Review & Giveaway: The Desk from Hoboken, by ML Condike

BNR Desk from Hoboken

About the book, The Desk from Hoboken Cover The Desk from Hoboken

  • A Genealogy Mystery #1
  • Genre: Mystery / Women Sleuths / Forensic Genealogy
  • Publisher: Harbor Lane Books, LLC
  • Date of Publication: March 5, 2024
  • Number of Pages: 446 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

After a personal loss, forensic genealogist RaeJean Hunter accepts what she believes is a straightforward case to ease back into the game: a student at Connecticut College has found human remains on the school campus. The College hires RaeJean to confirm their tentative identification that it’s a woman named Mary Rogers, whose cause of death has never been determined.

 

Unfortunately, it becomes downright dangerous. Someone thwarts her investigation of the same case that inspired Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt.” Still, she meets relatives, some helpful and others not, amid escalating threats. Using her skills, including DNA analysis, historical records research, genealogy mapping, and guidance from a mystical antique desk, she follows every clue.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Purchase Link | Goodreads


About the author, ML Condike Author Photo Condike

ML Condike’s novel, The Desk from Hoboken, is the first in a genealogy mystery three-book series.

She also has short stories published in five anthologies. ML Condike completed Southern Methodist University’s Writer’s Path in Dallas in 2019 and is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime North Dallas, Granbury Writers’ Bloc, and Key West Writers Guild.

Connect with ML:

Website | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn/a> | Amazon | GoodReads | X (Twitter)


My Thoughts MelissaBartell - photo

The Desk from Hoboken is fiction, but it has a similar feel to the James Burke show Connections, the one where he connects dots through history from conch shells to the creation of the Internet. The mystery in this first entry into ML Condike’s new series also connects dots – from exhumed remains to a Poe short story to backroom abortions in the early 20th century, and, yes, to an antique desk, using forensic genealogy as its main method.

 

RaeJean Hunter, said genealogist, and her husband Sam, an antiquities appraiser, are the sleuthing team at the heart of the story, and they’re a delightful couple. RaeJean is just getting back to work after a miscarriage that triggered severe depression, and she takes the case of identifying said remains thinking it will be easy – strawberries, as she puts it.

 

What unfolds is a compelling tale of intrigue – family secrets, cover-ups, a mysterious client, and a race to piece together all the clues before an obsessed relative of the deceased has them seized or destroyed. To keep things topical there’s also a subplot about human trafficking.

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I am not exaggerating when I say I devoured this novel. I loved RaeJean’s sensibility and no-nonsense attitude. I shared her love of simple food – a well-cooked burger and a cold beer. I really appreciated the little details author Condike included in the story – RaeJean’s original desk is a hollow-core door – I know sooooo many writers and academics who used the same sorts of things for years. (My own desk is a vintage library table – not much fancier.) I also enjoyed following the process of investigation and the need to find three primary sources.

 

The supporting cast – especially RaeJean’s sister Caitlin, her colleague Claire, and her friend Grace who works for the FBI – are all well drawn, and I’m hoping at least two of them show up in future books in this series. Worth mentioning is Sophie the corgi, who lit up the pages she was on.

 

The character of Lillian Baker, who looks a lot like Betty White, but has a conniving soul, made a brilliant foil and turned the “nice old lady” stereotype on its head.

 

Overall, I felt that the story was well-paced and the blend of the mystery with RaeJean’s emotional state was in balance. Her personal story added to the total experience of the novel, and lent color to the mystery, without ever overpowering it.

If you love a good mystery with undercurrents of real history and strong female characters, The Desk from Hoboken is the book for you.

 

Goes well with Chinese spareribs and won ton soup.


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03/19/24 Rainy Days with Amanda Review
03/19/24 Hall Ways Blog BONUS Stop
03/20/24 It’s Not All Gravy Review
03/20/24 LSBBT Blog BONUS Stop
03/21/24 StoreyBook Reviews Review
03/21/24 Boys’ Mom Reads Review
03/22/24 JennCaffeinated Review
03/22/24 Chapter Break Book Blog BONUS Stop
03/23/24 The Real World According to Sam Review
03/24/24 The Page Unbound Review
03/25/24 Rox Burkey Blog Review
03/26/24 Book Fidelity Review
03/26/24 The Book’s Delight Review
03/27/24 The Clueless Gent Review
03/27/24 The Plain-Spoken Pen Review
03/28/24 Jennie Reads Review
03/28/24 Bibliotica Review

 

 

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Review: Kookaburras, Cuppas, and Kangaroos

Kookaburras Cuppas & Kangaroos

 

About the Book, Kookaburras, Cuppas, & Kangaroos: Adventures of a Yorkshire Lass Down Under in the ’60s Cover Kookaburras

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Independently published (December 12, 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 260 pages

 

Fueled by her spirit for adventure and with her £10.00 ticket in hand, Elizabeth Isle leaves 1960s England, determined to see it all, not just Australia and New Zealand, but as much as she can on the way, too. She surrenders her passport to the Australian government and must find work to support herself on the other side of the world from her family and friends.

There can be no going back for two years. Join this intrepid young woman on the adventure of her lifetime. Share her amazing experiences, discover what exotic animals await, get travel tips and meet her new friends through her letters home and over plenty of cups of tea.

Beware – the travel bug might prove infectious!

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Purchase Link | Goodreads


About the Author, S. Bavey Sue

Sue Bavey (writing as S. Bavey) a British mother of two teenagers, now living in Franklin, Massachusetts, having moved to the US in 2003. Writing as S. Bavey, she won a gold award from Readers’ Favorite for her grandfather’s biography: Lucky Jack (1894 – 2000), which she wrote during COVID lockdown. She also has a number of non-fiction stories published in various anthologies.

Kookaburras, Cuppas & Kangaroos is the story of her late mother’s emigration from Yorkshire to Australia in 1960 for three years, told via airmail letters and travel diary entries.

A free prequel to Kookaburras, Cuppas & Kangaroos”, called “A Yorkshire Lass: The Early Years” is available for free download from www.suebavey.com.

Connect with Sue:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | X (Twitter)


My Thoughts MelissaBartell - photo

This memoir-once-removed tells the story of the author’s mother, Elizabeth Isle who participated in the Assisted Passenger Program which encouraged emigration to Australia in the 1960s.

Told mainly in epistolary format, the writing of which were sustained by endless cups of tea,  it’s a delightful tale of a wide-eyed young woman on her first travel adventures, from innocence to awareness personally and culturally.

I enjoyed reading about the universal experiences that Elizabeth had – driving her (affectionate) uncle’s car, searching for a job that would be fulfilling but also allow time and money for explorations, and making new friends.

I also appreciated the glimpses of what life was like in the Australia of the 1960s. As someone from a similarly “young” country, the parallels and differences between the United States and Australia have always fascinated me, and seeing the latter through Elizabeth’s eyes was particularly rewarding.

Author Sue Bavey (writing as S. Bavey) has done an admirable job capturing both the excitement and the challenges of moving half a world away from home. I liked that she kept the language period appropriate. It’s slightly more sophisticated than the way young women speak and write today, and the difference really added to the feeling of immersion in Elizabeth’s adventures.

If you, like me, love memoirs in general, and travel memoirs specifically, you will love this book.

Goes well with hot tea and ribbon sandwiches.

 

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Review: Perestroika by João Cerqueira

About the Book, Perestroika Perestroika

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Arkbound (November 26, 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 448 pages

Eye for an eye; tooth for a tooth

Perestroika is a historical fiction novel that provides thrilling insights into the late Communist era. The book opens in 1978 and introduces citizens of Slavia like artist Ludwig Kirchner, struggling to survive in concentration camps, whilst the terrifying elites of the regime live in luxury and moral depravity. It all changes in 1989, with Perestroika. In the revolutionary turmoil, former crime boss Ivan Fiorov leads the newly formed ‘Freedom Party’, heralding a wave of insecurity that resembles the previous dictatorship.

Revenge, redemption and catharsis collide head on with recent European history. With Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, alongside a resurgence of populist leaders and neo-Nazi movements across the world, Perestroika is as much a lens into the present as an exciting epitome for the past.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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About the Author, João Cerqueira Joao-Cerqueira

João Cerqueira was born and lives in Viana do Castelo, Portugal. He holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Porto, he is a professor at ESE and a columnist for the newspaper Sun.

He is the author of nine books and is published in eight countries. His novels use satire and humor to address human nature and contemporary problems. He tries to continue the literary tradition that goes from “Cantigas de Escárnio and Maldizer” to Eça de Queiroz and Camilo, without forgetting Gil Vicente, Camões and Bocage.

Connect with João:

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My Thoughts MelissaBartell - photo

I’m late in reviewing Perestroika because it’s a novel that requires careful attention. It’s historical fiction, based in the invented nation of Slavia which is a stand-in for several (too many) former Soviet Bloc countries. It’s a portrait of a small country caught up in the changes that happened in Europe during the Gorbachev era, and the echoes of what is still changing.

The use of a fictional country allows author Cerqueira to blend real history with created history. Events feel plausible because they’re inspired by truth, though the names have been changed and serial numbers filed off.

Subtitled “Eye for an eye; tooth for a tooth” the core of the story is about dynamic characters who are each facing their own challenges. Those which I was particularly interested in are former President Ionescu, a man who longer has the power or control he once did; Helena, who is responsible for education and is the ray of goodness and hope in an otherwise bleak landscape, and Olin, a dedicated father trying to give his disabled son a decent life.

Author Cerqueira has given us a story set in somewhat heightened-reality versions of the two time periods where it takes place: 1978, where we first learn of Slavia and the communist regime in power, and 1989, when Glasnost has become common. What makes it really compelling is the vivid, almost cinematic, description the author has provided. You don’t just read this novel, you experience it.

If you’re a fan of hardcore, sometimes brutal, historical fiction, or are interested in the politics of equality and human rights, this book is perfect for you. It’s the perfect combination of tragedy and hope, politics and art, truth and imagination.

Goes well with: potato-leek soup and hard cider.

Review & Giveaway: Amethyst, The Shallows, by Kellye Abernathy

BNR Amethyst, The Shallows PUBH

 

About the book, Amethyst, The Shallows

  • Genre: YA / Magical Realism / Coming of Age
  • Publisher: Atmosphere Press
  • Page Count: 296 pages
  • Publication Date: February 6, 2024
  • Scroll down for a giveaway!

“This is a night for being brave.”

In the aftermath of a devastating sickness that shatters their close-knit beach town, six lonely kids are drawn together during the unpredictable autumn equinox. Among them are fourteen-year-old Lorelei, who yearns to be an oceanographer, and her peculiar younger brother, Tad, who possesses an otherworldly curiosity.

When Lorelei has a strange and almost deadly encounter in a sea cave, her loyal boyfriend, Casey, cannot reconcile her fantastical experience with the rational world. Condi, Lorelei’s best friend, understands ocean magic but isn’t free to share what she knows. Kait, a girl from Ireland, regrets her impulsive move to America–all because of an odd occurrence involving her deceased boyfriend’s lost surfboard. When tides turn and the moon shifts, Isaac, the new kid in town who despises the ocean, is forced to face the truth–a profound and powerful magic lives in the deep.

Guided by a wise surf master, mystical old women known as the Beachlings, and an open-hearted grandmother, six kids embark on transformative adventures that challenge their beliefs about possibilities and the intense nature of love.

Amethyst, the Shallows is the companion novel to The Aquamarine Surfboard.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop.org | Goodreads


About the author, Kellye Abernathy author photo Abernathy

Kellye Abernathy’s passions are writing and serving trauma survivors as a yoga teacher and practical life skills advocate. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary English Education from the University of Kansas. Her home is in land-locked Plano, Texas—where she’s dreaming of her next trip to the sea!

Connect with Kellye:

Website | InstagramX (Twitter) | FacebookGoodreads | Amazon

 

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My Thoughts MelissaBartell - photo

This second book in the Yellow Cottage series opens with the coastal community of Dipitous Beach  still reeling in the aftermath of the Sickness, which felt very much like an analog for Covid, though it’s presented as something with mysterious origins.

 

Returning and new characters reflect what was like for young people during a statewide lockdown, maintaining friendships through digital communications, and suffering through the closure of beaches. It’s appropriate then, that the story begins on the day the beaches reopen.

 

This story continues from The Aquamarine Surfboard,  but the focus shifts somewhat. Condi, from the first book, is still present, but this story focuses on Lorelai, and also brings in her younger brother Tad, who is neurodivergent. His presence is just part of the way author Kellye Abernathy has addressed mental health issues, including anxiety and depression in this story – weaving them into the narrative as the very normal parts of life that they are, and doing so with grace and understanding.

 

Of course, surfing and the sea are still prominent in the story, and we not only get to spend more time with the Beachlings, a group of elderly women who live near (or on) the beach (I want to be one of them when I’m older), and an octopus who embodies wisdom.

 

As with the previous installment of this series, Abernathy blends fantasy, science fiction, and magical realism into a cohesive whole, leaving you with the scent of salt air and the feeling of having spent time in the water.

 

While this book is best appreciated if you’ve read the previous one, it also stands alone quite well. Overall, it’s an enchanting tale of friendship and community with other humans and the sea.

 

Goes well with: mahi tacos and pineapple-mango salsa.


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Review and Giveaway: Reap the Wind, by Joel Burcat

BNR Reap the Wind

 

About the book, Reap the Wind

  • Genre: Action-Adventure / Suspense / Climate Change / EcoThriller
  • Publisher: Milford House Press, an imprint of Sunbury Books, Inc.
  • Date of Publication: February 6, 2024
  • Number of Pages: 215 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway

Cover Reap the WindTHE PERFECT STORM meets THE FIRM.

 

Reap the Wind is a thrilling action/adventure novel that follows three lawyers as they embark on a treacherous journey from Houston to Cincinnati during a catastrophic hurricane. Josh Goldberg is on a mission to be with his girlfriend for the birth of their child. Along the way, they’ll face terrifying obstacles like tornadoes, hailstorms, and driving rain. But the real danger may come from within as they struggle to survive each other’s company. His two travel companions—his best friend, a drug-addicted lawyer, and his conniving boss who has her own agenda.

 

Don’t miss out on this unforgettable odyssey that might just be a suicide trip.

Praise for this book:

Reap the Wind is a bold, bracing and blisteringly original take on the legal thriller form. Joel Burcat has fashioned a seminal tale focusing on the nightmare of all road trips in which a storm raging outside the car is matched only by the storm raging within. Burcat dares to tread on the hallowed ground of John Grisham and Scott Turow and ends up blazing a fresh, daring literary tale of his own. Not to be missed!” —Jon Land, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

AmazonSunbury Books | >Midtown Scholar Bookstore (signed copies) | Goodreads


About the author, Joel Burcat Author Photo Burcat

Joel Burcat is an award-winning author of three environmental legal thrillers: Drink to Every Beast (illegal dumping of toxic waste), Amid Rage (a coal mine permit battle), and Strange Fire (a fracking dispute). His most recent book, Reap the Wind, is about three lawyers trying to drive from Houston to Cincinnati in a climate change-induced hurricane.

 

He has received a number of awards, including the Gold Medal for environmental fiction from Readers’ Favorite for Strange Fire, and as a Finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards for Amid Rage.  He has written numerous short stories. Burcat imbues his novels with facts to educate his readers about critical environmental issues while they are being entertained by the story.

 

Burcat’s books are infused with realism developed over a forty plus year career as an environmental lawyer.

Connect with Joel:

Website | Instagram | Facebook | Newsletter | X (Twitter) | BookBub | Amazon | Goodreads | LinkedIn

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My Thoughts MelissaBartell - photo

Joel Burcat’s new novel Reap the Wind is described as “The Perfect Storm meets The Firm,” and that’s accurate to a point, but I feel like it’s more a mixture of those two stories with a soupçon of No Exit. At only 215 pages, it’s a fast read, but a meaty one with thrills, spills, and chills of various intensities.

 

Told from the perspective of two main characters, Josh and Keisha, and engaged couple who are about to have a baby, this story quickly splits into parallel plots when Josh is delayed in Houston after a business trip, and Keisha has a medical emergency on her flight to Philadelphia.

 

Keisha’s story then becomes a medical tale – she’s injured, about to have a baby, and stuck in a hospital in Cincinnati (she had a layover there) where she has to confront her past and make choices about her future. Meanwhile, Josh conscripts his friend Greg to join him on a mad dash from Houston to Cincinnati so he can be there for Keisha. When their colleague Diane insinuates herself into their trip, which they make in a second-hand limousine – it becomes the worst road trio ever. And did I mention that there’s a major hurricane disrupting weather in the entire eastern third of the United States?

 

Josh and Keisha are both written as sympathetic, if flawed, characters, and I found myself rooting for a romantic comedy ending, even though this novel is more of a thriller with a lot of emotional undertones.

 

Greg, Diane, and Abdul (the limo driver) are all interesting, though clearly created to serve the narrative. I wasn’t terribly invested in either of their stories and felt like their purpose was more to be obstacles in Josh’s path than fully realized human beings. Despite this, the novel is richer for their presence. Without them, you’d just have a lonely guy driving through a storm.

 

The storm, Hurricane Epsilon, is a character in its own right, and author Burcat did a fantastic job of making it the villain and the catalyst without ever actually personifying it.  Yes, it felt at times like the weather was taunting all of these characters, but it was just the well-crafted perception the author created. Climate change and the government and corporate responses to it is also part of the connective tissue of this novel. Perhaps, then, Climate Change is the villain, and the hurricane is its henchman.

 

Overall, I felt this was an interesting novel. It starts off slow but ends up careening through plot points like a car fishtailing on a storm-drenched highway. It kept my attention, and I would definitely read more of Burcat’s work.

 

I was slightly disappointed that the scenes with the Weather Service hurricane hunter that bookended the novel were there only to demonstrate the capriciousness of weather and the danger of not heeding warnings – I would love to read an entire book about that crew.

 

Goes well with: Hot roast beef sandwiches and steak fries.


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Signed copy of REAP THE WIND

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03/05/24 Hall Ways Blog First Line
03/05/24 Librariel Book Adventures Review
03/06/24 Jan Sikes Blog Review
03/06/24 LSBBT Blog BONUS Stop
03/07/24 StoreyBook Reviews Review
03/08/24 Guatemala Paula Loves to Read Guest Post
03/08/24 It’s Not All Gravy Review
03/09/24 Bibliotica Review
03/10/24 Forgotten Winds Excerpt
03/11/24 Boys’ Mom Reads Review
03/11/24 The Page Unbound Excerpt
03/12/24 Chapter Break Book Blog Notable Quotables
03/13/24 The Real World According to Sam Review
03/13/24 Rebecca R. Cahill, Author Author Interview
03/14/24 The Clueless Gent Review
03/14/24 The Plain-Spoken Pen Review

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Review: A French Adventure by Jennifer Bohnert

A French Adventure

 

About the book, A French Adventure A French Adventure cover

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Boldwood Books (February 20, 2024)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 272 pages

When your old life ceases to exist, its time to build a new one…

It’s early summer on the French Riviera when Vivienne Wilson arrives for a one-woman writers’ retreat after learning that her philandering husband or 30 years, wants a divorce. There to collect the shell-shocked Vivienne is recently widowed Maxine Zonszain, who is struggling to come to terms with her empty life. To add insult to injury she receives another knockout punch with a letter from her very estranged first husband…. Florist extraordinaire, Olivia Murray, shares the Villa that Vivienne is renting. She’s content with life – but sad to add another failed relationship to her growing list and longs to meet ‘The One‘. Life under the summer sun in Antibes becomes a challenging time for all three women as secrets are shared, problems halved as they forge unexpected friendships and embark on new adventures. Sometimes life’s surprises turn out to be unwanted but just sometimes the ‘new normal’ makes for a happier life than the one lost.

Buy, read and discuss this book:

Purchase Link | Goodreads


About the author, Jennifer Bohnert Jennifer Bohnert

Jennifer Bohnet is the bestselling author of over 12 women’s fiction titles, including Villa of Sun and Secrets and A Riviera Retreat. She is originally from the West Country but now lives in the wilds of rural Brittany, France.

Connect with Jennifer:

Newsletter Signup | BookBub | Facebook | Instagram | X (Twitter)


My Thoughts Melissa A Bartell

In the middle of the February doldrums comes an effervescent read from Jennifer Bohnert. A French Adventure is a delightful novel. It’s a quick read, and a light one, but it’s not fluffy. Rather, it’s a positive, sometimes funny, always very real, look at female intergenerational friendship and creating a new lifestyle.

 

As a “mature” reader myself, I gravitated more toward Vivienne and Maxine, who are closer to my age, but as someone who retains her youthful energy, I also enjoyed the perspective the younger character of Olivia brought to the table. I loved that each of these women was independent and fully formed, but that their stories intertwined to form a strong support system for each other.

 

Opening with a shock for Vivienne, the story then follows a chain of events that leads all three women to a vacation on the French Riviera – who wouldn’t want to escape there after their life was upturned?

 

Author Bohnert handled the three points of view of these characters most ably, shifting focus to highlight each woman’s story while weaving them into a cohesive whole. I liked that while the friendship among the three was the central relationship, there was room for romance as well. The love story of Olivia and Thierry was particularly enjoyable, and I cannot say enough about Gilles, who helped Vivienne discern what she really wanted in her post-divorce life.

 

Overall, A French Adventure is a charming read, and one I highly recommend.

 

Goes well with: strawberries and champagne.


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Book Spotlight: Amethyst, The Shallows by Kellye Abernathy

BNR Amethyst, The Shallows Blitz

I’m so excited to be bringing you this spotlight for Amethyst, The Shallows, the companion novel to The Aquamarine Surfboard. I read the first book last summer, and fell in love with the writing, the imagery, and the characters, so I know this book will be just as charming and dynamic.

About the Book: Amethyst, the Shallows Cover Amethyst, The Shallows

(The Companion Novel to The Aquamarine Surfboard)

  • Genre: Young Adult / Magical Realism / Coming of Age
  • Published: Atmosphere Press, February 6, 2024
  • Pages: 296 pages

“This is a night for being brave.”

In the aftermath of a devastating sickness that shatters their close-knit beach town, six lonely kids are drawn together during the unpredictable autumn equinox. Among them are fourteen-year-old Lorelei, who yearns to be an oceanographer, and her peculiar younger brother, Tad, who possesses an otherworldly curiosity.

When Lorelei has a strange and almost deadly encounter in a sea cave, her loyal boyfriend, Casey, cannot reconcile her fantastical experience with the rational world. Condi, Lorelei’s best friend, understands ocean magic but isn’t free to share what she knows. Kait, a girl from Ireland, regrets her impulsive move to America-all because of an odd occurrence involving her deceased boyfriend’s lost surfboard. When tides turn and the moon shifts, Isaac, the new kid in town who despises the ocean, is forced to face the truth-a profound and powerful magic lives in the deep.

Guided by a wise surf master, mystical old women known as the Beachlings, and an open-hearted grandmother, six kids embark on transformative adventures that challenge their beliefs about possibilities and the intense nature of love.

Amethyst, The Shallows is the brand-new companion novel to The Aquamarine Surfboard.

Praise for this book:

Amethyst, The Shallows’ sensitive and potent prose stirs the reader, leaving a lasting impression. Although this novel is the second installment in a series, it stands strong independently, welcoming newcomers and returning readers alike.” Literary Titan

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop.org| Goodreads

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About the Author, Kellye Abernathy author photo Abernathy

Kellye Abernathy’s passions are writing and serving trauma survivors as a yoga teacher and practical life skills advocate. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary English Education from the University of Kansas. Her home is in land-locked Plano, Texas—where she’s dreaming of her next trip to the sea!

Connect with Kellye:

Website | InstagramX (Twitter) | FacebookGoodreads | Amazon


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Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Porter & Midge: Paws and Playtime by Jennie Chen and Giselle Nevada

BNR Paws & Playtime

 

I’m so excited to be part of this book blitz spotlighting the newest Porter & Midge book, Paws and Playtime. My own dogs, Teddy and Piper give it two tails wagging!

Cover Paws and PlaytimeAbout the book: Porter & Midge: Paws and Playtime

  • Genre: Children’s Picture Book / Pet Care / Dog Training
  • Series: Porter and Midge series
  • Publisher: Raise the Woof Press LLC
  • Page Count: 32 pages
  • Publication date: December 12, 2023
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Discover the enchanting world of Porter and Midge: Paws and Playtime – a rhyming children’s book that follows the heartwarming bond between two furry friends, Mastiff Porter and Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Midge, and their devoted companions, CJ and Lora.

On a sunny day, CJ’s thoughtful idea sets the stage for a joyful exploration of new ways to make Porter and Midge’s days even brighter.

Through rhythmic verses, follow their journey as they uncover imaginative games, canine enrichment activities, and thrilling dog sports, all while strengthening their unbreakable connection.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Purchase Link | Goodreads


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About the authors, Jennie Chen and Giselle Nevada

Author Photo Giselle NevadaGiselle Nevada has owned several mastiffs, acquired both from reputable breeders and via rescue. Fostering rescued mastiffs and helping them work through their issues led to a keen interest in socialization as a means of preventing future issues. She loves working with her dogs and has dabbled in carting, conformation, agility, rally, trick dog, nose work, and many other canine sports. Her puppy Porter is a testament to early socialization – he has achieved many performance dog titles and has done commercial work. He also has a role in a movie called Match Me If You Can directed by Marian Yeager.

Author Photo Jennie ChenJennie Chen is a homesick Austinite who founded Keep Austin Dog Friendly. Over the last 20 years, Jennie has owned Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs and Lowchen. She has earned numerous titles in conformation, competitive obedience, rally, herding, animal assisted therapy, and more. She is passionate about the relationship people build with their beloved canines, and she has been an advocate for people living with disabilities who need a service dog to live independently. She is active in various dog clubs and can be seen on AKC.TV from time to time.

Connect with Giselle and Jennie:

Website | Facebook | Instagram

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Pawtographed hardcover copy of Porter and Midge: Paws for Safety

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Book Review: Murder by Christmas by Lesley Cookman

Murder By Christmas

 

About the book, Murder by Christmas Murder-by-Christmas

  • Series: A Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery (Book #25)
  • Publisher: ‎ Headline Accent (December 7, 2023)
  • Publication date: ‎ December 7, 2023
  • Language: ‎ English

Murder by Christmas

The twisting twenty-fifth instalment of Lesley Cookman’s much-loved Libby Sarjeant series

Libby Sarjeant is deep into rehearsals for the annual pantomime when a body is found in a doorway two weeks before Christmas – and Libby and her friend Fran are called into action once again, when their investigation leads them to a local brewery and the sale of many of its pubs.

With the help of a team of local publicans, can Libby and Fran unravel the case before it’s too late?

Buy read and discuss this book:

Purchase Link | Goodreads


About the Author, Lesley Cookman Murder Tish's profile pic

Lesley started writing almost as soon as she could read, and filled many Woolworth’s exercise books with pony stories until she was old enough to go out with boys. Since she’s been grown up, following a varied career as a model, air stewardess and disc jockey, she’s written short fiction and features for a variety of magazines, achieved an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales, taught writing for both Kent Adult Education and the WEA and edited the first Sexy Shorts collection of short stories, in aid of the Breast Cancer Campaign. Lesley is a member of the Society of Authors and the Crime Writers’ Association.

Lesley has also written pantomimes performed all over Britain, and published a book on how to do it!

Connect with Lesley:

Blog | Facebook | Instagram | X (Twitter)


My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

I love a good mystery, and I especially love one set at Christmas time. The lights and trees always make such a great backdrop for committing crime. Murder by Christmas, the twenty-fifth book in Lesley Cookman’s Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery series, is a good mystery with a holiday background. What’s not to love?

As someone new to this series, I immediately fell in love with Libby and Fran, the two women who must juggle Christmas festivities with the little thing of solving a murder. Having the crimefighters have to flit off and become pantomime fairies really made the pacing interesting in this novel, but it also added some touches of humor. I liked their relationship, and I liked the way they teased and snarked at each other, and with their friend Ian the policeman, the way good friends can, and do, even in the midst of serious work. I also liked the story involving local pub owners. Pubs are one of those quintessentially British institutions that really enhance the scene in a novel like this, and I was ready to pull up a chair and have a pint.

There are a ton of background characters, cameo characters, townspeople, and pub-goers in this novel, all grounding it with a real sense of place. It felt like some of this cast were familiar to the main characters, and likely recur throughout the series, but even without knowing their extended stories, I had no trouble following who was who.

If your idea of a perfect Christmas read involves horses doing tricks, performing in an annual production, and solving a murder, this book is perfect for your next fireside read. It has snappy dialogue, great pacing, and a plot that kept me guessing until the end.

I listened to the audio book as well as reading the text, and thoroughly enjoyed the narration by Patience Tomlinson. She really made this already-multidimensional story come alive.

Goes well with: mince pie and a piping hot cup of coffee laced with whisky.

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Cover Reveal: Odd Mom Out by Sandy Day

Odd Mom Out - Cver Reveal

I’m so excited to be part of the cover reveal for Sandy Day’s novel Odd Mom Out, available for pre-order now, and being released on January 1st!  This looks like an engaging and entertaining read, and I can’t wait.

About the book, Odd Mom Out

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Beach House Books (January 1, 2024)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ January 1, 2024

Life just got life-y…

On the night that Trudy Asp discovers her ex is engaged to the same dental hygienist who’s been picking at her teeth for ten years, her daughter, Madison, suddenly announces that she too is getting married, in Europe.

Frumpy, floundering, and forced to live with her martini-swilling mother, Trudy is swamped by these revelations. And on top of it all, she’ll be wearing the second most scrutinized gown at the wedding.

Having packed on the pounds during the demise of her marriage, the idea of being eyeballed by her ex and his scrawny fiancée Zelda, is truly horrifying. To make matters worse, there’s the paralyzing fear of a transatlantic flight — something Trudy has avoided for decades.

When Zelda offers to stand in for her, Trudy is forced to confront the forces that stole her marriage and threaten to steal her daughter’s wedding too. With three months until the ceremony, Trudy must get to Europe, squeeze herself into a gown, and claim the role she wants more than anything: Mother-of-the-Bride.

Will this Odd Mom Out sink or swim? Or will she drown in a sea of humiliation?

Pre-order this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)


About the author, Sandy Day

Sandy Day is a recovering chatterbox and writer of riveting slice-of-life poetry, memoir, and fiction. She has authored five books to date, with two in the works. A graduate of Glendon College, she studied creative writing under Michael Ondaatje and bp nichol. A lover of cheese, coffee shops, and illustrations, she lives on the shore of Lake Simcoe in Georgina, Ontario, Canada. You can find and follow her on Substack and sandyday.ca – it rhymes!

Connect with Sandy:

Amazon | Substack | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram


And now, the cover of Odd Mom Out

Odd Mom Out ebook cover Final