cup.

US only. Ends midnight, CST, 3/11/2021.

 

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